Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Monuments to God's Goodness

There is a monument that stands next to the Jordan river, you can find its description in Joshua 4. It is simple in construction, and it bears no plaque. Just twelve stones piled one upon the other. But it is a reminder of a profound and powerful event. This is to remind the children of Israel of when God parted the waters of the Jordan. 

Do you remember the story? The children of Israel are closing in on the promised land, all that stands between them is the swollen Jordan river. A spring river that contains all of the run off from the surrounding hills, a river that is angry and dangerous. And God chose to part those waters. He chose to make a path for the Israelites to walk across into the promised land, on dry ground.

This monument by the Jordan river is a reminder of God’s power on that day, and also of His willingness to intervene in miraculous ways. Has God done the same for you? Where did God provide an answer that you failed to dream up in all your brainstorming sessions? Spend time today remembering where God intervened in your life. Walk with the eyes of memory through your past and mark the hand of God in your life. Consider creating a written record to serve as a monument and reminder of God’s providence in your life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

Since I first learned how squiggles on a page carried stories, I’ve been a reader. I love reading biographies, poetry, theology and even a good Pollifax mystery. The written page can challenge and enrich, so I’m always casting about for recommendations. Recently a colleague pointed at the book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. I laughed at the title and ordered my copy. Making the mistake of picking it up late at night, I found myself reading deep into the night.

The title comes from the words of 2 Samuel 23 verse 20, “ Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.” Benaiah is part of David’s might warriors, here in this scripture you find his resume. Not only did he not run away, he leaped into the pit to chase the lion.

We are called to be lion chasers too. The challenge is instead of running away from lions in the path, to chase them full speed. “What sets lion chasers apart isn’t the outcome. It’s the courage to chase God-sized dreams. Lion chasers don’t let their fears or doubts keep them from doing what God has called them to do.”

You know Benaiah didn’t come out of the pit free of cuts, he was probably covered with claw marks and scrapes from fighting a five-hundred pound beast. But he chased, he leaped, he conquered.

Are you a lion chaser? What will you do with the opportunities God gives you? Will you speak up to your co-worker about your faith? Will you choose to accept that ministry opportunity from your nominating committee? Will you risk to follow His leading and trust the results to Him? Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn't chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within!

Resting in Christ

For those of you who study the Sabbath school lesson, this title brings with it hints of color from your study last week. (For those of you who don’t study the lesson, I invite you to check out or for a free digital version.) The goal of the lesson was to take another look at the Sabbath, to understand what it means to receive Christ’s rest.

In Christ’s ministry we see Him turning away sharp questions, with a few words He can redirect or diffuse tension. He seems to carry with His ministry the restful calm that comes with the same power to calm a storm with just a word. And yet when we see Christ confront the Sabbath, He is militant.

It was unlawful in the society at that time to provide medical assistance to a person on the Sabbath unless it was lifesaving. And yet Christ worked seven miracles on the Sabbath, none of them life threatening illnesses. Christ wanted to reorient their lives around the Sabbath and recapture the joy that only Sabbath can bring.

Will you choose to look forward with eagerness to this coming Sabbath? Will you choose to prepare throughout the week for this precious, precious time with God? Take this attitude of expectation and joy with you as you join your church family for study and worship.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Celebrate Forgiveness

These words always thrill my heart, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." You can find these words in Psalm 103. You may want to highlight them gently with a colored pencil or a crayon so you can find them easily.

Maybe you need them as much as I do, a reminder that even though I fail Him, He is willing to forgive and remove my sin. Grace. That beautiful gift of God, that He gives so freely and paid so dearly for. A. Weiser says it this way, "As long as man does not understand the depths of the knowledge of sin, he does not really know what grace means."

Another commentator says it this way, "It is precisely because sin is the most shattering experience in his life that the poet is able to recognize the truth that God's grace is greater than man's sin. That His love is stronger than His anger." In spite of the striking analogies drawn on to express forgiveness, the word pictures can hardly do justice to the wideness of God's mercy.

Conversation starter with God: Talk to God about what forgiveness and grace mean to you. End with a time of praise and thanks to the God who chooses to give this kind of mercy.