A few months ago we had the joy of serving Pastors in Kenya. On our last day together we washed their feet as a model of what we wanted them to live out in their churches and communities.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
A few months ago we had the joy of serving Pastors in Kenya. On our last day together we washed their feet as a model of what we wanted them to live out in their churches and communities.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I'm fascinated as I read the bible. I'm fascinated as I watch the narrative unfold in its stories. Often, as I read, as I watch the story develop, it's clear that God has stepped off the stage. The story of David is one I just finished reading, but there are others, stories of lives unfolding before our eyes. I watch as God steps back to let the characters of the story make decisions, take action and live out their lives. And, at times God seems to be nowhere in sight.
Then, when all the choices are made, God comes back on stage to commentary the deeds of the story we have been reading.
I think he often does that in my life. Seldom does he call from heaven to tell me, "Stop that! What are you doing? What are you thinking?" In fact he's never done that for me! Instead, I have his word and from his word and the work of his Spirit in my life, I live out my play, stage by stage, act by act. There are times when I know God is there, on stage with me, but at other times he seems to step back....he allows me to stand or fall, to make decisions and then he returns and we talk about the choices I made.
I remember vividly, as I read the end of Luke, while Jesus is being mocked and tortured Peter denies three times he even knew Jesus. Then the cock crows and Jesus turns and looks at Peter. Peter catches Jesus' look, and runs away weeping. Later, after the resurrection, Jesus and Peter deal with this as Jesus asks, "Peter, do you love me?"
There are stages in each of our lives. Stages and times when we put on masks and pretend to be someone we aren't. Pretend to do the right thing when we don't. The world watches as we act out our little play, but then God comes on stage and we talk about the fraud I have been. The lie I have tried to hide. The deeds I have done.
Each of us lives out our own little play. Each of us experiences a time when God has left the building and we are left alone to our own choices, but soon, when the curtain opens for the next act, God steps on stage and the truth comes out. How can we think that our masks hide anything? Everyone else is wearing a mask, everyone knows we wear one too. Why not surprise the audience and be who you really are, be honest and trust God for the results? I see a few, but there are more behind them, who are taking off the masks and living their lives for all to see. How wonderful it would be to hear God say, as he comes on the stage of your life and the curtain rises for the final act, "Well done...."
(To read David's story read 2 Samuel 11-12.)
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I just finished reading Peter Hitchins' book, The Rage against God. This work wasn't at all what I expected. I thought, initially, that Peter would write a defense of Christianity in light of the current trends towards atheism, but in fact it wasn't that at all. Much to my surprise, Peter wrote about the rise of atheism in our day and the reasons for it's current popularity. It is, for the most part, a wonderfully written history book. For anyone who wants to know where we are in time and history, and more importantly why we are here, this book is a must. I enjoyed Peter's work and was once more stimulated by a well written book by a "Brit" who knows how to use words. If you are looking for a stimulating book I would encourage you to take the time to read Peter's work.
"Then they will know that I am the Lord."
This one phrase, this one theme is the message of the book of Ezekiel. For Israel and the nations around them God desired that they know that he is God, the only God. More than 60 times in this book this phrase is repeated, "Then they will know that I am the Lord." God's actions and work throughout the book of Ezekiel were intended to bring men and women to the knowledge and admission that the God of the bible is God, the only God....the LORD!
As I read about God's passion for his revelation in Ezekiel I realize that this desire continues still. Throughout time God has worked that men might know that he is Lord and by that knowing find his good in their lives. The very best thing anyone can know is that the God of the bible is Lord. And so he works, even today, towards that end.
The theme of Ezekiel is the theme of today. God is working in our world "That we might know that he is Lord." And from that knowing God is glorified and we experience God's very best for our lives. The very best good for any man is to know that He is Lord. The very best glory is for each one to acknowledge him as Lord in their life.
He's working in my life and in your life to accomplish this one thing- that you and I might know that he is Lord.
One day we will all know him, one day every knee will bow, but today he's working in your life to make himself known to you. He wants you to know that he is Lord and will accomplish that in the events of your life.
Do you know him? Do you know that HE is Lord and there is no other?
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
2 Timothy 2:25-26
New International Version (NIV)
25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
"Held captive to do his will," what a picture that paints as Paul describes the captive ones of the enemy.
And Jesus addressed the prisoners as well when he said,
New International Version (NIV)
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Sunday, June 19, 2011
If you have been fortunate you had a dad to celebrate this father's day. I'm grateful that my dad is still living and has been a role model for me. I just wish he would have modeled more hair.....but what can you do?
Happy Father's day, dad. I love you and am grateful for your life.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Missionary to the Burmese Lisu people in China
|Born||December 17, 1901|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Died||March 20, 1957 (aged 55)|
Wheaton, Illinois, USA
|Education||University of British Columbia; Normal School; Moody Bible Institute|
|Spouse||John Becker Kuhn|
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
In these early hours of the day I am listening to praise music (what a wonderful blessing) and thinking about an amazing God who not only made me, but cares about me. Each moment he's watching over me, guiding me, loving me, working in my life....even when I have no idea what I need he is working....for my good and his glory! What a marvelous God, what a kind savior, what a sweet Father, what an amazing creator, what a gloriously creative artist and lover of my soul is this wonderful God who made me. He loves me! I cannot imagine or even understand how blessed I really am. How can God be so good to such a rebel as I? But he is! He loves me....and that love has power behind it to make that love a reality in my life and eternity. We are all so truly blessed! What else can I do but praise God in these early morning hours?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
I just finished a couple different books and am excited to start Mulholland's book, "Invitation to a Journey." I got the sequel as well and will read it after I finish this.
Some of my other reading is work related, but this is for me. I look forward to the discoveries I will make as I work my way through this book.
A friend left a comment on another site that I write on and I wanted to share it here for the encouragement it is to me and hopefully to you. My friend wrote, "Mike, I will never forget fishing with you one day in 2004 and you gave me an awesome sermon. You asked, "do you believe in Jesus?' I said, "yes", you then said, "then why are you worrying, friend". That day made a serious difference in the days I have lived since then."
Now, I have to tell you that I don't remember that conversation, but my friend does.....it changed him. That is a "God moment." It's one of those times when God uses each of us to touch, help, encourage, speak to the life of another. It's those moments, those words that help us each go on. It's the work of God's Spirit in our lives that take a word from one and uses it to change another. They are divine moments that we may not be aware of, but God is working.
I can't wait for the day when we see all God did through us when we were completely unaware of his work....there will be many. I'm thankful that a word I forgot has been used by God to change, to help, to encourage someone else. Those moments remembered are wonderfully life changing!
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Joye and I just got back from a wonderful week in Colorado. It was cool, relaxing and restful. It was a great time to just "be." Joye tells me that I'm a "do" person and need to learn to just "be," to rest, to sit still, to think. I don't do "be" well. I'm what we have jokingly described as a "do-do" person. I'm on go all the time and don't take time to rest, to be quiet. It has hurt me and so now I'm trying to learn from my sweet wife how to be a "be" person. I told her yesterday that maybe I could combine them and be a "do-be" person.....she made it quite clear that this had other meanings I was unaware of and that would not do. (I lived a very sheltered life as a teenager.) So, I'm learning to stop, be quiet, rest and just be. It's hard to change an old dog like me. It's hard to feel that I'm really doing anything when I'm not, but that's just the point. I often miss the voice of God when I'm going all the time. I think God often waits for me to wear out so he can get my attention. My wonderful wife is trying to help me learn about rest. I'm trying.....
(The photo is from the area we were staying in last week. I wouldn't mind a couple acres by this stream, a little cabin and a month of sitting on the front porch. I think that would make Joye smile. I'm working on it......)
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Many religions have arrived on the scene since Jesus' resurrection and ascension, but he is God's final word to the human race. There's nothing more needed. When, on the cross, he said, "It is finished" he meant redemption and revelation. He had fully revealed God to the human race. In Jesus we see the face of God.
Personally, I long to know God and that knowing is best done in the company of Jesus. In him I see God. I see what he is like, how he thinks, how he acts in my life. That's why I hang out in the gospels so much. Each day, as I read, I'm reading somewhere in the four gospels. As I read I follow along and watch as Jesus interacts in the lives of others. I see his kindness, his compassion, his love for mankind. I see him, even when he's exhausted, smile as the crowds close in for his time and touch. I see God in the face of Jesus. There is no other mirror held up for us to see what God is like.
In every other relgion on planet earth god is distant, aloof, remote, unknowable, but in Christianity God is loving, kind, caring, approachable and available. In Jesus I see God and I love the God who so wilingly reveals himself. He's exactly what I hoped God would be!
The great thing about the God of the bible is that he wants us to know him. He wants to have a relationship with us. This is the amazing thing to me....the one who made me really likes me. He wants to spend time with me. He wants me to know him. Yes, he has spoken, but even more than that he has reached out to us and he says, "I love you, let's spend some time together."
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
The stories of Psalms 78 tell of the need to do two things, 1. remember what God has done, and 2. tell the next generation. It's the stories of God's work in our lives that will touch the lives and hearts of our children and grandchildren. It's the "thin places" between us and God that leave memories in our lives. And it will be the "skin places", the touch of one life to another, that will leave those memories for another generation.
I often ask those who are older than I am to tell me their stories. The stories of God's touch in their lives are the most vivid for any of us. Then I ask, "have you told your stories to your kids, your grand kids?" Sadly, the answer is often "no." I so wish we would write down, talk about and share what God has done in our lives with those we love. It's the stories of us and God as we interact that will leave memories for those who are our mission field....our children.
Have you told them your stories? Have you written them down? Let me encourage you to do two things today, 1. read Psalms 78. It's our invitation to tell the coming generation about God's work in our lives, and 2. write down and tell your story to your children, your grandchildren. It's your stories that will touch their lives. It's God's work in your life that will make an impression in their lives as well.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
2 Timothy 2:20-22- Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 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. Therefore flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
This passage has always given me encouragement and direction. It gives clarity to usefulness. It describes my part in being a vessel the master can use. I admit that I'm still, even at 60, in process...being molded, making choices that determine my usefulness. It's a lifetime project to become a vessel for honor, sanctified (set apart), useful to the Master, prepared for EVERY good work. It's my goal to be a vessel God can use. I know he's doing his part, but he also challenges me to be part of the process as well.
The last verse of this passage is my part. In it Paul turns from what God wants to see in my life, my choices and my actions. It begins with this admonition, "Therefore flee _______, and pursue ________. After both verbs are things to make decisions about. How do I participate in becoming a vessel, a person, God can use? I make some simple choices, 1. flee certain things and, 2. pursue other things. The bible calls this sanctification. It's my intentional decisions to agree with God's desire for me and make choices that conform me to what he wants me to be.
Flee some things, pursue others. Pretty simple, isn't it? Yes and no. First, I need to know what God wants me to be. I need to know what the good and bad choices are. I need to know a few basic things and from those things I am invited, I'm challenged to make some choices. They are choices to follow and obey God or follow and obey the flesh and the enemy. I know, this all sounds really complicated, but it's not. It's so simple children get it. How do so many of us adults miss it?
Here are some things I have heard from adults that tell me they don't understand what God wants or is trying to do in their lives. They don't want to be vessels the Lord can use. From their mouths you will hear, "I know God wants me to be happy, so...." or, "It may be wrong, but I know he will forgive me." You have heard things like this as well. It's a way to give us permission to pursue the wrong things and flee the right things. We have gotten it completely backwards when we choose to do it our way. One thing is clear, if we choose our way we will be of little or no use to God.
I wonder, as I encounter people and their choices, what do they really want? Do they want to please God or themselves? If, and I think some would be so honest, if they want to please themselves they have just declared themselves god of their lives and dismissed the God who saved them. It's a dangerous path. There is no happy ending when we choose our own way.
But, I watch others who want to be that "vessel of honor", that person God can use. They are amazing! I'm thinking of several of them now, both men and women, who are intentionally working with God to become a vessel of honor, someone God can use. They are fleeing the wrong things and pursuing the right things. They are choosing wisely and it shows. They are becoming what God designed them to be and the glow of that, the impact of their life is changing lives around them.
God, the master potter, is making vessels of honor, but each one of us must be part of the process if we are to be what God designed us to be. We make the right choices for a reason....choices because we want to please God. Choices because we were called to be people God can use to change the world around us. Choices that have eternal rewards.
Make your own list. What is on your "flee list" and what is on your "pursue list"? These two lists will tell you a lot about the vessel you are becoming. It may mean you have some choices to make. It may, and I hope it does for many, encourage you that you are becoming what God designed you to be. Either way we are challenged to be part of what God is making us. What kind of vessel are you becoming?
Friday, June 03, 2011
Early this morning, just as the first rays of light were coming over the horizon, I took a walk to what my friend calls the second meadow. It's a small meadow about a mile and a half from where we are staying. The trail is rough, rocky, uneven, but the quiet and the view is wonderful. I walked for about 40 minutes to get to this second meadow. I had hoped to see an elk, a deer or maybe a bear, but I saw none of them. The morning was great. Crisp, cool, actually a little cold, but wonderful. I had to watch my steps, there are rocks everywhere. The path is not smooth. If you're not careful a turn of the ankle could make this a very difficult walk.
Then I arrived. A beautiful little meadow in the middle of nowhere. It was amazing. It was quiet. I don't think this meadow sees more than a few humans in a year, but I was there. I had reached the meadow. For a moment I paused to enjoy the scene, the cool air, the sounds of birds and the breeze in the trees. All around were mountains, but here in this spot, in this moment there was a calm. It was worth the walk.
But then.....as I began my walk back I realized something that hadn't seemed too important on the walk here....I had been walking downhill for those 40 minutes! The entire trip back was UPHILL! When I say that let me clarify. This is Colorado. Uphill is always steep. In fact, the climb was steeper than I had imagined. My pauses to catch my breath, to rest my legs grew more and more frequent. Air at 10,000 feet is thinner than what I'm used to. It made the climb seem even more daunting. Around each corner of the path another stretch of path upward...another challenge, but I couldn't stop. I had to get back to my destination. Stopping here, on the path, only part way back was not an option.
So, onward I walked, more frequent stops, longer stops, more air needed. Yes, I'm out of shape, ok? But onward I walked, and I thought, my Christian life is like this. My walk with God is just like this walk in the mountains. I read about this theme all through David's words in Psalms, this idea of a journey, a walk through difficult places. Always, as David made these treks he would pray, "Lord, help me through this part of my journey. There's no one to help but you."
In the midst of the upward climb of the Christian life there are rocks to avoid, there is the need for a time of rest, there's the ongoing need to keep going.....because you have to get home, you can't stop here. Around every turn the road seems to climb even more, the rocks are still in the way and I have to watch for them. But, as I finished my walk this morning I thought, there is a day when we will each finish the course laid out for us, we will each finish the race God has us on. It's a walk with a wonderful home ahead, but it's not always easy.
That's the nature of the Christian life, isn't it? The one great thing about this walk is that all along the way God is with me to help me, guide me, encourage me, and at the end of the path is home.
Psa 56:13 For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living.
Psa 143:8 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
I’m fascinated by the little insights I see in scripture to things we could never know unless God told us. One of them is in Luke 12. This whole chapter is about fear, faith and worry. Jesus is teaching his disciples and us that our fears and worries really aren’t necessary. Of course we know it already, but Jesus has to tell us, once more, that God’s in charge, relax.
Then, in the middle of this chapter he reveals something we could never know or think about unless he told us. It’s something so odd we would never think of it. Here it is,
Luk 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
Did you see it? Heavenly trivia. I know you have heard jokes about this, but it suddenly struck me that Jesus just revealed to his disciples, and yes to us, trivia that should make us stop and ask, “WHAT?” Yes, the very hairs of my head are all numbered! I’ve heard all the jokes about this statement, I’ve told some of them, but here is the amazing thing….God is so interested in each one of us that he even counts the hair on our heads! That boggles my mind! Why? What’s the purpose? Why did Jesus tell us this? It’s clear that one thing is true…God is intimately interested in you and me. We haven’t escaped his notice, he hasn’t forgotten about us. He’s counting hairs on each head…that’s how interested he is in us. Now the why isn’t important, here’s what is important- God know everything there is to know about us, he cares and he’s able to take care of us. This very small trivia thing declares that God is omniscient. He knows literally everything and he cares about his creation. He cares about you. And he cares about me.
So, what do I take away from this heavenly trivia? God cares so much about you and me that somewhere in heaven, I’m guessing now, there’s a book with my name in it and one of the entries is how many hairs I have on my head. No one else cares about that, except me in my vanity, but God does. If this is true, and since Jesus gave us this brief glimpse into heavenly trivia (and I think he was smiling as he said it) I know it is true, what else does God care about? Does he care about what I need? My family? My work? My health? Does he care about the rest of me or is he just interested in the trivia stuff? No, I think clearly we can say he cares about every part of us, everything to do with us, all we fear and worry about…even to how many hairs are on our heads.
If he cares about that can’t he, won’t he take care of the rest? So in this amazing discussion about fear, faith and worry Jesus throws out information that should make you laugh with amazement that God cares so much about you. But he does. He cares about everything to do with us, so don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. The God who knows how many hairs you have on your pretty little head can take care of all the rest as well. The right response for us? Faith, trust, and a smile of amazement at such a wonderful God.