Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

Promises, promises, are you a promise maker?
Promises, promises, don’t be a promise breaker.

I have learned that the only way to not be a promise breaker is to never make promises. I would like to say that extenuating circumstances are the reason promises get broken, but at the best that would only be half-true. Whether we intend to or not, when we make promises we put our reputation on the line and make ourselves vulnerable for failing the trust of others. Yet making promises is a part of our lives. I suspect that most persons make between 1 – 10 promises everyday. Some are small… “Come straight in and do you homework.” “I will Mom.” while others are life altering… “Do you Dan take Lisa to be your lawful wedded wife… to cherish… til death do you part?” “I do”. Every time we sign a credit card slip we are promising we are going to pay the credit card company back (plus interest if we don’t pay back immediately.)

To say that our society functions on a foundation of trust comprised of thousands upon thousands of promises is not a stretch. So how are we doing? A building is only as good as its foundation, so how are we doing? An honest assessment has to say we are not doing very well. With divorce at over 50% of marriages, personal and business bankruptcies skyrocketing, and 40% of all children raised with no Dad in the picture we are not doing very well keeping our promises. So if promises are essential and commonplace, but keeping promises is apparently becoming harder – what are we to do?  What are the consequences? Should we be worried? What can be done about it?

My first comment about never making promises was obviously a bit tongue in check. Promises are essential. Every agreement includes within it a promise usually more than one promise. Lawyers exist to “help” interpret promises and see that promises are adhered to. I was raised in the day when a person’s word was his bond. I still live by this belief and I find many people who would like to, but they have been burned by others to whom a promise is superficial chatter and not a binding agreement. Even though I believe a promise is sacred, honesty demands that I admit I have said things that I fully intended to fulfill which have not come to pass. I want to hike around Mt Ranier with my youngest son and I have told him we would, but time is getting on and we have not made the trip. While technically not a promise broken since there is still time, it is definitely not a promise fulfilled.

I saw a political commercial last night which showed a candidate making many promises in the last election and then it showed him breaking those very promises.  It was obvious that the person made promises that they did not keep. If the most powerful people in the world struggle to keep their promises, then what shape are we really in? Well if our hope, trust, and faith are in them, then we are in pretty dismal shape.

Fortunately there is a higher authority that we can and should look to. And His track record on promises is perfect. He never fails to keep His promises. The bible says that it is impossible for God to lie. A broken promise is at its heart a lie. Since God cannot lie, He cannot break a promise. I have found this to be true as have millions of others throughout history. God is a promise maker AND a promise keeper.

God’s first promise to me was “Dan, I will never leave you or forsake you.” And that has been true. God has always shown up. In the most difficult times of my life He has been tangibly present. Sometimes it is through the extended arms of His children. At others it is through a perfectly timed verse. Sometimes it is a gentle peace within my spirit. The point is for 28 years God has kept His promise and I know He always will.  While this promise was whispered to me when He brought me to Himself, this is a promise He offers to each and every one of us if we but put our trust in Him.

Now it is important to mention something God does not promise.  He does not promise a life free from pain, difficulties, challenges.  No, these are a part of life that we will from time to time have to walk through.  But what we can hold on to are specific promises God has given for us at these times.  From Isaiah 43 we see God promising that when floods threaten to overwhelm His people He will be with them.  When fire is upon them, He will cause them to walk through and not be burned.  It does not say we won’t have times that threaten us and cause us pain, but it does say He will carry us through.

Now I have to say I have learned that “carrying through” includes two important considerations.  First, is a relationship with Him.  God will respect our decision to keep Him at arm’s length, but that makes His help less tangible.  It’s not His decision, but ours that makes this so.  (And people often blame Him for this?)  Second, some of His promises have a complete fulfillment in the eternal perspective.  I have a friend whose son was diagnosed with leukemia.  He fought it bravely and experienced a couple of years of remission.  The disease returned and an auto-marrow transplant was determined to be his best option so this is the path they took.  During the window of time immediately after the transplant the patient is extremely susceptible to any illness.  My friend’s son caught something and went downhill until he finally went into a coma.  For 40 days we prayed for Chase.  Our focus was upon Chase getting better and coming out of the coma.  For 30 days I prayed for this, but as time and prayer continued with little change in Chase, I began to realize that God was speaking something different into my spirit than what I was praying.  I began to see God revealing a bigger perspective – an eternal perspective to my prayer for Chase and his family.  The last days of Chase’s life here were more peaceful for Chase and his family because they recognized that God was walking with them in the working out of His will.  Chase’s life and death led to others being reconciled to God and being inspired to live a life of faith.

We are called to let Christ reign in our lives.  As His Holy Spirit resides in us and we cooperate with His transforming work, we become more and more like Him.  We become promise makers.  I started off by saying that the only way I have found not to break a promise is to not make a promise.  A more accurate statement would be to become so surrendered to God that we only make promises He prompts us to make, and become even more surrendered to Him to allow Him to help us keep them.

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We are on vacation at the beach for our youngest son’s spring break.  Last night the clouds rolled in with showers and thunderstorms.  I had intentions of getting up early and watching the sunrise on Good Friday morning, but the weather forecast was calling for rain all day on Friday.  I off-handedly said, “Well I guess there won’t be a sunrise tomorrow.”  My wife, whether knowingly or not said something that this morning seems rather profound.  “Honey, there’s always a sunrise.  It’s just that not everyone sees it.” 

As I reflect upon her statement this morning I realize that her statement is true whether she meant sunrise or Sonrise.  It is sad, but all too true that we often miss the meaningful because we have our eyes, our thoughts, or our attention on the trivial.  As I sat in the sand this morning with grey, scuttling clouds racing by overhead and the merest hints of color in a few scattered openings in the otherwise thick clouds, I thought about the sun that is out there rising behind those clouds.  Other people are in places where they can see it clearly and they know the sun is there.  I have seen the sun rise before and the brightening sky tells me that even though I don’t see him he is still there.  But for some all they can see are the clouds, the rain, and the disruption of their plans.  Sitting in the sand waiting and listening I saw much that I would not have noticed otherwise…

Pelicans, an otherwise odd-looking bird, looking so graceful as they fly up the beach in groups of from 3 – 25 in swooping lines just inches above the crashing surf.

The undulating pattern of the sand dunes covered with sea oats forming both a scenic and protective barrier for the homes and villas behind.

The furthest sawgrass toward the ocean.  Standing at the very edge of the surf, this little tuft gets the abuse of wind, wave, and the occasional beach walker, yet still holds his ground… literally.

The sky itself with a few pink highlights to the east and south while looking foreboding with dark greys and blues to the north and west. 

And then remembering that by this time on Good Friday, Jesus had already been tried and convicted in a mock trial, beaten within the confines of the Jewish council, and was probably on his way to be whipped by the Roman soldiers.  Still ahead the long walk to Calvary carrying His cross until He was no longer able.  The nails hammered through his wrists and feet to affix Him to the cross.  Then the unbearable pain as the cross is raised to the vertical and all the weight of His body rests upon the three nails… 

And His cry after hours of pain and suffering – “My God, My God.  Why have You forsaken Me?” 

God didn’t answer out loud, but His answer resonates today – “Because I love them.”

People say that Valentines Day is the Day of Love.  I disagree.  It is a day of romance and while love is an essential component of true romance, Valentines Day is not the ultimate demonstration of love.  The most amazing demonstration of Love was on the original Good Friday.  Jesus, pure and innocent Jesus, offered up for us.  He loves us more than we can comprehend.  God loves us so much He offered up His Son.  Jesus loves us so much He offered up Himself. 

If you know Him, please join me in worship and adoration of our loving Lord. 

If you don’t already know Him, please consider His offer of love.  He will not force Himself upon you.  But He does desire your response.  He loves you and wants to fill you with His love.  It is the best thing in all the world.

Have a blessed day today.

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We all need a few Ebenezer’s.

Samuel was the last of the old testament Judges. During Samuel’s day the Israelites and the Philistines were constant enemies. In 1 Samuel 7 we read a story about one of the clashes between these two groups. The Israelites had come to a point of contrition and through the leadership of Samuel they were engaged in a time of corporate repentance and rededication to the Lord at a place called Mizpah. The Philistines took note and decided this was a golden opportunity to attack hoping to wipeout their enemy while they were distracted with their religious activity.  The Israelites were not ready for battle and fear seized them as they realized the Philistines were soon to be upon them.  The Israelites cried out to God and He responded.  God thundered from the heavens throwing the Philistines into confusion.  Then the Israelites attacked and the ensuing battle was a rout with the Israelites defeating the Philistines all along the way back to their land.  After the victory Samuel instructed the people to set up a large stone in that place which he named Ebenezer which means “the stone of help”.

As I look back over my life I see several Ebenezers, several memorials of when God showed up in marvelous, miraculous, mighty ways.  These show up in the God-stories our family tells when we get together.  They are the touchstones I go back to when facing difficulties.  They are the faith strengthening memories that I rely on when the present is either dark and challenging or bland and boring.  (I don’t do bland and boring well.)

Take a few moments to ask God to remind you of the times when He showed up with the help you needed.  The bible says God is “an ever-present help in times of trouble.”  If you have walked with God then you have received His help, possibly more than you even realize.  After you have thought of a few times God showed up ask Him to help you create an Ebenezer to commemorate them.  It doesn’t have to be a rock on the side of the road, but I suggest it be something tangible.  For me it is family stories.  For you it might be a poem, a song, a verse, a picture… something that captures for you a reminder of God’s help when you really needed it.  Next I suggest that you put this in a place where you can periodically take it out and remember what God has done for you.  Let this remind you how much He loves you.

God truly is an ever-present help.  He desires to be involved in our lives, but He is also a gentleman.  He does not force Himself upon us.  Look to Him and ask Him to get involved with you right now in whatever you are dealing with.  Don’t wait for the big problems like when the Philistines (or their modern-day equivalent) are breathing down your neck.  Call upon Him for guidance and help on the daily issues of living more fully for Him today.  Then follow His lead.

Have a blessed day my friend.

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