Sunday, June 25, 2006

Offended, Reading, Change

Looked into my small stash of books today. Looking for answers, I guess. Or at least comfort. Picked out four. The Geography of the Soul, by C. Welton Caddy. The Priest, by Francine Rivers. Breaking Intimidation and The Bait of Satan, both by John Bevere.

Picked The Bait of Satan for now, but leaving the others nearby. I have had this book for years. This particular copyright is 1994, and I think that I got it around 1995, and read most of it then. While it was interesting, it did not apply to me...until now.

It is about being offended by others, especially Christians; and, not being able to let go of the hurt because of how deep the pain goes. He uses words like betrayal. At one part, he says, “How sad that we can find example after example of offense, betrayal, and hatred among believers today. It is so rampant in our homes and churches that it is considered normal behavior…Ministry politics are played at an all-time high. It is disguised as being in the ‘best interest’ of the kingdom or the church.” That is almost exactly what I was told; then and as late as last week!! Wow, Maybe I will find some answers that I need to find.
But the bait of satan is not about what happened; the bait is me putting up walls to protect myself from future hurt, and leaving them up. Whats crazy, is that I know all of this, have consistently prayed against it, but I have to face the fact that I may be there anyway.

I can tell something is changing, but cannot tell what. I know, for the most part, it is deep inside; but, there is probably much more to it. But again, it may be something as simple as where to go to church. I don't know-just going with the flow.

Not really sure about God's Voice anymore, just doing the best I can...praying, reading the Bible, and guessing. But I decided to go back to the last thing that I know for sure that I heard from God. There are many instances over the last 5 or six years, that I thought at one time was God’s Voice, but the last thing that I know for sure (or think that I know for sure) was maybe 1997 or so…give or take a year.
I was at Northrop. I was going through my morning routine. Get up at 5a.m. or so, get a cup of coffee, my Bible, and sit down. First, watch the weather forecast and sip some coffee. Then, turn the TV off and read for about 15 minutes in my Bible. That particular morning, I chose to begin in Jeremiah, and read at least one chapter every morning. I did not make it past the first few verses. I read Jeremiah 1:1-12, but when I got to Jeremiah 1:4-12, I had to stop. All I could do was cry.

So, last week, I read that again. Nothing major; but, I am meditating on it all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Stir Up The Nest"

My disclaimer: There are many people out in the world that have used this phrase (including myself); and, it seems to be gaining in popularity. I have heard it several times in the past two years concerning me and my life. In fact, that is how my difficulties began—someone used this phrase as part of the reason for changing the course of my life. In retrospect, I handled it all wrong. But I digress…I only mention that to say that I have given the phrase a lot of thought and have determined, that we are all idiots. (again, including myself)

Maybe that is a little harsh. Maybe I should have used the word ‘ignorant’--referring to our lack of knowledge, yet thinking that we do know, we run with it anyway.

My intentions are to get us all (especially including myself) to think and study a little more before we latch on to and use popular phrases and concepts thinking they are Biblical. When we do this, we naturally gravitate to using these phrases and concepts for our own self-motivated agendas. Or, at best, we are shallow.

Anyway, here are my current thoughts on this concept of God kicking people “out of the nest”…

When I first heard it, I believe that it was a sermon concerning the necessity for God to move us out of our comfort zone so that we would not get ‘fat and lazy’. Sometimes, God has to stir up the nest so that we will fly into what God has designed for us; and, I think that is fairly Biblical. In fact, the mother eagle has been known to take the nest apart so that the eaglet will not have a place to get comfortable. I think that we have all experienced this in our walk with God.

The Bible text seems to be Deut 32:11. As long as God is the one stirring up the nest, it will be fine, because He will always do the next part—“…spread His wings and catch them, and carry them…” In fact, when you read the context of that verse, the main thing up to this point is that God will take care of us.

Here is where it gets tricky…when we, being the humans that we are, take this concept and use it to make decisions on our own, instead of really and truly finding out what God wants to do. For instance, if I am wanting to accomplish a particular goal in my ministry, even a good, decent goal, it is easy to dismiss someone who does not fit, assuming that God is orchestrating the whole event. In reality, God may be allowing it, but in the heart, we are wrong because our motivation is inward on self, not outward towards the one being dismissed. I know…I did this in a way; and, later, it was done to me.

This brings up another phrase… “Whatever happens, God either allows or plans”. Yes, but that cannot be an excuse for doing the wrong thing. If I hit my wife, I cannot simply walk away and say, “God allowed that to happen…” We will all be held accountable for what we do, even if God does plan or allow it. There is still the neccesstiy for saying, “I was wrong” and making it right. But again, I digress…

Here is my main point: “God…has to kick you out of the nest…” If we are going to use that analogy, let’s use it in its entirety--especially if the decision is, humanly speaking, ours. A mother eagle knows when the time is right to kick her babies out of the comfort of the nest; and, she swoops down under the eaglet before it hits the rocks. This will go on for as many times as it takes, until he learns to fly. If we really feel that God is working through us to stir up someone’s nest, we must also be responsible for swooping down and carrying the baby eagle. If we don’t, the baby eagle will hit the rocks and may never fly.

I don’t think that God would speak to anyone and tell them to do the first half (kick out of the nest) but not the second half (help them to fly on their own). If we don’t do both parts, we will have crippled eagles that need healing. Just look around, you will probably see several...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mysterious Ways

This began as a personal Bible study concerning the quote, “God works in mysterious ways.” However, it turned into something totally different. Before posting it as a blog, I usually edit so that it will ‘flow’. But this time, I just let it ride. (I hope you enjoy this brief trip into how my mind works.) In the end, I learned that while I don’t really like using, or hearing, the aforementioned quote, (it has become too cliché) it is somewhat true at our human level. What began as my own research into the Bible concerning that quote, meandered through some thoughts about Bible translations, and ended up on 1 Corinthians 14; where I think I heard the Voice say, “You need to get back to praying privately in tongues, now that you realize a little better what you are really doing.” And lastly, a reminder of the Power of Peace as a result of Pursuit through Prayer.

The phrase “God works in mysterious ways” is quoted quite often; and, it is a fairly accurate statement. His ways can be difficult to understand-especially when He allows ‘more than we can handle’ in our life. But are His ways really mysterious-in the way that we understand that word? I did a word search in five different versions and here are the results.

One thing jumps out at me. The word mysterious is used often in the NLT, which is the only version that I will not read. I have run into too many verses that give an idea that is simply not what the original text says. In the past, I would use it as a study aid when I ran across a particular text that was difficult to understand. Too often, as I did word studies, I found that the NLT was slightly off. There are too many other versions out there that are just as easy to read, whose translations are far more accurate. As I understand it, most Bible scholars say that some of the most accurate translations are as follows:
King James (KJV or AV [Authorized Version])
New King James (NKJV)
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
Darby’s Translation (DARBY)
American Standard (ASB)
New American Standard (NASB)
New International Version (NIV)
Amplified Version

The NKJV, NIV, ASB, NASB are all easy to read. In fact, I understand that the NASB is the most accurate ‘modern’ translation; and, it is surprisingly easy to read. The Amplified Version is a great one to read if you want to know the meaning of some words as you read along without having to look them up in the Strong’s Concordance/Dictionary. (Don’t use an English dictionary to look up definitions of words in the Bible. While it may be accurate at times, often, it is slightly off. Use a Bible Dictionary or Strong’s)

Here are four versions side by side of 1 Corinthians 14:1-3, looking particularly at verse 2 and the use of speaking mysteries as opposed to being mysterious.
In the last part of 1 Corinthians 14:2, the NLT says, “You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious”. However, the other versions say, “…in his spirit, he speaks mysteries.”

To the casual Bible reader, this is may be nothing; but, there is a big difference between being mysterious and speaking mysteries. When praying to God privately in tongues, I would much rather know that the Spirit is speaking mysteries through me, rather than the whole thing simply being mysterious.

I feel that this is one of those things that happen in us without even realizing it. We read ‘mysterious’ instead of ‘speaking mysteries’, and just don’t get the whole picture. We sell ourselves short and don’t walk in fullness.

Hmmmm….maybe that is what this is all about. I should not fret too much about a cliché phrase; instead, I should understand what one is really doing when praying in tongues, and get back into that discipline.

Maybe God does work in mysterious ways; or, at least in ways that we cannot understand. But even that is not really the issue. The issue is that when things happen to us that we can’t comprehend, we can receive peace that passes comprehension.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

God will not put more on you than you can handle?

It’s tough right now. It is to the point of giving up; however, decisions must be made. Things must get done. There is no stopping. Yet, I am not sure what to do or how to do it. What do you do when you and your spouse are both working full time jobs, but you still can’t afford a much needed ‘new’ used car? What do you do when you can’t afford the rent where you are staying, but you can’t find another place to live? What do you do when…? I am just guessing my way through this.

Thinking back, I was at a job that where I had been for almost 10 years and had worked my way up to 18/hr. Left that job to follow the Voice of God. I continued to follow that Voice for three years. But, in 2004, almost the exact opposite of what I heard that Voice say occurred. Instead of changing roles, and staying there 4-5 more years, we were gone in 4-5 weeks! Went from being able to pay all of our bills on time and having dependable transportation, to bankruptcy in 6 months. Since then, I have had 4 different jobs and one period of unemployment. Did I miss something? It may sound like I am blaming people or circumstances, but the real issue is with me and God Himself; and, the fact that there does not seem to be a Voice anymore.

Maybe there is a Voice, but I don’t trust it. Maybe the voice that I had grown accustomed to was not really The Voice that I thought it was. Maybe this, maybe that…I have been absolutely clueless for the past two years. The only thing that I can trust right now, is the Bible. I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust my prayer life, I don’t trust preachers/ministers/churches, I don’t trust well-meaning people, and I have realized that there is not, and never will be, a ‘safe place' anywhere. (It's not that I 'dis-trust', or think that people are out to get me, but I don't trust either. I just feel nothing.) That leaves me with only one thing to do, or I die…read my Bible consistently…even if I don’t seem to be getting anything out of it. And, I continue to pray—hoping that one day something will ‘click’ again.

As I think back over all of that and wonder about our future…I think about a phrase that I have heard often over the years—“God will not put more on you than you can handle.” Really? Usually we even add, “That’s what the Bible says”. Then why do we get to a point where we can’t handle any more? Why do people have nervous breakdowns? Why are people hospitalized because of exhaustion?

I have not yet found this concept in the Bible. I think that we get this idea from 1 Corinthians 10:13, but this speaks to temptation…not difficulties of life. What I do see in the Bible is plenty of examples of having more than one can handle. Here are just a few:

· A fiery furnace is definitely more than I could handle. Daniel 3:17-18; (I can’t handle these 100 degree days in middle Georgia.)
· Destitute, ill-treated Christians who did not receive what was promised. Hebrews 11:37-40;
· Paul asking God to remove a messenger of Satan, and God doesn’t. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
· Paul describes what, in my opinion, is more than he could handle. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30;
· And of course, there is Job. I should probably read all 42 chapters at this time. Who could handle all of this? And God is orchestrating the whole thing! Then, in James, we see all of that summed up. James 5:11;

I believe that God not only allows more than we can handle, He makes sure that we will have more than we can handle. We pray against it, we call it an attack from the enemy, we ask God to remove us from it, and all sorts of things. However, we should expect it. We should even be content, almost happy, about it. We should even brag about it?

WHY? So that we will become totally dependent on Him. Wouldn’t it better to walk victoriously throught the shadow of death instead of delivered from it? He puts more than we can handle on us, to break us. It has to happen. The Relationship cannot go deeper until it does. The focus should instead be on our response to difficulties, not the difficulties themselves. So, I find encouragement in the following:

Heb 12:4 ¶ You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Jas 5:10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

1Pet 1:6 ¶ In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith––the salvation of your souls.

Rev 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Dews of Grace Fall Heavily in the Night of Sorrow

Devotional from Charles Spurgeon
June 1-Morning {Daily Reading: Ezra 1:1-2:70}

"The evening and the morning were the first day." {#Ge 1:5}

Was it so even in the beginning? Did light and darkness divide the realm of time in the first day? Then little wonder is it if I have also changes in my circumstances from the sunshine of prosperity to the midnight of adversity. It will not always be the blaze of noon even in my soul concerns, I must expect at seasons to mourn the absence of my former joys, and seek my Beloved in the night. Nor am I alone in this, for all the Lord’s beloved ones have had to sing the mingled song of judgment and of mercy, of trial and deliverance, of mourning and of delight. It is one of the arrangements of Divine providence that day and night shall not cease either in the spiritual or natural creation till we reach the land of which it is written, "there is no night there." What our heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.

What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do? Learn first to be content with this divine order, and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord as well as good. Study next, to make the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. Praise the Lord for the sun of joy when it rises, and for the gloom of evening as it falls. There is beauty both in sunrise and sunset, sing of it, and glorify the Lord. Like the nightingale, pour forth thy notes at all hours. Believe that the night is as useful as the day. The dews of grace fall heavily in the night of sorrow. The stars of promise shine forth gloriously amid the darkness of grief. Continue thy service under all changes. If in the day thy watchword be labour, at night exchange it for watch. Every hour has its duty, do thou continue in thy calling as the Lord’s servant until he shall suddenly appear in his glory. My soul, thine evening of old age and death is drawing near, dread it not, for it is part of the day; and the Lord has said, "I will cover him all the day long."

Pitied and Tended by Divine Providence

Devotional from Charles Spurgeon
June 1-Evening

"He will make her wilderness like Eden." {#Isa 51:3}

Methinks, I see in vision a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like to the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye, all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. What an appalling sight! How horrible! a sea of sand without a bound, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a race forlorn!

But behold and wonder! Upon a sudden, upspringing from the scorching sand I see a plant of renown; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands—it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and, miracle of miracles! as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms exceedingly, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Call it not Sahara, call it Paradise. Speak not of it any longer as the valley of deathshade, for where the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, behold a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal.

Jesus is that plant of renown, and his presence makes all things new. Nor is the wonder less in each individual’s salvation. Yonder I behold you, dear reader, cast out, an infant, unswathed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, left to be food for beasts of prey. But lo, a jewel has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and tended by divine providence, you are washed and cleansed from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven’s family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand—you are now a prince unto God, though once an orphan, cast away. O prize exceedingly the matchless power and grace which changes deserts into gardens, and makes the barren heart to sing for joy.