Saturday, January 26, 2008

what you can't take back

James 1:19 cautions, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." This week, a poor woman learned the hard way. Tired of students calling her husband, the chief operating officer for a Virginia County school system, she finally broke and lashed out by leaving a return call message on one student's answering machine. Apparently, the student wanted to know why school wasn't closed after 3" of snow had fallen. Now he knows. Unfortunately, so does the whole planet after he posted her ranting on YouTube. The audio message may be heard here. It makes me want to watch my words more than ever.

divine dialogues

Lately, my posts have gotten further apart. This morning, I wondered why. I think its part busyness, part forgetfulness and part quietness--waiting for God to say something fresh. No doubt, through much of my spiritual life, God speaks and I miss it. You remember Samuel? As a young boy, lying on his bed, he hears a voice but thinks it's the call of his mentor Eli. After several times, Eli counsels the lad to respond, "Speak, for your servant is listening" [1 Samuel 3:10]. The third time, the boy begins a dialogue with God.

In that case, I think God speaks like my daughter Jenna. She talks nonstop--really. She always has something to say, something to ask, something to expound, something to sing. Always. Perhaps God is ever-speaking and I just miss Him. I'm too busy, too preoccupied, to dull to the sound of His voice.

But, at times, I perceive God might be a little like my oldest son. As a teenager, his words are few. Tiffany and I occasionally have to step back to decipher the meaning of his mumblings. Similarly, God can be obscure. As His disciples wrestled with the wind and the waves, Jesus slept in the bow of the boat [Mark 4:38]. How could God be so silent? In Psalm 22:2, the writer wonders, "O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent." Apparently, he was having (or had experienced before) a time when God was not so clear. The 400 years between the Testaments is called the "Period of Silence" because, during that era, no prophet heard from the Lord. Maybe God holds back His words. Maybe He isn't so verbose. Maybe He isn't up for talking.

I don't know the answer. But, when divine dialogue seem difficult, I remember several important truths. First, God is a personal God. He is inclined to know me and be known. He spoke the first "Word" toward me in His Son [John 1:1]. Second, God is always at work [John 5:17]. I may not be able to hear His speech, but I observe His handiwork. And, when I see what He's doing in my life or others, it's like eavesdropping on a conversation. Finally, it helps to turn off the noise. The voice of God is co-mingled with so many other sounds of life: schedules, responsibilities, debts, opportunities, physical health and emotional pressures. The only way I can really hear Tiffany is to get away from every other distraction to listen to her heart. We've got to eliminate the other sounds to hear God speak. Finally, learn God's language. I suspect that God is speaking sometimes, but I don't recognize His voice. But, the Father's voice-print is found in His Word and when as I linger in His Word, I begin to discern His voice at other times.

Funny thing happened on the way to the blog today. I wasn't sure how much God had been speaking to me. And, the more I wrote, the more I rejoiced that God has not been silent. Today, I am looking forward to a divine dialogue.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


We launched an exciting new series today at church. If you're a blogger, check out the new inaGODplace blog. I'd love your thoughts!

Friday, January 18, 2008

next vision

This Sunday, I am very excited to be sharing the next vision for Pantego Bible Church. Check out our invitation video on YouTube. Also, I will post a website and a new blog on Monday. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

our missionary God

Tonight I am looking over my notes that I will present tomorrow evening at the first Perspectives course at Pantego Bible Church. Through the vision and persistence of Matt Benton, we are privileged to be able to offer this great experience to those at our church and in our community. If you catch this blog, please join me for my lesson, "The Living God is a Missionary God." We begin at 6:30 p.m. You can get more information about Perspectives here. You can get information about Arlington Perspectives here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

climbing the walls

I read John 10:1-21 this morning and was captured, once again, by the ministry of Jesus--not just as a Savior, but as Shepherd. The context of John's writing is that the Pharisees were discounting the miraculous work of Jesus in chapter 9. Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth and, of no small note, John uses more space to record the debate among the religious elite afterwards than he does to record the miracle itself. The skeptics couldn't get past the obstacles of motive, meaning and mechanics. Why would Jesus minister to that fellow? How did He really do it? What's the catch? What's the precedent? Their playbook had no helpful entries for Divine spitting (see 9:6) and miraculous sight. The problem is that Jesus didn't fit into the narrow box of their religious expectations.

Or, was it the other way around?

In chapter 10, Jesus speaks about thief or robber who tries to enter into the sheep pen by "some other way" (v. 1). No doubt, Jesus is speaking about the false teachers in His day. Pseudo-shepherds (Pharisees) came to the sheep (God's people, the Jews) but, not the straight-in way. They came over the walls, under the fence, around the sides. They offered life with God through a list of laws and legalisms. It was a straight and narrow system. But, Jesus held out an even "straighter" and "narrower" offer: Himself. He is the Good Shepherd (10:11) who enters the sheep pen through the simplest way and extends and invitation to people to a simple, satisfying life. No more complicated rules. No more strenuous efforts to climb over fences. Life-pasture is experienced in Christ.

OK. So, let me tell you what really got my mind to thinking about this passage. In John 10:21, some people asked "Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" The question made me wonder, what can the devil not do? There are so many things that Satan cannot do, but it's not for a lack of trying. He tries to scale the walls of my life---to present other "ways" that are never the plain portal to pasture. He complicates my life by offering me what seems to be a better, easier, faster solution. But, of course, nothing is as simple as Jesus Christ who can do anything!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

a year of faith

Happy New Year to all! This morning, as I was reading and reflecting on 2007, I came across the following, inspiring challenge: "Far better to dare mighty things , to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat" [Theodore Roosevelt, 1899]. This was in the context of a spiritual charge given by Dr. John Haggai: "Attempt something so great for God that it is doomed to failure unless God be in it." Wow. A good word looking forward to this new year!