It’s hard to trust God.

It's hard to trustIt’s hard to trust God to take care of you on a daily basis because He is just so unpredictable. If I get into trouble, will he rescue me like He did for some or will he let me suffer like He did for others – even some of his favorites.

Think about Joseph. He was one of God’s special ones but he ended up in prison on false charges. He did nothing wrong yet nothing went right for him. Of course, I guess, in the end it turned out OK for him – he ended up ruling with Pharoah.

But what about Paul, another one God should have taken care of. He was shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and ended up beheaded. How can you trust a God who takes care of you like that? Of course, I guess I have to remember that his story didn’t end when he was beheaded. He then went to heaven to receive the reward he said he had been running a race to receive. So, I guess, in the end it turned out OK for him, too. Read more »

Categories: 2 Corinthians, Hebrews | 4 Comments

We want to be like other nations.

herdGod wanted His people to be exceptional, different from all other nations on earth. They were to be “a shining light on a hill”, a people through which He could demonstrate His goodness, kindness and power to the nations. These people would be so blessed by the Lord that all nations would want to serve the same God they served.

But Israel turned from the Lord and began to exclude God from their daily lives. They occupied themselves with other “gods” which brought the judgment of the Lord – God’s attempt to let them suffer the consequences of their foolishness in hopes they would return to Him. Rather than repent and return to their original calling as a unique people pointing the nations to God, they chose to slither downward and mimic the other nations.

“We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles. (1 Samuel 8:19, 20)

We are tired of God being our king. We want a man we can look to – an impressive leader who will take care of us and make our lives easy.

They could see the failure of the “gods” and the methods of the other nations. They knew Jehovah routinely defeated the “gods” of the other nations when Israel was faithful. Yet, they wanted to exalt and follow a man instead of leading the nations. Read more »

Categories: 1 Samuel, 2 Chronicles | Leave a comment

I’m such a whiny baby

Why me?I woke up at 4:00 am this morning with a splitting headache. (I’ve got to get a different pillow.) I took an ibuprofen but could not get back to sleep so decided to make the most of it by spending some time with the Lord. As I stumbled out of the bedroom into a chair where I usually go to pray my head was pounding. “Lord”, I thought, “I need you to take care of this headache if I am going to pray. I won’t be able to focus with my head throbbing like this.”

Suddenly I thought of this story in Acts 16:23-25:
“When they had struck them (Paul and Silas) with many blows, they threw them into prison, … the jailer … fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; …”

Then I was reminded of the many martyrs who were burned, stoned, subjected to unimaginable tortures yet died praising God. But I can’t pray because I have a headache? What is wrong with me? Read more »

Categories: 2 Corinthians, Acts | Leave a comment

Who likes mega-churches?

Where 2 or 3000 are gathered in my name.Occasionally I hear people talking about the evils of Mega-churches – as if a church automatically becomes impersonal or ineffective because it is large. Often these folks say their smaller church is like the church in the New Testament. Really?

The church in the NT was a small church – just about 120 people – before the Holy Spirit came. Once that happened the church immediately grew to 3000 and kept growing daily. I guess that is when they would have left, started a new church across town, and called it “The Newer New Testament Church”. Does size really tell you if the people who attend there are being equipped for ministry and growing more in their love for Jesus, being more conformed to His image?

There are ineffective, unfriendly, unhealthy mega-churches that compromise the gospel so they can grow. Though I have never been to one like that they must exist because I hear people talk about them all the time. But from personal experience I can tell you there are also ineffective, unhealthy small churches that compromise the gospel. Size does not determine effectiveness or health. Read more »

Categories: 1 Corinthians | 8 Comments

The Message of the SuperMoon

supermoonBlood Moons, the SuperMoon, signs in the heavens … I don’t know about all the prophetic insights some folks see in these things. (After all, I have already lived through the end of the world several times – the comet Kohoutek, Y2K, 99 reasons the Lord will return in 1999, the alignment of the planets in 1982 and again in 2000, end of the Mayan Calendar December 21, 2012 and a few others.) I have no idea what the cosmic meaning of a SuperMoon is, I just try to live every day ready for his return.

But, I do know the SuperMoon is caused by the moon being closer than normal to the earth and I saw a message in that.

Read more »

Categories: Ephesians, Genesis, Matthew, Philippians | 2 Comments

Incomprehensible

Scrooge duckI love this passage (Romans 11:33-36) where Paul gets so overwhelmed with God that his excitement splashes out onto the page.

33A – O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

It may be silly but I see a picture here of Uncle Scrooge, the rich duck, who loved to dive into his rooms full of money and swim around in it. The depth of the riches of God is even deeper than Scrooge’s vault. And God’s riches are of wisdom and knowledge – deeper, richer, wiser, more enduring than gold or silver.

It is like Paul sits back in his chair awed by it – Ohhh, the depth of the riches of God. Both His wisdom and His knowledge are incomprehensible.

It makes me want to dive into that vault of wisdom and knowledge and swim around in it. Can you imagine how many of our problems would vaporize if we had God’s wisdom and knowledge on our life situations? Wouldn’t our entire life change if we could see things as God sees them? I think so.

33B – how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

No wonder there is so much disunity in the Family of God. We all think we have God’s ways figured out and His ways are our ways. Anybody that worships different than us, believes different than us, sees God differently than we do is just plain wrong because we have Him figured out. Read more »

Categories: Ecclesiastes, Romans | 1 Comment

Are you a missing piece?

My piece may seem smallPuzzles frustrate me. I find a piece that I know should fit right here and it never does. I could enjoy putting them together if I could use a pair of scissors to modify the pieces and make them go where they should go.

Imagine working for hours to put together a huge puzzle only to find one piece missing. Now that would be doubly frustrating.

Logic would say, “It is only one piece out of a thousand. It isn’t even a central piece in the puzzle. It’s off in a corner. My picture is just fine without it.”

But it doesn’t work that way. There is no way around it, when one piece is missing, that hole becomes the most important spot. Your eye is immediately drawn to that empty space. The 999 pieces are all where they belong but that one missing piece becomes our central focus. Read more »

Categories: Ephesians | 1 Comment

Celebrate Liberty

One nation under GodIn honor of Independence day I thought I would just share a few interesting quotes:

The first amendment to the Constitution (the first 10 amendments are also known as The Bill of Rights)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Patrick Henry
There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. … Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Ben Franklin in a speech to the Constitutional Convention – June 28, 1787
I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, — and I also believe that without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our Projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a Reproach and Bye word down to future Ages.

James Madison is called the Father of the Constitution.
It is claimed he discovered our three branches model of government in Isaiah 33:22 which says:
For the LORD is our judge(Judicial Branch), the LORD is our lawgiver (Congress), the LORD is our king (Executive Branch); it is he who will save us.

John Adams – First VP and Second President of the US
Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Samuel Adams – organizer of the Boston Tea Party and patriot
We have this day [July 4th] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven. … From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come.

George Washington – October 3, 1789 – Proclaiming a national day of thanksgiving
It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor

And from two more current presidents from different parties.

John F. Kennedy – Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago. The world is very different now. … And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

Ronald Reagan
If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

I’m convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: A better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority. Very simply, they want to be left alone in peace and safety to take care of the family by earning an honest dollar and putting away some savings. This may not sound too exciting, but there is something magnificent about it. On the farm, on the street corner, in the factory and in the kitchen, millions of us ask nothing more, but certainly nothing less than to live our own lives according to our values — at peace with ourselves, our neighbors and the world. (July 6, 1976)

Happy Independence Day!
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Leviticus 25:10 – (the Inscription on the Liberty Bell)
Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

Categories: Leviticus | 1 Comment

Who ya hanging with?

bffThey were thrown in prison and were now on trial for their faith – facing jail time, a beating or even death for blasphemy. The prosecutors were “astonished” at their courage because, as the court record put it, they were both “unschooled, ordinary men”. But here they stood being grilled by a room full of religious clerics boldly standing their ground. The record of the proceedings tells us how this was possible. The religious leaders “took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

They had been with Jesus. They were “unschooled, ordinary men” but they were giants in spiritual matters because they had been with Jesus. Their courage impressed their interrogators – not their profound answers or clever speaking abilities. They had been with Jesus.

The Bible clearly encourages education comparing it to cutting down a tree with a dull ax or a sharp ax (education sharpens the ax). The two men God used to compose most of the New Testament were highly educated – Paul and Luke. So, do not avoid study thinking God can use you more if you are ignorant. However … these men were courageous and “astonishing” because they had been with Jesus.

For those of us with the ed-jee-cayshun we must never think that is enough. We must spend time with Jesus. The courage, the boldness, the apt answers when interrogated by those seeking answers must not just come from our head, they must originate in our heart, from our spirit. “Study to show yourself approved” but I must never neglect spending time “with Jesus”.

An answer coming from the mind can reach the mind but an answer coming from the spirit can reach the spirit.
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Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus

Categories: Acts | 2 Comments

I wanna be a babe

Life was filled with guns and war.Over forty years ago a long haired, scruffy, slightly smelly Jesus freak gave a piece of advice to a long haired Jesus freak wanna-be – me. Not sure whatever happened to that guy but his simple advice has pulled me through some rough times in my walk with the Lord. With deep sincerity, he looked me right in the eyes, “Don’t ever forget what Paul said,’Don’t be removed from the simplicity of the gospel’”.

Years later, when I discovered a wonderful thing called a Concordance I went in search of that Scripture. It is not there. I can only assume it was Paul his Bible study leader or Paul his barber who told him that. In any case, the wisdom of the warning has helped me many times over the years.

In these forty years of following Jesus I have hammered out my soteriology, my eschatology, my ecclesiology. I am still open to learning but I have a fairly good grasp on homiletics, hermeneutics and am just a dissertation away from earning my PhD in Pastoral Ministry. I am grateful for all I have learned but when the unanswerable storms of life come and I feel overwhelmed, disappointed with God, frustrated with His people or ready to give up on myself it isn’t all that information that carries me through. Instead, I think back to those days and that piece of advice given so sincerely, “Don’t be removed from the simplicity of the gospel”. Read more »

Categories: 2 Corinthians, Luke | 7 Comments