Category Archives: Theology

God’s Will, Our Wait

seashellsmallThe fax machine is a part of most offices today. They came into general usage in 1964, but actually the first fax process was patented in 1843!

Frank Sprague demonstrated an electric railway in 1888. The first usage of an electric locomotive didn’t happen until 1895!

Leonardo da Vinci made detailed sketches of parachutes in 1485. Andre-Jacques Garnerthe made the first jump from a balloon in 1793!

Penicillin came into production in 1942. It was discovered in 1928!

Waiting seems to be a significant fact of life. It’s something we don’t like to do, but we all have to do what we think is more than our share of it! What are you waiting for?

I had the opportunity to listen to a portion of a teaching DVD of best selling speaker and writer Beth Moore. She quotes from the famous passage in Isaiah 40:30-31. Some translations use the word “hope” for a certain Hebrew verb and others used the word “wait” for this verb. She chose to quote a translation that uses “wait” and I will do the same.

Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength;They will mount up with wings like eagles,They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

Beth Moore points out that we are not to wait for the situation to change but we are to “wait for the LORD…” That really impacted me.

I can get very frustrated while waiting for situations or people to change. When I think I’m focusing on seemingly random or out-of-control circumstances or uncaring or seemingly incompetent people I find the situation of waiting nearly intolerable! I need to change how I look at the process of waiting. Ultimately, I believe God is in control and He is obviously allowing things to go ever so slowly, causing me to wait. I must believe He has His reasons! He has His plans! When I focus on the fact that I am really waiting on an all-loving, all-wise, and all-powerful God I can handle the waiting a lot better. I’m waiting on the Lord, not circumstances or people! I need to pray what the psalmist prayed, “My times are in your hands…” (Psalm 31:15, NIV)

It has been said that good things come to those who wait. This really applies when you believe in a good God!


When the “Odds” Don’t Matter!

Oswald, born in 1874, turned his life over to Christ as a teenager under the ministry of the great Charles Spurgeon. He would later marry a court stenographer named Gertrude. Oswald spent his short life speaking and teaching about God. He died in 1917 at the age of 43 with complications after an appendectomy. He and Gertrude had been married only seven years.

Oswald managed to write one book during his relatively short lifetime but more than thirty titles have been published under his name. His wife, Gertrude, with her stenography skills, was able to take down his speeches and teachings in shorthand. After his death she spent the next fifty-plus years sharing her husband’s words with the world. The best known of his books? My Utmost for His Highest. This Christian classic by Oswald Chambers has been in print continuously since 1935 when it was first published and consistently ranks on the the top ten bestseller list, even today. I’ve read this year-long daily devotional through several times and am doing so again this year.

It could have been seen as a tremendous tragedy that such a great Christian died so young. But then there’s the fact that he married a stenographer who was able to accurately write down all he said. What are the odds that Oswald would marry a court stenographer? It doesn’t matter what the odds were! God doesn’t worry about odds!

When children act out a Christmas pageant of the Nativity story the adult coordinators have a time of it getting the shepherds, wise men and other characters to the right place at the right time. Not so with God. A great Roman empire, an evil puppet king, a national census – when the time was ripe it all came together according to God’s plan. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman…”(Galatians 4:4)

Sometimes our lives seem to be out of control. Interruptions, unforeseen situations, the stupidity of someone’s actions, our own blunders, and the seemingly random happening of events make life far from predictable, let alone manageable. Rest assured, God is still on His throne! When we seek to be open to Him with a cooperative spirit it’s amazing how He can make sense out of what seems to be senseless!

Lighten Up! Seriously!

I like to read the biographical information about an author that’s usually found on the back inside cover of a book.  I’ve noticed that when it comes to most of the so-called spiritual gurus, their bios never list any, shall we say, down-to-earth stuff, such as family members or hobbies.  Take Eckhart Tolle, for example.  It’s hard to find out anything that’s “ordinary”  about him.  Check out his “About” page on his web site and you learn very little about him personally.

The oldest movies about Jesus have Him moving about, robe flowing, hands out in blessing, and in other ways acting so unearthly.  We know He took children on His lap and blessed them.  He must have played with them, kidded with them — kids don’t go to a “stick-in-the-mud” type person.

Oswald Chambers, in his classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest writes, “Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained of God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound… We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow.” (devotion for today, Nov. 22)  He goes on to remind the reader that even the deep ocean has a shallow shoreline!

God must like the ordinary in life, for He has made so much of it!  It’s OK to make small talk, it helps put people at ease, plus I like to talk about the latest sale at Best Buy, or how I keep my aquarium clean.  It’s OK to lighten up, to be funny even though you’re a person of faith, to joke around even if you’re a follower of Jesus.  It’s OK to delight in the simple pleasures of life — a fresh cup of coffee, the smile of a child, the inviting comfort of the pillow when you climb into bed.  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

As Chambers goes on to write, “We are so nauseatingly serious.”  That’s why I’ve decided to show a picture with me and one of my chickens that I tended, until I switched to homing pigeons, a picture of me acting “normal.”  It seems to me that one mark of being holy is not taking ourselves so seriously!

Triad of Faith

Trusting God is no easy task. We face so many problems and challenges that they often intimidate us more than God inspires us. Our fears seem to win over our faith.

I have, for a long time, found it helpful to regularly reaffirm three great characteristics of God as they’re expressed in His Son Jesus Christ. These characteristics, when regularly reflected on, help me build a confidence in Christ. I call them the triad of faith. When it comes to Christ we can affirm… 

…His love…
…His wisdom…
…His power. 

His love is for us. He wants to do what is best for us! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?.. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35, 37) Jesus came into this world as one of us to love us through His great sacrifice for us on His cross. No one has ever loved us as Jesus does. Yes, He loves us and wants the best for us!

His wisdom is for us. He knows what is best for us! “…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2b-3) He co-created the world with the Father and Holy Spirit and He helps keep it running. Even in a fallen universe we can see that He has made a fine-tuned universe. The Master has His master plan. Yes, He is wise and knows what is best for us!

His power is for us. He can do what is best for us! “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) He is ultimately in complete control. Yes, He is powerful and can do what is best for us!

Affirming this great triad of who Christ is will inspire trust — 

He is all-loving and wants what is best for us.
He is all-wise and knows what is best for us.
He is all-powerful and can do what is best for us!

We can have confidence in Him!

Pigeon Theology

When I pulled into my driveway in the late afternoon and stepped out of my car to get the mail I noticed my flock of white homing pigeons flying overhead. What a beautiful sight, those white birds soaring above the tree tops! It apparently was their last lap of the day for I saw them fly to the coop at the back of our property, make their landing and walk into their home for the night. 

I’ve figured out what I like about raising white homing pigeons (a switch from the chickens I used to raise). It’s not that I like cleaning up pigeon ______ (you know what). It’s not that their young are cute. I presently have three baby pigeons and they are the ugliest babies on earth! They don’t get pretty until they get to be adults. 

What I like about homing pigeons is that they, well, they come home! Don’t get me wrong, they all haven’t come home in the past. When I first let my flock out last spring about half of the 16 birds flew the coop… for good! But the ones who stayed enjoy their freedom of flying about (they seem to have an invisible flying track they stick to) and then enjoy coming home to roost. It’s a pleasant feeling to watch from the ground as the birds fly overhead and be able to say, “Those are mine!” I don’t have ultimate control over them, they could leave anytime, but they don’t, and that is what’s so pleasing about raising them. 

I think the same reason I keep pigeons is why God keeps people. By keeping pigeons I mean I care for them. I provide them a home, food and water, and any other attention they need. By God keeping people I mean the same. What apparently delights God is that He has set us free to do whatever we want and that we can, and some of us do, decide to keep flying back to Him. Part of the metaphor is, however, reversed. I watch my pigeons high and lifted up from my position on the earth. God watches His people on earth from His position of being high and lifted up. 

Every day, and several times a day, my pigeons “fly the coop.” When I’m home I watch them and observe that they make the decision to not fly far (to stay within sight of me and home) and to fly back again. You and I “fly about” our daily tasks but let’s not fly far from God and His ever watchful eye and lets be flying back to Him throughout the day.

Blind Faith Helped by Hearing

This morning I dropped my wife Diann off at the Detroit airport so she could travel to Mexico and visit the grandchildren and our daughter (son-in-law Victor’s on a medical mission trip).  I happened to be walking and praying in the field in back of our house when I heard the sound of a jet high overhead.  It was above the gray clouds, so I couldn’t see it, but my ears told me it was going in the right direction to be heading to Mexico.  I checked my watch.  Yes, her plane had been scheduled to leave about five minutes earlier.  Was that her plane?  Then a few minutes later I heard another plane going the same direction so maybe, I thought, she was on this plane.  Another five minutes later and I heard a third plane.  Perhaps she was on it.

I’m certain she was on one of those planes, up at some 20,000 plus feet and climbing, my wife, the woman I had slept alongside just a few hours earlier was now way up there!  It was hard to believe, but I believed it anyway.

It’s a few hours later and I’m sipping some coffee at Starbucks and contemplating my earlier experience of hearing but not seeing the plane, actually, one of those three planes, that was carrying the love of my life.  It seems that my experience of knowing God is somewhat similar.  Maybe the term blind faith is OK, and we can live with it, as long as we have another sense we can depend on, such as hearing.  The Bible does say that “faith comes from hearing the message…” (Romans 10:17)

I’ve experienced God in different ways — through the example of others, through His creation, through His written word, through an inner working of His Holy Spirit.  I don’t depend on just one means for experiencing God.  God reveals Himself in many ways but nonone of them revelas Him as clearly as I would like.  Sometimes I wish He would simply materialize before me, replacing faith with fact.

Next Monday my plan is to pick up Diann at the airport, kiss her and embrace her and bring her home.  Until then I’ll have to suffice with the sound of her plane and a few phone calls where I will hear but not see her.  Some day, on the other side of this life, I’ll be greeted and embraced by Jesus, and He will take me home.  But until then I’ll have to depend on some measure of faith to keep in relationship with Him, a faith that acts in the absence of being able to see or hear clearly and completely.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

(I took the photo above out of the window of a jet when I was flying back from Mexico having just visited the grandchildren.  Yes, I get to go to see the grandkids sometimes too!  I think of the picture as “God’s view” of things.)

Attentive to God

This is a sight test! Look around the area where you are now sitting, probably a familiar scene. Look hard. Look until you find something you’ve never noticed before. Go ahead, try it. Look until you can say, “I never really saw that before.”

This is a hearing test! Listen carefully. Listen through the familiar and obvious sounds. Listen until you hear a sound you would have missed if you hadn’t been taking this hearing test! Listen until you can say, “I would never have heard that.”

I’m reading a book by Leighton Ford titled The Attentive Life, subtitled Discovering God’s Presence in All Things.  One of the characteristics of God is that He’s omnipresent (all places present). There is no place where He is not. You could have fooled me!

There are times I forget God’s around. Oh, I don’t forget to the extent that if you asked me, “Is God here?” I wouldn’t give the proper theological answer, “He most certainly is!”

Practically speaking? That’s another matter! In the busyness and distraction of moment-by-moment living it’s easy to forget God’s around, or at least it’s rather easy to ignore Him. The result is that we often think, speak, act, and even feel as if God’s not there. Our life’s response is little different from the person who doesn’t have an active faith. We can be practicing atheists!

Ford writes, “Perhaps inattentiveness is our greatest sin.” He might be right. So far this day I’ve faced several stressful, challenging situations. You too? Are we facing those situations with the awareness that God is near? Are we handling those situations with an attentiveness to God’s direction and help?

Stop! Look! Listen! It’s up to us whether we’ve seen and heard from God today, throughout today!

How about affirming what King David did in one of his psalms. “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)

Working with God

A preacher was visiting one of his parishioners, who was showing the pastor his wonderfully-landscaped garden. The pastor commented, “The Lord’s creation certainly is beautiful, isn’t it?” The parishioner replied, “You should have seen it before, when God had it all to Himself.” Maybe you’ve seen before-and-after pictures of gardens; this gardener obviously felt that his back yard looked a lot better after he added to what God had done!

This is the way God intends life to be: we partner with Him. Genesis says that God made the Garden of Eden, put Adam and Eve into it, and then told them to tend it. Adam and Eve were to continue, and add to, what God had started, being partners with Him. God could have set up the world so that He’d do everything that He wants to be done, but He didn’t do it that way! He wants us to partner with Him in doing all that He wants done.

The best purpose for living is to live for God’s purposes. Think about it: would we really want to live at cross-purposes with God? Given the fact that God is infinitely good, what would be better to live for than His purposes?

“As for God, his way is perfect…” Psalm 18:30

Your Little Corner of the Future

No one knows what the future holds. Every once in a while we look at our own life or current events and exclaim, “Who could ever have guessed that…” 

There’s no getting around the fact that the future is pretty important. The future spans from the very next breath you and I take on into the days, months, years, and eternity ahead. The future’s a really long time! 

The reality is that the portal to that important future is always through the present moment, this point in time. We all are very much aware we’re not in control of all that will happen in the future, just as we aren’t in control over all that happens to us in the present. But here’s the important fact for us to remember. We may not be in control of all that happens to us in the present but we are in control of some of it! In the same way we are in control of a piece of the future! One of my favorite authors, Erwin Raphael McManus, writes, “History doesn’t happen to us, it happens through us.” He goes on to write, “God has designed a role for you in the creating of the future.” (Wide Awake, p. 159) 

Sometimes we underestimate the thoughts we think, the attitudes we hold, the words we say, and the actions we do. So often they seem rather small and inconsequential. Each, however, is another brick we lay in what is our future dwelling place. How we deal with our present situation largely determines the kind of future we’re going to live in presently. 

It’s been said that no one knows what the future holds, but we can know the One who holds the future. True! God is sovereign and He will have His ultimate will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You and I have a part in the unfolding of that future He has planned! McManus writes, “Jesus clearly expects us to be fully engaged in this life and the creation of the future.” (p. 160) What our future holds is largely dependent on how we take hold of our present opportunities. Let’s live the present moment well. Our future depends on it!

Awesome God or Familiar Friend?

Sometimes when I take my early morning prayer walk I’m torn as to how to approach God. On the one hand I feel I can enter into a comfortable and casual conversation with Him, like an old and familiar friend. On the other hand I understand that He is the awesome God of the universe, and that if He should reveal Himself as He did to the prophet Isaiah, I too, like Isaiah, would drop to my face, grinding my nose into the muddy path, afraid that exposure to such a holy God would most certainly prove fatal. 

Jerry Bridges, in his book I Exalt You O God, writes that “in the physical realm there are two opposing forces called centrifugal and centripetal. Centrifugal force tends to pull away from a center of rotation, while centripetal force pulls toward the center. A stone whirled about on the end of a string exerts centrifugal force on the string, while the string exerts centripetal force on the stone. Each of these forces cannot exist without the other. Take away one and the other immediately disappears.” 

Bridges continues, “These two opposing forces can help us understand something of our relationship with God. The centrifugal force represents those attributes of God such as His holiness and sovereignty that cause us to bow in awe and self-abasement before Him. They hold us reverently distant…The centripetal force represents the love of God. It surrounds us with grace and mercy and draws us with cords of love into the Father’s warm embrace.” (p. 142) 

This tension I feel between familiarity and fear in my relationship with God is what Bridges calls a “healthy tension” and should not be seen as something negative. After all, how could I love a God who prompted nothing but fear? How could I bow before a God who was nothing more than a divine buddy? God is so big that I need all of my emotions to embrace Him in a relationship!