Monday, September 30, 2013


It seems, for some reason, I'm seeing a lot on the topic of suffering in the last few days.  I hope it's not preparation for my days ahead, but it might be.  Even if suffering is ahead it has come through the hand of God.  I know I can trust him with difficult days, just as I've "trusted him" with good days.  I put that in quotes because I be much I have to trust God when things are good.

Anyway, tomorrow a new book comes out from one of my favorite authors, Tim Keller.  I have it pre-ordered and look forward to reading it.  I will keep you updated on my thoughts on the book and the topic.  

It's true many of you have truly suffered, so for me to talk about my struggles feels condescending to those who have really suffered, but as I learn more about the struggles of others God prepares me for my own walk through the valleys because even in the valley God is good.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Waiting for his voice

As I sit here and think, pray, meditate on my life and what is swirling around me there are some basic and simple things that always come up.

Each day, each moment, no matter what is happening...I have to trust God.  There is little in my life I can really handle on my own.  My life is one that is dependent upon the God who made me.  I am NOT an island...nor do I want to be.

There are now...when I come to God for direction, for help, for answers and all I hear is silence.  As a human I resent that. I want God to "jump to!" and answer my prayers, speak to me, make something happen!  But when all I get is silence I have one of two things I can do, 1. I can get mad and stomp away in frustration.  That accomplishes nothing!  or, 2. I can sit quietly and wait, trust, calm my anxious heart and be is the hardest thing any human ever does, but one of the most wait on God is vital for my walk with him.

And, as I sit here praying in the silence of God's voice I realize a few other things....God is calming me in the silence, calming my restless mind and heart.  He's dealing with my chaos so he can work.  For some reason I often treat him as an order taker who should deliver my "products" faster than Amazon....instead of relating to him as the God I worship.  He takes me to these times, these places on purpose, so I can see HIS glory, listen for his voice.  It's only when I sit still that his still small voice can be heard over the roar of my world.

I live in a world of chaos, God wants me to rest in a world of calm.  The transition is difficult.  The silence is painful.  But oh how I want to sit the silence...until I hear him speak.

Lord, speak...your servant is really trying to listen....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A prayer to the universe

In talking with friends in the last week they mentioned a conversation with their daughter who told them she had "thrown her prayers out to the universe."  I couldn't help myself, and replied without thinking, "tell her that the universe doesn't give a damn!"

At first she was shocked at a pastor saying that, but then she couldn't help herself and laughed.  

We all laughed.  

I didn't anticipate my words, but the comment made about praying to the universe was so absurd I couldn't help but respond.

And so I did a Google search.  Is this common? Do others really think this way? Do some in our culture "pray to the universe"?  And here is part of a prayer I found,  

Divine Mantra
, A Prayer To The Universe

"Oh Divine Universe,
 gather together to form
 one great ball of light
 and allow it to come forth
 with my Divinity...."

The whole prayer is much longer, but you get the idea.  Yes, people are praying to the universe!  They really believe it does something!  But I would reply to them as I did doesn't do anything and the universe doesn't care!

Why aren't they asking God? Why aren't they praying to someone who hears instead of something as vague and nebulous as the universe?

Romans 1 speaks of these days when Paul writes,

"Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.  Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools."

And so they "pray to the universe" and think somehow their "god" called the universe will answer, but it doesn't, it can't.  It's just a part of creation like I am.  Why not pray instead to the only one who is listening....the God who made me AND the universe, the God whose name is YAHWEH!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The main thing...

Have you noticed that life, with all its chaos and confusion, still boils down to some basic issues.  I see this as I read the Bible. I see Jesus focus on just a few core things we need to know, need to believe, need to do.  One of those things, a very simple thing really, clarifies everything else.

My thoughts come from a very short verse, almost hidden at the end of 1 Corinthians, but significant beyond our understanding.  Here are Paul's simple words that capture the very core of who we are, what we are to do, how we are to live,

Let all that you do be done in love. 
-1 Corinthians 16:14

That's it. That's the whole verse!  I read that a while ago and can't get the clarity, the simplicity of it out of my head.  To be honest it is permeating everything I do (and it should).  Imagine how your day would change if these simple 9 words were the blueprint for how you lived, how you responded, what you did, how you served your boss, how you interacted with co-workers.  How would your day change if this were the guide for how you lived?

Take a moment and imagine a day lived by this short verse.  Would others ask, "what's wrong with you?" or would you see a completely different response come back to you in kind?  You would be surprised how people change when you love them. You would be amazed to see hard hearts melt when they experience the love of Christ.  

Today, make these 9 words your "main thing" and see what happens.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday's cartoon

(I've missed the "Saturday cartoon" for quite a while.  Here is the first resurrection of a great way to start the weekend.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

He will never leave you

Here are wonderful words from my friend and mentor, William Burnside.  They were a rich blessing to me this morning and I know they will help you as well.

And I have been with you wherever you went. . . .’  2 Sam. 7.9 esv
                   You’ll want to see the context of this verse, but what a wonderful comment for God to make to His servant King David 3000 years ago: 
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: . . .thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel.  And I have been with you wherever you went. . . ‘
            We who know the Lord as Savior can say the same thing.  ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee’ is His promise in the Old Testament as well as the New.   “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  He makes His abode with us and lives within:  ‘ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. . . ‘ Gal. 2.20.   I’ve been aware of God’s Presence in my life the entire 80 years of my journey. 
             My wife said the same thing, ‘I can never remember not being sure that God loved me.  I trusted Jesus as my savior at a very young age.  Being in church and worshiping God has always been a vital part of my life.  The Bible says that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word from God.  The Bible is where we go to meet with God and to get to know Jesus more and more. . . .’  Journal, p. 187
        ‘I have been with you wherever you went. . . ‘  That doesn’t mean He approves of everything we do or think!   The context continues, ‘ I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, . . .  but my steadfast love [my mercy]  will not depart from him. . . .’
        I wonder if people who trust in themselves rather than in God realize what a weak reed their hope is in.  The problem is not that we feel inadequate and just need to psych ourselves into self-confidence; the problem is that we are inadequate and most things in life are beyond our control.  But God is sufficient and we can rest in Him and trust in Him.  “Blessed is the person who makes the Lord His trust.”  ‘But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.’ 2 Cor. 4.7
            This passage also speaks of the completion of our journey in a different way:   “When your days are fulfilled. . . .’7.12  We’ll all be here until our ‘days are fulfilled.’  For some it takes longer than for others.  All of that is in God’s sovereign control:   ‘All the days ordained for me were written in you book before one of them came to be.’ Ps.139.16 niv
            The Bible consistently measures our time in days:  when your days are fulfilled . . . the days ordained for me. . .  So let’s live that way!  One day at a time.  Focus your attention on what God wants you to do this day and rejoice and be glad in it for God created each day and has given us enough time to accomplish whatever He wants us to that day.  It won’t be as much as you want to accomplish, but it’s enough.  Be satisfied with the time God gives you and don’t complain about unexpected ‘interruptions.’  All of that is in God’s providential control.  Accept it as from Him.
          And at the end of the day, thank God for what He accomplished and enabled you to do during that day.  Be thankful unto Him and bless His Name for the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures through all generations.  And a prayer of thanksgiving at the end of the day:   ‘The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended.  The darkness falls at thy behest; To thee our morning hymns ascended, Thy praise shall hallow now our rest.’  (hymn, 1870)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Case dismissed!

These words are from Tim Keller's book,  The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness.  They are so profound I wanted to share them with you.

"Do you realize that it is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance?  The atheist might say that they get their self-image from being a good person.  They are a good person and have hope that eventually they will get a verdict that confirms that they are a good person.  Performance leads to the verdict.  For the Buddhist too, performance leads to the verdict.  If you are a Muslim, performance leads to the verdict. All this means that every day, you are in the courtroom, every day you are on trial.  That is the problem.  But Paul is saying that in Christianity, the verdict leads to performance. It is not the performance that leads to the verdict.  In Christianity, the moment we believe, God says 'This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.'  Or take Romans 8:1 which says 'Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus'.  In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ's perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family. In other words, God can say to us just as He once said to Christ, 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'"

The courts are closed, the case has been dismissed, Christ has paid the debt and we are now loved and accepted by God.  Now, as His children, we live in response to what he has done, not as a way to get his approval.  We already have it!  That is the amazing message of grace.  That is what makes the Christian faith different from any other.  That is God's amazing grace for us!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


"I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest."  -Psalm 55

You've wanted to do it, haven't you?  

You have thought about it I'm sure.  

We all have.  

If only I could fly away, get away, escape from this job, run away from this health scare, flee from the verbal abuse....

....oh that I had the wings of a dove and could fly away and be at rest.  David understood.  He went through it as well.  The desire to escape our difficult days is strong.  We can't always fix or change our situation and when that happens escape is our normal response.

But although he felt that way, just as we do at times, he chose a different response.  Here's what David did when the desire to escape was at the strongest,

As for me, I call to God,

    and the Lord saves me.

Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me....

Cast your cares on the Lord

    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken. for me, I trust in you.

We think, "If only I could escape..." but you can't.  So what can you do?  You can trust the one who by his very nature is our fortress, our refuge, our escape from trouble...even as we live in the midst of it.

Escape? That's not the answer.  How will you see God's work in your life if you simply run away? Stay, trust God, cast your cares on him and will see what God will do in the midst of your storm.  

"As for me, I trust in God!"

Friday, September 13, 2013


God does his best work with barren things.

He built nations from barren wombs.

Sarah, Abraham's wife, was barren and yet from her God built a nation of millions!  

Elizabeth was barren and from her came John the Baptist.

In Exodus 17 God led his people into a barren desert and in a place where there was no water he made a river for them to drink.

God does his best work with barren things.

He works with barren lives, lives ravaged by failure, sin, loss, and wasted years.

He works with barren things so the world will see his glory and greatness.  

Have you felt like a failure?  Have you wasted your years?  Do you think you're not good enough, not smart enough, have nothing to offer?  Then you are just the person God can use.  He loves working with barren things, broken lives,  and failures, because through what the world considers "barren" God works miracles!

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”"


Have you noticed how busy life can be?

It seems...the older I get the faster things happen. The days fly by!

As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, "The sun rises and rushes to its setting."  One day flies into the next and at times it all seems so futile, so meaningless.  In fact, that would be true IF there was no God.  If the atheists are right then stay as busy as you can because life has no meaning, purpose, future or reason.  

I think that's why much of the world around us never slows down, never allows silence, never allows "alone".  If they did, just for moments, they would have to ask, "Why am I doing this? Why am I here? Is this all there is?"  But to avoid those questions we rush through our days with noise all around us. 

God forbid that we should think about purpose!  And yet, the haunting question for all of us is this- Why am I here? What's the purpose of life?  When you ask those questions the only one with answers is God himself and the answers are in his book, the bible.

And so, to avoid the questions, to avoid God entirely we stay busy...thinking we are accomplishing something...not knowing none of it matters without God.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


"The fruit of the Spirit..." Galatians 5. 

As I read the words that describe the fruit that comes from the Spirit it's clear that fruit is singular, but what it looks like as we live it out is dynamic, changing from love to mercy to kindness to self-control depending on the situation, the need, the person we touch. 

There are times, as I watch the Spirit work in my life, that He adjusts to the needs of the person I encounter. I'm fascinated by that and glad that He knows the needs of the moment so much better than I do!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Be still...

There is a verse that has comforted me and many more for centuries, but until this week I completely missed the main idea of the verse!

Suddenly, as I read it, I realized I had completely missed it.  Here is the portion of the verse that I had focused on,

“Be still, and know that I am God"

In translator notes it says that "be still" means to hush, be quiet, rest...but I never fully got the conclusion and honestly we do that when we don't look at a wonderful passage in context.  Here's the rest of the verse and the reason I can be still,

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

As I read the entire verse I suddenly realized that the only reason I can be still is because of the part of the verse I had left out!  In the second and third lines God says "I will" and then explains what he will do.  God is saying, "relax, I've got this.  I WILL be exalted, I'm going to take care of it.  You don't need to do it, you don't need to make it  happen, you can relax....I will be exalted in the earth."  

Suddenly I breathed a sigh of relief. I've been trying to do so much of God's job for him and suddenly he comes to my side and say, "here, sit down for a bit, you've been trying to do my job and you're not able.  I'll do it.  Relax, be still.  I will do it."  And with that declaration God steps into the affairs of men and makes himself great and glorious.

Be still.  Why?  God is in charge.  Be still. How? Look to him. He is the sovereign. He has a plan and he's fully able to accomplish it.  All  you are asked to do is rest in him, be still.

I love that.