Monthly Archives: March 2014

Just do it…

I remember when Daniel was a little boy. I gave him $5.00 to run up to the concession stand at the ballgame and get himself a hot dog and coke. It was a really tight score and I didn’t want to miss a play! His older brother, David, was sitting on the other side of me; and Daniel, holding the money in his hand, hesitated. At the age of 6, he was uncertain about going up the bleachers alone. I tapped David on the leg and instructed him to go with Daniel.

“Daniel, it’ll be ok. David will go too. Don’t be afraid. It’s ok,” I assured him.

In Judges 7:10, God is instructing Gideon in similar fashion. He has asked Gideon to go into the camp for him but Gideon is afraid. God tells him, “But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp.”

Sometimes, God asks us to do something; maybe move to a new city; change careers; have another child; go on a mission trip; start school; and we know we hear God but we’re afraid to do it. Being afraid is OK; in fact, God understands that we are apprehensive. If we were all confident and strong-headed, we couldn’t rely on Him, now could we?

The key is, when we are afraid to do it, we need to do it anyway. I guess you could say, we need to just do it afraid; because we know who is guiding us. Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Knowing who is fighting for you is just as important as what you are fighting about. When faced with an overpowering armed force, Elisha’s servant called out in fear, 2 Kings 6:17, “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 

Whether He is asking you to deliver a message for Him or fight a battle, God will not only provide all that you need, He will go before you, beside you, and behind you. He’ll give you the words you need to speak; He’ll give you the courage and boldness; and He’ll give you the tools to do it. What you have to do, is do it. Even if you are afraid…

What can we do while we are waiting?

When the kids were younger, Connie was so great at entertaining them when we had to wait – doctor’s office, lines to see movies, or rooms when I had meetings. She could occupy them with so many different thoughts or activities that waiting was never an issue. I would hear her say, “What can we do while we are waiting?” The choices seemed endless as the kids would offer suggestions. I often think about those times when I am waiting on God.

I heard it said once that God is the author of novels – not short stories. And while there are moments in the Bible when the answer came swiftly and instantly, there are more times when the answer from God required extensive waiting. Things can happen rapidly with God – He created the entire universe in a week – but in most cases, life events usually take time; more time than we want to experience.

Certainly, God could wrap-up the stories of our lives in an hour or two, but would we really want that to happen? No, I think God is the type of author who sets the perfect scene. He develops His characters fully and the plots have intricate details. He takes the characters of His story (i.e. – you and me) through many twists and turns; changing and growing them; making them into interesting, loving, strong beings. The best part for me in having God write my story is I know the ending will be unbelievable, a “blow-me-out-of-the-water” type finale.

So, what do we do while we’re waiting to finish the book?

We enjoy every chapter with Him, knowing the current scenario is taking us to an ending far better than we could ever write ourselves.

The true nature of the heart

Psalm 37, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.”

Sometimes we have to choose between what is right and the desire of our heart. God tells us in Psalm 37, when we walk in His way, He will bless us with the desires of our heart.

Taken from Max Lucado, this story is a perfect example of choosing what is right.

The Pen Pal

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through  Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew,  but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. His interest in  her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library.

Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the  words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The  soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.  In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name,  Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address.  She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself  and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas  for service in World War II.

During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other  through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart.  A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she  refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what  she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 PM at the Grand Central  Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the  red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.”

So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart  he loved, but whose face he’d never seen. I’ll let Mr. Blanchard  tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim.  Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her  eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness,  and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I  started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not  wearing a rose.

As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. “Going  my way, sailor?” she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made  one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was  standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40,  she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than  plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes.

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her,  and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had  truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood.  Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes  had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers  gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was  to identify me to her.

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which  I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the  woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness  of my disappointment. “I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you  must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I  take you to dinner?”

The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in  the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose  on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I  should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big  restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!”

It’s not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell’s wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

Jesus is working to bring you back

Luke 15:3-7, “Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

If you are a Star Trek fan like me,  you will remember Spock’s infamous words to Captain Kirk when he sacrificed himself to save their spaceship The Enterprise,  “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one.” Spock rescued the space ship from imminent destruction but as a result, lost his life.

Henry Spencer and Charles Darwin suggested that the fittest humans will rise to the top through natural selection. The weaker human beings would not prevail. Evolutionist push the idea that only the dominant survive.

But Jesus, He was all about the one.

At times in our lives, we are the one sheep, separated from the group, alone, hurt, grieving, confused, and abandoned. And He comes after us. It seems a bit strange to imagine that God is more concerned with one sinner than over ninety-nine people who do not need to repent. The more sensible route would be to let the one go and focus on the 99. That is probably what you and I would do. But our God is a relentless Savior. That’s what sets Him apart from the gods man has manufactured or the demons of this world. Have you ever asked yourself, why He saves?

Simply, it brings Him joy. He rejoices in our return to Him for His love for us is deeper than we can comprehend.

Psalm 139:7-12, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed  in the depths,  you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

So, are you the one? Are you lost and alone? Be assured, Jesus is working to bring you back to His flock. There is nowhere you can hide from His presence. There is nowhere you can go that He will not seek you out. There is nothing you can do to keep Him from finding you.

Psalm 16

Psalm 16:

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.  I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods  or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;  you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;  even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I love this Psalm by David. It says so much about out Father’s love for us. From the very first words, we are assured, like a child, that God will keep us safe from harm. You may be the richest man on the earth, but if you do not have God, you have nothing good. It doesn’t matter what you have or what you do, if God isn’t in your life, it isn’t good.

In today’s society, there are many gods to worship: money, games, material possessions, careers, and so much more. Many of us put our hopes in those fleeting things. Worshipping those things will only cause you to suffer more and more. David tells God, he will not worship other gods, but the Lord alone is his security.

When rough times threaten your peace, it is God who will take you up under His wing and give you the strength to endure. Money isn’t the answer. A new house isn’t the answer. A new car isn’t going to get it for you. Only the name of God should come for your lips.

Our portion (our inheritance) is drawn up by God. Our cup (our destiny) is planned out by God. He assigns them because He is in complete control of both. God makes known our paths for life and if we allow Him, He will see us through to the very end.

Set the Lord before you today. Remember who is your right hand and walk confidently that you will not be shaken.

God’s protection of you

A complex anatomical device, the human eye is a remarkable, architectural wonder of our body. It gives us the ability to see by refracting light and producing a focused image that stimulates a neural response. It is probably one of the most protected parts of our body by eyebrows, eyelashes, eyelids, and blinking. Our reflexes involuntarily react to anything that threatens our eyes, from dust particles to flying objects.

In every day life, we use references to the eye or pupil to indicate characteristics of our lives:

“She is the apple of his eye” indicates the importance of one person to another. “The movie was a real ‘eye-opener’ for me” indicates that we learned something from an experience. “Keep your eye on the ball” indicates caution in focusing on detail. “He really has an eye for it” indicates a person’s ability to do something well.

The eye is also an indicator in wisdom or ignorance:

“I see what you mean” expresses understanding. “Hind-sight is 20/20” is an expression used after something happens in our lives; if we had just known a particular thing, we could’ve changed the outcome. “He turned a blind eye” expresses when someone ignored something. “Due to an oversight” is used when we forget something. “To oversee a project” is to be in charge of it.

Psalm 17:8, “Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

We are like ‘eyes’ to God and He guards us with great care. He is as protective of His people as we are of our eyes. In Zechariah 2:8, “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you – for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye’ -“ In those words, I feel the protection of God. I feel the wall of fire around me; I feel the power of His reflexes; I know I am protected from evil.

We are given a divine guardianship. Think today on God’s protection of  you.  It is far more than you could ever imagine. Understand that wherever you go, He is with you. In a 16 hour day (the time you are awake) you will blink probably an estimated 15,000 times – that’s around once every five seconds. Consider as you move around throughout the day, God is covering you like a blink of the eye.

As a young boy my grandmother would tell me, “God will always rescue you, Michael, either here on earth or in the heavens. You do not ever need to be afraid.”

How to become a good neighbor

In today’s world, I don’t know if there is anything more pertinent than our reaching out to our neighbors with the love of Christ.

Mark 12:28-31, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Sometimes it can be confusing. Who exactly is our neighbor? And is it really possible to love our neighbor as ourself?

Steps to becoming a Good Neighbor:

1. Loving our neighbor means putting our needs aside.

When we love our neighbor as we should, we are showing a selfless act, an admittance that demonstrates divine love in ways nothing else can. Showing love to our neighbor is the best example of Godliness there is. When Jesus came to walk with us here on earth, He came as a servant to all mankind. We, in turn, are to be servants to others, demonstrating a Godly love. Whether or not the person to whom you are showing love accepts it or not, it is still our responsibility and duty as Godly people.

2. Who is our neighbor in God’s eyes?

When Jesus was asked this question, He told the story of the Good Samaritan. Once I heard a story of a Sunday School teacher who asked a group of Third Graders what they would do if they saw a person on the road beaten and bloodied. After some thought, a little girl raised her hand and responded, “I would probably throw-up!” And the Good Samaritan might have felt that way too, but he helped the man anyway. A neighbor is anyone close by to where you are. Regardless of how we feel, God asks us to demonstrate His love to them.

3. Love is the greatest witness of Christ.

Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:15, “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”