10.20.2013

Quote.

"It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, 
even when we have no strength to hold Him." 
- John Piper

10.15.2013

He will be the same tomorrow.

We continue to work through the Psalms on Sunday mornings as a church body, and a few weeks ago we studied Psalm 27.  The focus of the Psalm is faith - David trusting God to deliver him because he has seen God work in the past and believes He will work again in the future.

We paused there to look at the WHY.  Why was David able to have such confidence in the Lord? Why was he able to trust so easily - to have such peace while being tormented by his enemies?

Psalm 77 gives a descriptive testimony of how David came to have an unwavering confidence in the Lord.

cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will ponder all Your work,
    and meditate on Your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    You have made known Your might among the peoples.  
                                                 Psalm 77

David had confidence in God because he REMEMBERED who God was.

When we remember who our God is
what He has done
how He has proven faithful
answered prayer
provided for us
healed us
restored and forgiven us ...
we can stand secure knowing that He is still that God!

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What He did before - He will do again.

Our
God
does
not
change.

My church journal entry for that day is filled with notes like this one ...

REMEMBER!!!

The entire sermon was fantastic. The truths about faith and trust were poignant reminders to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, rather than what is happening around us.

It was the part about ‘remembering’ that resonated so deeply with me.  I thought about it all day, and when Dennis and the kids left for a few hours later that evening, I sat down with paper and pen and literally walked through my entire life ... starting as early as I could remember ... writing down every good thing the Lord has done for me.  I filled pages.  

The funny thing is ... when you look for the good, you often have to take a peek at the bad.  We cannot recognize the blessings, especially the smallest ones, unless we remember what we were saved from ... how He spared us ... how He sustained us in the dark moments.  When the people of Scripture set up pillars and altars, they were not always remembering moments of pure rejoicing.  They were mixed with mourning a past ... the pain of sin ... the consequence of disobedience.  But then the Lord rescued, restored, and redeemed them, and they wanted to remember His goodness – forever.
It was a wonderful exercise.  A difficult exercise.  But in the end, after walking through childhood, the teen years, early marriage, children, and ministry – I can see the perfect outline of the Lord’s workings in my life with great clarity and detail.  Even seeing how the things He allowed and rescued me from as a child prepared me for where He has me right now.  And though I would not have willingly chosen some of the trials or the heartache, I can honestly and sincerely praise Him for ALL of it - because good or bad, painful or joyous, my God is my God - faithful, just, loving, compassionate, patient, long-suffering, and gracious.

I know who my God is - who He has always been - and I can trust Him with every unknown because

He will still be the same God tomorrow.

10.10.2013

Safe and secure in His love.


As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

Last night, as I was walking down the hall to say goodnight to the little boys, I heard Dennis praying with Ellie.  I peeked into her room and saw this image ... Dennis on his knees, bending over her little body, their arms wrapped tightly around each other as He prayed for our daughter.

I had to capture the moment.

I love everything about this photo.  The crazy, bright pillowcase, the messy table in the back, the outlet on the wall ...
Ellie's curls, her little arm curling around Dennis, the expression on his face, his hand over her head like a protective covering.

Everything about this photo makes me feel happy.  Secure.  Thankful.

Dennis loves his daughter.  He adores her.  He will protect her.  Fight for her.  He would die for her.  Because Ellie is HIS.

When I first saw this photograph it struck me how much this must look like the Lord when He is ministering to us.

Dennis was not standing in the doorway, bellowing out a prayer, and waving good night to our daughter.  He was purposeful.  Personal.  Intimate.
He chose to go to her room.  To enter in.  To put himself at her level, arms around her, holding her tightly as he offered a prayer to God on her behalf.

Does not God do the same for us?
Does He not make Himself available?
Waiting patiently for us to come and sit with Him?
Offer us rest?
Let us cling to Him when are hurting or fearful?
Fix His gaze on us so we can focus on Him and find confidence and strength in His power and might?
Does He not embrace us with tenderness and compassion to encourage us and give us the energy to keep moving forward?
Intercede for us before the Father so we might stand blameless before Him?

What a wonderful thing it is that our Heavenly Father loves us with an all consuming love that allows us to feel safe and secure when we willingly sit under the protection of His sovereignty and grace.
As a father shows compassion to his children, 
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.

10.09.2013

Our God is still BIG.

As you know, I do not partake in any kind of political discussion/debate/bashing on this blog.  I firmly believe the truth of Scripture that says God places each ruler on the throne - either for blessing or judging a nation.  We may be a democratic country with the right to vote, but make no mistake!  The God of heaven and earth chose our current leadership - and He did so with a purpose.  We need not fear - we need not go crazy with frustration and anger - we need not rant and rave and wonder "what is going on?!?!"

We KNOW what is going on.  'Nothing is new under the sun' as Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes.  As in the days of Noah, and in the days of the judges, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes."  People, leaders, and governments have been corrupt, evil, arrogant, and self-serving since the moment satan seduced Eve.  America is a nation that does not fear God.  We have compromised and sat in silence while the enemy worked quietly in the dark ... twisting hearts and corrupting minds ... and now, we are paying the consequences of our weakness and unwillingness to stand up for what is right - to stand up for what is godly.

Every generation has proved arrogant.  Ignoring threats that caused a little spark here and there because "that will never go anywhere - no one would allow it!"  But there is always someone who allows it.  The enemy has his people in places of power just as the Lord does.  And he never grows weary of making them do his bidding.

But guess what?  We have a God, THE ONE TRUE GOD, who not only never grows weary, but will one day destroy the enemy, and reign over this earth in perfect splendor with all authority! EVERY knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ IS Lord, and the whole earth will see His glory - and know that HE IS GOD.

America is a mess.  But what nation has not been so?  America was born because people were fleeing the tyranny and persecution of other lands.  Did we really think Americans would not compromise?  That we would not forget our past?  Where we came from?  The Israelites forgot what God had done just weeks after witnessing a major miracle!  We get so frustrated with them when we read those accounts, don't we?  And yet the truth is - we are looking at our own reflection in the mirror!!!!

We, too, forget who our God is.
We forget His character.
We forget His demand for obedience - in all things.
We compromise in the small areas until it becomes easy to compromise in the large.
We whine and complain that things are not as we want them, instead of giving thanks "in all things."
We participate in the things of the world and wonder why we are discontent.
We bow down to other gods - sports, fashion, music, entertainment, technology, physical vanity, and wealth.
We question God.
We give excuses why we cannot be in the Word and prayer every day, and then wonder why we do not feel close to God and cannot find peace or contentment.
We respond in anger and frustration in response to our government, even though we refused to vote, make phone calls, and stand up to say NO when it could have made a difference.

We are reaping what we have sown.

And for one reason and one reason only:  We have forgotten our God.

The God who created the universe with a word.
The God who parted the Red Sea to protect His people from Pharaoh.
The God who spared Joseph from his brother's wrath.
Protected Daniel in the lion's den, and Shad, Rach and Ben from the fiery furnace.
The God who let nations repent, and be spared.
Made the lame walk and the blind see.
Calmed the storms of a raging sea.
Raised people from the dead.
Died, and ROSE AGAIN, crushing the power of death.

Our God is the SAME yesterday, today, and forever.
He does not change.
He cannot lie.
He always forgives when we repent and turn our face from evil.
His mercies are always knew.
He is faithful.
Tender.
Compassionate.
And loving.

We have to REMEMBER!  We have to cling to the God we know.  He is just as faithful now as He was in the days of Abraham .. Isaac ... Noah ... Daniel and David.  He is the same God!

"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  
Psalm 46:10

But there is another part of God's character that we tend to forget, or rarely choose to think on, because it is uncomfortable.  Even scary.  The God of the universe is JUST.  He is RIGHTEOUS. He hates sin, and He punishes disobedience.

Our God flooded the entire earth because of a wicked generation.
He wiped out entire cities because they worshiped other gods.
He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin.
He sent plague upon plague to destroy Egypt, and the house of Pharaoh because he refused to submit to God.
He made Nebuchadnezzar into a human lawnmower for seven years.
Generational cursing pervaded the family lines of kings and priests because of their godless disobedience.
He killed Ananias and Sapphira instantly when they were caught in their lies.

God holds His people accountable.
He holds nations accountable.

We serve, love, and worship an amazing God who designed this world with a word from His mouth, and sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins.
We serve, love, and worship a God who is righteous and just, and punishes the sin and iniquity of people who refuse to bend their knee and submit to His holiness.

America is no longer a nation that fears God.  We care more about our happiness, our pocketbook, and our freedom to do-what-we-want-to-do-when-we-want-to-do-it than we care about thanking and praising a God who brought us to a free land where we could worship Him without fear.

Until America, its leaders and its people, is willing to bend its knee to the God of heaven and earth, we will continue to emulate the days of Noah and the judges ... when everyone does what is right in their own eyes.  And Christian, we cannot look like them!  We MUST be different.  We must say NO to culture and YES to Jesus Christ - in all things, no matter the cost.

And we must pray.  Our God is STILL BIG.  And He is powerful enough to change the hearts of an entire nation to know, love, and follow HIM.

... if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  II Chronicles 7:14

10.04.2013

In honor of a friend who will soon see the face of God.

my brother in Christ,

today you were told you are dying
you have been dying for months
cancer has been growing inside of you, devouring your body
you get treatments
take prescriptions
you keep working
going to church
eating
talking to friends
encouraging the brethren
being intimate with your wife
laughing
sleeping
reading
watching your favorite sports teams

all the while
you know you are dying

you keep fighting
trying anything that might prolong your days
even though you know the Lord has already determined your final day, your final moment, and has a purpose for your life ending sooner than anyone expected or desired

you hear the words you have been hoping would never come
"you only have a few days to live"

you believe the doctor, but your will-to-live screams, "He is WRONG!!!  I'm not ready to go!
and yet you say, "Not my will, Lord, but Thine be done."

you look at your wife
your children
you imagine your daughters walking down the aisle
your son throwing his first touchdown pass
your grandchildren

but the Lord keeps pulling your thoughts toward heaven

what will it be like?
will I see His face the moment I take my final breath?
will everything be revealed to me?
does heaven look like what I have always imagined in my mind?
will I remember my earthly life?
will I still have emotion in heaven?
will I literally praise God all day long, or will I also get to roam the golden streets and talk with saints of old?

O, Lord ...

I want to see Your face
I want to hear Your voice
I want to know what angels really look like
hear their voices raised in hymns of praise and adoration
I want to be whole again, without pain, without sadness or fear

but, Lord ...

my family
my beautiful wife
my children
my parents
my friends
how I love them!  I cling to this earth because of them, even while I long to see You.
how do I let go?
how do I say goodbye?
what do they need to hear from me - the words they will remember forever - what should they be?

your only desire is to hold them
touch them
smell them
hear their laughter
see their smiles
listen to them talk
encourage them in the Lord
pray with them
protect them from the sorrow that is to come

but the Lord says,

"Trust Me, son.  I know what I am doing, and I have already prepared a way for each of them.  I will never leave them.  I will wipe away every tear and destroy every fear that threatens to overpower them.  When they are weak, My strength will double.  When they are aching with grief, my compassion will consume them.  When they feel like they cannot go on, I will scoop them up in My arms and carry them as far as they need to go.
It's okay, son.
You have loved them with a faithful, loyal, tender, strong, compassionate love all of your days.
You have done well.
And now ...

it is time to come HOME."

JOY in the body of Christ.


One of my girls brought me these lovely flowers for my birthday.  Don't you feel happy just looking at them!?

A beautiful and touching letter accompanied her gift with a wonderful quote inside of it:

May you have ...
the wisdom of Solomon
the faith of Abraham
the tenacity of Jacob
the devotion of David
the kindness of Dorcas
the determination of Noah
the patience of Sarah
the confidence of Paul
the loyalty of Uriah
the thankfulness of the leper
the humility of Ruth
the courage of Daniel
and the belief and obedience of Mary.

What a fantastic blessing from a friend and sister in Christ!

The joy of being a part of the body of Christ is absolutely limitless!

10.03.2013

Quote - on death for the believer.

"They are without fault before the throne of God!" Revelation 14:5

Death for the Christian
, only . . .
  washes out all his sins and stains,
  shatters the crust of his mortality,
  sweeps away all his moral spots, blots, infirmities, weaknesses, follies, limitations and blemishes -
and then life expands into perfect freedom, fullness, joy, and power.

The translation of a Christian from earth to Heaven, is but like the removal of a tender plant from a frigid northern garden, where it is stunted and dying - into a tropical field, where it puts out most luxurious growth and covers itself with splendor!

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore!" 
Psalm 16:11
                                                                                                          ~ J.R. Miller