Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

We have a blueprint, we’ve prayed hard, studied it and feel confident God will bless the socks off of this one. But, the CEO of the Faith Organization rejects our projected path.

It’s easy to give in to the disappointment or darkness and not see our way out of this. We take control of our plan, but God is not impressed with our pointless attempts and non-faith efforts. We go to bed angry and uncertain.

Isaiah 50:11 clarifies God’s perspective on this. It’s scary enough to fail at what we believe to be right, but to lie down in torment? We don’t have to experience life like this.

We can sidestep this by doing life God’s way. Check out Hebrews 11:6. God always responds to our trust (faith) in Him. In fact, He only responds to this.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Our faith is like the dawn that reveals the beauty and adventure God wants us to experience. We can live with confidence even when we don’t understand.

If you needed a tree cut down and the wood corded, it would make sense to look at the hands of those volunteering to help you. Smooth hands could help with some jobs, but you would want someone with rough hands that showed much difficult labor on them.

Faith can almost look sanitized rather than the kind that is seen in Hebrews 11:32-39. Is this rough kind of faith needed today? Maybe faith is more genuine when exposed to extreme challenging situations rather than some of the things that mark our prayers.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Examine your faith and then sit down with a couple of people in your church or small group and discuss what it would take to have a faith that not only challenges the status quo, but also stirs something in people to believe God for crazy hard stuff.

Jesus entered the world in a most obscured way. Some recognized it but most paid it no mind. If someone moved into your neighborhood and was wealthy or highly respected and wanted to help everyone in the neighborhood, you might pay attention to them.

John 1:11 in the Message says “Jesus moved into the neighborhood.” But Matthew 13:58 adds that as he moved around in that neighborhood, he didn’t do much. It was not because he didn’t want to but the people didn’t believe him. Their faith limited what he would do.

We show up at  Christian meetings on Sunday or Thursday, but we don’t often see anything different than when we drop into our favorite coffee shop. We are present but without an expectation that God is going to show up and turn the tables upside down, we fight to stay awake and can’t wait until this is over. Why don’t we expect God to act? Again, the Message clears it up. Jesus didn’t do many miracles there because of “their hostile indifference.”

We easily get too casual with our Christian experience and whether you call it a lack of faith or indifference, the result is the same-nothing happens. Why not take Jesus seriously, invite him to your neighborhood or group and expect that he is going to work? Pass out water and watch it turn into wine.

Outside of America and a few other countries you can barter/negotiate for almost anything. It’s actually fun. But don’t go into an Apple store and try to get a MacBook Pro for less than the advertised price.

God is so committed to our best that he will not negotiate with us for a casual or comfortable relationship with him. Any relationship with God challenges everything in our culture or ourselves that does not reflect his best for us. Nowhere is this more evident than with our faith. God requires it but we try to persuade him that there might be another way. But, faith is evidence of a relationship of trust that God cannot alter.

2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9 are verses that are easy to memorize and do a Bible study on but it is another matter to enter into them. That is, to be able to come to a wall where only our trust/confidence in God is the only way over it.

Jeremiah 17:5-7 adds that to trust in “our contacts, networks and friends” or our own resources and try to negotiate with God is no better than dying sagebrush in a desert. We isolate ourselves from the life of God.

Are you in a place where you are trying to get over a wall with your own reasoning? Are you more interested in what other people say on your issue? We have to abandon ourselves to the only formula that works-faith. Be out of step with most of your friends but know that God is excited as you enter this dimension in your relationship with him.

Taking hikes in the Idaho mountains can provide some exhilarating experiences. I saw a documentary on some people climbing frozen waterfalls in Idaho, something I will probably never experience. Why wouldn’t I consider this adventure? I can think of several reasons but beneath every one of them is that it seems too risky for this older body. I’ll let them take a GoPro camera and watch it on U Tube.

There is a risk that has far greater implications and consequences in life. If we really want to know what God is about, it requires risk in many ways but if we don’t take that adventure, we not only don’t experience something hard to put into words but we miss out on the essence of life. It’s true Jess is with us but the places he goes are often anything but safe. He challenges us to think differently or really live by faith. It seems safer to just not believe in any of this stuff, but that can be like never having a Turkish coffee. You can’t believe what you missed.

Job decided to get after it with God but take a look at Job 40 and see if you would want to be in this conversation. Why take the risk? We don’t know all of what Job learned but we do know some things. Look at Job 42:2-6. Verse 2 and 5 in The Word on the Street say  it like this-“I know you can do anything and everything you like, when you like, how you like…not I see you with my own eyes…” How much was this worth learning?

What is God asking you to believe, to trust him for, or to think differently about? Join a small revolutionary minority and experience life as it was intended to be lived.

Smíchov, Prague, the Czech Republic. "Pra...

Smíchov, Prague, the Czech Republic. “Praha-Smíchov” train station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was 1994 and I was alone on a train going from Zagreb Croatia to Dresden, Germany. The route went through Prague, Czech Republic. The train was late leaving so I could not make my connection in Prague. It was however, night time and no trains were leaving until the next morning. A police officer was telling everyone to leave the station because they locked it up at night. I had a cup of coffee in my hand I had purchased and was allowed along with one other person to stay inside after the doors were locked. I slept with my arm locked to my backpack that night unsure what would happen. Risk and fear were present as I “slept” that night. But I knew God wanted me to make this trip so I trusted Him to come through.

Mathew 14:25-31 tells a story we often hope is in the video library of heaven so we could look at it at our leisure with a coke and popcorn. Sadly, this is as far as most people get with the journey of faith. We hear God speaking to us about something but then we think of how crazy risky it is and then our fear kicks in. We really believe God is talking to us but…

Most of us have a line we will not cross when it comes to doing what God talks about in the Word. Risk and fear are tattooed on our mind and we easily rationalize away the necessity of faith and never get out on the water.

Is there a seep of faith you need to take this week? Is there a relationship you need to mend in which you need to trust God with? Don’t settle for the comfortable journey.

“Tomorrow” is a word not only in everyone’s dictionary but combined with “think of” or “plan for” not only represents the mantra of our culture but also the passionate obsession of our insistence to control life. So we save, purchase more than we need at the grocery, store away enough to last for weeks or longer just in case… For everything, we are told we can never have too much.

But what if there was an insurance plan that would provide only for today, every day? Would you buy into that plan? God offered that to people a few thousand years ago. But that was then, and this is today and if you live in the Western world you have to think of the catastrophe if you did what they did. Exodus 16 is one of those chapters that you hope is on U Tube but it can’t possibly have meaning for today, right? Just think of what they would have missed or you and I, if we did not trust God to provide every day for our needs-“you’ll realize that I am God, your God.” For most of us, our relationship with God never gets this far.

But of course this is not possible today so we remain in bondage to lifestyles of busyness, striving, gathering for that medical expense, car wreck, or dropped I Pad that is just around the corner. God may not ha

Grand Slam Life Insurance Plan

Grand Slam Life Insurance Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ve changed but our life in these days makes believing God like this not only outrageous but qualifies us for the asylum.

Each of us must determine whether God is being straight with us today and if so, how we are to apply it, but we must not automatically assume these words are irrelevant today. Consider Proverbs 30:8 & 9 along with Philippians 4:12 & 19 and don’t forget that prayer-…give us this day…”

Some of us want a clear understanding of what we should do before we jump. The only explanation of what lies ahead for us is the guarantee that Jesus will be there every step of the way. Jesus is not obligated to explain anything to us unless we need to know. Check John 1:35-39.

Thousands show up at a popular concert because the only things required to attend are minimal. And really when you think about it, after the concert you just leave. The real Jesus concert is radically different. You don’t show up and then leave feeling tingly because as he walks away he says to you “lets go.” And you are thinking “my ticket price didn’t include anything but listening to the music and some rhetoric that is easily forgotten.”

So, my wife and I are moving from Northern Colorado to Boise, Idaho in 2 months. We know a few people there and know a little about a few ministries, but we are going with a blank sheet of paper. Only God knows what will be written on it and that is the most exciting part of the whole deal. It’s considered wise in America to really think through your future and make plans that will help you accomplish your goals. It’s sort of like mapping out your trip: Interstate 25 to Interstate 80 to Interstate 84 and you are in Boise (pronounced without a Z). But what if God has something up his sleeve near mile marker 247 on Interstate 80 that means you are going to have to take a different route? Personally, I believe this is where it gets exciting.

What’s keeping you from experiencing the unbelievable joy of allowing Jesus to call the shots? Proverbs 19:21 in the Message says it “We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails.” And then there is the always scary James 4:13-16 “…you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow…” You can thrive on uncertainty and certainty at the same time if you are completely following Jesus.

follow me

follow me (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost everyone hates delay of any kind. Why do we have to wait for Christmas? Just do it now. “The Interstate is backed up for miles; I’ve been waiting in this line for hours.” These are common words we use to express our disapproval of how our perspective reflects our understanding of how life is supposed to work.

Delay does not remove opportunity but rather teaches us valuable lessons. Think with me about Jesus getting a text from a couple of women about his friend who was really sick. They knew he would respond immediately but instead he turned off his phone…for 2 days! And Laz died while Jesus and the gang of 12 hung out doing whatever. Finally it was time and Jesus said “let’s go see him.”

Jesus had a different perspective, a different time frame and a different objective in waiting two days before going to see his friends. This does not make sense…or does it?

In 7 months my wife and I will move from our apartment. Our lease is up and we are out. Where are we moving to? What exactly are we going to do? We have told God over and over that we are willing to move anywhere so just let us know and we will get after it. Even an apartment on a ski slope in France next to a bakery would work. What if it is June 2013 and we do not have an answer? What are our conclusions? Do we still believe God knows or that he is maybe on a vacation somewhere?

Check out John 11:1-16 and Genesis 22:1-14 before you get frustrated with y

our perspective of “God’s delay.”

Are you willing to learn from “delay?” How can you deepen your trust that God knows exactly what his is doing?

They are born in a river, then grow up in the ocean and then do something that makes you wonder. Why are they swimming up river in the last act of their life cycle? What the spank are they thinking? They know exactly what they are doing. I suppose if you could ask them as they make this weird trip “why are you going upstream, none of the other fish are going in this direction”, would they even answer? What they know and will not be talked out of is that they are about to lay many eggs from which maybe 10 adult salmon will survive. After that, their life is over.

If God is leading you in a direction that your friends and churches are questioning and are not willing to go, don’t hesitate to go with passion when you know it is right. Jesus modeled life that most religious types were not willing to follow. They opposed him. He knew the outcome of what he was doing.

Mark 9:35  A different direction on Leadership

Luke 5: 15,16  Dealing with Success

John 12:23-25  The ultimate “What are you thinking?” question …and answer