Friday, February 24, 2017

Walking (and Driving!) by Faith

It struck me on my latest road trip: we put a lot of faith in our technology. We trust that our GPS will take us where we need to go, that it's turn cues are correct and the streets it sends us down are the ones we need to be on. We rely on this piece of technology. Even though it can- and occasionally does- get stuff wrong, we generally trust that everything will be okay when using it. 

If we can put such faith in fallible gadgets, why do we so often fail to extend the same (or even greater!) faith towards God? So often our attitude is that we are displaced in life, that God couldn't possibly have meant for us to be on the path we are on. That latest life event just had to have been a miscalculation on our route, right? 

"...'My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." - Hebrews 10:38-39

No, my friend. God does not miscalculate like a GPS unit. Even when it feels like you're taking the long way or completely off-roading it, God is using it to shape our lives and put us in a place that will ultimately lead us to glorify Him.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Love Songs

Why are there so many love songs? Because musicians and songwriters often compose about what they know. It's only natural that the things and people we know and experience the most deeply will influence the ways we express ourselves. What influences your thoughts, writings, and what you sing of the most? Are those things worth your time and brainpower?

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.
- Psalm 100

Friday, February 10, 2017

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Every time I look back at my trip to Yellowstone National Park, I get to this photograph and the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" starts to run through my head. Old Faithful is the park's most famous geyser, and it more or less lives up to it's name. It tends to go off around particular times each day and draws a notable crowd of watchers. Despite it's title, the park rangers told me that over the years it's timing has shifted and you can't quite rely on exact times for it to blow anymore. That's the world for you; reliability only goes so far. 

What is truly reliable? God. The lyrics below are deeply rooted in scripture. Take the time to ponder and appreciate the facts behind them.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

 “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,    your faithfulness to the clouds. - Psalm 36:5

Friday, February 3, 2017

Reaction Alert

Sometimes, though we have very good intentions and generally do trust God, we can miss things. Not only that, but we can easily allow our reactions to take us over. The story of Balaam illustrates that rather well. It begins with him proclaiming his loyalty to God:
"But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more." Numbers 22:18
As the narrative goes on, he encounters God's providence, but despite his trust and loyalty to Him, it doesn't strike Balaam at first that perhaps this obstacle has been sent by the Lord. All he sees is his donkey acting out- and even when the animal speaks, he is too taken by his angry reaction to stop and ask how and why his animal is speaking to him.
"When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face." - Numbers 22:27-31
What can we learn here? God works in all sorts of ways. Sometimes He is working in our hearts and minds as we pray and read the Bible. Sometimes He is working through our conscience. But He also can and does work through circumstances. Look at life in this light- even the most annoying obstacles can play a part in His will.