Kill The Chaos!

Chaos is disorder, confusion, and turmoil. Sometimes we cause our own chaos. Sometimes we are thrust—reluctantly and unexpectedly—into chaotic storms created by others.

Chaos blocks everyday spiritual growth! On our spiritual pathway towards peace, we must consciously resist chaos, refusing to allow it to invade our space. And, when we are protective of those we care about, we refuse to allow chaos to engulf their lives.

Today, I lift you up in finding and sharing this solitude of the soul! Come, step into the rhythm and quietness of that peculiar peace which only God offers. As we seek to kill chaos, I invite you to look at the world through what Dr. Gardner Taylor called “God-colored glasses.” Chaos evaporates when it encounters “God’s climate.”

I was privileged to hear Dr. Taylor deliver many sermons in person. Newsweek and Time named him one of the greatest preachers in the world. The New York Times called him the “lion of the pulpit.” He was unparalleled in delivering the Gospel, the Good News, the evangelion.

One day, several years ago, I got the idea of calling Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn to ask about a particular sermon. I assumed the church had archived audiotapes of his messages. Dialing the number, I expected to reach a receptionist or answering device. Suddenly, on the other end of the phone, I heard that deep, booming, recognizable voice: “Concord, Taylor speaking!”

What?! Dr. Taylor? Answering the telephone? Too stunned to speak, confusion and utter shock set in. I hang up. Yes, I hung up on Gardner Calvin Taylor!

Despite the lingering embarrassment, I still find encouragement in Dr. Taylor’s works. He wrote: “Knowing God means, at least in part, seeing things as God sees them. Our lives must be grounded in an eternal purpose that even the fitful moods of earth otherwise cannot alter.”

That light of God’s love kills the chaos that brings ”a midnight” to our hearts. Dr. Taylor wrote: when “life is dark, murky, and foggy…This is not to say that God does not allow us our hot, fretful moods, when we pound the table before His presence, angry, feeling wronged… Our Calvary may be painful and lonely, our course rough and cruel, but God can and will heal our hurts and soothe our sorrows and turn our grief into glad hosannas.”

I have pounded the table some recently. When chaos comes sailing into your life out of some dark whirlwind, the response that kills chaos is Hope. Hope is a weapon of the soul. If chaos is a fire, Hope is the water hose. Slay it!

Kill The Chaos Post-Note

The above post is a column I wrote for the September, 2017, edition of “Nashville Christian Family.” (See www.christianfamilynashville.com) Because of the word length limit I was working on, I cut it short. For my blog readers, here is little more of how I want to encourage you.

Hope, for believers, is not merely wishful thinking. It means knowing that God is faithful, even in chaos. Hope is expecting God to fulfill all of His great promises. It is having confidence that His love will dispel every negative circumstance that paralyzes us.

Yes, bad things still happen to good people. Hope knows that God promises to right every wrong. Those with evil motives can accuse you falsely. Hope gives us strength to focus, even in chaotic times—not on how the situation looks at this moment, but upon the truth that God fights our every battle. He will have the last say.

When our faith is weak and the reason for our confidence seems gone, Hope is the solution we find in the Word. Hope guides when we don’t know what to do. Hope is the prize when it looks as if Satan, up to this moment, has won every victory.

Although David is not mentioned as the author of Psalm 42, it is distinctively his writing style. This psalm is addressed to the chief musician. I can think of nothing better to sing about than Hope for the hurt, troubled believer. When we find ourselves struggling with a crisis of courage, or with fear and doubt, this is indeed a song of deliverance. Hope in God!

Psalm 42:11 New Revised Standard Version
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

This scripture is repeated in Psalm 42:5 and 43:5.

Quotes from Dr. Gardner C. Taylor are taken from: “Faith In The Fire: Wisdom for Life,” Taylor, Gardner C., Hay House, Inc. 2011

Abraham was Fierce!

The patriarch, Abraham, leads the way in creating a lasting relationship with God. In my mind, Abraham was a rock star! I say that, not simply because he is chronicled among the icons of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. I declare it because I am in awe of the audacity of his friendship with God. His lifetime of greatness was wrapped up in God’s promises.

God promised to make Abraham a blessing and to grant him boundless gifts in many areas. God promised to bless him personally, bless his name, bless his descendants, and to bless all the earth through him. God did all that…and more.

The portrait painted in Genesis of Abraham is strikingly candid. No airbrushing, no puffing him up. He was, by no means, a flawless man. He had fears. Failures. Missteps. Nevertheless, when God said, “Leave your kingdom, your kindred, and your dwelling and journey to a land I have not even told you about yet”—Abraham’s response was: “Okay.” Abraham believed God and that unflinching trust was credited to his spiritual account.

Some of the most wonderfully written and deeply moving stories in the Word are told about Abraham—the birth of his son, Isaac, and then complete surrender in the test to sacrifice Isaac.

When God called Abraham to go, he went. In my personal life, my husband and I left our very own Ur of the Chaldees (in our case, it was Marion, Ohio) and set out on a journey of faith. God has, indeed, proved faithful.

In sharing the story of Abraham, students, seekers, scholars and teachers will all find value in the pamphlet available from Rose Publishing entitled, Abraham: A Journey of Faith. There are maps and a timeline of his life, a description of God’s covenant, and examples of Abraham’s strengths and weaknesses. I can see myself in Sarah. When God’s plan tarries, I have said to God—“That’s okay, Lord. You’re really going to like my plan better anyway.”

This foldout pamphlet is perfect for any teaching moment or for any Bible student to grow in knowledge and understanding. The pamphlet’s price is small enough to share multiple copies with classes or friends. You can check it out and order copies on Amazon here: http://bit.ly/amazon-abraham. Or on the Rose Publishing website here: http://bit.ly/Rose-Abraham.
Free weekly e-charts are available at http://www.rose-publishing.com/eCharts.

Who’s Afraid of the Dark?

I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places.

Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel,  

have called you by name

—Isaiah 45:3, Contemporary English Version

 I, for one,

am not particular about being in the dark.  Actually, I prefer bright sunshine and well-lit rooms.

My favorite feature of the night is the brightness of the stars. These starry treasures point out that, even God wanted to punctuate the dark mantle of the night with a sprinkle of glimmer. I like that.

Life offers many contrasts. There are opposites and divergences.  Out of darkness comes light. Out of agony comes joy.

Someone has said that the richest blessings are often those that come to us in the night seasons of our lives, when we believe that we are surrounded by an unfamiliar haziness. In that hour, God sends a surprise package—some unbelievable delight.

There are countless stories of people who lost their homes during a flood. I have heard many people say that, after the loss, when those residences were rebuilt, they had an even better home.

The story is told of a man whose home and all of his belongings were washed away. On the darkest day, he stood to survey his losses as the waters subsided. Despondent, he saw an object shining in the mud. It looked like gold. And it actually was gold. The floodwaters, which brought ruin to his door, also made him very wealthy.

God will reveal to us hidden treasures in dark, secret places! This promise, this divine truth, comes today to brighten the night of your trouble, whatever it looks like. Look a little closer. You will see evidence of God’s hand, moving.

The darkness is not always the herald of shadowy things; sometimes it is about unanticipated blessings. Perhaps the night will usher in your next season of favor.

Sparkling Water for Parched Tongues

“And when people thirst, when those poor souls with parched tongues look in vain for something to drink, I, the Eternal, the God of Israel, won’t leave them to suffer. I will respond by making the hard, brown hills sparkle with streams of fresh water and causing valleys to come alive with springs…”

~Isaiah 41:17-18a The Voice Bible

Sometimes God’s mercy surprises us. That’s what His miracles are, like water in the desert.  Water is enigmatic in the Word, a symbol of God’s mercy.

There may be days when you feel like these prophetic words from Isaiah are not speaking to your situation.  But, I encourage you to listen again. We are all poor and needy, faint and thirsty, in one way or another. This passage is not focusing solely on financial poverty.  This passage simply reminds us of the truth that, in every moment in which we are without God or whenever we are not seeking His face in every matter of decision-making, we are empty. Thirsty.

God satisfies every want, every thirst.  He is our constant supply, opening up rivers of Living Water. God’s water is the source of refreshment and prosperity. His Water is comfort that supplies all of our wants; it is an answer for all of your prayers.

I spoke with a father recently who was concerned about how to inspire his son to go back to church. Disappointing, discouraging words spoken by others had caused the son memorable hurt and he stopped attending worship. The father and I talked about how the most important thing he could encourage his son to do was to develop a close, personal relationship with God. Then, returning to church would happen.

That is the prayer I have for my children, grandchildren, all the children I know and those I will never know.  My prayer is that God’s presence in our lives will be exceptional—overflowing, bursting at the seams, like fountains brimming over in a desert.

When we break away from the cares that concern us, moment by moment, and turn our attention to God, we are like a dry and thirsty land that is, suddenly and unexpectedly, filled with gushing streams. The words recorded by Isaiah are actually God Himself speaking and giving you His promise. God will arise; He will spring up in the midst of every barren day.

Life is a journey. Pathless, because we do not know what’s ahead. We cannot see around each bend. Yet, in the wilderness seasons of life, God provides for all our needs.

My prayer for you is that each daily experience of God in your life is so richly alive, flourishing, cool and refreshing, that you liken it to a plunge in a pool of water on a hot, summer day.

Dear Jesus, Do You Still Heal Like You Used To?

At times we need a reminder that the Lord’s promises to heal and to help us are just as relevant today as they have always been. Whenever we are facing a health challenge, this question may come to mind–does Jesus still do that?  Indeed, I want you to know for certain that there is definitely a spiritual side of healing. And it is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.

For far too many people, there is skepticism about the healing power of God. We know that it used to happen, but can we still believe in it–trust in it–expect to receive it?

The assurances that you have are found abundantly in the Word, including these:

“Beloved, I pray that you  may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”  3 John 2

“And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.”  Luke 6:19

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

” ‘For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 30;17a

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up…” James 5:15a

If you know someone who is struggling with a health challenge, please remind them that Jesus Christ still does the hard stuff. And that includes healing, no matter what the diagnosis.  Because the Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want for anything (Psalm 23:1)…and that includes your health and healing.

A comprehensive list of the Lord’s promises for healing will be published in my new book…coming soon…of healing scriptures and stories.

 

What It Really Means to Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10

All right, I admit it. I have hit my meandering stage. The “me” who used to be throw-caution-to-the-winds, drive pedal-to-the-metal, hit a smooooth 80 on the straight stretches—where did she go? I believe I must have slammed head first into the slow lane.

I remember hitting an easy groove once, with an eighteen wheeler following right behind me. Sun roof wide open.  Setting the pace for anyone who wanted to r-e-a-l-l-y drive. Flipping through curves, zipping in and out of the slower traffic (undoubtedly, those were the meanderers!).  And I did it so skillfully that the trucker trailing me honked when our paths separated. He gave me an obvious “that was fun” kind of wave.

My Uncle Andy knew how to enjoy the moment.  He drove from Ohio to Wisconsin to visit us one summer. That’s about 450 miles and he did it without ever touching an interstate highway.  All the way—through small towns, past farms and waving villagers. Uncle Andy meandered for 450 miles. Back then, it seemed to me like a potentially incredible waste of perfectly good travel time. Now, I get it. How classy. How sensible.  Missing nothing.  Absorbing everything.

You neglect so much when you never amble, whether on foot or behind the wheel.  When we walk or run, we’re embarrassed to achieve less than an x.8 minute mile (you pick whatever number it is that fits you.)  At the gym, I glance down at the row of people on treadmills near me and ramp up to something that resembles their speed, even if I am about to propel myself over the control panel.

In this song of David quoted above, God commands us to just slow down a minute. Otherwise, you miss His divinity. Really, when you analyze it, rushing around in a tizzy is so irrational. We rush, then we are forced to take medication to calm us down.

Just for a moment now, stand still. Shut your mouth (I didn’t mean that to sound rude…just be quiet).  Consider His Almightiness. Focus on the magnitude of Who you have working on your behalf.  Quiet your thoughts.  Calm and quietness are qualities that must be cultivated.

Stop careening down the road of life at top speed. Don’t miss the wonder of what God is accomplishing in your life by rushing, pell mell, right past it.  There are wonders all around us that we miss because we are in such a silly hurry.

First, be still. Then, know Who you’re waiting for in the midst of that quiet moment. I can promise you, something wondrous will happen next.

The book of Exodus presents one of God’s greatest promises of His presence.  In verses 18-23 of chapter 33, there is a pivotal exchange between God and Moses. What a great conversation!  Moses said, “God, you told me to bring these people up here but I’m not sure I know where I’m going and even who you are. If you don’t go with us, I don’t want to go a step farther.” God said: “I know you by name.” Moses pressed for more, “Then I want to see your glory.” God said, “If you see my face, you will die. I will hide you in the rock and let you see my back when I pass by.”

Today I am like Moses. I want to pause long enough for a quick reassurance of Who is with me. I want to see just a little bit of His glory.  If we ask, He will allow a glimpse of His splendor to pass by us, as He hides us in the cleft of a rock and covers us with His hand. (Exodus 33:18-23)

Everyone Needs A Stone

Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.~

Genesis 35:13 (New International Version)

I have a stone. It is small and nondescript, smooth to the touch and primarily colorless.  It is my stone of remembrance.  It reminds me that, no matter what is going on in my life at any speck of time, God still appears in the middle of my situation. And He speaks.

I call it my quiet stone. Quiet because it diminishes my flagrant urge to gush and tell God all about something He already knows. The secret to effective Godly communications, for me, is listening. But don’t just take my word for it; let’s ask Jacob.  Jacob had that kind of encounter at a place he named Bethel, “house of God.”

Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.~ Verse 15

Let me be clear. When I say God speaks I mean He actually does talk to us.  The One Who is Creator of the universe will show up.  Often because I ask Him to.  Periodically I find myself saying, out loud:  “Lord, I just need you to come down here and see about me.”  I need Him to weigh in on my situation.  Then, occasionally He shows up just because.

I’ve learned that having a brief memory lapse is a typical human frailty.  It is easy to forget what God just did yesterday.   I need a stone to remind me that God is adequate.  He is enough.  He has everything that I need.  My stone reminds me that God is sufficiently able to do everything He has promised.  I’ll need that stone tomorrow—when I may not hear His voice so clearly.

My stone is a reminder of God’s presence whenever there are flashes of distraction, anguish or pangs of sheer perplexity, when I ask, “What was that? What just happened to me?”

Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him…  Verse 14

I’m getting ready to walk around the house and yard to find the place that I will name my Bethel.  It shall be the place where I place my stone.  A place where I meet God and visit with Him.  We all need a stone.

God’s vision for Jacob was of him producing kings, procreating millions and generating a nation. God’s vision for us is possible, but it is not inevitable.  It materializes if we yield to His will . You will be great; you will do great things.  Your stone reminds you that God is with you and that He has a vision for your success far greater than anything you have imagined.

 (iStock Photo, Steve Gray)