Saturday, June 27, 2015

You are safe with me

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
    Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

"You are safe with me."  

I heard these words last night in the testimony of a man as he described the influence of another believer in his life.  The words came from the man he was talking about.  They were profound words for him and they resonated with me as well.

In these days of chaos we wake daily to new fears and worries.  There is the constant threat that all we trust in will be stripped away.  We, as humans, too easily find our security in our jobs, what we have, all we have accumulated and when the threat of losing all of that comes fears rise.

But then comes these words from the Lord, "You are safe with me."  In those few words is a profound and important change in trust.  It's the invitation of many of David's psalms. Instead of trusting all we have, the securities of the world, we are invited to shift our trust to the unchanging one, the Lord of creation, and find in that moment the safety we were always trying to find as we build our fortress of security and money.  

Now, without anything else in our hands, we discover safety against every threat.  Suddenly fear subsides and we see, maybe for the first time, that God is all we need.  "You are safe with me" are words that calm any heart in the midst of the chaos of our world.  "You are safe with me."

He is the only place you will find the safety you seek.  Run to him!

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
    the God of Israel is our fortress.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Jonah Principle, part 4

Not much has changed in the nature of man.  We still want evil men to be judged (those we consider evil).  We want God to give us justice, to execute those who have done wrong.

Jonah wanted that too.  He hoped it would happen.  He found a shady spot and watched to see the wicked city of Nineveh destroyed.  

But he missed the heart of God.  God wanted the people of Nineveh to change their lives and seek him.  They did!  And God gave them mercy.  He forgave them.

In this last chapter of Jonah, after God had wonderfully worked in Nineveh, he still had his prophet to deal with.  Jonah wanted justice, revenge.  God wanted mercy and grace.  How do we change the heart of this last rebel, Jonah?  How do we get him to see that God wants everyone saved, even the ones we consider wicked terrible sinners?

Jonah was angry that God had forgiven these people.  Much like the older brother of the prodigal son he didn't think it was fair.  They deserved judgement, not mercy.  But don't we all deserve judgement really?  Aren't we all guilty?

In this final chapter of the book God gives  us one more principle- God is a God of mercy and grace.  He wants everyone to be part of his family if they will only trust him.  He is not a vengeful God.  He's a God of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

How do we get the prophet to see that?  At the end of the story that question is left unanswered.  We don't know if he ever got the heart of God on this.  It's left unanswered because it's the question for us as well.  Principle #4 is this- God is merciful, gracious and full of lovingkindness.  Are we?

Of all people on the earth God's kids should be like their father, but more often than not we are like Jonah.  We want God to nuke them all!  God wants them to seek him, to trust him and to find his love just as we have done.  How could we want anything else for the lost man?

Yes, there will be a day when God will judge those who refuse the gift he has given, but today, as in Jonah's day, he wants men to turn to him and find forgiveness and mercy.  Oh that we had that same heart.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Father's day is coming this Sunday.  

It's a day when we remember and celebrate dads.  

It's a day when we go out to lunch to celebrate dad and let him buy the lunch.

I've been thinking about my own dad and my role as a dad as well.  My dad died a couple years ago.  I miss him.  He was the one who taught me most of what I know about being a dad.  He was a great dad and did his best to help me grow into a godly man and a dad my kids would remember fondly.  

No dad is perfect.  Mine wasn't. Neither am I.  We are all broken, fallen, trying to be what we know we should be and often failing, but my dad lived well.  He finished well.  He loved God, loved my mom and loved us.

I am trying to do the same thing.  

I'm trying to live in a way that my kids and grandkids will smile when they remember me.  

I'm trying to live out my faith in a way they will know I loved God and showed them how to do it as well.

Of all the things my dad had I only have one thing.  I have his pocket knife.  It's a small swiss knife he bought in Europe and he carried it all the time.  It's worn.  The blade has been sharpened many times.  It's in my pocket.  I think of dad when I reach into my pocket for something else....there it is.

It's not the knife that's important, but who owned it.  It belonged to my dad.  I'm honored to be his son.  I hope I live out what a dad should be and know my kids are thankful I was their dad.

Happy father's day.

The Jonah Principle, part 3

Once Jonah found himself on the beach and no longer in the belly of the fish he obeyed.  It's funny what three days in the belly of a fish will do for a stubborn heart, a rebellious prophet.  

He must have looked quite the mess.  Bleached skin, smelly clothes, disheveled hair.  What an odd site to see.  When he finally came to the city of Nineveh he began to proclaim the message God gave least he proclaimed part of it.  He said, "In 40 days God will destroy you all!"

I'm sure he was hopeful of that outcome.  I imagine the people were shocked because although he had only gone a days journey through the city the word had spread citywide. The people repented and God extended mercy.

Jonah had offered them no hope.  

He promised no mercy, only judgment.  

I'm sure it wasn't at all the message God had given him, but it was the message he hoped would happen to this wicked city.

God had other plans.  Plans for mercy and grace.

Here's the third principle in this story of Jonah- God can do amazing things with even half-hearted obedience.  

Clearly, in the story of chapter 3 in Jonah, the prophet was reluctant, grumpy and hoping for fire and brimstone when he gave the message God had given least he gave part of it.

The truth of scripture is that God works with broken, cracked and reluctant servants like Jonah to bring him glory and extend grace and mercy to lost men.

God can do amazing things with reluctant half-hearted obedience.  All he asks is that we obey.  He will do the rest and it will be amazing.

In the end....

In the end sin will not win.  

It will not win in me or in the world.  

In the end the only one who will triumph 

will be Jesus Christ, 

King of Kings, 

Lord of me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


If revival is to happen in our time it won't happen because we win the battle of the courts.  

It will happen when my heart yearns for God more than anything else.  

Revival, whatever that looks like, begins with me.  

It begins in me.  

It begins with you.  

Don't pray for a revival in our country.  Pray that God revives YOU.  

That's all we need.....God can do amazing things with that, with you....with me.  

Lord, work in me. Give me a passion for you that I have never known.  

Set me on fire for you.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Jonah Principle, part 2

I'm sure Geppetto's time in the belly of the whale was much better than what Jonah experienced.  Animation has a wonderful way of making the dark terrible places seem nice.

But Jonah knew no such setting. As he sat in the belly of the fish I'm sure it was dark, hot, smelly and silent.  It was not the destination he had imagined.

After we say "yes" or "no" to God the results are not always up to us.  Jonah's time in the belly of the fish was not his goal. He wanted to simply run away from God and not do what God had asked.  Now he stomach juices, black all around, silence that would deafen you and thought about his choice.

When we say no to God we find ourselves in a dark place.  It's the result of our choice, a place we would have never chosen if we had known that "no" would lead us here.  But here we what?

For Jonah it took three days before he surrendered, before he said to God, "OK, I give up.  I will do what you ask. I will obey."  He was a stubborn man!  So are we.  We resist God, we say "no!" and endure the confines of our prison because we don't want to say yes to God....and so he waits.

Finally, when the silence of God had given Job time to think, he bowed his knee to the sovereign and surrendered.  It was only then that he saw light once more, but it had changed him.  He would never be the same again.  His rebellion has scarred him.  The scars of the whale's stomach would be seen by everyone.

Some of us yield and say yes to God.  We bow the knee and surrender to him.  Many never will.  They would rather die than surrender and so they live in darkness, angry at the God who put them there, but like little children with their arms crossed they will not surrender!  They will not give in.....

Where are you?  Where did your "no" take you?  Did you finally bow to the one who asked you to serve him?  Did you finally give him the glory he is due or are you still in the belly of the fish stomping your feet and refusing to give in?

The Jonah Principle #2 is this-  When you say "no" to God you will never win the battle of wills.  God has invited you to say "yes" to him and until you do you will find life a dark smelly place.  

Just ask Jonah.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Jonah Principle, part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on something I am calling "The Jonah Principle."  In the short book of Jonah God deals with a man and his response to God's invitation.  

Each of us make choices.  Those choices have consequences.  The consequences are not always up to us.  Our choices take us in one of two directions and after our choice the results aren't always in our control.  For Jonah the invitation was to serve God and speak for him to a people Jonah hated.  

He said no.  

Chapter 1 of Jonah is the story of Jonah's response to God-  HE RAN AWAY.  He said "NO!"  His response is systematic, intentional and in the opposite direction of the one God asked him to take.  Once we respond to God's invitation with a yes or a no we choose our path.  And on that path are consequences we may not like.

For Jonah the consequence was a big fish and a dark, smelly descent into the sea.  You can choose your response to God, but you can't choose what might be next.

Principle #1 of the Jonah principle is this- after you make your choice there are consequences you can't choose.

Jonah found himself in the prison of his own choice...the belly of a fish.  When we say "no" to God that isn't the end of our encounters with this one who invited us to say "yes".  Often we will find ourselves in a dark place as we contemplate our choice.

"How's that working out for you?"  God asks.  And there we sit as we ponder our rebellion, as we reconsider our response to the one who made us....the one who called us.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Jonah Principle

The story of Jonah is one of the first you hear as a child.  The disobedient prophet being swallowed by a fish and all the excitement that follows is shared in graphic detail.

But is there a principle for us in this story?  Is there more than a disobedient prophet and a big fish?

In the days ahead I want to explore with you "The Jonah Principle."  
More to come.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The captain's face

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to go sailing with a good friend of mine. Ray was an oil man who had literally gone from struggling to pay the bills to millionaire overnight. In the 80's it happened to a number of guys, but Ray was a Christian and a friend, so we talked about our faith, God's provision and his blessings often. After his new fortune Ray bought a boat he had always wanted, it was a 38' sailboat. He had it delivered to Grand lake in eastern Oklahoma. It's a large lake and a great place to sail. There was a day one spring when we both had some time and Ray asked me to go sailing with him. I was thrilled to join him. I had never sailed before and looked forward to the experience. We met at the lake and got on the boat to get underway. Slowly we motored out of the inlet into the lake and then put up the sails. It was a great experience! I loved the sounds of the wind in the sails, the waves on the boat and the experience of sailing by wind power alone. We had a great time and a wonderful visit. ... Then it happened. Suddenly, and really without warning, a storm came up. It was a big one. 50-60 mile per hour winds and gusts, 3-4 foot waves, black clouds moving overhead. Quickly the lake cleared of other boats. Within minutes we were in a storm I can imagine the disciples experienced on the sea of Galilee when they woke Jesus and declared, "Don't you care that we are drowning?" I think I understood the fear they experienced. Our boat was leaning with the storm winds at 50 degrees or more. The waves were washing over the deck. The skies were black. The rain was intense. I WAS AFRAID! But then I turned around and looked at Ray as he steered the boat across the lake. HE WAS SMILING! I couldn't believe it. Didn't he see what I saw? Didn't he know this was bad? In my amazement I yelled through the storm, "How can you smile in this storm? Don't you see the wind and the waves?" I heard the disciples in my own voice as I said, "Don't you care that we might drown?" Ray smiled back and said, "You don't understand. I know my boat. It has a 9,000 pound keel. This boat was built for the oceans. This storm is nothing! We are fine! Relax, enjoy the ride." Suddenly, my fear subsided. I had looked at the captain's face. He knew things about our boat that I didn't. He knew we were fine. Within a few moments my fear turned to calm. Because I trusted the captain I began to enjoy the ride. Nothing had changed....the wind still blew, the rains still came, the waves still washed over the deck, but something was different....I had seen the captain's face. ... The Christian life is much like this little adventure of mine. We are often caught in the storms of life and fear for our lives, our finances, our health. This life is often overcome by a storm when we least expect it. Fears overwhelm us. Death feels close. Panic is in our voices.....but then, with fear growing, we look at Jesus and discover that he is smiling! How can he smile in this storm? Doesn't he know we are about to go down? And he replies, "You don't understand. I know this boat. I know what I have planned for you. We are fine. I'll bring you safely home. Enjoy the ride." It's funny how a glance at the face of our captain, Jesus, can change a fearful storm into an exciting adventure. A look at the captain's face makes all the difference! ...

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Thank you

Thank you
Two words in response to
a gift
a kindness
a phone call
a caring hug

Thank you
We say it often
 to express gratitude

When I read Psalms
I see "thank you" everywhere
Nothing I say will be that inspired
But let me say thank you as well

Thank you, Father
Thank you for being God
For being a good God
A loving God
A compassionate God

Thank you for creation
For the colors
The shapes
The smells
The sounds
What a glorious creation you have made!

Thank you for your nature
For your care for me
Your love for me
You patience with me,
I need it a lot

Thank you for your gifts
There are so many
Thank you for work to do
Thank you for health to do it
Thank you for all you give
And most of it I don't deserve

Thank you for family
for loved people who love me too
Thank you for your family, the church
Thank you for your care for each one

Thank you for Jesus
For his life that shows us what you are like
Thank you for his compassion
for his heart for people
for his love for food
for his love of me

Thank you for the cross
and thank you for the resurrection
Thank you for the promise of life with you!
Eternity would be a long time
without you in it

Thank you for the promise 
for the hope
for the joy
for your book
for your Spirit

There is so much
I haven't even mentioned
All the things you endure with me
You never give up on me
If I were you, I would have given up
on me years ago

Thank you
There is so much
Maybe that's what eternity is about
 a time to know all that you have done
simply because you love us

Thank you.