Thinking is Hard Work

Lazy Brain

Four years ago, hubby and I were traveling across the state of Florida on a business vaca destination. Besides the over-the-top barbecue joint we found mid-state, there was time enough on our hands to suss out a plan, a 5 Year Plan. Having recently resettled into a new groove, we realized the sands of life were shifting under our feet, so to speak and we needed to reconnoiter. In essence, our intrastate discussion formed up a barebones financial outline. The life of that skeleton was and is, God’s involvement. Would one take a trip to the bottom of the sea without air? Or a desert trek without water? Etcetera. Without factoring God, there is no wind in the sail. One proverb says that there are many plans in the heart of a person but only God’s counsel prevails. Another wise saying makes the point that people can map out a plan but it is God who directs the steps. And finally, 2 Chronicles 12 establishes the reason for the king’s evil – he didn’t prepare his heart to seek God. A simplistic definition of evil is “in opposition to good;” good takes effort and planning while “evil” moves to the lowest level or easiest path. Evil is the result of defaulting to our natural tendencies, unraveling productive effort until there is no good thing remaining. True, some inspired-by-hell plot evil but in general and as commonly reported, when (good) people do nothing, evil is the result.
So fast forward, four years in, and we have hours of preparatory labor while adjusting to the 5 year goal ever so slightly as we live day-in and day out. One actual financial acquisition is established that seemed at the time to fall into our orbit but now in hindsight, we understand it was God’s doing. That wink from God would have been very difficult to see and to move upon if we had not done the prep work in the interim. Our plan includes 5Xs this acquisition and so, mistakes being made now will be experience fodder for the other investments.
Interestingly, not only do we see our faith at work but also, God’s divine intervention. Like planting an oak tree, nothing seems to be happening  and then, when the ground erupts with a speck of green pushing through, nothing seems to be happening! Unless God nudges a different direction, faith maintains the course.
One pastor says about money, “Make as much as you can; give as much as you can; save as much as you can.” I love this philosophy because it undermines poverty and greed and laziness. Laziness often masquerades as something else; busy work, disobedience or unbelief. Like evil, laziness must be overcome by considering God. The God factor animates everything we do and without considering Him, all we do is a bit of a gamble.
Lazy brain is the result of excluding God from our calculations. Thankfully, God is not hindered by time or space and so, once He is included into our plans, time and space become tools in your bag of tricks. In truth, you cannot of yourself appropriate said tools just as a toddler cannot get online and skillfully manipulate her/his college fund… But as an adult living as a citizen of a moral universe and incorporating the Sovereign’s existence and right to rule, suddenly His abilities become your possibilities. Some unbeknown favor pushes forward at God’s direction out of our past, to meet us today. Or a realtime disastrous misstep is circumvented, protecting our future.
Unlike a democratic Republic, God needs no votes to maintain his leadership position. Nor does He need advice from mentors, constituents or followers. He has no peers unless one wants to consider the Godhead as such. Instead, He sovereignly influences people to align themselves with His purposes. Once on board His ship, you’re going places!
All things are possible to those who believe… Humans are made in God’s image. That explains a lot. Lazy brain refuses to consider the wisdom of God.
In the historical instance from 2 Chronicles, the king’s determining fault was his lack to seek… Apparently, God is not asking for moral superiority or innocence or godly perfection. It seems, intelligence, DNA, social upbringing and/or formal education have very little to do with lazy brain. Once God is sought, there is no going back to the void of ignorance. When the reality of God is considered, faith becomes the intangible instrument that moves the mind forward. Lazy brain unplugs faith. Faith without works is lifeless. It is work to think. Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. (Another from Proverbs, 6:6)
Faith is not walking on water. Faith is considering God and also, obeying His direction. Confidence is born from faith to faith. Make a plan; adjust accordingly; faith in action.

Answered Prayer, Fresh Start, Hearing from God, Mid-life Crisis, Overcoming the impossible, Sign of Revival

Friend, Foe or Lord

God might be described as a Sovereign who will not allow His purpose to be crossed or thwarted. God has a Plan! Like a great and awesome river, He is going somewhere. Can we remain friends if our wills are momentarily wrangled like Jacob and the Angel of Jabbok? The man proceeded with a limp and that is no light matter. As some saint of old might comment from his heavenly bleacher, “I served with Jacob. I knew Jacob but you… You, my fellow saint are no Jacob!”

The patriarch also came away with a name change but no one seem to immediately notice not even Jacob, aka Israel! What was noted was seemingly, a loser’s limp.

Reading the passage from Genesis 32, the imagery is of a believer, uncomfortably bent over on his knees struggling in prayer due to his own evident shortcomings and self-inflicted problems. Back and forth he mentally weighs the issues of faith; His God appointed calling, his unworthiness compared to his predecessors, his lack of confidence; his fear. Jacob invited God to the tete-a-tete and as a Gentleman, when it was time to leave, God made it clear that He would be going only at His host’s release. God allowed Himself to be bound, in a sense, by decorum. This polite allowance is limited when He is likewise asked His name, just as He previously asked Jacob his name. With condescension, the angel replied with a royal snub. “Why do you ask?”

God is both Friend and Lord. As Jacob’s battle within transcended into the spiritual, God willingly joined the fray. Scripture reveals three areas that marked significant change as Israel, formerly Jacob continued his life’s sojourn. First, he prevailed spiritually speaking and the evidence is recorded and validated by a name change: Cheater to Prince of Power. Next, his *hurple, a war wound. God goes from being Friend to serious Enemy when His Sovereignty is questioned by unbelief. That wound was not gained by friendly fire! And yet, perhaps only eternity revealed to Jacob what he as Israel accomplished, seen on this side of the veil as that earthly limp. Finally, putting the man’s fears and doubts to rest, the Holy Ghost interchange went from mere dialogue, a tete-a-tete to a vis-a-vis. A face to Face encounter with the living God, at times a Foe but also, a Friend and forever the Lord.
*Contrary to popular English literary legend, the word, purple does have a rhyme.


Safe Space

Unlike the politically correct, urban definition of this term “safe space,” I propose the only true and eternal safe space is the Will of God. What is it that the Great God of Heaven and Earth has called you to do? Once He has made that clear to you, as His plenipotentiary, you can go forward in your space safely. One’s Safe Space is not actually geographic as much as it is an atmosphere from which you perform the Will of God.
Using history as a reference point, the Old Testament backdrop is historical. Not representing the entire world during these recorded parameters of time but a telescopic viewpoint which is focused on a small patch of land and a limited group of people as seen from the eye of God. We are not told from scripture what is happening in the Andes or the islands or the Poles. Rather, dialing in on Elijah the prophet’s generation and into an even tighter spot on the biblical map we have a unique pov revealing God’s ability and willingness to assist people. The mind of God, His benevolent intervention, His miraculous and more are discovered in the Elijah recounting.
Names have meaning and so, Elijah the Tishbite defined as God is Jehovah even in a difficult situation… He was from Gilead; translated a rocky region confirming this imagery further. ‘Elijah the Tishbite from Gilead’ represents God who is there when someone is between a rock and a hard place.
Can the common believer identify with Elijah? Was he a supernatural hero, beyond the normal flesh and blood? I don’t think so. James 5:17 states, Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! NLT And then, we read that he prayed again so that it rained and the earth bore fruit, verse 18.
For many reasons, I find that Elijah represents the common man chosen of God as a plenipotentiary; acting as a representative of God while having full power to act independently.
Does God give supernatural powers to those that will harm themselves and others with said powers? Yes. The world is full of these empowered ones while the Elijah types are far and few. Not being perfect, Elijah nonetheless endeavored to fulfill his purpose and to please God. Was he smart, mature or courageous? Apparently, not. And even his faith wavered concerning God’s willingness to watch his back… God allowed all of this and it would seem, God  adjusted His plan to include Elijah’s reluctance. After meeting Elijah’s needs during the 3 and half year drought, the prophet experienced a loss of confidence afterward; Elijah ran for his life to hide in a cave, 1Kgs 19.
A bit like the rhetoric question asked of Adam in the garden, God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” God knew very well what Elijah was doing there in that cave and Elijah’s answer appears to be either induced by self pity or self-deception. God disproved Elijah’s reasoning before asking him again, “What are you doing here?”
When Elijah gave the same answer, it seems God changes course or horse in mid-stream as we read that Elisha will take Elijah’s office of prophet. God didn’t punish Elijah for the his unwillingness to finish the task but perhaps God is not done with Elisha, even now.

From Revelations 11:3-7 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth…These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire… When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.

Are the Two Witnesses Jews as the “olive trees” imagery alludes? Perhaps, Moses is one but it certainly looks like Elijah even as Jesus confirmed, is the other of these two. So Elijah has work yet to be accomplished but again the idea of acting independently is revealed here; “as often as they desire.”
But… But… How is Elijah representing the everyday human, doing the Will of God, considered to be in a Safe Space? You ask, after all, if it is true that he is one of the Two witnesses, he dies at the hands of God’s enemy. Examine again the story of Elisha found n the Old Testament scriptures, 1Kgs chapter 18 through 2Kgs chapter 2. God kept Elisha safe from all manner of injury. God proved to Elisha that He was not only capable but willing to keep him safe and also, to miraculously keep safe those who relied on Elisha; those who were between a rock and a hard place. Yes, even when Elisha was reluctant to finish the job, God kept him safe. True, we understand that sometime in the future Elisha will have to pay the price of death but lets be real. Truth says in the letter to the Hebrews 9:27, ‘each person is appointed once to die and after that, judgment…’
Elijah represents the Safe Space human. All humans must die, as flesh and blood cannot enter Heaven even as a caterpillar cannot fly without metamorphosing. Elijah will return to die physically, as the reborn saint must die-to-self spiritually to participate in that great up-taking, the Rapture.
Die-to-self and finish your task! Find the Will of God for your life! It is the true Safe Space even for a snowflake.

Sign of Revival

Harriet on the 20

Harriet Tubman; Congress will memorialize her on the twenty dollar bill. Free people everywhere may see this act as a wise conspiratorial move to either calm the riffraff or insight them, or quite possibly, to divide. I choose to believe that this decision was ultimately from God in answer to prayer. There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea! From 1Kgs 18:44, we might suppose that huge results are often seen as small beginnings.

From our shoes, the historic Harriet Tubman is like the North Star she reckoned from during her extralegal journeys. She died a hundred years ago and still, the philosophical are awed by her faith and action.

This generation and more specifically, our nation is in need of an seemingly insignificant sign on the horizon. Harriet Tubman on the $20 is it.

Though they did not perceive it at the time, hindsight reveals that the fleeing slaves were safe with gun tottin’ Miss Harriet as they traversed the landscape. She would have shot any escaping slave who gave in to second thoughts, trying to return to their old ways of slavery. That was the only reason she carried the weapon. Her threat, never challenged kept all involved safe from betrayal. So too, escaping into the shadow of God’s protective wings can be both reassuring and intimidating.

Hindsight will prove how very safe it is.

Key to Happiness

Hearing from God

I read about the Monarch butterfly today. Scientists saying that they have figured out the internal compass…
There is a movie (can’t remember the name but Anne Hathaway is in it), and the main character gets caught in a time warp or perhaps, another dimension. He tries to communicate with his 10 yr old daughter and she thinks this weird interaction is a poltergeist. This portion of the story-line made me rethink how God interacts with humans. Sometimes, it is loud and clear but so otherworldly that the recipient may or may not decipher the message correctly. A dream, a thought, a key situation, a Biblical highlight or sermon which unites one’s actions with godly conviction; any or all of these methods bringing forth God’s direction. The complete spiritual apparatus is present and God’s willingness is there so why do people, God’s people and others, complain about not hearing from God?
Take yourself as an example although not as the end-all to the discussion. Sometimes, you do not respond to a voice directed at you; the panhandler on the sidewalk, a telemarketer, your child asking for the umpteenth time, your conscience… See? Made in God’s image, we share similar attributes with Him. Monotone apathetic conversation is usually tuned right out, as is whining, accusation, conspiratorial groveling, haughty and grandiose petitioning. Like the question asked by a professional marketer, what gets the Target’s attention? Psalms 10 gives us an answer. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.

The voice of God works silently at times. And like the Monarch, God has put the benchmark concept of eternity in our understanding, although dormant as the thought of a mountainous destination in Mexico is to the caterpillar before wings form. Our personality, character, environment and situation are incorporated into the discussion we are having with God… Our soul, with thoughts and responses pinging the mind of God and vice versa. This is why character matters. How do we live when no one is looking? Do we have a front stage-back stage lifestyle that dulls godly pings? God sounding you out and your ability to hear the clarity of His reverberation is fine-tuned by you.
Character is honed by exercise… Exercising righteousness. Do the right thing; choose the high road; be selfless when the situation calls for it. When you fall short, repent asking for forgiveness and asking for strength to overcome the temptation as it re-arises (because it will).

When I lived in a Third world country for a short time, initially I was an easy touch for beggars but then, I realized I did not have enough of anything – money, food, time to give to each and every petitioner. Some weeks in, my strategy of giving changed. When people crossed my path for a handout, their requests had to dent my discriminatory armor before I would give over. For example, a woman with three small children in tow had more hope than the cigarette smoking young buck. The man at the gate that was willing to pull weeds was sure to get money compared to the oily opportunist who changed pace toward me, crossing the street when he saw me emerge from my front door.
The Holy God’s criteria are not always my own but there is similarity in that He has criteria! Surely each of those Third World petitioners had genuine need; God says He knows our need before we ask. Unlike my finite compassion, wisdom and provision, our Creator has plenty and He is very generous.

The Jewish proverbs contain working advice for those wanting to hear God’s voice and looking for His guidance. Proverb 1:23 written to the person whom desires true direction: “Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. For all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” Actually, these sentences from the New Living Translation are bookends to the confusion and disaster that springs from not taking a bead from eternity’s perspective, from the Great God in Heaven who sees and knows all. In truth, God wants you to call to Him so that He can answer you, giving great and otherwise, inaccessible direction. Do you want to understand the voice of God? Like the lowly caterpillar, one must be transformed into a new creature and that, in Christ. Once metamorphosed, the journey to those heavenly mountains begins. 

Overcoming the impossible


Not everyone loves a challenge.
When I look for the challenges of the impossible, my mind goes blank.

It is impossible that my parents should fully reconcile after 50 years? They are in their 90’s for heaven’s sake! and yet…

What about becoming affluent in a season of financial upheaval? People will continue to buy and sell until the trumpet blows…

Health? My peers and I are more fragile physically, emotionally, mentally and it would seem spiritually. Is is impossible to think that these frailties cannot be reinvigorated? No!

On the national level; cannot our nation be revived even as other nations have been in the past? How many praying saints does it take to see this nation rescued from defeat? God knows but it cannot be overmuch, surely.
Image result for ray of light pictures
Internationally, there are thunderous clouds of strategic dark forces plotting and preparing but in truth, light always overcomes the night when a single ray breaches the horizon. Is it impossible to believe that individuals and organized groups would not respond to the task at hand? I think not.

Abuse, violation, despair and suicide that have become personal strongholds in this generation, wearying the soul to dullness and apathy, seem impossible to overcome. And yet, God is no respecter of person. He will deliver by unlocking the intangible prison doors… ‘Ask, seek, knock.’

Impossibilities are limited because with God, ‘all things are possible.’ And, that is why my mind went blank.