Wednesday, May 30, 2007
"God's plan is completely different from what you could ever imagine and much more glorious than you would ever expect."
I found this article a few weeks ago, and have been thinking about it since...take a moment, read the story, and then allow me to make a few comments.
February 26, 2007—After rumbling for weeks, part of a poor Guatemala City neighborhood plummeted some 30 stories into the Earth on Friday. The reportedly 330-foot-deep (100-meter-deep) sinkhole swallowed about a dozen homes and is so far blamed in the deaths of three people—two teenagers, found floating in torrent of sewage, and their father, who was pulled from the chasm. Rainstorms and a ruptured sewer main may have caused the sinkhole, officials in Guatemala told the Associated Press. After the collapse, the seemingly bottomless depths gave off tremors, sounds of flowing water, and the scent of sewage. Sinkholes can occur when underground rocks that can be dissolved by water—such as salt, gypsum, and limestone—are inundated. The removal of groundwater can also leave gaps underground that can lead to sinkholes. While the cause of the Guatemala City abyss remains uncertain, it's effects are undeniable.
I was fascinated by this story because of the depth and size of this sink hole. It must have been developing for a long time, and then, suddenly (or so it seems) the earth falls, and leaves this huge hole. The reason it caught my attention is because it reminded me of what the Bible describes when it talks about sin's effects. It may not appear that sin has any effect right now, but its erosion is guaranteed- it's gradual and progressive, but there will be a day when we will see its results. There will also be a day when we will see sin's impact in a life, and in a culture. There will be a day when the "earth gives way" and we will see what sin has done.
People think that since nothing has happened so far then all is well, but there's an erosion going on below the surface that may take some time to see, and then suddenly (or so it seems) life crumbles and leaves a huge hole.
Psa 7:15 He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, And has fallen into the hole which he made.
(An afterthought- I realize that this post left something out- the cross of Christ! My thoughts as I wrote, thinking about the sink hole, were meant to deal with the results of sin in our lives apart from the cross. I was not considering the work of Christ in my thoughts, but was focused on the issue of sin in a life not taken to the cross. This whole post looks completely different when seen through the cross, so please understand that the focus of this post is on sin and it's impact apart from Christ's finished work. Thanks. -Mike)
Monday, May 28, 2007
Last summer I was in Russia, south of Moscow, with a short term mission team. It was a very interesting week- encounters with the new secret police and all. We developed some great relationships and got to visit with a number of different people. But from this week I learned one thing that stuck with me more than anything else- We had a translator with us, a really sweet Christian lady, Irina, from a city south of Moscow, my lesson came from her. It was a real treat to get to know Irina. But what I want to share is something I learned from her, something I learned from watching her. She had a wonderful, sweet spirit, and it was a real help to us in our visits. I watched her as she translated for us. There were times when the "volume" of the discussion rose with the emotions of each persons passions, and this dear lady did something I had never seen before- she controled the discussion by LOWERING the volume...it was amazing to watch. Suddenly everyone would fall silent so they could hear what she said. She calmed the emotions of the moment by lowering the volume and bringing a gentle tone to the moment.
I had to do that today....I learned it in Russia from Irina....I had commented on a web site discussing faith, and was instantly and soundly ridiculed. I have been through this before, so it didn't bother me at all. So I took what I learned in Russia and applied it to this encounter- I lowered the volume, responded in love. Even though all of this was done with a keyboard it was amazingly effective. The tone changed, and I had a great opportunity for a visit with this person.
It's loud out there! I have been following some of the discussions about faith on the internet and the "volume" is way too high for my taste. Those who ridicule faith are hostile, mean-spirited, and angry. Unfortunately many of those who are believers are responding in the same way....and so no one is listening....but everyone is talking. If we want an audience with the world then our dialogue in person and online must be done in love. We must not respond in the same tones as those we are talking with....it only causes them to put their fingers in their ears and stop listening.
I saw a short "on the street" video asking two questions- 1. What do you think of Jesus? and, 2. What do you think of Christians? I was surprised by the answers. Everyone had great things to say about Jesus (that didn't surprise me), but were not too favorable about Christians.....we have done something wrong....we have not imitated our master, and because of that many are not listening. If you find yourself in an encounter, in person or online, that is confrontational, take a moment, lower the volume and respond in love. In a post-Christian culture the only example of what Jesus looks like may be YOU.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. The day when we remember those who have given their lives to protect our country. For many, it's simply a nice holiday weekend, but I hope you will take a moment to say "thank you" to the millions who have died for this country.
Even today....this Memorial Day...there are men and women risking their lives to protect our country. Pray for them.
Thanks to all of you who are serving our country in the military. Thank you for protecting us.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Psa 25:12 Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
Choices matter! Each choice takes us down a road that has many more choices ahead, but the one thing that isn't available to us, when we have made a choice, is the opportunity to make the choices that would have been on the road we DIDN'T take. What I mean is this- If I choose to get angry with a friend, vent my anger at that person, tell them what I think....then there will be other choices that follow that choice...for me and for my friend, but the one choice I no longer have is the choice to not vent how I feel....and I no longer have the choices that would go with that choice... the choices to be quiet, to forgive, to love, to let an offense go....and to be able to see all the choices that one choice generates from the other person as well.
All of those choices are now gone for me...I didn't take that road, so I have no idea what options there are for me if I had chosen that action. My one choice creates avenues for hundreds of others, but the one choice I no longer can choose is the alternate choice to my first choice......I've gone "west", "east" is not an option for me now. Are you confused yet?
I've been thinking about this in my own life. I have choices to make about what I say, what I do, how I interact, how I respond to my emotions, how I respond to situations, how I respond to everything! And all of that, unfiltered, will be a series of choices that eliminate other choices.
I realize that I need a road map, a filtering system, a way to evaluate my hundreds of daily choices because my heart is selfish. I will not choose well without help...and that's why I read and pour over the bible. It's the road map, the filter that will help me make the right choice so that I have the opportunity to make other right choices ahead.
My wife tells the story of traveling to her mother’s home a few years ago, and on the trip she made a wrong turn onto a toll-way. As soon as she made the choice she knew she had made a mistake, but there was no option to turn around, her choice forced her in the wrong direction….and for 25 miles she had to go in the wrong direction (there were no exits) until she could find an exit, turn around and go the right way. Her one choice dictated other choices ahead of her. And she had to pay for her mistake both ways!
I see this in lives around me. When every choice we make is filtered through the “what do I want” filter those choices will lead us down a road with a whole series of other choices, but we will completely miss all the choices that were on the road of “what does God want”. As I think through this in my mind it begins to cascade in my thinking….the choice and the result….what happens next….it’s like the domino competitions I have seen…thousands of dominoes all stacked in a certain way, and then one domino is tipped over…it creates a cascade of responses from the other dominoes…one choice creates a whole series of results.
How are you making your choices?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
See if you can find the hidden "thing" in the picture, and tell me what it is. Also, time yourself...how long did it take? (Just want to see how smart you guys are.)
I believe the bible is the word of God, inspired and preserved by God, and without errors, conflicts or defects.
I believe Jesus Christ is God, come in flesh to provide salvation for the human race.
I believe there is salvation in no one else other than Christ…there is no other name in heaven or earth that will provide salvation for mankind.
I believe he really did die on a cross to pay my sin debt, and faith in him and his sacrifice will provide eternal salvation.
I really do believe in heaven and hell.
I believe that God actually did make the heavens and earth in 6 days.
I believe in Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, and all the other stories of the bible…I believe these people really existed and I look forward to meeting them some day.
I believe that God is who he says he is…he is sovereign, Lord of heaven and earth, the only God.
I believe that God loves the human race, and desires that all men be saved.
I believe there are angels, demons and the devil just because the bible says so.
There is so much more, but let me stop here. What I want to say clearly is that I have made some choices….I believe the bible. I believe it’s all true. I have staked my eternity on it, and do it with great joy. I have a sure hope, and look forward to seeing God face to face.
Now, I know that when any of us takes a position of faith we become a target for those who disagree. But to make a stand is so important, to know what you believe and why is vital for each of us….where do you stand? Do you have a list of “I believe” for your life? Are you bold enough to share them? Are they important enough to change your life and eternity?
What do you believe?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Psa 14:1 To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
Psa 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
Psa 14:3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Looking back I know why now, but I have never done this before...I just don't get sick, and haven't been in hospital since I was 9. For some reason, at midnight, I got up, got dressed and went to hospital.
In the emergency room a nurse came in to see what was wrong with me. I told her I had a cold or something like it, and just couldn't breathe. She left the room, and in a few minutes came back with a pill and told me to put it under my tongue. I obeyed....
The next thing I remember I'm on the floor surrounded by doctors and nurses. I had passed out!
Now, mind you, I had yet to see or talk to a doctor...they simply assumed if I had chest congestion I must have a heart problem, and so they gave me a nitro pill. BUT I don't have heart problems, in fact I had been an active bicyclist riding 20+ miles per day for years. This little pill, meant to help those with heart problems, caused my blood pressure to crash, and I passed out, fell on the floor and hit my head. Now I'm really hurt!
Now, suddenly, I'm getting CAT scans, x-rays....etc., and find myself in intensive care! All I had was a cold, now I'm in intensive care! (That's why I don't go to hospitals!)
But, what I didn't know was that God had a plan, and it really had very little to do with me.
So, I spend a night in intensive care because of the hospital's mistakes....what's going on? The next day some of our men from the church came to visit with me. One of the men, Eric, owned a business, and had an older man working for him who had become very ill. Eric had shared his faith with this man a number of times, and the man had refused Christ or faith....now this man is two rooms down from me in the intensive care unit, in a coma, dying....
After a short visit Eric said, "Since I'm here I should stop and see ____." He didn't see much point to seeing him because the man was in a coma and they didn't expect him to recover...but since he was there to see me he said he would stop by this man's room before he left.
Eric went into the room, the man awoke from his coma, Eric shared the gospel with him once more and this dying man trusted Christ....the next day he died.
Now here's an amazing thing...I was in the hospital by God's amazing plan so I would be in intensive care so Eric would come to lead this man to Christ. What an amazing love God has that he would care for this dying man so much that he would put me through all of that just so this poor man could find Christ!
Now before I finish I must tell you that this man had wasted his life. He was in his 60's when he died. He was an alcoholic, had spent decades in prison and his children were in prison as he lay dying. Like the thief on the cross next to Jesus this man had nothing to offer God but a wasted life and the need for a savior. What an amazing love God has for us that he would die for us when we bring nothing to him but our empty, wasted lives, and in exchange he gives us his life and salvation.
What an amazing love!
"Every now and then I post about a great blog I have found. I want others to be able to read and enjoy.
Two blogs that I don't ever like to miss are Joyeful Things , and Finishing Well .
I think I have mentioned Joyeful things before, I have probably been reading hers the longest. Finishing well is her husband who is a pastor. They are so inspiring to me, they are very real and their posts are very inspiring. I don't know them besides from their blogs, but they have ministered greatly to me just through their blogs. If I am ever having a frustrating day I can go read these blogs and they inspire me to get out of my rut. Even though I have never met them, they are a dear couple to me. They have such a heart for God and people. They are some great role-models on this new path of ministry my husband and I have found ourselves on. I glean so much Godly loving wisdom from them.
I actually found both of them through their daughter. I really enjoyed her blog a lot because I could relate to her life. She was a mother of three who were around the same ages as my three and she wrote about her daily life as a mom. I still enjoy reading her blog too. She recently just had her fourth child, and again I find myself on the same path it seems. Maybe I can get some wise counsel from Life in the shoe, as I am thinking I am crazy and my life is about to get even crazier adding a fourth child.
But if you ever need to be inspired, want to read some well written, real people, very thought provoking posts I definitely recommend "Joyeful things", and "Finishing Well" and "Life in the Shoe". These are must reads for me. Just wanted to highlight some of my favorite's."
So, be encouraged today...God is working in your life, and at times we will see a little bit of what he is up to....one day we will see it all, and will fall at his feet in worship. What an awesome God!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Take a moment...turn off all the noise around you...and read this shortest of all the Psalms. Then dwell on the words for a minute....I'll share my thoughts at the end.
Psa 117:1 Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!
Psa 117:2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!
This is the shortest Psalm. Some think it should be connected to the next chapter, but take a moment and look at what it is focusing on- God's love and his truth. These are key elements to who he is and what he communicates to us. It's also interesting to me that Solomon said in Proverbs 3:3 "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart." Is he talking about the character choices of kindness and truth or is he referring to God's presence?
It's interesting to me that these are keys to who God is, and also important to make a part of who we are. "Bind them around your neck", what an interesting wording choice. In other words wear them like jewelry in plain sight to you and others. Make them one the of the first things people see about you. It's fascinating to me that kindness and truth are almost extinct in our world today....what better way for us to stand out than to make the very character of God the first thing people see in us.
Wear kindness and truth like a necklace for the world to see...it will be the most beautiful jewelry you will ever wear.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
As I grow in my faith two things help me- 1. the bible which teaches me truth, and 2. the Spirit who reveals himself and shows me who I am. Both of these are like mirrors...revealing what God wants and then showing me where I am. When I read the word I see God's goal for me, and then he reveals me to me...and I see how far I am from the mark. When the Holy Spirit works in my heart I hear from him, and what he wants for me....and I'm convicted and must deal with the me that is and the me that should be. Now, I must say that my goal is not to change me, it's to let the word of God and his Spirit do that. What I must do is be available for him to work. I won't be changed unless I'm willing.....and my will and flesh are the big enemies of what God wants to do in me. The more time I spend with God in his word, listening to the Spirit speak to my heart, the more I see my own reflection in contrast to what God wants me to be, the more I see my need for him to make me what I should be.
Years ago I was in Mexico with a missionary. He took me to a potter's house. This potter made pots the way they did in ancient Israel. We watched him work on a vase. It was beautiful. He was almost done, and then with a quick movement he smashed the vase into a pile of clay again. I asked the missionary why he had done that...ruined that beautiful vase. He asked the potter my question and got back a one word reply, "lumps". If he had fired that vase with the lumps in the vase and not worked them out it would have broken in the fire. He had to get the lumps out.
And that's what I'm working on this morning....lumps. As the Spirit and the word reveal me to me, I see lumps....and the blow to smash me into a pile of clay again so he can refine me is painful, but the goal will be glorious....
2Ti 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
Friday, May 11, 2007
I don't often deal with current events in this blog, but this is too good to pass up. It caught my attention because it is so strange, offbeat, unusual.
"LONDON, England -- Pedestrians all over the world are moving faster than a decade ago, according to scientists who have conducted a study into the pace at which people walk.
Psychologists say walking speeds have increased by an average of 10 percent in the past 10 years.
People in the greatest hurry live in Singapore, according to the study of cities in 32 countries. Following in their footsteps are residents of Copenhagen in Denmark and Madrid in Spain.
Researchers in each city found a busy street with a wide pavement that was flat, free from obstacles and sufficiently uncrowded to allow people to walk at their maximum speed.
The speed of each city's walkers was then timed by a team researchers, armed with stopwatches.
The pace of life in our major cities is now much quicker than before. This increase in speed will affect more people than ever, because for the first time in history the majority of the world's population are now living in urban center," Wiseman said.
The biggest changes were found in the Far East. In Singapore, walking pace had increased by 30 percent and in Guangzhou, China, the pace was more than 20 percent quicker.
Here is a list, in order, of the cities ranked by the speeds at which people walk:
1) Singapore (Singapore) and lastly.... 32) Blantyre (Malawi)" (I left out the middle 30 to shorten the list.) " --CNN.com
So here's what I'm thinking....this is much ado about nothing! We are rushing around, so busy with our lives that we have to increase our walking pace to just get everything done. We have become a world in a hurry going nowhere!
The place on the list that was most interesting to me was the city with the slowest pace- Blantyre, Malawi. I got online to research this city I have never heard of. It's in East Africa.
Which end of this list is the winner? Which place is the most appealing? Why am I even asking?
I'm curious....why are we in such a hurry? What are we accomplishing? We are so busy, with noise all around us, that we never get time to stop, be quiet and think. We rush through our lives with no idea of what we are doing or what our purpose is. At least at our funerals we can encourage the family, "he was busy!"
Psa 46:10 "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."
Thursday, May 10, 2007
That reality, at times, frustrates me. I want to "get good" at this, but that is not an option...it's a daily walk of letting Christ walk in and through me as I walk through my day. It's a daily dependence upon him...trusting him to do in me what I can't. Today I must do it again. There is no pill that I can take to cover the whole week, I must do this daily, walking with Christ in the moments of my day. What a great life.....
Rom 7:22 I truly delight in God's commands,
Rom 7:23 but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
Rom 7:24 I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
Rom 7:25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
As Francis Schaffer said, "He is there, and He is not silent" but you can't hear him with the ear, you can't see him with the eye, you can't touch him with your fingers. You must come to Him by faith alone.
Now, you may ask, do you ever doubt God? Do you ever doubt whether he is really there or not? Does your faith ever waiver? I think the honest answer from any human heart is "YES!" Faith walking is contrary to everything in us, and is highly ridiculed by our flesh and our culture. I have been called foolish, gullible, stupid...and other names given by those who are spiritually dead and cannot see what I see…so they scoff. I don't resent them, in fact I feel sorry for them...if they could only see with the eyes of faith....if they could only see….
There is so much to see. Have you ever gone out with a friend, sat on the hillside and just looked at the clouds? "I see an elephant" one says, and the other replies, "I see a bull." The clouds can stimulate our imagination, and we all need that. But faith is not imagination, it’s not a belief in a fantasy. It’s not pretending something is true contrary to the facts.
Faith walking is a response to the God of the universe who made an appearance in time and history. He became man, proved who he was by what he did, then died for sin, rose from the dead and returned to heaven until a day coming in the near future. That touch of God in time and history has given us a “rock” to tie our faith to. It has provided us with all we need to trust the God who became a man and told me about himself, what he wants me to do, how he wants me to live, and proved it all by his miracles and resurrection.
Faith walking is not tied to my imagination, it’s tied to time and history. It’s my response to the appearance of God on planet earth. And because of the fact of the life of Jesus Christ I can live a life KNOWING that what I believe is true. Millions have taken this walk to the very doors of death for their belief. You wouldn’t do that for a dream, a good story, or a fantasy.
I love this walk of faith…this opportunity to trust the God who is there….I have often described it this way- imagine you are 40,000 feet in the air on a little 1 foot by 1 foot platform (dizzy yet?), and there in nothing else around, no other place to stand…you are on the only safe place to be 40,000 feet in the air! Then, quietly you hear a voice say, “take a step.” You immediately look for the source of the voice, but you know it’s God speaking, and you reply, “where do I step?” The Lord says, “trust me, take a step…” and with great fear, you do and there, suddenly, unseen to you before is a 1 foot by 1 foot platform awaiting your arrival! You are thrilled! But you quickly look back and discover that the platform you were standing on is gone. Once again, you are on the only place to stand. Then, again you hear the voice, “take another step”… with faith growing you do, and find the air is ready for your foot, the platform is there for your arrival, but the one behind you is gone….and soon faith grows and you are running in mid-air, not worried about where you will step because you KNOW that God will provide, and he always does….that’s faith walking.
Enjoy the journey, there’s nothing more exciting that trusting the God who is there!
“People despise Christian faith. They hate it and are afraid that it may be true. The solution for this is to show them, first of all, that it is not unreasonable, that it is worthy of reverence and respect. Then show that it is winsome, making good men desire that it were true. Then show them that it really is true. It is worthy of reverence because it really understands the human condition. It is also attractive because it promises true goodness.” --Blaise Pascal
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
I couldn't believe my luck! My wife and I were at the bookstore today, and I found a book that I have wanted to read for only $5.00!
The author, Blaise Pascal, lived in the 17th century, but is still considered one of the world's great thinkers. I'm really looking forward to some time to sit down with a cup of coffee and begin to read this great work.
I'll keep you updated...
Thursday, May 03, 2007
I am waking up to a dilemma....my coffee roaster died last night! Now, I know....it's not the end of the world, but you must understand that fresh roasted coffee is the stuff they will serve in heaven, it's wonderful. So I'm having some angst this morning over my new reality...I will have to buy my beans ALREADY ROASTED! Woe is me! What will I do?
Now, you may say what's the big deal...but if you only knew. It's amazing...fresh roasted coffee is great. Ok, enough pouting. I must do as they do in Haiti....make do. The Haitians have an expression, "Degaje!" It means make do. In Haiti everything is broken, so they must make do with what they have. So, for me, this is a degaje day...I will make do and get my coffee the old fashioned way...from the store...until I can get another roaster. So, if you see me, give me a pat on the back and that understanding look.
I am in "degaje" mode today.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Mat 6:32 People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.
Mat 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Mat 6:34 "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.