Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living in the last days

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

It's interesting to watch the news. Events around us are escalating. Tensions are rising. Fear is growing. People I talk to are concerned about what is coming. Living in the last days is not boring! In fact, as we near the end it's clear that we need one another more than ever before.

In the passage above Peter writes of the last days and his admonition to his readers, in light of the days, is to get more connected with others not less. The greatest victory of the enemy, as I see it, is to isolate Christians from one another. We are easier to defeat if he can separate us from the body of Christ. In Peter's mind the most important thing we can do is live through these days as a community of people caring for one another. We should pull in closer to the body of Christ not separate from it!

"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." Key to living in these days is love for one another. As you watch the events of the world make the choice to live a "one another" life. The body of Christ is the safest place to weather the difficult days ahead.

At 3am in the morning

Nothing feels good at 3am in the morning except a bed, but for some reason I can't sleep tonight. I don't really have anything to say at this horrible hour, but I thought I would just free write and see what happens. Obviously my brain is numb so who knows what will come out. I've been thinking about the upcoming sabbatical that I will be taking. I'm excited about it, but also want to make sure I use the time, time with my sweet wife, spiritual refreshment, reading, some travel, some ministry if I can find the right thing, and who knows what else. I want to do some things I have never done before- I want to go on a silent retreat, I would like to (believe it or not) fast for a week. I want to read a good novel. I don't do novels....not enough now would be the time to fit one in. I would love recommendations if you have one you really like. I got one by Ian Wilson and plan to read it, but would welcome other suggestions. I also plan to just turn off my cell phone. I know that will be painful, but I'm really looking forward to it. To not be tethered to the rest of the world for a bit sounds really good....I guess I do need some time away. I also want to visit some other churches. I have no idea what others are doing, so I want to do some "church shopping" during the break to see what's going on around me. And, if you don't mind, I want to journal my time here. I would use a paper journal, but my hand writing is so bad at this point in my life that no one could read it. I guess I should have become a doctor because I write like one. Anyway, just a few thoughts at 3am in the morning. I'll add more if I can't get these old eyes to close and rest a bit......have a great day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You can trust him

Psalm 119-
89 Your eternal word, O LORD,
stands firm in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness extends to every generation,
as enduring as the earth you created.
91 Your regulations remain true to this day,
for everything serves your plans.

What would happen if you set up your camera to take a long time-lapse photo? Here it is. The spirals are the stars as they course their way across the heaven. What a beautiful picture they paint night after night as they declare the faithfulness of God. These same stars were seen by others thousands of years ago. They proclaim the faithfulness of God as they obey the God who made them. They proclaim the power of God's word. The word spoken that made them, put them in their place and now has for thousands of years sustained them.

It's his word that created the world we enjoy. It's his word you might read and study if you are a Christ follower. His word is eternal. What an interesting idea. When all else fails it's his word that stands. It stands because his word declares his faithfulness. Everything that word touched as he spoke it declares his faithfulness. As I write this I realize I'm getting a little mystical here, but what I'm trying to grasp and communicate is the greatness of God to speak and then, in his faithfulness, to make his word eternal, sure, trustworthy in creation.

It was his word that spoke the stars into existence and they have faithfully obeyed his word as they display his glory in the heavens.

It's his word I read each day, that same word that spoke and created the heavens is now in my hands to read and see his faithfulness in my life.

In other words God is trustworthy. You can put your full weight and eternity in his hands. He will keep his promises. Just look at the stars.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What good are they?

Isa 2:22 Don’t put your trust in mere humans.
They are as frail as breath.
What good are they?

The book of Isaiah is one of the most amazing books in the bible. It's rich with truth, imagery and prophesy like no other book in the bible. Chapter 2 speaks of a day when the only one who will be glorified will be God himself. "There is a day" the prophet writes when God alone will be glorified.

We live in a very strange world where the glory of man is most important. It's the focus of most of media. It is a world that's all about us. The oscar awards last night are the pinnacle of this world about us. But one day all of that will be put away and only one will be most honored. Only one will be lauded.

As I watch how our world system has worked out I long for that day when only God will be trusted, only God will be glorified. I long for the day when we will realize our amazing frailty and no longer let pride or personal glory be part of our lives, but will give glory to the only one who deserves it.


My roles change this morning. My job changes as a pastor. It's exciting. It's frankly a little daunting. Last night I met with a wonderful group of our lay leaders in church and handed them my job. They have been doing much of it already, but last night we gave them the whole thing...including leadership. These are great days for our church as we empower the body more intentionally to do the work of ministry and reach their world with the gospel. Changes are often difficult, but these are the right changes....changes that pastors must make if they are to see the body of Christ grow. I'm excited to see how much better they will do with these ministries than I have done. I know they will.

So what do I do? It's exciting to reinvent yourself. Now I get to dream a bit. What do I want to do? How do I best use the gifts God has given me for his glory? What does he want me to do? Now, you may think I'm saying I'm leaving my current church. I'm not. It's just the next step in a church living out body life together. I've worked myself out of my job and that's a good thing. Now I get to see what God has in store for me in the days ahead. I'm excited for my church, my amazing lay leaders who have joyfully taken on these roles and for see what God has for us next.

A new week begins

Standing in line for coffee
A busy day ahead
Frantic to get going
Wish I could have stayed in bed
A new week begins
The craziness returns
How easily we forget
What's most important
The weekend has ended
A new week begins
Once more we take our place
on the hamster wheel of life
How do we lose sight
of what really matters
How do we forget
the one who calls us to fellowship
every day, not just Sunday
But that will have to wait
A new week begins

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The reason for God

Today we start a short six-week series on "The Reason for God". I'm excited about the class and can't wait to see what God does as we discuss this together. In days like these a good apologetic is essential. I hope we can give confidence to those who attend that the christian faith is not only reasonable, but is the most reasonable choice available.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Four years ago

This was me four years ago this week. I had foolishly used a tall stool as a ladder, fell and crushed my heel. Surgery was a week after this photo and then began the long road to recovery, actually it's the long road to what they called my "new normal".

A moment ago I got up to go to the other room and my ankle hurt so bad that it took a minute before I could put any weight on my foot. I'm not complaining, really I'm not, I am just thinking about the results of choices that seem small at the time, but bring about a change in life that will literally change everything about the days ahead.

I've seen this in other lives, little choices that cripple us in some way for years to come. I wonder if we knew the cost would we still pay the price? I wonder if we could look down the timeline of our lives would we choose a different path?

I have a friend who has made a bad choice in his life and blew up everything around him....his family, his marriage, his career....everything! He told me that is not a day that goes by that he doesn't regret his choices.

Today, like most days, I have to intentionally try to not walk with a limp. It's always a temptation to give in to the pain, but I try my best to live above it. It's amazing, isn't it, what a bad choice can do in our lives?

The Reason for God

I just watched this interview with TIm Keller at Columbia University and loved it. He dealt with difficult questions in a gracious and thoughtful way. It is an hour and 20 minutes, but if you have the time I highly recommend it.

Saturday's cartoon

Friday, February 24, 2012

Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist

My friend Brandon shared this video from the Telegraph on Facebook. I don't want to focus on Dawkins specifically, but highlight the real problem we must deal with. Here is the video, and then a few thoughts,

"He is regarded as the most famous atheist in the world but last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted he could not be sure that God does not exist." -The Telegraph

The article goes on to tell about the content of this discussion at Oxford University. Obviously these men are much more brilliant than I. In fact I've never claimed brilliance in my life and only hope that in some way I put off a faint glow, but I was fascinated by the brief discussion on video because it highlights a much bigger problem- the problem of what we don't know.

Atheism and many atheists claim quite boldly that there is no god. That belief is core to their theology. The truth, which Dawkins acknowledged, is that because of how little we really know it's simply impossible to make such a claim and declare that God does not exist. There are a hundred illustrations for this point and they are completely unnecessary for this discussion, but core to the issue of claiming there is no god is this crucial question- How do you know that? How do you KNOW there is no god? Of all the information knowable in the universe what percentage do you think we have? 1% maybe? 2% if we are bold enough to claim such. So, in the 98% of all that can be known is it possible that God exists? Clearly, boldly, honestly we must say yes.

Rather than declare God's absence because I haven't found him in the 2% of data I know, why not rather continue the discussion as we discover more about the 98% we don't know? Because the issue for many atheists is not information, but a heart unwilling to bow to a god of any kind. The discussion is not about discovery of God, it's about trying not to discover him. This quest to not find God is at the heart of the claim of the atheist as he puts his hands over his eyes and says with great authority, "There is no god, I can't see him anywhere."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I wish....

This morning, as I awoke in the wee hours, I thought, "I wish....." It was a wish for money to meet some of the needs I had been thinking about as I awoke. Needs we have, needs I see in other lives, needs I see for missionaries, for pastors in other countries, for kingdom stuff....the needs just overwhelmed me in the night and I awoke with this thought, "I wish I had a million dollars..." I'm sure your first thought is why didn't I ask for $100 million, but my brain doesn't work that way. I just wanted to address the needs that were bringing me into the conscious world. I wish.... it's a frequent thought of ours, isn't it? I wish I had, if only....and with those thoughts we envision all we would do if only.....

Then this thought came to was from another place...."you do have that and more, just ask me." And with that thought from the one who owns everything I suddenly realized I already have all I need and much more! It's available for withdrawal with a simple prayer. How do I forget that? How do I get so focused on the things of this world that I lose sight of the fact that my father has all I ever need and more?

Suddenly my thought, "I wish...." changed to "Lord, would you...." and the feeling of hopelessness that comes with a wish evaporated in the presence of a listening, loving father who wants me to trust him and wants to meet my needs.

I wish I would remember that the God who loves me awaits my request for the needs of my life and the lives of those that burden my heart. Who needs three wishes when the God of creation longs to reveal himself through my trust in him?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trusting God

I know there are many people who wear a cross around their neck as a symbol of their faith. There are other symbols as well- the fish bumper sticker, T-shirts with a message, tattoos, and many more that people use to demonstrate their faith and remind themselves of their commitment to God.
This picture (which I have used before) is one of those icons to me. It's the rock of Horeb. It's the rock that Moses struck in the wilderness after they left Egypt to provide water for 2,000,000 people for months.
It's important to me as a reminder, because I find myself, like the children of Israel, fretting and complaining about what is going on in my life. I find myself worrying....what will happen to us will we get by.....I'm sure you have struggled with many of the same thoughts. This morning I awaken from a very fretful night of worry. Thinking, praying, fretting, tossing, worrying, praying....I hate to tell you this, but us old pastors struggle with trusting God at times like anyone in our faith communities. It's the worse part of being human for me- knowing God, knowing he has always taken care of you, knowing he has promised to always care for you in the future, and yet finding yourself worrying. I hate that part of my fallen heart....the part that truly doubts God's willingness and ability to care for me. I know I would have been one of the Jews in the wilderness saying, "can God really provide for us here?"
So, I come back to Horeb. I remind myself of what God has done in the past, and I know he will care for me in the future. He never changes, he is always aware of me and my needs. He loves me. So I come back to remember.
Thank you Lord for your wonderful care and awesome love. I'm so sorry I worry. I'm so grieved that I doubt. But I come back and fall at your feet and say, Lord, I'm yours, help me.

Psa 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psa 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psa 37:6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.
Psa 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Psa 37:8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
Psa 37:9 For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Neck-up" Christianity

I have a new way to describe many Christians I run into these days. I call them "neck-up" Christians. They have tremendous knowledge. They know doctrine. They know the word. They know "stuff!" And they are of no use to the Christian world or the kingdom of God at all!
Christianity is supposed to be holistic. It's supposed to affect every part of who you are and what you do. It's supposed to change you into the image of Christ.
If your faith does not move from what you know to what you do then you are a "neck-up" Christian. You have heard of the comedy skit "you might be a red-neck if..."? Let me play off of that for a moment with some observations of my own based on this idea....
You might be a "neck-up" Christian if... love bible studies, but don't want to help the poor. will spend hours reading your bible, but don't have time to serve in your church. think discipleship has to do with an open bible and a notebook, and not with painting a widow's home. will go hear the great bible teachers of the day, but don't have time to go listen to the lonely people in nursing homes near you. know the word, but still live in sin. can quote the bible with the best of them, but it doesn't affect your life.
Christianity is supposed to be changes all of me or it's not's a "neck-up" religion. Jesus came to confront that kind of religion. In his day they were called Pharisees. He railed against them. He called them white-washed tombs. He called them hypocrites. Today I call them "neck-up" Christians.

Monday, February 20, 2012

To whom do you belong?

It's a strange question, isn't it? To whom do you belong? In our world, in our culture, it's a question that might raise eyebrows, cause offense and make the listener wonder what you are asking. But it's an important question because it affects everything you do.

In our culture the reply would be, "I belong to no one! I'm my own man, I do as I please. No one is lord over my life." And with the declaration we proudly announce our independence. But is this the proper response for the Christian? Is this the way we should respond to this question? And, what are the implications?

If I'm a free spirit, an independent soul then I can do as I please, make my own choices, deal with the consequences, but if I have connections to someone else, to another authority, it changes my answer and my life. This morning, as I am reading Paul's travelog in the book of Acts I came upon this short passage,

"23 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me..."

To whom I belong and whom I serve... Isn't that an interesting phrase? Here's a few of the implications, 1. Who I belong to, who I am accountable to affects what I do. 2. What I do reflects and is a response to who I belong to. If I'm the servant of another it will affect my choices, my identity, my life. If, on the other hand, I believe I report to no one then any choice I make, any decision I come to reflects the fact that life is simply a story told about's all about me!

Paul spoke to a different lifestyle. A lifestyle of one possessed and governed by another, "To whom I belong and whom I serve" makes clear to anyone listening that Paul considered himself a slave to someone else, to God himself, and his life and choices were directed by that identity. So, to whom do you belong? Who do you serve? What determines the choices of your life? How do you decide your course of action? What governs you?

These are important questions for us because we all live out the answer to this question- To whom do you belong?

In another passage Paul described this reality in another way as he wrote,

"Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body."

You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high live like it!

To whom do you belong? Who do you serve? These are important questions for a life lived to the glory of God.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A little word and a big God

One of the most amazing chapters in the bible is Daniel 11. It stands out because of its content. In this chapter of 45 verses you will find one little word repeated more than 116 times! Here's how the chapter is set up-

The angel Gabriel appears to Daniel near the end of the book and near the end of his life. In this encounter, planned by God, Gabriel tells Daniel, "Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future." In the 45 verses to follow Gabriel unfolds the entire end-time history of the world. A history we are living in right now.

What caught my attention as I read was one little word. A word repeated more than 116 times in this one chapter. It's this word- will. This king will do this, that king will arise and do that.... On and on, more than twice a verse, the word will is used by Gabriel to talk about future days. There is a certainty to the word "will". It's not "might" or "maybe", but it's "will". These events told more than 3,000 years ago will happen.

It caught my attention that this little word of just four letters tells me something very important about God- He is in charge of the events of our history. He's unfolding a plan to save men and women and glorify himself. All of history will unfold as he describes it through Gabriel. That does at least two things for me. It gives me peace that God is in control when it feels like everything is out of control. And, it gives me confidence that God has a plan he is moving the events of history towards. We are seeing the unfolding of God's grand plan to save mankind and glorify his name.

All of this could cause me to be a fatalist, but in reality it brings me great peace that as I see what seems to be a world out of control I'm really seeing the unfolding of God's grand plan with everything completely in control...HIS control.

This morning I'm blessed by a little word and a big God.

Saturday's cartoon

Friday, February 17, 2012


Heb 4:1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest.

There is a rest for this weary race of man. There is a rest from the unceasing quest for peace, for calm, for a feeling of being good with God. Most religions of the world offer a never ending treadmill of works to attain heaven with no assurance of ever having done enough. These are brutal faiths. Faiths based on our works, our efforts to be good enough, to push all the right buttons, to look just right so our eternity will be a good one. These are religions that offer no rest.

But there is one faith, only one, that offers a place of rest. It's a rest from the works of man to please God. In this faith, and this one alone, there is a place of rest....a rest based on the works of someone else. It comes only to those who put their faith in the works of another, Jesus Christ, to have done all that's asked of God for us to be accepted. It brings those who believe to a place of rest where all self-efforts are done. Finally, for those who trust rest is available. Finally all efforts are finished, there's nothing more for us to do, it's all been done.

Imagine all of mankind standing on one side of the grand canyon with God on the other. Our quest is to reach God and with our best efforts we jump to bridge the chasm. The fate of all who do this in their own strength is inevitable and is found at the bottom of the canyon. But imagine that spanning this grand chasm is a moving bridge. All you have to do is step on it and it will carry you to the other side. Most around you would say it's too easy, you have to do something, you can't please God without doing something! And yet, this bridge is the only way to the other side.

While all around you men and women are trying to jump the chasm and falling to their death you can simply take a step of faith and, like the moving walkways in the airports and malls, you find yourself being moved to the other side...effortlessly! It's a result based on a step of faith and a rest in the God's only provision to bridge the chasm. "It can't be that easy!" some would say. "You're just not trying hard enough." others declare. And they're right. It's a rest, a rest in the work done by another to accomplish something none of us can do on our own.

Why do so many refuse to take the bridge (faith in Jesus Christ) and choose to try to jump the chasm on their own? For some reason many think their salvation depends on their own works, but the chasm is much too wide for us to bridge by our own works, in our own strength. We need help!

As the author of Hebrews writes, "only those who believe can enter his rest." Are you resting in him or trying to work your way to God? Only one will bring you to your desired destination.

Only one choice will give you rest from the quest for God's acceptance.

All others find their end at the bottom of the chasm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Amazing discovery

World’s tiniest chameleon is the size of match’s head

Meet Brookesia micra, the newly discovered world's smallest chameleon. This wee creature was discovered on an island off of Northern Madagascar, where a biological expedition found these tiny beasts snoozing in vegetation a mere four inches off the ground.

I am constantly amazed by the new discoveries made each year of animals and vegetation that we never knew existed before. And that's just on our small little planet.

With that as a backdrop I'm humored by the scientists who claim to know with assurance how the universe came into being and declare boldly "there is no God!" How are we so bold to declare knowledge of time, space and creation when we still don't know what's on our own planet?

Personally, I think these new discoveries just make God smile. He has made an amazing world, a wonderful universe and with all that we think we know we are just beginning to discover life here. It makes me very aware of how little science really does know about anything. So, as you listen to Dawkins and Harris speak boldly about what we "know" think of this little chameleon and smile. They don't know as much as they think they know.

I'll rest in Genesis 1 where God simply says, "I'm here and I made it all." I'm good with that.


How do you sum up 38 years?

How do you capture the tears, the laughter, the pain, the joy of life with another person?

I think these questions are the secret treasure of a couple who have lived their lives together through good and bad days. Today is our 38th anniversary. 38 years. I can't be old enough to be married that long, but here we are growing old together, taking care of each other, leaning on one another as we finish this race together.

Reflections of a life with another person always contain good days and bad, but what I realize is the good days seem to make the bad days dim in my memory. Maybe it's nostalgia, but I find my memory of the hard days, the days of tears (and there were many) fade in my memory as I look back and remember a rich life of joy, happiness and living through the difficult days with another person who loves me.

The stories of 38 years together describe in broad brush strokes the great love of God in two lives as they keep their promises and care for one another. It is a little picture of Christ and his church. A bride and groom in love with one another, caring for each other and keeping promises.

This morning, as I reflect on my life with my sweet wife I must tell you I am blessed and grateful. God is so good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Top Ten Worst Valentine's Day Gifts"

#10. An appliance, any appliance

#9. A chain saw

#8. Clothes (Trust me, you will never get the right thing OR the right size.)

#7. Candy

#6. A gift card


Here's where you get to help me. Let's work on the top 5 together. What are the top 5 worst Valentine's day gifts ever?

Amazed by grace and Joye

Today is Valentine's day. A great day to celebrate those we love and care for. It's also the day before our anniversary. Yes, we got married the day AFTER Valentine's day. This day is the first day of our celebration of life together.

The bible says that a good wife is a blessing from the Lord. If that's true I must be the most blessed guy on the planet. To be loved by God and a wonderful wife and friend is all one could hope for in a lifetime. So, today, I'm most blessed and thankful for my sweet valentine, Joye.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A pastor's worse nightmare

About 3:15 this afternoon the phone rang. On the other end of the phone I heard these words, "Where are you???"

It was one of the ladies in our church. I told her I was at home, planning to get ready for a wedding at 6 this evening.

She replied, "The wedding was at 3! So where are you?"

In case you haven't figured it out yet I was supposed to do the wedding.

I have never done this before nor heard of another pastor doing such a thing, being late for a wedding that is. I've heard of brides being late, grooms being late, but never the pastor!

So off I run, unshaven and unprepared to a wedding 30 miles away!

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!

Finally, at 4:15 I arrive to the applause of 200 people. I don't think I've ever been so embarrassed! I'm sure the bride was wondering if her day had been ruined, but fortunately it all worked out and they extended me amazing grace. The wedding went well and the couple is married with a wedding they will never forget!

This is a pastor's worse nightmare and now it's my reality! I'm sure it's all rather funny, but I haven't discovered the funny part yet, I'll think about that later.

Best wishes Bill and Debbie. I hope you have a wonderful life together, in spite of beginning your marriage an hour late!

Saturday's cartoon

Isn't it great when God works and we can celebrate it together? If you have someone who has encouraged you, helped you, prayed for you, asked how you're doing....take a moment and thank them. It's a small thing to you, but really big to them.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The body of Christ

This week was a wonderful blessing for me.

This week my wife and I, along with our senior pastor and worship pastor and their wives went on a retreat together.

The retreat was in the hill country of Texas. It was held at a great retreat center called Laity Lodge. I haven't been on a retreat in ages, especially with other staff, and this was with pastors from a host of different denominations and communities.

I'm going to ramble here a bit, but the week was a surprise, refreshing, restful, encouraging and eye opening. I met men and women that challenged me and I want to keep in touch with them in the days ahead. I experienced worship music different than I had ever heard and fell in love with it. I realized how narrow my world and community really is. It really surprised me to be reminded of things I had experienced, communities I had been part of, worlds I had visited but forgot about in the small world I live in now. It was a fresh breath for me. A needed freshness.

My life in ministry has woven through nearly every faith community and over the decades I have enjoyed the faith and walk of many from different fellowships, but I forgot how wonderful it is to be part of the larger body of worship differently, to hear the word taught in a new way, to meet great friends I had not known before. It was refreshing, encouraging and a blessing. It was much needed!

Manna-feast destiny

I'm reading through Exodus right now and as I read about God's provision for the nation of Israel in the desert it strikes me that the daily provision of manna was not simply in one place, at the place it first became available, but it followed them on their 40 year journey. Wherever they went, wherever they camped manna was there the next morning. I'm sure it became expected for them, as it does for us but it struck me that God's provision met them where they were, in their location, in the place where God had brought them manna was provided on a daily basis.

This simple insight made me aware of this same truth for us. As we move through our lives God brings provision to us, along our journey, where we are. When we awake God's provision is there. We take it for granted, but this moving manna-feast for the nation of Israel teaches us a simple truth- God's provision meets our needs where we are, wherever that might be.

The great challenge for us, as it was for Israel, is to not let this miracle of provision become a normal expectation of our days. I pray we are always aware of the miraculous provision of God as we walk through our days.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thank you for the heartbreak

A wonderful song of praise for even the difficult days. God is good even in my pain, even in my difficult days. This great song speaks to my heart and the wonderful love of God even when things don't turn out as I would like. Even in the pain God is glorified. I love this song. I hope it speaks to your pain as well in your difficult days.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The wealthy pauper

It strikes me that a Christian who knows God is the richest of people while in the world's eyes he may be without what the world values. We are the people who have everything, but possess nothing. We walk with a God who owns everything that exists and supplies us with daily needs. The world hordes goods, money, and things in the hope of having "enough" for the days ahead. Proverbs tells us to not set our hearts on riches because they make themselves wings and fly away.

And yet we long for security. We want to know we have enough in the bank to be ready for that rainy day when we will need it. We have the strange idea that we are in this by ourselves. In fact, for the man in the world I understand this need for security, but for the Christian who lives and moves in and with God it's an idol to hold onto and seek after wealth as a security. God meets daily needs so that our trust and focus will be on him and not on our own ability to meet our needs.

There are difficult days. There are times when the economies of the world struggle. In those times those around us fear, panic and will we survive? What will happen with our retirement? How will we have enough? We have this sense that all of this is up to us to hold onto, to provide, to save. If that is true we should be afraid! No one can be secure in the evil days. If we don't trust in God for our daily needs, our daily provision, we will be fearful, worried and will struggle with the world around us.

But, imagine a man or woman who lives in the reality of a sovereign God who has promised to meet our needs and is fully able to do so. Imagine having nothing, but possessing everything. Imagine trusting God as your provision rather than your own ability. Imagine a rest, a trust in one who will provide no matter what the world around us is doing. Paul described it this way, "My God will provide all your needs according to his riches in glory." What are his riches in glory? He owns everything, he possess all. If he lacks anything then he can't be God, but he is! He has everything we need, everything. As you put your rest and trust in him you lack NOTHING.

In that trust we find ourselves to be wealthy paupers, possessing nothing, but having everything. We might walk about with empty pockets, but living as children of the Father who possesses the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns everything and promises to provide for us as we trust him. This is a whole different kind of life....a life of trust, of peace, of freedom from the news, the world's fears, the crisis of the moment. It's a life lived in dependence on a Father who has promised to provide all we need each day, our daily manna, the bread for the moment. We find we are the richest of men while in the moment we possess nothing at all.

The man or woman who trusts God finds they are the ultimate paradox- a wealthy pauper.

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply all your needs according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

True security is not in the possession of things, but in the possession of someone...the great God, the wonderful Father, the source of all we need for the moment even as we walk about with empty pockets, a company of wealthy paupers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


My sweet wife and I are at a retreat this week with other pastors and wives from our church. The retreat center is in the hill country of Texas by a beautiful river. There is no phone service here and limited internet, so we have very little communication with the outside world. It is wonderful! So, as you might expect, I won't be able to post much this week. I will do some writing and share my thoughts with you when I get back to the crazy world we live in, but for a few days we are in retreat......

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Know that I am God...

I woke in the night last night with this verse my first thought, "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.

It's a much quoted verse, but I think we miss so much that it's trying to say. May I rewrite it in Mike's paraphrase?

"Hush, be quiet, stop, rest, don't move....just pause for a moment and know that I am God.

That I am God over your joys and over your sorrows.

That I am God when you are at peace and when you are afraid.

That I am God when your health is good and even when it isn't.

That I am God when you have food and when you are hungry.

That I am God when there is abundance and when there is nothing.

That I am God when you have a job and when you don't.

That I am God when you have hope and even when you are in despair.

That I am God over everything."

The one theme I see throughout the bible is this very important truth- The Lord is God, He is Lord of everything, both good and bad, both smiles and tears.

He's Lord and you can trust him, he's got it all under control. So, be still, rest, relax, let down your frown, exhale, stop worrying, stop trying, stop everything and rest in the Lord who simply wants you to know that HE is LORD.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 29:10. In this short verse is a very important truth. Here it is, "The Lord sat as king at the flood, the Lord sits as king forever." At the worse time in human history God was seated on the throne fully in charge. At the worse time in your life God is seated on his throne fully in charge of your life. Relax, he's got it. Stop, cease, be still. The God of the universe loves you and is Lord of your everythings. Trust him. "Be still and know that HE is God."

Saturday, February 04, 2012

On being a light

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

You are the light of the world. Yes, YOU. It's part of your job description as a be light in dark places. How's that working for you? How are you doing with the light you have? Honestly, I don't like the questions this generates at all! If people are looking to me for a little light to find their way I wonder if I'm any help to them at all.

Most of us want illumination for ourselves, for our own lives, but we are described by Jesus as illumination for those around us, light for others. Being the light of the world is a big task. It's the task of helping those in the dark find their way, helping them find the right path and discover the light that illuminates us. Being the light of the world is a heavy burden and for the most part we do not wear it well. Frankly, at least for me, I think I'm a master at hiding my little light under a basket. I'm not good at helping others see the way with kindness and grace. I wish I was better at this thing called being the light of the world, but I'm still working on it.

And then Jesus goes even further and says this, "let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Part of the illuminating work of the believer is how we live our lives, our good deed. Let your good deeds shine out for all to see....why? So people will praise God. Our lives are meant to direct the world in praise to God for what they see because of us. How often does that happen? I think we have missed something in this job description of being lights in the world. Something has gone horribly wrong in the church! Instead of being lights to illuminate the way we have become spotlights in the eyes to blind the lost as they seek to find their way.

I think the thing we have lost is the very grace we received when we came to Christ. As I read Matthew and see Jesus interact with the world in darkness he doesn't turn up the wattage to blind them, he gives them just enough light to make them want more. I still have much to learn about being a light in a dark world. I sure don't know how to do this well, but if I am a light for those around me how is that supposed to work? How should I live so that, like the proverbial moth, those around me are drawn to the light that shines from me? I'm still working on this.....

Saturday's cartoon

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Finding God's will

This morning I am visiting with a missionary in Uganda. He said, "Things are really difficult here. I wonder if I'm in God's will....." His connection of difficult circumstances with God's will got me thinking. I wonder how many feel the same way? How many think that trials, problems, and struggles mean I'm going the wrong way? How many think that God's will for them will be easy? How many quit when things get tough and feel they have missed God's will for their lives?

The truth is that God's will for our lives will often be littered with struggles and problems. It doesn't mean you're going the wrong way, it just means you have an enemy that doesn't want you to reach the summit and is doing all he can to get you to give up, get discouraged, and quit.

Don't give up, don't quit, keep climbing! One of the best ways to know you're in God's will is the reality that things get tough. The climb to the top will be difficult, get used to it. Most Christians don't know that being out of God's will is actually much easier than walking with God. When things get tough don't think you missed God, you're probably closer to God's plans for you than you realize. Just keep climbing!