2 Images of God You May Have Forgotten

SUN & SHIELD!img_9666

The Psalmist describes God as a sun. There is some clear imagery here. The sun is our source of light, warmth, and life. Additionally, it’s the center of attention.

We should be giving God all our attention all of the time.

Next he is a shield. God is our constant protection. He gives his angels authority and responsibility over us.

We need to trust his protection.

All of us, even those who are exceptionally strong in the faith, benefit from this regular reminder.

God is our life & sustenance….
AND he’s our impenetrable fortress of protection.

Do our lives reflect that we believe this?

 

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Would You Take a Selfie With God?

No matter how old you get, I think you’ll agree that none of us will ever forget the friendships we had in High School. Those were formative years of our adolescence. And if you were anything like me, you had different friendships.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about!

I had 2-3 friends that my parents didn’t care for. They would strongly encourage me to stay clear of them. “That guy’s bad news, Brent” they would say. “They’re going to just get you into trouble.”

Generally speaking, they were wrong. One friend, however, they were dead right on with…..but that’s a different blog post 🙂

I digress.

Have you ever viewed God as a friend? You know, like the friends you associated with in school? Well, this thought entered my mind recently and I ended up mulling over it a while.

selfie.002

Whether you already have a relationship with God or not, I think this concept of the Creator of the Universe actually wanting to have a real friendship with you and I is difficult to grasp. I mean….he’s God! But he still calls us ‘friends.’

Anyway, the more I thought about it I determined that there really are two types of friend that God offers to us. See what you think.

Friend #1 – That friend you have a lot in common with. You have so much fun just being together and in each other’s company. It doesn’t even matter what you’re doing. You really look forward to spending time together. This is the friend you’ve taken selfies with in about HALF of your Instagram feed.
Friend #2 – The person you work to build a relationship with because of what you can gain from them. Maybe because of who they know, what they have, or the position they hold. This friendship is not the kind that just evolves naturally. It requires initiative, but the investment is worth it!
I would argue that there are aspects of both in God. The longer we know him and spend real time with him, the more comfortable we become. The more we learn that he really is very relational.
Additionally, I’d be willing to bet that God would take the most epic selfie! (we just might have to edit the brightness down afterward)

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3 Hours On The Road With God In Wyoming

Have you ever experienced God in a completely opposite way than you were expecting?

Recently, my wife, daughter and I were relocating to Yakima, WA from Colorado Springs. As with any significant road trip involving three full days of travel and a 26 ft. moving truck, day 1 plagued me with anxiousness. I prefer not to travel after dark (which we were), and once we crossed over into Wyoming the weather turned on us. Not with snow and ice as you might assume in this region in November. No, mother nature decided to expose us to a bit of WIND. Specifically, 65+ MPH sustained winds!

Here’s a picture of the exact message we encountered as we approached the first town in Wyoming…

wyoming wind

At first, I was drawn to the ’65+MPH wind’ part of the sign. Soon thereafter, I experienced the frightening reality that I was indeed traveling in a ‘light high profile vehicle.’ I wanted to stop for the night, but the forecast for the next day predicted even worse winds. I had no real choice in the situation. We had to just push through. So, I continued on…one mile at a time at just 45 MPH. Any faster and the wind would have flipped the truck on it’s side!

Needless to say, we managed to get through Wyoming safely. But not on our own ability. During the worst 3 hours of the trip I prayed. It started off with me pleading with God to protect myself, all of our belongings, and my wife and daughter traveling behind me in the car.

What happened next was simply incredible! 

God transformed my heart. I was still white-knuckled and concerned the whole way, but He gave me the ability and heart to start praying for others. That’s right, I was praying over dozens of other people I know in the midst of my own fearful moments. Let me clarify, this is NOT a pat on the back for me. This was entirely a supernatural intervention.

This quote sums up my time with God nicely.

Yancey.001

More specifically, God was keeping company with me on this journey. As we neared our stopping point that night I felt as if God was saying to me “This was good. Let’s do this more often.” Personally, I have come a long way in my practice of prayer and general pursuit of God in the past 5 years. But I have so much more to learn and grow toward.

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11 

 

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You Cannot Google-Search God

Well, not God himself…but his greatness.  Check this out.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.  (Psalm 145:3) 

Have you ever searched the internet for a specific website or topic, and you just get this page error?  Well, the same thing occurs if you attempt to Google search ‘God’s Greatness.’

404

Unsearchable: a primitive root meaning to be nothing or not exist.

When the Psalmist claims that God’s greatness is unsearchable, he literally means that the ability to gain full, comprehensive understanding of all that defines the greatness of God does not exist!  You and I can scratch the surface of that understanding and we can experience a portion of that greatness in our own lives and story.  But to search and find all of his greatness?  My friend, it’s just not possible.

Why?

Simply because his greatness is so vast and astounding that our finite mortal brains cannot contain it.  It would be like trying to save 5 terabytes of valuable family photos on a 1 gigabyte flash drive.  It would be impossible!

So, why is this a good thing?  I’ll answer that with a question.  Do you want to serve and worship a god who has limits?  One who you can easily define and contain inside a box?

I didn’t think so 🙂

I’ll leave you with this final thought.  Just because God’s greatness is unsearchable does not mean we should not attempt the search anyway.  The journey to searching the greatness of God leads to a clearer understanding of the ‘HEART’ of God.  The only way to discover new things about God’s heart is to enter into the abyss of the unsearched.

 

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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How To Listen When God Begins To Speak

I’m just being real with all of you here.  In the past 5 days, God has intentionally placed the same passage / theme right in front of me.  Different messages.  Different devotional books.  Some might chalk it up to coincidence after 2 or even 3 times.  But FIVE?

I wrote about it just a few days ago when it first hit me.   Have you been there before?

When God sends me multiple signs, speaking the same thing to me over and over…..my natural instinct is to work hard at trying to figure out WHAT and WHY behind the message.  But I continue to learn that this is not usually effective.

Here’s what I AM learning, though still not perfect.

focus.002

  • God rarely yells.  He whispers.  What do you and I tend to do when someone is whispering at us.  We cup our hands next to our ear, turn our head toward them, and try hard to block out all other distractions to decifer what is being communicated.
  • God’s timing is NOT going to accommodate our need to know now.  We try to figure out what God is saying and then get frustrated when we don’t understand right away.  He reveals whatever it is to us at the right time…NOT the desired time!

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4 Ways to Ensure Your GOALS Don’t Become Your GOD

I don’t want to WORSHIP my fitness practices (goals).

But I also don’t want to go back to worshipping food either.  aka: donuts, candy, cake, soda, ice-cream… (I think you get the picture)

We all know these people.  Their health initiatives/practices are their identity.  It’s who they are known as.  I don’t want to become one of those people.  I’m a pastor and a strong follower of Jesus…THAT needs to be my identity.

o-JUNK-FOOD-facebook

This was me about six weeks ago…only not a woman.  Sweets were a distraction.  They were easy, cheap, and tasted great.  Today, I can honestly say that I rarely battle the indulgent temptations that used to cause me to gravitate toward unhealthy things.  I’m enjoying exercising.  I’m doing great at hitting my daily health goals.  And that’s awesome!

But I’ve noticed something.

My quiet time with Jesus in the mornings has been affected.  Nothing serious.  But it could easily become a problem if I allow it.

What I’m really getting at is this.  How do we continue to work diligently at our personal goals AND NOT have our Spiritual growth suffer along the way?  Here are 4 things I believe you and I can (should) do regularly to T.E.S.T. where our priorities are.

Think | Right now, think about it and really ask, “Is _______ taking priority over my Spiritual growth and life?”  It starts by honestly asking ourselves this.

Evaluate | If something is out of order, why?  How did this happen?  Really take time to pray about this, because knowing the answer to this will become key in getting things back in alignment.

Scheme | Take what we know from that evaluation time and scheme a plan.  Somehow, we need to move forward with our goals differently so that we can avoid the mistakes that landed us here. Change things up a little.  Same goals, altered approach.

Tweak | (careful, not Twerk)  Similar to scheme, but this is taking that step.  This is making the new plan a reality.  Also, share your new plan with someone.  Ask them for accountability.  Trust me, this really helps.

For me, this simply means I don’t go into social media areas at all in the mornings until AFTER I’ve had my quiet time.  After I’ve at least read a devotional thought and prayed for my day.

Call To Action!  Has this been you?  What would you add to this list?  May you achieve your personal goals, and may Jesus walk intimately with you every step of the way.

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photo credit: www.vegansgoraw.com

Is God Asking You to do the Illogical?

Doesn’t Jesus know we’re professionals?  When we’ve tried something a dozen times the RIGHT way without positive results, why does He often insist that we do something illogical?

photo by: www.bartaste.com
photo by: http://www.bartaste.com

I thought of this after reflecting on the account of Luke 5 recently.  You’ve heard this one before.  Peter, the professional fisherman, makes it clear that they have worked hard fishing all night.  They caught nothing.  It just didn’t make sense to cast out again…..and on the opposite side of the boat.  But they did out of simple obedience to Jesus.

Guess what?  Overwhelming results!

Why?  Not because of their hard work, knowledge or experience of fishing, or great ideas.  No.  The enormous blessing came because they did precisely what Jesus instructed and exactly when He said to.

That’s it.  His ways and reasons often appear to be highly illogical to us.  That is where faith comes in.  If we truly believe in God and that His ways really are superior to ours, then why is it that His requests often cause us to question His reasoning?

Are you in ministry?  If so, you are likely to encounter at least one moment (if you haven’t already) where God proposes a method, vision, or event that sounds like He is totally off His rocker…..or throne.  When this happens, you have two choices.

1. You can roll up your nets and call it a night.

– OR –

2. You can give the creator of the universe the benefit of the doubt and try it His way.  It may seem crazy, unorthodox, or even impossible.  But if it came from God, well…..you’d be crazy NOT to give it a whirl.

As always, comments are appreciated.  

Two key points in this passage.

1. We do ministry the way Jesus tells us to.

2. We have one overarching purpose…..to point the attention of others to Jesus.