Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Blessings of Delayed Gratification - Or, God Isn't Done Yet.


We are prone to be pretty demanding of God. I'm like many people, when I have decided what I want or perceived what I need, I want it sooner, rather than later. Today would be okay, thank you!

Of the many things I lack, three are stark: 1. Judgment. 2. Timing. 3. Patience.

I am not always afforded a survey of the big picture. Life comes to me in pieces rather than the whole lump. And so I try to assemble my life's puzzle without ever looking at the finished picture on the puzzle box.

That's where trust comes in. Though I might attempt to imagine how my finished project ought to look, God, no doubt, has a much better end for me in mind. To bring me to that end, I will experience a myriad of agenda adjustments.

Though this brings me a tremendous amount of frustration, especially when my truster is not functioning properly, God's eyes are not on my comfort, but on the completed me.

Look, what's a roller coaster with out peaks and valleys and loop-de-loops? Nothing more than a kiddie ride.

And what is a good novel or a movie without hopes and dreams and plans, then hopes dashed, dreams crushed and plans averted, then "they lived happily ever after?"

And what is life without crashing and crushing and dashing, followed by unspeakable glory?

So, look what happens to the great Moses. He is called to lead a few million whining, petulant adolescents out of Egypt and toward the land flowing with milk and honey.

Along the way there are dozens of setbacks. The desert never seems to cooperate with an easy passage to the Promised land. Then there are the uncooperative land owners, the murmurings of the mixed multitude, the rebellion of siblings and others, the idolatry of the calf-worshipers, and oh, the list goes on.

"Why can't we just take Highway 40 north out of Cairo straight to Jericho with the wind at our backs and set up shop in Canaan next week?"

That's how a 21st century American would expect things to transpire. Expect? No, demand!

I believe the children of Israel had similar expectations. They thought it would be easy. No doubt, Moses hadn't expected a hundred and fifty mile journey to take a third of his life.

And then we read Deuteronomy 4:22 "But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land."

What a punch to the gut!

You mean he had to face down the most powerful despot on earth, 10 times, pick up a cobra by the tail, cross through the ocean, dragging millions with him - plus cattle, water everybody from a rock, feed them all with angel food flakes, cure them from serpent bites, act as their judge and/or psychologist from sunup til past dark everyday, train them in warfare, plead with God not to fry the entire lot to a crisp, lead them to the very brink of the Promised Land... finally, he gets to view the panorama of the land from Mt. Pisgah, and then this!!! "Moses, thanks for all your hard work, but you ain't going in because you threw that one hissy fit."

It just seems all so...unfair.

But not every piece of the puzzle is in place yet. Remember, people like me and Moses have difficulty with judgment, timing and patience. But God sees the whole roller coaster. He authors, produces and directs the entire flick.

Let's fast forward 1500 years to another mountain, this one inside the Promised Land that is now Israel. This is one of the peaks Moses had seen on the distant horizon as he surveyed the land from Pisgah. He had longed to step foot on this mountain. In his mind, he should have victoriously led Israel to the foot of a mount like this and declared victorious completion of a finished task. Here, the puzzle would be complete. But God had a dramatic twist to the plot that culminated in unimaginable glory, so fantastic that the disciples of Jesus fell to their faces, unable to even fathom the glory.

We read about the completion of the puzzle, the end of the movie, the pulling in of the roller coaster to the station, and the perfection of God's judgment, timing and patience in Matthew 17.

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Well, look who finally made it I to the Promised land! And with what glory?


1. Moses is not 120 years old, but in a glorified, youthful body.


2. His seemingly dashed hopes and dreams and agendas are now met in a way that 1000 times exceed any expectations he could have ever had.


3. He's not savoring the fulfilled promise with whiny ingrates, but beside Elijah, venerated by apostles and in the very physical presence of the transfigured Messiah.

How's that for an unexpected ending that leaves you going home more than satisfied? 

Can I clue you in on something pretty special? Often, we are exasperated that our expectations are frustrated. Our gratification is simply being delayed for a much better ending that we never could have expected. 

Following is a promise in which God assures us He isn't through yet.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

Trust, my friend. Have faith in He who has already written your life's story, designed your roller coaster and prepared your Promised Land.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I am for the wall - posted 11/2015

I AM For the WALL!!! 

Originally posted 11/2015

Trump is right. There needs to be a wall.

It needs to be high and solid and impenetrable. Only citizens should be allowed in. In fact, I would go as far as to say, only Christians should be allowed. If your name isn’t on the registry, you don’t get in. Don’t get me wrong, if you are willing to get your name in the books, speak the language, leave your lies and wickedness outside the gates, you can enter. But again, let me be clear, if you are a terrorist, a druggie, a player, you don’t get in! If you are flashing the horns at the rock concerts or don’t know how to tell the truth, forget about it, you will be left outside the wall.

Additionally, when you get in through the gates, you need to be honoring God and giving praise to Him, or you are not welcome.

By the way, Mexico is off the hook. They can’t afford to build this wall. There’s not enough tacos in Tijuana or tortillas in Torreon to pay for this border fence.

Rev 21:10  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11  Having the glory of God: and her lightwas like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12  And had a wall great and high, andhad twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13  On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15  And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16  And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17  And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and fortyand four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. 18  And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19  And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20  The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city waspure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22  And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23  And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24  And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25  And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26  And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27  And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neitherwhatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.


Rev 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15  For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sorry Carcasses

Read Numbers 14;27-29

What is the saddest fate for any believer? There are many sad fates:
*No real relationship with Christ
*Life of disobedience
*No fruit produced
*Turning away from the Lord

But the saddest is most tragic, because of all that the Lord had intended for the believer - the promised land which flows with abundance, will never be reached in this life. 

It happened to Moses, to Miriam, to Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, Korah, to a couple of million others. They didn't make the promised land.

Num 14:29 "your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness"

The Promised Land is the life of Victory, rather that vagabond, abundance, rather than manna, rest rather than deprivation, roots rather than tents. 

The Promised Land is not just heaven, but heaven here. 

It includes the life of the Spirit, of the fruitful vine and branches, and living under grace rather than the shadow of Sinai's law. 

Why didn't they make it? 

They concerned themselves with Egypt. They looked in the rearview, rather than the windshield. They longed for leeks, when God had grapes. They opted for onions, when God had milk and honey. They glorified their slavery of the past rather than their mastery of the future. 

In the face of difficulty, they murmured. When were made to wait, they got impatient. When their leader tarried on the mountain, they crafted an idol. At the times they should have worshiped, they danced like heathen. 

God was evident to them in the cloud and fire, yet they said, "what has He done for us lately?" (Besides give us air to breathe, food to eat, long lasting shoes and clothes, miracle after miracle, a meek and humble capable, caring and sacrificing leader)

And finally, when on the cusp of the Promised Land, when evidence of God's promise was brought to them, they believed an evil report and refused God's best! 

So their carcasses all dropped in the wilderness over the next three and a half decades where their corpses were eaten by jackals and buzzards and bugs. They could rather have chosen to obey God and praise Him when the temptation was to blame Him. 

Indeed, the saddest fate of any believer is to get to Kadesh Barnea, within shouting distance of Beulah Land, and opt to wander the rest of your days and die in the desert, rather than crossing into Canaan. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Delegate!

Exodus 18:14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?

Notice the phrasing. "What he did to the people." And "what are you doing to the people?"
In other words, your being a workaholic and taking everything on your shoulders isn't doing these people any favors! You are doing more harm than good to these people.

*You are diminishing your own abilities to minister to them. You are wearing yourself out.
*Many of them are capable of doing some of this work, but you are robbing them of the blessing of serving.
*You are training them to just let you do it.

In short, delegate dude!

Monday, January 16, 2017

What is that in your hand?

Ex 4:2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.

So, I ask you my friend, what is that in your hand?

It's a phone, isn't it? Aren't I the Mensa candidate?

You know, Moses would have had a smart phone in his hand back in the day if they were available? I mean, the other hand, the one not holding his walking stick/cattle prod/weapon. The phone would have complicated things in his life, as it does yours, but it sure would have made his time in the desert more interesting. That is, if he would have had at least a 3G network and a nearby tower. He might have streamed "The Ten Commandments." That would have given him some ideas on how to get across the Red Sea with a bunch of whiners in tow.

But what he had was a rod, and God used that. When God calls, He often wants us to use that which we have handy. For Samson it was a jawbone of a donkey. For David, a sling, and later, a harp. For Paul, it was a pen. For Patrick, it was a clover.

But you have a phone. Can God use that? Good night! For what you pay per month for that thing, it better be used for something productive!

Now, Moses's staff could become a serpent, or it could open the Red Sea, or send forth a stream from a rock. Once Moses recognized that he had something in His hand God wanted to use, it became quite the useful tool.

Back to your phone. Instead of it being an escape, why not allow God to use it in some marvellous ways?

1. Encourage others on social media.
2. Write a blog! Hey, If I can do it...
3. Study your Bible.
4. Keep a journal.
5. Check in on FB when you are at church.
6. Use a soul-winning App to lead someone to Christ.
7. Play some encouraging gospel music to lift your spirit.
8. Set your alarm to remind you it is time to head to church.
9. Tweet out your victories.
10. Phone a godly friend when you are down and ask for prayer and words of wisdom.
11. Call up a positive podcast.
12. Keep a prayer list.

Think of what Paul could have accomplished with a cell phone!

What is that in your hand? God can use that thing in mighty ways when you realize it is His anyway.

Hashtag: PutThatThingToSomeGoodUse

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Holy Ground

Please read the 3rd chapter of Exodus before proceeding. 

Moses's life seemed to be on hold at this season, but God was working behind the scenes. Now He will do something unlike anything that had ever happened. The burning bush experience. 

Moses was doing what he could, where he could, when he could and hoe he could. I am sure he was just missing the "why." He wasn't idle in exile. He was producing while God was preparing. 

God had Moses in a place where He could have his full attention. 

In the palace, things would have been complicated.
Among the throngs of Jews he would be distracted. 
But here! This is a place where God's sovereignty is put on glorious display. 

No doubt, between the ages of 40-80, Moses thought he was a washed up, has been. He was a prince, he was a power, he was an influence. But now, in his lonely place, he is unable to be a leader, except for sheep. Unable to effect change, except the next bleak pasture. But look what God had in store! 

This area was as forbidding as you can imagine. It wasn't the desert, it was the BACK SIDE of the desert. Whoa!

God shows up in the most unexpected of places and in the most unusual ways. 

Moses sees a bush burning. No big deal. It's the desert. Plants are dry, bushes burn. 

But, 1: the bush isn't consumed. 2: it speaks to him! 

"Moses, take off your shoes, you are on holy ground." Holy ground? The desert near Horeb? This is the last place a person might expect God to show up, and an unlikely place to be called holy.

God's presence makes a place holy. 

I led my son to the Lord in Sam's Town Casino, Laughlin, NV. Boom! A gambling Mecca is sanctified. 

I led five wanna be gang-bangers to the Lord on a curb next to a dumpster in Posada del Sol, gangland, El Centro, CA. Yes! The barrio is made holy. 

In the hood, where folks of my color are not welcome after dark, and not welcome much before dark, with catfish hanging in a tree ready for skinning, and an ancient black gentleman rocking on his porch, my pastor and I were asked to sing an old spiritual. The Spirit of the Lord sanctified that porch as we sang, "When I'm growing old and feeble, stand by me, When my life becomes a burden, And I'm nearing chilly Jordan, Oh, Thou lily of the valley, stand by me.  I was ready to take my shoes off. 

So yeah, God's presence in Horeb's desert, or, in your desert makes that place holy ground. 

Moses did something that we might miss if we are not careful. He turned aside to see this interesting phenomenon. He might have just turned up his Pandora and moved the sheep down the trail, but he paused.

We miss so much because we really aren't paying attention. The TV is on, the radio is playing, people are chattering, activity is ongoing. The din of society can be maddening to the senses and muffling to the soul. 

But God has something to say to each of us, though we are either on sensory overload or we are out like a light bulb. How Important that you allow yourself a regular "God time" away from the cacophony of this culture. If we continue to ignore the still small voice of the Lord when winds and fires and storms are competing for our attention, we may be a candidate for our own visit to a desert place for a personal tete-a-tete with a fiery bush. 

This desert encounter Moses experienced changed the world. Without overstating, could I say that each and every encounter with God is possibly, probably a world changer also? It could and should change your world. It may change the world of others also: that person you reach with the gospel, that friend you touch with God's love, your spouse you impress by your changed attitude. 

So, sometime soon, take off your shoes, encounter holiness,  hear God's instruction and spend the rest of your years becoming all that God wants you to be. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Goodbye

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Almost everybody I have heard or read were so glad to have 2016 over with. Perhaps my memory is bad, but I thought '16 was a pretty good year, for me, anyway. Of course, there were many things I would not have chosen: Illness, setbacks, national and international upheaval, political craziness, upset apple carts, stymied agendas. But God was sovereign. 

I am convinced that if the events, good and bad, of 2017 were all-at-once revealed to us at the outset of the year, none of us would opt to proceed. 

That's where an understanding of God's sovereignty and a dependence on His grace come in. 

Most of us choose to proceed, hoping against hope that it'll surely be a better year. But, as experience tells us, the tendency is that things only get more complex, the challenges only increase, our stamina abates and the year outpaces the previous year for trial and tribulation. 


It is better for us to keep our eyes on the prize, run our assigned race with patience, savor the victories and trust through the difficulties. Ultimately, we should understand that God's got this and we need simply cooperate with His agenda and enjoy the journey. 

I leave you with this wise quote from J. Vernon McGee: Someday, when in the presence of our Savior, we will thank Him for every burden, every trial, and every heartache. 

Amen!