Tag Archives: Bible

My Ebenezer

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Ebenezer Branded

Since we were talking about Ebenezers last week, I wanted to show you the one I’ve been building since I got to Florida.

You know that God gave me the plan for my immediate future in 2010, while I was in Arizona.  During the third year that I was in Florida I received Joshua 1:5.

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.

I needed that verse in the early years of my life in Florida because I often believed that I was in some kind of wasteland.  Even though His plan for me was falling into place exactly as He’d promised.  I hadn’t been able to find a job since I’d lost mine in 2008 (and it was now 2013), I was still living in my parent’s house, and I still had doubts that I should be in Florida at all.  I mean … maybe what I thought was “God’s Plan” was just something my brain cooked up and not from Him at all.

Getting this scripture brought me to my knees.  It is, essentially, three promises in one glorious verse.  This ‘gift’ from God came at a time when the devil had been bullying me with severe oppression over my inability to find a job. Furthermore, I wasn’t really hearing from God the way I had in Arizona and thought He had deserted me.  The Holy Spirit put me quickly and firmly on the right track with this verse.

All three promises were important.  The first No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live.” gave me greater strength to thwart Satan’s lies.  The third, I will not leave you or forsake you.” reminded me that I wasn’t in a desert and far away from God.  But the second part … oh the second part!  I will be with you, just as I was with Moses.”  Man, that’s amazing.  Do you remember how God was with Moses throughout the early books of the Bible?  I can just imagine Joshua hearing this.  Since he, too, was with Moses and knew how God interacted with him, did he fall over in awe?  I certainly did.  God hasn’t disappointed.  He has made good on these promises and I knew I needed a stone to remember that He had helped me thus far.

The top stone is the verse God gave me after I’d been diagnosed with cancer and was crying one night to Him about everything in the Plan I’d hadn’t done.  It was the last part in the plan and I’d dragged my feet and hemmed and hawed and had started – but had not finished the last phase.

My remorseful plea that lonely night was, “Am I going to die without finishing what you said I would do?” Tears flooding my pillow.  That was followed by “I’m sorry, Lord.” And then came a fresh round of tears.  I was sorry I hadn’t acted faster and now I might not have time to do what He called me to do.

It was the next morning that the Holy Spirit impressed Numbers 23:19 onto my heart:

God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and then not act, or promise and not fulfill?

Upon reading this verse I dissolved into a mass of tears again.  But this time they weren’t tears of sorrow.  Joy flooded my heart to almost bursting.  What relief!

This scripture told me I wasn’t going to die – at least not before I finished His plan for me.  It also promised that I would finish it, because God doesn’t lie, change His mind, or not honor His promises.  At that moment, those were the sweetest words my wretched heart needed to hear.

Certainly a scripture worthy of an Ebenezer.  So I found another stone and wrote the verse address on it.  I never want to forget that here, again, was a time when God has helped me thus far.

So, did you think about using some sort of Ebenezer to remember how He has helped you too?  I’m dying to know what you’re using.  Let me know in the comments!

Three in One

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Some people regard The Trinity as a difficult concept and I can’t disagree, it’s true.  How can one of anything be three?

fathersonspirit

Once, a few years ago, when I was counseling a very new Christian, she asked me to explain it to her. I gulped but somehow strode forward and gave her this explanation.

God, the Father, is God.  The whole spirit-being.  The great I AM.  The almighty Alpha and Omega.  Then He took a piece of Himself and sent Himself to earth in the form of Jesus who is also God because He is part of God.  When Jesus died, was resurrected, and returned to God, the Father took another piece of Himself and sent it to His believers in the form of the Holy Spirit who is also God because He is part of God and Jesus.  The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons but still all One.

Very simplistic, but it helped her to view our Triune God as One.  I was about to say it helped me too, but I think I’ve just always believed this doctrinal truth on faith … never really thinking about it.  Or have I?

In an article in John Piper’s Desiring God blog, Matt Perman stated it this way:

If there is one passage which most clearly brings all of this together, it is Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” First, notice that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinguished as distinct Persons. We baptize into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Second, notice that each Person must be deity because they are all placed on the same level. In fact, would Jesus have us baptize in the name of a mere creature? Surely not. Therefore each of the Persons into whose name we are to be baptized must be deity. Third, notice that although the three divine Persons are distinct, we are baptized into their name (singular), not names (plural). The three Persons are distinct, yet only constitute one name. This can only be if they share one essence.

For some time now – maybe the last year and a half – God has been refocusing me on the Trinity by having verses that include mention of it like:

And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17

Then as John seeks to establish the deity of Christ:

Jesus said: “I and the Father are one.”  John 10:30

Again in John, when Jesus was speaking to His disciples:

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”  John 14:16-17

And again in John 14 speaking of the Holy Spirit:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”  John 14:23

These are just a mere few of the verses in the Bible that distinctly show that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all separate and yet one.

Could God be ensuring that I really comprehend that He is three in one?  I don’t know.  Have I had the tendency to think of Him as three of three?  I pray not.  That might just be blasphemous.  But I can’t think of any other reason He’d be emphasizing this point with me.

Perhaps God was just getting me ready to tackle questions from the friend I’ve mentioned before who doesn’t like when we sing about Jesus being God (or the Lord).  Because in his mind only the Father can be God (or the Lord), Jesus is the Son and hence, not Lord.

Maybe now I can say more than, “Whelp, He is and He isn’t.”

I can speak intelligently (and without fear) and point him to the truth of Bible.

How do you explain the Trinity?

Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

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Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

Recently we discussed the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in a Bible Bite of John 6:12, which if you missed, you can just click HERE and have a nosh.

But let’s not stop there.  I wanted to turn that Bible Bite into a full blown Scripture Snack and look at the next verse too!

So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. ~ John 6:13

What’s so interesting is that along with John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this miracle and each mentions 12 baskets of scraps.  In the Bible, the number 12 usually signifies God’s power and authority.  There were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12,000 of 12 tribes (144,000) to witness in the end times. {Check out biblestudy.org which goes into great detail about the number 12 in the Bible.}

It’s certainly a marvelous display of His divine authority to multiply five barley cakes and two fish from a young boy’s sack lunch!

Loaves and FishesWe don’t know how large the baskets were.  Were they small handmaiden, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ baskets or were they large collecting hay and straw baskets?  Does it matter?  There were over 5,000 people that ate their supper on a mountainside that day provided by a blessed-by-God sack lunch.

Who is this then who can feed over 5,000 with a few choice items?

And does He continue to send us the miracle of multiplication today?  He sure does, and I’m a witness.

Dateline Chandler, Arizona and I was attending a small group going through the ALPHA program.  The hosts are a lovely couple and each Wednesday night as we gathered for group, they would feed us dinner prior to our worship and study.  Eventually the group began to divvy up the responsibility and soon we were each bringing a portion – making it a pot luck meal.  It’s also important to know that the hosts have two sons that were both steeped in ministry in different churches.  So we had a core group of 12 participants plus at any given time we might have up to 4 guests.

One week, close to the end of the program, we had planned a fried chicken dinner.  Two people would each bring a 20-piece bucket of chicken from KFC and the rest of us added the sides and desserts.  On that Wednesday night I arrived with my ‘famous’ potato salad in hand, and walked into the house where an issue was erupting – one of the group members’ car had broken down and two people had forgotten their food.  The main concern was that the person who had broken down was one of the ones that was supposed to bring chicken making our total 20 pieces chicken for 13 people.

We decided as a group that we’d start by everyone having one piece of chicken and load up on sides.  I took a thigh and passed the bucket to the man next to me who loaded his plate with three pieces!  I started to say something but then realized that (1) he hadn’t been in the room when we discussed the one-piece business and (2) the bucket was almost around the table so everyone would get chicken.

After we’d finished eating a couple of the participants had gotten up for seconds and the guy who had been next to me walked back to the table with another piece of chicken!  My mouth watered as I watched him tuck in so I got up hoping that there might be a wing left in the bucket.  I peered in and was surprised to see two pieces of chicken left – a wing and a thigh.  I scooped up the wing and made quick work of it.

We finished dinner and moved into the living room to begin the study.  While we were immersed in Pastor Gumbel’s video message and subsequent discussion, the host’s two sons arrived.  I overheard their Mom tell them that there probably wasn’t much left but they were welcome to whatever was there.  We continued to discuss our study and both sons filled their plates and came in to join us.  I was amazed to see that BOTH had TWO pieces of chicken on their plates!  Driving home that evening I contemplated chicken.

When I took the last wing out of the bucket there was one piece left – a thigh.  I quickly start to think about what everyone ate at dinner.  I know that 4 guys had (at least) 2 pieces each (8), I had 2 pieces (10), the guy next to me had 4 pieces (14), and everyone at the table ate chicken so I figured that the remaining 4 women and 3 children each had one piece (21) and then the boys came home and had 2 pieces each (25).  I was astounded!  I counted up the numbers over and over making sure my math was right.

Arriving at ALPHA the next week I was so enthusiastic to discuss my observations I didn’t even sit down before starting, “Before we get started I have to discuss something about last week’s dinner.”

The group looked expectantly at me and the host blurted out, “The miracle of multiplication!”  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had caught what God had done.  I smiled and looked at him, his eyes were twinkling.

“We witnessed a miracle, didn’t we?” I asked.  He agreed and we filled the group in on what had happened.  As I laid out what I deduced I was interrupted as several of guys revealed they’d actually had three pieces and a couple of the ladies had two rather than the one I’d concluded.  If all that wasn’t amazing enough … remember the guy who sat next to me stuffing down all that chicken?  He pronounced that he couldn’t believe I’d left that thigh in the bucket and figuring that everyone was done eating, he ate the thigh!  That meant that by the time the host’s sons arrived, there actually was an empty bucket – should have been an empty bucket and yet they pulled out 4 pieces of chicken.  Isn’t God great?  We had such a glorious time of worship that night … pouring out our love to our Father … our amazing Provider.

In hind sight it was silly, really. God providing chicken to some of the best fed people in the world.  He didn’t have to do it, no one in that room was anywhere close to actual need, no one was going to go hungry, and no one was dying of starvation.  But He did it anyway ~ He broke chicken and fed us all until we were full with no scraps left over.

What a blessing!  How astounding that the Creator of the Universe provides for us!

Has He provided for you in some manner?  Let me know!

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*** One other juicy tidbit: this miracle (the feeding of the 5,000) is one of only two miracles that appear in all four Gospels.  The other being Jesus’ own resurrection.

 

ScripturePicture: Deuteronomy 32:2

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De 32-2

I’m thirsty.

Are there days when you get up and get moving and don’t stop to read His word?

Me too.

And on those days do you find yourself, perhaps mid-day, craving Him?  Oh you know immediately what the “problem” is … you know what’s wrong.

You didn’t allow Him to talk to you that morning and now you feel empty.

It’s not enough to pray – I pray all the time.  Devotionals are not enough – I read a few of those most mornings.  But I need HIM in my life – daily.  As surely as some people need their hit of caffeine in the morning – I need my full measure of God.

I’m writing this Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon after running around all day from about the moment I fell out of bed.  If I don’t go talk to Him right now and let His love and His teaching wash over me, I’m going to go cray cray … I think literally.

If you haven’t yet today, go pour yourself a tall cool glass of Him and quench your thirst.

I’ll see you by the water cooler,

Felecia

 

Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

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Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

A Bible Bite is a little tidbit that I run across that irks me and controls my thoughts until the Holy Spirit helps me to break through the miasmas to teach me some lesson. 

During Paula and my bible study, we were talking about standing stronger by walking in faith (Day 27 of the 28-day study).  I grew increasingly distressed during the scriptures of Mark 4: 35-41.  Jesus had been teaching using several parables (vv. 1-34) at the side of the Sea of Galilee.  As night fell, He told the disciples they were going to go over to the other side of the sea and they all hopped in a boat.

As they sailed, Jesus slept in the aft of the boat and a wind brewed up that whipped up the waves so forcefully that they were crashing over the sides of the boat and threatening to capsize.  Yet, Jesus slept.

The disciples woke Him up concerned that He was going to let them drown and He got up and rebuked the wind and the sea with, “Silence, be still!”  He turned then to the disciples and asked, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”

What amazed me most was the next verse, Mark 4:41:

“And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Terrified?  Why were they terrified?  I didn’t get it.  The disciples had been with Jesus for a while at this point and had seen miracle after miracle.  What terrified them now?

And they asked each other, “Who is this then?”  How could it be that they forgot who Jesus was?

Part of the keys are in Jesus questions.  First He asks, “Why are you afraid?”  I love being on this side of the situation.  We’re reading about an incident in the Bible and have the benefit of being able to take a global view. Do you (like me) often find yourself shaking your head at what some Biblical one is doing or saying at any given time?  I do that until I realize that in some way I’m just like them … ahem … and then keep reading to learn from these Saints who have gone before.

“Why are you fearful” (my HCSB states)?  Why are they fearful?  Jesus said when they got into the boat that they were going to the other side.  Surely He knew the boat would be caught in a storm, but He wasn’t worried because He fell asleep.  (Another aside: I like to see Jesus’ humanness here – He slept because He’d been teaching all day and was tired.  The Son of God gets tired. I love that little bit of insight.)

But back to the question at hand.  In Warren W. Weirsbe’s Exposition Commentary, he notes, “… for the greatest danger was not the wind or the waves; it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples.” Further, “It was their unbelief that caused their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared.  “We must aware of an evil heart of unbelief.” (Heb 3:12).1

“Do you still have no faith,” Jesus asks?   Jesus asks these questions as a way to test the disciples.  Just how far have they come?  How much do they or don’t they believe?

How often do we continue to wonder if God is really all that He says He is?  How often are we shown His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, His very deity, and still we forget the works He has done?  Can we be that stiff-necked?  That hard-hearted?  Nincompoops to the core?  Yep.  And still He loves us!  Still He’s patient with us and He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion. (Phil 1:6)

It was true that the disciples had seen Jesus’ many miracles. They’d seen him cast out demons, heal people, and forgive sins but now – Weirsbe ends the section this way, “Now they discovered that He even had authority over the wind and the sea.  This meant that they had no reason ever again to be afraid, for their Lord was in constant control of every situation.”2

Is Jesus your Lord?  Then we must understand completely – we have no reason to ever be afraid.  Ever.

That, my friends, is freedom.

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1 Warren W. Weirsbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament Volume 1, 2nd ed, (Colorado, David C. Cook), 125.

2 Weirsbe, 125.

 

Demise of the Interloper ~ 1

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Demise of the Interloper ~ 1

It all came crashing down last Tuesday.

To be sure I was ready … but somehow not prepared … does that make sense?  I was used to this particular threat, this unwelcome guest who had been staying so long at my house I’d become accustomed to his presence – almost complacent with his company.  We lived together as though an uneasy truce had been called by some higher power.

Every day he was there spiraling around me like the coils of a slinky, plenty of room in the middle to bump around the house yet steel bands held me tightly within his grasp – defining the space I could actually roam.  In a weird way it was a prison I couldn’t leave.  Each day we existed in this unusual dance.

Like it says in Proverbs 26:11 … “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”  I always came back.  I always returned.  After all … weren’t we joined together?

It’s almost as though … …

Don’t be silly.  I hadn’t fallen in love with him.  I always knew it would be me or him in the end.  One of us would have to go.

We could not exist in the same house forever.

It’s just that I’d developed a curious ease with him.  Easy … like your favorite jeans so holey and frayed and threadbare and probably illegal to wear in public, but you wouldn’t get rid of them for all the tea in China.  Well, maybe I wasn’t that comfortable with him.

So what was the fascination?  This hold he had on me?

He was more like the character in the story that you love to hate.  The one that you’ve already met and you already hate and then he shows up right when the story’s gettin’ good and all the other characters are finding their stride.  The author has the audacity to pluck him off the shelf and drop him back on the page and in doing so places a humongous boulder in the path that causes other, already well-loved characters to faint or stumble or fall.  Him with his wily ways and his evil grin.  What will happen next, you wonder?  What could possibly happen next?

To be sure he was like one of those devil-worms that the evil men on Star Trek slip into your ear while you can’t defend yourself.  When you’re tied down to an exam table that magically appears in the middle of whatever room they’re in on their spaceships.  Even just watching the show you watch that worm slip into the ear and your skin creeps and you swear you hear a gnawing, feel the munching, in your ear canal as the worm seeks out your brain stem to make you go mad … or worse.

He was an evil that arrived last spring and had rooted himself so deeply into my life I wasn’t sure I would survive.  Afraid that he might suffocate me … squelch my existence.  My burgeoning anxiety must have caused a ripple in the fabric of the universe because it was then that my Guardian stepped in.

My Protector.  The Man I’d entrusted my life to many years prior.  The Man who’d given me a singular focus and a task to complete that I, with my procrastinating ways, hadn’t worked on as hard as I could have.

One night as I lay still on my bed under the oppressive heat of a Floridian summer I managed the nerve to ask, “Have I waited too long,” I whispered?

I didn’t get an immediate answer which furthered my trembling.  “I’m sorry I failed you,” I wept quietly.  Ashamed.  Mad at myself for not doing what He told me I would do.  But that’s when I heard it.

Softly, like a gentle spring breeze sailing past my ear, “Numbers 23:19”.  I brighten instantly and wipe away my tears so happy he’s answered.  I pull my Bible off the bedside table and thumb directly to Numbers, anxious about what I’ll find there.

“God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”

My shoulders, which have apparently been tightened up like a screw around my head, relax and sink into their normal position, as I soak in this truth.  He doesn’t lie.  He hasn’t changed his mind.  He promised and it will be fulfilled.  I am elated by this knowledge direct from the Man Himself.

His promise will be fulfilled.  I know I must work hard now and not procrastinate any longer.  I want to make my Guardian proud.  But then, as if I was a character in a novel, the visitor was dropped onto my pages; the boulder was cast and I stumbled.

Join me Monday for the rest of the story …

Cross to Bear ~ 2

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This story started on Friday.  If you missed that, you’ll be lost today. So here’s a quick link to pop back and catch yourself up!

As I placed the nozzle back in the pump, I walked around the back of the car and my newest decal loomed large … a reminder of who’s I am and whom I’ve just disgraced …

† = ♥

I hung my head in shame and slid back into my car.

In my head I replayed what I said to the station manager.  Was that anyway to treat another human being?  What did that outburst say about me as a Christ follower?  I shook my head in disgust.  Some witness!  Paul can survive beatings and floggings and stonings and I can’t persevere through an argument without coming unglued.  I still have so much to learn!

By the time I was ready for bed that evening the weight of the sin-millstone around my neck was palpable.  The incident and the implications of the fallout weighed heavy on my mind for the rest of the day and I knew I couldn’t go one more minute before I had to get down on my knees that night and cry, begging forgiveness from my Lord and Savior.  I went to bed with a beautiful peace on my heart, but still mortified by the way I had acted that day.

The ever-present oily pit of black goo roiled in my soul.  I imagine it to be a pool of sin sloshing back and forth in my soul.  Sometimes it lays dormant for a while, other times it bubbles up and leaks out.  Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m in a constant state of consternation – far from it.  I fully accept the grace God affords me after I repent and ask forgiveness for my sin.  My heart and spirit are somehow lighter knowing He forgets my sin “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV).  It’s just that as I come to love the Lord more and more I am ever so much more saddened when I sin.  I know I hurt His heart.  I know I disappoint Him.  All sin is an act against God.  I love how Jerry Bridges puts it in his book Respectable Sins:

“Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls.”

Even though we are believers, we have a tendency to evaluate our behavior by how it relates to the society in which we live.  Since as Christians, we’re usually operating at a higher moral standard than those around us, it’s easier to get caught up in feeling good about ourselves and how we behave – even though we are sinning all along.  We must watch out for that trap.  Can’t you just see Satan grinning with joy?

Unbelievably, I hadn’t even read Day 14 when the incident at the gas station occurred.  As I opened up the bible study the following day I couldn’t help but see my sin all over its pages.  Convicted over and over again (but not condemned because I’d already received forgiveness from God).  Unfortunately, there were other recent incidents where I had opened my mouth inappropriately and these occurrences tugged at my heart.  I hadn’t confessed those to the Lord yet.  I’d pushed them aside as acceptable sins.  The bottom line – would I ever learn to keep my big yap shut?

Kay asks, “If I want to live this life (a life sold out for Jesus), am I willing to pay the price?”

Am I willing to really come to grips with my inability to keep my mouth closed when it isn’t necessary to speak?  Am I able to look with such love toward others that a critical thought never enters my mind again?  It’s certainly become a prayer of mine.

Think this week about your cross.  Or at least one of them – because I know I have many myself!  What can you, once and for all, give up to Christ by next weekend?  What can you cut out of yourself like fisherman gutting a newly caught snapper – all for the sake of Jesus?  I don’t think we have time to waste, my friends.  Jesus may arrive at any time and I want to see you on that narrow path with me!

Bible Study ~ Stronger Through the Word

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Bible Study ~ Stronger Through the Word

We hear again today from David Arthur.  He relays a wonderful story about a man he met who has planted thousands of churches across India.  David had been excited to meet the man particularly because he wanted to know what curriculum the man was using to disciple all these people.  When asked, the gentleman was confused by the question.

“What materials?” he asked David. “We simply start in the book of Matthew – just reading and doing what it says.”

How simple.  We don’t need reams of studies and piles of curriculum.  We need to read the word and obey it.  Sounds a little familiar no?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

~ James 1:22

When I was a new Christian I didn’t receive any dedicated discipleship at the church I was attending.  I also backslid pretty quickly and blamed my church for it at the time.  Here I was a brand new Christian … now what?  What do I do now?  But you know what?  I owned a Bible. I have no one to blame but myself for not picking it up, and as the man from India said, “Start in Matthew and read and do what it says.”

I do find it interesting however, that because of that experience I developed a real passion for the discipleship ministry.  I am always hoping to help others from falling off the cliff like I did.  Because when you backslide you develop very guilty feelings.  You know you’ve walked away from God and back into your old life and you wonder if God’s too mad at you to accept you back into the family.  New Christians (and non-believers) are too naïve at that point to comprehend that God will never leave you.  Period.  End of story.

But wait.  Might not a portion of that be true … or at least feel true?  Each time we sin without repenting, we move ourselves farther from God.  The widening gap allows the enemy of our souls to slip in and isolate us further.  We stop reading His word due to guilt or shame and we shut off the main conduit He has to speak to us.  Have you, like me, ever felt far from God?

But guess who moved?  It wasn’t God.

One of the participants in a small group I was leading was having a hard “season” (as we say in Christianeze).  Nothing was going right for her, at least nothing that she wanted or expected was happening in her favor.  She’d been a Christian for a couple of years and as I talked with her I discovered that she was pushing against everything – and I mean everything – that was happening in her life.  I asked, “Have you been praying?  What does God say?”

There comes a time when you have to take stock of your life and ask God, “What is up?”  I find that when my wheels are spinning and ‘nothing is going right’ it’s usually one of two reasons (1) I’m walking in God’s will and the enemy is trying to thwart me, or (2) I’m trying to do my own thing and bucking against God.  There is no secret to determining which it is.  In some cases it might even be a little of both.  The first thing I do is stop, drop, and roll.  Oh no wait, that’s when I’m on fire.  The first thing I do is stop spinning and ask God what is going on.  I don’t make any more moves until I hear an answer.  In the meantime and just to be sure there is only one influence in my life I will ask Him to help me control my flesh (quiet my mind and put the kibosh on my wants and desires) and rebuke Satan by removing his influence from me.

I waited for an answer from the girl whose life seemed to be falling apart.  She just looked at me with sad eyes so I backed up and asked, “Do you read your Bible?”

“No,” was the unfortunate answer.  “I can’t concentrate long enough to get anything from it.”

I sighed … probably literally.  Not one of us is going to hear from God if we are not in His word … and hopefully on a daily basis.  If you’re not reading your bible daily I urge you to work toward making that a habit.  It’ll take time but I guarantee you, as soon as our Lord starts speaking to you through the pages, you’ll crave His voice and that will make it easier.  We must remember that God’s word is alive.  It’s really the only way to begin to communicate with Him.  Read it, meditate on it, and obey it.

David Kay gives us an important lesson as he reminds us of the importance of God’s Word.  In the second letter to Timothy, Paul knows that his time is nearing an end.  Everything he writes to Timothy in this letter is going to be the most important information that he could pass on to this young man he considered a son.  Think about it, if you know you’re about to die your last words are not going to be, “Water the plants.”  They are going to significant and meaningful.  They’re going to be words Timothy needs in order to live well.

Paul tells Timothy to, “guard the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:14).  This treasure is not gold and silver that Paul buried in the desert, but the Word of God. He shares the reason why the Bible is so important and why it must be guarded:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man (and woman) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Like my friend from the Trinity post who regrettably believes only the parts of the Bible where Jesus speaks, it’s vital for us to remember that all scripture is God-breathed – which is – inspired by God.  To miss that one mind-blowing fact is to miss out on a Book that we really cannot live without.

Have a wonderful weekend!

God’s Attributes Follow Up

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God’s Attributes Follow Up

I thought that Monday’s post about God’s Attributes would provoke a good debate and I wasn’t wrong.  Most people email, text, FB message, or private Tweet me if they have questions about something I’ve written.  I wish they wouldn’t because lots of people have the same questions and the discussion would be much livelier if held in a public forum.  Let me take this moment to remind readers that you can reply to any post anonymously.

Firstly, we need to touch base with the person who is still very upset that I called Jesus God in the post on the Trinity.  This person has sent me video after video of two old dudes sitting at their kitchen table misreading scripture to prove that The Father is God and Jesus is God’s son (not God and no mention of the Holy Spirit) much like I described my friend’s belief in the same post.  I pointed out that we obviously do not believe in the same God (mine is Triune) and that we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.  My last word to him and everyone else is: please do not take the word of two old guys sitting around a table or even my word as absolute truth (which only comes from God).  Do more research, read smarter thinkers than me, dive into some commentaries, and read the Bible for yourself all the while asking the Holy Spirit to impart His wisdom so you can understand.  But please don’t base your beliefs on only one source … unless it’s the Bible.

One response, probably to a headline that promoted the post on Twitter and FB which was “Is God good or bad or both or neither?” was that, “God is good.  Bad is a human trait.”  To which I questioned, “Isn’t good?”  As I said in the post – we humans have an innate desire to cast human characteristics onto a God who is not human because we cannot wholly grasp our unfathomable God.

Another reader brought up an interesting question asking, “How do we know whether the bad we are facing is from God or Satan?”  I responded in part by saying, “Satan is evil, God is not.  God always has a plan and a purpose.  Satan is just evil.”  She followed up with, “If Satan is evil then that means God is good.”  Here we need to be careful of considering Satan to be the opposite of God.  He is not.  God has no opposite.

A good friend of mine said recently, “Evil happens because we serve a sovereign God who allows it, regardless of the source.  We can’t know His plan in its totality.  He deliberately created us in such a way that we are to be confounded by such questions.  Part of faith is believing with partial understanding, and trusting God to carry us through … as well as faith being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

In a devotional from a couple of years ago, Pastor Rick Warren wrote:  “God is good, and he will not cause evil or do evil. But God can use dark and stressful times for good. He’ll use them to teach us to trust him, to show us how to help others, and to draw us closer to other believers.”  He ends with good advice, “So, what should you do when you’re going through difficult times?  First, you refuse to be discouraged. Then, you remember God is with you. Finally, you rely on God’s protection and guidance.  We all go through difficult times. The difference for those who believe in Jesus is not the absence of the shadow but the presence of the Light.”  I love that line … the presence of the Light.

A woman I ran into a couple of days ago talked about the way I was ‘dealing with’ my cancer and asked why I was always so danged cheerful?  I’m dealing with it cheerfully because I depend on a God who is in charge of the universe and still personal enough to walk with me through it.

Early on (a little over a year ago) I placed the burdens I was facing squarely on His immense shoulders and have lived in a state of divine security and absolute peace since that time.  But I think her real question was why did I end up with stage 4b uterine cancer that traveled into my ovaries and into my pelvic lymph nodes and despite all the prayer I received, why didn’t God stop it?  She referenced Romans 8:28a which reads: “all things work together for the good of those who love God …” She knows I love God so how was cancer working for my good?

I could probably answer reams about this question, but in a nutshell, I’m not done yet.  As long as I’m drawing breath on this earth I have work to do for the Kingdom and I believe God is using this for my good as well as for the good of others.  My good because my faith has grown so wide and so deep and has been strengthened to depths I never even knew existed.

God decided that I walk through this trial.  I accept that because He is Sovereign.  A constant prayer of mine is that He uses my cancer for good and I do know that other people’s faith has been simultaneously strengthened.  I have had such great encouragement and support from my fellow leaders in BSF, and many of them have told me that I’ve been an inspiration.  To this though I can only smile because I know any strength and determination I have is not from me, but is God’s work in and through me.  ALL the glory goes to Him.

Thanks for all your thoughts and questions!

Until next time!

He is Holy

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We’ve just finished up the study of Revelation through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and I can’t really contain myself.  Firstly, if you’ve never been to a BSF study, and you find yourself a quart low on studying the Bible, get yourself to one (a study of John will begin on September 12)!  BSF headquarters are based in Texas but the study is offered worldwide and over 500,000 people participated in Revelation at the same time.  You can find out more, and where there is a study in your area, here: http://www.bsfinternational.org

I found BSF through a friend who fortunately invited me last year for the study of Moses.  It came at the right time when my educational options were limited in my church and I was desperate for some comprehensive Bible study.  I got just what I needed in BSF.  It’s a long and detailed study that is perfect for delving in deep and hearing volumes from God.  He has taken the time to speak to me in each of the two studies I’ve been involved in and I’ve been thrilled.  You really can’t go wrong when you hear God speak.

This past year God has really been working on me to understand His sanctity and studying Revelation just brought everything to a head.  I was really struck by His unfathomable holiness.  It’s led me to examine how I think about Him and whether I fear Him like I should.  I think it’s easy for us to put God in a human-sized box.  Partly due to our general humanness – He is so vast, we just don’t know how to comprehend Him so we bring Him down to something we can latch onto; and partly due to the songs we sing these days … the Jesus is my pal – type songs.  Well, Jesus may be friendly toward me, but He’s not my pal and I don’t wish to think of Him like that.  He’s my Savior.  My King.  My Lord.  My Judge.  Putting Jesus on a friend level does Him a disservice … it limits him, cheapens Him.  None of my friends can die for my sins.  None of my friends can heal me.  None of my friends can facilitate my eternal life with the Almighty Father.  And, I hate to say this, but sometimes I’m not a very good friend.  I know, hard to believe, right?

God is so far above what we can imagine.

Chip Ingram asked recently on his program ‘Living on the Edge’, “Which Jesus are you worshiping?”  I probably screwed up my face when I heard that line … thinking “wha?”  But as he started explaining I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement.  He asked a pointed question (my paraphrase), “Do you worship the Jesus that walked around Judea with 12 other guys doing miracles here and there, or do you worship the Jesus that was arrested and crucified on a cross, or do you worship Jesus as He is today?”

You see, Jesus as He is today is explained very beautifully in Revelation 1:13-16.  He wears a long robe with a gold sash and has hair white as snow, His eyes are like fire, His feet like burnished bronze, His voice like cascading waters, His face shines like the noon-day sun, and His mouth yields a sharp two-edged sword.  Friends, our Lord Jesus is no longer the God-man who roamed the countryside for three years and He no longer hangs bruised and bloody on a cross.  He is a warrior!  Our warrior!  The Ancient of Days, the Almighty, holy, faithful, true, and the victorious conqueror over evil.

History is good to know to complete the picture of Jesus, but we need to worship Him as He is … today.