Communication Gone Haywire (out of control, derailed)

We had just returned from a weekend trip and were gone only three days. Upon return, it was frustrating to open my email and discover I had over 600 in my inbox. As I scrolled through them, the average was only one out of 50 for me personally. The other 49 were solicitations. It seems advertising has taken over our electronic means of communication. These advancements in technology have changed our methods of communication to the point that we are bombarded with more information than we want or need. As a result, we can easily overlook those messages that are important to us personally.

Communication has been vital in building relationships since the beginning of time.  I consider myself a little tech savvy and enjoy the benefits of technology, but one on one relationships have taken a toll from this form of communication. Things seem to be derailed from the original intention of communication for relationship building on a personal level.

I can remember as a young newlywed the excitement of receiving a handwritten letter from my mother. My name was on the envelope and when I opened the letter, I didn’t have to sort through 49 unsolicited ads to get to her message. I also remember my first job in a bank. If you needed to send a message to someone in a different department, you used inter-office memos. There is no doubt that email has made communication easier in an office setting, but for many, even that is antiquated today. Now we have a faster form of communication with texting, or messaging. But all of these modern methods of communication have taken away the personal touch of one on one relationship building.

In looking up the definition for communication, you find the business definition and the relational definition. It is the relational definition that is the purpose of this blog:

In simple terms, interpersonal communication is the communication between one person and another. It is often referred to as face-to-face communication between two, or more, people. Both verbal and nonverbal communication, or body language, play a part in how one person understands another. The Latin meaning is ‘to share’. (From Wikipedia)

If we lose sight of the relationship building aspect of communicating, we can become antisocial and isolated. We can come across in our messages as harsh and uncaring. Following a corporate career, I can remember my first position in a ministry where I was ‘called on the carpet’ for the tone of my emails. I was still communicating in the business style as opposed to the relational style required in ministry. Ministry is about relationship. I had to learn to add ‘hearts and flowers’ to my communication style to prevent the messages from coming across as harsh.

Jesus was all about building relationships. There are many ‘one another’ admonitions in the Bible, such as ‘love one another’. We need to take those commands to heart and apply them to everyday living if we intend to succeed in the journey of life with others. It is important to reach out to one another with a personal touch expressing the love of friendship in a way that we can look into one another’s eyes.

The following are a few steps for making that possible:

  1. Make a call to meet for fellowship, either one on one or in small groups.
  2. Turn off all electronic devices while visiting face to face.
  3. Listen to one another without distractions.
  4. Maintain eye contact.
  5. Think about what the other person is saying without interrupting or thinking about what you want to say next.
  6. Share experiences and interests always with truth at the forefront.
  7. Think relational rather than electronically.
  8. Don’t be derailed by gossip. Stick to the truth.
  9. Most important, share the love of Jesus and God’s word – what God is doing or has done in your life. Allow the love of Jesus to be prevalent in your conversation and actions.

 

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly (sisterly) affection.” Romans 12:9-10 (ESV)

Summertime

Summertime – my favorite time of year. It is a time for a break from the everyday routine. For many, it is a time for vacation, fun, relaxation and family gatherings.

But it is also a time of church mission trips. Packing for a mission trip can be a challenge as there are normally limits on how much luggage you can take. How to squeeze a change of clothes for each day into one small bag is an interesting experience. And don’t forget about all the incidentals plus mission gifts.

Yet when Jesus sent His twelve disciples out on mission, His instruction for their travel was very different. He told them to “take nothing for the journey”, not even a change of clothing! They were not to take a suitcase, food or money. Can you even imagine leaving on a mission trip with only the clothes you are wearing? No purse full of stuff ladies. No briefcase of work to do as you travel, or technology. No snacks. No cellphone. Nothing.

Perhaps the journey was a short one and they would not need provision. However, the words of Jesus dispute that claim by showing their need for housing. Therefore, I believe the message Jesus is teaching them is to trust God as Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides. A change of clothes for everyday is not to be the focus of the mission. Worrying about food and housing was not to be the focus of the mission. Their mission was to preach the kingdom of God for salvation to all who would hear, to heal and to cast out demons. Jesus would be their provision inspiring others to house and feed them.

Jesus, who knows all things sent them out knowing that provisions would be made for them as they obeyed what was asked of them. He had given them the power to do so. When Jesus empowers and we respond, He provides. That is a trust building truth you can count on.

When it seems the provisions in your life journey are not what you wanted or hoped they would be, Jesus provides what is needed. He tells us in Matthew 6:31-33 not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. Just take care of today for tomorrow will worry about its own things.

He applied this same message to sending the disciples on mission, and it applies to our everyday lives as well. Focus on the moment. Do what you are sent to do. Trust God to provide.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power

and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them

to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to

them, ‘take nothing for your journey, neither staffs nor bag nor

bread nor money, and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever

house you enter, stay there, and from there depart’. [Emphasis added]

Luke 9:1-4 (NKJV)

Who is Trustworthy?

In a world of political upheaval, violence and sexual assault, the question becomes – who is trustworthy? In the newly released book, Rock Solid Trust, the answer is given for where to turn when trust is shattered beyond human repair. It leads you to the One who was, is and always will be trustworthy, and that is God Himself.

To some, it may seem to be a trite answer, yet I know these things to be true:
• When you suffer, He gives comfort.
• When you feel betrayed, He gives confidence.
• When you are exhausted, He gives strength.
• When you feel lost, He leads the way.
• When you feel threatened, He gives courage and peace.

In all these things, He is everywhere present and always present in your life as you turn to Him. And because He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble, we can turn to Him with any need or condition. He will always be there for us though we may feel abandoned by others. “The Lord will not forsake His people or abandon His heritage.” Psalm 94:14 (HSCB)

You can read about this and more. To order the book, us this link.

Hope is Confident

If you are constantly disappointed in the results of your expectations, try to think about the difference between unmet expectations and confident expectations. Unmet expectations are disappointing and frustrating, and can lead to long-term pain and anger unless you are able to identify the source and reverse your thinking. Confident expectation is the definition of HOPE. It is the confident expectation of something good to come. Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint. Therefore, confident expectation is hope and the opposite of unmet expectations.

Look at the definitions for the words “disappoint” and “disappointment” as stated in Webster’s:

  • Disappoint – To fail to fulfill the hopes of a person
  • Disappointment – The frustration of one’s hopes, annoyance due to failure.

Both definitions include the word “hopes”. And so, if you are not going to be disappointed, two things must occur.

  1. Your expectations are to be according to the will of God. Is what you are expecting in keeping with His word and mission for your life?
  2. Your expectations are to be about your Living Hope who is Christ Jesus and not in people or things. People will disappoint, but hope in God does not.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:3)

Are your expectations confident that God’s power is shielding you from disappointment? If you have any question about that, look at Ephesians 6:6 to discover the significance of the shield. What is the shield but faith in Him? Lift it up, keep your eyes on Jesus, praising God for the result of what you expect, no matter what the end result may be and you will not be disappointed but rather empowered to press on.

Have this attitude in yourself, that even though Jesus was in very nature God, He humbled Himself to obedience in the will of God. And so, we must ask ourselves the question, what is the will of God in any given situation that comes our way. Are we willing to yield to His will? His expectation of us is to live out the hope that is within us, The Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

In 1965 Bob Dylan wrote a song called Knocking on Heavens Door. It was later recorded by a group called Guns and Roses. I can’t say I was ever a Guns and Roses fan, but a strange thing happened this morning.  When I woke up, the chorus of that song was going through my mind. What it says repeatedly is ‘knock, knock, knockin’, on Heaven’s door.’  So when I got out of bed, I looked up the lyrics and found them to be rather dark. The song is apparently about someone in law enforcement who is dying and feels he is knocking on Heaven’s door. Yet, he talks about ‘that cold dark cloud coming down’.

When I opened my Bible study for the morning, I was amazed that my lesson for the day was about the Kingdom of Heaven. What I read in Colossians 1:13 is that God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the son he loves.” Did you see that? God has rescued us from darkness. There is no darkness when we knock on Heaven’s door and enter in.

In heaven there will only be light – there will be no darkness. We are told in Revelation 3:20 that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The verse says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and have dinner with him and he with me”. Then John, who wrote the Revelation, said this: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1)

From this we learn that Jesus knocks on the door of our heart, and we knock on the door of Heaven. When Jesus knocks, we are to answer with faith, believing in who He is and invite Him into our lives. Then, when the time comes for us to knock on Heaven’s door before passing into eternity, there will be no darkness, and the doors will be thrown wide open for us to enter in. When we knock, Jesus opens the door.

For the Christian, the message of ‘knock, knock, knockin’, on Heaven’s door’ is not a message of death, but rather of life eternal!

Once we have opened the door of our heart when Jesus knocks, not only are we assured of eternity with Him as we knock on Heaven’s door, but we are promised an open door of response from Him on earth. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks find, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

In this passage, Jesus was teaching His disciples to be persistent in prayer for daily needs, confident that their Father in Heaven would provide whatever was best for them according to His gracious will. The same is true for believers today. After we invite Jesus in as personal Savior, He throws open doors for us that have been closed. The door opens to spiritual wisdom, opportunity, power to accomplish what He asks of us and so much more. Ask, seek, knock that we may find, receive, and know all that is needed for life and godliness.

Jesus is the Light of the World. In Him, there is no darkness at all. As believers, we have a call to action. We are to let His light shine through us to the world around us. The shield of His light dispels the darkness.

“The night is far gone, the day is at hand.

So then let us cast off the works of darkness

and put on the armor of light.”

Romans 13:12 ESV

Something New

For brides preparing what they will wear for their wedding, there is an old saying used to be sure everything is in place for their special day: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” This tradition first appeared in print in 1883 and included ‘a silver sixpence in her shoe’ which has since been dropped from the saying.

But I love it because it reminds me of one of my favorite verses of scripture from Isaiah 43:19.

“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

In this verse, the word ‘new’ means something fresh or unheard of. What God said He would do was unheard of, but it was going to be fresh. When I think of something fresh, I think of something good and wonderful. Like fresh pastries straight out of the oven with a fragrant aroma you simply cannot resist. Or like fresh flowers from the garden sweetening the air with their fragrance.

The roadway of this verse is referring to a course of life or a mode of action. The river flows through the dry places and seasons of life. God is promising a new way of life. The Prophet Isaiah was proclaiming God’s promise to do something new in the barren hearts of people. That something new is life in Christ.

You could even use the bride’s saying to identify what Isaiah is talking about because we, as believers, are the bride of Christ.

  • Something Old – The old nature that was buried with Christ. – Romans 6:4
  • Something New – The new nature raised to walk in newness of life – Ephesians 4:24
  • Something Borrowed – The word of God through the Holy Bible used to teach us about Him and how to live. It is not our word, it is His word written for us to know Him. It is not just for one, but for all. – Acts 12:24
  • Something Blue – Blue was used in the tabernacle and in making the priestly garments. It was a reminder to the people of God’s covenant with Israel. It was used on the fringes of their robes and on tassels. It is a royal color representing the majesty of God. Blue is still used today as the color identifying Israel on their flag. Therefore, something blue for the bride of Christ is to be a reminder of our relationship with Him. – Genesis 17:2

As the bride of Christ, we are to adorn ourselves in preparation for Jesus our bridegroom and the day when we will meet Him face to face. For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I don’t about you, but I don’t want to meet Him with dirt on my face, but rather washed clean through a relationship with Him and the power of the blood He shed for me on the cross.

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV

What is the IT?

For the past few years, a group of friends and I have been challenged in December to ask God to give us a word for the coming year. My word for 2017 is JOY. I began the year thinking ‘awesome, my year is going to be filled with joy!’ It has been in many ways that I am so thankful for.

The year began with the birth of a baby boy into our family and has ended with the birth of a second baby boy into our family. That is JOY! In addition, I was able to complete a year-long contract of radio hosting. God provided messages and interviews throughout the year that brought great joy. We have a new church home. That, too, is great joy. However, among these joyful events, there have been trials, disappointments and discouragement as well. But God is reminding me at the end of this year what true joy is all about.

This month the Lord has taken me time and again to James 1:2 which says in part, “…count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

In reading this verse, I think we have a tendency to believe that God is telling us to consider the trial all joy. We ask, ‘how can I consider this cancer joy, or this death joy, or this divorce, or this loss of job’ and so forth. You get the picture.

But as I have studied this, I have asked the question, ‘What is the IT of this verse?’ Could it be that the IT is not in reference to the trial, but rather in reference to that which we are to consider – all joy? Could it be that the IT is the Good News delivered by the angels to the shepherds who were watching over their fields at night? The angels appeared to the shepherds and said, “…Behold, I bring you tidings of GOOD NEWS of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10. Could it be that the IT is the same GOOD NEWS described in Isaiah 61:1 – the good news of Jesus Christ?

If that is the case, it changes how we would think when in the midst of trials. Count it all joy is only one phrase of the sentence. The word ‘count’ in the Greek means to consider, think about, rule over, to command, to have authority over – to be a leader. What this is telling us is that we have authority over the choices we make in our thought process.

This phrase is joined to the rest of the sentence by the word ‘when’ meaning that we will have trials. This is saying, not if you have trials, but when you have trials you have the authority over your mind to choose to think about the joy that is the Good News of Jesus, or to focus on the difficulty.

Joy is a gladness of heart and calm delight, but ALL joy is everything of anything that ever was given to those who believe in and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is the celebration of the time in history when He came to earth as a newborn baby to live among the human race to save us all from our sin.

When trials come your way, think about the joy of knowing Jesus and claim the promises of God for all joy in the midst of the difficulty. In doing so, there is peace. The birth of this baby changed everything for you and me. Fix your eyes and thoughts on Jesus this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Journey of Faith

Conviction – what does that mean? I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. But that is where my journey of faith began. I was 29 years old.

Why God?

 

When our nation is impacted by numerous disasters such as hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and flooding, people always ask, ‘where was God in all this?’ or ‘why did God allow this?’, or just simply – why? The answer to the first question is to know that God is Omnipresent meaning He is everywhere present.

But the answer to the second question, as I perceive it, is there is no answer we can determine. No one can fully answer the why question. And so you ask, why do we not have an answer? It is because there are things about God that are unsearchable – things we will never have an answer for. If you take a look at what the Bible says about the things of God that we do not know, you discover the unsearchable things of God.

First, the biblical meaning of the word unsearchable is “that which cannot be sought out or known by investigation, examination or inquiry.” And so if some things of God are unsearchable, what are those things?

  • Marvelous thingsthose are extraordinary things separated by a distinguishing action that can only be accomplished by God himself. They are beyond our power to do and too difficult for us to understand. We see the word unsearchable used in Job 5:9. Job was certainly a man looking for answers. He had lost everything, was doubted and accused by his friends, yet he said of God “He does marvelous things, wonders and miracles that are unsearchable.”
  • His greatness – We cannot understand the greatness of God because it is an attribute of God. It is in reference to the magnitude and majesty of God. It is who He is, His great and majestic actions. (Psalm 145:3) He is worthy of our praise, but His greatness is unsearchable.
  • His judgments, His ways are past finding out. Ways = a course of conduct, manner of thinking, feeling, deciding. Judgments = matter to be decided, decisions. The decisions God makes and acts on are things we will never be able to search out and examine. Oh, we can try, but will not come up with the answers that only He knows.

If you have ever been in a courtroom waiting for a judge’s decision, you sense the anticipation of his thinking, deciding and acting upon his decision; but you cannot know what he is thinking until he reveals his decision. So it is with God. Only He knows what He is thinking, feeling and deciding until it is revealed to us in some way. (Romans 11:33) “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways.” Inscrutable means ‘impossible to understand or interpret.’

  • Riches of Christabundance, fullness, that with which one is enriched. The fullness of His perfection, fullness of all things in store for God’s use. Used of the fullness of the things pertaining to salvation with which Christ is able to enrich others. (Eph 3:8) But the riches of Christ are unsearchable. We cannot understand how God could love us enough and want us to have a relationship with Him for eternity to the point that he would come to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, who would die for us to purify us from sin so we can be pure and holy before Him in a personal relationship. Yes, that is exactly what happened. As a result, believers have access to all the riches of Christ, and yet they are unsearchable. We will not know while we are on earth what all those riches contain.

It’s like a child before Christmas. They have a preview of what Christmas morning will be like because they see some gifts under the tree. But they have no idea what those gifts contain, or that there are more to come. As believers we have a preview of the riches of Christ through the grace we have received for eternal life. But we do not know fully what eternal life beyond this earth will look like.

  • His understandingreasons, intelligence, insight, knowledge, teaching, discretion. How could we ever search out the intelligence of God? He is all-knowledge! Our human brains could never comprehend or contain all that God knows and His reasons for the actions He takes. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28

And so, it is not for us to know all the answers to the why question unless and until those answers are revealed which may not be until we reach Heaven.

And so, if we cannot search out and understand all these things about God, what can we do? This is where faith and trust come in.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11) Verse 3 says “by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” In other words, God created the world out of nothing. It is only by faith that we are able to know this.

We have faith that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do. We trust Him as we see Him revealed through the Bible and by the Holy Spirit. We accept these things to be true by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.

Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of heroes of the faith from the Old Testament era. These people were looking toward the future Christ while the New Testament church looks back to the Christ who gave his life for us.

These people listed in Hebrews 11 trusted God when asked to do what we would consider to be outlandish – out of the ordinary things. You can read this chapter to see for yourself the unusual things asked of them.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

The answer to what our response is to be when questions of why consume us is to have faith in God through Christ – to trust God even though we don’t understand – to move forward with what may seem out of the ordinary, but we are compelled to do and to seek Him each day. Why – because there are things that we will learn, find and know as we seek Him.

I Ch 28:9 “If you seek him, he will be found by you,”

2 Ch 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Time after time in the Old and New Testament, the scriptures tell us to seek the Lord. And we have His promise that He will be found by us as we seek Him.

Instead of seeking answers to the question of why, we are instead to:

  • Seek the Lord
  • Seek His strength
  • Seek His presence continually
  • Seek out all the commandments of the Lord
  • Seek Him and find Him
  • Seek His face in prayer for our nation

The extraordinary things He does; His attributes, His judgments and ways, the riches of Christ and His understanding, all of these are unsearchable by the human mind.

Therefore, as believers in Christ, we are to walk by faith trusting God every step of the way in what is taking place around us. Faith must have an object and the proper object of real, sincere faith is God Himself even though we cannot know how He exists or understand all about Him.  Then by faith, as we trust, we are to act accordingly by seeking Him, His word, His strength, His presence through prayer. His word promises that we will find Him. And that is enough. He is enough. It is enough to know that He is everywhere present, knows all things and is in control of all things. One day His purpose will be fully revealed for eternity.

But this one thing you can know – He loves you and wants you to spend eternity with Him. Everything else is preparation for that one thing. If you want to know how this is possible, send me a message on the “contact” page.