We live in an age of false passion. People fall in and out of lust and feel this is passion. However I am talking about a longing that aches to be quenched. A pursuing of your desired to the point of wild abandonment!
I am talking about the Lord! Is that scandalous? Sacrilege? No, it's Biblical!
There are 5 verses in Deuteronomy that speak of giving yourself completely to the Lord. Deuteronomy 6:5 talks about loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might! Deuteronomy 10:12; 11:13; 13:3 and 30:6 all talk about loving the Lord and serving Him with all our heart and soul!
If I was to give myself completely to the Lord in that way, the way He desires, it would require me to do it fully. Not half-hearted attempts at love but to dive in to the point that my head is swimming!
Later in Joshua 22:5 it mentions clinging to the Lord and loving him and serving Him with all our soul!
Jesus also talks about this passionate, wild love. In Mark 12:30 Jesus talks about loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He is saying we are to love the Lord
completely! Without reservations. Without second thoughts! Without restraint!
Are you scared yet? Excited? Wild Abandonment is scary, exciting and intoxicating! Can we let go so completely that we allow God to fill our every fiber? Can we burn with passion for Him? Do we want to?
Ashamedly I am not there yet but I want to be. I love the Lord but know that things hold me back from letting go completely. I want to desire God to the point where nothing else truly matters. I want to give Him all my cares and to cling to Him fully! I want to give myself to Him completely!
I’ve been talking to a lot of believers around the world lately, who seem really frustrated by the state of Christianity and the church today. I have received phone calls and emails from people sharing their frustration at what is not happening. The one thing people are saying over and over, is they want life! Realism! A vibrant Faith that makes a difference!
I am hearing this from Pastors, church leaders and church members. Pastors are expressing frustration at the amount of suffering and hurting people within their churches. People are expressing concerns with the number of programs and the lack of sermons addressing their real needs, while it seems politics and giving are the two topics getting the most attention. All around us people are dying....literally. People are physically dying in the streets and spiritually dying in the church.
What's going on? How did we get this way? Where did this train derail?
Jesus came so that we can have life. (John 10:10) He came to restore relationship between us and God the Father. To make a way for us to access Him directly. (Matthew 27:51) In the book of Acts we see the body of Christ meeting in one accord. (Acts 1:14)
For me the section of Acts right after Pentecost speaks volumes. In Acts 2:41-47 we see the believers meeting together in homes, meeting each others needs, even to the point of sacrificing their own belongings for those who have a greater need. There was community, fellowship and the Lord added to the church DAILY those coming to faith in Christ. Their lifestyle was a testimony. Their love and actions were a statement of Life in Christ.
Vastly different then what we generally see today.
We need to get back to basics, stripping away the Christianese (or at least explain it) and the "way we always do things" mentality. We need to quit intellectualizing the faith and speak to the common man and woman right where they are at: hurting! Jesus walked among the hurting; the needy and He spoke life. We have to shake off the spiritual lethargy we have gotten into and wake up!
Let’s get real and admit the mess that we, the body of Christ, have gotten into. Repent of our spiritual lethargy! Get into the Word and out into the streets, meeting people where they are at. Encourage those who are strong and lift up those who are hurting. Share a meal and our lives with one another. Walk with each other in the ups and the downs. Love one another….the way Jesus would really want us to.
As I promised, I am linking to a post where I have listed a few ministries that have inspired and challenged me and others like myself. I encourage you to check them out.
I have always loved the story of Gideon found in Judges 6:11-8:28. I like how God called him to rescue the Israelites. (Judges 6:14)
Gideon, hard man to convince, kept asking for a sign. He wasn't convinced by one sign, asked for another and another. He also showed fear at least twice. Once when tearing down an altar and once when preparing to send the 300 against the Midianites and Amalekites. Now granted, I would swallow hard as well if I saw my troops reduced from 22,000 to 300! I might have a "huh what?" moment myself.
However God delivered used those 300, and a mass of confusion among the Midianites and Amalekites, to set the Israelites free.
It's and awesome story and I encourage you to read it. Go ahead I'll wait.....
.........still waiting.........(non-scientific studies show most won't go and read this Scripture right now).....
.....OK good.......you're back......now here is what stood out to me this time:
Judges 8:25-26 talks about how Gideon took about 40 pounds of gold as a reward from the Israelites. Then it says in v.27 "Then Gideon used the gold to make an idol and placed it in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel chased after it there as though it were a prostitute. It became a trap for Gideon and his family."
Asking for the gold was not a sin. However what he did next was and it became a stumbling block for Gideon, his family and Israel!
I read this and realized how easy it is for anyone to fall if they are not on guard. Gideon was not on guard and let a good thing turn into a stumbling block. When we, as believers, have a moment of spiritual victory, or a high point where are faith is on fire, that is when we need to be on particular guard.
The enemy knows that when things are going well we tend to coast. Take it easy when life is going good. This is true as well for ministers and front-line workers who have a season of blessed ministry activity.
However this is the time to WATCH! Stand on guard and make sure the enemy does not sneak up unawares! When life is good we should dig into the Word and stay close to the Father, just as we would when life is not so good! When we stay sheltered in the Arms of the Most High we are in the safest place imaginable.
If you read this blog then you have likely noticed the numerous posts on the Life that is found in Christ. I have spoken often about the need to get back to community style Christianity. To live Christ daily and to show it not only in word but deed as well.
In an effort to highlight some of the ministries and organizations that are displaying this style of Christianity I will be posting some occasional spotlights.
These links do not count as an endorsement on all that you may find on their websites but the heart of these ministries does reflect Jesus.
Lifestream I have linked to their page where they share their passion which to me is absolutely awesome.
Little Flowers Community This little community is a YWAM partnership ministry and I know one of the leaders. He has a passion for relational Christianity.
Crossbridge This church in Florida is very intentionally relational. They even meet at a coffee shop....you gotta love that! Another friend is pastor there.
Present Testimony Ministry Frank Viola's website where you can find a house church in your area: House Church Resource
The Simple Way Their mission: To Love God. To Love People. To Follow Jesus.
The Meeting House A church focused on relationship and not religion!
So there you have it. A very small list of ministries I have come across recently. If you know more please let me know.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalms 13:1-6)
We were challenged to then write our own laments in groups of 3 and to be real and honest with the Lord. Not in doubt but in faith letting our hearts cry out to God. So in my group the ideas were put forth and the lament, or prayer, came out of a brief discussion of how many in the body are struggling, ourselves included. So this became our prayer today:
O Lord why do we struggle? Why do we kick against the goads? We hide our hurts and pains, our disunity, anger, the truth. We need the light of your love to shine into the dark places, and yet You O Lord are faithful. Your ways our higher than ours. We will trust in you O Lord to help us shed our masks.
I want to encourage you to write some praises and some laments. Speak them out if you are uncomfortable writing. Let your heart break forth in praise when you are happy and lament when you are sad.
Discipline is never a fun topic. It oftentimes hurts to be corrected. Yet God corrects us for a reason.
A few weeks back I felt the Lord speak correction into my life. He began to convict me for not always "listening" to the hearts of the people he brings me into contact with. In my job I see a lot of homeless and low income families. It is very easy to listen to the same stories over and over and begin to let your mind drift or to tune out the heart of what is being spoken. As I was sitting in the drop-in centre awhile back I felt the Lord "strongly" urge me to pay attention to what 2 different people were saying. As I focused in I saw a "new" side to these individuals as they shared some of their heart. It was an eye-opening experience.
The hard part was what came next. As I realized what I had been missing in my "assumptions" of the conversations the Lord chastised me for not "seeing" what He saw in them. I felt the Lord breaking away some calluses that had begun to appear. Social service work is hard and it is a battle to not become cynical to the situations. I am not proud of the fact that I was becoming dulled to the stories.
I had to repent and ask the Lord to soften my heart in these areas again.
Hebrews 12:6 "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."
Discipline can hurt, it can be quite painful. Yet the Lord has a purpose in it. We may not see it at the time. We may not see it for a long time. However God loves us and He wants what is best for us. Just as parents correct their child God corrects us when we need it.
Hebrews 12:10 "For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness."
God wants us to share in His holiness, to reflect Him. He will bring correction in our life as needed. The struggle for us is not to fight it. When we try to "save" ourselves from discipline we only end up miserable. It is far better to let the Lord deal with us as needed.
I am still feeling a bit "sore" from my recent correction and I pray the Lord continues to break away the calluses so I can "see" what He sees for the hurting.
I want to be receptive to His discipline for I know His purpose is right and His ways are higher than my own!
I have been wrestling with the Word lately. As I shared the following with my family, my daughter told me not to wrestle too hard, or I may come away with a bad hip! (Gen. 32:25) Ah, the insight of youth. So, what was it that elicited that comment? In brief:
I remember growing up hearing people refer to themselves as hawks or doves when it comes to the issues of war, the death penalty, etc... I was always a bit of a hawk. Over the years I have been quite vocal in my support of the death penalty and for a "just" war.
Recently, as I have been examining the Scriptures more and more I am beginning to rethink this position. Now let me state I've never been a "warmonger" but I have not been opposed to justice being served in this life.
However this week I was confronted with numerous Scriptures that just came alive to me in a new way. First it was the Scriptures in Matthew that say, "Blessed are the meek", "Blessed are the merciful" and "Blessed are the peacemakers." (Matthew 5:5, 7, 9)
Then I read the part in Matthew 5:21-22 that talks about murder. While chewing on these passages of Scriptures I then was reminded of the women caught in the act of adultery. (John 8:3-11). This was a death penalty sentence at the time. Yet Jesus showing mercy did not condemn her. In fact He said if the accusers were without sin they should cast the first stone. They all left and Jesus told her to go and sin no more.
While my mind was being blow away by all this I realized....even a terrorist is not beyond God's redemption. Those who attack our countries and murder our friends and families are not beyond the reach of a loving Father. As much as I want to see justice done in this life I am coming to believe Jesus wants us to extend mercy more. To reflect Him.
So there you have it. I am slowly, slowly moving away from my stance as a hawk. I am starting to feel the death penalty is wrong. I am starting to reconsider the policies of war. I really am thinking.....what would Jesus do?
Jesus Was Not A Politician
I remember a few years back attending a church in Tennessee. This was and election year (1996) and I opened the bulletin for that day's service and discovered a leaflet inside with the views of various candidates on issues that should matter to Christians. Upon further reading I noticed all of the candidates listed were Republicans. There was not a sheet for Democratic candidates and where they stood on the issues.
Over the years I have heard many well-meaning believers say something along the lines of, "If you are a Christian you should vote (Insert Political Party Here)".
In examining my Bible, though, I have not yet found the chapter which says Jesus was a republican, a democrat, a conservative or a liberal. I did not find Jesus actually affiliated with any political party, be it a "Christian" party or any other. In fact I find something totally different.
I find a Scripture where Jesus is asked about paying taxes to Caesar who, let's face it, was not a fair or just ruler. He was in charge of a nation that was occupying Israel and demanding allegiance to Caesar and Rome. Opposition was met with death. Crucifixions were the norm. Yet, when asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar Jesus said in Matt. 21 that they should give to Caesar what was due him, and to God what was God's. He was not saying to fight against authority, but to do what was required.
For me, a real eye opening Scripture is found in Romans 13:1-7. It is not a comfortable section of Scripture, nor one that "goes down" easily. I've struggled with it myself, but my struggles do not negate God's Word. My opinions need to conform with His, not vice versa.
So what does this Scripture say? It says things like God establishes all authorities and that we should submit to these governing authorities. If we rebel against these authorities we rebel against God. Rulers hold no terror for those who do right. These are not “comforting” Scriptures.
I believe we can stand for truth and righteousness. However, I think in standing for truth we should do so in a spirit of love. I believe we honor God more by standing for truth in love than in fear, anger or animosity. Yes, our ruling authorities may be corrupt. However, we are not their judge. Only God is. We can speak out against tyranny while still operating in love. Name calling, divisiveness, these things are not of God. If we speak in love and are attacked by men, so be it. God is in control. Better to operate under His care than to try to do things on our own. We should not fear what man can do to us.
There is a point where it is OK to disobey authorities, when we are called to do something that goes against God’s law. If you look at Acts 4:18-20 you see Peter and John called before the ruling authorities and told to not talk about Jesus anymore. They asked the leaders to judge who it was better to obey God or them. They left and still spoke about Jesus. They didn't gather a protest group, picket the Sanhedrin and write attacking letters to the Jerusalem Times.
There is also a point where Jesus was called before the rulers and He was silent.
We have options in how we respond to corrupt governments. Let's respond in a way that glorifies God.
I didn't recognize Jesus.
Jesus in the New Testament walked with sinners. He hung out with them at weddings and other celebrations. He ate with them. He even talked alone to a woman in what, for the times, would have been seen as scandalous because she was not a "good" woman or the right type! Jesus was not a conformist. He didn't hang out with the rich and powerful. He didn't embrace the wealthy and neglect the poor. He did not court the politicians.
Jesus did not chase after the latest fad. He acted in ways considered "Unbecoming" by the church of the day. He did things on the Sabbath....which was a Saturday by the way....He broke the rules. He stirred things up to the point that people sought His death.
After He rose from the dead, His disciples followed His lead. They went to the unloved, unwanted and uncared for. They stirred the pot. They spoke out, not so much against sin, but for Jesus Christ. They followed His example and pointed people to the Father. They focused on relationship.
Now lets look at we in the church, today. We have it easy. We sit in our pews and watch the world pass by out of our stained-glass windows. Oh, many will reach out to the hurting, but too many will not. Christianity has embraced politics and Christians try to legislate morality. We spend more time talking about what we are against than Who we are for. We seek the latest "Christian fad" rather than the heart of the Father. If we are honest, truly honest....we would rather sit and watch TV than sit among the dirty, the drunks, the sinners. I personally would rather be entertained than entertain someone when it would inconvenience me. We would rather protest outside of an event we disagree with morally than to go out for coffee with the "sinner".
I want to see the Jesus of the Bible reflected in my life! I want to see the Living God living in me. I want to see we in the church get off our backside and into the streets, reflecting the heart of Jesus. It'll mean sacrifice. It'll mean we might be spit on, persecuted and ignored. However once the church does that to us, then whatever the world throws at us will be easy!
Let's take it to the streets. Let's truly follow Jesus.
So I had this dog as a kid. A cute little Collie, German Shepard mix. The dog was born next to a pig pen. When we got to the little farm there were all these pigs running around and off to the side was a dog with puppies. We selected our dog and then loaded up the van to drive home. Then we heard it. The dog was making pig noises. Born near the pen and being exposed to pigs it was making pig sounds. The dog was not embracing it's identity. In a short time though, with a new environment, the dog began acting like a dog!
Too bad it's not that easy for us humans. Gal.2:20 talks about how we are crucified with Christ, we no longer live but Christ lives in us. Our identity, when we accept Jesus Christ into our heart as Lord and Savior, is in Christ. Yet too many of His children still act like we are living in the pig pen. We are no longer in the world. We are a new Creation! New! (2 Cor. 5:17)
As a new creation I don't have to live a life according to the world. I can live one that is pleasing to God. One that is filled with peace in the midst of turmoil. One that is filled with hope for a future with Him.
I can live out the fruit of the Spirit because I won't be trying to do it myself.
So embrace your identity!
The whole idea and concept of church has been rattling through my head. As we look at various traditions I find myself asking why? Why do we do this or that? What is the purpose? Is it filled with the Life of Christ or do we do it out of habit?
I am asking questions. Not only of others but of God. I can't say I have had any major breakthroughs but asking questions is good. It is stimulating. It is also eye-opening to see how others deal with these same questions.
I noticed 2 things when reading John Ch. 11. The first thing is that Jesus came to give life. So often today, believers are depressed, anxious, worried and discouraged. There is no joy and no Life. No vibrancy. It's sad. I have been there myself. Life is hard yet God can sustain us. He came to give us life more abundantly. (John 10:10) Jesus went to Bethany and raised Lazarus back to life. What an awesome miracle.
The other thing that stood out to me was John 11:35, "Jesus Wept". He knew that He was getting ready to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew the end result, the miracle that was getting ready to happen and yet He wept when Mary said He could have prevented Lazarus from dying. Why?
I believe it had to do with relationship. Jesus wants us to have relationship with Him. I think Jesus was feeling the pain of His friends. Pure and simple He cared! Relationships and Life are two themes that I see God weaving through my life right now. He wants me to have relationship with Him and with others. To share the Life He has given me with others.
Jesus truly is Lord, Life and Liberator!
This man has been through the ringer. He has been at death's door. He took a physical hit that is still affecting him daily.
Yet in all of this, he told me last night he can still say God is good!
God is good. Wow. I would like to think I could and would do the same thing. However I had to stop last night and think....would I? If a life-threatening disease ravaged my body and I was not being healed, would I be able to say God is good? If my loved ones died or my house was destroyed and God did not solve the problem could I still say His ways are higher than mine and that He is good?
We all want God to solve our problems. We all need relief at times. Sometimes God does this in a miraculous way. Sometimes He holds back from moving. Is He unfair? Does He care?
God absolutely cares.
Let me share a story.......I have asthma....there are days when it is hard to breathe. To me that is a scary feeling. Yet once I went 3 years without problems and I know God had set me free. Then I developed bronchitis and asthma has returned. So is God good? Absolutely. Why did this happen though? I don't know. What I do know though is I pray more now than I did when I could breathe. I pray more for others and I talk to God more than I did before.
God is good!
How many times have you heard the phrase "Let's think outside the box?" I’ve heard it more times than I care to. I am no longer going to think outside the box. I propose something new. Let’s get outside of the box, turn and set the box on fire!
Let's embrace God, and all that He has for us. Let's live, breathe and focus on the Lord daily. He is a God of Life! He is also a dangerous God. Let's not forget that either. God in the OT was not to be taken lightly! He hates sin and dealt with it accordingly! Rather it was sending fire down from heaven or opening the ground up to swallow people who sinned He was not a God to be trifled with. He still isn't! His view of sin has not changed. Should we be afraid of God? Remember the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:9; 9:10 and 15:33 all talk about that. However He was, is and always will be an awesome God. This is a God who created the heavens and the earth, who moved the sun back in the sky and sends a fiery chariot to pick up Elijah! God did the unexpected. He still does. He is worthy of our praise because there is none like Him. He is worthy of our praise because He is God!
In the New Testament Jesus also did the unexpected. He turned water into wine, raised the dead, spit in people's eyes, walked on water and died for our sins! The apostles and men and women of faith throughout history have also seen God move in and through them in remarkable ways.
So why do we settle for anything less? Why do we become complacent in our Bible reading, prayers and faith? Why are some people so set in their ways that the slightest variations in church cause massive heartburn to the regular attendees?
It's time to shake off our spiritual lethargy. It's time to take a fresh view on our faith. Let's renew our focus and devotion to the Lord. Let’s embrace the LIFE He has for us. Let's step away from the things that bleed the life out of us and step into the joy the Lord has for us in His unexpected, fresh ways.
Church is good, traditions are good, God is Great! I am not knocking church or church traditions. I am saying there is more than routine. There is hope! There is Life! I don’t want to settle for second best or a lackadaisical Christianity. I want to experience all that God has for me! I want a fresh awakening! I want more than punching a time card of faith. I want all that God has for me! Life!
I have had the opportunity, several times in the past, to lead worship in small groups and churches, either alone, or as part of a worship team. At times I really enjoyed it, and at times I wondered why God had picked me. After all, there were others around with better skills and more outgoing personalities, not to mention, voices that could actually carry further than three feet from where I stood.
When I thought about my role, I often considered choice of songs, corresponding Scripture, applicability and the desired heart response of the congregation, as the important things I could bring to the table. I would pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit and for His working in the hearts and minds of His people. I asked the Father to glorify Himself and to use me in spite of my weakness. I would look at each service as a chance to lead others into worship, through which they could meet with God on a new level.
The Lord’s grace is abundant and He is so patient with us as we learn His ways and His heart. I am thankful for the many opportunities He has given me to express praise to Him publicly, and for His gracious acceptance of the worship I have given. However, it is becoming clear to me now, that the focus and intent I have had, has not always been pure.
First, there has been the issue of pride. Every time I have compared or contrasted myself and my abilities to another, and wished to be as vocally and musically sharp as them, I have rejected my own essence–that with which God has blessed me. A humble person can be who God has made them, knowing that dependence on Him is their only hope. A proud person seeks those things which will affirm their worth in the presence of others. I have discovered, that as opposed to what I used to think, many wonderfully talented and skilled people are beautiful examples of humility. It doesn’t matter what we can or cannot do. What truly matters, is whether we have been able to accept what God has placed within us, and offer it back to Him with a spirit of thanksgiving.
Second, I think back on some of the stressful times I have had “preparing for worship.” Can we, in fact, prepare to worship? Of course, if that includes asking God to “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” But preparing song lists, Scriptures and “themes” for our corporate times of worship would actually be considered “preparing for a worship time.” Nothing wrong with that–just that it will not leave us any more prepared for worship. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and only when He has been invited to do so. Then, under His guidance, we can lead others to worship in spirit and in truth.
So, this week I begin preparing to lead others in worship at a brand new church gathering. I pray that as I seek the Lord, He will reveal to me what it is to live a life of worship. I am excited about different forms of worship–songs, scripture readings, meditation, art, poetry, spoken praise, banners, dance, etc… Yet, somehow, I know that there is more.
This morning I can’t shake the phrase, “It’s not how you worship, it’s who.” If I desire to lead others to worship Christ, I need to know Him intimately. I need to be able to demonstrate what He means to me. I need to know His names and their meanings. How desperately I long for Him to reveal more of His plan and power to me! How greatly I need His peace to flood over me so that others see it and want to know where it comes from! His greatness is so vast, His character so immense that I run out of words. Yet, as part of living a life of worship, I need to use the words I do know, to describe Him to others.
All of this being said, my greatest need is perhaps to rest in my Father’s love for me and stop striving to be a “good worshipper.” If I change that to “God worshipper,” I have transferred my focus to where it ought to be.
It took me back to a message I heard delivered by a man working with Teen Challenge. I don't remember the sermon but I do remember the 4 points. Allow me to share them with you.
Chapter 1. Jonah ran from God.
Jonah was tasked with delivering a message from the Lord to the people of Nineveh. He did not obey. Instead he took matters into his own hand and ran from the Lord. He did not stop. He took off. Thinking he could escape the will of God he jumps onto a ship. Do you ever feel this way? Are you ever daunted by a command from the Lord and want to tuck tail and run? I know there are times when I feel the Lord nudging me in a certain direction and I want to hit the road going the opposite way. Why is that? It may be we will feel embarrassed or unqualified. Maybe we are comfortable where we are at and don't want to upset our nice apple cart. Something to think about.
Chapter 2. Jonah ran towards God.
Jonah could not run far. God allowed a nice little storm to brew up and so frighten the crew that they turned everyone on board out to ascertain if someone there had angered their gods. Jonah finally pops up that yeah he was running from the Lord and was eventually tossed overboard. The storm stopped and Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish. Funny thing happens in there. While sitting in the belly of the fish, which had to smell horrible, was a bit dark and really wet, Jonah comes to his senses and repents. He turns to God. How many times do your circumstances catch up to you and you finally turn to the Lord? Look how Jonah's sin of disobedience affected others. Sin does that. Our sins affect others. Scary when you think about it. However, if we turn to God and repent He will deliver us just as He did Jonah. The fish belched Jonah out on dry land!
Chapter 3. Jonah ran with God.
This is where we want to be right here. Running with God! Jonah gets out of the fish and runs with God. He goes to Nineveh and preaches the word of the Lord. He delivers the message God wanted Him to deliver. The citizens of Nineveh respond to the Word of the Lord and repent! God had told them, through Jonah, of a coming judgment. They respond, just as we should when confronted with our sin, in repentance. God heard their cry and forgave them. Jonah, he was running with God in obedience. He should have stopped there. Jonah went one step to far.
Chapter 4. Jonah ran ahead of God.
Jonah wanted destruction to fall on Nineveh. He kind of felt that with all he did and went through God should go ahead and punish them. He got angry. Even a bit testy with the Lord. The Lord rebuked Jonah for his thoughts. For his anger and frustration. Do you ever run ahead of God? Maybe not is delivering a message but how about in taking matters into your own hands. When your circumstances get overwhelming do you run to God and then with God or do you allow yourself to run ahead of Him and try to solve the problems yourself?
In all of this there is a challenge to me and to you. Live a life of running with God. Don't fall behind or get ahead of Him but run with Him. Stay close to Him. Listen for His voice and obey!
I was not the most popular child during my growing up years. Skinny, sickly and uncoordinated, I never seemed to fit in. I had friends, but they seemed to come and go. We moved a lot and by the 3rd grade I had lived in Maryland twice and was back in Pennsylvania for the second time.
I hated recess and gym class because I was the kid who always seemed to be picked last. Occasionally a friend would pick me next to last to save me the "embarrassment" of being picked last. Throughout my elementary and junior high years I was beat up, pushed around, chased, and so harassed that I began to fear the very thought of walking the halls. I remember once sitting on a ramp talking to a friend and waking up on the ground. A kid, one I had never met, took a pair of cleats and repeatedly beat me over the back and neck until I passed out.
The there was the other forms of rejection I experienced. Girls. I always had an interest in girls from the time I was very young but never found the interest reciprocated. My brother, who was a year younger than I, always seemed to like the same girls and they tended to gravitate to him. I was once told he was the better looking one, and many just saw me as a "friend", if at all. They would laugh at me if I expressed interest in them. One girlfriend I did have, broke up with me and wanted me to arrange a date with my brother!
These and other areas of rejection were piling up to the point that, by my late teens, I no longer cared. I had developed a wall around my heart that was very thick. I was going to make sure no one hurt me again. I had excepted Christ into my life at the age of 14 but I was not yet ready to let Him reign in my life! I became very thick-skinned in many areas. I still felt the pain of past and ongoing rejections but as time went by the pain impacted me less and less. I remained this way until I was 24. That summer I fell hard for a woman at my work. We hit it off fast and I was determined to keep her in my life. There was a problem though...I wanted to be a missionary and she did not. I ignored her subtle and not so subtle hints in this regard and went on enjoying my summer romance. Then she threw me a curve by breaking off our relationship and saying she felt God had wanted her to do so. I was angry and hurt not only at her but this time at God as well. Again I had been rejected.
Shortly afterward I went to Texas for a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School (DTS). While at the school, I met my future wife. However my walls were still in place, firmer than ever. Then one day, a speaker shared about the Father Heart of God. I had a very hard week dealing with the concept of God's love. I had been rejected so many times, I blamed God for that rejection. Finally, int he midst of the class, I felt like I could take no more of this lesson and I bolted from the classroom. I headed for the restroom where I sank to the floor and began sobbing uncontrollably.
I later found out that during this time my future wife, who had noticed my sudden departure, began praying that God would wrap His arms of love around me.
I cannot fully explain what happened during this time. As I sat on the floor of the restroom weeping, I suddenly felt a warmth wrap around my shoulders. It felt as if I was being given a huge bear hug. Almost like a blanket had been thrown over my shoulders. I began to feel the love of God penetrate the deepest areas of my life. My walls began to crumble. My tears switched from tears of pain to those of immense joy and relief. I began to get a true inkling of the Father's love for me.
It took time for me to let God tear down all of the walls I had built up. However, He began a work that day which changed my life forever. It was a process. It took some time but I felt the arms of the Father that day. I felt His arms of love.
"He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carried them close to His heart..." Isaiah 40:11
No matter what pain you have experienced in life...God can tear down those walls. Will you let Him reach out to you with His love?
The sad part is we don't always listen. My heart breaks when I hear of believers who struggle in their faith because God has not blessed them financially or they are struggling physically. Many have said they don't know where they have sinned or why these things happen when they tithe regularly.
I look in the New Testament and can't find one man or woman of faith who did not suffer though. Every believer seems to have struggled with some kind of problem. Yes, many found relief in God. However, even according to church tradition, only one disciple had a peaceful death, and that was John, who spent his later years in prison. Each one suffered for his faith. Even Paul, a man who fulfilled the Lord's commands, suffered. He was shipwrecked, beaten and imprisoned regularly. Did Paul sin as a believer to suffer these things? Did he not tithe enough? He had an affliction God would not remove. What was Paul doing wrong?
Enough! The real news is that our hope is in the future! Look at Hebrews 11. Those men and women suffered! They had hard times. Most did not see the promise in this life. However, each one was healed in eternity. Each one dances today on the streets of gold! I think we need to change our view of blessings. Yes, God heals today! Yes, God blesses some of us financially. However, each day we wake up is a blessing and gift from God. The fact we can walk, talk, read, move, etc. is a gift from God. Are we more focused on Him or what we can get from Him?
If God did not provide one more blessing of finances, or restore one more person's health would he stop being God? Of course not.
What does God want? He wants us. Not prayers of "Oh God give me," or "Bless me," but "Oh God I love you! I want more of you! Not what you can give me, but you!"
These words may seem harsh. I hesitate in writing them. However, it is time for a change. I want more of God. Not more from Him but more of Him! Yes, I've struggled with finances, struggled with health. However we need to let these things draw us nearer to God. If we had all our needs met here what would we need God for? Honestly, most of us, me included, would quickly become distracted by the things of this life. We could say we won't but if we had everything in abundance our minds would drift away from the One who anchors us in every storm.
Do you search more for His hand, or His face? Psalm 105:4 "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."
See I used to think I should tell others about God because I have to. Well in some part that is true. Matthew does end with the command to Go into all the world, preaching to all nations! It is a command. However I think we should also look at our motivation. Over the years my motivation has, at times, been because of the "command" aspect. "I'm doing this because the Lord told me to." Is that really a good enough reason?
Think about it. When we were kids and our parents told us to do something what was our reaction. I would obey but sometimes my attitude was more of a "foot dragging, heart not in it" type of obedience! I did it because I knew I should but had no joy in it! Kind of like evangelism!
However there were also times where I really obeyed because I loved my parents and wanted to please them. I also saw their concerns and quickly made them my concern as well. My attitude was different.
I want my evangelism to be the same way. Jesus Christ had a motivation for the lost! He gave His life for us! God had a motivation for the lost! He sent His Son!
I must admit I am not always motivated!
However I want that to change. I want God's heart for the lost! I realized this week that people are dying around me every day and going to Hell! I know a "Secret" that can save their life! It would be a sin not to help them. If I have "oxygen" and refuse to give it to a man who can't breathe I would be guilty of murder! If I saw a building on fire and did not attempt to help rescue those inside when I see someone stuck in the door burning I would be just as guilty! If I know how to swim and see someone drowning and do nothing I would deserve to found guilty by a judge. You get the picture. We who know Jesus Christ have a hope, a freedom, a LIFE more abundant. We have the capacity to have a Peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of trials. We have a way to escape the flames of hell! Yet there are those dying in SIN everyday! I feel responsible, now more than ever, to tell people of the One who can set them free! Who can forgive them! Deliver them!
What about you?
The storm struck in March and left Tennessee in a mess. I remember listening to the radio as the snow fell and hearing all the calls for rescue vehicles coming in over the radio. Power lines fell, people were stranded, the salt trucks could not keep up. All told the storm did $6.6 billion in damages. In East Tn. where I lived we received a little over 10 inches of snow. That summer people were wearing an "I Survived the Blizzard of 93" t-shirts.
Now here in Canada where I live now 10 inches does not qualify as a blizzard. In fact when I share this with people here they even chuckle a little. It's all about perspective though. Tenn. does not get much snow. They have very few salt trucks even. There is no need. Some winters there we were wearing t-shirts in Dec. 10 inches of snow there is crippling.
Perspective. Kind of like our relationship with God.
As a young believer I kept hearing the phrase, "A sinner saved by grace." Now don't get me wrong that is a very true statement. However many people live there. That becomes their identity. They walk around and see themselves as a sinner. Well when you focus on sin what are you going to do? That's right sin. Tell a child, or a husband, not to take a bite of fresh out of the oven cookies and what will they do? Eat a cookie. We want what we think about.
Yes I was a sinner saved by grace. However now I am a New Creation in Christ Jesus! (2 Corinthians 5:17) I was crucified with Christ and I no longer live! (Galatians 2:20). My perspective has changed. I see myself as new in Christ. When I think on Him I can't be thinking about sin. The key there though is keeping my mind fixed on Christ. When I take my eyes off Jesus I fall faster than a ton of bricks. However when I fix my eyes on Him I can't be thinking about sin.
I want to encourage you to develop a fresh perspective. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!
I found this to be so true. Year ago my family went through a financial downturn. Over a period of year we lost almost everything we owned. As a teen it was disheartening to see your toys, furniture, etc going out the door. My parents had to sell these things to put food on the table. Then the table was sold!
Eventually we lost our home as well and spent a day driving around looking for a place to live. We eventually found a 1 room rental cabin we stayed in for a month until a home opened up. This home, and the series of homes we went to after, were not in the best shape. We see through the walls, there was mold, mice, etc.
God eventually brought us through this period. When we were going through it I did not always see God. However that poem/song Footprints is very true. I look back and see that God carried us many times. We ALWAYS had a roof, maybe not the best roof but a roof, over our heads. We always had food in our belly. Our NEEDS were met. Our desires weren't always met but our NEEDS were!
God IS faithful. He never abandoned us. He was faithful to supply all our needs according to His riches in Glory! (Philippians 4:19)
What a powerful opening statement. I remember years ago reading a Q & A with a popular American Western writer named Louis L'Amour. He said a good book should grab you from the opening line. Well, I believe the Bible is more than good books, more than just great literature; however, as far as opening lines go, that one is fantastic.
"In the beginning GOD...."
This makes me want to find out more about this God. Who is He? How can I know Him? He sounds powerful. He sounds mighty. I read this verse and it makes my knees want to buckle. I want to drop on my face before this God. No melodrama...just fact. God, to me, sounds awesome right from the beginning.
While speaking of beginnings, look at John 1:1 in the New Testament and you see the same phrase referring to Jesus Christ. "In the beginning the Word..." We find out here the Word was Jesus and He was also there at the beginning.
These 2 verses leave me awestruck. Maybe it's just where I am right now in my relationship with the Lord right now. I find myself craving simplicity. I want more of the Lord and less of the "window dressing" that the church today seems to focus on. No tangents...just the Lord Himself. I want more of Him.
I also find myself wanting to focus on the facts. He created the heavens and the earth. He sent His Son to die for us. JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN! He will return one day. As I get older I find myself longing for His return more and more. I keep thinking of the end statement in Revelation. "Come Quickly Lord Jesus!"
In this life I realize that what matters most is my relationship with Him. I want more of Christ and less of me.
Alpha and Omega...the beginning and the end.
I was participating in a conversation this week that revolved around the question of God's existence. In the midst of this discussion I made a comment along the lines if, "I know God exists because I have seen him do too much not to believe in Him!" I have seen God heal the sick, restore marriages and save lives! I know for a fact He answers prayer. I have often quoted God's Word when praying. I have claimed His promises when praying for healing, restoration, etc. I know God hears and does answer prayer.
Then I started thinking.....
What if He doesn't? What if we pray and pray for a specific situation and God doesn't answer the way we want...or at all? Can we trust God to be God even if we don't see His hand move?
I was talking this over with my wife, Sarah, and she pointed out to me Hebrews 11. This is commonly known as the faith chapter, but a couple verses stood out to me. One is Hebrews 11:13 which says, "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."
WHOA! They did NOT receive the things promised....the answer to their prayers...yet they held on and died in faith....trusting God would still do what He had promised. The awesome thing was....He did! He did it though in His time and it just so happened to be the perfect time!
The other verse that leaps out at me is Hebrews 11:39, "And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised."
God did not deliver, in their lifetime, what was promised. However He did deliver! The awesome thing was that they still trusted God to do what He promised even if it was not in their lifetime. They had faith! The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen! (Hebrews 11:1)
So to answer my own question: Can we trust God to be God even if we don't see His hand move? I think the answer is not only Yes, but also, how can we not, when the heroes of the faith did the same thing!
Trust God, even when the answer doesn't come in our time.
I started out as a very sick young child, with constant nosebleeds, being misdiagnosed with Leukemia and then Hemophilia. I was in and out of hospitals with broken bones and various ailments. As I grew, it was discovered that the cause of my weakness was only that I had severe allergies. What a relief! Only I was so skinny that I was constantly being picked on, beat up, etc... To top it off, I grew up with my Mom being sick and being warned she would die from Multiple Sclerosis. I had to shoulder a lot of responsibility as a young child, more responsibility than a child needs to bear. I would help my Mom with my younger brother and sister. I tried to be the mature one, the strong one.
However, being sickly and with a dying mother, I developed a lot of fear about death and dying. It was always in the back of my mind. Looking for a safe place from those fears, I began to check out religion. I had been raised nominally Catholic, the only religion I knew as a child. My only remembrance of church was something I felt I could not relate to. I talked with a friend who began to tell me about ESP, palm reading, astrology, etc and I began to try to learn about these things, reading books, practicing palm reading, ESP, etc..., but the fear still held me in a firm grip. I could not find peace of mind.
One day my life changed. My family moved to another state. Upon arriving in our new home I began to seriously consider church again. One day a lady from a local Baptist church invited me to a vacation Bible school. After two days of listening to how much Jesus loved us and how He died on the cross for us so we could belong to Him, I became so excited that I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart as Lord and Savior. I thought all my problems would be over. I was wrong. I was told some very unscriptural things from a church official which led me to immediately begin doubting my salvation. I started worrying even more about the things happening around me and in my life.
A few months later my Dad lost his business and we then lost the home we owned; we were forced to move from the next house we rented due to the inability to pay our rent, and the pattern was to be repeated in the next house, and the next. We very soon had no place to live. We began to sell off all of our furniture, jewelry, toys and other belonging to put food on the table. We never knew what to expect or where our next meal was coming from. Looking back, I see that God never left us, but at the time it sure felt like it.
As I entered adulthood my family slowly came out of this poverty. I moved away and got married. I became a missionary to a foreign country. I thought things couldn’t be better, and then they got worse.
I was still so afraid of death and dying; so afraid of losing everything again; so afraid of life. I began to think my only hope was the very thing I was afraid of.. death. I had begun a secret struggle with pornography; anger was overwhelming me; I was yelling, unhappy. I wanted out. I felt like I had reached my limit.
There came a point where I began thinking regularly about suicide. I felt it was my only option. Life had become unbearable. I was massively depressed and it was harder and harder to fake a happy face for those around me. I soon began talking openly of suicide. After mentioning this rather frequently my wife became so concerned that she called a Christian counselor seeking advice. She then told me that if I mentioned it again she would know I was serious and she would call an ambulance and get me help. I was crying out for help, but in my mind I truly believed that no one could help me. One day I went for a drive and with tears streaming down my face, I started contemplating how to crash my car and end it all. I remember screaming out loud, "I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!" Something happened at that point which is hard to explain but I heard the Lord speak to me deep inside. He said, .You are right. You can’t, but I can.. I broke down. I felt a wave of relief sweep and a true peace that passes all understanding began to enter my heart and mind.
The Lord then brought me into contact with a Christian brother who shared some deep Biblical truths with me. What were these truths?
It began with realizing that the Lord was my only answer. I discovered a secret. A secret so powerful it changed my life. It started with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Christ died for me and He took ALL of this junk, all my fears, my doubts and insecurities, my worries about the future, He took all of it to the cross. He banished death and gave us the hope of an eternal future with Him. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14 -15
The answer then led me to Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." This means that I died to sin. Christ took my sins, my life to the cross. He is living in me now. He has been since I first gave my heart to Him.
Then I was shown Ezekiel 36:26 which says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." I found out that He had given me a new heart. Brand new! I became very excited by these truths and as they began to soak into my life my life was changed forever.
I discovered that all the things I struggled with, all the lies I believed, were just that--lies. God loved me, gave Himself for me...changed me. I still have problems that pop up in life. However He has given me the strength to handle them. Suicide is no longer an option. A greater power and truth now operates in my life: God the Father, Jesus His Son and the great comforter, the Holy Spirit. If you've ever felt suicidal...like life isn't worth it, then email me...let's talk.
Well at first the people thought this was crazy but then Brother Joe sited an obscure Scripture in Leviticus 11, which talked about hopping. (Yes, it’s in the American Standard Version, but it refers to which insects you can eat.) No one bothered to check and see if this verse was in the Bible, or even if the Scripture was taken in context or not. Seems another sister confirmed this vision when she said she hopped on one foot and was healed. Two weeks later the whole church had a foot hopping service. Then stories started rolling in of how people were being blessed by hopping. One guy got a promotion. Another guy found $20. A few weeks later a lady started writing hopping music. The Christian media picked up on it and before long the bookstores began selling hopping music. (Hip Hopping Hallelujah and Hopping Hymns were 2 bestsellers) Then Brother Joe, who introduced the joy of hopping, wrote a book which spent 22 weeks on the best sellers list. The Purpose of Hopping was followed by Holy Hopping and Secrets to a Hopping Life. Then the fist coffee cup in the shape of a foot was sold, followed by bracelets with HFJ (Hop For Jesus) was made. All the youth groups had to have them. The journals and pens got lost in the shuffle, but the Hopping Bible was a big seller. Eventually, as the movement wound down, someone had a vision of a man yodeling… .
Philippians 1:9-11 “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Why do Christians follow fads and trends? Good question. We are called to be in the world but not of it. Yet it appears that whatever marketing or business trend is happening in the world is eventually duplicated in the church. Not to mention the extra-biblical themes being introduced into the body of Christ without as much as an eyebrow being raised. The specific trends aren’t important right now and I am not saying God can’t use these things, but I notice many people start talking about the emotional extras more than they talk about God. It seems our focus has shifted from Him to us! How are we feeling? What are we enjoying? This is how I was blessed. You should do such and such and you’ll prosper. I, Me, You! Self-Centered Christianity is not what God has called us to. He has called us to an uncompromising faith in Him. Our soul can truly only prosper when we delight in Him and His law. (Psalms 1:3, Prov. 16:20)
I believe God is calling His church back to the Himself. Uncompromised! Focused! Refreshed in Him; not relying on man-made extras to make things exciting. We need to get away from “emotional” Christianity and back to LIFE in Jesus Christ! There is Joy in Him. We don’t need the window dressing. We need Him! We don’t need an emotional high to have relationship with Him. We just need Him. It’s not about feelings it’s about fact. Jesus Christ crucified, risen, victorious. Galatians 6:14 says, “But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Jesus Only Jesus!
The more valuable lesson though for me had spiritual implications. See no matter what club I used I could not get the ball to do what I wanted. No matter what way I faced I hit a tree. The hole was but an illusion. I did not seek advice beyond a question or two but kept plugging away expecting different results. Unfortunately the same things kept happening. I hit ball, ball hits tree, repeat. Finally after some frustration at my inability to do this seemingly simple task I gave up on the 15Th hole!
So what does this have to do with anything spiritual? Well on the drive home I was reminded how much of my life I spent trying to hit God's targets with my strength. No matter how hard I tried I kept missing the mark. I could not move in the right direction because I always thought I knew a better way. My own. All I did was frustrate myself though. Repeatedly God would show me what He wanted me to do and I would invariably take off in the opposite direction to try to achieve the result. I wore myself out going in circles to get back to the place God originally wanted me at to begin with.
I finally learned that I had to do what I did today on the golf course. Give up. I had to learn to surrender to God's will not my own. Only by listening to His plan, His directions, His goals could I achieve the target He had for me.
Sometimes I have to be reminded of that lesson. I know that only by following the Master can I hit the goals God has. I am glad God reminded me of that today because I am sure He has a reason...maybe tomorrow He will show me a target to aim for. I want to be ready to surrender before I start! Surrender to His will!
I remember years ago participating in a skit called sin don’t touch. The idea behind the skit being that a chair represents sin and God points to the chair and says no one is to touch it. Of course man comes along and immediately touches it and gets stuck to the chair. It was a humorous little sketch used to illustrate a point.
What got me thinking about this skit?
I was up early on a Sun. morning and flipped on the TV to catch the weather. Across my screen came a televangelist. I don’t remember which one and it’s not real important. He was talking a lot about blessings. However he made it sound very cheap and easy to acquire and never mentioned sin, repentance, surrender, etc.
Now I believe fully God blesses His children. That’s not really the point.
I was just realizing that I never here sin talked about anymore. Now granted I haven’t been to every church in the world and your church may talk about sin and repentance. If so thank God! I rejoice with you.
However I notice many times I never here anything mentioned about sin, a need for a savior, repentance, anything. Just recently an article in a Canadian magazine even posed the thought that Jesus wasn’t needed in church today!
How sad. Are people being made aware they have a problem and that there is only ONE way out? God abundantly blesses His children but before we can have abundant blessings and become His children we need to have repentance. Before we can repent we have to know there is sin! It’s why I wear a t-shirt that says Sin is the leading cause of death! (Romans 6:23)
So let’s touch the topic of sin. Address it while we can and point people to the hope that is in Jesus Christ!
The bobcat went into the tub with no problem. Of course then we turned the water on and all of our best laid plans went out the window. For the bobcat it quickly turned into a fight for survival. She was having none of this bath stuff and away she went. The harder we tried to keep her in the tub the more she began tearing into our arms. As she repeatedly scratched at us, she eventually made it out of the tub and started climbing the walls.
Finally in resignation my Dad decided, wisely, that this wouldn’t work and we let her run free.
The bobcat knew how to flee when she was in perceived danger.
I wish I knew how to do the same thing.
I love the story of Joseph. In Genesis 39 we find the story of Joseph. Joseph had been abused roughly by his brothers and sold into slavery. Eventually God moved him into a position of authority. Then Potipher’s wife decided she wanted a little one on one time with Joseph. However Joseph resisted her charms. Finally one day she grabbed a hold of him and begged him to spend some alone time with her. Joseph, not unlike my bobcat, fled when he perceived the danger!
There are times in my life when I do this. I run like the wind when temptation, any temptation hits. Unfortunately, there are times where I linger and see what might develop. Bad news. Nothing ever good comes from flirting with temptation. I recognize my need to flee. Does this ever happen to you?
If so I encourage you to practice fleeing like a bobcat getting ready to be dunked, the next time a temptation to sin hits.
Just A Thought
Col 3:19 says "Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them."
I bought a t-shirt not to long ago with the simple statement: I Love My Wife. Nothing fancy, just a plain blue shirt with I love my wife written in small print on the front. The shirt has special meaning for me. After 13+ years of marriage I can say the statement still holds true. However for me the meaning is even deeper.
You see I was a jerk. I did not always treat my wife as the princess she is. Due to sin in my life and not trusting God to help me I came very close to wrecking my marriage. However God is a God of restoration. He allowed me to bring my sin into the light and the He dealt with it. He also repaired my marriage in ways that were even better than the day I said, "I do!" To God be the Glory!
So when I saw this t-shirt it became a must have purchase for me. I received a few comments on it around town but nothing, NOTHING like what happened on a recent trip to Europe!
I was going through airport security in England when the security agent called attention to my shirt and asked if this could be true. Then a clerk at an airport shop asked if my wife bought it for me. I replied to both and made a note of the reaction.
However when I arrived in Croatia it was a whole new scenario. While sitting at a coffee shop with a friend a stranger walked up to ask if this could be true. He then wanted some details. Later that day another man stopped me in a park to ask about it and a clerk at a deli mentioned it as well.
So what is the big deal? Is it because so many marriages end in divorce? Is it because men don't make such public statements anymore? Has sin run so rampant that people don't believe in love anymore? Probably yes to all 3!
I believe God is a God of restoration. He did it for my wife and I. God is concerned for our families. He wants whole families taking forth His Word to the nations.
If you have a story of restoration I would love to hear it. Let's testify of God's goodness together!
Cows were herded up the rural dirt roads a few miles from the main town. Livestock, typical of a farm area, could be seen all around in the fields.
I was spending the day with a Christian friend from
A little over one hundred years ago this country village had ten public wells built at various locations around the town. Farmers would come to get water and various military units would water their horses there as well as they passed through the town. As the years went by the wells began to run dry. One by one they stopped giving their cool, refreshing liquid. All accept one.
Only one well has never ceased to give its needed refreshment. Each time a bucket is lowered down the well it comes back up fool of cold, refreshing, clear water. Visiting this well I was reminded of another story about a different well.
We all need the water from the well that never runs dry. I know in my own life I have felt really refreshed of late. So sit back and drink of the Lord!
I use to have a pet bobcat. Now, I know that may sound a bit strange, but I am from
One thing I use to love to do is play hide and seek with my bobcat. The cat would come into whatever room I was in, make a guttural sound with its throat and then take off running. You could go from room to room searching for it and when you finally found it the cat would do the same thing again. Sometimes I’d mix it up and let the cat look for me…it would do that as well.
Hide and Seek is a fun game. I used to love playing it as a child. This was especially true if there was a large enough group and a lot of spaces to hide. We’d sometimes play until dusk, which helped us to find a better place to hide.
Even now I like to play hide and seek. However, today I like to play hide and seek with the Lord. I got the idea from the Bible. What? No, it’s true! I’m not kidding. Look at these 2 verses:
“I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
“But seek first the
I want to hide the Word of the Lord in my heart daily. Like a treasure, I want to keep it there so that I can draw upon it and not sin against God. I know He can keep my feet secure.
I also want to seek God first and foremost. Nothing else matters. I want to cling to Him like a dying man to a lifeboat! I want to know Him more!
So, I invite you to join in the fun and play Hide and Seek with God. Your life will never be the same
Life...Jesus came so that we can have life! LIFE!!!! So how come His children sometimes look half-dead? I don't mean to offend anyone here but did you see that word LIFE!!!!! Now I have to admit there have been times where I have felt half-dead in my walk with the Lord. Yet I don't believe God wants that nor does He expect that of His children. He wants us to have Life and to have it more abundantly.
I am not talking about physical or financial blessings. I am talking about relationship. Naked intimacy with God. Running to Him, with Him! Communing with Him. Talking, living, rejoicing, fellowshipping! LIFE!!!!
Yes Life can be hard. Things happen. Disease, poverty, death. However the Word says in Romans 8:35 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? and in Rom 8:37-39 it says "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I want LIFE with Him more than I want life itself. I want to breathe Him, embrace Him, worship Him! I want to go deeper! Deeper into Christ Jesus! Deeper with the Father. I want Life! I want nothing else to matter. I want Life! True Abundant Life! One focused on Him! I don't want to get a life, I want to GET LIFE! How about you?
I was listening to the news tonight about the economy and grain scarcity around the world. This led to a discussion with my daughter about recession, depression, etc. We then began to talk about the important things in life. That's when I took a trip down memory lane.......
I began telling my daughter about my teen years, when our family was not well off financially. I talked to her about living in poverty and told her the stories of selling all our possessions to eat, 7 weeks with no electricity or water, one room cabins, etc. However I also told her about the blessings.
In the midst of all that we went through over those 5+ long years one thing stands out. God never left us! He never abandoned us. He never let us go without a meal or a place to lay our head or a roof over our head! He met ALL of our basic needs. Food, clothing, shelter. As I look back now and see the miracles during that time I realize that even in the midst of suffering God was there. He was watching out for us. I also see how He used this time to prepare me for life as a missionary and life as an adult.
I learned a powerful lesson from this time! God is in control. He loves us, cares for us and wants us to lean on Him not our own understanding!
My daughter also thought it was fascinating to hear the true story of my youth and she also expressed how she saw God's hand at work. Telling the stories to the next generation......
LEAN ON ME (The Trust Game)Did you ever play Trust growing up? The game may have been called something else where you lived or when you grew up, but the basic premise is you close your eyes, fold your arms and fall backwards, trusting your friends to catch you. How many of you peeked? How many stumbled backwards, afraid to totally let go? I did both. I could never truly trust my friends would catch me. It's not that I didn't have great friends because I did. It was because people let you down. I didn't want to be the one "let down" during the game!
Sadly, I have sometimes treated God the same way as I did my friends . God says in His Word that He can supply ALL of our needs according to His riches in Glory. Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Do I lean backwards and trust God to do it? Unfortunately not always. I am more like Yes, but God, I need "X", surely you can't do that, surely you want me to solve this my way It is too big/little of a problem for you to care/notice.
I recognize now it goes back to an issue of faith. Do I trust God to be EVERYTHING I need. Is He really going to catch me if I fall. Can I trust Him for a physical, emotional, spiritual healing? Surely He would want me on meds for depression, exhaustion, emotional imbalance! Wait, He can meet ALL my needs. Yes but....(all a but is saying is that God can't do the impossible!)....Either He is God, the God of the impossible or He is a liar....which would you rather call Him? I want to trust Him. I fail sometimes but I am striving to TRUST God completely. My prayer has become that found in Mark 9:24 "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
Just A Thought
No, it just seems that the world is going down hill fast. Today while sitting in a meeting my mind drifted. Happens sometimes. Today I was thinking about those laws Moses brought down from the mountain top.
God set a standard. Not just with the commandments, but the whole Bible is filled with God's standard for us. Yet today it seems society is trying desperately to lower God's standard. The sad part is the "church" seems to be leading the way!
To many denominations are winking at sins God said were wrong. Things are being ordained from the pulpit that God clearly said were off limits. Why? Why is the "church" compromising?
Instead of lowering God's standards should we not be raising our own? Should we not try to live our lives reflecting God? If God said don't touch why are we out fondling those exact same things? Now is the time to repent! Now is the time to raise up our standards and to turn our lives completely over to the King of Kings.
God's Word is not a book of suggestions. It is filled with standards that if we live by them will produce an abundant and fruitful life.
It's time for the church to hit its knees and repent of the sin of compromise!
It was a cool night in mid-May. My wife and I had just returned from the mission field just 2 weeks earlier. I had gone to a friend’s house for a meeting with other members of my church. We were there to discuss how we would follow up on recent converts from a local Billy Graham Evangelistic Association event. I never expected my friend’s daughter to remind me about our relationship with God.
As we sat in the kitchen before the meeting, drinking coffee and talking, I saw the young girl don a pair of gloves, hat and sweater and slip out onto the porch. She walked up to a hummingbird feeder, which was located on a deck off of the kitchen. What I saw after that left me amazed. I have loved hummingbirds since I was a child. I always thought they were so interesting and they remind me of the beauty of God’s creation. Maybe this is why the scene impacted me so much.
She reached the feeder and put a hand on either side of it. She then became completely still as a half dozen hummingbirds immediately flew up around her, with one getting mere inches from her face. They rested on her hand and were trying to get nectar from the buttons of her sweater. She did not blink or fidget as they buzzed around her head.
Her mother told us how the birds tend to walk up and down her hand when she doesn’t wear gloves. She then said how her daughter has mentioned that when she closes her eyes and listens that she can tell the difference between the male and females hummingbirds by their sound. Not by sight but by sound!
I was amazed. I went home that evening and told my wife and her parents, who we were staying with at the time, what I had seen. I have never seen this kind of interaction before between hummingbirds and people. As I was falling to sleep that night I was reflecting on the beauty of God’s creation and then it hit me. I saw a parallel between my friend’s daughter listening to the hummingbirds and a Christian listening for the Lord’s voice. I was reminded of 1 kings 19:11 –13, which talks about the Lord coming in a gentle whisper. Reflecting on this scripture I thought about how this little girl remained so still at the feeder and just listened to the sounds of the hummingbirds. This is exactly what we, as Christians, should be doing in our quiet times with God. Instead of coming to Him with a list of requests and saying amen, we need to take the time to be silent and listen to His voice. The Bible says we will know His voice. (John 10:4) We can only know it if we take time to listen.
I am glad I saw the “hummingbird kid” that day. God used her to teach me more about His character. I don’t know if hummingbirds will always fascinate her as she grows up but I am glad they did on that day. We accomplished a lot at this meeting but I think God taught me a whole lot more about Himself as well