Get Up and Glow Pt. 3

Sometimes in the midst of very great trials we are tempted to take the stance of Rabbi Kushner in His book , When Bad Things Happen To Good People.   We want to say “God is good but there are some things He just can’t fix because He isn’t all-powerful.”

While that may seem to be an easy answer it is not Scriptural so it is not one we can accept. In fact it is heresy. It is one of the reasons that the church today is losing its power and influence in the world. Loved these two quotes I found at

Episcopal priest Robert Capon said: “We are in a war between dullness and astonishment.” The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality or school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good new, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing, Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into “nice people.” If Christianity is simply about being nice, I’m not interested. What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside-down?

What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God? ~ Michael Yaconelli

What happened to them Mike? They bought the lie that God was no longer in charge of this world. Christians have bought the lie that the good news isn’t really good news. It’s just OK news.  Many have stopped fighting for the joy, peace and the freedom which is ours by right. We’ve contented ourselves with trying to control the behavior of others. We’ve  stopped fighting the battles of the Spirit. We’ve contented ourselves with making our lives more comfortable.  As J.S. Park says “we have let seasons of life determine our whole life.” We have let a season a situation turn us into someone we never wanted to be. Not realizing that our Redeemer has come we have given into our old sinful selves again and let the world system determine our mindsets. But I have news for you today Christian

“The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him…. In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD. “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” Isaiah 59:15,16,19,20

Get Up and Glow Pt.2

Almost 70 years ago Elie Wiesel was a fifteen-year old prisoner in the Nazi death camp at Buna. A cache of arms belonging to a Dutchman had been discovered at the camp. The man was promptly shipped to Auschwitz. But he had a young servant boy, a pipel as they were called, a child with a refined and beautiful face, unheard of in the camps. He had the face of a sad angel. The little servant, like his Dutch master, was cruelly tortured, but would not reveal any information. So the SS sentenced the child to death, along with two other prisoners who had been discovered with arms. Wiesel tells the story:

One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains–and one of them, the little servant, the sad- eyed angel. The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him. This time the Lagercapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him. The three victims mounted together onto the chairs. The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses. “Long live liberty!” cried the two adults. But the child was silent. “Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked. Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting. “Bare your heads!” yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping. “Cover your heads!” Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is–He is hanging here on this gallows..” That night the soup tasted corpses.

Elie Wiesel, Night, Bantam, 1982, p. 75-6, quoted in When God Was Taken Captive, W. Aldrich, Multnomah, 1989, p. 39-41.


This story like the first verses of our Scripture reading in Isaiah reminds us that in this world justice is a rare commodity. Life often seems to work against us. We rise only to get knocked down. Like the man walking behind Elie Wiesel we wonder “Where is God now?” It’s at such times we are tempted to take the stance of Rabbi Kushner in His book , When Bad Things Happen To Good People.   We want to say “God is good but there are some things He just can’t fix because He isn’t all-powerful.”

Have you ever felt that God didn’t have the power to help? 

Dance In the Rain (Rewrite)

I published “Dance In the Rain” on July 11, 2010. The blogs I read this week kept bringing pieces of this work back to memory. I hope the rewrite blesses you!

In the course of life I have learned that almost nothing remains the same. Life is a stormy mistress. If we are honest the stormy days outnumber the calm ones. In life, lightning strikes and lots of times in the same place. Life changes and right quick. Wink and tragedy comes on you unawares. Blink and blessed moments may pass you by. Usually tragedy and blessing are mixed together in fast-moving squalls that roar across the surfaces of our existence; But whether winking or blinking we have to learn to enjoy where we are at and stop waiting for the world to change in our favor.

There is a dish displayed on the bookcase in my office. Written in the center is this saying: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

We’ve all got “stuff” going on. You have money troubles. She may have a close friend who is dying. The guy in the corner over there is going through a divorce. But if we let those things take our focus, we miss opportunity to dance between the rain drops. And it’s the dancing that makes life on this planet tolerable. If you listen close enough the rain offers a good beat; So friend spend some time today dancing in the rain.

Heaven Pt. 33

 ‘Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.” ’ Deut. 1:28 NKJV

My ability to awfulize challenging situations amazes me. I can make an Everest out of every frost heave my car bumps over.

I think part of fallen human nature makes us prone to look at the challenges of life as insurmountable even though Scripture clearly indicates we cannot be defeated as long as we stay in the will of God. Here’s what the Word says about my challenges:

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Ro. 8:37 NKJV

“upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mat. 16:18,19 NKJV

The walls you are facing in life might be big, but they do not reach to Heaven. They are not bigger than God! They are not stronger than you! So don’t fail to step out in faith because the walls appear threatening. Remember: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4 NKJV

Let’s pray: Father I know you see the challenges that lie ahead even better than I do. God I know You have already planned a way around, under, over or through them. So right now I declare by faith I am going to take down the challenges that lie in my way. Grant me wisdom to know what to do. Help me to step forward when the need requires, help me to take risk when the need requires and help me to wait upon You and Your move when the need requires; But do not let me shrink back because of the gates of Hell or the walls of the enemy! In Jesus name Amen!


Heaven Pt. 14

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” …Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  Ge.22:1,2 10-12 NIV

      Here we see that Heaven is the place from which our trials originate and  it is the place that cancels them out when once they are through with us. Not one thing comes into our lives without God’s stamp of approval (that ought to spark some discussion).

     Most of us look at this story and think how unjust God was to require such a terrible price from his servant, Abraham. We look at Abraham and ask “What kind of man could have said yes to God?”

     I think he must have been a man who understood life and death and Heaven pretty well. He must have had a pretty clear view of the fact that it’s not what goes on down here that really matters. I think he grasped firmly that anything done here can be undone by one word from Him who sits on the throne of eternity. That’s why it says in Hebrews 11 “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

     Because Abraham understood how the world worked and what really mattered He was able to stave off the despair we too often feel when faced by the trials of our faith ignited from the throne of Heaven.

     Here’s the thing; If we understand what Abraham did… if we keep the things of Heaven and Earth in their proper perspective, we too can remain free from despair.

Let’s pray:

Lord when fiery trials come into my life help me to remember they are just faith builders. Help me not to get bitter. Cause them to make me better…stronger. Help me to keep Heaven in view. Help me to keep You in view. Help me to remember it will be done away with one day by You. On that day help me hear “Well done good and faithful servant.” A-men

23 Pt. 10

     “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…” Psalm 23:4 NIV

       In David’s day there existed a narrow mountain pass that led from the young shepherd’s home to the green pastures where his flocks could feed. That pass is still used today by shepherd’s seeking good foraging grounds for hungry sheep. The name of this mountain pass is…you guessed it “the Valley of the Shadow of Death”. Within the confines of its dark sheer walls are many shallow caves perfect for predators: lions, and tigers, and bears oh my! The all-consuming dark produces a Nightmare on Elm Street for poor sheep just trying to get a good breakfast; But the truth  is that the breakfast buffet is on the other side of the Valley.

     We’ve already discussed that God’s job is to make us lie down in green pastures. To do His job He has to take us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. An alternate road doesn’t present itself. Everyone of us needs to go through our own valley. It’s called life. The shadows and predators are many. Some hoping to circumnavigate the valley have gone well off the path only to find that all roads lead straight into the heart of darkness. Our options are limited. We can’t go back to yesterday and we can’t stand still. We all are faced with the truth that the Valley of Shadow while not our destination is smack dab in the middle of the way to our destination. As one who is well into the Valley now…as one who is well acquainted with the evil inside I have to concur with David, as long as the Lord is with me I won’t fear any of it.

    My eyes aren’t on the darkness. My gaze is fixed on the green pastures that lie straight ahead!

Gotta Stand Pt. 10

     Today we are going to finish up our study in Ephesians Chapters 4 through 6. Paul writes:

     “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we  are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly placesTherefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

    We discussed yesterday how living for God was only possible through trusting God. It is God who truly changes our behavior not us. But behavior, important as it is,  is not the fix either. Good behavior doesn’t destroy storms. Only God can do that; But God will flow through our lives more and more as we begin to live right for Him, shutting down storms as He goes.

     As we live for God we have to take one more step if we want to stand through our storms effectively. We have to put on His armor. We have to call forth the supernatural power of God into our lives. We have to ask him for miracles. When the answers of man will not make the grade then the miracles of God are needed. The miracles of divine truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and rhema word are needed in our situations today. They will be needed even more in the days ahead.

So church what are we going to do? We’ve gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt. 5

…” If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”  Eph. 4:28 NLT

      I just looked at America’s national debt clock. We are currently $14,272.208,…,… in debt. We are spending  about $1,301,087,950,… more a year than we take in. The dots stand for numbers changing too quickly to write down.

      If we are going to stand through the storms coming on the world, we are going to have to change some things individually. If we want our country to stand through those same storms, we are going to have to change some things culturally.

     Paul says “stop stealing!”

      Right up front that means, “If you’re breaking and entering CUT IT OUT!” 

     I do trust, however, that most of my readers are not moon-lighting as cat burglars. That doesn’t mean this verse has nothing to say to us. Culturally we have issues with wanting things that don’t belong to us… that is things God never intended for us to have. We spend more than we earn and think this is somehow O.K. with the Lord. A mindset exists which says  “surely God would not deny me anything I want.”

      I challenge you to find that in the Bible. What you will find is this : “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1 NIV

       David puts the onus on us. God shepherds. God provides. Therefore we will not allow ourselves to be wanting what He hasn’t provided. Wanting to acquire things outside of God’s provision is coveting. Taking things that God has not provided so easily turns into stealing.

     I know what I’m talking about here, because I’ve lived beyond my means to the brink of financial ruin. I nearly took my whole family down with me. The recovery process has been slow and painful but necessary, if I am to stand through what lies ahead.

      Tolstoy said “Wealth is knowing what you can live without.” 

      I am in the process of learning just that. Like so many of my fellow Americans I have a problem with self-control; Self-control, is a fruit of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22. It’s not something I can produce in great quantities naturally. However God can!

     In the verse above, Paul is very clear about what we must do in order to stop a stealing spirit from inhabiting our hearts. When we work hard at honest labor and when we give generously to others, the Holy Spirit is given a door way into our lives which allows Him to come in and create self-control.

     In the hour it has taken me to type this blog our national debt has increased to $14,727,327,…,…! It’s up to us to change. No one else can do it for us.

We’ve gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt. 3

     As a gardener I am often called to take a plant from one location and move it to another. The task of transplanting is a necessary and painstaking ritual for the husbandman who wants to bring about a rich harvest.

     Simply put transplanting means taking a plant rooted in one place and causing it to take root in another. The danger of course is that in the process of transplanting the gardener runs the risk of harming the exposed root and losing his fruit or perhaps even the entire plant.    

     Paul paints us a picture of the Christian being transplanted and what the soil of our new life should produce in Ephesians Chapter 4.

“throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.  Ephesians 4:22-25NLT

     Paul says throwing off our old way of life means to stop being a deceiver.  Now we made the point yesterday that throwing off the old self or transplanting the roots of our lives starts with attitude and then leads to action. A problem with lying is rooted in a problem with fear. When we lie what we actually communicate is that we are afraid, if we tell the truth we will be hurt. The truth is, of course, sometimes we will be. But that doesn’t excuse lying. What God requires is that we address the world out of perfect love. As the Word says: ” There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18 KJV

     I saw an episode of “Bones” the other night. The characters were involved in a group that espoused “radical honesty”which is, “a tell the truth no matter what it does to the other person” policy. throughout the episode, people cavorted across the screen insulting and denigrating others in the name of “truth”. This is not what Paul was talking about.

     The Christian who seeks to come out of the soil of falsehood needs to be transplanted first in the soil of love not the soil of confession. If a Christian struggles with lying his first step is not to become a radical confessor but a radical lover of God and man. When love is established trust will bloom, fear will wither and lying will stop. Confession in this atmosphere becomes safe, wholesome and redeeming.

    If we are going to stand through the upcoming storms we must be transplanted in truth surrounded by the soil of love. Then we will bring forth a great harvest!

 Ask Jesus to transplant you in the soil of perfect love.