Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cabin Fever

Most of us in the east are more than ready for spring to break. I was visiting with a family the other day and they said they were about to kill each other. My daughters are "bored out of their mind", my wife is going stir crazy and even the family dog is going through "grass withdraw". There is nothing like feeling trapped in the house and longing for warm summer breezes and feet in the grass.

I was reading in Galations 4 and 5 this evening about the one who seeks righteousness by keeping the law verses the one who lives by faith. Paul does an awesome job comparing it to slavery and the two covenants of Sarah and Hagar. As I read, my mind wandered (yeah, it happens) to the parallel of cabin fever. I can't imagine living trapped in a house all my life, looking out the window at flowers blossoming and birds making nests; at lilies breaking through the soil and sunbeams dancing through the leaves of the trees and yet feeling as though I'm only getting a one dimensional experience. I want the REAL thing! That's righteousness by faith. That's grace, mercy and the free gift of God.

Well, the Weather Channel says cold again tomorrow, but I know that I'll be out of the "cabin" soon enough. Thank you Jesus that I'm already "out" of the law.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Not Fair!

"It's not fair!" If you've ever raised a teenager, chances are you've heard this line many times. Every teen has friends that can go anywhere, with anyone, at anytime, wearing anything for any reason. The caring, thinking parent constantly battles the comparison conundrum. (Actually we don't, because when ours were little, we said "I'm not your friends parent - just yours - your good luck) Anyway, we adults are just as bad. I remember watching an old Candid Camera (remember that show?) where someone came into a diner and ordered a slice of pie. They were served the standard size slice with no complaints. While they ate, another "customer" came in, sat beside the original customer at the counter, and ordered the same. The waitress brought a huge piece of pie to the second customer. You know what happened right? The first customer complained of unfair treatment.

We complain of unfair this and unfair that. Taxes, pay, job responsibilities, etc, etc. But scripture holds an account of the most unfair situation of all. It also holds the lesson in how we are to see what we think are unfair circumstances.

Joseph was a young man who committed no wrong and yet was sold into slavery and then betrayed into prison. He could have whined and cried "unfair" until the cows came home (and rightly so), but he chose instead to see God's hand at work and remain faithful. In the end (after a few years), he became the second most powerful man in Egypt and saved not only Egypt, but his extended family as well. He saw that what man intended for bad, God intended for good.

So, watch what you cry "unfair" about...you may be about to save a nation.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Mountain Morning

I'm always stunned and left wondering at the obedience of Abraham. It's so easy to read of the account involving his taking Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him. But think about the trust factor he had with God. The one line that always smacks me in the face is, "So early in the morning Abraham got up...". I marvel at his obedience. No sleeping in late; no taking some time to fast and pray; no discussing the issue with Sarah and/or elders in the community. He got up, got ready, and left for the mountain.

I wonder where the church would be today if we all exhibited that kind of obedience? I wonder what miracles we would see, what marriages would look like, what wayward kids would be home, what finances would be in order, what prisons would be empty, what churches would be full.

I wonder where I would be. I wonder. Grant me the determination to be as obedient as Abraham, Lord.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowy Days and Lions

I was out early this morning shoveling the driveway - trying to get a jump on it before it piles up to an immoveable amount. I've learned, as age has crept up on me, that I've got to do stuff in more manageable chunks. So anyway, I'm out in the wind driven snow...face about to freeze off, and am reminded of a book I read a while back. Mark Batterson wrote a book a few years ago entitled, "In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day". In it he tells of one of David's mighty men, Benaiah, and how he killed a lion in a crazy way.

I was reading that Scripture in 2 Samuel 23:20-23 recently and noticed a little phrase that really challenged me. It's in verse 22 and reads, "Such were the exploits of Benaiah...". Did you get that? Such were. It's a statement that seems to say, "yeah, that Benaiah had things like this happen all the time". We only get a snapshot of three of his exploits here; 1. He killed Moab's best two warriors, 2. He took a giant Egyptian's spear and killed him with it, 3. He went into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. I wonder what ELSE he did we don't even know about!

So as I'm reading and thinking on this text and the kind of man Benaiah must have been (it'll be awesome to meet him one day), I sensed God challenge me with a question, "Are you ready to kill lions?". Me, a lion killer? No way, God. But truth is, God destined all of us to be lion killers. None that call Him 'Father' are to be paralyzed by fear. We all have the power to conquer fear, conquer circumstance, conquer what would destroy us.

Remember, there is another lion out there watching for a chance at each of us. "Our enemy is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour". God wants us to chase our enemy into that snowy pit and show him whose boss. Mark says in his book that when we look back, the moments of greatest fear in our lives are also the moments of greatest victory. So, here's to great fear that leads to great victory.

Well, the snow's piling up again. But at least I don't have a snowy pit waiting for me, just a snowy driveway. Grrrrr.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Big BIG God

I was reading today about the discoveries astronomers have been making concerning our universe. Did you know they have discovered galaxies that are 12.3 billion light years away? Considering the sun is 8 light minutes away at 93 million miles, that's a very, very, very long way off. I can't even wrap my mind around that kind of distance. But here's the funny thing. The more we discover, the more we realize how vast our universe is. Imagine what we'll know in another fifty or one hundred years.

As I read the psalms and listen in as David speaks of the glories of God, I am aware of how God must smile as we "discover" another one of His works; another galaxy, another microscopic animal, another deep sea life, another truth about the mystery of the human body. It strikes me as funny - we think we know SOOO much (like a thirteen year old) when we really know SOOO little.

God is just so awesome. I believe creativity is so much a part of His "DNA" that He is still at work creating things for us to discover. I was once asked what I think we'll do in heaven for eternity. No problem - eternity will only be enough 'time' to get started at checking out the glories of God. What a big, BIG God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Own the Vision

Have you ever wondered at the plethora of leadership books on the market? I was strolling through Barnes and Nobles the other day perusing the leadership shelves and I began to feel as though I was looking up at the stars. Book after book titled itself as the top ten, or first five or seven this or that. It's amazing to me how so many think they need to have all knowledge (unattainable) before they launch or lead anything. I believe you can boil a lot of leadership principles down to one thing; example. Truth be told, followers take their cues from leaders. They will only sacrifice for the vision if the leader will; only take a bullet for the cause if the leader will. The problem is too many leaders are merely hirelings.

Solomon was arguably the greatest king of Israel. But David was definitely a man's man when it comes to kings. David could fight. David could lead. More importantly, David could lead in a fight. One of my favorite David accounts is not actually in the middle of a brawl - but during a break. In 2 Samuel 23:13-17 David is thirsty and longing for a drink from Bethlehem's well. So, his three mightiest men bust through the Phillistine line, draw water from the well and bring it back for David to drink. But here David shows his leadership. He pours it out unto God because he is "unworthy" of the risk the men took.

Sacrifice and vision. Can't you just hear the shout that goes up in the camp? David was one of them. David knew the risks. David was leading his men not only in fighting, but in worship. He was casting a vision, yes, but more importantly, he was living it out.

So show your followers you own the vision you're casting. If they believe down to their toes that you own the cause, they will follow you anywhere.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why Not?

I'm studying a book written by Mark Batterson entitled, "Primal". There is a great piece in it that reminds me of a favorite section of scripture. In Mark's book he says, "As Christ followers we need to take a why not approach to life. It dares to dream. It's bent toward action. And it's not looking for excuses not to do something." That's good stuff.

It reminds me of the account of Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14. The Israelites and the Phillistines are at war. There is an empasse and nothing is really happening. Jonathan, tired of the doldrums, says to his armor bearer, "come, let's go over to the Phillistine outpost, maybe the Lord will do something cool for us." (Interpretation mine) If that weren't enough, then he shows himself to them! Next thing you know...a Phillistine rout. I love Jonathan's attitude. Carpe Diem - Seize the Day!

So many of God's children wait their entire lives for the voice of God to call them to a particular task. Please, He's already done that in His Word. What we need to do is "man-up" and step out in faith. remember, "the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord." So, worry about staying close to God (righteous), and let God worry about where tour foot lands. We just have to step - Why Not?