Wednesday, September 30, 2015


For the next few posts I'm going to focus on the topic of joy.  It seems I lose mine far to easily so I want to look at this topic and discover some of the principles from the bible that will help us live in the joy of the Lord.  Come with me on this little study and let's see what we can find.  And, I invite you to share your thoughts and discoveries in your own life on this topic of joy.  

Ready?  Here we go.....

Quote of the day

“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” ~ A. W. Tozer

What do you want?

"Jesus looked around and saw them following. 
“What do you want?” he asked them." -John 1:38

The most brilliant thought provoker in history was Jesus.  He constantly challenged people with questions, with challenges to their assumptions, their theology, their prejudices, their choices.

In the gospels Jesus was asked 183 different questions.  Do you know how many he answered directly?  

Only 4!  

The other 179 questions were answered by Jesus with another question!  He constantly challenged people to think, to stretch, to look at what they believed and why.  

In the early pages of the gospel of John several of John the Baptist's disciples leave him and follow Jesus.  Jesus turns, sees these men following him and asks a most profound question,

                           “What do you want?”

This word "want" in the Greek speaks of our desires, our longings, the things we chase after.  In other words, what do you crave and hunger for?  What drives you?  What do you want more than anything else?  

These questions are at the very heart of Jesus' question, "What do you want?"  I don't think either of the men following really knew the answer.  They may have never thought it through and so they stumble for a response, "Where are you staying?"  

Imagine he asks you this question today.  Imagine Jesus stops you in your day and asks, "So, Mary, what do you want?"  For most of us we are caught speechless!  If we were honest we might be a bit embarrassed at our initial answers....we want fame, money, happiness, sex.....whatever the answer for most of us it falls far short of our need and the real answer of our hearts.

This question, in just four words, strikes at the very center of our passions, desires and longings and makes us stop and admit.....we really don't know.

What do you want?

It's one of Jesus first question in the gospel of John.
It's a question you need to answer.
What would you tell him in reply?


A recent article, in light of the pope's visit, had this as the opening line-

"Remarks made by Pope Francis at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan have sparked a firestorm of criticism from those that do not believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God."

In case you were wondering or may be confused this is absolutely positively NOT true...this idea that they are one in the same. The God of the Bible and the god of the Quran are not the same nor does either book make room for such an idea. Any committed Christian or Muslim will deny this simply because the two religions teach about completely different gods. So, one must be true and the other false. That's the issue no one really wants to deal with, that's the key to all of this.... means one God is real and the other isn't.

That's the real discussion our culture is trying to avoid.

Monday, September 28, 2015

God is with you....

My sweet mother is living well and wonderfully active. I get to visit with her on the phone each week.  Often she has related the story of her last visit with the pastor who led me to faith in Christ, Rev. Everett Hovey.  He was a great guy and loved God.  He pastored until he simply couldn't anymore.

Mom tells me of the last sermon she heard him preach and this phrase stuck with her, "The Lord is with you, he's on your side."  She has often quoted that to me as we visit.  It was an important truth for her and I think it's important for any of God's kids to get it.

God is with you, he will never leave you.  You can't run away, you can't hide, he's with you.  But he's not with you as a judge, a critic, but as a helper, a companion, a friend, a comforter.  And, in his presence you begin to see that this one who made you is on your side.  He really wants you to finish the race with joy, to walk with him in peace, to see his grace in your difficult days.

The Lord is with you, he's on your side.  

We all so easily get distracted, discouraged, defeated by life...but do you know that in your darkest moments, in the difficult days that the Lord is with you?  He really likes you!  He's for you, he's on your side and wants you to cross the finish line with joy and without regret.

You have enough opponents in this life.  Isn't it great that the one who made you isn't another one waiting for you to mess up, to trip, to fail...but he walks with you, in you, to help you become like Christ.  His plan is that when your done, when the timer goes off on your life, we will open the oven of difficult days and trials and discover a wonderful thing- you've become like Christ!

The Lord is with you, he's on your side.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we 
eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." Phil. 3:20-21

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The love of God

(I wrote this a few years ago as I thought about God's love and my desire to really know it.  I was suddenly reminded of how much God loves me based on a moment in time more than 40 years ago.  We all struggle with God's love, so I wanted to post this once more.  Do read it and ask God to show you his love for you.  It will change your life.)

It happened more than 40 years ago.  I was at university, sitting on a bench on campus talking to God.  I wanted more, wanted to understand God's love.  I prayed, "Lord, let me see people the way you do."  In a moment a friend, Evelyn, walked by.  We didn't exchange a word, but my heart began to break as I saw how much God loved her.  I began to weep with the weight of God's love for her.  It was more than I could bear, more than I could imagine.  It was too much and I prayed, "Lord, stop, I can't take any more."

I think of that moment often.  It was a life changing moment for me to see others the way God sees them.  His love for us is more than we can understand, more than we can bear, it's wonderfully overwhelming.  I could only see a small glimpse into his love and it broke me, it changed me.  I think of that park bench and Evelyn often and remember the sense of God's love for her and for others as they walked by.

But only recently did I get the full meaning of that moment more than 40 years ago (yes, I'm slow). During this time of sabbatical it suddenly struck me that God loves me the same way he loves Evelyn!  I don't know why I never put those pieces together, but I didn't.  I suddenly realized a message meant for me more than 40 years ago finally got through- God loves me!

Yes, yes...I know all about that from the bible.  I know God loves me, but to really know it, to really understand how he feels about me, the emotion of it...even if it's just a glimpse....has changed my walk with him.  It's a shame that it took 40 years for me to "get it".

There's no way to describe the depth of this love of the Father, this overwhelming love he has for us.  There are no words for it other than what we can see in the cross.  The cross tells us all we can bear about the love of God.  God loves us so much that he gave the eternal son to redeem us, to make us his children.  This love isn't just actions, but it's rich with emotions.  It's a love with a depth we could never fully understand.  It's a love that is overwhelmingly wonderful. 

God loves you, he loves me, he loves Evelyn more than you could possibly imagine.  It's this love that has made it possible for us to be his children.  It’s a love wonderfully beyond words.  A love so grand that the cross is only a glimpse of how glorious it is.  A love that would overwhelm you.....a love for you that is more than you could bear or even imagine.  God loves you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

In the midst

In the midst of one of the most amazing chapters in the Bible is a small insight, but we will get to that in a moment.....

Daniel 11 recorded in detail the entire history of humanity to the very end of time.  It's an amazing chapter, but in the midst of it is what I want to focus on in these thoughts.  Instead of details of what will happen it is an invitation to a response, to actions by God's people.  As I read it this morning in a men's group I attend the words began to cascade over and over in my thoughts.  They are these short words,

"...but the people who know their God 

will display strength and take action." 

Daniel 11:32

I realized, as I read the words, that the outcome of the believers response to God were not clear in the midst of great clarity about governments and powers.  
It's as if this is an invitation to a response, a challenge to our faith and it begins with- a people who know God, a people who claim the God of the bible as their God.  It begins with a personal, intimate relationship before strength and action are even possible.

If we don't know God well, if he's not OUR God, our Father, our master, then action and strength are unlikely.  It seems, out of a relationship with the God of creation, his people will be able to find the strength to act in the midst of the most terrible days at the end of time. 

So, what does this action look like?  In the midst of the last days, in the midst of the human race, what would show us strong and people of action?  What would set us apart from the fear and chaos coming?

It would look like this- love the lost, care for the hurting, help the needy, protect the helpless, cloth the naked....why it would look like Jesus, wouldn't it?  In these last days we have a great opportunity, it's subtly hidden in Daniel 11,  "the people who know their God will display strength and take action."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Searching for peace

These are amazing and difficult days.  The world around us is changing daily.  Governments topple, wars break out, chaos seems to be waiting for us every morning when we wake.  For a world trying to simply find peace it seems we are missing something.

We all want peace.  Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace with others, peace in our marriages, peace in our country, our world.  The cry rings out, "Can't we all just get along?"

Searching for peace is a frustrating quest for this race of men.  We think if we had the right leader peace would come, but it doesn't. 

We search for peace but it eludes us.  How can we find this thing we all want so badly?  How can we discover peace in our lives?  

Where is it?

Here are two verses that offer insight into the problem and its solution, 

“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 48:22


"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"  Romans 5:1

I was surprised by these two verses and the contrast they present.  Peace is not possible with others until I have it with God.  I must settle accounts with Him or I will never find peace with those around me. 

It begins with him.  Until I'm willing to sign God's peace treaty written in the blood of Christ I will never have peace, never.

And if I can't find peace internally I will never have it as I live out my life with others.  

We live in a world filled with violence, trouble, anger, and fear.  We live in a world without peace because we refuse to sign God's peace treaty for our own how can we extend peace to others?

Searching for peace?  Looking for that calm that comes when all is right with you and the world?  God has made that possible, but it's only possible by trusting Christ and making peace with the one who made you.  

Until we do that we will never find peace.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Even in the storm

There is a truth that I am only beginning to understand even after more than 50 years of faith.  It's the truth and scope of God's sovereignty.  There is so much said about it, so much taught that we get overwhelmed with words and debates over what it means for our faith and freedom, but that's not what I'm focused on in my thinking.

I'm dwelling on a God who is ruler and sovereign of everything! Ruler of time, situations that happen to me, life, death, prosperity, lack, family, friends, housing, transportation, ETC!  I'm thinking about a God I can trust with all that happens...the friend with cancer, the child claiming to be an atheist after years of faith, the loss of job, changes in culture, a drug worn son, a wandering daughter, need I go on?

God is in charge!  He rules the affairs of men.  He directs the hearts of rulers as he would direct water.  He is Lord of everything.  Even when bad things happen in my life he's Lord of those too!  

When I fear I'm watching the wind and waves instead of the Lord who is right in front of me.  Here's what that looks like,

Matthew 14:5 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out,  “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him,  “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

In the midst of the storm one man felt bold enough to ask the impossible, to walk on water and he did!  But in the storm he got distracted and became afraid.  He forgot where he was and whose he was and began to sink.  In that moment he cried for help and Jesus, who was within arm's length, reached out and caught him.  

It seemed all was lost for Peter, but Jesus was with him on the water, in the storm, there to help, there to take care of him.  Even in our storms God is with us in the midst of it all....sovereign of everything...even the storms.