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Archive for August, 2010

About a year and half ago, I was reading in Jeremiah and wrote this piece. In light of his speach on Saturday, I thought it was worth posting again.

Jeremiah 5

Reading Jeremiah reminds me a little of listening to Glenn Beck.

Jer. 5:12, 13 They have lied about the Lord; they said, ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them.’

Jer. 5:24, 25 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God who gives us spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.

Jer. 5:31 The prophets prophecy lies and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?

I’m convinced the saddest part for God, in His reaching the point that judgment becomes necessary, is His understanding of the good of which our sins have deprived us. Even when we just fall a little short, we sometimes think God is just waiting to hammer us; nothing could be further from the truth.

Blatant disregard was the case here, not shortcomings. Shortcomings will not bring God’s judgment, but they can keep us from His good. As it takes blatant disregard to bring judgment, I believe it takes blatant (brazenly obvious) regard to experience the good He has planned for our lives.

There is a middle of the road limbo where we do neither. We may not go wholly after our sinful cravings, but neither do we go wholly after God. We neither enjoy the pleasures of sin nor God’s goodness. It is a most unfortunate place to be.

God is not waiting to hammer us for our wrongs, He is longing for us to experience the good He has for us. Help me oh Lord to not be distracted that I might go wholly after You, for only then will I experience the good You have planned for me.

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I had a piece I had written that I was looking forward to posting this morning. But that was before last night happened. Last night was jail ministry night; it went pretty well. I thought it would be better to describe the evening.

In my study of the writings of Luke I had written a couple of pieces, When Jesus Passes By, and Stopping to Even the Odds. In my preparation for the evening, I felt I was supposed to talk about those two stories. As I was reviewing them, something stood out about the pair – a distinction I had not previously noticed.

In When Jesus Passes By a blind beggar is sitting by the roadside when Jesus and the crowd that followed was passing by. When the blind beggar found out that it was Jesus, he called out. Because he called out and would not stop calling out, Jesus stopped. I emphasized the point that we all know Jesus is what we need . . . if He would just pass by – if He would just stop when He does.

But in the other story, Stopping to Even the Odds, Jesus stops to heal a man who was mute – a man who couldn’t call out. It says that Jesus drove out a demon that was mute. Though we may not be mute, our enemy can use things in life to keep us from calling out. Maybe we’ve called out before and He didn’t help.

In the same setting, Jesus talks about a man who was once strong who guarded and protected his house until one that was stronger attacked and overpowered him. I believe the man who was mute was once a strong man that was attacked and overpowered. Jesus stopped to even the odds.

I asked the guys how far back they had to go to remember a time when they were strong – before they were overpowered. I told them that Jesus wanted to stop and even the odds – that He wanted to open their eyes so they could see – that He wanted to drive out a few demons so they could call out to Him.

Several stood. One in particular told how the stories fit his situation perfectly. He said he felt like we had come just for him. Last night he was able to see. Last night he called out. He had never done that before. Another rededicated himself to God. I sensed many were encouraged.

Isn’t God just too cool?

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It was the third day since Jesus’ death. The Eleven and others were together, wondering about and discussing all that had happened and what it might mean to them. Things did not work out like they had thought. A few days earlier they were wondering about their position in the new kingdom. For the past three, they had been worrying about their position in the present one.

We have the written record of what they were about to discover. So now we too can wonder about what our position will be in His kingdom. But we can also still find ourselves thinking, as they did, that He is no longer alive, thinking that our hope has been in vain. When what we thought might happen doesn’t, when there has been no good evidence that He is still alive, we can doubt just as they did.

When some of the women, early that morning, went to where they thought Jesus was, they went wishing He was alive but believing He was dead. I’ve done that. Sometimes I catch myself thinking He is not really alive; wishing He was, wishing He would show up, but with no evidence to the contrary, I struggle with doubt.

But the women went. And in their going and seeking, they were the first to find that He was alive. Every group must have someone in it that will go anyway, that will seek until they discover for themselves that He is still alive. When the women found that He was alive, they hurried back to the group and told them what they had found. Though most did not believe, two (Peter and John) believed just enough to go searching for themselves; and they too discovered He was alive.

This group, who began the day thinking Jesus was not alive – all because a few women went seeking anyway – went from worry to wonder again. Later that day, two from the group would be walking home, wondering about and discussing all that had happened that day. Because someone found that Jesus was alive and then told what they had found, faith and hope were stirred. In this atmosphere of stirred up faith, Jesus, who was very much alive, showed up.

In this atmosphere of stirred up faith, they became witnesses of what they saw. They did not have to be prodded and coaxed to witness, they could not hold it in. The church and the world are in desperate need of some who have discovered for themselves that Jesus is still alive.

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The economy has changed our way of living. We do less and have less than we did when times were good, but somehow we lack nothing and are richer than we ever have been. Life on the edge can be exciting in more ways than one. It is a great place from which to see God do some pretty cool stuff, but occasionally I still wish we were a little further away from the edge.

A week or so ago as I approached my praying time, a part of me wanted to pray for the Lord to provide our needs. The more I thought about it, they were really our wants; as legitimate as they were, they were still wants. I had prayed for them before (hoping to get a little further away from the edge) but God has always chosen instead to ‘dole’ out His provision. So instead, I asked the Lord for whatever He would gladly give.

I recently started a jail ministry with a friend of mine who has been doing it for years. The last couple of weeks the Lord has blessed me with an ability to express verbally, what I have only before been able to express in writing. I have sensed His help as never before. Last night, as the evening seemed to be going very well, at the end, 3 guys decided they wanted to be a Christian. I believe the Lord gladly gave us last night.

Lately as I have prayed, overall, instead of praying for our need/wants, I have had the sense that nothing is too hard for Him. If He wanted to lift us away from the edge He could. The day that I was tempted to pray for it and didn’t, I later had this thought about it. I had wanted to pray for things that I might be secure. Later that day I remembered, ‘I have Him who owns all things’.

It is one thing for us guys to live on the edge. We can handle it. But for the sake of a wife and family, we desire for them the security they long for. There is that ying and yang—trusting and hoping that we can’t completely shake. We are all learning. We are all so much further along in trusting than we ever were. My wife amazes me sometimes. Sometimes she is the strong one.

We received a card a couple of days ago that will likely settle next to one we have had on display now for about 3 years. The cover of the 3 year old card reads: ‘When God closes one door, He opens another’. Inside is the tagline, ‘But it’s hell in the hallway’.

The one we just got is as if God Himself wrote just for us. On the cover . . .
The source of your strength is His strength.
The focus of your faith is His faithfulness.
The source of your security is His everlasting love.
Inside . . .
Gen. 18:4 Is anything too hard for the Lord?
and . . .
The provision for the need you face will be met through His incredible resources.

His resources are truly endless. I believe He delights to give to those who trust Him.

Thanks Deb for the card.

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Truth

The crowd was strong in Jesus’ day;
they pressed to hear what He would say.

They heard the truth, so clear He spoke;
soothing sound since the church was broke.

Sure there were some who weren’t that enthused;
the truth that He taught, had long been unused.

But too there were some who believed when they heard.
It says that ‘they hung on His every word’.

In the vacuum of truth, the soul restless grows;
a longing compels to know what He knows.

So Lord help us first, to see what You see;
and then to convey, what You meant to be.

Help us lift truth amid all that is wrong,
for some to believe, for all who do long.

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