Is Faith Foolish?

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.  Psalm 39:7

Faith doesn’t exist if I can cope on my own.  Faith begins when a situation looks hopeless and it appears as if Satan is winning.  I’m called to invest my heart when it feels like folly if I do.

Abraham probably felt exhilarated when he received the promise of a child.  High on spiritual adrenaline, he was full of faith.  But when faith meets the real world and the thrill of hearing from God is dulled by life, faith is tested.  The miracle of Abraham’s story and why God blessed him so much was that his faith did not weaken when he considered the odds against he and Sarah.  They had always been barren.  They were now old.  They had never known anyone their age who had conceived.  It seemed preposterous to believe they could be the first.

Faith defies feelings ~ because it requires me to believe God though I have sunk comfortably into disbelief.  It’s so easy to grow complacent, throw my hands up and give up.  I can feel relieved not to trust anymore and to let my hope die.  Faith is uncomfortable, challenging me to confront it and then open my heart to God and the promise of a blessed future..

 When things are the bleakest, faith has a starting place.  And, when there is no proof that faith is rational, that’s when I cling all the more to it.

You are Power, Peace, and the Promise.  I trust.  Amen

 

Immovable

Great peace have those who love your law, nothing can make them stumble.  Psalm 119:165

When the Spirit of God inspired these words, He used the word ‘nothing’ in the last phrase. What a promise that absolutely the worst thing imaginable can not make me stumble if I am grounded in the word.

I have been showered with emails since sharing the news of Ryan’s death yesterday.  Every single note was just right ~ so comforting and void of cliches and sermons.  Our devotional family is just amazing.  I’m so impressed by the depth of your faith and your wisdom.  You reached out in such powerful ways.

Our family, like your family, is being presented with situations every day that, if navigated without the Word and the Spirit, will end badly.  Today, my friends, we can each exhale in relief because nothing can shake loose our tranquility.  Not death, disease, persecution, and tribulation.  The love of God is not a wimpy thing because the One who offers it is the great I AM.  His arms keep us steady and surefooted in the fury of the storm.

Tormenting things happen.  But when I stand in the cement of ‘You’, nothing can make my feet slip.  Amen

Mourning The Loss Of Our Son

Ryan Pic

My dear devotional family,

Our family is grieving.  Ten days ago, on Fathers Day, our son Ryan lost his battle with depression.  He was a quiet soul with a gentle heart, possessed a deep love for his wife, Chantel, and together they reveled in their shared love of animals.  He was celebrated by family and friends in a memorial service last Friday and we’ve now begun our long goodbye. The day of his service was also his birthday.  He would have turned 37.

Are there parties given in heaven? Jesus preceded a great story in Luke by saying, ‘that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one person turns to him.’ That sounds like a celebration to me.

When a party is done right, you have family, friends, and those you love around. Ryan is with family in heaven. He is there with both sets of grandparents. He is there with his Aunt Betsy. He is there with Conrad and Ruth Jensen, an older couple who begged us for babysitting rights when he was born. Conrad, a carpenter, made Ryan his own hand carved toddler bed. It was finished off with handmade quilts and stuffed animals that Grammy made. Each grandparent welcomed him home.

I know in heaven that there is feasting and family. No pain. Only an eternity of perfection.   Yet, we will be taking an extended time to heal as a family. We would appreciate your prayers.  Glory and redemption will come because God is a good Father who wastes no pain, not even of the worst kind.

Joseph’s Bones Weren’t The End of Joseph

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. Genesis 50:25-26

Life does not begin and end with me. Live begins and ends with God. Though I may lie in a grave, life associated with me is far from over if I’m God’s child. My faith, and all the promises of God that I embrace for myself and my family, live on. Fulfillment of God’s covenantal blessing over my people will unfold long after I’m gone.

The promises God made to Jacob and his descendants, realized through Joseph and his descendants, are still coming to pass today. Thousands of years later, Joseph’s life and the choices he made matter. He is not only a teacher when I review his story, but he is also a catalyst for the coming redemption of Israel. His coffin hold the remains of his mortal body but heaven and earth feel the present effects of spiritual activity associated with Joseph’s faith.

Genesis reveals the narrative themes of scripture. Creation. The Fall. Redemption. Restoration. Not only are these revealed in the overall storyline of the book, they are evident in the individual stories of God’s chosen leaders. I can see this pattern in my own life, can you?

I am praying for you as I finish writing today. You are meant to see redemption in every area of your life ~ then restoration. To see God create, only to be defiled from sin, is to live bitter. Despair results from living in a story line that is unfinished. Like Joseph, we are to wait for God to redeem what is broken. We wait for God to promote us on the other side of captivity. Yes, we faint under the ‘waiting’, but God will give us the grace to be tenacious in our faith. Just like Joseph. They bruised Joseph’s feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. Psalm 105:17-19 Captivity never has the last Word for anyone determined to prevail in the promises of God.

To You, God of Joseph, be all the glory. To You, my God, be all honor and praise. In Jesus name, Amen

Are Miracles Gotten Through a Formula?

Having said these things, He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva.  Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.”  John 9:6-7

    Each of us desires a supernatural experience with God.  We have areas in our lives where we long for God’s touch.  Healing, comfort, rescue, instruction, these are sought each day in our prayers.  When we hear that someone we know received the miracle of their lifetime, we rush to hear their story.  We want to know how it happened; when it happened.  As they tell us all about it, we wonder if their story holds the secret to our own breakthrough.

I have been curious as to why Jesus varied His methods of healing.  Once, Jesus put spit on a man’s eyes.  Another time, he just touched them and the man could see.  This time, in John 9, he put mud on them and told the man to make the journey to the pool of Siloam, to the southeast corner of Jerusalem, to wash the mud off.  Why keep changing the methods of healing?

If Jesus consistently sent blind men to the pool of Siloam to wash their eyes, every blind person would have attempted to travel to the ‘miracle pool.’  The power of Jesus would be obscured by the grandeur of the tales about Siloam.  God will not share His glory with another.  It is suggested that he varied the methods of healing so that no ‘formula’ could be derived.  The whole point of a blind person receiving sight was that he had had an encounter with Jesus Christ.

For any who has ever waited on God, we know how hard we work for our miracle.  We pray more, read more, trying to clue in to the secret of getting God to move on our behalf.  If such miracles were dependent on a ‘to do list’, we would all get our breakthrough much sooner.  But on the other side of it, what would be our testimony?  “I did this, and then this, and finally there was a miracle.”  Breakthroughs by means of self-effort erase faith, erase trust, and erase God’s glory.

I have known moments where mud was put on my eyes.  I fell to my knees in gratitude and knew that whatever God had done was undeserved.  I rejoiced with many tears.  Why did He wait so long?  I don’t know all the reasons but in the waiting room, wisdom was learned and my faith was strengthened instead of destroyed.

Like you, I am still waiting for other breakthroughs.  They may come in this lifetime, they may not.  In the meantime, I fix my eyes on the Healer and know that if He chooses to stretch out His hand yet again on my behalf, it will only be because Jesus is glorious and all powerful.

Save me from formulas.  My life’s story is all about Your gift of grace.  Amen

Am I Held Captive By A Name?

AM I HELD CAPTIVE BY MY NAME?

And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.  Genesis 4:2

When Eve gave birth to her second child, he was named Abel. The meaning of his name fit his destiny.  ‘Abel’ means ‘breath or vapor’.  As the story of his life unfolds, his life is short, just a vapor.  He is to be the first martyr for the Christian faith and will be remembered in the great hall of faith chapter in Hebrews.

Names are interesting things.  Oftentimes, the meaning of someone’s name holds great spiritual meaning.  It’s something we can grow into.  I believe God often handpicks names though parents think they made the decision.  Names so often seem to fit the child.

In a loving and stable home, a girl named ‘Joy’ will be a bubbly child, full of sunshine.  A boy whose name means ‘man of faith’ will grow up to have spiritual grit.  He will go on to surmount daunting challenges.  But, let the home be a wasteland, full of pain and destruction, and Satan will make sure that the child grows up to believe the exact opposite of his name.  The girl named ‘Joy’ will be visited by depression.  The boy whose name means ‘full of faith’ will experience affliction that causes him to live fearful.

Can God change our story, our nature and our name?  Consider Naomi.  Her name meant ‘pleasant and agreeable’ and for a while she probably was.  Then her husband took her, and their two sons, to Moab.  She watched all three of them die.  Her story took on bitter elements so that she renamed herself Mara, ‘bitter’.  God redeemed her name as well as her story.  He used a Moabite woman, from a godless race, to rehabilitate her mother in law.  Ruth made one righteous decision after another and ended up marrying a holy man, saving Naomi, and filling her senior years with joyful laughter.

God is a God of new names.  He wisely, and perhaps playfully, bestows a new identity on one who is willing to follow Him to the land of blessing.  It’s not an easy journey, as it will involve the complete shift of a former mindset.  It will require grit and faith.  But deep joy and profound significance will follow any who is willing to believe God for.

He’s still doing it for me.  I thought I was stupid.  For 40 years I was afflicted with deep insecurity about my intellectual capacity.  God healed me.  And interestingly enough, He used the meaning of my middle name to confirm the truth.  ‘Eloise’, the name I disliked and hid, is a French name that means ‘smart’.  I think I heard God chuckle.

I am praying for a girl right now whose name means ‘place of stones’.  I am inserting her name into Ezekiel 26:36.  Her God can give her a heart of flesh to replace her heart of stone.  I think her story is a sad one but there is a Father who sees her, and offers her abundant life.  Her ‘place of stones’ will become an altar of worship.

You are a redemptive Father.  You can redeem anything and everything.  Anything unholy and tragic associated with my name can be transformed into something holy, prosperous, and full of joyful singing.  Amen   

Peace, Perfection, and Wholeness

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

         I often seek peace on a superficial level. When my family is doing well, I have a peaceful day. When my bills are current and within 30 days, I have a peaceful day. When I feel good, I feel peaceful.

         But there is a deeper shalom that is much more real. Because of Jesus, I have peace with God. Where there was once enmity and distance, I am drawn close and made whole. Shalom is so much more than just an absence of conflict. It is wholeness and perfection.

         Because I am God’s possession, what is perfect?

  1. I am perfect. Once scarred by sin, both inherited and what I committed personally, I am now perfect because Jesus has gifted me with His perfection. It’s nothing I can be proud of. It was a gift in order to give me access to His Father. He and I are at peace because there is NO offense on my part that keeps us apart.
  2. My future is perfect. How many will read horoscopes today to try to get a feel for their future? I know mine. No matter what happens to me, God takes me safely to His home forever. No catastrophic event can alter it. No one’s last will and testament can diminish it or steal it. I am at perfect peace about my future.
  3. My identity is perfect. I don’t have to obsess any more about who likes me and who doesn’t. I am freed from having to please someone in order to be at peace. I am in Christ and He is in me. We are one. Royalty has been conferred upon me and His favor warms my shoulders. I am at peace with who I am.
  4. My gifting is perfect. I no longer have to compare myself to someone else to measure if they are better at something than I am. My gifts are made complete by the breath of the Spirit of God. When I use them, prayerfully and humbly, with the purpose of making God look great, God magnifies them and little becomes much. Effectiveness and spiritual prosperity are guaranteed.

In closing, I can do so much more than wish each of you a peaceful day. That would give you visions of circumstantial calm. Instead, I will wish you shalom. I inspire you to be in touch with the perfection that is yours because of Whose you are!

When things here fall apart, I go into the depth of my soul to remember where perfection lies. Let me hear heaven’s birds sing above the drone of chaos and confusion. In Jesus’ name, Amen