Faith

You Are Special

You Are Special

Recently i was reintroduced to the children’s book entitled “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. The story is about little wooden people who are called “Wemmicks”. Wemmicks spend their days scurrying about sticking gold stars on those who are pretty and talented, or gray dots on those who make mistakes. But on this particular day in the story, the stickering is all the more important because the Festival is at hand. The envied “Most Stars Award” and the dreaded “Most Dots Award” are about to be given out. Poor Punchinello is sure to be a shoo-in for the Most Dots. But thanks to a new friend, he is about to learn a very important lesson that no matter how others may judge our worth, God cherishes each of us just as we are.

That is a lesson we would all do well to remember. We live in a world that is obsessed with awarding stars and conferring dots, and we distribute them abundantly, utilizing all the means at our disposal. Social media has become our most preferred mode of rendering our judgement of stars or dots to the extent that we judge worth based upon the number of “likes” or “follows”….

Waiting on God

Waiting on God

Through the Lessons Learned In The Wilderness books, God has enabled me to come in contact with many who have found themselves “camped” in the wilderness. Each day i am receiving emails or social media messages from people who are awaiting the fulfillment of a promise that God has given them. Often the comments are shared as a prayer request reflecting a desperation to see God’s answer regarding the healing of a loved one, a needed new job, the pain of a broken relationship, a heart cry to have a child, and much more. In many of those instances the waiting has been going on for months or years, and, in some cases, decades. My prayer list is growing daily with the requests.

Here are just two of those requests: A young woman is currently awaiting visa approval to come join her husband in the U.S. The process continues to lengthen as one hurdle after another has been added. In the meantime, this young couple waits on different continents for the Lord to bring about a swift resolution to their immigration conundrum. 

A family has responded to God’s call to serve Him in another part of the world as tentmakers. “Tentmakers” means that they need to have employment in that new country. For two years they have taken each step that the Lord has placed before them. They got rid of most of their earthly possessions and moved across continents on nothing more than a word from God. Today they shared a praise that they have received a job offer. There are still steps to be taken for everything to be finalized, but this offer is a huge step in that direction. It would appear that after two years their wait may be over. But, in other respects, their journey may have just begun.

Scripture is full of people who were waiting on God.

I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine

Again, this is not the blog that i planned to post this week. My plan has again been redirected by life. Our plans often are. But not to the same degree as the life of another one of my friends. Yesterday, i was with my dear friend Amaury Santos whose wife, Stephanie, passed away last week without any warning due to a sudden heart attack. This was my second time in as many weeks to stand with friends who were walking through that unwelcome experience. Both of these dear women had been in perfect health. Neither of them had shown any previous signs of health issues. Both of them were going about their active lives when death suddenly occurred. Both were living lives of great Kingdom impact, and we would have expected both of them to enjoy many more years of life on this earth ahead. Then in a moment, both had suddenly – and unexpectedly – entered into the presence of the Lord, and their husbands and children had been left to walk through the unwelcome valley of the shadow of death and sorrow.

As I spoke with both of these friends, I told them that “i cannot imagine” the pain and the sorrow they are experiencing. i have not walked that road, and i cannot pretend to understand what they are feeling or experiencing.

Madness or Faith

Madness or Faith

Take your son, your only son — yes, Isaac, whom you love so much — and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you” (Genesis 22:2). If God had not come through and stayed Abraham’s hand, would we consider Abraham to have been a madman or a man of faith? It was not solely Abraham’s action that confirmed his faith; it was also God’s response to Abraham’s faith. 

Fifteen years ago, we were at the edge of being “mad”. In obedience to what my wife and i believed was a word from God, i had, three months earlier, resigned my position from the church staff where i had served for eleven years, but now found myself with no prospects of another position. i had no leads, no money, and bills that were piling up. The only work before me was a writing project that i believed God was directing me to undertake, but it had little prospect of being published. Three months into our journey through this unknown, people were beginning to look at us as if we were mad; and i must confess, i was questioning that as well. Did i really hear God? Was this really what He had told us to do? How far would He let us go? 

Monday Morning

Monday Morning

This is not the blog i intended to post this week. We’ll save that one for another day. But this morning i read a statement by Henry Blackaby: “Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere, at any time, under any condition?

On Monday morning two good friends awoke together, just as they had for over thirty-five years of Monday mornings. They probably walked through their typical morning routines then headed off in their respective directions as they followed Jesus in pursuit of all that was in store for the day. Little did they know the turns the day would take.

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?

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)….

Come to the "Alter"

Come to the "Alter"

Last weekend, i received an email inviting people to come to the “alter” to pray on Sunday. My first reaction was – don’t you just love the way that “spell check” often changes a word to something we did not intend? Sometimes that change can be somewhat embarrassing, and sometimes it can change the whole meaning of what we intended to say. In this case, it was a “malapropism” – a word that sounds the same, but has a very different meaning. But as i thought about this one for a moment, i began to become convicted that maybe the words “altar” and “alter” actually have a great similarity in their meaning….