Wednesday, August 28, 2013


There are times...and this is one for me...when I need to step away from all I am doing and focus my time and attention on God alone. Life seems to take my eyes off of God.  I get busy.  People need help. There are things to do.  Expectations come from every corner.  And soon....if you're not and God haven't spent time together in weeks.

Without meaning to....not at all intentionally....this has happened to me.  I've been absent from here for a bit just because of life, work and honestly having nothing to say.  It seems that my times of silence often follow time away from God's presence.   Over time and life I lose focus, lose my way a bit, lose site of God.....and must retrace my steps to where I last left him.

In Australia a "walkabout" is a wandering in the outback...not going anywhere in particular, but just going.  It seems we all do that at times...wander aimlessly.  I'm sure I've been doing that.  I'm trying to retrace my steps now and recapture my relationship with the one who made me.  It's a shame a pastor has to do that over and over again, but I'm still just a fallen creature trying to walk with the eternal God and I know this will happen again, but for the moments ahead....I'm seeking the one who sought me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Knowing God is watching.....

I know God is watching every moment.  I know he's aware when I am discouraged, when I'm low, when I'm happy.  I know he sees, but once in a while you get a glimpse of how much he knows, how well he cares for us.  That glimpse, for me, came yesterday as a result of something that happened more than 40 years ago! 

Here's the note I received yesterday:

"Hey, Mike, I don't think I ever thanked you for the time you alllowed me to spend with you. I was the typical pain in the butt kid and you were very good to my family to attempt to reach me for God. I think back and it is amazing to me how He never lost patience, just kept sending people into my life to show me His love is real. It took plenty of them & you were one before my heart softened to His truths. Thank you for letting God use you to help others - I know I am not the only one you touched this way. Love you, bro, T________."

Do you ever get one of those notes that just makes a shiver run down your spine? This one did for me.  I never knew if what I did mattered, I never heard what happened.  For me it's an early glimpse of the Bema, the time when we will know all that God did through us. For me it was a gift from God in a time when I needed it.  For me I reminded me of God's wonderful care for us and love for even our smallest pains.

It's a wonderful comfort that God is watching and caring for his children.  I'm so glad I'm one of them!  And today I'm celebrating what God has done in the life of my friend.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't you care?

Mark 4:37-39

New Living Translation (NLT)
37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

I realized this morning, as I read the word, that my eyes have been focused on the storm instead of the Lord!  

We all have storms.  They are part of life, but storms pass, they are temporary.  In the storm, and often because of it, our faith is weakened by the storms we face.  Like the disciples we call out to God, "don't you care that we're going to drown?"  In panic, and not realizing what we are saying, we have made the storm bigger than the God we worship.  

If I will stop and think for a moment I realize that no storm ever comes into my life without God's permission.  HE is Lord, not the storm of the moment.  In the storm and because of it I have to intentionally deal with my fear caused by the storm and look to God in faith.  He's with me, just as he was with the disciples.  If my boat goes down so does he!  But that's not his plan.  His plan in a storm is to show his glory, build my faith and focus my attention on him.  

Don't you care?  That's the heart cry of each one of us as we face storms.  Does God care?  YES!  And he shows it with actions, not just with words.  He deals with our storms.  The problem with most of us is the storms we face are most often internal.  Churning in our hearts and minds is a storm of fear, confusion, dread and a hundred other fears.  Fears are more toxic than any storm you will ever face!

In the storm, whether external or internal, run to the one who appears to be sleeping and oblivious to your dilemma, and trust him.  This morning, as I realized what I had I had allowed my storms to capture my focus...I suddenly realized my faith was on the line.  Do I believe God is able to deal with these temporary storms in my life or not?  Do I believe he cares?  Is he really God or just an aboration?  Storms sort all of that out, don't they?

In the book of Luke, after Jesus stilled the storm, they worshipped him.  It was the right response to the realization that they had feared the storm more than the one who made it.  Does he care?  Yes, he's with you in the storm, waiting for you to ask, waiting for you to worship.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Full-time, short- term missionaries"

This is from my friend, Renod Bejjani. I loved the words, thought I would share them with you.

"My friend is an intentional "full-time, short- term missionary." Here's what that means: She'll be on a mission trip to Wal-Mart, and happen to shop while she's there. Or she'll go on a mission trip to a restaurant and eat lunch while she's there.

This summer, she was on a mission trip to a new dry cleaner. She struck up a conversation with the owner, and uncovered the owner was Muslim. My friend invited her to watch the Jesus video. The owner was intrigued. Over several weeks, my friend befriended the owner, offered her a Bible, and began a Bible study.

Last month, my friend's new Muslim friend accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Now she is discipling a brand new sister in Christ. Sharing Jesus with Muslims can be that simple. God has brought over 200,000 Muslims to DFW. Most have never been befriended by a Christian. Most have never heard the Gospel. 

Together we can change that."

‘Encourage Yourself in the Lord’

Often, what you need most comes when you least expect it.  The following devotional came in an e-mail from an dear friend and mentor of mine this morning.  It's just what I needed today and I thought it would help you as well.  

‘Encourage Yourself in the Lord’
even in the midst of
Excruciating Distress and Bitterness of Spirit

by William Burnside
Have you ever wept so long and so bitterly that you have no strength left to weep?! That was the situation with David and his men when they returned from a military maneuver to find that their wives and children had been taken captive and kidnapped. 

The story is in 1 Samuel 30:1-6 (ESV)
1 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire
2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. 3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. . . .
What do you do in such a situation—or in any great trauma that you may be faced with some time in life? You weep until you can weep no more and then cry out to God in your distress. The rest of verse 6 tells us what David did: “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” He encouraged himself in the Lord and inquired of the Lord what he should do next. 1 Samuel 30:8 (KJV) 'And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them?' And God sent His answer through His priest: 'And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.'
And they did. And God was merciful to them that none of them were lost.
But this story has an important application for us. In the midst of that crisis, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 

And what does that mean? How do you “encourage yourself” in the Lord??

1. Remember who God IS! Meditate on the attributes and character of God.

2. Think of God's power. He is able to deliver thee. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all [contentment] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

3. Think of God's kindness.

4. Think of God's wisdom.

5. Think of God's creativity—no matter how complex or confused the situation may seem.

6. Think of God's holiness and righteousness. He is the God of truth.

7. Think of God's compassion. He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in ALL our tribulation so that we will be able to comfort others with the comfort wherewith we are comforted by God. Think of how God is going to wipe away all tears from our eyes. Surely if David had had that knowledge, it would have helped him and his men in their situation.

8. Think of God's beauty. He is the “God of glory” and we will see Him in all His glory.

9. Think of God's immutability. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; As thou has been thou forever wilt be.

10. Remember God's faithfulness in the past—not only in Scripture, but to you personally.

11. Be thankful that God is infinite. That means that ALL of His attributes He has to an infinite degree and they are all perfectly interwoven.

12. Ponder God's works—in creation and in preserving His creation—from the skies above to smallest microbe, think of His infinite wisdom and understanding.

13. Be thankful for God's providence and His providential care.

14. 'Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.' Psalm 16.11

15. Rejoice in the promises of God and then recite some of them back to the Lord:
'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.'
1 Corinthians 10:13 'There has no temptation [or testing] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.'

16. Think about heaven and what you will no longer be bothered with. Think about heaven and the perfect fellowship we will have there not only with the Lord, but with all our brethren, all those whom we've loved here on earth. Think about the glories of heaven and how wonderful it will be.

17. Remember how much you loved just being with your wife and family and close friends? And sharing with them and talking to them often in an animated conversation. That was the best part of enjoying whatever you were doing and wherever you were. That's what we look forward to in heaven—that best kind of fellowship with Jesus and with those we love. And we'll love many more than we do now because we'll meet more people. And everyone in heaven will no longer have the Old Sin Nature, but will be like Jesus. We are 'predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Rom. 8.29 In the meantime the Holy Spirit is in the process of 'transforming us into His likeness with ever-increasing glory; as we gaze upon the glory of the Lord in scripture and with 'the eyes of our heart.' Eph. 1.18

18. Be thankful in as many ways as you can think of, especially for the daily strength God gives you so that you can take care of yourself and help others. So many people cannot even take care of themselves so be thankful that you can as God renews your strength daily. Take the promise from Psalm 27:14 that as you use the strength and courage God gives you, He “will strengthen your heart.” The outer person is perishing but the inner person is being renewed day by day by God. 2 Cor. 4.16

19. Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, it’s part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

'But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.' 2 Cor. 4.7

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pride and Humility

“Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.” - John R.W. Stott

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Psalm 56:3-

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Early this morning I woke to panic and fear.  I'm sure you 

understand. We have all done that.  It may have a reason,  

but often it comes from nowhere.  This morning I woke up 


I'm sure you want to ask why, but I honestly couldn't give 

you a good was just there to greet me as I 

stirred from sleep.  Immediately I remembered David's 

words and went to them for comfort.  He was the most 

honest man I have ever read! He was a king, a leader, an

amazing guy, but he never stopped being honest about his 

struggles.  He shared them all.  We call it "Psalms".  His 

words gave me focus this morning.  Fear is based on poor 

focus...focus on the wrong things.  It took a bit, but I was

able to turn around and once more look at God and trust 


I think I would have been one of the Jews in trouble in the

wilderness as they complained about God's provision.  I'm

sure I would have been among those who worried.  Sadly

I have to admit this is a frequent visitor to my life.  When 

will I ever really trust God?  When will I put my full weight

and faith in him.  He's never failed, he has always cared for

us, he has met out needs and loved us graciously, why am

I so fearful? 

For me, it happens when I take my eyes off of him.  This 

early Sunday morning is a time to refocus on the God who

has never let me down and once more say, "I'm sorry" for

letting fear steal my trust in him.

in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?  
Psalm 56:11

Monday, August 05, 2013


I love this Jewish cartoonist and his view of history.  He draws and writes in Israel and so his focus is on the nation he lives in.  This little cartoon caught my attention and thoughts.  He is right, we are on the cusp of the last moments in time.  It's exciting, scary, and challenging all at the same time.  How we live in the difficult days before the return of the Lord? How do we live well while the world around us collapses in chaos and confusion?  Finding peace in the midst of the storms of our day is critical for us as believers.  It's the only way to live...knowing we have a sovereign, loving Father overseeing the events of time and history.  We are in that most amazing "almost, but not quite" time of the last days!  Exciting, isn't it?

Thursday, August 01, 2013

God's plans....

In the last week our family has been praying for something very specific.... didn't happen.

Now comes the normal responses of all of us as we seek to know what God is doing...

I prayed, why didn't he answer?

This was really important to me, how could he not do it?

Is there really a God at all if he doesn't answer prayers like this?

How can I trust him when he knew how important this was?

Why pray at all if he doesn't answer anyway?

I'm sure you could add a dozen other questions to this list that you have asked as the plans and prayers you hoped for didn't come true, didn't materialize.  

What is God doing? What's his plans for us?  How do we navigate this topic of prayer when often the things we ask for are very important to us?  Now what?  Can we trust him?  Should I even pray for things again since he didn't answer this prayer?  Doesn't he know how important this was to me?

The emotions of unanswered prayer are intense.  The hoped for expectations that are crushed by a prayer unanswered are confusing.  Now what? Where do we go from here?  

There are often no words for the emotions that follow an unanswered prayer.  For me, after many years of knowing God, I realized that often my dreams and visions are not the best thing for me...and so I trust God for his plans, his directions....but it's hard, isn't it?  It's hard when we asked, we wanted, we hoped...and he replies with silence.  Is he there at all?  Is he, as many say, the God of the deist...making it all and then walking away?  Unanswered prayers make us ask those questions...especially when he has invited us to ask!

The bottom line for all of this is simply this-  God loves us. God is sovereign and his love, his plans, and his wisdom direct our lives for his glory and our good.  It doesn't mean we always get what we want...and that confuses us because we "know" that what we want is the very best thing....if only God would give us what we prayed for.

But often he doesn't.  Now what?

Solomon wrote these words,

"The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps."

When God says "no" I come back to this...

God loves me,

He has my best in mind,

He has a plan for my life,

and he's sovereign.  

I can trust him to accomplish the best for me.....even when he says "no".  

In moments like this, when I don't understand his "no" I go back to the verses that direct me when I don't have answers...the verses that calm my confused and disheartened mind,

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight."