Sometimes I Want To Appear Insane (Battling Fear)

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So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”

In case you ever get into a close game of Bible trivia, here’s a good question: Who was afraid so he or she pretended to be insane?

Do you give up? Do you want a hint? He liked sheep. He knew how to sing. His father’s name was Jesse. He was a man after God’s own heart. He killed Goliath.

That’s right…David. The verse above is 1 Samuel 21:13. After Jonathon told David that his father wanted to kill him, David fled for his life. While running from Saul, David hid out near the king of Gath, but not wanting to be recognized, he pretended to be insane. The king let him go.

Now, I really think there is more to this than just a good trivia stumper. I think the fact that David, the one who “killed the lion and the bear” could be afraid, means that I too will have times that I am afraid. The fact that the one who “approached Goliath” could become terrified means that surely times will shake my confidence. The reality that the one who was “anointed to be king”, could become so afraid that he would act like an idiot to avoid being found out, means that you and I, who may appear to be of lesser stature in our faith, should not be surprised when we have fear and doubts.

David was a man, just like you and I. At times, he just couldn’t muster up the faith to go on. At times life got the best of him. At times, he thought he couldn’t take another step. At times fear captivated him. Moreover, it was at those times that God came through for him once again.

In addition, He’ll do the same for you and me!

What’s making you afraid these days?

Stop Avoiding Your Past!

girl pastAre you avoiding your story? Do you often wish you could escape the past?

One famous Bible character never seemed to escape her story.

I have always found it interesting that Rahab continued to be known as a harlot…a prostitute…a hooker… (Sorry for the crude word, but that probably best captures how she must have been viewed at one point in her life.)

In Hebrews 11, the so-called faith chapter, where God chronicles the examples of superior faith, Rahab is still referred to as “Rahab the prostitute”. (Hebrews 11:31) She apparently never fully escaped the title or the memory of her past.

Perhaps the memory of your past gone wrong…all the painful mistakes, the tragedies, the hurts, the failures… remain for a greater purpose…

  • To remind you of who He is and what He has done in your life…
  • To remind you to help others that struggle…
  • To keep you humble or from becoming conceited…

Instead of trying to run from your past, perhaps you should embrace the changes God has brought in your life through that past and the forgiveness He has provided and allow God to use the memory of your sorrow for His glory.

How are you allowing God to use your mistakes, tragedies, heartache and sorrow for a greater good?

If you need some tips on recovering from your past, read this post HERE.

God’s Patient Love (A Quick Reminder)

iStock_000002309744XSmall“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love… Joel 2:12-13

I love this passage.  I am told this passage has sparked revival in people’s hearts. It certainly does mine.  It did this morning, for example.

I was reminded that God is slow to anger.

He’s not on edge.  He’s not grumpy. He’s not impatient like I am at times.

Human relationships may be like that.  Sometimes we have the shortest tempers with people we love most.

All of us have days when due to stress, illness, worry…we are on edge….

…Sadly, others around us quickly know when we are having a bad day…

God is not like that…

God is gracious and merciful….he abounds in a steady, unchanging, unconditional love…

Today, maybe even for just a couple moments, I am reminded that I can take God all my burdens…He can handle them without fret, with complete patience, and without getting angry at my insufficiencies.

And best of all…He wants me too, because He cares.

Do you have a burden(s) you need to cast His way?

God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves!

Occasionally people quote a common saying and ask me where it’s found in the Bible.  I don’t enjoy being the one to tell them that what they have always believed is Biblical, really is just a repeated saying among well meaning people.  My favorite is “God will not put more trials on you than you can bear”.  It certainly sounds good, but that is not exactly what the Bible says.   I wrote a post you might read about that HERE.

Another myth people often say is “God helps those who help themselves.” I would point out the Scripture that says this, but I have not found it. In fact, I think I’m safe in saying that I haven’t found it, because it isn’t there.

While the message sounds good, we need to understand that the only thing we can do to help ourselves so that God will help us is to put our trust in Him to help us! Did I lose you on that one? God wants to help His children. God’s love causes Him to want to bless His children. The thing inside of us, which welcomes His favor, is the love He has for us and the love we have for His Son, not what we have done to help ourselves.

Moses told the Israelites once, before they went into battle, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)  Sometimes our job is not to “help ourselves”, but to be still before the Lord and wait on Him to work His perfect plan in our life.

Perhaps you have been trying to “help yourself” so that God would “help you”. Why not be still, do nothing, wait on the Lord, and let Him help you, in His timing and with His plan, just because you are His child?    The greatest way you can help yourself, might be to humble yourself before the God who wants to bless you. (1 Peter 5:6)

Coming Home To God (Thoughts for a Prodigal)

iStock_000003359196XSmallSo he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 NIV

One of the finest word pictures in the Bible: God running to His children! Can you say Godspeed?

Jesus told this parable, not so much about a boy, foolish in his youth who squanders away all his wealth and then comes cowering back to an expectant father. Even though that is what occurs in the story, this story is about you and me.

Jesus is describing for us how God feels about His children. If you are a child of God, bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, through your faith in Him and Him alone to save you, then God will always be ready to welcome you home! God will never give up on His children.  God may discipline you, but you can rest assured He will never forsake you. You are His, and He will wait for you as His own.

Stop for a moment and picture this story as Jesus meant for you to see it. Imagine you are the prodigal child. You have wandered away from the comfort and protection of your Father God. You have wasted your life on wild living. It was fun at first, but then the new wore off and you were homesick. You realized what you had given up. What you wouldn’t give to go home, but how could you? You had traveled so far and your pride was at stake. People would say, “I told you so”. Your friends might even make fun of you. And what about your Father?  How could He ever forgive you for what you have done? Plus, does He really want you to come home anyway?  Would anyone?

Still, anything is better than where you are at now, so you head for home. Before you can even see the front porch…while your head was still hanging low…you hear a sound. It sounds like footsteps. Heavy footsteps. You look up, almost afraid to for fear of what you may see, and you the sight is something you have never seen before!

YOUR FATHER GOD IS RUNNING TO MEET YOU! God, the Creator of stars, is running to greet you, a sinner, and welcome you home. He isn’t coming with a frown or a smirk of anger on His face. He has His arms open wide! He has on a great big smile! He has a loving twinkle in His eye, the kind He always had when He was proud of something you did!

He reaches you and instead of shouting insults at you, He tells you how pleased He is to have you home. There are tears in His eyes! He lets out a shout of joy. He orders a party to be held in your honor! He tells the angels to get the band playing! Gabriel starts up the gas grill! GOD IS GLAD YOU HAVE COME HOME!

Maybe you need to go home today! God is waiting! He’s probably over half way towards you right now! All you have to do is turn around, and head for home!
I hope you’ll invite me to the party!

Why Was David “A Man After God’s Own Heart”?

An often-confusing term concerning the Biblical character of David is the term “man after God’s own heart”.  Have you ever wondered what that really means? What does that kind of heart even look like? This morning I read a verse from the writings of David that I believe perhaps best captures the meaning behind this phrase.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalms 16:2

David recognized that the only good in him was the God in him.  Great godly leaders are willing to step aside from their own need for ego building and self-confidence and humble themselves before an almighty God.

I have heard before that President Theodore Roosevelt often went outdoors at night, looked up into the vastness of the universe, simply to remind himself of his humanity compared to the vastness of the universe.  I think that is an important principle for all of us that claim a leadership title.

Next time someone asks you why David was called “a man after God’s own heart”, point him or her to Psalm 16:2.

What Am I Supposed To Do?

Good reminder for me today…how about you?

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 Message Version

His Footprints in the Sand

beach-footprints2Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. Psalm 77:19 NIV

...through the darkest days of my life…..where were you God…..I only saw one set of footprints in the sand…..where were you God….those were the times, my child, when I carried you…….

You are familiar with the Footprints poem that has been commercialized onto plates, pictures, ties, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc.. I once thought it was overused. In fact, I wondered where the Biblical reference for it was. I knew it was true, because I had experienced it so many times in my life, but I didn’t know the reference to back it up until I read this verse years ago.

Of course, this verse refers to the famous march through the middle of the waters by that powerful leader we know as Moses. Can you imagine how the Israelites felt? They had escaped the years of slavery and persecution to head for what they thought was a chance at real freedom and along came the Pharoah’s finest, ready to put them on the chopping block. Needless to say they were slightly disappointed. Never at a loss for tricks, Moses summoned God, who told them to go through the center of the sea. Yea, right? Yet as strange as that may have sounded at the time the people enter the “water” on dry ground! I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that is what happened, read it for yourself if you don’t believe me.  (Exodus 14)

Did they see the footprints of God? No! Did they doubt who parted the water? Did they question who dried up the dirt? Well, let me ask you, could you have done it? Neither could they! They knew that God was being God….again!

Has He ever been God in our life? Can you explain it? Did you see His footprints? But if you submit yourself to God and allow God to do His work in your life, make no mistake about it, you will clearly know He is God and there is no other!

Read footprints again. You probably have it on a coffee mug somewhere. Remember the times that He took you through the waters. Thank Him for carrying you all the way!

He is a mighty God!

What Is God Up To At Grace Community Church?

thegbwI don’t know how to describe what’s happening right now at Grace Community Church, short of the Spirit of God works in the hearts of people.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I know God is more interested in people in our community than I am or any of our staff is concerned…and we love our community, but it is an exciting time to be at Grace.

In 3 and half years we have watched God bring people to the church through their neighbors, friends and families.  We have witnessed double-digit growth every year.  After a church reaches the size ours is now growth normally begins to slow to a smaller rate, but this year we have had yet another growth spurt.  Most Sundays this year have been 30% in attendance or more over last year.  (I wish our budget were doing likewise, because we might be able to staff appropriately or build a building soon, but that will come in time.)  Not only are more people attending but also God is showing up in people’s lives in incredible ways!

Another phenomenon is that God is bringing people with influence over a circle of friends or family. As these people get excited they start to bring the people within their circle.  If this trend continues we can expect even greater things in the months to come!  I’m pumped for God!  (I’m nervous for us as a staff, because I think we quit being able to figure out what God is doing or to manage growth a couple years ago! We will need more than ever to rely on Christ’s strength.)

I’m curious from other pastors, is your church experiencing the same thing right now?  Can you explain what is happening?

Grace people, what do you think God is doing?  Do you sense it like I do?