A Walk Like Enoch's

A Walk Like Enoch's

This week in my quiet time, i have been reading the short epistle of Jude. It’s only one chapter and only contains twenty-five verses. i think i have too frequently breezed through it in the past. But this time the Lord told me to slow down and walk with His servant Enoch. In Jude 14-15, we read “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness….”

That got me to thinking about Enoch. There are only two people of whom i am aware who never experienced death. One was Elijah, and we read that he was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). The other was Enoch, and apparently, at one moment, he “was” and then, in the next moment, he “was not” because “God took him” (Genesis 5:24). i have often thought that if i could be anyone in the Bible, i’d like to be Enoch. Not because he didn’t pass through death (though that would be an added benefit), but because of the walk he had with God. When i picture Enoch’s walk with God, i don’t picture him as struggling or striving in that walk. i picture him as walking peacefully and contentedly in stride with his Creator. What was his secret? How did he find that stride?

Lord, What About Him (or Her)?

Lord, What About Him (or Her)?

Several years ago i participated in a wilderness safety, survival and security training in the mountains of Idaho with about thirty other people. Though i didn’t know most of the folks going into the training, a shared experience like that creates a bond that sticks with you for the rest of your lives. Two of those folks – a husband and wife – and i were teamed together for several of the exercises. They – like the rest – will forever hold a special place in my heart. Over the years since then, i have seen God use this couple – Steve and Laura – in phenomenal ways in the advancement of the message of the Good News across the globe. He has ordered their steps and worked through them to have eternal impact for the Kingdom. In the midst of that activity, Steve was diagnosed with liver cancer. In recent months, he has been in and out of the hospital – more in than out. The physical battle is intense – and while we pray for healing, we pray for grace and strength, and restorative rest in the midst of the battle. i am mindful that one of their prayer requests is that God would grant Steve the time on this side of glory to finish the work that He has placed before him. (i would ask you to join with many throughout the world who are interceding on behalf of this dear couple and their family.)

 

In times like these, we tend to want to ask God, why them?

Hold On

Hold On

i don’t know about you, but i am a wimp when it comes to pain. When i go to the dentist, Novocaine is my best friend! i recently had surgery on my eyes and the surgeon asked me if i would like to stay awake, or if i would prefer to be put to sleep. He asked me the question in a way that clearly communicated his view that a manly man would stay awake. But i failed to be intimidated – i told him i would enjoy the good sleep! i mean, if i can sleep and avoid the pain and discomfort, why not? Given the choice to go through pain and suffering or not, why would i? Every part of my being screams that pain and suffering is to be avoided at all cost.

That’s not only true for physical pain, but also for emotional or relational pain….

Tremble

Tremble

A few years ago, my wife and i found ourselves in the midst of a gathering of twenty-four worship leaders that God is using, not only to lead their local fellowships in worship, but also the greater body of Christ through the worship songs they are composing. On one particular night, we were all led in the darkness through a wooded area to a room that was away from the main campus where we were meeting. The intent was that we would experience a taste of the daily lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters in many parts of the world who need to gather in secret to worship. The evening was facilitated by good friends – Nik and Ruth Ripken.

As the evening went on, Nik shared the testimonies of men and women that God has permitted him to meet – testimonies of God’s mercy and grace in the midst of persecution. Nik explained that each one of these men and women had a heartsong – a song that God had stamped in their hearts. It was a song of God’s faithfulness, His goodness and His grace….

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

It was Wednesday, January 19, 1977 and it was snowing. Now that doesn’t seem very unexpected unless you are in West Palm Beach or Miami, Florida or Nassau, in the Bahamas! It had never snowed in that part of the world before then, as best anyone knows, and it hasn’t snowed there since. My wife and i remember the day well. Traffic virtually came to a standstill, and people stopped wherever they were in order to turn their heads toward the sky. What was this foreign substance falling to earth? I remember trying to catch a few snowflakes on my tongue. Bear in mind, i don’t think any snowflakes actually made it to the ground! The snowbirds who had come to Florida to escape the snow indeed felt cheated, but the natives were simply amazed. 

A story is told that early in 1976 while the political campaigns for the U.S. presidency were underway, Jimmy Carter was considered by many to be a long shot for the Democratic nomination. As the story goes, a radio talk show pundit, Neal Boortz, was conducting an on-air interview and asked his guest about Mr. Carter’s chances of being elected. The guest replied that it was highly unlikely, and to add emphasis said, “It will snow in Nassau before Jimmy Carter is sworn in as President of the United States!” By the way, President Carter was sworn in as our 39thPresident on Thursday, January 20, 1977. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?!?

But, as i think of that day, i am reminded that our God is the Master of the unexpected – not only with snowflakes in South Florida – but in much greater and much more significant ways….

No Longer Slaves

No Longer Slaves

Every one of us at some point in our lives have found ourselves caught “between a rock and a hard place”. We didn’t expect to be caught there. We were just walking along on our “merry way”, doing what we thought we were supposed to be doing… and wham – we were diagnosed with a fatal or debilitating illness – or unexpectedly we just lost our job – or we’ve just experienced the loss of a loved one – or some other traumatic or tragic event has taken place in our lives. And in addition to the severe loss we have experienced, we have no idea where or how we are supposed to go forward from here. Then, sometime after the grief and the pain have settled in, fear begins to take over….

Last Words for a New Year

Last Words for a New Year

Typically, at the start of a new year, we talk about new beginnings, new resolutions and new goals. But this week, i want us to look at some important “last words”. Last words are those definitive pronouncements that one makes as he/she is coming to the end of a journey. Most often, it is the journey of life, and death is approaching. But in other instances, it can occur at the end of one’s tenure of leadership or mission, just prior to one’s departure – or – when one is preparing to depart for an extended journey or mission of uncertain outcome. Most often, they are words to inspire us or encourage us, as we continue on in our respective journey. They can be words that summarize the truths they have learned, the experiences they have had, or the feelings they have. They can be words of wisdom, blessing, love or appreciation. Regrettably, they can sometimes be words that tear down or curse. But regardless of their intent, they are often the most remembered words that the person has ever spoken to us. 

 

i often think back to the last conversation that i had with my dad before he passed away – a very real conversation about life and death. He taught me – and modeled – many things over the years – but i am often reminded of his authenticity and transparency – and the moment we shared – in those last words. i am also mindful of the last words of challenge i received from one of my mentors, just prior to his retirement. Those words have often encouraged me to persevere in the midst of tough times….

An Abiding Truth

An Abiding Truth

Several years ago, a few friends and i were making a trek through a city in China. Some of our group were from the US, and some lived in that city. Our Chinese friends were giving the rest of us a guided tour of some of their favorite sites. Along the way, we stopped at an art shop that had beautiful, colorful sketches hanging on the walls. And most of the sketches included a word of wisdom that was also penned on the canvas. We came upon one that was a beautiful drawing of a grapevine with clusters of grapes. i asked one of our friends to translate the words that were inscribed beside the drawing. She read, “I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit, but without Me you can do nothing.” She was speaking the exact same words that Jesus had spoken to His disciples in a vineyard one night. She was reading an important truth that Jesus taught His disciples just minutes before His arrest. He wanted them to remember who He was, who they were and what their purpose was….

Christmas From The Beginning

Christmas From The Beginning

The Christmas journey with the Master in some respects is a journey that has no beginning, because in the beginning He was. He was with God. He was God. He was the Creator of all things and in Him and for Him were all things created. He was Life and from Him life was given. He was Light and from Him light was given to the world. He was Light and through Him darkness was extinguished. He always was, and He forever will be. 

Though He has no beginning, through Him was the beginning and in Him is the beginning. Through Him the world was created. Through Him the world was redeemed. Through Him the world was given the right to become children of God. He always was, and He forever will be.

Jesus was the Word of God. Jesus was the Truth of God. Jesus was the glory of God. Jesus was the love of God. Jesus was the faithfulness of God. He always was, and He forever will be.

However, the Christmas journey with the Master in other respects is a journey that does have a beginning - not a beginning for Him, but a beginning for us….

Run, Don't Walk - A Christmas Story

Run, Don't Walk - A Christmas Story

Over the years, there have been a number of movies and songs entitled “Walk, Don’t Run”. But my most vivid recollections of that expression are from my childhood. i remember hearing it from teachers and my parents as they cautioned me to slow down and pay attention to where i was going, so i didn’t trip and fall. But today, i am mindful that two thousand years ago, there was a group of shepherds who were told to do just the opposite.

God will never lead us on a journey that does not bring glory to His Name. He has purposed to draw all men, all tongues, all tribes and all peoples to Himself that we might glorify Him. He sent Jesus to pay the price and make the way. And He has sent us, that we might join Him in His global mission. Jesus began His own incarnational journey by stepping from heaven to earth. And if we desire to walk with Him, we must in turn step from where we are to journey with Him. 

The first men to take that step after Jesus came to earth were the shepherds (Luke 2)….