Category Archives: How big is God

Breaking the Code v. 6

In many instances in the Bible, grace (see Breaking the Code 3) and peace are linked Related imagetogether. The fact that these two are so often linked together ties also with the passage from Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Philippians 4 passage is given in the context of our anxieties, our anxious tensions, our inner turmoil and lack of peace. The preceding sentence reads, “The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The Lord is near, so, do not be anxious about anything. When the Lord is near, our anxieties fade and we can have peace in any situation.

The 23rd Psalm is one that calms the soul. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. There is a word picture in the book of Revelation showing that in front of God’s throne there is a sea like crystal, smooth like glass, so calm, no storms.

I mentioned in Breaking the Code v. 5 on prayer that I frequently used my commuting time to talk with God. Better said, I would dump all the issues of the day and complicated relationship challenges on Him. His Spirit would very often respond with pieces of Scripture that would both let me know that my God was listening and He would calm my heart by giving me God’s perspective on my turmoil.

The perspective of the Christian who considers it all joy when he or she encounters various trials (James 1) comes from a worldview that has Christ and the truth of his word in the center. Without this perspective, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) is elusive and generally non-existent. The storms rage around us and we need God’s help in the form of bringing people into our lives to express God’s love for us. We serve a living Savior who wants to be active in our lives. All we need to do is to invite Him into our world.

At times, He tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10) Waiting on the Lord takes us out of our comfort zones, but His timing and His solutions are always better than our wildest dreams. Ps 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

If Jesus can calm the wind and the waves of the sea, we can count on Him to calm our hearts and our spirits. We’re not talking about yoga stillness here. Yoga is something we conjure up internally through posturing, breathing deeply and thinking good thoughts. The peace of God is that comfort of knowing that the God who made the heavens and the earth loves us enough to give Himself up for us. (John 3:16) Our God tells us to cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.  (1 Peter 5:7) It is the peace that comes from knowing that we are loved … unconditionally.

The desire of every human is to be loved. We live in a broken world and complete unconditional love, even between husband and wife, is rare. I love my wife and tell her of that love as often as I have the opportunity. She loves me even better than I am capable of loving her. But we have this agreement between us. It is our desire that both of us will love God first and foremost, and then we’ll be able to love each other well in second place. Living in God’s love helps us to have His love flow through us to each other. This works because we both have the same source of unconditional love.

In describing the relationship of the sheep to the Shepherd, He tells us in John 10:3 that “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Yes, God loved the whole world, but still He knows you and calls you by name. Take comfort in the fact that He knows you by name and Jesus said that your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matt 6:8)

So, what is our takeaway on the peace that is available to those who are God’s children? We are not of this world, and the cares of this world that might otherwise weigh heavily on us, should be given to the God of the universe for resolution. Use the vehicle of prayer that Jesus Himself used when He was on this earth, to talk directly with the Father and ask that His will be done on earth (in our world) as it is in heaven.  This peace is beyond the comprehension of most people in our world. It is a precious gift that God has promised to those who love Him and trut Him.

Have a blessed day!


Word of the Day – Posterity

The last couple of entries posted here have been shared posts from other folks whose blogs I follow. The more I read, the more I see and know that others have insights worth Image result for posteritysharing here for my posterity. Most of us will have a posterity. Our posterity is that future generation which emanates from us, our children grandchildren and their children after them.

Our posterity will look for clues that would help define us long after we’re gone. I have spent some time understanding how my ancestors led their lives. I know that I am responsible for my own decisions, but we all have leanings and tendencies. Understanding my ancestors can, at times, help me understand how my family adopted the values and worldview with which I was raised.

God understood the importance of teaching truth to one’s posterity. In the book of Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 11, we see these words, “teach them diligently to your children,” and “teach them to your children.” The concept of teaching truth to our posterity will plant tendencies and leanings in their hearts. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.” So, in these passages, we see that God understands the importance of legacy and the promise that our posterity will look back to our generation for understanding. These days we refer to the reputation we leave for those who follow us as a legacy. Our posterity will look back to our legacy for instruction and a baseline of those things we held to be truths for our lives.

I like to think of it as “paying it forward” or a gift to my grandchildren and great grandchildren, including those I will never meet this side of heaven. The money we leave behind will provide short-term blessing and perhaps cover a few bills. The legacy we leave for our posterity will give them a foundation on which they will build their worldview or system of truth.

What happens in the event that the early years of our lives weren’t something that you’d want them to emulate? It is never too late. I had an uncle who accepted Christ in the final days of his life. Upon making that decision, he called his boys, who were already grown men, to his bedside and told them about a wasted life and implored them to take a different path. That single conversation changed the future for those men and their children. Granted, not all stories end so well, but God planted in my uncle the thought that this was a nugget of truth that must be passed along. Too many of us view our faith as a private matter, and so, are reluctant to discuss such things with others. Christ taught us to let our lights shine among others so that they too might believe.

Life is like a train rolling down the track. We all need the voices of people in our lives who will let us know there is trouble ahead. Sometimes it is a friend, many times, however, it is the voice of a parent calling across the years, a voice we long to hear once again. The other day a family member was feeling stress and I was able to share with my posterity a song that my mother would sing in times like these. Even though she is no longer with us, her voice and her solid foundation of faith still serve as an encouragement to me and my family.

I’m engaging in this blog so that one day my posterity will have something to look to as a reference point for what Papa would think or say during a particular situation. I’d encourage all of us to find ways to leave bits of wisdom and legacy for our posterity.

Here is a promise from the Lord: “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.” (Psalm 103:17) Our God will honor those who love him to multiple generations that follow. We should use this to renew our commitment on behalf of our posterity. Just as I am a product of the faithfulness and prayers of my ancestors, I want my posterity to have that same blessing that will be carried on for generations of generations, until the Day of the Lord arrives

Breaking the Code v. 5

Matthew records this description of Jesus spending time with His Father, “And after he Image result for prayerhad dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone …”

Prayer … Jesus did it and, when they asked, He taught the disciples how to pray by giving us what we now know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” (Matt 6) Why does it seem hard at times to even begin? What should a good Christian’s prayer life look like? At times I don’t even feel like a good Christian and feel like I can’t even get God’s attention. Books have been written on prayer, but when I think I should pray, I have things on my heart that make those books seem distant and kind of … not applicable in my situation.

So often I’ve found myself feeling unworthy and at a loss for words when I know there are things that only God can solve. When I think about some things that I need to leave with God, I know there are many unknowns about the situation that it is presumptuous for me to propose a solution that may be completely inappropriate. There are also things that are within my scope of responsibility but beyond my power to resolve.

Peter wrote (5:6-7) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the almighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” Instead of continuing to own all of life’s issues, as we’ve been trained to do, we need to humble ourselves and place our anxieties at His feet. He tells us that He cares for us. Which of us, when a child asks for a piece of bread will give that child a stone? God cares for us as His children. He tells us to look at the flowers in the field and how they are adorned. Even Solomon in all his riches and royal attire was not dressed as well as the flowers in the field. Still, God loves us even more than the flowers in the field. He cares for us and wants us to give Him all our cares.

There was a religious man in the temple square speaking eloquently so that all could hear, “Thank God I’m not like these peasants and ne’er do wells.” Jesus calls our attention to a tax collector standing quietly in the corner of the temple square, beating his chest in agony, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18) This parable of Jesus is intended to show us that it is not fancy words, but a contrite spirit (as Peter wrote) that captures God’s attention and is forgiven.

There have been many times in my life that I just needed to share my heart with God. In one season, I was in the habit of clearing the passenger seat of my car of all papers, and use my commute time to talk with God who I invited to travel with me so that we could just talk. That proved to be a time when I learned to really give Him all my junk and express the true desires of my heart. Jesus did this in the Garden of Gethsemane. He went alone in the garden, and asked the Father to let the burden of this crucifixion be done a different way, and to let Him escape it. He asked this, knowing full well that this moment was why He had come into our world and that this was the only way our sins could be covered. Jesus modeled baring His heart and soul in making the desires of His heart known to God, His Father. Paul wrote in the letter to the church at Philippi, “… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6)

Don’t over-complicate your prayers. Just sit down with God and speak to Him the desires of your heart. Some have envisioned the acronym ACTS as they think about prayer.

A – say a few words of Adoration from your heart to God, the Creator of all things. He is worthy of our praise. Look into some of the Psalms for some ideas of how to praise God our Father. Admire his creation if nothing else comes to mind.

C – one can’t help but come into the presence of the Almighty without Confessing our sins and shortcomings. We need to admit that we are sinful and need His forgiveness for our sins. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive those sins.

T – expressing Thanksgiving for the things in our lives that He has provided. Even when life is not going well, Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” James wrote that we should consider it a joyful thing when we encounter various trials. He also wrote that every good and perfect gift is from above. So give thanks to the Father for His goodness to us.

S – we should offer prayers of Supplication. What is supplication? Well, it is asking for something humbly and leaning on the promises of God that He cares for us. Yes, it’s a 50 cent word but it completes the acronym with by telling us why we came here in the first place. This is the time to ask God for anything and everything that is on your heart. Christ did it and so should you.

Honestly, there are times when there simply isn’t time to go through all these steps. There are times when I’m talking with someone about something really important and I say a prayer asking God to guide my words so that they will honor Him. There are times when a situation is spiraling out of control that all we can do is cry for help. There are times when we lose someone we love dearly when we ask God for the comfort that only He can provide.

Prayer, the act of talking with God, helps us invoke a power beyond our own capabilities. The disciples were effectively praying when they awakened Jesus from His slumber in the middle of the storm, begging Him to help them. They had no idea that they would see the response they witnessed and the winds and the sea were stilled. When we pray we need to be ready for God to respond in ways we didn’t anticipate because He cares for us and loves us.

The letter to the church at Thessaloniki tells us to pray without ceasing. Live in an attitude of prayer. Let prayer become the lifeline for your courage and love for others. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because the Lord your God is with you. (Joshua 1) I leave you with that same word.

Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Scarecrow in a Melon Patch

Where is our confidence? Where is our trust? Jesus said, do not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own. He told us not to worry about what we Image result for scarecrowwould wear or what we would eat. Look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the field that are beautiful to watch and to look at. We are more valuable to God than all the other parts of creation. Don’t get all hung up over something that will impress others. Who are you living for and what will all these things do for you? They won’t bring you happiness!

Many of us in the Baby Boomer generation are spending a lot of time engaging people who will help us plan to make sure our finances will last as long as we do. Many have accumulated collectibles, homes, toys, etc. that are the result of planning and playing out our personal passions. The proverb says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (15:22) And another, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (21:5) We need to know that God applauds planning.

Yet, in recent years, many have become uncertain about their security or the future of those things we’ve collected being placed in the hands of their beneficiaries. We must however keep all these things in proper perspective. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk..Do not fear them, they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” (Jer 10:5)

Our stuff is just stuff. All our collectibles may be good hobbies which keep us active and capture our interest, but the things and money that are the results of our diligent planning are just things. They are inanimate and exist in our lives much like a scarecrow which serves only to scare off the birds that would otherwise eat the fruit of the garden. The scarecrow can’t hear you. In fact if you talked to it, some might begin to wonder about you and your ‘friends’.

Jesus also said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 19:23) That is because these things begin to own us. We allow them to become part of who we are and a path for acceptance among people. The only path for acceptance we should be pursuing is to be accepted into the kingdom of heaven by God. Another proverb on planning tells us that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails.”

Let’s not let the scarecrows run our lives. Enjoy the fruit of your diligent planning. Know that the Lord has honored your diligence for a purpose. Consider what he wants you to do with your resources to further his purposes. When we commit our lives to God, that includes our assets and resources. Let’s give it all to him and let God direct our paths.

Lots more to say on this subject, but for now, be wary of the scarecrows in your melon patch.

Be Strong and Courageous

I am the Lord and beside me there is no other …

Image result for strong and courageousThis phrase is repeated ten times over three chapters of Isaiah 44 – 46. To be repeated this often, perhaps God has a message for us? What is he saying? What are the implications of this saying?

It is interesting to note that there are also five instances of “I made you, and formed you in the womb!”

He’s telling us that he has things under control. He put the king of Persia in place to serve his purposes in rebuilding Jerusalem. Just as he made us he also made the king of Persia and just as he has a purpose for us he has a purpose for the king, even though his people had abandoned the God who created this world.

There are many messages in these three chapters, but a consistent theme is God’s confirmation that He alone is God and there are no other gods like him. He has things under control to the point where he made us and formed us in the womb with a purpose that serves his greater purpose.

If God is in control, we should not be shaken by the events taking place in this world, such as terrorist attacks or changes in leadership. We should not be shaken when our personal worlds are shaken by financial instability or sickness. I have friends who have come through cancer, and other debilitating illnesses. I have friends who are currently going through treatments for illnesses. I have recently lost a friend to a sudden heart attack. There are many in my life who are going through a period of financial hardship. Indeed my own world is shaken in the mighty winds that blow.

There is a two word phrase often repeated in the scriptures, “but God …” Those two words give us hope. God has a larger plan, he sees the larger picture and tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love him and follow him. He also has a plan for this world that will not be thwarted. One only has to look at the book of Revelation to read about the end of the story. It ends with God and everything that is good and right in his eyes surviving and finally bringing the peace that we all seek.

We can have a sense of that peace even today. By placing our faith in the Son of God, we can have peace in the middle of the storm. We can have the hope of an eternity with God. Four times in the first chapter of Joshua, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. In verse 9 he says, be strong and courageous because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

He is the Lord who made us, named us, and formed us in the womb. He is the Lord who made this world and everything in it? There is nothing in this world big enough to disrupt God’s plans for us and for this world. God’s purposes will be done and our job as believers is to be strong and courageous salt and light in our world. Be an encouragement and tower of strength for those who don’t know the God who made them. He said in verse 7 of Isaiah 45, “I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.”

We have a God who made us to be salt and light for him in this world. Each with a purpose and each with access to the hope that he has offered us free of any obligatory behavior. There is nothing we can do to curry favor with him besides believe in his Son whom he sent. Through faith we are all children of Abraham.

Rather than buying into all the fear, uncertainty and doubt in this world, know that he said, “my peace I leave with you.” It is the peace that passes all understanding.

Carpe diem, seize the day, the Lord your God goes with you, it is he who has made you to overcome the world. Be strong and courageous! Let’s have hope and peace even in the face of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

God has told us “My counsel will stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” Have faith. Have hope. Love God first, then love your neighbor.

Christmas Eve 1968

Do you know what was happening on Christmas Eve, 1968? I can tell you what I was doing. In addition to trying to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus, I was celebrating the birth of our oldest daughter, Debbie, the day before. She was born on December 23rd, 1968. Last night we celebrated her birthday with all the family together. As we were reflecting on what her presence in our family meant to each of us, there were ten mini celebrations of her impact in our lives.

That was indeed a life changing event for us all in so many ways. Her arrival in this world meant that I would be exempted from being drafted into the service of our country. Those were the days of the height of the Vietnam War. Being drafted was certain to have a battlefield assignment in guerrilla warfare. Those were the days of flower children, draft dodgers and when flag burning started. It was tumultuous time in our country. Lest you think the days we are in currently are uncharted territory, let me just assure you that the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes was so right when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

There was another significant event taking place that Christmas Eve. On December 24, 1968, three American astronauts were circling the moon. Many of you were not even born yet. Some were too young to remember, but many of us remember the day very well. What a historic moment! They sent back pictures of the earth and read the first 10 verses of the book of Genesis to an audience rapt in wonder and awe.

Seven months later, the United States landed men on the moon! As with so many major events, there is a back story. Eric Metaxas, who heads up the Colson Center shared one part of the back story in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Rather than restating the story, I’m providing a link to the op-ed Christmas Eve in Space and Communion on the Moon. The story shows that our battle against the powers of the air are not new. Satan, the prince of the power of the air, has been working to suppress the good news of the gospel since the Garden of Eden.

Mr. Metaxas shares the story of how that momentous arrival of men on the moon was celebrated by Buzz Aldrin with the taking of communion as the most appropriate thing he could do. He read portions of the book of John where Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches …” In light of the public pressure, even in those days, NASA advised that these actions and readings not be broadcast back to earth. Well known atheist, Madelyn O’Hair had filed suit for the Christmas Eve event. It is no wonder this story has been suppressed.

But on this Christmas Eve, I feel it is important that we hear the story of Buzz Aldrin. As so many in our country are giving their all to deny the truth of God’s word and the real story of Christmas, we should take encouragement from Buzz Aldrin’s story and his strength of faith.

Let’s be men and women who know who we are and Whose we are. Buzz knew Whose he was and could not let that moment pass without acknowledging the God of the universe. Let us take courage in our hearts to give thanks for the greatest gift EVER, the Christ child coming to earth for one purpose only. That purpose was to provide a way for us to have a relationship with the God who created the moon and the earth, not to mention thousands of galaxies that have yet to be discovered. We discover knew expanses of our universe every year, and our God created it all.

Blessings to you and your families this Christmas season. May Christ be your source of joy and peace as we give each other gifts to celebrate His birth, God’s gift to us.

On Being Thankful

All around the USA today will be a day when we pause to give thanks. We know that those who traveled here from Europe in the 17th century, together with their Native American Image result for thanksgivingfriends, paused to give thanks to God for their first harvest in this new land. George Washington issued a proclamation of thanksgiving during his Presidency. In 1863, with a country torn apart by the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared a national day set aside for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” The setting is an interesting one for the declaration of a day of thanksgiving.

In case you were wondering, we are not the only country that takes a day to give thanks. At least 11 other countries have similar holidays. It is important to have a thankful heart. We need a time when we can set aside our anxieties and remember to give thanks. A time when we can give thanks to God for each other. A time when we can give thanks for life itself. Yes, even a time when we can give thanks for those things that God has provided for us.

I think it is no stretch to say that a thankful heart makes us glad. Happy people tend to live longer. There is another side to it as well. It’s been said, “Harboring bitterness (not being thankful) is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” A thankful heart is a healthy heart. We have so much for which to be thankful. According to a February 11, 2016 Time magazine article, happy people are not as prone to sickness, are healthier over all, and as a result live longer.

Thankfulness is an attitude of the heart. In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul writes about thankfulness and contentment. He writes, “The Lord is at hand: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Nearly all of us face some sort of personal challenge on a regular basis, whether it be sickness, financial, work, or relationships. Yet even in this we can give thanks. Give thanks to a God who will carry us through these times. There are people in this world who are much worse off than nearly any American but they have learned how to be thankful. There is an old Dutch proverb that says, “They are not poor that have little, but they that desire much. The richest man, whatever his lot, is the one who’s content with his lot.” Where do we find our contentment? How many of us grew up dirt poor, but we were rich because we didn’t know we were poor.

Paul wrote this, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” What is that secret?

I go back to the two great commandments which are that we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. That secret is buried in these two great commandments. The first helps us know that there is a God who is sovereign, who created the universe, and cares about us at an individual level, and we love and worship Him. The second helps us take our eyes off of ourselves and our own pity party and look out for the needs of others. No matter how bad our situation, we can always find those who are in a worse position than the one we are in. In that fourth chapter of the letter to the church at Philippi, Paul gives us the foundation for his contentment and thankful heart. In verse 19 he writes, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Can we take that promise by faith. Can we believe that the God who created this universe, the far reaches of which are still being discovered, cares enough to meet your needs and my needs? If we can do that, we can live a life of thanksgiving. We can be thankful that we know our God who rules this mighty universe cares about you and me enough to make sure that all our needs are covered. Let’s choose to be thankful this holiday season.

Thanks for taking time to read today’s ramblings.