Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bridging chasms

Bridges don't just happen.

Somewhere, sometime in the past someone saw the need to get from "here" to "there" and built a bridge to make it possible.  

Bridges don't just happen. 

Someone builds them to cross chasms.  

You may have traveled across a bridge in the past to reach a destination without ever thinking that someone made it to help you navigate the chasm between here and there. 

Chasm crossing is part of our lives, but without bridges it's difficult. 

Between man and God is a chasm that has only one bridge, Jesus Christ.  But there is something you need to know if you are a are a bridge between God and others as well.  You either make it easy for them to get to him or you make it harder. You help them bridge the gap or make them wonder if the journey is really worth the effort.

There are a few things about bridges we all look for- they have to be stable, trustworthy.  Bridges have to be easy to cross.  They must make the one crossing the chasm feel safe.  As you bridge the chasm between others and God are they willing to trust you to help them get to the other side or do they look for another path?

Bridging chasms between God and others is part of your job.  How are you doing?

Monday, October 28, 2013


"For by grace you are saved through faith and not of works (not of yourself), it is a work of God (from beginning to end) so that no one can boast." -Eph. 2

Grace is popular these days. I hear about it from every part of the Christian world.  Evangelicals have been talking about it for as long as I can remember, but now charismatics are beginning to discuss grace.  It's great to hear so many begin to discuss this important truth, but it's sad to realize so few still understand it.

Grace is a work of God on our behalf.  It describes God's work in salvation and in living the Christian life.  There is nothing you can do go get it (other than believe) and there is nothing you can do to lose it, and....even more important...there is nothing the devil can do to take it away from you.  Some are talking about grace, but still can't resist linking it to works, to what we must do to keep it.  

Might I emphasize this again? There is nothing we can do to get it and there is nothing anyone can do to lose it.  That's the message of Romans 8, that's the message and meaning of grace.  It begins with no condemnation and ends with no separation   Grace is a work of God and nothing I do now or could do in the future can merit it or lose it.

That's the great thing about grace!  Finally, one thing that is a work of God that we can't mess up, break, lose or destroy!  That's why grace is such a big deal.  That's why it's so hard for us to's too good to be true!

Even as I write that I know some are saying, "yeah, but...." and they proceed to condemn what they call "free grace" or "cheap grace".  They fret about we might do if we were completely forgiven and couldn't lose matter what we do.  We are uncomfortable with anything that doesn't involve our works, our performance or our response.  Grace is grace entirely because nothing I can do will affect it in any way!  

Isn't that wonderful?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A note from a friend trusting God and having nothing

This note was texted to me this morning.  It comes from a friend who has been through very difficult days, but through them has grown more than he ever would have imagined.  Here are his words this morning,

"Mike, I am amazed at how God provides. At times, I received something or learned something long before I needed and it was only later God revealed why He blessed me. Other times when I have had nothing, He called me to give everything I had, only to see Him replenish 10-fold over. Still again, there have been times that I have prayed and prayed with seemingly no answer. It would come to the point where I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to and I would cry out to God  "Don't you care? I'm not going to make it!" The silence was deafening, but I finally fell on my face and cry out.  I said, "God if you don't want me to have this, I will still serve you. I will praise you and give thanks for all I have, for it all belongs to you.  If I gain the world, but I am far from you, then I have nothing. So Father, take it all away if that's what it takes to make me like Jesus. Make my heart clean. Let my life bring glory to you not to myself. I have been rich and I have been poor. I have been broken, beaten down and given up for dead. I have been rejected, scorned, laughed at and told I am nothing but a failure. But God, you have determined my worth, my value. Only what you think matters. I count it all for loss for my desire is to know Jesus, the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection. I choose Jesus above all else, for He chose me, when there was nothing worth loving and in my eyes, nothing worth saving. He gave Himself freely for me. I love you Father! So if the answer is No, I will trust you. I will trust you with all of my life, not just parts of it. Holding nothing back, use me however you wish. You know my needs, my wants, my desires. I sacrifice them and surrender them all." This is the one place where I have found myself a few times in my life and where complete peace that surpasses all understanding has come...walking in His Holy Spirit and learning to hear His soft gentle voice even in the midst of this crazy world. God answers and He answers with faithfulness, love, grace and mercy. He never  abandon us. He never fails!"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Amazing quote of the day

"I feel comfortable with the things I did and the decisions I made."

Guess who? It might surprise you, but it was....

....Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist convicted of murder and now in prison.

Isn't it sad how we rationalize our choices and decisions?
But to not let us off the hook too easily...we do exactly the same things! We sin and then explain it away, but God isn't fooled. 
Jeremiah wrote, 

"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" 

But for God's grace I would be no different than Kermit and I what ways do I get comfortable with the sins I have committed?   
How often do I excuse actions that Jesus needed to die for?  

But for God's grace we are all like Kermit Gosnell.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


"But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God."  -Heb. 7:19

We all want access.  We want to be able to "get to" those in power, to have their phone numbers in our database.  We would think it a high honor to have the president's personal cell number we could call whenever we desire.  It would be an opportunity to brag that we could text the governor any time we want and he would reply!  Access to those in power is what we all want.  To be able to voice our concerns, our opinions, our complaints to those in charge and know we are heard.

Imagine the discussion over lunch as we debate a political issue and I reply, "Ok, let me call the president on my cell and we'll ask him right now!"  That kind of access is what we all want.  To be heard by the one who can do something about it.

Do you realize that you have instant access to the creator of the universe? Do you know that you can talk to God whenever you wish and he hears you? You can "draw near" to God and he will listen.  You have access to the ultimate power, to the one who controls everything...even presidents and governors!  

And it begins in this way, "Father....."  

It's amazes me to listen to Christians complain about politics, about their boss, about the government and all they see going wrong.  They don't really want a solution, they just want to grumble, to complain and make it clear they would do it right.  

What we admit, when we complain to each other about government, is that we really don't want a solution.  If we did we would go to God in prayer and say, "Father....." and with instant and unlimited access you could talk to the one who is really in charge about the problems that concern you.

Do you realize you have access to God?  He will hear you. He will listen. He will answer.  

Next time someone begins to complain about the government in Washington, about their boss, about anything, stop them and say, "Ok, let's tell God about it and see what he will do..."  That will stop the discussion!

Why, when we have access to the God of all creation, do we ever complain about anything?

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Stay so close to God and so aware of yourself that repentance is a frequent response.  If you never repent you are either not walking close to God or not self-aware.....or both.   Repentance (changing direction) should be a normal part of a Christian's life.  

Here is a statement that might surprise you, but it's true-  For a Christian repentance is more important than forgiveness.  

As you read that you might recoil a bit, but realize for a Christian forgiveness is finished, we are already forgiven, now we are in the ongoing odyssey of becoming like Christ and that involves repentance, not forgiveness.  Repentance is vital for a healthy walk with God.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If you could choose

Which is better? 

A billion dollars in the bank 


the opportunity to trust God each day 

for the needs of that day? 

If you could choose one of these two options which one would you pick? In a culture where money is the god of our day it's a very difficult choice for most!

One means never having to "worry" again.  The other means that each day, instead of trusting the god of your bank account, you must trust the God you cannot see to meet your needs.

It means, in all practical ways, you become God dependent in the most real way possible....for the bread on your table.

And yet, the words from Jesus invite us to this second kind of life, in spite of our desire to never worry again because we have money in the bank...God invites us to never worry again because HE has all the money we need in his bank.  Read these words slowly and contemplate the invitation Jesus is's an invitation to live by faith, trusting God even when you have nothing in the bank account,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Did you notice Jesus' questions?  His questions go right to the heart of our self-sufficient culture and say don't need to worry, my Father knows what you need and will provide for you.  Will you trust him?

That's the question, isn't it? Will we trust God or not?  He says he is our Father and fathers take care of their kids.  Imagine a child saying to their father, "Oh dad, I'm so worried about having food for dinner.  What are we going to eat?"  The Father would be shocked and grieved, because that is his job, not theirs.  It would, in a real way, be an attack on the kindness of Father to even ask such a question.  In fact, if you have kids, you know they never worry about that....they simply ask, "WHAT'S FOR DINNER?"  They never worry about supply, that's not their job.  And it's not our job either.

Which is better?  Have I convinced you that having nothing with God as your Father is much better than having a billion dollars in the bank account?  The truth is that a billion dollars is pocket change to God. Why would you want so little when God offers so much more?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Already, but not yet

"It only took a night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel."

As we went through the Exodus story yesterday in church I said something that I tried to repeat at least twice, it's that important! It's the quote above.  In a moment, with a prayer, a step of faith,  we trust Christ and become a Christian.  In that moment we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of his dear son (Col. 1:13), and in that moment we are taken "out of the world". We become children of God, but it will take a lifetime to get the world out of us.  

That is what the bible calls sanctification, the transformation of the believer into the reality of who we already are because of what Christ has done. One of my favorite verses is in Heb. 10:14 where the author writes, 

"He has made perfect FOREVER those who are becoming holy."

We live in this "already, but not yet" life and so we "pursue Christ", "grow in faith", "draw close to Christ", "grow up in Christ"...whatever the term we use in our culture the idea is the same...we are drawn by God to conform our lives to what he has already made us! 

In a moment of time we were taken out of the world by faith in Christ, but it will take a lifetime to get the world out of us.  That is the transformation that God is working on in each of our lives....and then, one day.....

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure."  

-1 John 3:2-3

Sunday, October 13, 2013

God is crazy!

This morning I'm preparing to preach. As I prayed this morning before the service I thought, "God, you are crazy to use someone like me!  I'm completely inadequate for this.  What were you thinking???"

And then I thought of the verses in 1 Corinthians 1:26 and following,

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

And so I smile.  Yes, I'm completely inadequate for this!  And that's why God chose me...because I know it.  To be honest, the anxiety that causes me is often hard to deal with.  I am completely and totally over my head and unqualified to teach God's word and yet he puts me in a place where that is what I do!  God must be completely crazy, OR he picks people like me so he will get all the glory.  Today, as this inadequate and fearful servant teaches God's word I pray He will get all the glory because I bring nothing but my trembling availability.

May God be glorified!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quote of the day

"America is the world's first culture in jeopardy 

of amusing itself to death."  -Neil Postman 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sovereignty of God

This post is from a dear lady who has gone home to be with the Lord.  She and her husband have been a blessing to me for more than 44 years!  This is a devotional she wrote and Bill, her husband, recently sent out.  It's important we live in this simple reality- God is sovereign! Here are Minnie's words,

Sovereignty of God by Minnie Burnside

What should our response be to God’s sovereignty?

1. A respect for God’s sovereignty should humble us and bring our hearts into submission to God. We should delight to do His Divine will.

2. We should have a godly fear. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

3. We should be obedient. To recognize that the Bible is God’s Word and is given to us by the Sovereign Creator will cause us to cry with the Psalmist, “Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies. . . order my steps in Thy Word. Psalm 119:36, "Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." 133 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” We cannot pick and choose. We must accept all of God’s Word.

4. A true recognition of God’s sovereignty will stop all murmuring and complaining. I wrote that for myself because if we really believe that God is sovereign, we really cannot complain and murmur. We just have to try and understand how this fits into His divine will.

I was very troubled many years ago when the missionaries were slain by the Auca Indians We were all pretty young at the time. I remember that Bill and I talked a lot about this. We weren't married very long when all that happened.

After that all the books came out about Elisabeth Elliot going to the Auca Indians and working . And the Dayuma Story. And so I thought, “Oh, that's why Jim was killed, so that this could happen. But then many years later I heard Elisabeth Elliot speak once. After Jim was killed, many people gave her all kinds of answers. And after she went to live with the Aucas, they gave her more answers. Bu you know she said there were only a few Aucas and yet these men felt they should go there. They were already working with many Indians who were responding.

But none of the answers that anyone gave her satisfied her. She said the only answer that satisfied her was that God is sovereign. He knew what was going to happen when they went. He could have stayed the spears. But that was her comfort—not what did happen but that God was sovereign. And I think that shows in Elisabeth Elliot's life. How old is she now? In her late 70's? A wonderful woman of God. She's not bitter. She wanted a simple life. She wanted a marriage with one man to last forever. The next husband she watched die of cancer. She's now married to a younger man that she said she hopes he outlives her! It's very hard but she's such a trusting woman whatever the Lord brings into her life. Even when we cannot understand,  we know Romans 8:28 and Job 1:21 : The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

5. A deep thankfulness and joy. Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” It's easy to give thanks for some things. It's not always easy to give thanks for all things.

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.” Now that's one of my favorite verses and another is This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.“ Psalm 118:24 You know, what a wonderful cure for depression! Keep our eyes on the Lord and realize He is bigger than the problems of today.

6. Adoration and worship: “True worship is based upon recognized Greatness, and Greatness is superlatively seen in Sovereignty, and at no other footstool will man worship.” (J.B.Moody)

Not only is God sovereign, but He is infinitely wise and good.

He cannot make mistakes.

The last time we were in Australia I was talking at a party with some 7th Day Adventist missionaries and we were talking about God's goodness and that He does not make mistakes. My blind grandson was sitting there at the table and I didn't even realize he was listening and then he asked that question (you've probably heard Bill tell this—it really touched our hearts.)

He said, “Mimi, was I one of God's mistakes?”

[Note: That was July 2001. Rory was 14 years old. He had been born without eyeballs so he is totally blind—with artificial blue eyes.]

You know my first reaction was just to cry. And I said, “Rory, God doesn't make mistakes. No, you were not a mistake. I said, “We don't understand why you were born blind and we know there's evil in the world and there's wickedness and so these things happen. But you were not a mistake. You're a very wonderful boy. You just can't see. And God has made you for a very special purpose.”

And then I went on [explaining] and Bill got involved in the conversation and we explained, “Rory, some day you will be able to see if you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior. When you get to heaven all things will be put right. But even in the time before you can't see but you're not a mistake of God. God has a very special purpose, a very special reason that you were born not being able to see.” Then I told him, “You're Mimi's very special boy.” Well, he hugged me and that seemed to make it OK.

I don't know if someone had said to him that he was a mistake or just listening to the conversation he just wondered in his little mind and heart when we were talking about God doing all things well.

7. The fact that God is sovereign gives us absolute certainty that our future is secure. God’s plans cannot be derailed. What He has promised will come to pass. He holds eternity in His hand just as He holds us, and we will be join theirs with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And I have this one little poem written by a woman who was in a dungeon far below the surface of the ground lit only by a candle at mealtime. [Madame Jeanne Guyon, 1648-1717]

A little bird I am shut from the fields of air. Yet in my cage I sit and sing to Him who placed me there. Well-pleased a prisoner to be because my God it's pleasing thee.  Naught have I else to do I sing the whole day long. And He who most I love to please doth listen to my song. He caught and bound my wandering wings but still He bids to hear me sing. My cage can bind me round. Abroad I cannot fly, but though my wing is closely bound, My heart's at liberty. My prison walls cannot control the flight, the freedom of the soul. Ah, it is good to soar. These bolts and bars above to Him whose purpose I adore whose providence I love and in Thy mighty will to find the joy, the freedom of the mind. Let's pray. “Father, teach us like this dear saint that lived before us teach us to realize that the things of earth cannot bind our spirit, that we can soar in you that we can rejoice in you and that we can realize that all of your promises, all of your decrees, will come to pass and we can rejoice.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Who do you say he is?

"Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"" -John 20:28

Seeing Jesus rightly and responding to him is the bottom line debate of our day.  Who is Jesus?  Does it matter? And if he is who he said he was...what are you going to do about it?

The right response to Jesus is the defining event of your life, of my fact the bible insists that a right response to Jesus is the defining decision of every man who ever lived.

You might argue the problems of that, but the bible is clear that we all determine our eternity by how we respond to Jesus, who we believe he defines everything!

Upon seeing Jesus after his resurrection Thomas couldn't help himself, he had to declare, "My Lord and my God!"  It was the only response possible in light of what he saw and experienced!

He stood in the presence of God and before that moment may have been completely unaware of the implications.  When you see Jesus rightly the only response possible is worship.

Jesus asked the disciples, and it's a great question for us, "who do YOU say I am?"  It's a question we each must answer, and the answer to that question determines eternity ahead for us.

Is he Lord and God?  Is he savior of the human race?  Is he the creator?  Or, like many, do you say he was just a good man, or that he may have never existed....whatever your answer it has eternal consequences.  You need to know that.