Posts Tagged ‘good god’

I am usually a very solid sleeper.  This morning sleep alludes me and thoughts of myriad concerns and big truths swirl in my mind.  It strikes me that if I were to fully rest in the big truths, the myriad concerns would shrink into insignificance.  So I think I will capture the big truths here and see what happens.

God is omniscient.

God is sovereign.

God is in control.

No matter what the view appears to be at the current moment, in the big picture God knows how He is going to bring good out of the present situation.  As I write this a scene from a movie comes to mind.  In the movie Sahara, Penelope Cruz has been lowered into a well in the desert.  While she is in there the bad guys come up and reek havoc.  She can only see a small sliver of sky but she hears the commotion and she knows the situation is dire.  As the scene continues to develop we see the two good guys coming up with a plan (albeit a seat-of-their-pants plan) and they save the day.  The analogy here is about Penelope in the well.  She can only see and hear a small part of what is unfolding much like we are in our times of distress.  But God is never surprised by the difficulties that we experience.  He is ready to meet us in the hard place and help us through it.  By the way, the analogy breaks down about the seat-of-the-pants plan.  God’s already aware of what He is going to do.  He is just waiting on us to exercise faith in Him to execute His plan.

God is good.

Now this big truth can only be handled exercising that faith I mentioned above.  A week ago today, a vile act was perpetrated upon college students in Roseburg, Oregon as a troubled young man took the lives of 9 college students and wounded 10 others.  He specifically targeted Christians.  “But wait a minute,” you might say.  “Aren’t they supposed to be the ones in the bottom of the well exercising their faith to be saved?”  Excellent and very important question.  The answer is that many times they are, but sometimes our purpose on this side of eternity is not to be saved so much from physical death, but to help save others from eternal death.  Let me get to the next big truth before I finish answering.

God sees the BIG Picture and He moves in accordance to our ultimate good.

The big picture includes the time we live on this earth AND eternity on the other side of death.  I guess you can add this to the list of Big Truths – there is life beyond the grave.  God knows this because He created it.  He has laid out a very clear way for us to enter into His joy in this place called heaven.  It is through faith in His Son, Jesus, whom He sent to die in our place on the cross.  Part of the big picture is that God wants that message to get out to all people.  Back to the victims of the violence in Oregon, they were killed because they stood up for Jesus.  I have asked myself a number of times, would I have that kind of faith.  I would hope so but as they say you don’t know until you are in it.  The Lord promises that He will help us in our hour of need.  I believe that means I would have the faith to stand regardless of the price I would pay.  Those victims had a reassurance that God was with them whether they lived through it or they went on to heaven.  The same is true for several victims of the shooting in Columbine, Colorado.  They were killed because of their faith.  Yet we can look to what happened in Columbine to realize that God used that terrible tragedy to bring many to faith.  I am confident that the Lord will use the sacrifice of those brave believers in Oregon to open many hearts to His redeeming love and grace.

There is an invisible war raging around us in the spirit realm and God has a role for us to play.

This is summarized in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Paul, the writer of this letter, goes on to explain how the believer is to put on the full armor of God.  He ends his description with a call to pray.  Ephesians 6:18  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  We do not have to stand idly by and watch the enemy run rough-shod over God’s people or over the many who have not yet come to faith.  In fact we are specifically called to intercede, to stand in the gap, to faithfully articulate the Gospel, to exercise the rights and duties as citizens for the common good.  If those who know God will exercise their faith in listening and obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit, God’s plan will unfold in an amazing way.

Truth is not relative.  God is and truth originates in Him.

Islam and Christianity are not the same, they do not worship the same God, and they are a direct manifestation of that invisible war that Paul mentions in Ephesians.

Islam is not our friend, no matter how influential it’s proponents might be.  It is a man-made religion that promotes a strong deception wrapped in a maze of impossible to fulfill rules.  Sadly, it’s use of intimidation, manipulation, and power appeal to the baser instincts in man.  What perplexes me is why any thinking woman would ever willingly submit to the terrible dehumanization of Islam.  I understand the psychology of it a little… the constant repetition, the unrelenting intimidation to accept the belief system, the concern of being ostracized if you don’t conform and accept, these force women to a place where the only hope seems to be in acceptance.  It is no wonder why they do not want women to be educated.  Yet we who live outside that dark shadow know the truth.  Male and female where created by God to be partners, not master and slave.  Different strengths and weaknesses, different roles in many cases, but equally loved and cherished by the one true God, the God of the Judeo-Christian faith, the God of the bible.

The Christian faith is about a relationship with God the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, by the power of His Holy Spirit who lives within us.

It is possible to have the outward appearance of Christian faith, i.e. go to church, read the bible, pray, wear Christian jewelry, etc. and not have the relationship.  I can say that from experience.  I did all those things for several years, but in my heart I had areas were I chose to do what I wanted to do.  When I finally said yes to God and I gave my life fully over to Jesus’ Lordship, dramatic and wonderful changes took place.  I experienced a transformation as His Holy Spirit moved in.  I experienced salvation immediately and the process of sanctification of my life began.  I recently past my 32nd year of new life in Christ and I love Him more today than ever.  And He is still pointing out areas where I can manifest more of His love, His mercy, His grace.  Step by step He leads me in a love relationship that just seems to get better and better.

I know I get wordy.  Please forgive me.  However if you have read this far let me tell you one final story.  Twenty six years ago I was awakened one minute earlier than I awoke this morning, 2:22 am.  On that occasion I assumed God wanted me to pray for something or someone as I had become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudge usually being linked to a prompting to pray for someone.  I rolled out of bed onto my knees that night ready to pray, but it was quiet in my Spirit.  I waited several seconds and then I asked, “What is it Lord?”  To which the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to my Spirit, “Dan, I am going to have you say special things to special people.  And to prove it I’m going to take care of your house today.”  God produced the miraculous provision of a home that we then owned and raised our family in for 18 years beginning the next day.  I may share the full story at some time, however my point this morning is that the miracle was to validate to me that God would give me special things to say and I needed to say them.

If you are reading this then I am confident you are one of the special people God was referring to.  Ask Him to show you the BIG truths that you don’t already have a firm hold on.  Ask Him to help you see Truth and accept it.  Most important, ask Him to make Himself, clear to you.  Because He is real and He loves you, I am totally confident He will begin to move in ways that provide you with increasing faith to know and to grow into Christ Jesus – the One Who loves us more than we can comprehend.

Now unto Him Who is the truest, most ardent lover of your soul and mine, be glory, honor, praise and dominion, forever and ever. Amen!

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This morning as I lay thinking about how good God is, the thought came to me – “I wonder if many other people become overwhelmed by how good God is to them?” Sometimes it just amazes me how real, loving, and good God is, despite all my shortcomings. Even in the midst of difficulty, in fact I would say especially in the midst of difficulty, God shows up with mercy and grace in tangible ways. I have written briefly about my wonderful wife’s unfortunate accident where she broke her leg in the post Broken Legs, Mended Hearts. Well the list of positives from that painful event is long – a strengthened bond between Lisa and I, a deepening of each of our individual walks with Christ, a real and tangible change in our attitude and approach to fitness, a cleaning out of some of the “junk” that had built up in both our emotional closet and our bedroom closet, better communication with each other and within the family, flourishing relationships that had once grown cold… all of this as a direct result of God using a broken leg to shift our focus to Him.

So back to the question – is this rising up of gratitude within a commonly shared trait with others?  My best guess at this point is that it depends upon whether we are alike or related.  Let me explain.  As humans trying to make a life in this current day we share many things… the same weather, traffic, interpersonal relationships, TV commentators, restaurants, robocalls, work demands, etc.  In essence we all have a long list of things in common that alternately challenge us or make us happy.  Now overcast skies for days on end or snail pace traffic are two things that I struggle to appreciate.  And I believe in a poll these would generally fall into most people’s “DO NOT LIKE” list.  For these and many other LIKES and DISLIKES I believe that most of us share common feelings.  Because we are alike we generally respond to similar negative things with dislike or disapproval and positive things with approval and appreciation.

But what about this feeling of joy and gratitude when dealing with something that really isn’t on everyone’s “Favorite Things to Do” list like breaking a leg?  Well I believe this is more a factor of who your Father is, it is more an attribute of being in the family of God than it is anything else.  As I think back over my life I can picture those times of serious difficulty and see a distinct difference between my life BC and AC.  Before Christ I got myself into a few problems in addition to the normal issues we all face.  I can remember the stress of painful decisions, tough actions, and the lingering after effects.  One of the most troublesome aspects of all is the second-guessing of myself that invariably takes place.  Some for getting into situations that I shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place and others for making choices that negatively affected others.  But After Christ things have been much different.  For one the problems that I generate are much fewer.  By striving to obey God’s revealed Word and honoring authority, I have fallen into fewer troubles of my own making.  However, that by no means ensures a trouble-free life.  Issues still arise (we do live in a fallen world) and the consequences of others actions still impact us.  In some cases trouble finds us with no tangible cause that we can name.  Yet in my life since becoming a child of God, the attitude I once had has disappeared and a new attitude and approach has taken its place.

The AC approach is pretty simple.  The first step is to take everything to the Lord in prayer.  If the trouble is of my own doing, I repent, seek to make amends if I can, and ask for forgiveness.  The bible says God is faithful and true and He will forgive us our sins if we humbly repent.  As one who has availed himself of this on several occasions I know this to be true.  And not just true in a head knowledge way, but with tangible proof in my soul.

Once I’ve dealt with my complicity in the trouble I then move to asking God what He wants to teach me through the trial.  I have learned to never waste a good challenge or difficulty.  I am convinced I have learned much more in the hard times of life than in the seemingly good times.  God wants us to grow to be more like Him, more aware and supportive of others, more loving in all our relationships, more like Jesus.  The Word contains so much rich material for thriving in tough times.  In addition devotionals like “Jesus Calling” can be very helpful in our faith walk.  It seems like every day since Lisa broke her leg the reading from our devotion has been spot on.

Another very important step is engaging your network of family – the family of faith, to hold you up.  This can take many forms such as providing acts of service when you most need them, giving a listening ear, praying for you and with you, or even holding you accountable in your decisions.  It probably could go without saying, but that family of faith thing goes both ways – when other family members are in the midst of difficulty God will give us the opportunity to minister to them as they have done for us.

The last steps I have learned are to stay in constant conversation with the Lord and allow thankfulness to flood your soul.  Like this morning, I could not help but be grateful for all God has done and is doing in our lives.  He is truly active in bringing about good in and through us.  It is amazing… which is what I was thinking of at 3:31 am this morning when I woke up.  God is so good.  His love endures forever.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

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Is it Real?

Some of the things young children innocently come up with can be rather amusing… and poignant too. When our oldest daughter was young she fairly quickly grasped the meaning of the word REAL. However for some reason she got it in her mind that the opposite of real was not FAKE but rather PLASTIC. Her world was divided into that which was real and anything that wasn’t real was plastic. When she was 5 years old we took her and her 2-year-old little brother to King’s Island in Cincinnati. Not too long after we entered the park I heard Rhiannon squeal and shout, “Look it’s a Smurf” To which we all hurried over to meet the Smurf. I have pictures of Rhiannon and Jonathan hugging the Smurf. As the Smurf walked away I heard Rhiannon tell her little brother, “See, I told you we’d see something REAL!”

This morning as I think about that time I still chuckle remembering the earnestness in her voice. In her mind she had just met a REAL cartoon character and that was about the coolest thing ever.  I realize that my perspective as her father allowed me to see the reality of the person inside in a Smurf outfit. What was REAL was the person doing whatever they could to earn a living. Using Rhiannon’s own lingo of the time, the Smurf was really just PLASTIC, a facade of a character put on for an occasion.

You know our Heavenly Father sees perfectly.  He understands that we sometimes put on our Smurf suits to do whatever we can to get by.  We feel we won’t be accepted or taken seriously or loved if we don’t act / look / think a certain way.  We try to become something else other than who we are created to be.  The who we are created to be is a child of the King – a beloved daughter or son of the Lord God.  Unfortunately this truth is often hidden or, if perceived, hard to hold on to.  But it is a truth that God wants us all to know and to share.

As I write this I realize there are two groups of persons who may read this.  First are those who feel this way and struggle to gain an accurate picture of who God is and how valuable they are to Him.  Jesus specifically reaching out to them, speaking to them is hard to believe.  And yet that is the truth of all truths.  God loves you unconditionally.  He willingly died in your place so that you could be made whole.  Second are those who know this truth as a settled fact.  This group is responsible to live out the reality that God is REAL, His love is REAl, and our purpose is to know Him and make Him known.

My prayer today is that you gain and hold a clear picture of God and His transformative love for you.  That God speak to your deepest need and that you respond to the REALity of who He is and what He asks of you.  And that you find yourself wrapped in His love walking out your days in His peace and joy.

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