Tag Archives: People

Barren

God does his best work with barren things.Barren Blog

He built nations from barren wombs.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was barren and yet from her God built a nation of millions!
Elizabeth was barren and from her came John the Baptist.
In Exodus 17 God led his people into a barren desert and in a place where there was no water he made a river for them to drink.
God does his best work with barren things.
He works with barren lives, lives ravaged by failure, sin, loss, and wasted years.
He works with barren things so the world will see his glory and greatness.
Have you felt like a failure?  Have you wasted your years?  Do you think you’re not good enough, not smart enough, have nothing to offer?  Then you are just the person God can use.  He loves working with barren things, broken lives,  and failures, because through what the world considers “barren” God works miracles!
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.””
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Forgiveness

What should we do when people to whom we have given our trust betray that trust?

Should we be angry and refuse to trust those people again?

What if our car breaks down, causing us great frustration and inconvenience? Do we not take the proper steps to fix it so we can drive it again? If we can’t get it fixed…..do we never drive a car again because it might break down? Will our anger from that instance of failure  continue to cause us frustration by keeping us from wanting to have another car? Will that anger make us feel any better as we walk everywhere?

We may be justified in not trusting a car again, but does that really solve the issue at hand or just make us feel more justified in our anger?

Could it be possible that the person who let us down is really a good person, but made a mistake unintentionally? If so, wouldn’t we be hurting ourselves if we refused to trust that someone again? After all, we must have thought they were good people before they made a mistake, so isn’t there a chance that they are still a good person?

It would seem that the best way to solve an issue, would be to first let the anger and disappointment of that situation go….

We need to ask ourselves.……is the reason we are having a difficult time forgiving someone the result of not being able to come to terms with the issue at hand? It seems that if we are able to free ourselves of these negative emotions and first solve the situation, then it really wouldn’t be that hard to forgive the person or persons involved….

If we refuse to forgive and never trust a person again, are we possibly robbing ourselves of real growth? Could it be that the solution to solving a particular issue lies with the very person we refuse to forgive?

If you made a mistake, would you want your friends to give up on you?

Seems that is what forgiveness is all about….

God forgave you didn’t he?

 

New Year New Beginnings

It’s a new year.  A chance for new choices, a fresh start.  A time to look ahead and change what was wrong, to plant a new crop for the new year.

It’s a chance for new beginnings.  What will you do with the next year?  It’s all in your hands to live each day with the excitement of a child as they open each Christmas gift.  What will you find in the days ahead?NewBeginning

We always begin a new year with hopes and dreams of better things, but soon find that the same problems, same choices, and same people are still the same!  But don’t let the sameness around you keep you from planting new crops in your life, from doing something different, from new adventures.  Make the choice to do one new thing this year that you have always wanted to do.

Plant a new kind of seed in your life.  Become a student of a new interest, learn something new that has always interested you, go somewhere you have always wanted to go.  God is a God of adventure in our lives with him and in his desires for us personally.  He smiles when we thrive.  So, this year, with a new year beginning what new things will you do?   What adventures will you go on in your walk with God?

We are in the last days.  The Lord is coming soon.  There has never been a time like this when God’s people can be part of such an amazing time.  Love people.  Get to know God more deeply.  And consider the new year ahead the greatest adventure you will ever embark upon.  It will be exciting!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Do Not Fear

do not fearDo you know how many times in God tells us to ‘fear not’, ‘do not fear’ or ‘do not be afraid’? I don’t either.

It has been said that there are 365 ‘fear not’s in the Bible, one for everyday of the year. Others have searched and found only 100. Whatever, the number, it is a powerful promise from God…even if it appeared only once, it still stands as an AWESOME comfort for us.

Here are some of my favorite ‘do not fear’ and ‘do not be afraid’ verses from Genesis to Revelation:

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” – Genesis 15:1

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” – Genesis 26:24

So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. – Genesis 46:3

And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” – Exodus 20:20

Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ – Deuteronomy 1:21

And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” – Joshua 10:25

Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” – Judges 6:23

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. – Ruth 3:11

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. – 1 Samuel 12:20

So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” – 2 Samuel 9:7

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” – 2 Kings 6:16

And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:4

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” – Isaiah 35:4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” – Isaiah 44:8

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. – Isaiah 54:4

“But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid. – Jeremiah 46:27

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. – Daniel 10:12

Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and of ruler against ruler. – Jeremiah 51:46

‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ – Haggai 2:5

So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. – Zechariah 8:15

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1:20

Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. – Matthew 10:26

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. – Matthew 28:5

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. – Luke 1:13

But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. – Luke 1:3

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. – Luke 2:10

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. – Luke 12:4

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32

Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” – John 12:15

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear ; do not be frightened.” – 1 Peter 3:14

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. – Revelation 1:17

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10

Smile – Kirk Franklin

Everyone knows how to smile. It’s one of the greatest gifts God has given us. A smile makes people feel good, and people look so beautiful when they smile. When the joy in your life is obvious, it rubs off on others. But when you keep God’s joy locked inside you and don’t allow it to show on your face, you’re depriving those around you of a pleasant and refreshing experience. – Joyce Meyer

 

Regan’s ‘A Time For Choosing’

Just in time for our latest historical election, below are two video links from Ronald Regan’s famous ‘ A Time For Choosing’ speech in 1964.

Though nearly 50 years old now, his words still strike a cord with how close our country stands on the brink of losing all we have come to hold dear. 

No matter how this election turns out, our Lord still reins and He still calls us to 1 Tim 2:1-4….

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Ministries On A Mission

 

Not A Fan

Join the hundreds of people who have made the commitment to be more than just a fan…

People who are completely, committed, followers of Jesus not just admirers. When we decide to follow Him, He calls for a complete commitment and total surrender. Join those who say, “I am not a fan of Jesus”.

 

 

I Am Second

I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others whether your a celebrity or the girl/guy-next door. You can chat, call, or email 24/7.

 

 

Doctors Without Borders

These dedicated men and women work in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation.

 

International Justice Mission

The International Justice Mission is a human rights agency with a vision to rescue victims of slavery, protect the vulnerable from sexual exploitation, and provide protection for victims of other forms of violent oppression.

 

 

Living Waters // The Way of The Master

Their mission is to equip Christians in fulfilling the Great Commission using very effective media. Matt 28:16-20

 

Open Doors

Their mission to help those living or facing restriction and persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and to encourage their involvement in world evangelism through Bible distribution and education.

 

Voice Of The Martyrs

Helping Christians persecuted for their involvement in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ by providing medical assistance, food, clothing, and other forms of aid.

 

Samaritans Purse

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

 

World Vision

This Christian humanitarian organization is dedicated to serving children and families in nearly 100 countries providing assistance and  serving as advocates for justice.

woundedwarrior Wounded Warrior Project
Consider giving to this dedicated organization raising awareness for the needs of injured service members returning home; to help those injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

 

cultivateCultivate Leadership

Cultivate Leadership is focused on growing leaders for global impact.  Their hope is to equip future leaders to make positive contributions in the lives of others.

 

Meeting A Need

I wonder what some people are thinking!

They use the strangest things to meet their needs.

We use other people to fix loneliness, alcohol to forget our problems, illegal drugs to deal with depression, and a hundred other misused tools to fix the problems of our lives.

I think many of our solutions to the problems we face look like this to God. He has to be saying, just like you are right now, “Huh? What are they thinking? That won’t work!”

But we try it anyway…and discover the hard way that our solutions don’t work.

It’s only when we do things God’s way that we get the right tools for the right problems.

 Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Solution To Everything

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;  and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  -Ephesians 5:1-2

Christians are often criticized for being critical….and we are.

Christians are called judgmental…and too often we are.

Christians can come across “better than thou” at times….but we aren’t.

There is much to criticize about the community called Christian, but the solution to all of it is in two simple verses in Ephesians.

Honestly, we were never called to be fruit inspectors judging the deeds of those in the world.  We were never asked to set the rules for everyone to follow.  Jesus never admonished us to be the morality police for the communities we live in.  He only asked us to do one thing….love one another.

That is the solution to everything!  If the Christian world would simply live by these two simple verses and not try to fix the world with our code of ethics we would in fact fix the world with the love of Christ.

How do we so easily miss this?  We miss it because it’s hard.  People are messy, dirty, mean, unkind…they don’t do things the way we want them to.  People are hard to love, but that’s our primary task.  If the Christian world would simply love those around them it would be the solution to everything.

No more signs in front of abortion clinics, instead we would be loving and helping the young girls in our communities so the abortion clinic would never be an option.

No more focus on changing laws,  instead we would love those around us and as they trust Christ because of that love the community around us changes.

There are a hundred more I could mention and they are all easier than loving the unlovely, but our task is to love….just as Christ loved us.

If we lived by these two simple verses it would be the solution to everything.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Father Effect

 

A wonderful part of being in this world as a ChristianRep, is we get to meet a lot of new people from across the globe and sometimes right in our own back yard. One recent new friend on Twitter is John Finch – @johnpfinch.

John is creating his very first full-length documentary telling his own life story of growing up without a father, the wound and the resulting incredible effect left in the wake of forgiveness. With John as narrator, his film is set to tell the story of how growing up without a father has shaped his life as a boy, a man, and a father.

His documentary, The Father Effect, is set to be a long reaching look into the lives of children who will grow to be adults one day soon, and will live out the effect of their father’s impact. Simply and directly, it is a story that needs to be told for the sake of families now and in the future.

As children of God, we have a heavenly Father always there for us and loving us. This film is for those who may still feel the wounds left from having an earthly father who may have fallen far short of God’s expectations.

Here is the short story – now on film.  TheFatherEfffect.

 

It’s All About Him!

Romans 11:36 ~ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

This amazing verse comes at the end of a difficult treatise by Paul about his people, the Jews.

The question unasked in Romans, that Paul now answers in chapters 9-11, is this- what about the Jews? What is God’s plan for them. Many are still trying to understand all that Paul wrote in these three chapters, but this verse we are looking at today is his conclusion.

From him– God is the source of all things. They all come from him. He made everything. That’s a clear declaration of scripture from beginning to end. Why? He will explain that at the end of the verse, but core to understanding all that exists is this source question- where did all of this come from? God declares clearly, “It all came from me. I made everything that is.” Even science agrees with God on this. The word science uses to describe this “from Him” idea is a term science calls biogenesis. It means that living things come only from other living things. This is a scientific principle that agrees with the declaration of scripture. Life made life. The life that is the source of all life is God himself.

Through him– Not only is God the source of all things he is also the sustainer of everything. One of the things science cannot explain is life itself. Where did it come from? How did life start? What is life? What the bible declares is that God not only gave life to all things, but even holds them all together and sustains everything that is. He keeps it all going, every cell, every life, every breath. (Col. 1:15-18)

To him– And, finally, he is the one all things return to. Life came from him and returns to him. Source, sustainer and finally culmination of all things.

Why? Why has he set it up this way? I love the last part of this short verse, so that “To Himbe the glory forever.” Why did he do it this way? So he would be glorified, worshiped and praised. All that is comes from him, is held together by him and will return to him so that he will be glorified and praised. That’s the right response to all he is and all he has done.

It is, in fact, all about him. Man’s response? In our world today, as Paul describes in Romans 1, is to deny the creator and credit the creation with its own inception, but there is no question in scripture that at the heart of everything is God himself. It is, in fact, all about him! Amen!

Visit Mike at FinishingWell.

Cardboard Testimonies from East 91st St Christian Church

Although you may have seen cardboard testimonies like these before, please take a few moments once again to appreciate just what a blessing it is to have a relationship with Jesus.

Hope you enjoy and are inspired by these testimonies from the people at East 91st Street Christian Church.

If you don’t have a relationship with Him now, learn how you can.

Visit our page Roman Road To Salvation.

Sowing Seed, Seeing Fruit

There is an interesting parable that Jesus told about a farmer and his field. It was really a story about the word of God and our lives. Here’s the story explained to the disciples,

Mark 4:13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Any farmer worth his pay will know that if you don’t put seed in the ground you will never see a harvest. Somehow, in our day, many Christians I meet don’t believe this is true. They have the strange idea that somehow God should just make fruit grow in their lives without any attempt on their part to, 1. put some seed in the ground or, 2. to be a field that can grow something.

The story Jesus told speaks to an interesting reality- it’s easy to get distracted and end up without any fruit in your life. There’s a lot that catches a life and makes it unproductive. If you know that you will realize how important this sowing seed thing really is.

Here’s another thing to note- all this soil, these different kinds of soil, are all in the same field….in the same life. I have times when nothing grows and other times and places in my life that are wonderfully fruitful. It’s all part of a life lived with distractions. A life lived in a fallen world.

But the key for me is this- I have to throw some seed in my field! If I don’t do that then nothing can grow. In other words I have to get into God’s word and read it! If I don’t put his word in my mind, in my heart then the world will put it’s seeds there. My life is like that field, ready to grow whatever I throw on the soil. It doesn’t care what kind of seed it is, it’s job is to produce fruit. And so, each life will see a harvest. Some rich with produce and other lives full of thorns and loss.

The key for me is this- that I get God’s word into my life, my field. If I do that then God can make something grow….there’s a harvest coming. There will be a harvest IF I plant good seed.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Marching To Rephidim

In April of 2008 I wrote the following post in two parts. It’s been a great blessing to me and to many others over the years. I thought I would share it with you once more….

Part 1

There is a passage of scripture that I often go to for comfort and reminder. It’s a very strange place to go for such things, but it has proven to provide them to me. It is part of the story of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. They have left Egypt, crossed the sea on dry land, and are being led by God with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the middle of this odyssey we come to this passage, Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD….. . Day by day, led by the cloud and the pillar, they are following God’s leading…following him and trusting him. Then, in this short verse we find these words, and they camped at Rephidim… . They camped here by God’s leading! But you must see the end of the verse to understand how important this passage is,and there was no water for the people to drink. When this passage first became clear to me this last phrase stopped me, and my response was, “WHAT?!?! You took them to a place where there was no water? And you took them there ON PURPOSE!?” Yes he did. And he will lead us to places like this….places in the desert where there is no water. Dry places, places where we ask, “why did you bring me here?” That will become clear in a moment, but you need to know that dry places are in God’s plan for our lives. When you find yourself at your Rephidim know that it didn’t happen by accident, God has led you there. He’s working in your life….he has a plan.

Let me make this one thing clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim on purpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water. Did I make that part clear yet? Why? That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason, Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God. Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse, Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him! But here is what they saw, Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem, Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Exodus 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. This Horeb is the rock that was split in the middle and from it came water to quench the thirst of millions for months. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”

So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response, “Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”

When you find yourself out of work, hurting, wounded, left alone, discouraged, depressed, unhappy or simply thirsty for God and find that he has brought you to a dry place don’t fall into the trap of focusing on your need. Look around, God is there waiting for you….he has brought you to this place on purpose!

 

Part 2

Yesterday I left you in the middle of the desert with the nation of Israel in a place where there was no water. They were led there on purpose by God. Let me make this clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim onpurpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water.

Did I make that part clear yet?

Why?

That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason,

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God.

Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse,

Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him!

But here is what they saw,

Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”

Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem,

Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exodus 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

This Horeb is the rock I posted in part 1, the rock that was split in the middle. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”

So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response,

“Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Good People

I am out for coffee most mornings with different men in our church family. I love the encounters that happen in public eating places. The events of a coffee and the buzz around me is invigorating.

This morning, as I sat at coffee waiting for one of our men I couldn’t help overhearing (yes I listened in) a man at the next table say to his breakfast partner, “I’m a good person….”

There was more to his statement, but this one sentence caught my imagination. I’m sure this guy really is a nice person, trying to be good, but I wondered and wished I could ask him, so what does it mean to you to be a good person and why does it matter? What is the purpose of being good? Why did he need to say that to his friend this morning?

I wonder about these things because his statement made me immediately think about a young man who came to Jesus and basically said the same thing, “I’m a good person, what else do I need?” Jesus’ response probably stunned him when he replied, “No one is good but God alone.” From that came an encounter that left this young man depressed.

Why do we want to be good? What’s is our purpose in “being good?” Who are we trying to impress? Are we just trying to be accepted by others or do we think there is some merit in our goodness? I wonder how we measure our goodness. Compared to Hitler we are all pretty good! What or who was my breakfast friend comparing his goodness to? What was his measuring stick? Why does he want to be good?

I wonder about these things because I really have no illusions of being a good person. It’s funny that a pastor like me would say such a thing, but it comes from a perspective of really knowing my own heart and knowing my potential for evil. There is nothing I couldn’t do under the right circumstances. I have no illusions of goodness as far as I’m concerned. I know my heart and nothing good resides there so I have to find my acceptance somewhere else. I have to find it in someone else. That’s the very reason I’m a Christian! Knowing that I’m not good and can’t be good I am depending on someone else to be good for me, to accomplish what I can’t.

You will never hear me saying, “I’m a good person.” I’m not! Only in Jesus Christ do I find a goodness that puts me right with God. On my own I have no inherent goodness to offer to God. I’m so glad Jesus made my acceptance before God possible because in me is no good thing! So, from a brief comment this morning at a table near mine, I’m most grateful for what Jesus has done for me to make me acceptable to God. Praise be to God for his indescribable gift!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Carol Of The Bells – Celtic Women

Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away
Christmas is here,
bringing good cheer,
to young and old,
meek and the bold.
Ding dong ding dong
that is their song
with joyful ring
all caroling.
One seems to hear
words of good cheer
from everywhere
filling the air.
Oh how they pound,
raising the sound,
o’er hill and dale,
telling their tale.
Gaily they ring
while people sing
songs of good cheer,
Christmas is here.
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas,
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas.
On on they send,
on without end,
their joyful tone
to every home.
Ding dong ding… dong!

Dealing With Me

My biggest problem is not my work, other people around me or even the struggles I face. My biggest problem is ME! I live in a world of people all struggling, for the most part, with themselves. It’s all these struggling people clashing together that creates the problems we see around us.

Unless I can deal with the me I see in the mirror I can never work though my issues with you. Paul the apostle knew this struggle himself, we all understand the struggle, but he actually articulated his own battle. Here are a few of his thoughts,

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

My biggest problem is ME! I hate that. I want to please God, I want to be who he designed me to be. I want to live as he designed me, but something keeps pulling me down to the base person I was when I first met him. That “me” that causes all my problems, all my anger, my sinful thoughts, my frustrations, irritations, my resentments. All the things that come from that “me”…..is not the me God wants me to be. He has created in me a new man, and yet I so easily fall back to that old man. It’s so frustrating. I hate it! I so understand Paul’s words and struggles. So do you, don’t you? We all live with this tug of sin pulling at our hearts, minds and affections, but it’s not the end of the story. There is a solution that Paul mentions at the end of his thoughts in this passage. Here’s his conclusion,

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The truth is that my sinful nature will never improve. I have to deal with that and “walk in the Spirit,” the new man God created when I trusted him. My old man, the old me, always wants its way…that won’t change…it’s my reality. It’s yours too. My challenge is to choose to walk in his Spirit and not as the “me” who wants his way. Today I’m struggling with me. Frustrated by the man in my mirror, but I know God has provided a better way.

My next step today is to walk in that new way and thank God for his forgiveness and grace.

This struggle will be ours until we finish this life. It’s part of the curse, but the hope we have is the Spirit of God in us that gives us the opportunity to live in a new “me” that pleases God. I remember the story of a young man asking his grandfather when the passions of life ebb. The old saint paused for a moment and then, with 85 years of wisdom, responded, “I don’t know, but if they ever do I’ll let you know.”

Dealing with “me” is my struggle for the day. Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Simple Instructions

I have to admit that I’m a very simple person. I don’t think about grand thoughts of glory or have amazing insights into life and eternity. I am just a very simple guy who is trying to follow God and walk with him. I honestly find that most people are just like me, trying to find their way.

This morning, as I read Micah 6, I once more come to these simple instructions,

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In my simple language I would instruct someone else with these directions, do what’s right, be nice and respond rightly to God. It’s not all that hard. Life comes down to some very simple instructions. That helps a guy like me.

Jesus repeated these instructions and framed it in an even clearer way. He said “Love God and love each other.” That’s Micah 6 in its simplest form. Basically scripture tells us to focus on eternal things- God and people. Those are the things, the relationships that will be eternal. Everything else will burn up, rust, rot or be thrown away.

So today, I hope to focus on the eternal things- God and people. I hope to respond to them as Micah describes, do what’s right, be nice and walk humbly with God. I’m so glad this is simple. It helps to know how easy this really is. The secret is this- it’s not about me, it’s about God first and others second. It’s a life focused outward, focused not on the frantic scramble for security and stuff, but on people and God.

Simple instructions…..for a simple race, do what’s right, be nice and walk humbly with God.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.