September 12, 2013
“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23: 3)
What is considered by some to be the greatest chapter in the Bible is the best description ever written of what the relationship of a human being with God can be. I call this psalm “Sheep Talk” because it’s like a sheep is telling us what a great Shepherd he has. The opening statement of the sheep is the key to the relationship. When the Lord is his Shepherd he has multiple blessings. According to the second verse this relationship is established when his Shepherd makes him lie down. When he gets up again he loses those blessings.
He is telling us this has happened and he needs a spiritual comeback. The prescription for his comeback is that his Shepherd leads him in the paths of righteousness. This is the second time he uses the word “leads.” His Shepherd not only leads him beside still waters but when he needs restoration he is led in the paths of righteousness. The second time he uses this word it is a Hebrew word for “drives me” into what is right.
By application, when we need a comeback we should not seek a cheap one. We should cooperate with our Shepherd as He drives us into the paths of what is right, perhaps for several years, until He restores our soul. I personally experienced this kind of comeback in the early eighties that lasted nearly a decade.
Rick Warren said “We’re all in recovery. What do you think the word ‘salvation’ means?” Do you need a spiritual comeback? Don’t look for a cheap one. Ask God to show you the paths of righteousness that will restore your soul.
August 8, 2012
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.” (Matthew 6:22, 23 NLT)
Perspective means “to look through” to the end. I learned a helpful spiritual discipline on my faith journey when I asked God to give me His perspective of the long view and the forward look. I now find it helpful to look up and ask God to give me His perspective as I take the long view back at the events of my life. I believe it does wonders for our perspective when we regularly shake ourselves out of our introspective pity parties, look up, and ask for God’s long view perspective of our life in both directions.
Robertson McQuilken, a spiritual leader I deeply respect teaches: “It is easier to move to a consistent and problem-free extreme than to remain at the center of tension on any biblical issue, but the truth is often found at the center.”
In an interview Rick Warren was asked how he felt about his wife’s cancer. He reflected that he once thought life was a series of mountaintops and valleys, but he has now decided life is like a railroad track. The left rail represents this hard reality: there is always something bad in our life because God is more interested in our character than He is in our comfort. The right rail represents this blessing: there is always something good in our life because God is good and He does love us.
I have found that when we’re hurting we can often find truth at the center between these two rails of reality.
October 21, 2011
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
When Rick Warren was asked on a talk show how he could explain his wife’s cancer, he responded that he once thought life was a series of mountaintops and valleys, but his experience of life has brought him to the place where he now uses a different metaphor. He is now convinced that life is like a railroad track. The left rail represents this hard reality: there are always adversities in our life because God is more interested in our character than He is in our comfort. The right rail represents the glorious reality that something good is always happening in our life because God is good and He shows us that by the good things He’s consistently doing in our life.
The wisest man who ever lived wrote that when we are experiencing prosperity we should not feel guilty. We should rejoice! But when we experience adversity we should realize that God has appointed them both. To test the philosophy of Rick Warren, think of a scale like the scale of justice. Imagine placing all your problems on the left side of that scale. Then imagine placing all your blessings on the right side of that scale. Don’t be surprised if the scales at least balance, or that the blessings on the right side of the scale far outweigh the problems on the other side.
When problems happen, ask yourself what part of your character God is building in your life through those problems. Then ask God how you can receive the grace to glorify Him through the way you respond to those problems.