God, Where Are You??

DrRvrBdI’m troubled most when God is quiet. When living water seems to have dried up. Consider Psalm 77:7-9…

Will the Lord spurn forever, & never again be favorable? 8 Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

When God is silent I get anxious. I start questioning… wondering and wandering… my mind tends toward discouragement. I identify with the uncertainties of what is written in the Scripture above. What about you?

Intellectually I know God is omnipresent. It’s the personal sensed favorable presence of God I/we need. We are like the little kid scared by thunder at night who crawls into bed with his mom and dad for safety. God’s “stuff” (Material blessings) mean nothing in comparison to His felt presence. Houses, land, money, and men’s recognition is crap compared to everything this world offers (Don’t get offended, Paul said it first in Phil 3:8. “Rubbish” is better translated “barnyard dung.”).

Therefore there are other Scriptures I go to which answer Psalm 77’s questions…

You who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Ps 56:8-11

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. 2 He only is my rock & my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Ps 62:1-2

You (God) who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

What I feel (God’s absence) is not reality (God is present). Sometimes He causes us to feel absence of His presence to long more for Him and be satisfied with His presence above all things.

Patience With The Hurting

GoodSamJohn Maxwell wrote, “Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by people.”

We live in a broken world where everyone has secret problems. Some hide and handle them well… others (Because of what they are dealing with internally) are withdrawn, short-fused, harsh, detached, emotional, and have all kinds of dysfunctions. We are ALL dysfunctional… it is just a matter of degree, which should affect how we interact with others who are dysfunctional just like us.

Patience, mercy, and grace with others is a rare virtue… but a blessing when encountered. Hurting people don’t need to be told to pull themselves up by their boot straps… nor do they need to be told others are tired of drilling holes and pulling them through it. What they need is patience, mercy, grace, compassion, and love.

Hurting people are messy… I’m messy! Like the Good Samaritan, we are to bind up the wounds of the hurting REGARDLESS of how they got wounded! Yes, it will require sacrifice on your part. It may require you to suffer while binding up their wounds. But that is what Christians are called to do because that is what Jesus did for US.

Be patient with those who are hurting. Give them space to not be perfect. Allow them time to work through problems and help them toward what they are seeking… Peace in Jesus Christ! Remember what Jesus said… “When you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.” Keep in mind what is found in Hebrews 10:32-35…

Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.

What The Heart Wants

Heart WantsEver been asked, “Why did you do that?!” There is a better answer than, “I don’t know!” Some explain it as… “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Tim Keller suggests…

“What the heart trusts, the mind justifies, the emotions desire, and the will carries out. Everything follows the heart.”

Everything we do does spring from the heart. The mind, emotions, and will follow it. If the heart is right, so will be the mind and actions. If the heart is evil, there is no hope. We cannot control the heart, only God can. Consider…

Jer 24:7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

Jer 32:38 They shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.

Ezek 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My rules and obey them.

Ezek 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

There is a progression that takes place inside us every time we say or do anything, even though it might be immeasurably short. Heart… mind… emotions… will… ACTION. This order cannot be subverted as it has been determined by God. Thus… in our hopes of transforming society, families, government, or anyone… we must address the seat of it all… the human heart.

It then follows that programs, seminars, initiatives, and laws will forever fall short of bringing about substantive change since none of those things change the heart. Instead Christians are to pray for God to do what only He can do… change people’s hearts (Jer 24:7, 32:38-39; Ez 11:19-20, 36:26-27 above).

Understanding Waiting On God

WOGIf God granted every prayer request, we would be spiritually spoiled brats. Not only that, it would not be loving for God to give us everything we want… when we want it… because we want it. It is a good thing that God both says “No” to our requests and makes us wait extended times before He answers other requests. Consider…

“Providence so ordered it that all that night they should catch nothing, that the miraculous draught of fishes in the morning might be the more wonderful.” Matthew Henry on John 21:3-6.

We need to remember that when we pray, if something is good for us and will glorify God, He will grant the request. If both requirements aren’t met… no matter how hard we pray, how many people pray with us, how much faith we have, or how bad we want something… God will NOT grant the request. As it is written in Ps 84:11, “No good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly (Who are in Christ).”

The Apostles fished all night in all the best places with all their expertise… there was not a single fish in the boat. But then… Jesus said (Paraphrased), “You’ve been doing it wrong. Try the other side.” And what happened? There was a haul of fish over and above they imagined could happen. God’s providence of a fruitless night of fishing was worth the one haul that occurred in the morning.

Application: Are your nets empty… after fishing all night? “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone…” (Gal 6:9-10).

I’m ALWAYS Right! (Part 2)

A 19751What you project onto others is a strong indicator of who you are if Titus 1:15 is true… “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” (Click Here for Part 1)

An untrustworthy person believes others can’t be trusted. A manipulator believes others are manipulators. A liar thinks all people lie. A person who thinks they are always right refuses to consider those who disagree with them could be right. A critical person regularly finds fault with others. That is Titus 1:15…

A person who can be trusted, trusts others. A person of truth believes what others tell them. A person who is faithful will put their faith in others. A loving person will defend those others attack. That is Titus 1:15…

Now let’s examine our heart.

What do we think about others?

What do our thoughts about others mean about us?

Does what you’ve read so far offend you?

Are you finding fault with this application of Titus 1:15?

The purpose for studying Scripture is NOT to first help others get their life right with God, it is to conform US to the image of Christ. God’s Word is a mirror WE are to look into for self-examination. I figure if God has been working this in me, there might be others who could benefit from these thoughts.  Hebrews 4:12,

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Winning EVERY Argument!

WINI once read an article titled, “Why we don’t have to win every argument.”  The title intrigued me. So now for a few thoughts on winning every argument…

When we get into a disagreement with someone, our #1 priority is usually to WIN!  To win takes logic, volume, trickery, and passion… right?  But those “wins” are usually losses.

Here are a few thoughts that hopefully will lead to winning every argument.

The short answer is: Redefine what “winning” means.

Winning means being convinced when you are right (Romans 14:5). There are times we need to be unmovable… unwilling to compromise. But pick and choose those times carefully because if we are that way about everything, we set ourselves up to be wrong… a lot.

Winning is being confident when we are right.  We can’t let a person who disagrees with us get under our skin. When I know I’m right, those who oppose me are not a threat. But when I’m uncertain, I get defensive when someone disagrees with me. It’s not a win if we blow our stack as we discuss a matter… regardless of who’s right.

Winning means coming to truth when we realize we are wrong. No one knows everything. Therefore, moving from not knowing or believing the truth TO knowing and believing the truth is a win.

Winning doesn’t mean convincing the other person we are right. It is impossible for some people to ever admit they are wrong. Sometimes we just have to let them continue in their ignorance. Like the country preacher said, “They ain’t made a stick big enough to beat up ignorance.”

Winning doesn’t require destroying the person. There is nothing wrong with allowing the person who disagrees with us to save face.

Winning means choosing what is worth arguing over and what isn’t. Some things just aren’t all that important… so why argue?

Winning sometimes means allowing for both parties to continue to hold their beliefs… even  in opposition… in order to maintain the relationship.

Winning means being willing for the disagreement not to be resolved in just one meeting. It might take time and several discussions before the matter is resolved.  Be patient.

Winning means God changing the other person according to His time (Which we can’t, nor should try to do). We can trust Him to change opinions if they need to be changed. We can wait for Him to do His work. We don’t have to always have our own way. We can set aside lesser things for His sake.  We can seek the good of those with whom we disagree.  We can work together for the sake of The Kingdom.

I hope these help. Now if I can just remember them all the next time I find myself disagreeing with someone! Part 2 will be tomorrow… God willing.

Spit In The Eye Is Good!

John 9:1 As (Jesus) passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Yesterday blind spots were introduced. Today a process for dealing with them will be suggested… not for the faint of heart or soul. Sometimes it takes something that seems odd or offensive to enable seeing. Jesus made mud out of spit… put it on a man’s eyes… so he could be healed of blindness. Metaphorically it takes mud in our eyes… made out of spit… for us to see.

OOSConsider, if everyone is out of step BUT YOU, maybe YOU are the one out of step! So what to do? Here are four thoughts…

Ask For God’s Help. Unless God REVEALS to you your blind spots, you will NOT EVER admit their presence. Your mom and dad tried to tell you about them and you ignored them. Your spouse has told you, and you dismissed that thought also. You need a supernatural revelation from God to see the truth about yourself.

Ask A Friend For Help. You will have to press your friend kind of hard for them to be honest with you. They would prefer to keep you as a friend. So press them… listen to them… consider IF they are honest with you it is proof they love you.

Consider Your Contribution To Problems You’ve Had. Contrary to what we think, we’re not always right… perfect… or completely innocent! In every problem there are two sides with the truth somewhere in the middle. Rather than blaming others for their faults and mistakes, look for your contribution to the situation. Then work towards reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration.

Last, Get Ready For A Bumpy Ride of Love. I asked God for 18 months to show me my blind spots one time. He finally did. And after three weeks I asked Him to please stop. I couldn’t take it. It hurt too much. However, the end result was (As is continuing) to be a great blessing. As it is written in Hebrews 12:10…

(God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.