November 15, 2013
“Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn’t burn up. Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up?” (Exodus 3: 2, 3 NLT)
These verses are taken from a familiar passage that describes the call of Moses. I love this story because it is the greatest illustration in the Bible of what I call 4 Spiritual Secrets:
I’m not but He is.
I can’t but He can.
I don’t want to but He wants to.
I didn’t but He did.
Applying the Secrets to Moses, he was not the deliverer of God’s people from their awful slavery and suffering in Egypt. God was their Deliverer. Moses could not deliver them but God could. Based on his objections we know Moses did not want to deliver those people. God wanted to deliver them. When the Red Sea parted and the people of God marched through on dry ground nobody had to tell Moses: “You didn’t do that.” He knew, “God did that!”
The primary detail in this story is often overlooked. God got the attention of Moses when a bush burst into flame and was not consumed! In the extreme heat of the desert this often happens, but a burning bush is always consumed in about five seconds. The miraculous reality that the bush was not burning up moved Moses to turn aside and see how to be a vehicle of deliverance.
Epidemic addiction issues exist today that have millions looking for deliverance. There is also epidemic burnout among those who serve the Lord. As servants of God we need to turn aside with Moses and see how to be a “Bush Aglow” on fire for the Lord, without burning up or burning out, as conduits of God’s deliverance.
October 10, 2012
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” (Matthew 7:24 NLT)
There are about 75 different approaches counselors can use as they help people live their lives. One of these approaches tells us that living is as simple as ABCD. The letter A represents adversity or the problem that a person may have. B represents the belief system of the person with the problem. C stands for the emotional consequences the person is experiencing because of their problem. And D describes the role of the counselor.
Because the economic downturn in America and elsewhere has put many people out of work and forced them to abandon their career, many counselors are hearing people say their adversity is that they have lost their jobs. Since they get their worth and their identity from their work the emotional consequences for them is serious depression.
These people are saying their adversities are leading directly to their emotional consequences; however, the ABCD approach purports this is never true. Rather, it is the way people process their adversity through their belief system that causes their irrational emotional consequences. The basic idea is that if you have an irrational belief system, you will have irrational emotional consequences. The therapist is a Disputer who challenges the irrational belief system of the client.
The counselor would dispute that belief system with statements like “We are not human doings but human beings. We should not get our worth or our identity from our work.”
I like this approach for two reasons: I hear Jesus saying the same thing in the verse above and you can use this formula to be your own best counselor.
September 25, 2012
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 NIV)
In all the communication that flows between a husband and wife there are ten critical words that often must be spoken. These ten words have saved marriages and the lack of them has dissolved marriages into divorce. Those ten words are: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” And they critically need this ten-word response: “You were wrong. I was hurt. But I forgive you.”
Some people will never say the words: “I was wrong.” They never say: “I am sorry.” And they certainly would never ask for forgiveness. They would rather live alone for the rest of their lives than to say these ten critical words. It may be their pride prevents them or perhaps they are driven by the myth of their own perfection. But these words can make the difference between marriage and living alone.
It is hard to imagine an unforgiving authentic disciple of Jesus Christ when the Disciple’s Prayer instructs us to forgive as we have been forgiven or we invalidate our own forgiveness (Matthew 6: 8-15). According to the translation from which I have quoted, the teaching actually asks our Lord to forgive us as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.
September 18, 2012
“Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2: 4, 5)
When my wife was critically ill after the birth of our first child she reached a crisis on a Friday morning at ten o’clock. Her eyes were moving back into her head and we thought we were losing her. While several doctors did a spinal tap to relieve pressure on her brain two precious sisters in the Lord had been burdened to pray for her that morning at ten o’clock – not knowing anything about her crisis. She pulled through the crisis and her life was saved.
While having her quiet time after returning from the hospital, she read the verses quoted above. It moved her to tears to realize that when she was too weak to pray for herself her sisters in the Lord were praying for her, and when the Lord saw their faith He ministered healing to her.
In our life span there are sure to be times when we will be too weak to pray for ourselves. That’s one reason it is wise to be in spiritual community with other believers who know the Lord and love Him and who know you and love you. If you had an accident or a sudden illness do you have anyone who would pray for you when you are too weak to pray for yourself?
The wisest man who ever lived wrote: “Two are better than one, because… if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4: 10, 11 NIV)
April 22, 2012
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23: 1-3)
These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible loved by Protestants, Catholics and Jews. They describe our relationship with God. They tell us that when God is our Shepherd we have green pastures, still waters and a full cup that never empties. This is because our great Shepherd makes us lie down. He may use problems we cannot solve to make us lie down. However, since we are creatures of choice we can choose to get up again. When we do our green pastures turn brown and our cup empties again. He then restores our soul by driving us into the paths of righteousness that restore us.
Many devout souls also love this psalm because they see in it a description of a believer’s death. To them death is the great Shepherd coming into a life for the last time making a devout person lie down so He can give them the green pastures that never turn brown and the full cup that never empties in the eternal state. The only way He can give us these eternal blessings is to make us lie down in death.
The key to these eternal blessings is found in the opening words of the psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Meditate on these words one word at a time. They are the key to living here and in the hereafter. Can you say that He is your Shepherd today and always?