Archive for July, 2013

You’re sitting with some friends and one of them tells you that his neck really hurts; do you:

Tell him how much your leg has been bothering you?

Sympathize and ask how he hurt his neck?

Tell him that you’ll pray for him?

Get up and give him a neck rub and quietly pray?

How often do we make the conversation about us?

How often do we offer a hollow “I’ll pray for you” when we’re right there with the ability to be the answered prayer?

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God is real, you can know Him personally and intimately and once you do, there’s more. It’s an eternal pursuit, a perpetual longing so we need never settle into a smug “I’ve got God all figured out” way of living. We can wake up each day eager for what we might be taught from and about Him, eager to share and learn from others. We don’t have to be anxious or fearful just careful that what we teach and discover is consistent with what He’s given us in His Word.

I can’t begin to tell you the hours and hours of angst behind the above paragraph. I know what you’re thinking, “Duh! You say those things all the time.” Lately I’ve been listening to and reading a bunch of different Bible teachers on both sides of the concept of knowing God. Some that tell us God will pick out your clothes for the day and others that say the Bible is the only place you can hear from Him. The one thing they have in common is their insistence that they’re right. Combine that with the crappy way many Christians treat each other plus those on the outside and you have good reason to struggle with some tough questions. The answers to those questions are found in the seeking, urgently needing to hear from God whether it be in His Word, through His people or however He may choose to get through.

All that to say, sometimes it’s good to have what you know challenged in order to dig deeper and know more certainly how much God loves and cares for you. Aw, just read the first paragraph.

There are times in life that God’s voice is louder, when we hear and understand what He’s calling us to more clearly than other times. There is nothing more heartening even though He’s often asking us to join Him in something others won’t understand and that has an uncertain outcome. Scripture is filled with such recounts from Noah to John and it’s wonderful that God desires this same intimacy with each of us. Noah, Abraham and Moses all had to wait decades before they saw God’s promises fulfilled and we shouldn’t expect our impatience to change the circumstances any more than in their cases.

So, it’s extremely important for us to remember and to be reminded of the times we unquestionably heard from God. Our trust is strengthened when we regularly consider God’s calling and our resolve is bolstered when we’re surrounded by folks that love us and help us keep His promise in mind.

Today is the anniversary of such a time for my family and I. Two years ago through various people, scriptures and circumstances we changed our lives to follow what we are certain is God’s best for us. Sarah Young in her book Jesus Calling sums it up well: “I have called you to follow me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover as you walk close to Me, I can bless others through you.”

Thank you for your reminders, encouragement and love. God is so proud of you, we are deeply touched.

One beautiful summer morning a young man awoke early excited to spend some time alone with God. Their time together was out of the ordinary, truly a quiet time not filled with a list of requests but with a heartfelt desire to hear from and join with each other. The young man wanted nothing more than to take his lead from The Lord. God impressed on Him to go into the kitchen and make some sandwiches to take around to homeless folks selling newspapers on street corners around town. He took ten sandwiches and nervously headed out for the day’s adventure.

The young man drove to a busy intersection not far from his house, parked the car nearby and asked God to do something incredible. He got out of the car with a small cooler containing ten sandwiches and ten bottles of water then walked over to an older man with a stack of papers under his arm. The young man introduced himself, offered a sandwich and told the man what brought him there today. The man was fascinated and the two of them exchanged stories for more than twenty minutes. At the end of the conversation the man said he’d asked God just this morning to unquestionably reveal Himself.

Across the intersection was a middle aged woman also selling papers so the young man took her a sandwich and water too. He was still uneasy but very encouraged by the time he’d had with the first man. He once again asked God to stay close and do something amazing. The young man’s time with the woman though different was just as special as the time he’d spent with the older man.

This went on for the rest of the day. The young man had eight more encounters each unique and extraordinary. He was just as moved and heartened through each of the conversations as they had been. Because he was out of his comfort zone, the young man had relied on God for everything that day and upon reflection marveled, eleven lives were touched by a loving, living God and there could be no question that he’d heard from Him.

The next morning was beautiful again; the young man woke up early and went straight to the kitchen to make twenty five sandwiches. He then grabbed a bigger cooler from the garage, put some water and the sandwiches in it and returned to the corner where he’d started yesterday. The folks there were happy to see him; they exchanged hugs, got their sandwiches and briefly reminisced about the day before. He revisited everyone from the previous day and found fifteen additional folks to hand out water and sandwiches to, all were very appreciative.

That night at a gathering of friends the young man told the story from the first day. His friends were touched and had some great ideas about how to do it better. One friend knew someone with a bakery that might be willing to donate bread. And another friend offered to come by in the morning to help make more sandwiches. Each day for the next two weeks the number of sandwiches the young man and his friends made increased. Word spread about the sandwiches, the homeless people and the ministry that took place that first day. Before long they were making over a thousand sandwiches a day, two vans had been donated and when the young man was invited to tell his story people began to send support.

Soon the young man and his friends were able to hire some staff to make and deliver sandwiches. The young man needed to spend his time more efficiently raising awareness and money. The story of the lives that were touched that first day continued to be compelling and a great many people were moved by how clearly he’d heard from God.

But here’s a question for us to ponder, am I racing through life fulfilling the duty God called me to or am I fully engaged in what He’s calling me to join Him in today?

The misunderstanding for the young man in this parable is that he thought God had called him to make sandwiches. It was never about sandwiches; it was always about loving people. That’s what He’s calling us to, daily. Some days there may be sandwiches other days something else. But the most important thing is to take our lead from God. That first day was miraculous because The Lord was leading and the young man was clinging to Him. I wonder what astonishing thing God had for the young man on the second day?

The other day a writer I enjoy named Bob Lefsetz said, “Most of what people say is uninformed crap.” He was referring to the fact that this world now offers unlimited media access to nearly everyone and that you no longer have to be an expert to voice an opinion. At first I mistakenly thought Bob said, “Uniformed crap” at which I was pretty thrilled to find someone that felt as adversely as I do about uniformity.

Each day we get closer and closer to becoming a society with only two opinions. We’re taking all of the world’s issues, bundling them up in two packages and forcing folks to choose one. Compassion for those that are different than we are is becoming increasingly rare. And often our opposition is based on distain for a person rather than the issue at hand. Unfortunately the church is leading the way on this. Becoming an enemy is as easy as asking a question or exploring a different approach. Does this reflect God’s heart towards us as individuals? Does this communicate to the world that we love them despite our differences? Does The Lord want us thinking, acting or being just like everyone else that carries a particular label? The only way to know for sure is to ask Him. It’s essential that we know Him personally and individually, that we allow Him to help our opinions form from hearts like His, not because that’s what everyone else says.

Alas, Mr. Lefsetz didn’t say uniformed, he said uninformed but the more you think about it they’re not that dissimilar.