Monday, December 30, 2013

Thoughts from the back side of the desert

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." Exodus 3

Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness tending sheep.  I'm sure he thought, at nearly 80, his life was pretty much over.  He was forgotten by the world, a shepherd in the wilderness, out of sight, out of mind...and I wonder if he thought about his purpose, his place in the plans of God.  I wonder if he felt his life was pretty much over and this was as good as it was going to get.

What Moses didn't realize, and most of us don't either, is that God meets us on the back side of our deserts.  At times when we feel all is lost, life is over, our purpose is done suddenly we turn a corner and run into God!

I've spent a lot of time in the wilderness, on the back side of the spiritual desert, and am always surprised when I find myself at my "Mt. Horeb", the mountain of God.  It strikes me as strange that the mountain of God is in the middle of a wilderness, in the desert!  How odd for this to be what God calls his mountain.  How odd it would be in the desert.

After many trips into the desert myself I'm convinced it's the place we must go to find the mountain of God.  It's the only place where he can strip away other people, our own resources, and all the noise of the world around us. 

I had lunch today with an old friend going through cancer treatment and the challenges of health, life and mortality.  He told me, as we visited about our places in the kingdom, that my time in the desert will not be wasted.  One day I will come around the corner and there is God with the instructions for the next part of my life!

For Moses it was 40 years of wandering and then he's ready to hear God, ready to respond to him.  Our desert experiences can be some of the best times of our lives because they strip away all the chaos and distractions of the world and focus our attention on God!  We will discover that we can finally, after everything else is gone, hear his voice.

Don't resent your time in the desert, but know at any moment, any day, you will come around the corner and there, awaiting you, is a burning bush.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Love of God

The love of God is the only medicine that will cure our fatal illness. 

It's the only salve that will heal the scars we have suffered.

 It's the only emotion that will never change.

It's the only smile that will never be a frown.

It's the only promise that will never fail.

It's the very heart of God, the hand of God extended, the grace of God given, the forgiveness we need freely offered.

The love of God is the only thing that will fix everything!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The meaning of Christmas

At this time of year there is great pageantry around the Christian holiday we call Christmas, but behind it all is a meaning, a reason that we often miss.  When we understand the "why" then what we see in the celebration has real meaning for us.

Here is the reason for Christmas, the meaning behind it all- God loves us.  There.  That's it.  How do I know God loves us? He sent his very best gift to give us life, eternity, salvation, hope, joy, meaning, direction, and a hundred other things too numerous to mention.  But behind it all is this- God loves us.  If you know that then you "get" Christmas. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

As you celebrate the Christmas holiday I hope you will take time 
and thank God for his love demonstrated in the birth of a baby.

The weapons of our warfare

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." -2 Cor. 10

Living in a fallen world creates real challenges for a Christian.  Without realizing it we begin to deal with problems on the world's terms, in the way the world does.  And yet, although we live in this world we are given a completely different battle plan than the world around us employs.  

The weapons of our warfare is love.  We are not called to fight, to argue, to attack, to accuse....but rather we are called to battle the world with completely different weapons, the weapons Jesus employed- love and grace. 

It's so counter-intuitive, it's so foreign to our sense of justice, but God has called us to a higher battle, a divine and eternal struggle that is only won through love.  But, to be honest, I really never considered love to be a weapon.  It's always seemed to the world, and to me if I'm honest, to be the weapon of the weak.

The strong fight, argue, scream, attack, accuse.....but we are called to a different kind of warfare...a warfare of divine invention.  A warfare that is so counter-intuitive that our flesh rebels at the invitation, but here it is,

Mat. 22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus describes this in more detail in Luke 6:27-38, but don't read that unless you really want to go further in your walk with God.  Jesus' words in Luke will change everything about how you live your life, about how you deal with the world, and to be honest.....most of us don't want to walk this path. It's a narrow road and few travel it, but for those who do it's life changing, it's life changing for those around us as well!

How will we live in a world that is angry with God, angry with us, mad that God says there is only one way to come to him, only one savior?  How will we live in this kind of world?  

We will only do it well when we walk in love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A prayer for the fearful and worried

Lord,  I'm so tired!  I'm worn out with the fears and worries spinning around me.

Lord, please help me to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh.  To walk in the flesh is easy, but the price is too high. To walk in the Spirit is hard, but so worth the surrender!

Please help me keep my eyes on you and not on my circumstances.  

Please let my words reflect trust and dependence in you and not fear of what might happen to me.  

Please help me speak words of grace and not words of fear and anxiety.  

Calm my fears, my worries, my "what if's".  

Give me a vision of what you can do, of what you want to do.  

Help me to see your hand clearly, help me to trust you fully, calm my anxious thoughts and keep my eyes on your great love and ability to meet every need....both here and in every part of your realm, in every part of the Universe that I can see and all I can't!

Help me to never forget that even the atoms hold together because of you, and that includes my atoms!  

Lord, King, Sovereign, Savior, God.....I bow to you.  

Help me to stay on my knees before you in surrender and trust as the world seems to spins out of control around me.


Father forever

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children
with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
Psalm 103

If you know God at all you may know him as savior, creator, Lord, Spirit or a hundred other adjectives, but the one that has my attention this morning is from the words of a pastor I listen to often.  As I heard him this morning he spoke of the nature of God as father, but not just a father for a lifetime as we experience, but father forever.  

The governing emotion for a good father is love. It's the emotions we give to a father who is good...that he loves his children...and in this passage I've quoted love is at the very heart of what God does and why he does it.  The two words used here are love and compassion.  It's the driving force for all God does!

In the culture around me I see a world that views God as judge, not as loving father.  That's fascinating to could those who know him see him as a loving father, but those who don't only see him as judge?  How could our views of God and responses to him be so different? One sees him as loving father and runs to him.  The other sees him as a harsh judge and runs away.

It is clear the view changes when you come to know God as savior.  Suddenly the idea of God as judge changes.  It changes when we discover that he did judge.  He judged all of the deeds of everyone when he judged his own son on the cross and from that day to this he is available as loving father to anyone who will trust him.

But if you refuse his adoption, his desire to extend his love to you, then judge is all you know about him.  For those who have rejected him they will never know him as father forever. What a sad thing to write....they will never know him as he really is because they rejected his love.  All they could see was a judge.  They missed his heart, his love completely.

I can't imagine God in any other light than a loving father for that is how he deals with me. And he will be that loving father to anyone who will trust him forever.  For that bit of illumination I'm rejoicing today....because I have a loving father forever!

Monday, December 16, 2013


We just returned from 10 days in Kenya.  What a trip!  We escaped Dallas just moments before they closed the airport because of ice storms which shut down the city for a week.

The delays because of the storm caused us to miss our next flight in London, so we were rerouted through Doha, Qatar.  Never been there before, didn't really want to go either.  But, finally, a day late we arrived in Kenya.  

With all the changes a lot of our luggage was missing.  That took another day and caused another missed flight.  All seemed to be doomed to failure, but the week went really well!  Our team was great and I think we served the pastors there well.

Without saying it I'm sure you get the picture of weary travelers.  We are hope and taking a day to rest....and it's much needed.  I'll get back to my writing as soon as I can.  Thanks for all the prayers.

Home at last

I know I've been missing for a bit, but we have been on a whirlwind trip to Kenya and just got hope last night.  It was the most difficult trip I've experienced! Flight delays, missed flights, weather problems, lost luggage, missed rides, miscommunications all around....and yet it was rewarding to see what God did even as it seems everything was working to keep us from being there at all.

Our team was awesome and one of the most fun groups I have been part of.  They all jumped in and made the week a joy for me as the leader and for everyone on the team as well.  

Here are just a few photos.  I'll write more once I'm back on Texas time.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Looking to eternity

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor. 4

This life, when you understand it more clearly, is the gradual process of dying.  Day by day, as we age, our bodies slowly decline, decay, lose strength and move ever closer to death.  Life is really a rather strange word to use for what we experience because real life hasn't even begun yet!  

Because life...the kind of life we can't even still ahead we can begin to understand more clearly that this life is not our hope, our future.  This life is not all there is but only a taste of what is ahead.  This life, this creation, is temporary. But ahead is something eternal, glorious, amazing beyond words...real life beyond anything we could even imagine.

That is our hope.  Not a hope for a good life now, for cars and money and a nice house here.  Most never see that, most are rather disappointed by the false promises of prosperity now because that too is only temporary.  Our hope is on the eternal kingdom ahead so that as we go through difficulties now we can endure them knowing this is not the end.  This is not all there is.  Ahead is real life. Ahead is eternity.  

Ahead is all I've ever dreamed of but never understood here....ahead is the world of my dreams made into reality...and it's called God's eternal kingdom.  That's our hope.  That's real life!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Off we go!

Off we go again!  Tomorrow we escape the winter storm coming to Texas and board a plane to Kenya.  I love these trips and look forward to seeing 50 amazing pastors in Kenya.  And, what's even better for this trip is my sweet wife is going with me.  It can't get much better than that!


In my quest for photos for this blog and other things I'm working on I often do a google search for a specific word and look for images that match it.  What is fascinating is that when you "Google" the word beautiful nearly all the photos that appear are nature related.  Sunsets, animals, scenery, etc.  We all have built into us a love for the beauty of the world around us.

Embedded in us is a sense of beauty based on nature.  Where did that come from?  When we look for descriptions of "beautiful" why is nature our first response?  It seems to be part of our "spiritual DNA" (if there is such a thing) that we know what best describes the concept of beauty.

Solomon, more than 3,000 years ago, said it this way, 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11  

The beauty we see and sense comes from God as he reveals himself to the human race.  We call it beautiful.  God says it shows his handiwork, it reveals HIM.  Who's to argue?

 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  Romans 1

Purposes and plans

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands. Ps. 138:8

What are God's plans for me? 
What does he have ahead?
We all wonder, don't we?
We want to know what God's plans are for us,
what he is "working on",
but I've not yet gotten insight into his plans,
that is information we couldn't handle, 
wouldn't know what to do with....

But he does promise us this- he will fulfil his purpose for us.
He will accomplish what he has designed us to be.
He will make it happen.

Why?  What's he up to? What drives his purposes in my life?
The next line in this verse is so reassuring.  
The driving force for God's work in my life is his love.
Because of his love I can trust his purposes....
even when I have no idea what he's doing, 
why he's doing it
or how it will all turn out.

He will accomplish his purposes in my life
simply because he loves me.

How wonderful is that?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Walking with God

This is a post from last year I wanted to share with you once more.  I have more to say on this topic in the days ahead.  Stay tuned.

After many years of faith and a walk with God I'm learning that God's will isn't a path clearly marked out for years to come, but instead it's guidance for the moment.  God's will and direction for life are much like a GPS.  "In .3 miles turn left..."  The directions of the GPS are as you need them.

Walking with God is much like that.  It's not a course revealed for the next 40 years, but a walk of steps and turns and moments.  Each day is a new day of walking with God and finding his will for you in the moments, in the encounters of your life.  The course, as it looks to you, might go around in circles for a bit, but God has a plan and it's only revealed as we come to each turn in our course.

We are in Hawaii for a couple weeks and although I have never been here before we have found our way around easily with the help of our GPS.  We don't need to know the route, we simply need to obey the prompts of the sweet voice on the GPS and soon we arrive at our destination.  God's Spirit works in that same way as we walk with him through the day.  We may not know all the turns and twists in our route, but simply need to trust the guidance we receive as we walk with God through the moments.  Walking with God is a fascinating adventure.  You never know who you will meet, where you will go, but it's never boring.  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Prov. 3:5-6