How to Read a Book with a Shovel

I think I suffer from Shovel-itis. Maybe you’ve experienced it. A passage in a devotional or Christian living book or especially the Bible just jumps out and grabs you. Well, for about 30 seconds. And instead of sitting with the words, maybe asking the Holy Spirit what it is God is saying to YOU, out comes the shovel and you dig up the catch to toss to a friend.

That is not the way to read an inspiring book. Ask God to show YOU how to digest it, don’t be looking for food to give away to someone else.  Like those thoughts that cross your mind to call a friend in need and say, “I think I read something that God has for you.”

Don’t do that.  

Another thing (preaching to myself) even if you have to snack and don’t have time for a full meal, get your spiritual food DAILY. Fresh food is best, old stuff just rots and brings no life. And you have to get your own food (see above). You can’t take someone else’s word–i.e. live your walk with Jesus on someone else’s nourishment.  Continue reading

Just Because #22–God’s Presence

     Part of a sporadic, usually-on-Thursdays series of just God’s Word and pictures, passages I’ve been soaking in.just because. You can see the other posts here.

     This is a variation on a theme God continues to spiral into my spirit, driving down into my soul. The last installment of “Just Because” was ‘Abide’, this one is ‘Presence’….combined with rest, two themes the Holy Spirit has been echoing over and over again in my heart. God is with us even in (especially in) our distress.

Isaiah 63:7-9
I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which hs is to be praised,
according to all the LORD has done for us–
yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

He said, “Surely they are my people,
sons who will not be false to me”;
and so he became their Saviour.

In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.”

Just Because #21–Abide, My Friends

Part of a sporadic, usually-on-Thursdays series of just God’s Word and pictures, passages I’ve been soaking in.just because. You can see the other posts here.
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you
and you do not need anyone to teach you.
BUT as his anointing teaches you about all things AND 
as the anointing is real, not counterfeit–
just as it has taught you, remain in Him.”**   I John 2:27
**so you must abide–live, never to depart, 
rooted in Him, knit to Him. (Amplified)
“The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (what is commonly called illumination
does not involve revelation of new truth or the explanation of 
difficult passages of Scripture to our satisfaction.
Rather, it is the development of the capacity to appreciate and appropriate God’s truth already revealed–making the Bible meaningful in thought and daily living.
‘all things’–All things necessary to know for salvation and Christian living.” 
from the NIV Study Bible
all caps, bold, italics and underline are mine

When Your God is too Small

The family of goldfinches crest over the roof above my head. Their -V- of flight dismantles as they land branch by branch in the green, bright yellow coloring invisible to my eye.

Morning has begun.

The world wakes up and it is always the birds’ job to tell me so, messengers flinging notes aloft–I catch their song, hear them say, “He’s here, He’s here, He’s here.”

How high the sky, how vast this green cathedral before me, a wonder-filled creation, mammoth avian playground.

My world-sized God made this sky, these trees, their song. He fashioned the finches, daily feeds the glittering hummingbird and gives seed to the robins in my view.

Sometimes I forget how big He is.

This same grand God that has spoken birds into being and has called trees forth towards a towering sky–this God, whose word in his son Jesus has survived centuries–this God will have the last word.

I’ve worried at the weight of darkness that has blinded so many this week.

The words of three women and two men who decided to make a law against God and called it a victory.

I want to speak instead of beauty, remark on creation, point to the birds and the trees and the sky–cast your gaze up there and you’ll forget the lies and deception because you will  reach for the light.

But some people can’t see it.

They will ignore the obvious–a hole has opened up in the land and we are falling in.

I can’t ignore the hole-I will shout to the world as they march to the edge, “He’s here, He’s here, He’s here.”

You have to pay attention.
This will not end well.
There will be loss.

As I shout–well, I’ll speak in whispers if I must–I’ll remember–my God’s power is stronger than the words of any mere men.

Maybe this cataclysm of thought will shake up our comfortable Christian church. People are reading their Bibles more. They are seeking truth. Maybe we’ll get some fire in us to speak about what we believe in. (My friend Marc thinks so.)

Maybe the outcome isn’t as bad as we think….though time will tell. The last few words of the document insures First Amendment rights will be protected. Churches and pastors are safe. For now.

In the meantime, I need to remember 
I follow a Creator God whose greatest work came out of chaos.
Whose church exploded when persecution closed in. 
It spread while people were in prison.
God’s plan of redemption is still in place. He will have the final word.
He will not be overcome.

Neither should we.

Colossians 4:2-6.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

I want to thank my friends Pastor Marc Schelske and writer/lawyer Seth Haines for their input last week while I was processing this. You can read our Facebook conversation here.

Words 101

Our Father
              (my Father)
which art in Heaven
              (and everywhere on display)
Hallowed be thy name
               (kept holy and set apart is your name)
Thy kingdom come
               (right in the middle of where I am)
Thy will be done
               (Yes, Lord. Now.)
on earth
               (where we most need it)
as it is in Heaven.
               (a place of unity with you.)
Give us this day our daily bread
                (and keep me asking each new day)
And forgive us our debts
                 (as there will be many)
As we forgive our debtors
                  (along the way, every day).
And lead us not into temptation
                   (keep us safe from ourselves)
but deliver us from evil
                   (as you have done)
For thine is the kingdom
                   (the world belongs to you.)
and the glory
                    (let me shine for you)
and the power
                     (and yield to you)
Forever and ever.
                     (amen and)

I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Matthew and sort of stopped and stilled by the words in Chapter 6 where Jesus tells his Disciples how to pray.
“Don’t be like the Pharisees, adding words upon words”, he says. “Pray like this.”
Kind of like the Basic Carwash at the drive through. I don’t need to spend the extra money to get a clean car–all that extra polish and shine, super duper washing cycle and all–my car still comes out clean.
The Basic works just fine…