Monday, November 29, 2010

Taking the road most traveled

One of the things I realize, in my quest to finish well, is that the road ahead for most of us is not smooth, straight or well paved. Life doesn't work that way. It's up and down, twists and turns, bumps at times and occasionally smooth. This is life on a fallen planet. It's never predictable, rarely smooth and often feels like a roller coaster ride. If you understand that this is normal life then it doesn't bother you so much when the next dip in the road happens.

This morning I was reading in Hebrews 12 and came to these words (my own version to follow), "God is constantly shaking the things that will not last so that we will put our faith in the things that will last. As we let go of the shakable things we will have free hands to hold onto the eternal things."

The road most traveled by the human race has some of that shaking going on. God is shaking things up to get our attention. "This stuff won't last, let go of it and trust me," as we hit another turn, another dip, a rough spot that we didn't anticipate. The road most traveled isn't intended to make your life hard, it's intended to change your change what you trust, who you trust and challenge you to grasp eternal things.

I think that's why old age is such a blessing from God. He knows how strongly we hold onto the shakable things, so with age, all the things we held onto seem less important and our grasp loosens...we slowly realize there must be something better to hold onto....there must be something that can't be shaken. To be honest, the ups and downs, turns and twists, rough spots and hard days are all blessings from God who is using each day to draw us away from the temporary to the the unshakable things.

James described this same thing in a little different way when he wrote,

James 1:2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Quote of the day

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. -Meister Eckhart

Friday, November 26, 2010

Match Box heaven

As a dad who has purchased many Match Box cars for kids and grandkids this would be heaven for any kid. Looks like great fun!

Thankful a little longer

May I take the Thanksgiving theme a little further? One day is simply not enough for me to say thanks for God's love, goodness and faithfulness to us. I can't help myself, but must talk about it a little more. Will you indulge me for a moment longer?

I'm thankful to God for who he is, who he shows himself to be- good, loving and faithful. Those attributes show up in our world in three ways, 1. what he has done, 2. what he's doing now, and 3. what he will do in the future. All three declare to a watching world that God is good, loving and faithful to his creation. Here are a few of the things I have noted in these thoughts. There are many more, but this will be enough for this post.
First, What God has done,
He created, Genesis 1:1. His goodness, love and faithfulness are shown in what he has made. All he made matches all he is. “Thank you, Lord, for what YOU made.”
He spoke, 2 Tim. 3:16-17. From the early pages of the Bible God is speaking to man, but for us the ultimate word from God is in your hands! God’s goodness is shown to us today, his love for us and faithfulness revealed in the word of God. God spoke and continues to speak to us through his word. “Thank you, Lord, that you didn’t leave us wondering about you, but you have spoken and we can know you because of your word.”
He redeemed, John 3:16. God’s revelation of his love, goodness and faithfulness are revealed in what Jesus did on the cross. He redeemed us! Now we can each know forgiveness of sin, peace with God and the promise of eternal life. “Thank you, Lord, for saving us! We are so thankful for giving us what we could have never earned on our own. Thank you for salvation!”
Next, let’s look at what God is doing,
He is drawing, 2 Peter 3:8-9, John 12:32, He wants everyone to be saved! No one is left out, everyone is sought, provided for and loved! “Thank you, Lord, that your love and salvation are for everyone. Thank you that you seek out each of us and desire that all men be saved.”
He is preparing, John 14:1-3, “Thank you, Lord, for telling us about what you are preparing. It’s so exciting to know that something amazing awaits us.”
He is sustaining, Col. 1:15-17, “Lord, thanks for holding us together. Thank you for keeping everything together and working out your purposes in this world.”
There are too many to count in each of these lists, but let me add just one more to this list,
He is interceding, Heb. 7:24-25, “Thank you, Jesus, for praying for us. You are so amazing to not only save us, but pray for us as well. We are blessed!”
And, last, here is what God will do in the days ahead,
He will return, Mat. 25:31-33, One day Christ will return. In that moment we will see his goodness, love and faithfulness with our own eyes as he comes to claim his children. “Thank you, Lord, that you are coming back! I can’t wait.”
He will rule, Rev. 11:16-17, The entire human race has lived under the rule of fallen men. One day the perfect king will set up rule over the affairs of man. “Thank you, Lord, that one day we will have a perfect king. Come, Lord Jesus.”
He will restore, Rev. 21:5, All we know is a fallen world. Even in this fallen world we see so many things to be thankful for. Imagine the world as God planned it….the world he designed restored to his blueprint. Then we will know fully his love, his goodness and faithfulness. “Thank you, Lord, that you promise to restore everything to what you made it to be.”
The best response we can offer?
“Thank you, Lord! We are so grateful that you are good, that your love never ends and that you are faithful to be do all that you have promised. We thank you, Lord. May our waking words each day be simply these, ‘thank you, Lord.’”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They feared the Lord and....

I read this passage this morning and have been thinking about it all day. The one word that got the nation of Israel in trouble was the word "and." It struck me that not much has changed in nearly 3,000 years. We still have our "and" to deal with. Here's the verse that caught my attention and makes me think about my own life,

2 Kings 17:33They feared the LORD and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile.

The "and" always gets us in trouble, doesn't it? Here are a few examples of how much trouble this can cause us:

-We love God AND our stuff. From experience I will tell you that God won't allow that "and" to remain. The creator will not compete with his creation.

-We fear the Lord AND man. Fear of man will quickly take our focus off of God.

-We serve God AND money. As you know from Jesus' words this will not work.

So I wonder. How much of my life is complicated and compromised by "and?"

What are you thankful for?

It's Thanksgiving week and an opportunity to thank God for his care, provision and love. We have so much to thank him for...not only what he has given, but also what he has not given. When we have so much we forget how blessed we really are. So, what are you thankful for?

May I start? I'm thankful for God's care. We are so richly blessed! I'm thankful for a place to live, a job I love, a family that is amazing, friends that care about me and health. There is so much much we take for granted, but let me start with that short list and I will add to it as we go through the week. So, what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tula, Russia

Last weekend I and two other men flew to Moscow to be part of the church dedication for a church in Tula, Russia that our church family funded and built. It was a wonderful weekend with this church family trying to get started in a difficult area of Russia. Here are a few photos from the weekend. I look forward to what God will do with our dear friends in Tula.

Monday's cartoon

Welcome to Thanksgiving week! Take a few moments each day to thank God for his wonderful blessings in your life. I'll be doing that each day here, so join me in giving thanks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gone fishing

It struck me in the last few days, as I read my bible, that I don't always get something from my time in God's word. I know I shouldn't say that, but it's true. I don't always "catch something" when I throw out my nets. There are literally days on end when I come home without any food that I can describe....empty nets to my eyes, but whether I find food or not I cast the net, read God's word and trust him to work. What I know is that God's word is living and active. It will work, it will change me, even when I don't perceive that I found any food at all. Even in those times, like now, when I think my nets are empty, God is working through his word in my life. He promised to do that. He never lies. So I throw out the nets every day. I continue to read. There are days when my nets are full of for many days. There are other days when I don't sense that I caught anything, but at those times God is catching me! He is changing me....even when I have fished all night and caught nothing.

The law of liberty

This morning I got to attend a men's study I have dearly missed. They are studying the book of James. Today they are in chapter two and as we read we came to these words,

12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

The discussion focused for a moment on this strange phrase, "the law of liberty." It's a short phrase that presents a paradox. Law and liberty seem, in our day, to be opposites, but in this short passage the text puts these two concepts together. The law of liberty is a contrast to the law of Moses. The law of Moses had 10 commandments, but many more requirements. The law of liberty has one item and yet it fulfills and replaces perfectly the law of Moses! How can this new law of liberty replace all that the old law required? How can this new law of liberty do what the law could not?

It fulfills the law and gives liberty with this one simple command- Love your neighbor as yourself. That one command replaces the law and gives liberty to those living by this new law. Love your neighbor as yourself. It's a law that brings liberty because when I love those around me it sets me free from a list, rules, trying to measure up, trying to please. Love makes the difficult easy. Love, as Solomon wrote, covers a multitude of sins. This amazing law of liberty sets me free to enjoy people. I don't have to try to please them, control them or make them happy. All that is accomplished by love and it sets me free to have real, deep and meaningful relationships. A law that produces liberty? Amazing, but wonderfully true. Today I'm just meditating on this promise of a law that brings liberty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Observations: the price of conformity

When you travel to another culture it's easy to see the things that are different. It's obvious the choices the culture has made to be alike, to fit in. I noticed that in Russia. It was interesting to see every young lady we passed in 4-5" high heel shoes! They may have had a dress or blue jeans, but all of them were wearing high heels. Really high heels! It was obvious that the cultural norm for young women was at least a 4" heel. The price of conformity is high indeed. What will we do to fit in, to be like everyone else? Almost anything! Imagine how wide the brush stroke of cultural conformity is that would draw a whole culture of young women into a painful lifestyle simply to look like everyone else. Peer pressure is much bigger than we realize. It's clear, from my observations on high heels in Russia, that the anti-Christ will have an easy time changing the world if Russian girls are willing to suffer such pain simply to fit in. When everyone else is doing it how could we not be like them? Even if it hurts....

Made to worship

We were made to worship.

It's part of us.

It's part of who we are.

We look for someone to worship, some thing to worship. If we don't worship a god of some kind we will worship things, ourselves, others.

We were made to worship.

Worship is what we give worth to...what's important to us. We look for something higher than ourselves to give our lives meaning and purpose. We look for something worth living for. We look for something to worship.

The God who made us designed us to worship him, but we have chosen other things...lower things...things that don't fulfill what worship of the true God was meant to do. Worship of God brings focus, peace, direction, joy, happiness. All of these things come because we are doing what we were meant to do- worship and praise the God who made us.

Worship is good for us.

We were made to worship.

Here's one man's worship after a very difficult day. It's a great example of a right focus even in difficult days,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” -Job

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Observations on history revisited

One of the great advantages of a long plane ride is having time to read. A friend gave me Erwin Lutzer's new book, When a Nation Forgets God. It's an interesting work looking at Hitler and Germany in the 30's and 40's as Hitler's ideology changed a nation. His ideology and propaganda brought the German nation to choices they might have never considered only a few years earlier.

The fascinating obervations Lutzer made were his comparisons with America in our day. Just as Hitler brought Germany to decisions they could never imagined, we are coming to choices we would have never condoned only a decade ago.

This is a challenging book. I will be thinking about Erwin’s words for a while. I would recommend it to anyone wondering where we are going as a country. It will challenge your faith.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost home!

I'm in Moscow as I write this. Last night of this whirlwind trip! We left last Thursday afternoon and will get on a plane home tomorrow morning at 7 AM. It's been exhausting, but well worth the time. We came to be part of the dedication of our sister church in Tula, south of Moscow, and it was quite a day. Here are a few photos of the day. I'll tell you more when I get back.

(It seems that "free WIFI" is a concept unknown in Moscow!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vapor Man!

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14

Vapor Man describes us all. Here for a moment in time and then gone. Today I turn 60! Like all of us I am slowly evaporating.

I thought about getting some T-shirts made with a big V on the front, a Vapor Man logo and the verse above to clarify the title. As I thought about the idea of Vapor Man it struck me that it's not a super hero at all, but the ultimate declaration of weakness. Vapors last for such a short time, make little impact on their environment and are quickly gone. Yeah, that describes us pretty well, doesn't it? Here for a short time and then gone.

As a vapor on my way out it's great to know that, because of Christ, my short life will have eternal consequences. So, as one Vapor Man to many others I'm excited that what might have been a life of insignificance will become an eternity of significance because of Christ!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quote of the day

Man coming into my office for counseling, "Since you're the pastor of messy things I thought I'd better come see you."

(I don't remember that on my job title, but it does describe a lot of what I do.)

Heading east...

Sorry I have been missing for a bit, but it's a whirlwind week. I'm frantically trying to finish things here and get packed for a flight to Moscow on my 60th birthday.
One of my friends suggested I call the airline and ask for an upgrade on the flight since I will be flying on my 60th birthday. The representative from the airline replied to my request, "Just a moment, let me see...." After a moment she returns to the phone to tell me that, "yes, she can upgrade me...for $4,000.00." I laughed, but she didn't join me. Well, it was worth a try....
So, I'll be sitting in a cramped airline seat on my 60th birthday on my way to Moscow. That's the bad news, but the good news is very similar- I'll be on an airplane heading for Moscow on my birthday. It's hard to fuss about the seating when I get to be part of a wonderful trip like this.
I'm looking forward to the trip and our time with the sister church in Russia. This is a big weekend for them. We will be joining them as they dedicate their new church building. We are excited about this church. It's been more than 8 years in the making.
I'll post photos and video as often as I can get near an internet connection. Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

There is no god....

The declaration of the Muslim faith, their statement of faith is,

"There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet."

It's a clear statement of faith.

It's an exclusive statement of faith.

If you read it carefully it declares that the god of the Muslim faith is the only god. Their claim is absolute and exclusive. It's a declaration that the Muslim faith is the only faith with a real god.

Their statement of faith, by it's exclusive claim, says every other religion is foolishly worshiping idols. For all of those around us who believe there are many ways to god they must have never talked to an orthodox Muslim!

But, to be honest, I like the boldness of their statement of faith. No one can possibly miss their core beliefs. They are exclusive in both their faith and their revelation. I am a member of an exclusive faith as well. Like my Muslim friends I believe in absolute truth and in only one god.

This morning I read these words in the book of Isaiah,

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God."


he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other."


"...there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me."
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other."

Now, for all of us, there is a choice to make. There is a true God, only one. The God of the bible claims to be that one. The battle of our day is simply this- which faith presents the real god for your worship? Both claim they have "the only god," but only one can.

If you're still a seeker I invite you to research the claims of Christ. His words, his deeds, his life, his death and finally his resurrection should convince you that the one true God is the one he came to reveal to us. Jesus wasn't vague about this issue either.

He made amazing claims, just as the Father did in Isaiah.

He said, "I and the Father are one."

He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."

He said, in both word and deed, "I am God." The claims are exclusive for both faiths. The price for the wrong choice is high. I invite you to study and see if what Jesus said is true.

It's a choice that will affect you for eternity.

Of course….there is one more choice I haven’t mentioned, but it’s one that some have chosen. For them there isn’t enough information to go beyond this simple statement of faith, “There is no god….” With that they dismiss the whole discussion, but the price is too high to stop before you ask the tough questions. There is a real God, maker of heaven and earth, and he’s worth knowing. You can find out about him in the book of John in the bible. If you’re curious I invite you to read this short book. It will be worth the quest!

Monday, November 08, 2010

God, the great shepherd

The longer I walk with God the more I see his heart and desire for each of us. He is passionately in love with every man, woman, boy and girl on planet earth. He is seeking after each one of us to show us his love and give us his gifts. As Paul writes, "he desires that all men be saved and know him."

God is the great shepherd always looking for his lost sheep; always pursuing the people he died for. Here is the story Jesus told of just such a shepherd,

"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Count on it—there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue."

I'm fascinated by those last words, "there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue." All of heaven celebrates the redemption of each one rescued from wandering.

Some would say that the shepherd is not concerned for everyone, but that's not the heart of the shepherd I read about in the bible. I see a God in love with his creation, seeking, searching, looking for his lost ones....for every lost one. I wish we could see the celebration in heaven when someone trusts Christ. I wish we could see the joy that resounds when one lamb is found. If we could get the heartbeat of heaven for those who are wandering it would dramatically change how we view those lost sheep.

I'd like to talk more about the problems of wandering, but perhaps another day. Today I'm just thinking about an amazing shepherd looking for lost sheep. If you're lost you need to know someone is looking for you. Someone loves you. Do you want to create a stir in heaven? Come home, come back, trust Christ and heaven will resound with celebration. God's in the business of looking for lost people.

Are you lost and wandering? Someone is looking for you.

Quote of the day

"90% of what people struggle with are theological issues and not psychological issues."
-Hud McWilliams (at Crossroads Bible Church, 11-07-2010)
Here are a couple more quotes from our evening with Hud,
"God tests us all the time. All tests are applicational."
"Experience doesn't expand you, it limits you."

Friday, November 05, 2010

A modern day Epistle

This is a message from brother Youcef Nadarkhani, a pastor of an Iranian church who has been sentenced to death. This message was written in June and has been translated from Farsi to English.
Dear brothers and sisters, Salam

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am continuously seeking grace and mercy to you, that you remember me and those who are bearing efforts for his name in your prayers.

Your loyalty to God is the cause of my strength and encouragement.

For I know well that you will be rewarded; as it’s stated: blessed is the one who has faith, for what has been said to him by God, will be carried out.

As we believe, heaven and earth will fade but his word will still remain.

Dear beloved ones, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few verses, although you might know them, So that in everything, you give more effort than the past, both to prove your election, and for the sake of Gospel that is to be preached to the entire world as well.

I know that not all of us are granted to keep this word, but to those who are granted this power and this revelation, I announce the same as Jude, earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

We are passing by special and sensitive days.They are days that for an alert and awake believer can be days of spiritual growth and progress. Because for him, more than any other time there is the possibility to compare his faith with the word of God, have God’s promises in mind, and survey his faith.

Therefore he (the true believer) does not need to wonder for the fiery trial that has been set on for him as though it were something unusual, but it pleases him to participate in Christ’s suffering.

Because the believer knows he will rejoice in his glory.

Dears, the “ judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end beof them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Therefore those who are enduring burdens by the will of God, commit their souls to the faithful Creator. Promises that he has given us, are unique and precious. As we’ve heard he has said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you”

How can it be possible for a believer to understand these words?

Not only when he is focusing on Jesus Christ with adapting his life according to the life Jesus lived when he was on earth? As it is said ” O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”

Have we not read and heard: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Many attempt to flee from their spiritual tests, and they have to face those same tests in a more difficult manner, because no one will be victorious by escaping from them, but with patience and humility he will be able to overcome all the tests, and gain victory.

Therefore in the place of Christ’s followers, we must not feel desperate, but we have to pray to God in supplication with more passion to help us with any assistance we may need.

According to what Paul has said: In every temptation, God himself will make a way for us to tolerate it.

O beloved ones, difficulties do not weaken mankind, but they reveal the true human nature.

It will be good for us to occasionally face persecutions and abnormalities, since these abnormalities will persuade us to search our hearts, and to survey ourselves.

So as a result, we conclude that troubles are difficult, but usually good and useful to build us.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must be more careful than any other time.

Because in these days, the hearts and thoughts of many are revealed, so that the faith is tested.

May your treasure be where there is no moth and rust.

I would like to remind you of some verses that we nearly discuss everyday, (Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.) but as long as our human will has priority over God’s will, his will will not be done.

As we have learned from him in Gethsemane, he surrendered his will to the father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

What we are bearing today, is a difficult but not unbearable situation, because neither he has tested us more than our faith and our endurance, nor does he do as such. And as we have known from before, we must beware not to fail, but to advance in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, And consider these bumps and prisons as opportunities to testify to his name. He said: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

As a small servant, necessarily in prison to carry out what I must do, I say with faith in the word of God that he will come soon.”However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Discipline yourself with faith in the word of God. Retain your souls with patience. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly.

May you are granted grace and blessings increasingly in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.

Yusef Nadarkhani

Lakan Prison in Rasht


A new blog you should read

I'm excited to tell you about a new blog that's written by my dear old friend and professor, William Burnside. He and his wife, Minnie, have been an influence in my life for decades. I encourage you to add his site to your blog travels. You can read his words and wisdom at,

Fear focused living

One of the stories in the bible that fascinates me is the story of Elijah after his contest with the priests of Baal. As you read 1 Kings 19 it's clear that he is no longer seeing things from God's perspective, but from his own focus based on fear. Fear is a monster at times. It changes how we see things, how we feel and how we view God. Here's the exchange between Elijah and God on the mountain of God, Horeb, and then I have a few thoughts about Elijah's words,

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

I love God's question to the prophet, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" God's the master of questions. In fact he asks this question twice. The first time Elijah answers with fear, "I'm the only one left and they are trying to kill ME!" If you read the whole story you know these things are not true. You also know that Elijah has his view of things distorted by the fear that is overwhelming him. God's first question gives us a view of Elijah's heart. He's completely fear focused! How often do we let the circumstances of our life distort our view of things? How often do we let fear focused vision overwhelm us? Elijah did and it was caused by the threats of Jezebel, the queen. On her word alone fear had overwhelmed him.

Then something happens. God tries to get his attention. It's a good slap in the face, SNAP OUT OF IT! Wake up! Get your perspective right. You're looking at things the wrong way, Elijah.
He had become fear focused and it was all based on the words and threats of a queen, but he was now in the presence of God himself. If he can only see God correctly it will change his focus and dispel his fears, but fear is a strong emotion. Often it's so strong we can't see anything else. Often it makes it impossible for God to get through to us. Often it makes it impossible for God to use us anymore. That is what we see with Elijah.

Between God's two questions, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” something happens that should have changed his perspective. Here's what happened,

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

What is this all about? What is God trying to do? He's trying to change Elijah's view of his situation. If he can see that God is bigger than Jezebel....if he can fear the creator more than he fears the creation then God can use him. At the end of this revelation of God he once more asks a question. It's a question that basically asks, "Can you hear me now?"

What's fascinating to me is that Elijah does not see God! His fear of a woman has blinded him and his reply to God's question remains the same...exactly the same, 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

God's response? "Ok, Elijah, you're done. I can't use you anymore. Go and ordain your replacement." When fear of man so dominates our lives that we can't see God when he shows up God can't use us anymore. That was Elijah's finish. A finish that put him on the bench because of fear. I don't think we realize how devastating fear can be in our lives...especially when it's a fear of man. Fear of man will paralyze us, make us ineffective and of no use to God.

How could a guy like Elijah let fear dominate him as it did? The truth is that fear can sideline any of us if we aren't focused on a healthy fear of God. A fear and reverence for God will dispel any fear of man we might experience, but for Elijah it was too late. He was done.

Fear focused living is debilitating. It makes us unable to see God clearly because all we can see is what fear has magnified in our lives. Proverbs tells us, "Don't be afraid of sudden fear." Fear will try to change our focus. Be ready for it by keeping your eyes on the Lord. It will keep you from making God small and people big.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

2,000 Posts!

I know. I'm amazed too. When I saw that this would be post 2,000 I was shocked! I couldn't believe I had done this so long, written so much or that I had that much to say.
When I started this blog more than four years ago it was by my wife's prodding. I resisted, but once I got started I did notice that God was working in me as I dealt with my own thoughts and issues. I also saw him work in other lives.
It's been great to "meet" people from around the world through this platform, so I'm thrilled to post #2,000 today. I hope I have many more posts to write in the days ahead. Thanks for following my walk with God. I can't wait to see what he does in each of our lives.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Thoughts on Psalm 4

This morning, as I read, I came across this question from Psalm 4. I think it's the first time this question has caught my eye. Here is David's question,

"How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?"


Wait, I thought...what did he ask? A question that challenge our affections and priorities. Affections and priorities are the main issues of life. What do you love? What do you want? Those are things we focus on. Through David God asks a question that focuses on both of the issues we care about most.


What do you love?


What do you want?


Great questions! I wonder, though, about this verse. I wonder....what do we love that is worthless? What do we aim at that is deception? It seems that the New Testament clears these up nicely. Here's how John describes this in a different way,


1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.


The world is quite busy.....busy about loving worthless things and aiming at deception....things that will keep them busy so they don't have time to think about God. Things that are worthless for eternity and deceptive in their promise of happiness. The promises are big, but they offer a complete lack of any substance.


Be aware that our affections and desires can be undermined by the world around us. Be aware that your loves and desires should be looked at often to make sure they are of eternal worth and substance. It's easy to fall into loves and desires that look good, but miss the mark and have nothing to offer.


David's question in Psalm 4 is quite haunting, "How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?" How would you answer his question?