Tag Archives: God

When Pigs Fly!


I’ve been thinking a lot about King Saul lately.

He was ancient Israel’s first king.  Before Saul, the people of Israel were lead by prophets and judges, but the rule of government was spotty at best.  The Bible says, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”  And boy, was it a disaster.  The last judge was the priest/prophet Samuel.

Samuel was getting along in years and had served the Lord and Israel faithfully for his entire life.  But the people started itching for something different.  They wanted to be like the nations around them who all had real kings.  For Israel, God was supposed to be their King.  But the people decided they didn’t want God for King nor Samuel’s sons as judges, they wanted to be like their neighbors.  They rejected God and demanded a king.

So God said, “Fine, I’ll give you a King, but you won’t be happy with the situation.”  God told Samuel to anoint Saul as King.

Now Saul was a nobody from a nobody family with nothing going for him except his good looks.  He was taller than everyone else and had a handsome face.  But his character was far from Princely.  As a matter of fact, on the day that Samuel anointed Saul to be king, he told him that later on he would come across a band of prophets.  Sure enough, later in the day Saul ran into the group and they were prophesying.  The Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came over Saul, changed his personality, and he began to prophesy too.  This was such a dramatic  departure from his normal character that it became an expression of shock to say, “What?  Is Saul among the prophets?”  It became their version of “when pigs fly!”

But Saul’s change of character just didn’t stick because he had a hard time obeying God.  His new power went right to his head and he felt like he was exempt from rules.  Saul’s heart became harder and harder until the Bible says God’s Spirit departed from him… and he never noticed the difference.  Saul was so self absorbed that he only followed his own heart and didn’t seek after God’s heart.

So God told Samuel to go anoint David as Saul’s successor.  David was “a man after God’s own heart.”  Meanwhile, Saul remained king and his hard heart lead to desperate, horrible things.  Saul even stooped so low as to consult a witch for advice about the future!  Eventually Saul committed suicide by falling on his own sword.  His reign ended in misery and heartache for everyone around him.

Now my thoughts turn to you and I.  Have we “clamored for a king” like the Israelites because we don’t like the idea of God ruling over us?  Have we gone in for the pretty face of a sin without considering the content or character beneath the surface?  If God’s Spirit left us, would we even notice the difference?  These are all questions that we can ask ourselves both individually and as a community.  As for me, I pray along with David who wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God… and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”  (Psalm 51)

Sick Day


Well, I don’t have a blog written for today.  We have been battling Strep throat here in our household since Friday.  So I haven’t had the time or energy to write anything new.  My husband suggested that I repost one of my favorites from earlier in the year, and I think I will do just that.  So without further ado:  here’s “Pea Green Envy”.  (Originally posted Jan. 22, 2012)

So today I was having one of my “what the heck am I doing with my life?” moments.  I was capsized by jealousy and envy.  The “praise of men” was looking very tempting to me.  I have many friends who are very successful by the world’s standards, and so often I feel like I’m just lucky that everyone in my family is wearing clean underwear today!  I’m a mom.  I’m a wife.  Yeah, I’m a missionary too, but all those things just feel so insignificant compared to what my friends have already accomplished.  This jealousy was really eroding my self esteem- big time!  I was pea green with envy.

I decided to go for a walk with my ipod and try to talk with God about this.  This jealousy and envy made it hard to think clearly.  So I asked God to affirm me, to encourage me, to lift me up. But I felt God tell me to lift HIM up instead.  So I scrolled through my ipod menu to a favorite playlist and I started to worship God as I walked along.  Suddenly I started to see things from a new perspective.  The green haze of envy began to clear and I saw things as God wanted me to see them.

It doesn’t matter what others are doing with their lives- I am lifting Jesus up.  I’m being obedient to what God has called me to do right here and right now- I’m lifting Jesus up.  The focus really shouldn’t be on my accomplishments anyways, I’m just here to glorify God.  My obedience glorifies Him.  My worship lifts Him up.  That is my purpose in life- to lift Him up.  So I guess I AM fulfilling my purpose, I am doing what I was made to do. It’s not about building a name for myself, it’s about building up the name of Jesus.  That’s how God measures my success- by how much I lift Him up.

The Pencil in the Crack


When I was in high school I had a boy friend that my parents really were not happy with.  This kid was trouble.  My parents tried a lot of different tactics to get rid of this bad influence in my life.  Finally, out of desperation, they asked my youth pastor’s wife to have a chat with me.

As we sat on the couch in their family room, my pastor’s wife pointed to the breakfast bar where her daughter sat on a stool every afternoon to do her homework.  She said, “One day Lindsay was sitting there doing her homework and I was sitting right here on the couch watching her.  Suddenly she dropped her pencil.  Rather than getting down off her stool to look for her lost pencil, she just twisted around on the stool looking for it.  From where I was sitting, I could see the pencil perfectly.  It had rolled into the crack between the carpet and the breakfast bar.  But from her vantage point, the pencil was no where to be found.”

The point is, God puts people in your life (like parents and youth leaders and spouses and friends) who have a different perspective than you do.  You would be wise to listen to what they have to say and to consider that maybe they are seeing things that you can’t see.  Rather than considering these people as nosy intruders in your life, think of them as God’s gift to you.  By listening to wise counsel, you can save yourself a lot of trouble caused by your own mistakes and limited point of view.



So on his way down the mountain after preaching “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus was healing and touching the people who pressed in around him.  He was on his way to Peter’s house to have dinner with Peter’s family.  As he entered the town of Capernum, a Roman Captain came up to Jesus in a panic and said, “Master, my servant is sick.  He can’t walk.  He’s in terrible pain.”

Jesus said, “I’ll come and heal him.”

“Oh no,” said the Captain, “I don’t want to put you to all that trouble.  Just give the order and my servant will be fine.  I’m a man who takes orders and gives orders.  I tell one soldier Go and he goes; to another Come and he comes; to my slave Do This and he does it.”

Shocked and taken aback, Jesus said, “I’ve yet to come across thins kind of simple trust in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know all about God and how he works.  This man is the beginning of many outsiders who will soon be coming from all directions- streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God’s Kingdom banquet alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Then those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.”

Then Jesus turned to the Captain and said, “Go.  What you believed could happen has happened.”  At that moment his servant became well.

This is the story of a Gentile who had a surprising amount of faith.  This is a man who understood authority.  He knew how to obey commands and how to give commands.  He knew that Jesus had authority over sickness and death.  He believed that Jesus only needed to speak the words and the miracle would occur, he didn’t need to come to the house and touch the sick servant.  This man amazed Jesus with his grasp of the Spiritual Reality of Jesus’s power.

It’s been my experience that people who respect authority themselves, are in turn respected when they carry authority.  We used to tell our youth group kids, “You can’t expect anyone to respect your authority if you don’t respect the authority above YOU.”  Kids who had a hard time showing respect did not make good leaders, no matter how charismatic they were.  As a matter of fact, kids that had a hard time with earthly authority, really struggled with the concept of God’s authority.  (Perhaps the military would have been a good option for those kids to teach them how to respect authority.)

Part of respecting authority requires trusting in your leader and his power.  Is he trustworthy?  Is he powerful?  Then you can trust that he sees the big picture even when your vision is myopic.  Just like the servant doesn’t get to ask the master “why” but he just follows directions- trusting that the master has a plan- so are we to trust our Master.  Jesus is the Master of more authority than anyone on earth has ever wielded, and yet we still doubt his power to help us when we pray.  That shows that we don’t understand authority, and likely we aren’t very good at respecting the human authorities God has placed over us either.

Today, try to set aside all the other imagery about Jesus that you have accumulated in your mind.  Just for today, when you think of Jesus, I want you to focus in on the idea that he gives an order and all of creation obeys his words.  He can nod his head and heal your body.  He can look at your fear from the corner of his eye and your nightmare will flee.  This is your God.  This is the One that you can trust with your needs and petitions, the One who wields all authority both in Heaven and on Earth.  Is this image of Jesus the same as the one you’ve been carrying in your mind?  If not, then your image of Jesus isn’t big enough.  Time to expand your view of Jesus to panoramic.

Shut up and listen


When we moved to Mexico City right after language school, we met another missionary couple who were new to the city as well.  They had not gone to language school though, because the wife was deaf and no one at the school could teach her Spanish sign language!  That was a problem that had never once crossed my mind!  But my new friend was amazingly adept at reading lips.  She was also quite verbal.  Her language was not at all clear speech, mostly a combination of grunts, clicks and half words.  But if I focused my attention, listening intently to her, I could understand her.  We talked for hours!

Another friend of ours noticed this and asked me, “How can you understand her?”  I thought about it. The woman who asked the question had grown up in a completely bilingual home.  She had never had to struggle to understand anyone.  She had never trained herself to focus intently when someone was speaking.  She didn’t need to watch someone’s mouth while they spoke.  So naturally she was quickly frustrated and easily deterred by the amount of work it required to have a conversation with a deaf woman.

I, on the other hand, had just spent a year in language school, intently focusing on sounds, mouth positions, non-verbal gestures and contextual clues.  These were things I focused on daily in my communications with Mexicans as well.  So focusing on a conversation with my deaf friend didn’t seem that much different to me.  I was able to enjoy her company even though it required effort.  I feel blessed for having known her while we lived there.

Learning to listen to God’s voice is not that much different.  It requires us to shut up and listen intently.  It requires us to focus, sometimes with great effort.  And sometimes we learn God’s voice by looking back to our past and seeing how God dealt with us before.  We learn through hind sight.  Most of the time, when God speaks to me, I know it instantly.  But sometimes I’m not so focused.  I hear a lot of “voices” from my culture, my own worries, my surroundings.  Sometimes I am easily distracted.  I must shut off the other “voices”, the white noise around me, and use concerted effort to focus on hearing God’s voice.  In those times, it takes me a while to catch on.

Learning to listen requires us to stop talking and focus.  But the Bible says that the Sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and won’t follow any other voice.  If you want to learn to hear God’s voice, you can!  Follow close to the Shepherd and listen daily.  Train your ear to hear, train your heart to focus.  Learn the Shepherd’s voice so you won’t be lead astray by a stranger’s voice.


Patience Child. Let the seed grow!


When my son was a toddler, he loved to spend evenings with me out in my garden.  We would check all the plants, water everything and pick a few weeds.  His favorite thing to do was to pick the ripe cherry tomatoes and pop them right into his mouth.  So one summer I bought a package of Giant Grey Stripe Sunflower seeds for us to plant together.

We prepared a sunny corner of the garden and poked our seeds into the dirt.  But that was not as much fun as my child thought it would be.  He wanted to dig in the dirt some more.  I told him, “We can’t disturb the seeds.  They need to rest in the quiet darkness under the dirt.  Then someday they will sprout.”

Every day we checked the corner garden for signs of baby leaves pushing through the soil.  Still the boy desperately wanted to dig up the seeds and check them.  Have patience Child.  Let the seed grow!  By the end of the summer, the sunflowers towered over me, their heads bending heavy with seeds.  The patience paid off when we harvested our sunflower seeds.

Just like seeds have a cycle from being sown to growing to harvesting, so the Kingdom of God works in cycles like this.  Some of us plant, some of us water, and some of us harvest.  When the farmer plants the seeds, he must wait patiently for God to make them grow.  God sends the rain.  God sends the sun.  God causes growth.  We wait.

I have encouraged our student leaders with this analogy.  When they get anxious and worried that their campus small group isn’t growing, I encourage them to wait.  Growth will come.  Be patient.  When they feel discouraged and want to quit, I remind them that the seeds grow in secret, in the dark, where no one can see.  Something is happening under the surface, and it’s too early to abandon the seed.  Have patience.  No one can start a new group and expect a harvest that same week.  Our groups are in the planting phase of the cycle.  We can’t expect a harvest just yet.

Patience Child, the seed will grow and the harvest will come someday.  Patience.

The Death of a Dream


Americans idolize their dreams.  We are a nation of big dreamers.  We applaud those who do great things.  We reward those who succeed.  We equate the death of a dream with failure.

But what if the death of a dream is part of the process that God wants to take you through.  What if it is ultimately for your good.  What if God must empty your hands before He can fill them with what He wants to give you.  That sounds painful.  That sounds suspiciously like an excuse for failure.  So is there a precedent for this in the Bible?  Is this something that God actually DOES?

Let’s ask Abraham.  No doubt, Abraham and his wife Sarah longed deeply for children.  They dreamed of the pitter patter of little feet on the tent floor.  Maybe Sarah spent the long evenings knitting little hats and booties for her dream child.  When it looked like it was too late for babies, the biological clock has ticked its last, God appeared and breathed life into the dead dream with a promise.  “You WILL have a son and I will bless the whole world through your ancestors.”

They had waited a long time for a baby, and now they waited again.  After many years of sighing and fretting, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands.  Abraham took Sarah’s servant Haagar as a second wife in order to have a child.  They DID have a child, but this was not God’s promised son.  They must continue to wait for another 13 years.  The dream died again.  Then at the age of 99, the dream was once again revived when Sarah became pregnant finally!  The miracle child was finally coming!  The promise was finally realized.

But the dream was to die again.  Did Abraham begin to idolize his son?  This promised child, this long awaited joy meant so very much to his parents.  God came to Abraham again, and asked him to lay the dream down once more, to sacrifice his son as an act of devotion to God.  “But God, you GAVE me this dream!  How can you ask me to let it die?”  He might have asked.  But no, Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could revive the dream again.  All this dying of dreams had taught him that God can be trusted when it looks like it’s all over.  God could bring his son back to life after he had been sacrificed to the Lord.  After all, child sacrifice was part of the religion of the pagans who lived all around Abraham.  “So who is to say that this God who makes wild promises and then lets the dream die won’t ask a crazy thing of me as well,” he might have reasoned.

But at the final moment, before the physical death of his son and the final death of the dream, God intervened once again.  The test was passed.  The idolization was dead and true devotion to God was all that remained.  The purification of the dream had occurred.  Abraham’s faith was proven and God was satisfied.

What dream are you holding tightly to?  Has it become an idol to you?  God just might ask you to lay that dream down or out right kill that dream in order to empty your hands.  You can not receive from the Lord if your hands are already full.  What dream of yours needs to die?


Planning vs. Peace


I thought someone out there might need this today.  This is from the devotional “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.  It is written as if Jesus is speaking to you personally.  Just thought this was a good word to end the week with…

“You will not find My Peace by engaging in excessive planning; attempting to control what will happen to you in the future. That is a commonly practiced form of unbelief. When your mind spins with multiple plans, peace may sometimes seem to be within your grasp; yet it always eludes you. Just when you think you have prepared for all possibilities, something unexpected pops up and throws things into confusion.

“I did not design the human mind to figure out the future. That is beyond your capability. I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me. Bring Me all your needs, your hopes and fears. Commit everything into My care. Turn from the path of planning to the path of Peace.”

From the Devotional “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young

Praying for the Middle East


My heart has been heavy for the last few days.  I’ve been thinking and praying for friends and co-workers in the Middle East.  We have connections in several sensitive countries in the Middle East where anti-American protests have erupted this weekend.  From their reports, they are mostly hunkering down at home and waiting for the mobs to calm down.

They knew full well the risks they were taking in moving their families to the Middle East.  But each of them felt lead by God to live in countries that don’t like our government and don’t like us.  They knew what they were getting into.

I pray for them.

As the world rages and chaos swirls all around, I pray that my friends would have peace in their hearts and minds.  When violence and horror fill the news, I pray that peace and joy would fill their homes.  I pray that their serenity in a time of upheaval would become like a beacon of light to those looking for hope, looking for an escape.  As the Apostles in the book of Acts prayed after their arrest and beatings, “Lord let us continue to preach with boldness and courage,” I pray for courage for my friends.

While the winds of change blow violently through the Middle East, my friends hunker down under the protective wing of our Heavenly Father who sees all things and cares for those who love Him.  He is like a Mother Bird who shelters her young under her wings.  God is our refuge.  I am praying for my friends.

Real Men don’t wear Skinny Jeans


One day, preacher and author Francis Chan asked his little girl, “Who’s the best Dad in the World?” obviously fishing for a compliment.

And his daughter replied, “Charles Ingalls,”  the father from Little House on the Prairie.  I get this because my daughter is a huge Little House fan.  Pa was the Man!  That was a bit of a shocker for her Dad, but then he started thinking about what it means to be a real man.

This is a clip from the sermon where Francis Chan tells men to Suck it up and be a man!  This segment was from about 14 minutes to 18 minutes.  Below I’ve transcribed the parts that grabbed my attention.

1 Cor. 16:13  “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith.  Act like men, be strong.  (NASB)

“When do you ever hear, in our culture, a message that says ‘Act like a man’?  We’re living in a day and age when everyone is trying to get rid of all the male and female distinctions and say we’re all just the same.  God didn’t uniquely design us.  There are no differences.  It’s politically incorrect to say ‘Act like a man’.  When’s the last time you heard someone say that?

“You get this barrage of messages telling you the opposite.  Find your feminine side, look deep inside, express yourself.  It’s all this trying to feminize manhood.  Then you hear someone say, ‘Act like a Man, the Bible commands you to.’  I’d never heard that before… (and I would personally add, Real Men don’t wear skinny jeans!  Act like a man!  Of course Mr. Chan did not say that, but take it from me, I’m a woman and I think skinny jeans are girly.  But back to the real message…)

“Suck it up and act like a man.  When do you hear that?  All the messages today are like, It’s not your fault, come here and I’ll hug you, you poor victim.  So for a man to stand on a platform and say ‘Suck it up and act like a man’ was like, wow!  I’ve never heard these words.  We don’t preach this anymore.  But they are the exact words that Paul uses here.

“He uses these military terms in 1 Corinthians 16.  He says, I’m speaking to some soldiers here.  We’re actually in a war here.  There’s a battle for your soul, your mind, your family, your conscious.  You’ve gotta fight.  So he uses these military phrases.  He says, ‘Be on the Alert’, be watchful looking for the enemy.  He says, ‘Men you’re in a war here.  You were born for this battle.  You’re in a war, so start acting like it.’

“Stand firm in your faith.  It means don’t retreat.  The enemy is coming for you.  But you stand your ground, stand strong in your faith.  You don’t go running away to cry in the corner.  No, you stand your ground, it’s an order… You’re going to feel like so many things are flying at you, temptations and problems.  And the world will be telling you to run away, but Paul says, ‘act like a man’.  Stand your ground, stand firm in your faith.  You’re in a war, what did you expect?

“Act like men and be strong.  That defines what a man is… a man is defined by his strength.  It’s not just about physical strength… it’s about this mental toughness that doesn’t back down.  There are times when you will feel overwhelmed and you’ll want to give up, but these words will ring in your mind and you’ll think, ‘No, I’m a man!  I don’t run.  I stand up and God is going to give me the strength.’  A man’s just gotta do what a man’s gotta do, no matter if it’s not popular or people will hate you for it.  God’s called you to be strong.”

From the Sermon entitled “Suck it up and Be a Man” by Francis Chan