Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday's cartoon

Writing your own story

Life is a great adventure....or at least it should be....
I'm in the middle of Donald Miller's book "A million miles in a thousand years" and I am really enjoying it. He talking about living out his story, or rather realizing that his life is a story lived out. I thought about that and wondered....if my life were a book would anyone want to read it? Would it be boring, scary, an adventure, a narrative or a fairy tale? I'm fascinated by this idea of my life being a story I'm living, a story I'm writing. It has me thinking differently about the events of the day. I'm looking at things a little different than I have in the past. Often a day is something to simply endure or a meeting something to get through, but if, as Miller writes, my life is a wonderful adventure of my walk with God (and it should be) then how am I viewing the events of my days? Am I on a pirate ship looking for adventure or am I on a cruise ship enjoying the moment not really caring about the sights to see? Writing my own story adds an element to life, a texture, that I had never considered. I have no illusions that my life is an exciting adventure, a story of mystery and intrigue, a story of a great hero saving the world, but I don't want to miss the adventure God is inviting me to walk with him. It may not be a story anyone else would want to read, but it's a story I don't want to miss living.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Children, costumes and candy

It's that time of the year...time to purchase mass quantities of candy for all the cute little children who will be visiting your house tonight. It's a great time to see all the "little monsters" making the rounds in some really strange costumes. For them it's great fun. For us it's an evening of answering the doorbell and passing out candy until we exhaust the supply. For our poor dog it's an evening of constant vigil as he guards our home with barks and bravado when he sees the strange masks worn by each child. Halloween, for kids, is all about the candy. For me it's money spent I didn't want to spend....oh wait, it's not time for me to a be Grinch yet. Sorry about that. Have fun and eat lots of candy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everyone is invited

Heb. 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
There's an amazing thing that happened a couple thousand years ago. God the son came and died on a tree to provide unlimited access to God the Father for anyone who wants to talk to him. In our day we take this for granted as the norm, but it's not the way it has always been. Now we have unlimited access to God without the need for someone to stand between us, because Jesus has already done that and opened the door to heaven to invite everyone to come in, approach God, talk to him and find all we need to live this life. We are so blessed to be able to come to God and ask for his help. Why don't we?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One of those days

It's one of those days. My brain is empty and I honestly can't think of anything to think about. So, for today.........

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More than dreams

Joye and I are watching a video called "More than Dreams." The video tells the stories of five people who have come to faith in Christ. Each of them wanted to know God personally and this video tells their stories. The stories are amazing. The story we watched tonight was told by a man who came to faith in Christ while at Mecca on his Hajj. In the midst of the most holy time in his faith as a Muslim Jesus sought him out and he found salvation and forgiveness of sin.
We have seen three of the stories and anxiously watch one each night. These stories of faith are so encouraging and remind me afresh of how much God loves us and desires a relationship with us. It's inspiring to know and see that God is still seeking lost sinners. My evangelistic heart is sensing a new fire building....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday's cartoon

And, since it's late October, here's one for the season and hopefully a smile instead of a tear-

Happy Birthday!


Today is my wife's birthday. It's been my great joy (no pun intended) to be part of her life for these 35 plus years. Happy Birthday, sweetie.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Garage Door Opener

As an avid motorcyclist I loved this video. I thought you would like this amazing new garage door opener. You might not get it to work as well as this man has, but it will make you smile.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

God has spoken

I take it for granted, but I know I shouldn't. I have a bible....rather, if you know me well you know that I have a bunch of bibles. I love God's word. If possible I'm reading his word at least an hour a day. It brings life into focus for me. I cannot see or understand the world, my life or the situations around me without it. His words are more important to us than the food we eat. I know many people in the world do not know God nor do they know that he has spoken to us. But I'm so glad that he has clearly told us of himself, of the world and has put life in focus. Without his word we couldn't see anything clearly.

Saturday's cartoon

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The most important thing

This morning I'm reading in Colossians 1 and come, once more, to verses 13-20. This is an amazing section. It's the description of the incomparable Christ and his place in time and eternity. This morning I got stuck on this one phrase, "so that He Himself (Jesus) will come to have first place in everything." I read that over a couple times and began to think....God is working in this world and in our lives so that Jesus Christ will come to have first place in EVERYTHING! In my life, in my mind, in my priorities, in our government and in our world. God's plan is focused on one thing- the elevation of Jesus Christ above all things. I'm struggling with my words here, but as I think about this my mind wanders to these thoughts....what would it look like if Jesus had first place in everything in my life? In my work? In my family? In our country? In our world? One day he will have first place in everything, but today, in this moment I can begin to fulfill God's plans for the ages by giving Jesus first place in ME. In my work, my life, my family.... What would it look like for Jesus to have first place in me as I think about money? What would it look like for Jesus to have first place in my thinking? What would happen to my fears if he had first place? How would I speak about the government if he had first place? What would happen to my worries if he had first place? If he is really God, and he is, if he really will have first place in everything at some point in the future, how wise would it be for me to begin to give him first place in me and in all I touch? This is the kingdom of God beginning to get a foothold in this world by getting a foothold in my life. When I give him first place I'm introducing the world to the Kingdom of God in an individual life. I'm letting him rule in me...and as he rules in me he transforms how I think, how I view the world, my situations and the world around me. As I give him first place I show the world around me what everything will look like soon...when he will have first place in everything. This rule, this kingdom and his ultimate place in the universe begins with me...begins in my life as I let him rule....join me as we introduce the world to the Kingdom of God by letting Jesus have first place in you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marching to Rephidim revisited

In April of 2008 I wrote the following post in two parts. It's been a great blessing to me and to many others over the years. I thought I would share it with you once more....

There is a passage of scripture that I often go to for comfort and reminder. It's a very strange place to go for such things, but it has proven to provide them to me. It is part of the story of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. They have left Egypt, crossed the sea on dry land, and are being led by God with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the middle of this odyssey we come to this passage, Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD..... . Day by day, led by the cloud and the pillar, they are following God's leading...following him and trusting him. Then, in this short verse we find these words, and they camped at Rephidim... . They camped here by God's leading! But you must see the end of the verse to understand how important this passage is, and there was no water for the people to drink. When this passage first became clear to me this last phrase stopped me, and my response was, "WHAT?!?! You took them to a place where there was no water? And you took them there ON PURPOSE!?" Yes he did. And he will lead us to places like this....places in the desert where there is no water. Dry places, places where we ask, "why did you bring me here?" That will become clear in a moment, but you need to know that dry places are in God's plan for our lives. When you find yourself at your Rephidim know that it didn't happen by accident, God has led you there. He's working in your life....he has a plan.

Let me make this one thing clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim on a place where there wasn't any water. Did I make that part clear yet? Why? That's a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It's the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here's the reason, Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God. Let's skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse, Exodus 3:12 And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain." God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him! But here is what they saw, Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?" Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem, Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Exodus 17:6 "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. This Horeb is the rock that was split in the middle and from it came water to quench the thirst of millions for months. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, "Lord, why are we here?" They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my "needs."
So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response, "Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?"

When you find yourself out of work, hurting, wounded, left alone, discouraged, depressed, unhappy or simply thirsty for God and find that he has brought you to a dry place don’t fall into the trap of focusing on your need. Look around, God is there waiting for you….he has brought you to this place on purpose!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Christian life is a team sport

This evening I am teaching in the book of Hebrews and will be working through the second warning passage. As I read it some light bulbs began to go off in my thinking. We are in the midst of some very difficult days...job loss, health problems for many, divorce is epidemic and fear is in the air. People are really hurting, the days are difficult. There is a temptation for all of us to simply run away and hide, but this passage in Hebrews talks about the team nature of this life,
Heb. 3:12-13 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
There are several things about this passage that stuck out to me, 1. Be careful, we have a tendency to turn away from the Lord, 2. The solution to this is to be in a body of believers who can encourage, warn, pray for and help us, 3. This is a daily activity. We have to be in the business of caring for and encouraging each other every single day. You never know when someone might wake up so discouraged that they would choose to walk away, and 4. Sin is a deceptive thing, it hardens us to God so that we begin to think that what we are doing is ok.
The one thing from this list that caught my attention is the team nature of the Christian life. It is not a life to be lived in a vacuum. We must be in community to care for each other, encourage one another and get a pulse on how we are doing. The deceitful nature of sin is that you get hardened to it and its impact on your life if you isolate yourself. That's why it's always true that someone who chooses sin will not stay in the community of the saints. Their hearts are hard and sin is easier when you get away from "those Christians."
So, TODAY, encourage someone who is discouraged, check on someone who has wandered off, care for someone who needs help. Any day that has "today" in it is an opportunity for us to encourage one another to keep going. Difficult days will bring the church closer together. If you find yourself pulling away from the fellowship of other Christians, be might find yourself far from the faith and the community of those who can encourage you when you need it most.
And, since it is TODAY let me encourage you, God is good, he does answer prayer, he does care for you, he will help you, don't give up, he is faithful, he really is there and will provide for you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009



It's official! With this post I have written 1,500 posts. Thank you for your comments, encouragement and faithful fellowship over these four years.

And, as Forrest Gump says, "That's all I have to say about that."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thankful for God's kindness

Last week, as I've mentioned here already, I had the great opportunity to get away for a couple days on my motorcycle with a friend and ride through the beautiful mountains of Arkansas. While up there we stayed with Joye's dad and his wife and had a rare opportunity to experience what they get to see every morning...the feeding of the deer. Over time they have put out feed each morning for the local deer and the "word has spread." Now they have quite a mob coming in for breakfast each morning. These 4 bucks were kind enough to pose for me so I could show you a few of the amazing sites we were blessed to see.

Comforting one another

I had an amazing thing happen last night at a meeting at church. A dear friend of mine came up to me and comforted me. He has been through a lot in his life and he is aware of a situation I'm going through right now. He came up to me, almost with tears in his eyes, and told me he understood. I can't tell you how that moved my spirit. It made all the emotions that are rumbling around inside me calm. Someone understands and cares for me! That was a real moment of God touching me and helping me as another Christian came along side, comforted me and showed me the love of Christ. It felt as if, in that moment, my friend was filling in for Christ and comforting me in Christ's stead.
I must tell you that I experienced what Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians. It's something we are called to do for one another in the family called "Christian", and last night I was the one comforted. Don't miss the opportunity to reach out and care for someone, you may not realize how wonderful your comfort is to them in their difficult time. Here are Paul's instructions to us as God's family-
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday's cartoon

Isn't it interesting how many of our problems are simply "I" problems?

Whatever it takes...

I am up early praying for people. I'm also reading the word as I pray. One of the books I'm reading is Ezekiel. In this amazing book there is a phrase that is repeated more than 60 times, "that they may know me." God's willing to do very difficult things for the very best goal- that they may know HIM. There are several people on my list that need this very thing, they need to really know God, and so my prayer this morning comes to a place I don't come often. This morning I'm praying, "Lord, do whatever it takes that they might know you." I look forward to these dear ones knowing God and finding him real in their lives , but I'm not too excited about the "whatever it takes" part. But, I know God is good and "whatever it takes" is worth it so that they might know Him.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gone on walkabout

Early this morning I'm heading for two days of motorcycling in the mountains of Arkansas with a friend. For me it's a wonderful escape and great fun. Time on a motorcycle is gives me time alone, time to think and clears my cluttered mind. I love it!

So, I'll update you after I get back tomorrow night.

Reflections from the lives of others

One of the things I know, after working with and caring for people all these years, is that we get what we give. What I mean by that is this- you can tell, for the most part, how you are treating people by the way they respond to you. They reflect back to you the way they feel you are treating them. Here's how Jesus described this-

Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

In other words what you pour out into the lives of others will be poured back into your life. I really believe this is a spiritual reality that Jesus is revealing to us that most of us simply don't understand or ignore. Here's what it looks like- Do you want people to care about you? Care about them first. You will be amazed at how others suddenly are reaching out to you with care for you. Do you want to be loved? Love others first and, as Jesus said, it will be poured back into your life "good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over." What do you most need from others in your life? Here's the secret of how to get it- give it to others first and the bounty that will come back to you will more than meet your need and will give you extra to give away to others. This is the way God treats us....he loved us first, he cared for us first, he reached out to us when we were his enemies and now he has a host of people all over the world who are madly in love with him. He showed us a very important truth that will change your life- what you give is what you will get. Did you see those last words of verse 38? "For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Here is the other side of that to help you understand where you are now- how are people treating you right now? How do you feel you are perceived by others right now? That's exactly how they think they are being treated by you! If you want a different result in your life you will have to treat people differently first. Imagine how our lives would change if we really understood this? That world where this is reality is called heaven....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where are you?

I woke up in the night hours thinking about the very first question. It's a question that has haunted me for several days as I've thought about it. It's the first question ever asked. It's God's first question to man, "Where are you?" I don't want to focus on Adam's response, but on God's question. It is a question that echos through time. I'm sure it's a question that he asks us if we were listening. It's God's question as he looks for his man. "Where are you?"

Now, what I know about God tells me it wasn't a question for him, but for the man. He's God, he knew where Adam was. He was asking the question to evoke a response from Adam. Where are you? Are you aware that you aren't where I left you in our relationship together? Do you know that you have moved? Are you aware yourself that you have moved away from God? Have you looked around to see where you have come to? Where are you?

For some of us this question is hard to answer. We have been so long wandering from God that we are literally lost. We have no idea where we are. Like Adam our response when we find we are lost is fear, embarrassment and avoidance. We hide from God....the very one out searching for us....the very one we need to run to, but sadly, in our quest for our own way, we have lost our way completely. And so God is on a quest for his man that began at the fall and will continue until the end of this world. His question continues to be asked of each man and woman he searches out, "Where are you?" In your pursuit of your own way have you lost your way entirely? Do you even know where you are? Do you know God is looking for you?

As I watch a wandering world and listen to a searching God it's quite clear that God's quest for his man, for you and me, is a love quest. A quest to recapture the relationship he designed us to have. So today, as you look at the day ahead, the year ahead, where are YOU? As God searches for you have you allowed fear to make you run and hide from him? Are you lost? Are you embarrassed by your sin? You need to know that a loving father is looking for you, he cares about you, he's asking, "Where are you?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another marriage conference?

In the last year my wife and I have attended two marriage conferences and been part of teaching another one. It's been humorous to us because our marriage is great so we wonder why we are involved in so many of these now....not having ever attended one before. We muse on this often.
Tonight we begin another marriage training/counseling course that will last for 24 weeks! We are part of the leadership team. The idea is a new one that involves a group approach to marriage counseling. The church that is hosting it told me that they have had so many marriages fail they needed to do something more aggressive than they had done in the past. I do agree that these are most difficult days for marriages. I hope this program is something that will meet the needs of many marriages in crisis.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Generational amnesia

Time passes so quickly. One generation dies and another carries on. It's amazing to see how fast life passes and how quickly legacies are forgotten.

My wife took this photo last week of our newest grandchild, Vaughn. We have a similar photo of Vaugh's dad in my lap at this same age. (Although in the earlier photo I still had hair.) I'm amazed at how quickly one generation carries on from the next and how easily we fail to pass on what we learned in our own lives.

I just finished reading the book of Joshua this morning and it finishes with these words, "Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel." What it hints at and will make clear in the next book, Judges, is that we have a really bad habit of not passing on what we have learned, what we have seen and what the Lord has taught us, and so the next generation doesn't remember what God has done because we didn't tell them. We create generational amnesia. I have thought about this a lot as I have watched the grandchildren come along. What will they know? Who will tell them about the God I love if I don't? The books of Joshua and Judges are great reminders of how easily we lose this amazing message, how quickly the next generation abandons God. When we fail to tell them all that God has done in our lives we produce a generation that does not know God because we didn't tell them.

Monday's cartoon

Sunday, October 11, 2009

God's chisel

Our teaching pastor, Steve, showed this video at the end of the service today. It's generated a lot of comments. I thought you would enjoy it as well....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Growing spiritually

Growing in the Christian faith is often a challenging climb. It takes work. It demands a desire to know God and grow in your relationship with him. It often feels like an impossible climb, but reality is that true spiritual growth is rather easy. It simply takes some intentional actions on our part. The first warning of the book of Hebrews describes how easy it is to miss out on what God wants for you.

Heb. 2:1 "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." You need to know that there are undercurrents of culture, life and the world around us that will slowly pull us away from our relationship with God....if we aren't paying attention. Hebrews warns that if we don't pay attention we will drift. As a young man growing up in Iowa I loved to canoe. We would take the canoe to the lake or to a river and simply float along. The currents would take us downstream quite easily, but if you have to get back to where you started it will be difficult. The currents that got you here are unrelenting...they will continue to pull you away from your starting point. My mental picture of this is that paying attention is the awareness of the currents around us and an intentional decision to row against those currents to pursue this walk with God. Living the Christian life is counter-cultural.

The words of Hebrews are haunting, "pay you don't drift away." If we aren't watching we will soon be carried along with the world around us and miss what God wants to do in our lives. When someone comes to see me with a problem in their life I often ask this question, "Are you reading your bible?" And, I can assure you that 100% of the time I watch as they hang their head and whisper softly, "no, but I know I should be...." Let me paint this picture more clearly for you. The boat you sail in and you are one. The river we all float in is this life. The currents are the pull of the world, the devil and our desire for other things. The oar we need to row against these currents is God's word. If you aren't in God's word then you are like the poor man in a canon heading towards the waterfall without a paddle. Doom is coming and he has no way to avert it. So, as I'm getting ready to teach through this passage tomorrow I'm thinking about these words, "pay attention so that you don't drift away..."

Your thoughts?

Well, dear friends, I just looked at my blog count for this site and I am 17 away from 1,500 posts! Personally, I'm a little surprised and a lot amazed....I didn't know I had that much to say. I'm into year 4 now and am wondering....with the changes in where people are connecting, how we share and care for each other, is this blog still of value? Should I continue or hang up the old keyboard? As any writer would admit there are times when the brain is a blur and thoughts simply do not come. I've experienced that here numerous times. There are other days when my fingers simply can't move fast enough, but if it's not helping anyone I'll invest my time in other ventures. I must tell you that these little posts, all 1,500 of them, have helped me. I've kept them all in word documents as a personal journal of my thoughts over the last few years, but no one writes just for themselves, so your thoughts please. Shall I continue? Feel free to be honest, I value you and your friendship here over these 4 years together.
Thanks, Mike

Saturday's cartoon

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thoughts in the early morning

Last night was a great class in the book of Hebrews. I always love teaching because I learn so much. Even after reading through the bible hundreds of times and studying it for more than 45 years I still am finding new things that amaze me. What I'm finding in these later years is more and more about Christ. Someone I thought I had an understanding of is now the person I'm most fascinated with. He is more and more amazing as I go deeper in my faith. Of course, what did I expect....he's God, why wouldn't he be amazing? But I'm wondering...and this is something that my wife and I talked about last night after the we talked about Jesus becoming perfect through suffering. Since he is God, and cannot be more perfect than he is, how did suffering perfect him? What did suffering do in him that made him perfect? Didn't he already understand us and all we go through? All of these questions came up last night and created great discussion. I hope I led us through these questions well, but the deeper I go in thinking about it, the more we discussed it after we got home, the more I realize that this whole discussion has a depth to it that I am not able to plumb yet. I'm more fascinated with this man Jesus than I have ever been. What an amazing savior! So, as I think about the passage in Hebrews 2 describing this amazing and unique person, I realize I simply don't have enough in my wee little brain to understand it all and I'm ok with that. In fact, I'm glad that trying to understand him makes my head hurt. He's simply amazing!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Let's Forgive

My friend, Mike, posted this on Facebook. I thought it was a great message for anyone in relationship with other people...oh...that's everyone, isn't it?

Do not be afraid

This morning I was reading Luke 12 and came to this verse, ...

Luke 12:32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
I have seen this phrase, "Do not be afraid" so many times in the bible I thought I would look at this more closely. The word "afraid" appears in the bible more than 200 times. It's a big problem for us. Many of the phrases attached to this word begin like this, "Do not be afraid..." Here's a few verses I picked from the more than 200 in the Bible and then my thoughts...
Luke 12:4"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
Luke 12:7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Psalm 27:1[ Of David. ] The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 56:3When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Psalm 56:4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
Psalm 56:11in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
It appears, from these verses and many others, that fear is a natural part of the fallen human nature. It isn't the way we were meant to be because God is constantly telling us not to fear, so it's clear this was not part of his design, but is part of the fall. In fact it's the first emotion after the fall. Notice these words from Genesis,

Genesis 3:8-11 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

It appears that from the fall on we have been plagued with fear. It's the first result of sin and separation from God. It's a clear sign that we do not trust him. Why did Adam fear? He had a loving relationship with God. There was no reason for fear, but there it was, alive because of sin, and now God must constantly tell us, "do not be afraid." Jesus was constantly dealing with this and giving its solution to the disciples. In the boat on the lake he said, "why are you afraid, where is your faith?" and with those words gave us the cure and contrast to fear. When we are fearful we are not trusting God. Fear is me apart from God and the natural emotions that seperation generates. But God's constant word to us is this, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." If fear is my problem, faith is its cure. Faith in the right one...the one who is able to calm my nervous heart. Faith in the only one who can-God. So this morning, as you begin your day, let me encourage you with God's constant and gentle admonition to us, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

Monday, October 05, 2009


I remember using this word when I was younger. I've heard it used by my kids and grand kids. "I'm bored" is the verbal yawn of our culture that we have simply had too much stimulation. I wonder if we are just too informed, too entertained, too stimulated and we have become numb to it all. So, what's the next level of stimulation for an overwhelmed culture? What do we do next to entertain? Are we coming to a time when nothing will satisfy the culture that has it all? It's sure possible, isn't it? This little cartoon just made me think a bit and so my rambling thoughts pour forth. For a culture overwhelmed with more information and stimulation than we can handle what will bring us to the point we say "enough!" I wonder.

What is something you wish you had...

This newspaper's question caught my attention because of the amazing contrast. I understand the first two requests quite well, but how petty they suddenly seem when you read the third one. It's funny how our priorities change when you look at them through different eyes.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Children in the hands of a loving God

In 1741 Jonathan Edwards wrote a sermon entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." It changed the lives of many and brought many to faith, but once we come to Christ as savior our relationships change completely. Now we are children in the hands of a loving God.
We are no longer sinners dealing with God as judge, but now we come to him as children in the hands of a loving Father. Our relationship changes completely. While a lost man sees him as harsh and a judge we, as Christians, call him father and run to him for a hug.
David described his relationship with God this way,
Psalm 131:2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Often, I hear the language of the world in response to God and their words describe a harsh, cruel God waiting to smite them. Their anger and rage, as they view God's judgment for their sins, tells us they only see an angry God with a frown on his face. It is the reality of the world who sees God apart from Jesus Christ and the cross, but coming to the cross the sinner suddenly see God's smile, his forgiveness and now see him as a loving father.
You need to know that your view of God is completely different from someone who hasn't trusted him as savior. You are on different sides of the cross. When you stand before him on your own merits you stand condemned. When you come to him and stand on the merits of Christ you stand before him as the object his forgiveness, an object of his love. Suddenly we find ourselves as children in the hands of a loving God.
As a child in the hands of a loving father my whole life is framed by this picture of a child loved by his father. God loves me and his tender hands are caring for me and holding me. While the world may see his frown I enjoy his smile. It changes my commentary on the events of my life when I realize who is caring for me, who loves me and his promises to me. I'm thrilled to be a child in the hands of a loving God.

Friday, October 02, 2009

God is strange!

I've been watching. I watch what he does, who he uses and how he works and I have come to a conclusion- God is strange! He's strange to me because I don't know what he knows, I am not in charge as he is, I don't know the end as he does. I am not wise and so the wisdom of God and how he works really looks strange, weird, upside down, backwards, goofy to me. Is that clear? I hope so, but what I'm expressing is something others say to me in a hundred different meetings in a thousand different ways. I don't understand what God is doing! So, here's the question from God, "Ok, I know you don't understand, but will you trust me anyway?" That was his question to Job and it's his question to us. We have to decide two things to answer this question, 1. Is he able to help me? and 2. Is he trustworthy? If I answer "yes" to these two questions, then I must trust this most strange God of the universe as he works in my life with two things as his goals- my good and HIS glory.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

God's plans

I remember the stories of my youth as my parents told me, that as a 4 year old boy, I got lost in the corn field. Growing up in Iowa means there are corn fields everywhere. To be 4 and lost in a field of 7 foot high corn is a scary thing.

It's the same feeling most of us have at times in life. Where am I? Where am I going? Where is God? When you can't get your directions, are lost and can't see which way to go fear sets in, but this morning, as I'm reading, I came to this verse,

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

When I'm lost I can trust that he will guide me, he has a purpose for my life, a plan and he will fulfill it. That's wonderful news when you're lost and can't find your way. That's wonderful news when you don't think God is working in your life. He says he has a purpose for you and he will fulfill it...even when you feel lost.