Category Archives: Any-day Ponderings

Granpap Fix It

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Are you smarter than a two-year-old?  I’m not.

Once again Eli performed at a higher level of faith than I’ve been able to exhibit in all my 56 years.  Here’s how it happened.

Friday was date night for the kids and grandbaby fun time for me.  Eli and I did some shopping where of course he selected a new truck for his special treat.  I was unloading groceries and he was crawling around my feet imagining a super productive construction site with his dump truck and new cement truck.  I must add its cool swiveling bucket on the back insured it as the favorite of the day.

He crossed his trucks between the kitchen tile and family room hardwood only to bump the floor strip; it moved.  Oh, how exciting to a little boy who promptly lifted it from its supposedly glued position.  I noticed and asked him not to play with it.  He let it snap into place and continued on.

A few minutes later I was washing fruit and I heard, “Granpap fix it.”  My ears perked up because I know something broke.  I feared it was his new truck with the swiveling bucket.

He walked up to me with his fearless face and said, “Granpap fix it.”

IMG_3125In his hand was one half of a splintered wood strip.  “Eli, what did you do?”

His reply, “Granpap fix it.”

That’s it.  That’s the lesson that overwhelmed me.  That’s why I need to learn from a two-year-old.  Only a child has that kind of faith.

If you don’t see it yet, let me share what I would’ve done.  I often times follow my ancestor Eve.  I’m told not to touch it.  I touch it and I break it.

I’m terrified that I will be scolded and disciplined therefore I start coming up with excuses on why I touched the forbidden thing.  I actually blame the thing.  “It should’ve been glued better.  I was only trying to fix it.”

Then I try to fix it myself which because I’m worthless with tools becomes a bigger disaster.  So I hide.  I put the splintered strip of wood back in place as best I can and I hide on the sofa in a fake sleep.

When Granpap comes home and forces me to wake, I recite my explanation and he doesn’t buy a word of it.  So guilt and shame come in and I cry apologizes for being such a waste of a person.  “I break everything.  I always make it worse.  I don’t deserve to live in the same house as you.  I’ll pay for the supplies if you will fix it.”

Then I use every tool in my womanly arsenal to try to appease his perceived anger and make him happy so maybe he will like me again.

All my efforts are wasted.  I’ll daily remind myself of my stupidity every time I step across that threshold.  Guilt will consume my joy.

Oh little Eli, thank you for constantly displaying a childlike faith.

“Granpap fix it.”

Yes, Eli.  Granpap did fix it.  He didn’t scold you.  He loved you before you did it.  He loved you while you did it.  He loved you after you did it.  His love never changes.

IMG_3129I watched as you sat next to him and enjoyed his presence all the time he fixed it.  It never occurred to you to hide from him.  Oh, if only Adam and Eve would’ve had your faith.

“Granpap fix it.”

I hope I remember this the next time I blow it.  The next time I sin.  All He wants me to do is run to him with a fearless face and put my sin before Him and say, “Abba Daddy, fix it.”

“Abba Daddy, fix it.”

He will.  He’s the only one who can.  All the time He’s repairing the damage, He’s reminding me of His love.  I can sit next to Him and watch how He restores the broken to a perfection I could never have imagined.

And now every time I walk that threshold, I’m reminded of His love for me, His beloved child.

“Abba Daddy fixed me.”

And if that weren’t enough, there’s always a special treat for faith, Granpap gave Eli a new kite, and they played together all evening.

I hope to never hide from another special treat.  How about you?  Learn something from a two-year-old?

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Update to Pride and Insecurity Go Together

A fellow blogger inquired about this post.  I’m so sorry I failed to update. Truth is, I’m working on other projects and blogging is at the bottom of my To-Do list.  But I was so blessed to know someone read and wanted to know how I’m doing.  Thanks!

Here is the original and below is what I can report…

imagesI seek prestige.

Before you congratulate me or question why, let me add, “That’s my besetting sin.”

Yeah, I thought you’d hold off on the congrats but I do hope you are forming some questions.

James MacDonald defines prestige as a subcategory under pride.  The following quote is taken from page 81 of Downpour.

Prestige.  “More ‘atta-boys’ for me, please.”  “Tell me again how much you appreciate me and what I’ve done for you.”  “I want prizes and bonuses and thank-you notes and public acknowledgments.”  Prestige is a consuming need for recognition.  It’s the feeling that others are always watching and the insatiable thirst for others to pat you on the back.  It’s the insistence that nothing you do be overlooked or unrewarded by those in a position to do so.  It’s dropping names of prestigious associations; it’s letting others know of your accomplishments; it’s the constant concern that everyone know who you are. 

 

The saddest part of my sin is that its root comes from an incredibly addictive insecurity problem.  I’m often this little four-year-old girl begging for her father’s affirmations that never came.  I want people to tell me I did a good job.  I want people to think I’m special.  I need to know someone knows I’m here and I did something good.

How horrible that insecurity and pride are such close sin cousins.

If you can relate, you’ll want to read on.  God’s grace covers this sin.  His grace offers power to overcome it.  God’s grace heals and matures the broken little girl’s spirit.  I’ve spent years fighting those inner thoughts and trying to control my tongue.  I’ve had moments of victory.  I remember more agonies of defeat.

Today, God spoke a prayer into my heart.  I know that if He spoke it, then this alone will be my weapon and salvation.  Here’s the plan:

Stop each thought instantly with this prayer, “Father, glorify your name through others, not me.”  The others being anyone in my presence when I’m seeking prestige.  I’m excited.  Actually, I can’t wait for the test run.  Just think I’ll get to see God glorify another in my presence just because I asked in obedience to His plan.  Wow!

It reminds me of the time in 1996 when the Spirit taught me how to overcome jealousy.  I was to pray the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.”  My translation became,  “Here is what I want you to do for me BUT do it for others first.”  The others were always the people that stirred my jealous heart.  My journal records some ‘awe’ moments throughout the years.

Now, here I go again.  When I’m tempted to name-drop, list my accomplishments, or draw attention to myself, I have the power of His spoken Word to lead me to victory.

I’ll try to remember to post a praise or two in coming weeks.

What I’ve learned…

All believers can overcome jealousy, insecurity, and pride using my new  favorite words in the arsenal of God’s kingdom: Believe and Yield. First believe in the accomplished work of the Gospel. The complete Gospel says: Jesus walked a sinless life to show us that “yes it can be done.” Jesus’s death on the cross absorbed ALL the wrath for our sins. His burial and resurrection give us victory over death and assures a new life in Him. He now sits on the Throne interceding for us and assuring our victory.

That is amazing but there’s more…He gave us His righteousness, therefore we are no longer guilty of sin but we actually hold the identity of Christ. He poured out His Spirit to fill us with all the power, strength, love, grace, mercy, compassion, and whatever is needed to live the victorious life until we are forever united in Glory. Now that’s the Gospel. If we believe only the parts that say our sins are forgiven and He’s coming back for us THEN we are not believing the parts that we need to live each day. He insures our sanctification. We must believe He saves us from the penalty of sin but we must also believe He gives us victory over sin each and every day.

In the blog, I used the term: besetting sin. But once I began to live out what I wrote and believe the complete gospel, I began to see I should never ever have a besetting sin. In God’s opinion, the only one that matters, I don’t!!! I only have Jesus’ record and it is perfect as He is perfect. So once I begin to believe this truth then jealousy, pride, and insecurities die as I yield to the God that lives in me.

Oh how good He is. Oh how He loves me and you.

Now how is that lived out practically,  Get up each day and declare with all the faith of a mustard seed, “God loves me as He loves His Son.  Jesus paid it all.  It’s done.  He lives in me to complete His Kingdom work.  He receives all the glory when I yield to Him.  So therefore, may the God-in-me love others, may the God-in-me serve, may the God-in-me move mountains.  I believe your promises.  I put my faith in your Gospel.  I yield to Your presence.  Your will be done this day. Amen”

Pride and Insecurity go Together

imagesI seek prestige.

Before you congratulate me or question why, let me add, “That’s my besetting sin.”

Yeah, I thought you’d hold off on the congrats but I do hope you are forming some questions.

James MacDonald defines prestige as a subcategory under pride.  The following quote is taken from page 81 of Downpour.

Prestige.  “More ‘atta-boys’ for me, please.”  “Tell me again how much you appreciate me and what I’ve done for you.”  “I want prizes and bonuses and thank-you notes and public acknowledgments.”  Prestige is a consuming need for recognition.  It’s the feeling that others are always watching and the insatiable thirst for others to pat you on the back.  It’s the insistence that nothing you do be overlooked or unrewarded by those in a position to do so.  It’s dropping names of prestigious associations; it’s letting others know of your accomplishments; it’s the constant concern that everyone know who you are. 

 

The saddest part of my sin is that its root comes from an incredibly addictive insecurity problem.  I’m often this little four-year-old girl begging for her father’s affirmations that never came.  I want people to tell me I did a good job.  I want people to think I’m special.  I need to know someone knows I’m here and I did something good.

How horrible that insecurity and pride are such close sin cousins.

If you can relate, you’ll want to read on.  God’s grace covers this sin.  His grace offers power to overcome it.  God’s grace heals and matures the broken little girl’s spirit.  I’ve spent years fighting those inner thoughts and trying to control my tongue.  I’ve had moments of victory.  I remember more agonies of defeat.

Today, God spoke a prayer into my heart.  I know that if He spoke it, then this alone will be my weapon and salvation.  Here’s the plan:

Stop each thought instantly with this prayer, “Father, glorify your name through others, not me.”  The others being anyone in my presence when I’m seeking prestige.  I’m excited.  Actually, I can’t wait for the test run.  Just think I’ll get to see God glorify another in my presence just because I asked in obedience to His plan.  Wow!

It reminds me of the time in 1996 when the Spirit taught me how to overcome jealousy.  I was to pray the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.”  My translation became,  “Here is what I want you to do for me BUT do it for others first.”  The others were always the people that stirred my jealous heart.  My journal records some ‘awe’ moments throughout the years.

Now, here I go again.  When I’m tempted to name-drop, list my accomplishments, or draw attention to myself, I have the power of His spoken Word to lead me to victory.

I’ll try to remember to post a praise or two in coming weeks.

Do You Remember 1983?

imagesTake a moment and recall where you were, what you were doing, and what major events happened 30 years ago, in the year 1983.

Here’s what I remember.  I was 25, married, and living in Clarksburg, WV.  I had a two-year-old daughter and by the end of the year my son was on the way.  We moved from a small cabin on 88 acres deep in the mountains to a Cape Cod home on 5 acres just a few miles outside of town.

I played the piano in the same small church Mike’s childhood church.   Mike worked at the family business.  I taught preschool at Salem Methodist Church and took graduate classes at Salem College.  I think we drove a Subaru and a Camaro Z-28.  I can’t remember where we vacationed, if we did.

Sad to admit, but there is absolutely no recall of any major event happening in my state, nation, or the world.  Honestly, I can’t even tell you who was president.  My memories are centered on my immediate family.  If it didn’t touch my personal life, then it wasn’t worth remembering.

I’m now adjusting my opinion of the Hebrew people alive the night Jesus was born and still alive when He was crucified.  The year of his birth shook the nation of Judah.  Zachariah had delivered a stunning prophecy about his son John and a coming Messiah.  People talk when an older barren woman has a baby. People also talk when a young girl is pregnant out-of-wedlock.

Months later there were the shepherds running through town shouting about angels in the sky, a new star over a manger, and a baby that caused their knees to bow in reverence.

I wonder how long it took for life to return to normal and the shepherds became a distant memory. Doesn’t matter because about two years later a violent attack destroyed their security and should’ve stirred their memories.

It started with a parade.  You know, the streets were a buzz when a caravan of wise men from the East rode into town.  It wasn’t long before the horrors of Roman soldiers, swords, and blood filled the streets of Bethlehem.  I can’t imagine anyone could forget the screams of children and mommies as dads pleaded for the lives of their young boys.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fled to Egypt and the nation of Judah and the town of Bethlehem forgot them.  There’s a mystery here.  If the people had remembered the miracles of Jesus’ birth linked to the horrendous reaction of His enemies, they could have silenced his critics in John 7:41-44.

Jesus never talked about the past.  I don’t recall a time that Jesus ever returned to Bethlehem.  I can’t find a passage where he defended His incarnation and proved his birth was the fulfillment of prophecy.

The people in that little town knew firsthand that life and death came with Jesus.  I ponder these things.  Were the parents, grandparents, and siblings of murdered babies at the foot of the cross remembering a miraculous star, some jubilant shepherds, and the awe-inspiring worship of a baby boy?

Maybe 30 years was simply too long.  The pain had healed.  Life went on.  No one remembered.  But how sad, the birth of the Messiah Savior of the world, forgotten, for a time.

Google stirred my memories of 1983.  Ronald Reagan dealt with a social security crisis, the US and USSR played Russian roulette with nuclear bomb testings, the worlds’ largest robbery of 25,000,000 pounds was taken from Heathrow, London.  There were floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes that stole lives.  Over 200 marines were killed in a Beirut bombing while Israelis died in bus bombings.

imagesTwo things entered the US that year.  Two things that forever changed our society and we’ve never been able to forget:  Crack cocaine and Microsoft Word.

It took the crucifixion to sear forever in our hearts and minds the story of the Gospel.  Jesus left His heavenly home to be born in a manger, to show us the Father through teaching and miracles, to pay our sin debt on the cross, and to rise to life on the third day, so He can sit at the Father’s side interceding for us so that we never forget the only event in all of history that matters.

What Your Children Need to Hear from You

IMG_1995I discovered a blog offering words to communicate to children. No doubt the list would challenge children, encourage them, and motivate them.  I would not be surprised if  any child who regularly heard such praise and motivation would not grow to be leaders among their peers as long as life’s hard blows didn’t outweigh the praises of their parents.

I marked the blog as a keeper but after a few reads, I was certain something major was missing.  There was no mention of the creator, our need for a savior, or our eternal purpose.  Yes, we can motivate children to conquer this world but in doing so, they lose everything in the next world.

So I decided to do some tweaking.  The bold italics are mine.  These I intend to teach Eli and Caleb.

IMG_21091.  I love you!  But Jesus loves you more.  There is nothing that will make me stop loving you.  Nothing you could do or say or think will ever change that.  I know this because God loves you through me.  My love may fail, but His never will.

2.  You are amazing!  I look at you with wonder!  Not just at what you can do, but who you are.  There is no one like you. No one!  God made only one of you because He has a special purpose for your life.  You were made in His image and because of that you are amazing and wonderful.  Without God, you and I are worthless.   But in Him we are amazing.

3.  It’s all right to cry.  People cry for all kinds of reasons:  when they are hurt, sad, glad, or worried; when they are angry, afraid, or lonely.  Big people cry too.  I do.  Jesus cried too.  God gave us His emotions so they are okay.

4.  You’ve made a mistake.  That was wrong. People make mistakes.  I do.  Is it something we can fix?  What can we do?  It’s all over.  You can start fresh.  I know you are sorry.  I forgive you.  It wasn’t a mistake, it was a sin.  Everyone sins.  A sin is when we don’t do what God wants us to do.  We can ask God to forgive us and He will.  What can you do to make sure you don’t do that sin again?  God will help you if you ask Him.

5.  You did the right thing.  That was scary or hard.  Even though it wasn’t easy you did it.  I am proud of you;  you should be too.  God gives us strength to do the right thing.  When we are scared or facing hard choices, God helps us.  We should trust God to help and then thank Him for His strength.  This gives God glory.

6.  I’m sorry.  Forgive me.  I made a mistake.  I sinned against God and against you.  I asked God to forgive me, now I’m asking you to forgive me.

7.  You can change your mind.  It’s good to decide, but it is also fine to change.  Always ask God what He wants you to do.  When you know it is God’s will, then stay firm no matter how hard it gets.  God will bless you for keeping your word.  

IMG_20928.  What a great idea!  You were really thinking!  How did you come up with that?  Tell me more.  Your mind is clever.  Did you pray about that?  Isn’t God good for giving you such a great idea.  What’s even better is now He will give you everything you need to make that idea work.  Let’s praise God.

9.  That was kind.  You did something helpful and thoughtful for that person.  That must make you feel good inside.  Thank you!  When you do kind, helpful and thoughtful things for others, you are acting like Jesus.  Jesus delights when you do His works.  When others ask you why you did that say, “That’s Jesus coming out of me”

10.  I have a surprise for you.  It’s not your birthday.  It’s for no reason at all.  Just a surprise, a little one, but a surprise.  I love to surprise you with presents just like Jesus surprises me with blessings. 

11.  I can wait.  We have time.  You don’t have to hurry this time.  I’m sorry I often rush you to keep my busy schedule.  Today, let’s do things slow and enjoy our time together.  God says if we wait on Him we can make us soar like the eagles.  

12.  What would you like to do?  It’s your turn to pick.  You have great ideas.  It’s important to follow your special interests.  God’s word says He will give us the desires of our hearts.  Let’s ask God for a special thing to do today.

13.  Tell me about it.  I’d like to hear more.  And then what happened?  I’ll listen.  Can you imagine that the powerful God of the universe bends His ear close to hear us.  He’s enjoying this story as much as I am.  Keep talking.

14.  I’m right here.  I won’t leave without saying good-bye.  I am watching you.  I am listening to you.  Jesus will never leave you.  He will always protect you.  He will always listen to you.  And because you are little, He uses me to let you know He is close.  I’m happy to know that we can trust Jesus to watch over us.

IMG_221915.  Please and thank you.  These are important words.  If I forget to use them, will you remind me?  I want to treat you with respect because you are made in God’s image like me.  I will use words that build you up and encourage you to be all that you were created to be.  When I fail, please tell me.

 16.  I missed you.  I think about you when we are not together!  I missed you so much but I knew God was with you.  Sometimes I can’t be with you but Jesus never leaves you.  

17.  Just try.  A little bit.  One taste, one step.  You might like it.  Let’s see.  I’ll help you if you need it.  I think you can do it.  With God all things are possible.  Let’s pray and ask Him to help you.  

18.  I’ll help you.  I heard you call me,  here I am.  How can I help you?  If we both work together, we can get this done.  I know you can do it by yourself, but I’m glad to help since you asked.  Just like you asked for my help and I am happy to help you, God loves to help us when we pray.  Let’s pray that He helps us do this together.

get-attachment.aspxThe ways of the world are good but when we add God into the equation, we give our children supernatural security.

Singular and Sovereign

I’ve discovered the secret to true joy.  God is not predictable.

That may not be the answer you were hoping to hear. I’m sure we’d rather have something like, God will answer your every prayer or God meets all your needs.  Though there is truth in those statements, they are still dependent upon ‘you’.  You have to pray.  You have to know the needs you want fulfilled in order to experience the joy of receiving.

True joy is absent of you.  True joy is only found in the Lord.  True joy is possible in the best of times and in the worst of times.  Solomon and Job depict both extremes and they came to the same conclusion.

Solomon had all the wealth and pleasures this world could offer.  They were a gift from the Lord.  His life journey is summarized in Ecclesiastes.  When you get past all the meaningless ‘life is meaningless’ phrases, you find a deeper secret.  It is possible to enjoy this life of confusion, disillusionment, injustice, and despair.

Job is a perfect example.  He above all others in his time loved and served the Lord.  Yet for no apparent reason to him, everything was violently stripped away.  He is in agony of soul and body.  The opposite extreme of Solomon for Job lost his beloved children and all he owned including his health.

He argues with his friends on the injustices of this world.  His friends try in vain to make God predictable.  They want to prove, ‘if a then b’.  If we pray enough, love enough, give enough, obey enough, then God has to respond appropriately to us.

Here’s where we get into trouble.  We lose our joy when God doesn’t respond to our asking and pleading, when God doesn’t act like the god of our image.

Job felt like he was completely in the dark, so dark that he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face.  Yet he knew what his friends didn’t know.  God does what He wants, when He wants.   That truth terrified him.  Can you imagine meeting such a God?  Job dreaded the thought of it.  He lived in holy fear.

Live in holy fear.  That’s the same conclusion to life Solomon discovered.

I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always.  No addition, no subtraction.  God’s done it and that’s it.  That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.  Whatever was, is.  Whatever will be, is. That’s how it always is with God.  Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 The Message

 

Notice the line I highlighted.  Stop asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.  Is it really that simple?  Only when we take ourselves out of the equation, only when we are focused on God and God alone, can we know the joy of real worship.

If He slay me, so be it.  If He bless me, so be it.  He is God.

This makes me ponder:

Would the religious leaders of His day have accepted Jesus if they had stopped asking questions and simply believed God could come as a baby and die on a cross just because He is God?

Why I think church growth strategies fail

If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve participated in at least a few of the latest trends.  They come and go.  Some work, some don’t.  It really doesn’t matter because the creator of the latest and greatest strategy got rich either way.

I find it all very frustrating.  Reminds me of the crazes that trap us into yet another diet, a few lost pounds, then regaining more than we lost, forcing us to search for the next sure thing.

Each church growth craze I’ve witnessed has gained a few believers (Praise the Lord!) but it soon mellows out and life returns to the normal often times dead Christianity until a next strategy motivates us to temporarily act.

Does the Bible give God’s perfect, no fail strategy?  I studied all the passages in Acts that stated something like, “and the church grew in numbers.”  It sounded like a church growth strategy to me.  Yet what I found was each time, the strategy was different.  God was not limited in how He worked.  I hope that doesn’t surprise you.

Consider the following examples.

Acts 2:41:  a mighty move of the Holy Spirit with the preaching of the Truth and God added 3,000 to their number that day.

Acts 2:47:  A church (devoted to teaching, fellowship, communion, prayer, miracles, wonders, giving, daily meetings, praise, worship, favor of the community) acting out their faith in love to each other and God added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 5:14:  Believers walking in holiness to the commands of God’s Word not tolerating sin in the body through the practice of church discipline…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.

Acts 6:7:  Effective leadership and the body operating in their gifts of the Spirit...so the word of God spread. The number of disciples increased rapidly.

Acts 9:31:  A time of peace where believers matured in living in the fear of the Lord…and the church grew in numbers.

Acts 9:35,42:  The result of miracles displaying the glory of God…this became known all over…and many people believed in the Lord.

Acts 11:21:  The hand of God upon a refugees spread by persecutionbut preaching the truth as they traveled among foreigners…The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

Acts 11:24:  Missionaries who are full of Spirit and faith going out with the Truth…and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Acts 14:1, 21:  Effective powerful debates on doctrine and theology and preaching the good news…and won a large number of disciples.

Acts 16:5:  Churches strong in obedience out in their communities.   The world takes note and wants salvation.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Acts 17:11-12:  Deep biblical Bible studies for those eager to examine Scriptures and confirm the truth of the spoken message.  Man of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent [Gentiles].

The truth is, they all work.  The book of Acts proves it.  Problem is, we need them all.  We even need those no one can make money promoting, persecution and martyrdom.

We fail when we focus on only one verse, only one way.  This creates program devotees, false martyrs, fanatical miracle seekers and over zealous strategist.

 Ponder this.  What would it take in your life and in your church to have evidence of all the above so that we could see great numbers of new believers added to our churches on a daily basis?

Is God Cruel?

Have you ever wondered why God blinded the hearts of those Jesus walked among?  It sounds unfair.  It sounds like God was cruel.  He blinded their hearts and yet held them responsible for seeing who He was.

Don’t think of ‘blinded’ as complete unseeingness.  Yes, I made up that word.  There was enough sight to recognize Him if they were willing.

His disciples recognized Him, “…This makes us believe that you came from God.”

Peter said, “You are the Christ.”

The woman at the well announced, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did, could this be the Messiah?”  The whole community then said of Him, “…we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Mary and Martha, “Yes, Lord, I  believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

The thief on the cross, “Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.”

Only Peter, James, and John were given a glimpse of the real Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.  To the chosen generation, He revealed enough of His glory for them to know Him but shrouded all of His glory in the confines of His humanity.

I now believe the better translation for blinded would be shrouded.  He shrouded their eyes so they would not see the fullness of His glory.

God was among them.

Take that in for a few moments.  The God Isaiah saw sitting on the Throne, high and lifted up.  The robe of His train fills the temple.  Mighty creatures, hosts of angels, exalting His glory, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”  The thresholds shake at the magnitude of the praise for who He is.

The one who spoke the universe into existence.

The one who split the Red Sea and held it at bay.

The one who shook the mountain, spoke with thunder, and wrote on stone.

The one who stopped the sun and moved it backward.

The burning bush, the cloud by day and fire by night.

Why did He shroud their eyes and deaden their hearts?

If he had not, there would be no one to shout, “Crucify Him!”

First of all, every human on earth would have died in his or her sins in the presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy Yahweh.  But in that instant before death, when they recognized Him, without doubt, every living creature on earth would have bowed in submission.

God is good and gracious.  He gives us all we need.  Any more of His glory and we would die in these feeble bodies.  The shrouding was for their good.  Only glorified bodies can stand in the presence of the Holy One.

His mercy protected them.  He grace revealed enough to let them choose to believe and receive eternal life in glorified bodies.

So as I ponder the things in His Word that sound unfair or even cruel.  As I consider the things in my life that God allows that seem unfair or bad.

Is He really protecting me?

Is God Grieved over America?

 

I hear preachers and teachers often speaking of the wrath of God against our nation.  I do not doubt that we deserve His wrath.  Our sins are great, piled as high as the Tower of Babel.  But I cannot speak for the emotions of God.  I simply don’t know.

The Bible is not silent on the subject, God was grieved several times and we should learn from each account starting with Noah.  God’s heart filled with pain over the wickedness of mankind with every inclination of the their hearts and minds evil all the time.  He had to destroy all people.  He chose one righteous man to save the remnant.  Every other living human died in the deluge. (Genesis 6)

In Exodus 32 God is once again grieved.  He wanted to destroy the nation for their worship of the golden calf.  The chosen intercessor, Moses prayed for God to relent His fierce anger.  Moses shared the emotion with God and understood the cost of sin.  We can see this clearly in Moses’ prayer, “Blot me out of atonement, but forgive these people.”

An intercessor once again intervenes; God is grieved He made Saul king and planned to destroy the king.  Samuel was troubled and cried all night.  He mourned for Saul as God mourns our sin.  (I Samuel 15)

Finally, we see God’s anger when David trusted his own pride and took a census.  David’s chosen punishment was three days in the clutches of the death angel.  God grieved the calamity but continued with his plan to destroy the sin of one man.  David understood God’s grief, the cost of his sin as he cried out, “I am the one who sinned…Let your hand fall upon me and my family.”  David paid the price and sacrificed a huge sum to absolve God’s wrath.  (2 Samuel 24)

Here’s what I learned:

  • God’s grief is real.  Sin causes great pain to His heart.
  • God reacts to His grief by destroying those who sinned.
  • Prayer is powerful when the intercessor shares God’s grief over sin.
  • True intercession is costly.

If God is grieved over the sins of America, do we share in that grief?  God’s pattern is that He will relent the destruction when an intercessor will share His grief, offer his life, plead for mercy, and pray it through no matter the cost.

This makes me ponder; if Noah had interceded with a heart like God’s over the sins of the world, would God have relented?  I don’t know. Maybe some judgments are just part of the plan.

But I think with 3 out of 4 examples, God heard the prayers of a passionate intercessor.   This challenges me.   Instead of just pounding the nails of my daily grind in an attempt to save myself, I should…

  • seek to better understand the grief of God over sin
  • see my own sin as grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30)
  • pray as if I am the sole cause of the judgment of God against the nation.

Only God knows what would happen if a nation of believers would become intercessors like Moses, Samuel, and David.

Ponder This

Ponder [póndər]: to think about carefully before making a decision

I ponder.  Actually I love to ponder.  I prefer the word ponder to daydream.  Elementary school convinced me daydreaming was wrong.  But pondering, well that’s a different story.  “I’m just taking my time and thinking it through.”  No teacher can argue with that defense.

These past few weeks, my daily reading has been alternating the books of Genesis and Acts, a perfect combination of new beginnings.  It’s exciting and challenging to study under the Spirit’s tutelage.  Each new insight sends me into a pond of words.  I’m loving the imaginary:  floating in a sea of words.

Jump in with me.  Genesis 12 is the text.  “I will” are the words to ponder.  God said to Abram, “I will make you into…I will bless you…I will make…I will bless those…I will curse…”  Before He moves God always announces what He’s going to do.

I remember reading where Ben Franklin did the same.  Can’t you just hear Ben at a press conference; “I will change the world by inventing the electric light.”  Now that’s accountability.

So I think I’ll give it a try, “I will change the world by…”

And then I stop and float around in my mind awhile.  Can I change the world?  Probably not, but I can make an impact on my small part of the world.  Maybe, but how?

Notice it was God who would make Abram into something that God could bless and the world would be blessed as a result of what God did.  Abram had only to leave his past dreams and go with the new plan.

In that same chapter famine sets the stage and Abram makes some huge mistakes.  He chose to go to Egypt, nearly lost Sarai, and there gained Hagar, the maidservant who later borne Ishmael.  Even with the extreme consequences of these actions, the spoken covenant still endures to this day.  Because it was God who spoke it over an ordinary man chosen to change the world.

Ponder this…what has God spoken over you and me?

He wrote our birth announcement and epitaphs at the same time.  I’d love to hear mine.  How do you think yours would read?

“I give to the world ________________________ my chosen child.  I will ___________________________________________________________________

through her/his life before bringing her/him home to spend eternity with Me.

Could it be one child I teach about Jesus will grow to become the next Paul?

Could it be that our family uses all our resources to save a people group from destruction?

Could it be one of my books spreads the love of Jesus throughout the world?

Could it be that through my prayers God ignites a revival in America?

Could it be…

Father why am I here?  How have You filled in those blanks?  I don’t want to go down to Egypt and I certainly don’t want an Ishmael.  I just want to be a blessing to the world.  Guide me.