Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category



February 8, 2014

“And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.”  Mark 3:2

English: Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2010

I was traveling for three of the five workdays this last week.  If you have to be away from home, traveling to Yosemite National Park is not a bad place for a business meeting.    A main conversational topic of our first day of meetings was the drought that California is currently enduring.  While that is bad for California, my co-worker and I planned to take advantage of the clear skies to behold the grandeur of Yosemite on the morning before we had to travel home.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with our sight-seeing endeavors.

English: Yosemite Valley in winter

I awoke to the drizzle of rain cascading from rooftops.  The prayers for moisture had been answered by a storm front that moved in while I slept in my hotel room.  When I peered from my window, I could not see more than 100 feet beyond the pane of glass.  A thick fog has settled upon the valley.  It was not going to be a good day for sight-seeing.

My co-worker and I had nothing better to do, so we went into Yosemite Valley despite the poor visibility.  The rain turned into snow as we made our way into Valley.  It was beautiful to see trees coated with snow in the spirit of Christmas.  However, that was not what we had come to see.  A canopy of clouds obscured the colossal glory of El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and all the other sites that loom above tiny observers in the valley below.

English: El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ...

We stood in one of the most beautiful places on earth but were blinded to the very manifestations that make Yosemite special.  We were blinded because we could not see above us.  I would never know what I was missing, if I had not been to Yosemite before.

I think  many people  stumble through life never knowing what they are missing.  We stand in the valley of our reality, believing only what our eyes can sense, oblivious to the grandeur that surrounds us.  We are continually surrounded by colossal glory but blinded to the miracles that make our lives truly special.

I know of no better example than the Pharisees who were trying to accuse Jesus.  Consider what Jesus was doing:

He was healing people.
He was instantaneously cleansing men of leprosy.
He was casting out demons.
He was causing paralytics to rise, pick up their beds, and walk home.
He was controlling storms.
He was making wine out of water.
He was creating food out of nothing.
He was restoring a withered hand.

Yosemite National Park overlooking the mountai...

Yet, the Pharisees were more concerned about when he was doing the miraculous rather than acknowledging what He was doing.  They refused to look up.  If they acknowledged what He was doing, then they would have to acknowledge who He was.  They were blinded by the hardness of their hearts.  They were experiencing the most spectacular events of all time but they were oblivious.  They were in the presence of the King of Kings, but could not recognize Him.

They were blinded by their religion. 

We all can become blinded by very good things.  The Pharisees valued the keeping of the law more than the fulfillment of the prophecies that were literally happening before their eyes. The law was a wonderful gift but it was never greater than the Giver.  We have been blessed by so many gifts from our heavenly Father.  All good things have the potential to lower our eyes into the valley when we should be looking up into the glorious.

May we never miss the colossal grandeur that continually surrounds us by being content with good things.  Let us always set our eyes on the Great.

PRAYER: Lord, Your Word is light to us. It is power and life.  It clears away all that blinds us.  Lord, let that light, that life, that power, that truth break upon the darkness of my heart.  Keep my eyes set upon you.  Whatever hardness of heart may be in me, let your light shine, may the light of the gospel, the glorious gospel, shine in and through my heart; softening me to see all that you are and the glorious that surrounds me   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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January 26, 2014

“Jacob was left alone.  And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.”  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Genesis 32:24-26

slagheap / / CC BY-NC-SA

I watched the video of a wrestling match in Georgia between high school wrestlers, Demetrius de Moors and Michael Lind. (2012 National Sportsmanship Awards – Demetrius de Moors)   The aspect of this wrestling match that makes it noteworthy from the thousands of other wrestling matches that occur every year is that Michael Lind has Down Syndrome.

Michael Lind was a member of his High School wrestling team but had never wrestled in a match.  Demetrius was set to compete in Georgia’s prestigious South Metro Wrestling Tournament and agreed to wrestle Michael in an exhibition match.  If you watch the video, you will see that the struggle was a complete mismatch.  Michael did not stand a chance against a wrestler like Demtrius, but why should he, Michael has Down Syndrome.

The appreciation that I have for Demtrius comes from the mercy that he showed Michael.  He allowed a match to be competitive that was not.  He allowed Michael to contend with him while the match could have been over in seconds.  He made Michael work rather than just rolling on his back.  Demitrius contended with Michael at the level of Michael’s ability for Michael’s good.

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

This video brought to mind an even greater mismatch and display of mercy in the wrestling match between Jacob and God.  I could not help but think about Jacob and his wrestling match – probably the greatest wrestling match in history.

I am most encouraged by the mercy shown to Jacob in this incredible wrestling match.  Throughout the night, Jacob wrestled with a man on equal terms, but it was never equal.  The prophet Hosea tells us that Jacob was wrestling against God (Hosea 12).  The reality of the greatest wrestling match in history is it could have been over quicker than Demitrius could have pinned Michael.  However, God allowed it to continue all night long.  Why?

God contended all night long at Jacob’s level for Jacob’s good.

Jacob was not a good guy.  Jacob’s successes in life had come by cunning and deceit.  He had been dragging God’s blessing out under all sorts of circumstances.  He had outwitted Esau, Isaac and Laban.  He devised schemes to get blessings them.

I wonder when it was that Jacob realized his opponent was special.  We are not told when Jacob came to an understanding of his opponent but he surely would have know when his hip was supernaturally touched.  Jacob may have thought he was doing pretty well in his own strength – he was holding his own with God (if he knew that).  Jacob never asked for a blessing throughout the entire night of contending with the man.  I wonder if he was trying to earn it on his own.  Maybe, he was trying to force God to bless him.

All God had to do was supernaturally touch his hip and Jacob was defenseless, but God made Jacob work through a long night.  God broke through any delusions that Jacob may have had at the breaking of the day.  Jacob received a new revelation with the rising of the sun on that day – he could not win in his own strength.  At that point, all Jacob could do was hang-on, completely at the mercy of his powerful God, and beg for a blessing.  Jacob was shown that he could never prevail in his strength.

It is only by the power of faith and prayer, reaching with a firm hold on God, to the point of being blessed, that we prove, like Jacob, to be true wrestlers of God.

He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor.  (Hosea 12:4)

The U.S. Army / / CC BY

I am reminded that God allows and even puts his people into difficult and sometimes impossible situations.  We all have an opportunity to contend in our own strength or prevail upon God.  We can resist, scheme, and manipulate, even against God himself.

However, we are always in a horrible mismatch.

I know that I am too quick to revert to my own strength just as Jacob did.  I have wrestled in my own strength through whole seasons of life.  I am blessed to know that God allowed, in His mercy, the gross mismatch to continue until I was humbled from the delusions of my strength.  I wonder how many times I have actually wrestled against my merciful Lord just to be taught once again that it is He who delivers me; Him and Him alone.

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can prevail upon God.  It cannot be done through good works or extreme devotion.  We wrestle with God and prevail upon our Father in heaven through faith and prayer.  We live by faith when we seek our Lord with broken hearts, calling upon His favor.

May we be quick to remember how to contend without the need for God to put us on our head.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that I can be a slow learner.  I know that I can be forgetful of lessons that I have already learned.  Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your mercy that you have shown me while I contended in my own strength.  Father, grant me a teachable heart.  Humble me so that I will come to you in a manner that you will allow me to prevail upon you.  Grant me a faith that relies completely upon you.  Teach me how to do that.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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October 13, 2013

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

My comprehension has very distinct limitations.  It has to stretch when I contemplate that which is beyond my experience.  Thoughts of eternity prove to be especially challenging.

My life’s experiences have all included beginnings and endings.

I do not know how a complete story can be told without a beginning.

Without an ending, stories are forced to conclude with an unsatisfying  “to be continued”.

I do not know if a finite mind, born and raised in a terminable land, can truly grasp the infinite.

Inherit in the explanation that Jesus is the same, yesterday and today and forever, is the premise that He is infinite.  He is the same throughout all of time.  He does not change and is without beginning or ending.

Jesus Christ is infinite. 

tj.blackwell / Foter / CC BY-NC

My limited familiarity with the infinite probably resides in the number Pi.  Pi is an infinite, non-repeating number whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter.  It is an irrational number, which means that its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction.  Consequently, Pi never ends or repeats. It is also a transcendental number, which implies, among other things, that no finite sequence of algebraic operations on integers (powers, roots, sums, etc.) can be equal to its value.(Urban Dictionary: Pi)  Pi is infinity unique.

.sarahwynne. / Foter / CC BY-NC

What if our lives could be expressed as the result a mathematical equation such as Pi?  Consider if every moment of our existence were represented by a Pi like digit.  If our individual existences could be expressed as a mathematical equation, would it be considered rational or irrational?

As a rational number, there will be a final digit.  The long series of digits will come to a calculated end; one last digit and then no more.  There are many people who believe their life is rational.  It has a beginning and it has an ending.  They believe that their experience on this world is all that there is.  They believe that the digits of their life are merely a sequence of statistically random events.  If you were to convert those digits in into ASCII text, there would be no names of loved ones, no dates of significance, and no purpose in death.  They hold that there is no purpose to be found within the finite string of the digits of our lives; life is random and rational.

Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

However, what if there is more to our existence than our experience?  What if there is an infinite existence beyond our experience of beginnings and endings?  We know that the infinite exists.  We have the irrational number Pi.

The infinite is irrational.  Rational sense cannot be made of the irrational.  However, just because something is irrational does not mean that it does not exist.

We are told that Jesus Christ is infinite.  That statement is beyond my rational understanding.  So often, we hold the irrational at arm’s length because it troubles our rational sensibilities.  We like to be able to explain things.  We stretch our comprehension and try to grasp an understanding that is beyond all that we have known.  I accept reality that there is infinite existence by faith but that does not mean that be I grasp the full range of mysteries within the statement or that I can relate.  I cannot relate to the infinite.

By faith, I believe what the scriptures tell us.  We are irrational numbers.  The digits of our lives will continue without end, just like Pi.  All of mankind was created as unique irrational numbers.  Just because our bodies may die does not mean that our unique calculation does not continue to generate another digit.  Man was created for eternity with a brief period spent on earth with purpose in every digit.

Consider when Christ  took on flesh.  His life on this earth had a singular purpose – to be the lamb.

He came to fulfill the law.
He came to call sinners to repentance.
He came to be the light in a dark world.
He came to do the will of Him who sent Him.

Every digit of Christ’s life had purpose.  The ASCII text of the digits of Christ’s life would reveal the names of all He touched, all He showed love, all He condemned, the date of the cross, His resurrection and His ascension.  Christ’s digit would show a string of purpose and intent that is without end.  The prophesies fulfilled throughout Jesus’ life demonstrate that His existence was not the result of chance and happenstance.  There was purpose and intention in every digit of Christ’s life.

If God created the equation of Christ’s life on earth with precise meaning and intent in every digit, then why would we think that our lives are random and purposeless?  We were created to be uniquely irrational.  We were created with purpose; a string of digits full of meaning and intention.

We are the product of the great Mathematician.  He created the uniquely irrational equation that describes you and me.  He prescribed in us every digit, in the precise order that He intended.  We were created for the infinite.

I often forget that reality. 

~jjjohn~ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I often don’t live for the infinite.

Everyone who is in Christ has to come to that point in time when they relinquish themselves to the irrational.  We call it faith.  Our hope resides in the irrational mysteries of Christ.  Our hope is in infinity; that there is more to the life than what we experience.

We need to let our hope be a reality in our daily lives.  Our hope should lead our lives.  We were created for a purpose-filled infinity.  Christ came to do the will of Him who sent Him.  As irrational creations, we were created for the same purpose; to do the will of Him who has called us.

Let’s start living the irrational lives that we were created to live!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for creating a world that is beyond my comprehension.  Thank you for giving me purpose in world that appears chaotic.  Father, keep infinity in my mind.  Help me to accept the glorious irrationality of faith.  Help me to live in the hope of eternal life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



September 18, 2013

“And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire, and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance.  And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around.  And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.  Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.  Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.  And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”  Ezekiel 1:26-28

My knowledge of God is merely an introductory paragraph to depths beyond the Library of Congress’ content.
My experience of God is a single grain of salt in comparison to the seasoning of a gourmet meal.
My faith is a mole hill in the presence of Mount Everest.

I am astounded by the reality of Ezekiel’s theophany, as God appeared to him in a visionary form.  I am reminded that our eyes behold a world but there lies a reality beyond this veil.  God reigns to an extent that is beyond my knowledge, experience, and faith.

At this moment, His glory is radiating forth.
At this moment, His Spirit goes where He wills.
At this moment, the sound of the Almighty is thundering.
At this moment, His presence has the appearance of fire enclosed all around.


At this moment, He knows my name.
At this moment, He knows the hairs on my head.
At this moment, He cares for me.
At this moment, He calls me friend.
At this moment, I am His child.
At this moment, He loves me.

I am a man of such little faith.  I have eyes but I do not see.  I have ears but I do not hear.  Muted is my existence in the presence of the divine.  My Lord is all around me but I walk mostly ignorant of His reality.

How can I worry about tomorrow, when I am His?

How can I live prayerlessly, when I am awash in His love?

How can I doubt, when He is directing my steps?

My God reigns and I am His.
My hope is in the reality of the Almighty.
My faith is in what I cannot see but I know to be.

Lord, help me in my unbelief.

PRAYER: Lord, you are great and greatly to be praised.  You are higher than I can understand.  You are deeper than I can comprehend.  Thank you for showing me grace and mercy.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for showing me your steadfast love when I have been unloving.  Thank you for being faithful when I have been faithless.  Thank you for keeping me when I wander.  Help me Lord to live in your reality.  Help to live beyond my eyes and ears.  Help me to live by faith.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



September 9, 2013

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”  Proverbs 17:3

Summer must be coming to an end since I completed my last triathlon for this year.  It was a sprint distance that had us in the pool the night before the bike and run.  My preparation for this triathlon was the worst that I have ever done.  My hope was that the base that I had built over the summer of training for longer distances would carry me through.

English: Swimming event at an indoor triathlon...

English: Swimming event at an indoor triathlon. Volunteers record the total distance traveled as participants swim laps. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The swim distance for a sprint triathlon is 500 yards.  I normally swim 500 yards (10 laps) in about 8 minutes and 30 seconds.  I hedged a bit and told the tri-event coordinator that I anticipated doing the swim in 8:40 minutes in order for her to prepare the swimming heats.  I really didn’t want the pressure of being put in with the fast swimmers so I gave her what I thought was a very attainable time. Work and life has gotten rather busy so my training has been irregular.  Irregular does not actually describe my ability to get to the pool.  I made it to the pool the day before my tri-swim for the first time in about two weeks.  It was a disappointing workout.  I swam 500 yards in 9 minutes.  I was way off my normal pace.  My stroke did not feel good.  Muscles were complaining like they were being required to do a completely new motion.  The feel for the water just seemed elusive.  I am surprised at the difference a couple of weeks can make.

Even though I was not really ready, I still showed up for the evening swim.  I experienced a sensation that I have never known at any other triathlon.  It was optimism.  After watching everyone warm-up, I thought, “I might actually be able to win this thing”.  It was such a foreign concept that I was not sure how to handle it.

Full Disclosure:  My optimism had more to do with the turn-out than my ability.

The turn-out for the triathlon was very low so there was only one heat.  Two lanes over was a teenage girl who appeared to be on a swim team.  I figured that she would be my main competition.  I have found to my chagrin that teenage swimmers, particularly girls, have this strange ability to skim across the water surface.  I was hoping that she did not know how to do that.  I don’t like to lose but losing to a teenage girl is particularly hard to take.

I was stuck in the outside lane.  I realized by my first lap that I had no idea where everyone else was.  I did not know if they were ahead of me or behind me.  I snuck a peek on one turn and it looked like I was ahead.  A deep breath and another push-off the wall and I was heading in the other direction.  A few laps later I caught a glimpse of swim-team girl.  She had caught me and was slightly ahead as we came to a turn.

After we came off of the wall, she was half a body length ahead of me.  She was just skimming right along.  My optimism of winning this event sunk as I lost sight of swim-team girl.  I pulled with what was left in my arms for the last 100 yards in hopes of salvaging a modicum of dignity in the ineventuality of being beaten by a teenage girl.

I touched the wall and heard my timer shout out, “8:32”.

Wow, that was a personal best.  I have never swam that fast.  The fact that I had swum a personal best eased the realization that not only had I been beaten by swim-team girl but I had been beaten by two other swimmers.  I had sure underestimated this field.  Evidently, they were much better swimmers than I had thought.

The results for the triathlon were posted late on the following day.  I was anxious to see my split times.  I had to double check my posted swim time.  It was not 8:32.  It was 9:32, a full minute off.  All the satisfaction of swimming a personal best was sucked into the vacuum of a personal worst.  I have not swum 500 yards that slow in probably over 6 months.

It is so frustrating to know that if I had swum what I had been consistently swimming, just three weeks ago, then I would have won by over 30 seconds.  My little training hiatus affected me more than I had thought it would.

Dusty Bible

Dusty Bible (Photo credit: Chelsea Flowers)

We often convince ourselves that we can take little spiritual hiatus’ with no measurable effect.  There is the temptation to lay aside our Bibles in an effort to manage the many demands upon our time.  The value of our prayer times seem diminished during those times when all we hear are the ramblings of our mind.  It is so easy to take a seat when obedience becomes a chore and God seems distant.  The temptation of a spiritual hiatus can seem strongest when God seems quiet. I have a tendency to forget about the refining value of tests that involve the quietness of God.  I can quickly recognize a test associated with moral temptations, conflict, or suffering.  I know how to engage in those spiritual trials.  However, I am always slow to recognize the testing of God when my soul feels parched.  I am often inclined toward distraction when the spiritual milk of God is hard to come by.

It is easy for me to slide into a spiritual hiatus when I am just not feeling it.  I feel the draw to set my Bible to the side when nothing comes easily to me through the reading of those precious words.  I wonder why the Spirit seems so far away and fear that He may never return.  In these time, I can become so lackadaisical about my spiritual walk.

I seek reassurance that a lackadaisical period will not really affect me; that a break from God will have no noticeable results.  After all, I have a really good spiritual base.

How foolish is that?

We should treat the quietness of God as a test of the same importance as any other of His refining tests.  The Lord tests our hearts in many ways and the answer to all of those tests is the same – faith.  We are to live by faith through temptations, conflict, suffering and the quietness of God.

A spiritual hiatus is the worst response to the quietness of God because it is the opposite of faith.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)  Our hopes and convictions are being tested as God weans us from the sweetness of His spiritual milk for a period of time.

Faith responds to dryness by returning us to our true hope and conviction.  Dryness forces the child of God to return to the promises of God.  The last thing we should do is drift or stagnate.  Nothing good will come from setting our devotion aside even for a short period.

The quietness of God is a refining that we must embrace through the grace of God even though we don’t feel it.  It is a testing necessary for our sanctification.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have not been “feeling it” much as of late.  Forgive me for mailing in so much of my time with You.  Forgive me for once again failing to recognise the test.  Lord, draw me close to You; send the refreshing sweetness of your Spirit.  Father, open my eyes to your word once again.  Feed my hungry soul.  However, if the test is not done, sustain me, O’ Lord.  Show me your promises; keep me on the firm foundation, keep me from wandering and drifting, keep me moving toward You.   Refine my mind, my heart, my soul.  Do your work in me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



August 31, 2013

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”  2 Timothy 2:7

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington, USA.Mount Rainer garners the coveted acclaim of being the most prominent peak in the continental United States.  On clear days, the mountain dominates the Seattle horizon and can be seen as far away as Portland, Oregon.  Climbers come from around the world to ascend to its summit.  The fact that Mount Rainier became the fifth national park attests to the reality that it is a very special place.

I had the opportunity to visit Mount Rainer National Park last week as part of a business trip for the National Park Service.  I had never been to the mountain so I was very excited about getting to behold its grandeur up close.  As I began my seven hour drive across eastern Oregon and south-central Washington, I anticipated a continual procession toward the Cascade Mountain Range, anchored by Mount Rainer.  That was not the experience of my travels.  I drove through valleys and over hills that were crafted by the semi-arid climate caused by a mountain range in the west that I could not see.Mt. Rainier reflected in Reflection lake I thought that I would surely get a view of the mountain by the time I reached Yakima, Washington.  I was once again disappointed by a western horizon obscured by clouds and the obstruction of trees and lesser hills.   My ascent of Mount Rainer began shortly after leaving Yakima.  The highway clung to the edge of canyons and pierced through thick forests.

As I navigated the southern edge of the National Park, I precariously tried to stay in my driving lane as I leaned forward, craning my neck to peak across the car’s passenger window in hopes of catching a glimpse of this magnificent mountain that I knew to be there.  I observed beautiful lakes, canyons, waterfalls, and forests but I never got a glimpse of Mount Rainer.

445My meeting with the National Park Service was on the slopes adjacent to Paradise Inn.  This is the starting point for many of the climbers, intent upon summiting.  A slight drizzle welcomed my entrance to the National Park.  I thought that I would see the mountain around every bend in the road as I continued to climb in elevation.  However, the thick groves of Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar towered above me.  These 200 foot giants block all views of the horizon as effectively as any urban avenue, flanked by skyscrapers.  I knew there was a mountain that was not far from me.  In fact, I was driving across its base but I could not see it.

288I figured that I would at last behold the great summit from the parking lot of Paradise Inn.  The giant Douglas fir were below me and I was beyond all lesser mountains so there would be nothing between me and the mountain.  I immediately looked up as I stepped from my car.  I was greeted with raindrops upon my face and a magnificent view of clouds.

I never saw the summit of Mount Rainer.  I hiked across many of the trails on the mount’s base but never beheld what I knew to be there.  I had to rely upon my reasoning to determine that there was a great peak occupying my entire view but still hidden from my eyes.  The deer that I shared the slopes with had no concept that they were treading across greatness.  The grouse, whooing in the underbrush, had no ability to reason beyond all the obstructions and understand that he was on the edge of magnificence.

Man is the only creature who has the ability to think beyond the senses and understand that there is more in this world than what we can perceive.  It takes thinking to have an understanding beyond what five sensory inputs can tell us.

God created us with the special ability to think.  Just like I was in the presence of a great peak, we are all constantly in the presence of the greatness and magnificence of our Creator.  Yet, we rarely get to see more than a glimpse of Him.  We are blinded by obstructions.  We are distracted by the immediacy of life’s demands.  He is obscured by the haze of our flesh.

Thankfully, God did not leave us in condition where we could never know of him.  He gave us the ability to think.  It is through this gift of thinking that God works beyond our senses to give us understanding.  Paul was confident that when Timothy gave time to meditation and contemplation in reflection upon what he was taught that the Lord would grant him insight and knowledge into the wisdom of the scriptures.

Faith is not mindless.

The Spirit informs our contemplation to grant us understanding of what is all around us but hidden from our senses.  We often expect God to reveal himself to us without doing our part – thinking.  Just like Timothy, we need to think about what we are told in the scriptures, which means we must spend time in the scriptures; meditating upon them, praying through them, and studying them.

Let’s spend more time with the Spirit; thinking over the gift that we have been given through divine inspiration.  I am confident that we will be amazed at the understanding  given of the spiritual world that we are trekking through but rarely see.

PRAYER: Lord, teach me to think.  Bless the time that I take to think about the things of the Spirit.  Reveal yourself to me in my times of contemplation and meditation.  Forgive me for neglecting and undervaluing the time that I spend with my thoughts devoted to You.  I know that I don’t do it as often or a faithfully as I should.  I need your help, Father.  Help me to set my mind wholly upon you.  I want to know you more.  I want to understand all that I cannot see.  Thank you for not leaving me to my senses.  Thank you for giving me the understanding and wisdom that can come only from You. I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“SUMMER HEAT” – August 14

August 14, 2013

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

Utah desert Mist

Utah desert Mist (Photo credit: Loco Steve)

My personal battle with gophers continues but the media has changed.  The gophers continue to mound the debris of their subterranean creations on the surface of my field.  However, these mounds are no longer heaps of malleable brown clay containing the lingering moisture of a long winter.  The heat of summer has wrung the soil dry.  My field is speckled by tan mounds of wisping dust, dug from earth hardened by months of unrelenting heat.

The sun scorches this field in its natural condition.  Agriculture fruit does not sprout from its soil since irrigation water is beyond the reach of even the most adventurous root.  The green along the ditch banks stands in sole defiance against the brown of August heat.  A canopy of green aligns the irrigation waste ditch running below this waterless field.  Trees have sprung up to the sky and their leaves remain green no matter the number of days whose temperatures eclipse the century mark.

English: Oasis near Ica in Peru

English: Oasis near Ica in Peru (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The heat cannot brown the leaves of these trees.  These trees have sent out their roots beneath the source of sustaining water.  These trees have no reason to fear the bleakness of their surroundings because all that can been seen is not what is ensuring their life.

We all go through dry times.  We all will experience the spiritual bleakness of an August month.  The heat of circumstances can feel as if it were wringing dry the freshness of our soul.  As the spiritual drought comes on, we might have the tendency to panic.  We might become dejected and anxious.  We might allow our eyes to go in search of refreshment to stave off our parched sensibilities.

We have no need to fear when we trust in the Lord.  When we place our trust in the Lord, it is like roots sunk deep under a mighty river.  The refreshing living water that will sustain us through any scorching trial comes through the conduits of trust.  A Child of God can continue to be a productive oasis even in the bleakest of desert because they are not nourished by what is on the surface.  Their trust is in what is unseen.  Their assurance is in things hoped for.

I have walked through many a dry spell.  Those have been discouraging times that I have not enjoyed.  However, there have been lessons for me in each exposure to the intense heat life.

The most important lesson of these trials has been trust.  When I feel a drought coming on, my tendency has been to get anxious.  I don’t like the heat.  I don’t like the discomfort that I know is coming.  I love the freshness of a spiritual spring.  I relish the vitality that comes to me when my surroundings are drenching me with the water of encouragement and joy.  New growth and fruit comes naturally and easy in the spring of my soul.

I then have to put my trust in the promises of God.  Trust in God pumps His living water to a soul being wrung dry from the heat of a dry season.  That is why we are blessed.  We are blessed because through the power of a great and living God we can thrive through any barrenness.  We are blessed because we have a Father in heaven who gives us what we need, when we need it.  He is the one who sustains us when we feel like we are going to shrivel up and blow away.

We just need to continue to trust Him.

PRAYER: Lord, you know how much I dislike dry seasons.  However, I know that I need them.  I know that I need to learn how to trust you more.  I know that I don’t trust you like I should.  Help me to trust you more.  Thank you for all the blessings that flow from trusting in you.  You are so good to me.  You have sustained me through so many droughts.  I know that you will carry me through the dry seasons that are yet to come.  Thank you.  Help me to be fruitful in all seasons.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



July 17, 2013

“To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? … To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”  Isaiah 40:18, 25

Girl on a Cell Phone & Street Scene - Hoi An, ...

I am amazed by my cell phone. These ubiquitous mobile devices have become so common that few marvel any longer at what they do.

I can receive a telephone call while standing in the middle of the wilderness;
I can speak to my daughter as she speeds (as a passenger) along the interstate;
My wife can send me a shopping list as I walk into the grocery store;
I can see pictures from the other side of the world a few moments after they’re taken;
I can surf the internet while flying through the air (not that I have ever done that).

English: Cut-away cell phone

Cell phones really are phenomenal.  Yet, I don’t know how they work.  I understand that sound, images, and data are transformed into 1’s and 0’s and then transmitted via radio waves through the air.

There are an untold amount of unseen waves that are passing through us at this very moment.  We are surrounded by the waves containing the explanations of a people’s day.  We are awash in all sorts of unseen information every moment of our existence.  However, we would be oblivious to it all if it were not for our little devices that translate this unseen world.

Modern Cowboy, Talks on His Cell Phone

Modern Cowboy, Talks on His Cell Phone (Photo credit: Lance and Erin)

I am very thankful to the people who invented my cell phone and all the associated technology because I am not able to build a cell phone.  The technology is beyond me.  In fact, I accept their explanation of how my cell phone works.  I have taken physics classes and understand radio waves but I don’t have a clue of how to practically get sound to be transmitted in a way that can neither be seen nor heard.  I really have no personal evidence that my voice actually flies through the air on a wave after I speak into my phone.  I believe what I am told.

Biking and Talking on Cell Phone...

Biking and Talking on Cell Phone… (Photo credit: MyEyeSees)

In fact, I think that there are very few who know how a cell phone actually works but that has not stopped 6 billion of us from using them.  How many of these 6 billion people do you think have the knowledge to construct a cell phone and its appurtenances from scratch?  Probably, only a minuscule percentage has that sort of knowledge.  Yet, billions of people pick up their cell phones every day and make calls.  They will dial numbers into their mobile devices and expect the calls to go through.  They use their cell phone because they don’t have to know how it actually works. Consider the depths of God and how vastly more complicated are His works.  God transcends my understanding beyond any lack of knowledge about technology.  I might be able to figure out how to build a cell phone but I am incapable of figuring God out on my own.

How can I?

What are the implications of being beyond time?
How can He be in all places at the same time?
What is it like to hold all knowledge?
What does it take to create something out of nothing?
How can physical properties change with a spoken word?

All of those attributes of God are beyond my comprehension.  Therefore, I am incapable of figuring Him out.  The only way for me to know God is for Him to show Himself to me.

Many refuse to believe in anything that cannot be confirmed by science or their own eyes.  Often, they believe what they are told about how the world works yet they never confirm anything on their own.  They accept the explanations of those who know how the physical world works.

What about when the explanation of the workings lies beyond the understanding of this world?

How can we know how God’s world really works?  There is no one on this earth who knows that.  That knowledge can only come from God.  He has to show us.

Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?  Isaiah 40:13-14

Fortunately, God has revealed Himself to us through His Word.  He has not shown us everything.  I still have a lot of questions about how things actually work but apparently I don’t need those answers.  We have been given  what we need to come to Christ in faith.  Just like we don’t need to know how our cell phones work to use them, we don’t need to know all the answers to how God works.

We will never have all the answers. 

We must come to Christ realizing there is a level of understanding that is simply beyond our comprehension.  We still must make a decision to receive Jesus Christ as our personal savior and Lord.  We have been give sufficient knowledge for that decision.  Therefore, our first step is to give up on our own understanding and cry out to Him.  Call upon Christ without worrying about how that works.  He will answer.  He always does.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.  These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.  Isaiah 42:16

PRAYER: Lord, help me to accept that there are some things that I can’t understand.  Help to accept what you have given me to understand.  Lord, keep me in the Truth that You have given to us so that we may know You.  Give me discernment to recognize what is of You and what is a fabrication of our enemy and man.  Lord, keep me from straying from your Word.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



July 8, 2013

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”  Isaiah 6:3

I survey the activities of this earth with a flick of the remote or a click of the mouse.  What I see draws me to the conclusion that I live within a broken world.

I see a burned wreckage of a plane; glory does not come to mind.
I read of the violence in Egypt and Syria; descriptions do not sound glorious.
I observe the continual subterfuge of politics; I see no intentions set on glorifying.
I know many are dying from disease; glorious does not enter the terminology.

Many view the world with eyes from the same perspective as my own.  The most common accusation against God emerges from the observations of a broken world.

If God is a loving god, then why would he allow so much pain and suffering?

Isaiah could have questioned the bleakness of his world.  King Uzziah had died.  The nation was surrounded by enemies and its destruction was not far off.  Faithlessness, oppression, and arrogance were the fruit of the land.

Yet, there was a song being sung at that very moment in Isaiah’s life.  While Isaiah was physically in a bleak world, God’s holiness was being proclaimed in the heavens.  While Israel was on the threshold of being crushed, the world was proclaimed as being full of God’s glory.  God was on the throne in all His holiness, reigning as the Sovereign ruler of the whole bleak universe.

The song of the earth is quite different than the song in heaven.  The bleakness of this world causes many to curse rather than praise.

Curses come from a perspective that is plagued by our inability to see God’s manifested holiness.  I look and see glimpses of holiness but the unholiness seems overwhelming.  The limitations of my flesh blinds me to His glory.  When I look upon this world, all I tend to see is brokenness.  That brokenness does exist.

There is evil in the world.
There is rebellion in this world.
There is hate, pain and suffering all around us.

However, all of that unpleasantness does not cancel out God’s glory.  Far from canceling God’s glory, all of this brokenness exists within His glory.  It all resides within God’s plan of redemption.  The redeeming of an unholy and rebellious people by the holy and sovereign Lord of hosts can only be described as glorious.

The whole earth is filled with brokenness.  The whole earth is full of His glory. 

These contrasting perspectives are so difficult for me to comprehend.  I do not claim to have understanding or insight of how this can be true.  I accept it by faith.  I accept that there is a glory around me that I cannot see.  I praise God when I get glimpses and I long for the day when the redeemed are called and the fullness of His glory is revealed.

They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Isaiah 11:9

Until that day I will live by faith; I will have a conviction of things that I cannot see.(Heb. 11:1)  I believe that the glory of God is all around me.  I do not need to see it.  The Spirit confirms within my spirit that it is truth.

Until that day I will live by faith; I will place my assurance in the hope of the day without hurt and destruction. (Heb. 11:1)   I hope in the days when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.  I look forward to the day when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb; the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the cow and the bear shall graze together; the day when violence, pain and suffering are covered with comfort and peace.

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.  Isaiah 11:10

Until that day, those who follow Christ live in a broken world while walking by faith in the glory of God.  I don’t know how that works.  I just know that it does and for that I praise the Lord.

PRAYER: Holy, holy, holy are you my Lord and Savior.  The whole world is full of your glory.  Forgive me for all the times that I have lost sight of that.  Forgive me for not being in continual praise as those who are in your presence.  You are great and highly to be praised.  Father, help me to keep my eyes on you.  Help me to keep my mind-set upon you and your glory.  Keep my faith secure in all that I cannot see and my hope in you and you alone.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



July 6, 2013

“O Israel, trust in the Lord!  He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!  He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!  He is their help and their shield.”  Psalm 115:9-11

Baby Toss

Baby Toss (Photo credit: Valdemarick)

Squeals of delight; shrieks of admonishment.  Most every father has heard both of these sounds at the same moment.

I do not know what possesses us fathers to throw our children but it must be written in our DNA.  Fathers have this strange obsession with making their progeny fly.  If it were not for the concerns of mothers and grandmothers, we probably would have made it into a sport.  I can just imagine the World Championships of the Baby Tossing.  It probably could be an Olympic event.

Like any good sport, there are some fundamentals to baby tossing that need to be mastered:

  1. The power for the toss comes from the lower body.  So, a good explosive movement from bent legs is essential.  A tosser might even exhibit a small hop when transferring his upward motion into the frame of the toddler.
  2. The release needs to be crisp.  Entanglement on a diaper or the clinging of small hand can send the tossee into the most irregular of patterns.  The energy is then wasted into flailing rather than soaring.
  3. While the soaring occurs, the tosser has to keep his eye on the child.  ADD dads might struggle at this stage but it is critical not to become distracted while the full delights of flight are expressed in wonderful squeals of youth.
  4. The most critical of all the baby tossing stages is the catch.  The arms should be extended high so the catch can be accomplished as early as possible.  This enables the speed of decent to be consumed into the arms and legs of the father as they bring their joyful child back to ground.
Baby Toss

Baby Toss (Photo credit: deltaMike)

The most important factor in baby tossing is trust.  The child must trust his father.  For the child to fly, he must trust that his father will not drop him.  Flying can be terrifying if you are afraid of being dropped.  There can be no delight in flying upwards when all you can think about is tumbling downwards.

Therefore, trust is the difference between experiencing delight or fear.

Trust is defined as an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.

The child who loves being tossed has an assured reliance on the character, ability,  and strength of his father.  He knows that he will be caught.  He can enjoy the flight because he is assured of the catch.  Mothers’ concerns arise because they do not have the same assured reliance in the father as their child.

The uncertainty of this world can often feel like being tossed in the air.  There are a variety of emotions that can be felt when we are tossed about but I have known very few who have described it as delightful.  I wonder if the reason we fail to enjoy the flight of a good toss comes from being so concerned with the catch.  Our unwillingness to being tossed into the unknown often has more to do with trust than prudence.

Happy Baby Toss

Happy Baby Toss (Photo credit: Kables)

Do you trust your Father in heaven?

Consider God’s character, his ability, his strength, his faithfulness.  We can be delighted in all of our circumstances because we have an assured reliance on being caught.  He is more than able to catch us.  He has the power to lift us high.  He has the ability to make us fly straight.  He will never take His eye off of us.  He is faithful to make everything work out for good – He promises to catch us.  Our problem is that we often don’t trust the promise.

We can soar through this world in the strength of the Spirit if we will just trust in our Father.  The difference between living in joyful delight or fear resides in trust; an assured reliance on the Father.

Who are you trusting?

PRAYER: Lord, open my eyes.  I know that I hedge.  I know that I can become so afraid of crashing that I never enjoy the delights of fully trusting in you.  Father, you are more than capable of catching me.  Lord, help me to trust You when I feel like I have been tossed high.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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