Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Missing Link (Part 2)

Last week (The Missing Link :Part 1) we laid out some groundwork for what we are going to look at this morning. This is something that a mentor of mine by the name of Ed Lacey has shared with me, and I have to let you in on it today!

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth the letter of 1 Corinthians and was trying to correct some damage done by false teachers within the church. He was waiting to hear there response to his letter where we pick up in 2 Corinthians.

"Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia." ~ 2 Corinthians 2:13-14
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place." 2 Corinthians 2:14 

Last Monday we pointed out the question mark that is prompted between the 13th passage and the 14th passage.

Paul seems to go from a point of struggle to a point of triumph like a light switch! What happened?

If God allowed (Not necessarily condoned) circumstances in my life happen, and God would use them as a step for me to draw closer to Him because of those God allowed circumstances... How do I climb the step?

How do I transform the "Walls" on my path into "Steps" on my path?

Paul shows us in this passage!


I can have victory in Jesus! It is not just a song, it is a reality.

Continual triumph- 24 hours a day; 7 days a week; 52 weeks a year!

Paul expresses the context of this triumph in 2 Corinthians 2:12-13. He is troubled and in the middle of great concern.
He leaves Troas for Macedonia during this time. It was a place of open doors from the Lord and Paul is preoccupied.

There is a wall on his path. What happened between the verse 13 of his life and the verse 14?

Paul looks beyond his wall of concern and trouble and chooses to focus on his position in Christ! He changes his focus from his trouble to his triumph!

He does not:
Look outward at his circumstances
Look inward at his own failures and weaknesses
Look downward at the Devil

Instead he chooses to:
Look upward in Christ!

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6 
( We looked at this passage in detail in the post "What a way to die!" )

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
 ~Romans 8:37 

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
~ 1 Corinthians 15:57 

God ALWAYS leads me in triumph, in the Lord Jesus.

It does not matter the outward circumstances; the way things appear on the surface; the response to the gospel. God ALWAYS leads me in triumph. You show me the verse 13 of your life and I will show you the triumph that God leads us in through Christ Jesus!

I triumph because I am being led by The Sovereign Victorious King!

This King is like no other. He has a purpose (Romans 8:28) in my God allowed circumstances, and He has given me a sure promise (Matthew 16:18).

He did not say He might build His church. He said, "I WILL". God is building!

I love this word "Triumph" used in 2 Corinthians 2:14.

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place." ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14

The word Triumph used here is making reference to what was called the "Roman Triumph".

In the ancient roman empire there would be a processional ceremony given to the victorious Roman empire. this was not a small town parade where people threw tootsie rolls and pencils with a candidates name written on them. This was an event of the century! The streets of Rome were packed with it's citizens and there was a deafening roar as they cheered their victorious army home!
First down the crowd lined streets would be the senators of the state. They would be followed by the blast of instruments from the waves of musicians parade style. Then would come the temple workers swinging wide trays of incense to honor their gods of war. These were not 24 oz. Yankee candles, these were large cauldrons that filled the streets with the aroma of victory! (Think of a febreze truck exploding on your street!)
Following them would be the wagons laden down with the spoils of war. After which would follow the enemy soldiers now having become slaves.
Then the victorious General. He would ride a white stallion and hold his victorious sword high into the burning sun!
Then the victorious army would march behind him. Heroes of the empire!

Can you see that in your mind? What must the smell have been to the victors? The incense would speak of life and victory! To the slaves I imagine it spoke of death and defeat.

This is the power picture that Paul paints for us.

We are not victims. We are soldiers who follow a victorious king in a TRIUMPH procession!

The Lord Jesus is our Victorious General!

He has defeated death, hell and the grave. He always leads us, through the triumph procession of life.
We have the awesome blessing of being in the victorious army!

Paul could say with confidence, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ..."

I do not know what you have gone through lately. I know that if your life is like mine that you have come across walls on your path. The difference between a wall and a step is only in if we choose to climb it or not.

the choice is ours alone to make. We can stare at the wall and curse it, strike it, turn from it, and even deny it's reality; however it will remain on our path. We can walk off the path that God has laid out for us and wander for years, but we will never move forward until we climb it. Looking past the wall and fixing our gaze on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ, is the start. When we focus on our position IN Him, we have taken our first handful of wall and have begun to pull ourselves up and over.

You are not weak.

You have been chosen to:
be in His army
wear His uniform
bear His name
follow His commands

He is victorious and our lives are like the incense that fills the street with the smell of victory! Life to those with life, and death to those defeated by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

I want to close this post with the words of  a song that I believe God wants on your ears today.

I heard an old, old story
How a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood's atoning
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory

O victory in Jesus
My Savior, forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood

I heard about His healing
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory

O victory in Jesus
My Savior, forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea
About the angels singing
And the old redemption story
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory

O victory in Jesus
My Savior, forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood

Climbing with you,

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Missing Link (Part 1)

I love the essence of this blog.

The main purpose of this blog is to help people understand God's visible hand in their life through His allowed circumstances.

Allowed circumstances is a very hard phrase to accept even among those with the strongest faith.

I think of the widow in 2 Kings 4 who came to the prophet and said, "Thy servant, my husband is dead..." (2 Kings 4:1)  The wording in her phrase speaks a great deal about how she was feeling about the circumstance. THY servant, MY husband. Notice the order here? In other words, "My husbands relationship with God and our present situation are not adding up here!"

Have you ever felt that way before? The truth is we all have.

What is incredible to me is the power that is contained in the way that we respond to the situations that "Don't measure up".

The past several post have been primarily about recognizing the allowed circumstances in our lives for what they truly are, simply steps, steps that once climbed will bring us closer to the God who allowed them.

If these are steps on our path, then the next logical question is "How do I climb them?". How do I go from weak to strong?

The answer is through Christ, but let's be more specific as we look at this area of life between heartache and victory. Response time as I call it.

I want to point out a tremendous example of a person who climbed their steps with God well.

"Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia."
~ 2 Corinthians 2:12-13

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."
 ~2 Corinthians 2:14 

Did you catch it?

Let's read it again!
"Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia."
~ 2 Corinthians 2:12-13

Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. This was not just any church to him. This one was one that God allowed him to plant through much sweat, tears, and love. This was one that he had spent 18 precious months pouring himself into. He loved this church.
This part of his life was sweet and filled with so much energy of this man of God.

After he left to continue his journey with the Lord, wolves came into the church (Vs 17) and began to tear it apart like a young lamb with false doctrine and immorality. Where there are sheep, you will find wolves close at hand.

Paul writes 1 Corinthians as a rebuke to this body for being so easily led astray.

"Open rebuke is better than secret love." ~Proverbs 27:5 

Paul was troubled because he had written them a letter and sent it with Titus. He and Titus were to meet up in  a place called Troas where Paul would receive the response of the people to the letter Titus had delivered. Paul is waiting, and Titus does not show up.

While Paul is waiting for Titus in Troas, the Lord opens a door. The door is one that Paul steps through and God uses that door to allow him to see great results in the planting of another church (Acts 20)

But while Paul is there and working with the Lord he is troubled in his spirit. His mind and heart is so focused on the church at Corinth that he picks up and leaves Troas and goes to Macedonia.

What we do during the "wounded times" in our lives is very important!


I am not sure what you are going through as you read these words but God has allowed you to read these words out of all the words you will read today, so let me say it again!

What you do during the "wounded times" in your life is very important!

I had placed the question mark between the 13th verse of this passage and the 14th verse for a reason.

Let's look at verse 14 again please, because this is the thing that we miss in life just as we missed it when we read it a minute ago.

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."
 ~2 Corinthians 2:14 

WOW! The entire tone of this passage is starkly different than the passage above it. Just above this verse we see Paul in the middle of a great burden and concern. He was internally burdened over the church and their lack of response to his letter.

Paul goes from troubled and ill in his spirit so much so that he leaves the open door, to thanking God, praising God, and expressing TRIUMPH?

What happened between the verse 13 of his life and the verse 14 of his life?

How was Paul able to say the things he goes on to say after verse 14?

This is absolutely MIND BLOWING, and if we can get a hold of this truth there is no force on earth that can hold us back again!

The simple truth we are going to look at absolutely destroys the "Victim" mentality, and releases healing and freedom into the verse 13's of our life!

We will look at the answer to this question this coming wed because it is one truth that needs a room of it's own. I wanted to lay the groundwork this morning for this truth!

I cannot wait to meet up with you again on Wed!

Climbing with you,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Prayer that Few People Pray

I have a thing for Superman, and you have probably gathered that if you have read the post "God's Phone Booths". I have a plate at the house that I eat comfort food from. This is THE plate. Yes, I know what you are probably thinking. Yes, I know, and yet I still love you.
This is indeed how I roll my friend!

I want to use this plate to share something with you that has rocked my world in regards to my Paradigm of God allowed circumstances in my life.

When I was growing up my parents had a law in our house. The law was very plainly spelled out before each and every meal. I will reproduce the law in a bold type so that you may fully understand where I am coming from.


Now I have to be honest here in saying that I HATED that law. I hated it because my mom liked to provide a healthy balanced meal that beans.

I HATE, no... I despise green beans. Mom made green beans one night, and on this particular evening I asked for a small portion. Mom gave me the full portion (Because there were children starving on the other side of the world... I would have given them my beans if I could have thrown that far)
I sat there during dinner absolutely dreading those warm beans sliding down my throat. Then, out of the blue, the most diabolical idea came to my mind! It came to me when I noticed my sister eating.
Everyone drops food from their mouth right?

Of course! I will drop a spoonful of beans at strategic intervals onto my lap, then carefully, toss said beans under each persons seat! This plan was foolproof.

Only if I had thought to drop beans under my own seat. How could I have overlooked this?

After dinner I readily volunteered to vacuum up the evidence, but while I went to get the vacuum my mother did not overlook my fatal mistake. She always caught everything!

Mom notified Dad, and Dad pronounced the sentence. Mom was to cook every can of beans in the house, and I was to eat them. I think that was the day that my hatred of all things bean formed within my heart.

Fast forward many years later I am sitting at the table of my future wife's parents. this is the first meal that I am eating with them. My future mother-in-law placed a plate in front of me, and my heart nearly dropped from my chest. GREEN BEANS. Steaming, and slimy. Staring up at me, and taunting me. I did not want to offend the parents of this beautiful girl, when suddenly out of the blue, the most diabolical plan came to me! I covered them with my napkin, and after dinner I personally cleared off my plate into the trash can. It was foolproof! Until my mother-in-law opened the trash can. Why is it that moms can catch everything?

What does this have to do with a spiritual truth?

Let me bring the plate back into your mind and present you with a prayer that very few people will ever in their life time have the courage enough to pray.

"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: " ~Proverbs 30:7-8

WOW! The prayer here is to remove vanity and lies, but then it goes even further and asks God to feed us only with food convenient for me.

Convenient is not what we think it is. When I think of convenient I think of fast food. Not God's definition though. The biblical word here is the word NECESSARY.

What this prayer does is place God in the driver seat.

May I submit to you today that God is the parent who knows exactly what we need nutritionally in order to grow up to be the adult (Image of Christ) He made us to be.

We all want pizza, chocolate, and Cheetos on our plate. These are the good times, and fun days. Every light is green, and every word spoken to us is exactly what we wanted when we wanted it. We have great health, and feel as though we can do no wrong.

We love to fill our plate with that food, but the truth is, it does nothing to help up mature in Christ.

The stuff we would rather not have on our plate is the _____________. (fill in the blank with your equivalent to green beans).

Health issues? Financial instability? Relationship difficulties? job? family issues? You name it. It is what the Bible calls purging. God allowed circumstances that cause us to stretch our faith.

See what happens when God places these things on our plate (For our good by the way. See Romans 8:28), We tend to throw those opportunities away. We push them off on others in blame, and in a sense we waste them. Sometimes we cover them up with a napkin so to speak. The napkin can come in the shape of distraction or even addiction. An addiction is anything we do intentionally that prevents us from living life as God intended us to live it. Some people cover up their green beans with work, relationships, drugs, alcohol, parties, TV, Internet, and a number of other options. It is a refusal to accept that God, our parent, is capable of providing us a balanced meal.

I love the reasoning behind this prayer.

"Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." ~Proverbs 30:9 

There is a law that our heavenly parent has and it applies to every plate that is served up.




The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand."
~Psalms 37:23-24

Hiding the portion that we don't like does not get rid of it, it only causes it to get colder and colder.
We will continue to have to hide it or blame it on other people until we face up to the fact that it has been placed on our plate for us to consume. God loves us enough to provide for us exactly what we need to grow the way He wants us to grow.

 Victory is  only achieved when we learn to clean our plate!

It blows my mind to think of a parent (God ) that knows us to such an intimate detail that He would prepare food that is necessary for me individually.

Would you be willing today to step up to the plate God has prepared with this prayer?

"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: " ~Proverbs 30:7-8

It will change your life!

Climbing with you,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Who Built This Furnace Anyway?

This story has always been an incredible demonstration of how God delivers His people as they go through persecutions for Him.

I love to read of the resolve that these three men possessed and showed in the face of incredible adversity. I say men because I was taught growing up that these were "Three Hebrew boys". No, these were men. They were taken captive as boys, but these boys grew up to be men of renown and responsibility.

Reading it through this lens I discovered something that I had not noticed before.

"Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon." ~Daniel 3:1 

(We will call him Nebby in order to save me from getting carpel tunnel from typing his name.)

Nebby decides to build a statue of himself in order to ensure loyalty of his crown and to exercise his ego. He selects one of the provinces of Babylon to be graced with this statue. He then orders the rulers of this province of Babylon to build this statue in their province.

"Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king." ~Daniel 2:49

"There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." ~Daniel 3:12 

Guess who would get that memo placed in their "In" box in the morning? 

They were to oversee everything. They had the land cleared, had a furnace built on site to handle the smelting of materials, and no doubt were aware of every detail of this project.

Rack, Shack, and Benny! I am truly amazed at how I missed this every time I have read it.
These three men were men who excelled, by God's design, were now in a place of prominence and power. Can you imagine what went through their mind when they got that memo? They started out this journey by turning down the king's meat and wine, now they get to face round 2!

The first thing that I notice is:


These guys were allowed to be in the position that they were in by God himself. These were three captives that became rulers. They had found favor with God and man. They were in a position to oversee all of the affairs in the province of Babylon.

We find a lot of ways to complain about the circumstances that we are either in, or have been in. We like to think that it was a mistake that we had THAT job, or knew THAT person in life, but I have to tell you that God allowed those circumstances for a purpose. If you are His child, then you are on mission with Him. That means that He places you where He wants, around who He wants when He wants. It does not matter if you recognized it at the time or not. God makes no mistakes.

Think about that co-worker that you had such a hard time with and ask yourself this, "Of all the people they could have worked with, why on earth did God let me be the one? What was He trying to tell them, and what was He trying to tell you?"
Have you ever run across someone that you would swear was another person that you knew, except for the name and the way they looked? Other than those details, the attitudes and behaviors were just the same? Why is God bringing those attitudes and behaviors across your path again? What did you miss about responding to and learning from those the first time that He needed to repeat the lesson?

We explain away God's hand too easily these days I am afraid. God is closer than we think. There is no job that you have ever worked that God did not have purpose in. I think the clearest example of that would be the life of Joseph in the Bible. God is trying to speak with those who employ you and He is trying to speak to you as well.

You are where you are because GOD has placed you there! It is a station by God that He has allowed you to fill.

We think sometimes that we earned, or we were savvy enough to gain a position of power. We are delusional at best when we entertain that thought. It does not matter if you are a President, a Pastor, or a Plumber... It is a God allowed station.
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of GodWhosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
~Romans 13:1-4

We like to apply this passage to the political party candidates that we approve of, but that is not Bible. Truth says, "God allows those with the power to have the power".

The people with the power might not even fully understand God's reasoning for their power, but it will be for His end and His purpose in the end.

Stations by God will always produce opportunities to "STAND".


"Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." ~Daniel 3:8-18

They had in no doubt, been preparing themselves for this moment. These were not little kids who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They knew that this day had been approaching, and I believe as they worked they prayed that God would intervene.

Each day they were informed of the building progress of this statue. They applied a premeditated determination to make a stand.

Stations by God will always produce an opportunity to stand that will always prove...


Stations by God will always produce an opportunity to stand, these will ALWAYS prove the strength of His presence!

"Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.   And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.   He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." ~Daniel 3:19-25

This is a truth that God taught to me in the most amazing way.

Think for just a minute and ask yourself, "When was the last time I recognized being put through a furnace in my life?"

I was in a situation in my past that carried a lot of similarities to a furnace.

I graduated from Bible College and wanted to do something "Big" for God!
I had the privilege of serving the Lord in a church in Illinois as a youth director and I loved it. It was there that God taught me how to do His work. I wanted to serve the Lord and do His work, but I wanted to do it MY way and in MY strength and ability.

So God did for me what He does for any of His children that need it. He helped me prepare my very own furnace. He moved me from Illinois and placed me in a province where I could discover that His way was very different than my way.

I got busy, very busy, adding bricks to the wall of my furnace, and without recognizing it, bringing my time in the fire closer and closer..

I had in fact been a part of building a work that was not done God's way. It was built on fancy sales techniques where the bottom line was the number of decision cards and not true conversions. It was as if the last command of Jesus on earth was, "Go into all the world and get decisions." When in fact it was to make Disciples.
This sounds a little harsh, but there were a lot of people who would walk the aisle and say "The Prayer", but when I saw people "Added to the church" it was rarely a convert; instead it was someone from another church that we had wowed and amazed with a program that was better than what they had before.

What does the size of a building, or the number in the bank mean if people within the shadow of the steeple do not see anything real about what you have? If you can only see a person as 10% of what they make or for what you can get out of them, what lasting impact are you providing the kingdom?

I built a furnace where I was taught by word and example to see people as just the means to an end and despite "Christian emphasis" in words, slogans, and vision statements, the actions and attitudes that I saw behind closed doors were anything but Spirit led. I would see anger, flesh, and insecurity justify the mistreatment of people in "The Lord's Work". The Fruit of the Spirit would be blown off of the tree at the slightest breeze from a stress storm.

This was a God allowed furnace for me.

I was frustrated because I had been part of "Selling Jesus" in order to have someone repeat a prayer within 4 stanzas of a hymn. This was a furnace. The more I read in the Word, the more conflicted I became. The part where MY strength came in was beginning to quickly burn. In fact, the day where the Lord prompted my heart with the question, "Dan, you are really trying hard to make me and those you work for happy with you... What is it that you can do that would make me love you any more than I already do?" was a difficult day. The heat was on. God allowed me to see something fantastic, and I would have missed it if it had not been for the furnace.

God has revealed Himself to me in so many powerful way since I stepped out of that furnace. I am quite sure that I have more to come as I climb the steps with God, but I am confident in Him and His faithfulness.

Your furnace is no doubt different than mine, but it may be that you have found yourself in a situation that you yourself have helped to create. It is a furnace.

 God used this passage to help me understand something profound.

Many times, God allows us to have a hand in building the very thing that He uses as a furnace in our lives.

"God allows us to have a hand in building the very thing that He uses as a furnace in our lives."

I am very thankful for the furnaces that God has let me have a hand in building. I am grateful for them, because without them I would still be doing God's work MY way and in MY strength. My furnaces were and continue to be necessary. Yours are too!

I talk to many good people who have never learned to understand the God allowed furnaces for what they are, expressions of God's love for us. God takes us just as we are, yet He loves us too much to let us stay that way.

Where would you be today had God not allowed you a station that provided you the opportunity to stand? Would you have seen His strength?

I encourage you today to take a moment and thank Him for the furnaces that He allowed you to build!

Climbing with you,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Every Road Needs a Rest Area

If you have ever traveled any length of time on the highway, you have no doubt seen a sign like this.
If it was a long trip, you no doubt have prayed to see a sign like this! 
It basically is a description of a place where you can stop traveling for a minute. You can get out of the car and  stretch muscles that went to sleep, re-check the map or GPS, make a phone call to a loved one to let them know where you are, buy an overpriced cup of coffee, or just rest.
You don't plan on living at a rest area, because it is very clearly just a place to rest. (You would go broke on the coffee and vending machines anyway)
We look forward to these places because every one of us needs at one point in the travels of life to stop and rest. When I was a kid and we travelled as a family, the only thing that concerned me was, "Does this place have any monkey bars?"
I have changed a bit in the qualifications of a good rest area now. When I travel, I am on the lookout for something more along the lines of this:

A spot where I can see something, anything but the highway in front of me. I look for a place where I can take my mind off of where I need to be next, and what the deadlines are.
In most cases what I have found was something I would have missed had I kept driving. Once it was an elderly man helping his wife out of the car and helping her up the steps like she was the Queen of England, another time it was a parent pushing their child on a swing, a man stretched out sound asleep on the hood of his truck, and once it was a man who tripped over his large German Shepherd and spilled his overpriced rest area coffee.
This morning, I would like to offer you just that.
No matter where your road may have you traveling today, I invite you to just pull over, and notice what you would have missed if you had kept driving.
I want to invite you to pull over at the rest stop called PHILEMON.
It is an extremely short book. 25 verses in fact and really, this is nothing more than a letter from one man to another. So as you read these 25 verses, please be aware that you are in fact, reading someone Else's mail.
The story is beautiful.
There was once a young man named, Onesimus. He was a servant in the house of Philemon.
One day, Onesimus has decided that he has had enough of Philemon and decides to leave. In fact, he decided to leave with some things that did not belong to him. He leaves with a black mark upon his name, and it is not surprising that some time later he winds up in prison in a destination far from home.
I can see him sitting in that dark prison. Angry? Bitter at the way his life has turned out? He is sitting there, when from out of the shadows he hears a raspy, aged voice.
"Hello there son" I imagine he would hear. "My name is Paul...What is yours?"
What are the odds that this servant ends up sharing the same cell as the Apostle Paul? I do not know about you, but I see God's hand all over this one. Paul ministers to Onesimus, and he is converted. After a time, Onesimus is going to be set free and he wants to return home. He has told Paul about what he had done, and about the bridges he had burned. Can you see Paul's face when Onesimus tells him the name of his former master?
Philemon was a very old and dear friend of Paul, so Paul writes a letter for Onesimus to take back to Philemon. I will not take the time to list out the entire letter, but I would like to encourage you to read it sometime today.
There is one passage that I would like to lift out to you, since you are stopped at this rest area called Philemon, and you would miss this had you have continued to drive.
 "For perhalps he therefore departed for a season, that thous shoulldest recieve him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved..."
~Philemon 1:15
That is powerful!
You see, I believe that each one of us would fall into one of these character parts.
Philemon: You have done all that you know to do, and yet it was not good enough. You have been hurt, wronged, even trampled on by an Onesimus in your life. Please understand, it is possible to do all that you know to do, and still have your care and devotion thrown back up in your face. Kids do go wrong, and loved ones do walk out on you. "Godly" people do very "Ungodly" things, and if you are a Philemon this morning, there is no doubt that you have been left shaking your head and asking God "Why?".
Then there is another character that this story provides here at REST AREA PHILEMON.
Onesimus: You have wronged someone, and you know it. You are hurt as well, and you have done everything you can think of to justify what you did. Philemon had it coming right? They could have done more right? People don't know your Philemon like you know your Philemon. You have avoided making things right, and your life is similar in many ways to a prison. You cannot be free from it no matter where you lay your head, what you soothe your conscience with. This was not the life you had envisioned as a little boy. If someone had asked you as a little girl to describe what your life would look would never be this. If you are an Onesimus this morning, there is no doubt that you have been left shaking your head and asking God "Why?".
Finally I observe one last character here at REST AREA PHILEMON.
Paul: You have devoted your heart to the Lord, and in spite of your hearts desire to be doing His work His way, you are in a place where your path has crossed and Onesimus. They seem to be a good person at heart, but they are rough...very rough. They talk rough, they smell rough, they behave rough, and they even treat you rough. If you are a Paul this morning, there is no doubt that you have been left lifting your hands to heaven and thanking God for this opportunity!
I think at one point in time in my life I have played each of these parts. I think we all have.

Every single one of us has had or will have times of departure from the Lord, but those times of departure can be just as valuable as the times of arrival.

 Luke 15 tells of a young man who departed so that he could return. 

I am so very glad that during my departure times that God sent a Paul to help me prepare for an arrival.
If you are praying for an Onesimus in your life, pray for the Paul that God is going to provide for them. Pray that the Paul in their life will have the wisdom to look past the excuses and help your Onesimus see the power of Christ.

 If you are a Paul for someone, ask God to help you be the one to help that Onesimus find Christ and through Christ, find restoration!

If you are Onesimus, ask God to help you see the Paul for who they are... an extension and demonstration of God's redeeming love and grace! You have been given a Paul, but you just may have been looking past them. They are not here for the fun of it. They are on mission for God, and they have been brought into your life by the prayers of the Philemon's in your life. You are loved, and God is using Paul to prove it!

The thing about rest areas that is so interesting is that if you drive past them, there is so much that you would have missed seeing.

Thanks for stopping with me for a minute at REST AREA PHILEMON.

Climbing with you,


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Psalms 1 (Part 2)

We started this study on wed and I would like to continue the thought of "Choice". We are given the choice of final results of this vapor called life. The "How to" of both destinations.

A) Be like a tree, planted, firm, steady, well nourished, and a shelter.
B) Be like the chaff, dry, unstable, brittle, and ultimately leave no lasting mark.

Psalms chapter 1 will be our testimony one way or the other.

Reaping the blessing of the tree, or the curse of the chaff is a Kingdom law. It does not matter if you believe it or not, it is true.

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." ~Psalms 1:1-6 

We looked at verse one on wed and spent the time to lay the groundwork for the rest of the Psalm. Today I would like to spotlight the benefit of the blessing. 

Verse 2 states that that the one that chooses to reap the blessing of the tree will make their delight (Desire, pleasure) the law of the Lord.(Precepts and statutes)

Do you delight in the things God delights in? Do you desire Him? This is not conforming to a list just for the sake of checking boxes, this is desiring to know Him.

Paul said that he had built up quite a resume of good deeds and actions, but he counted them as dung. Why?

"That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." ~Philippians 3:10

Outward achievements are nothing if you do not know Him. You cannot superglue the fruit of the Spirit on your tree. Either you have it or you do not.

The psalmist says, that his desire was God. Not Godly activities or speeches, but God.

"...In His law doth he meditate day and night."

God does not promise to prosper Bible memorizers, He does however, promise to prosper Bible meditators.

Mediating on what you have memorized is the key. I am all for Bible memorization, but it is powerful only if you take the time to think about what you memorized. There have been a lot of responses that I have given to the walls in my life that were wrong, not because I did not know scripture, but because I did not take the time to think about and properly apply the scripture that I knew.

When I was dating my wife, she would write me letters. (Texting was only for the rich and famous) I did not just memorize the cards she sent me, I meditated on them. I thought about them, how she phrased things, how she darkened some words more than others, and I even dissected and defined sentence structure.

Prospering comes from choosing those I allow to write on my heart carefully, and what I choose to mediate on.

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

Notice the wording. "Be" comes before "Do". Why is that? Being like a tree is something that comes from being planted. You cannot "Do" your way in the Christian life as a substitute of "Being". I think one of the problems that plagues the church today is the overabundance of people willing to "Do" in place of being willing to "Be".

It takes work to "Be", and it is far easier to show up and "Do". When you are planted, you will produce fruit, and you will "Do". Not in your own strength, but through Christ which strengthens you!

Then in verse three we get the result that we all want.

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

I love the word PLANTED.

Firmly fixed. Planted by a source of nourishment. Planted and bringing forth fruit in his season.

I love the terminology of the leaf not withering.

The tree depends on it's leaves. They take the light from the sun, and transform it to life for the tree.

PHOTOSENTHESIS: is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert the light energy captured from the sun into chemical energy that can be used to fuel the organism's activities.

For the Christian, his leaf is straining to soak up the SON. The leaf does not wither. This person knows that the planted state comes not from the river, not from thinking "Tree like" thoughts, or saying "Tree like" words. It comes directly from the SON!

Whatever he does will prosper.

Can I just be frank here? What area of your life do you NOT want to prosper?

Reading on down the remaining three verses outlines very plainly the flip side of the coin. God loves us enough to give us the freedom of choice.

I want to be planted for my family, because I want that area of my life to prosper.
I want to be planted in my walk with the Lord, because I want that area to prosper.

A)Planted comes from being careful where I get my direction counsel.
Do those I get counsel from fall into the scriptural definition of the ungodly?
B)Planted comes from Where I am positionally.
Do I make it hard for others to see Christ, or do they get a clear picture of Him
C)Planted comes from how I view God
Do I make light of God, His revealed Word, and my relationship with Him?
D)Planted comes from operating in my new nature: Delighting and meditating in and on the Word of God.
Where do I choose to set my thoughts and affections?

When I was a kid, we had these books called, "Choose your own adventures". The story line and outcome would depend on the choices you made. Life is no different. Psalms one presents the final outcome, and it even outlines how to make the choices!

Climbing with you,