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Seeing Light in Light

November 6, 2018 Leave a comment

white flashI’m a very practical person, and I like for things to make sense, to be understandable, well-ordered. That’s why, whenever I’m reading the Bible and come across a verse that doesn’t make sense, it immediately gets my attention.

I read this verse in my Quiet Time this morning. Psalm 36:9, For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

It was the last part of the verse that got my attention because, normally, when believers speak of seeing God or drawing closer to God or sensing the presence of God, there is an emphasis on the fact that it’s during the dark days, when God is most easily perceived.

However, like many aspects of living in God’s Kingdom, man’s way of thinking is reversed. Living in God’s Kingdom means “the first shall be last.” God says if you want to be great, “be a servant.” He admonishes believers to “repay evil with good” and “love your enemies.”

Thus, even though it’s true that the light of His Presence can sometimes be more easily seen when darkness envelops our world, the more we walk in His Light, the more we see His Light.

That’s because, as John writes in I John 1:5, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” so, the closer we walk toward the source of light, the brighter the light becomes.

 

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Could I Have Your Attention, Please?

October 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Voices! We hear voices each and every day. They tell us to order this, pay attention to that, go there, come here.

Other voices post on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, our social media sites, wanting us to sign this, like that, watch that, play this.

Who merits our attention? Whose voice is the worthy voice?

A crippled old man appears in the gospel of John to answer these questions. (John 5:1-17).

He doesn’t have a name in the gospel, but everyone at the pool of Bethesda knew him. He’d been lying there for thirty-eight years, unable to take advantage of the pool’s healing properties. Then, Jesus stopped by one day, and, in one instantaneous moment, He took care of the crippled man’s lifelong problem.

Following Jesus’ instructions, the Man Made Whole gathered up his bedroll and walked away. Later, when asked by the religious leaders what he thought he was doing carrying around his bed on a Sabbath, he told them he was doing what he’d been instructed to do by the man who’d healed him, by the man who had enough authority to make him whole again.

The Man Made Whole was carrying his bed—in defiance of the religious authorities—because he recognized  someone who was able to give life to his withered limbs was someone with authority, someone worthy of his attention.

This same man, this Jesus of Nazareth, healed me one day. He healed me of a lifelong sin problem, a sickness so severe I was doomed for eternal destruction. He did so by taking sin’s disease on Himself and paying the price for it Himself. Now, he commands me to take up my life and live it for Him.

His  voice is a voice worth hearing.

Listen to His words from the rest of John 5,Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (25-26)

Who I Am NOT

July 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Who are youDuring an interview about Titus Ray, the main character in my Christian fiction series, I was asked to describe some of his personality traits. Instead, I explained what Titus is NOT.

He is NOT an extrovert. He is NOT a gun guy. He is NOT a family man.

By pinpointing what a person is NOT, a picture emerges about what a person is.

The apostle John does this in the Gospel of John. He says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” John 1:6-8.

Perhaps the most important attribute about John the Baptist was what he was NOT. He wasn’t the Messiah; He wasn’t the Light; He wasn’t our Savior. He had to reiterate this several times during his ministry. Every time he did so, he was able to tell people who he really was. He was a witness sent to point people to the real Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are other examples in Scripture of what people were NOT: Joseph was NOT an adulterous slave boy. David was NOT an intimidated shepherd. Daniel was NOT a cowered exile. Paul was NOT a timid follower of Christ.

How would you describe who you are NOT?

How you answer that question will enable you to see who you really are.

The NOT realization enabled John to know his role. He wasn’t the Light, but he was to tell about the Light.

Perhaps you are NOT a Sunday School teacher, but you can be a Sunday School member. Perhaps you are NOT a teacher of the Bible, but you can read the Bible. Perhaps you are NOT a prayer warrior, but you can pray.

“There was a man sent from God.” John 1:6. John was sent by God to be who he was;  not someone he was NOT.

Discover who you are NOT, and you’ll discover who you are.

Oh, gross!

March 3, 2018 Leave a comment

golden tapUntil recently, I never realized how gross the subject of purification could be. Then, I had to do some research about my refrigerator’s water filter, and I read about the stuff a water purifier is suppose to remove–things like cysts, radioactive particles, arsenic, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.

I found myself getting a little sick just reading about the stuff.

The same week I was researching pure water, I read this from James 4:8, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.”

God expects those who desire His presence in their lives to have their hearts pure, to be free from contaminants. However, pure hearts, like pure water, must go through a purification process before being pronounced clean. Like water from a dirty lake, our hearts don’t become pure on their own. Hearts must be cleansed by an outside source.

David, in Psalm 51:10, cried out to God for purification, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!”  Only when we cry out to God for purification does the process of heart cleansing truly begin. Luke, writing in Acts 15:9, says God does His act of purification “by faith.”

Water purification occurs when I connect a water filter to a water source. Heart purification occurs when, by faith, I connect my desire for purity with the source of purity, God Himself.

Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What Are Your Credentials?

January 8, 2018 2 comments

credibility Credibility. Politicians fake it. Pundits announce it. Actors crave it. Businesses sell it. However, when it comes right down to it, no one does credibility like God does credibility.

I was just about to finish up an interview with a book website about my Titus Ray Thriller series, when I was asked, “What are your credentials to write this series?” The question stumped me for a minute. Were they asking about my experience as a writer? Were they questioning my knowledge of the subject? Were they just wondering if I had enough creativity to write a series of books?

In the end, I answered the question by referring  to the premise of the series and how my main character was growing in his faith while working as a covert operative. I decided not to make the case for my own credentials because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do that.

God, on the other hand, can always do that. He has the credibility. When God comes to the prophet Jeremiah to give him His message to the people of Israel in Jeremiah 33:2, He says, “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name.” On what basis does God come to the prophet? He comes as THE ONE who made the earth.

Those are pretty good credentials. In fact, they’re GLORIOUS. The God who created the world around us, the universe and all that’s in it, from the smallest particle to the biggest galaxy, is someone who has credentials. And this is what our God tells Jeremiah to do in Jeremiah 33:4: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

With credentials like that, why wouldn’t we?

Afraid of God?

October 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Fear God 1The notion of being afraid of God seems foreign to those of us who view God as the Lover of our Soul, who sing of His blessings, and who trust Him with our eternal soul.

Yet, one can’t read the Bible without encountering the oft-repeated admonition to “fear the Lord.” Throughout the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of God’s children receiving a blessing because they fear God. Also, because of fearing God, they do what He commands them to do. (Genesis 42:18; Exodus 1:17; Exodus 18:21)

Fear of God  is not just an Old Testament concept, though. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Nevertheless, there are times in my life when I’ve struggled with the concept of what it means to fear God. That’s why, when I recently came across a definition of fearing God in Drew Dyck’s book, Yawning At Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, I spent time meditating on it.

Dyck says, “To fear the Lord is to be grounded in reality, to have an accurate view of God’s holy nature and his awesome power.”

Fearing God doesn’t mean we cower in His presence—like a dog who knows he’s displeased his master—nor does it mean we run and hide instead of joyfully approaching Him. Instead, we embrace the fear of God because we recognize His to-be-feared characteristics, such as His all-powerful wrath toward sin, His unending sovereignty, and His unapproachable holiness, are an accurate understanding of who God really is.

The  fearfulness of God is a reality, even if we don’t like it very much.

Having a true picture of God is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

I live in Norman,  Oklahoma. That means I know what’s it’s like to watch a mile-wide tornado approaching my city. It’s a fearful thing. However, if I’m hunkered down inside an indestructible storm shelter, I’m able to be in awe of the storm’s fierceness without fearing for my life.

We should fear God. We should  be in awe of His wrath and His judgment. Yet, at the same time, we should have peace, knowing He is shielding us from wrath, sheltering us in His arms forever.

Who’s in Charge?

September 20, 2017 2 comments

In ChargeAs I was viewing posts on a writer’s site describing the results of methods used to advertise a new book’s release, I ran into a common theme–frustration and discouragement.

Some authors lamented their publishers weren’t being aggressive enough in advertising their latest release. Others felt their own methods had failed to generate sufficient sales. Yet, both were engaged in time-tested efforts book publishers usually employed to market books, getting them in the hands–and, thus, the hearts–of readers.

Since all my spy novels are in the Christian fiction category, what interested me most about these posts were comments by Christian authors. Several of them posted they had felt led of the Lord to write their book, yet many posted they weren’t happy about they way the  book was selling. Did that mean they felt He wasn’t in command of how their book was selling, even though God had been in charge of writing their book?

Sometimes, when it appears God is leading us in one direction and we commit to that course of action, the results are not what we anticipated. We expected success, and we experienced failure–or, at least, less than successful results.

I believe this is a common misconception when it comes to feeling led of the Lord to do something.

Just because I felt led of the Lord to initiate a project, support a cause, or engage in some personal pursuit, and His hand was on me in the doing of it, that doesn’t mean, when it comes to the results, I’m suddenly in charge.

God is still in charge when it comes to all outcomes–not me and not you. Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

This is a common theme throughout the Scriptures, but as self-sufficient, self-determining human beings, we failed to remember or perhaps just refuse to heed, what the Lord is saying to us on the subject of who’s in charge.

Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

What are your plans today? Will God be responsible for the results or will you decide to assign the blame–or maybe even the credit–to yourself?

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