May 27 – You Are That Man!

Convicting as it should be.

THE RIVER WALK

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man!
You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”
(2 Samuel 12:7,12)

Read: 2 Samuel 12:1-31, John 16:1-33, Psalm 119:65-80, Proverbs 16:4-5

Relate: Nathan the prophet comes to David to tell him a story. He shares how there were two neighbors: one was rich and the other poor. The rich man had many animals but the poor man only one sheep that he treated as his own family. Someone came over to visit the rich man and instead of slaughtering one of his own animals to use as a feast for the distinguished guest, he takes his poor neighbors only sheep by force and uses that instead.

When he hears this story, David is outraged. That rich man deserves to die! Really, David? Really? Don’t you think you are overreacting a…

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Praising God for His Mercy…

During the last few weeks, millions have been praying, standing in faith together, offering prayers of agreement for God to protect and strengthen our countrymen in the midst of these storms that have battered much of our southern coastline.

During the last few days, we again have joined our prayers with millions of Christ-followers, both here and around the world, to ask for God’s protection. God has promised in His Word that He will never fail us or forsake us. And He won’t, no matter what we go through when we put our faith in Him, not in ourselves.

As we begin to look back to exactly what happened with Hurricane Irma, which was predicted to cause catastrophic damage the entire length of Florida, we cannot help but see that it was God who stripped it of its deadliest power before it was even halfway up the coast. In the maelstrom, regretfully, lives were lost, people were injured, property was damaged and destroyed. However, an even more powerful thing occurred over the last few days. Millions prayed.

It seems to have begun with Harvey, the worst flooding our country had ever seen, but it really began 16 years ago today, back when thousands of innocent people died at the hands of madmen who, like the Enemy of our souls, sought to steal, kill and destroy us.

We know as a people that God has protected us many times over in unexpected ways and even in unknown instances. And He will continue to if we live out 2 Chronicles 7:14:  If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Millions of Christians are joining together each evening at 9 p.m. (EST) to pray in agreement for the safety of our country. Some refer to it as the National Minute of Prayer, The 9pm Prayer, or just the Evening Prayer; however, regardless of what it is called, the precedent seems to be the same, the Big Ben Silent Minute—one minute of concerted prayer during WWII during which the British people prayed for peace.

Millions praying for one minute made a difference against the enemy in World War II. Millions praying for Texas and Louisiana, as they dealt with the worst flood ever recorded in our country, made a difference that was evident on the faces of the rescuers, as well as the rescued. We’ve been hearing the stories of survival in Texas, the extraordinary acts of ordinary people who reached out to help others simply because it was the right thing to do.

Millions prayed as Florida faced head-on the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. And the storm that was predicted to destroy the west coast of the state with Cat 4 winds and a 10-15 ft. surge somehow shifted just enough to rapidly downgrade to a 2 and then a 1. We saw the water of bays on the Gulf sucked out to sea only to come back calmly! Could the results of millions of people praying have been any more obvious?

This morning my friend, Shannon, who lives here in Northern Indiana, shared what she went through just yesterday when it seemed her father was surely lost in the storm: I have to say that prayer reignited my love of Christ yet again this weekend during Hurricane Irma. You see, my 83-year-old father was trapped in his home in Pompano Beach, Florida, two blocks from the Atlantic. He tried to get gas but there was none so he could not evacuate. He went on foot to three shelters and they turned him away because there was no more room. I lost contact with him yesterday morning… I watched helplessly as I got alerts for his area that stated that seven different tornadoes had touched down there, on top of everything else. I had lost all contact with him. Nothing but prayer would do. Then God proved once again that his mercies are new every morning when my father managed to borrow a cell phone and call me and let me know he was OK this morning at 8 am. There’s flooding all around his house but his house is water free and stands firm with no damage. Thank you Jesus for the things that don’t happen to us. And for those that do.

And thank you, Shannon, for reminding me to have a thankful heart even in the midst of the storm.

We’ve seen a coming together the last couple of weeks that has been long overdue, but we need to keep the momentum going. We need to ask the God, who stilled the wind on the Sea of Galilee and sends the former and latter rains, to do the same in the western reaches of our country and Canada to quench the massive fires that have been burning for months.

More than anything, we need to remember this moment in time, when we as a people are doing what we do best, bringing help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless through selfless acts of caring and prayers of healing and comfort. I believe that is the best part of who we are as a nation.

Note: For more information, I encourage you to search online for the Big Ben Minute, The 9 pm Prayer or National Minute of Prayer.

 

My way or the highway…

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.'” C.S. Lewis

I like that quote. I guess because God does give us a choice, even though to some His choice does seem rather harsh. In our vernacular, it would be like the it’s-my-way-or-the-highway philosophy that our parents at some point in our lives made really obvious to us.

It’s hard to ignore your parents when you’re within their physical gaze, but it’s pretty easy to ignore God when your idea of where He actually is might be up there or everywhere or somewhere else or maybe even nowhere.

I find it really remarkable that once we have received Christ, God never loses patience with us, even when years and years go by and we’re still disobeying Him in a particular area of our lives. Oswald Chambers said, “Nothing is a light matter with a child of God. How much longer are we going to keep God trying to teach us one thing?” Good question.

I agree with Chambers’ assertion that you can’t have a moral holiday and remain moral or have a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual.  That’s one truth we Christ-followers need to keep in mind as we do life.  Spiritual holidays may be fun at the time, but just as with moral holidays, there will be consequences.

Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the whole person (mind, body and spirit); the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

Remember, it’s impossible to stay in fellowship with God and not repeat the same painful lessons over and over again if you don’t read His Word and incorporate His teachings into your life. It‘s just that simple.

There in that place…

The days rush by, and I think about my grandnephew, whose days are unending, his nights just long enough to remember the tilled fields of spring followed by the green expanse of crops pulsating in summer’s breezes, broken only by the creek winding through our land connecting farm to farm where family wait for his return.

There in that place where even subtle sins are noted, he is lost amidst the many who are watched day and night yet never known beyond surveillance screens that reveal everything yet nothing of the boy he was when he became a man when he was barely more that just a boy.

Like any child who looks for love, he found it in the gentle words of his grandfather, who taught him how to put together and take apart the toys of boyhood one block at a time. And, as he grew older, he watched and learned under the gaze of his almost-dad, who was not there when the judge handed down the ruling that took him away from everything he loved.

He had looked for love so many times in the circle of other wounded children grown up, who saw each other through the glazed eyes of alcohol-induced laughter that hardly hid the pain that roiled deep inside. And the alcohol that took him away from the pain tore the best friend he had ever had from his days and his nights where now the constant glare of prison lights robbed him of the dreams he longed for.

He made himself remember the fresh smell of rain on tilled fields, the familiar aroma of oil and grease in his grandpa’s shop, the joyous atmosphere of family dinners and the sound of his mom’s laughter, the combine’s roar and the sound of the grain swirling up the auger to the bins. He thought of the clicking sounds Grandpa would make as they waited for their plates of BBQ to come at noon and the nudges in greeting from friends and farmers who filled the room from 12 to 1.

He remembered so much and then could take no more and waited in the still dorm as snoring ceased and breaths were held, as the dreaded prospect of one more endless day began.

O, Holy Father, just as Your Son burst forth from the grave, invade that stark place with the reality of Your Presence. Break into hearts and flood them with Your Perfect Love. Shatter the walls that conceal the men you created them to be, and destroy the plans of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy their very lives. Birth hope in jaded hearts this day, and set them aflame for You.

Silence…

Strangely silent
well, maybe not so strange
sometimes the heart has nowhere to go
nothing to say, except to Him
who always hears
but is silent
when silence must have its way.
How could months go by, I wonder,
months of silence recorded doggedly
through scores of mornings
when my sole desire was to sit at His feet
and listen.
Haltingly I ask for words to flow
from this heart ever changed
by His Words, His Voice
heard best in the silence.