Please Send Someone Else

It’s true.

I’m reading Exodus 4 and Moses – one of the major ancient Patriarchs of Faith – asks God to “Please send someone else.”

What?  God has heard the cries of his people and he chose Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and Moses replies, “Send someone else?”  Moses went through the whole burning bush experience and he still says “Send someone else?”

Do I ever do this?

Do you?

I think one of the areas that many of us will ask God “Please send someone else” is when God gives us an opportunity to share our faith and share our story.  “Oh, I’m not sure what to say.”  “We might get into a complicated conversation and I won’t have the answers.”

“There is someone else who would be better at this than me.”

Nope.  All believers are called to be witnesses of what God has done in their lives.  All of us.  Not just Billy Graham or your pastors.

I love it when people around me start asking spiritual questions because that means God is moving in their lives.  He is opening their eyes and softening their hearts – making them think about him.  Even if the person expresses their searching aggressively like, “How could you possibly believe this stuff?”, God is moving in their brain, stirring things up.

By the way, I have to smile when someone tells me they are not ‘into organized religion’ because then I tell them I’m not, either.  But I’m totally into having a personal relationship with God.  And God is very clear in his Word that part of having a relationship with him is also having relationships with other Christians – a spiritual family.  These spiritual families can meet anywhere – not just in church buildings.  My closest spiritual families have been my Bible study small groups through the years.  I am still a part of one that has been meeting at 6 am on Thursday mornings for over 23 years.  Family.

When people around you or me show any type of interest in God or ask any kind of question, that is God inviting us to show his love to this person, be a witness to what God has done in our life and plant a seed.  We can be authentic when we don’t know all the answers and admit we’re on the journey of faith ourselves – seeking God and growing in our knowledge and love for him.  That’s where faith comes in – believing and trusting even when we don’t understand it all.

So the next time someone around one of us starts talking about ‘spirituality’ or God, let’s share a short, recent story about an experience we have had with God, trusting that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words.  God will be pleased and he will bless our efforts.

Let’s not say, “Please send someone else.”

Please help us be faithful witnesses to your power and grace and love, Abba Father.

When Bad Things Happen….

to good people.

It’s hard to understand.

We like to ask ‘why’?

I like to ask ‘why’?

And then I read about Joseph’s trials in Genesis and the answer is pretty clear.  A long list of bad things happened to Joseph and God worked to bring good out of those bad things.  Joseph’s faith and wisdom grew as he trusted God through it all.

I don’t believe that God caused all of these bad things to happen to Joseph or to you and me.   Some of them happened because we live in a world where we all sin.  We pay the consequences for our sins as well as other people’s sins.  And Satan is working relentlessly to entice people to sin.  He is creating a lot of our trials.  I don’t understand why some people get mad at God when bad things happen – they should get mad Satan who is doing the dirty work.

Yes, God is in total control so he could stop them.  But we choose to sin.  Other people choose to sin.  There are consequences for those bad choices. When we, as believers, get to where we’re going (heaven) we will no longer sin and there will be no more negative consequences.

you-intended-to-harm-meHere on earth – when God is with us like he was with Joseph – he can use these consequences so that something good comes from them.

This truth makes the account of Joseph’s life very important to me.

His brothers sold him into slavery but – wait.

Then he’s put in charge of the top Egyptian official’s house.

The official’s wife lies to get Joseph in trouble and Joseph is thrown in jail.

But – wait.  God was with him and he was put in charge of the prison.  Joseph helped the Butler and Baker get out of prison – good news for the Butler, bad news for the Baker.  The Butler forgot about Joseph for 2 years until Pharaoh had a dream and Joseph was called out of prison to interpret it.  Pharaoh was so impressed that he made Joseph 2d in command, right under Pharaoh.

From that position, Joseph was responsible for saving the lives of a whole nation.  A serious famine was coming and God spoke a warning through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream.

God was with Joseph through all of the bad things that happened to him, making sure that he ended up exactly where he needed to be in order to fulfill his destiny.

Joseph also saved the lives of his brothers who sold him into slavery.  This indicates the level of maturity and faith Joseph had acquired through his trials.  What the brothers had done was evil, but God used it for good purposes.  Joseph could never have predicted the part he was going to play in the huge famine that was coming.  God knew. And he was with Joseph every step of the way.

Joseph’s story encourages me as I watch God bring good out of the tragic death of my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

And God has been with me every step of the way as I go through grief and pain and loss.

Just like he is with you when you experience trials.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Standing Against the Flow

It’s hard to stand against the pull of popular opinion.  It’s difficult to say ‘no’ when so many people around me are saying ‘yes’.  It’s no fun to stand up for what I know is right when the majority of my culture thinks it’s all ‘ok’.

But there are times and there are situations where I need to stand, even when it’s hard and difficult and definitely no fun.  I need to stand.

You need to stand.

Genesis 37 gives us a good example of what happens when people who want to do the right thing don’t stand up against the crowd.  Reuben was Jacob’s oldest son.  He should have stopped the whole nonsense when his brothers started talking about killing Joseph.  The discussion was bad enough but then Reuben actually let the rest of his brothers throw Joseph in the cistern, leaving him there to die.  The Bible tells us that Reuben was ‘secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father’. Genesis 37:22b

Too little, too late, Reuben!

While Reuben was distracted with something else, the rest of his brothers sold Joseph to some slave traders passing by.  When Reuben got back, Joseph was gone.

Should have, could have, would have…….but Reuben didn’t.  He didn’t stop his brothers right at the beginning so he missed his chance to do what was right.  As the oldest, he had an opportunity to stand up to his brothers and help teach them what is right.  But he missed it.

I can miss my chance to do what is right, too, if I follow the crowd when they are going down a crooked path.

Reuben didn’t do or say anything to stop them so he became part of the group that did this despicable thing.  He became part of the problem.

How often to do I miss my chance to stand up for what is right?

How often do you?

Please give us courage to stand up for what you tell us is right, Abba Father.

I Have a Limp

Why is life so hard?  Why do bad things happen to me?  Why have I been bombarded by tough stuff?

I have wrestled with God often about the death of my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police officer, who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  That’s the day my world exploded…….and then crumbled.  I had so many questions.  So much grief.  So many tears.

I did a lot of talking and questioning and struggling with God as my mind and heart gradually came to terms with the huge hole in my life.

I don’t think this wrestling is unusual.  In fact, as I read in Genesis 32 of God’s Word about Jacob wrestling with God over 4000 years ago, I can relate.  They  physically wrestled all night.  God and I have gone many mental rounds over these last 4 1/2 years.

Have you ever wrestled with God in your mind all night?   Thoughts swirling.  Stuck in frustration.  Questions flying around.  Emotions rolling.  Tears flowing.

When the sun rose for Jacob in the morning, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel ‘because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  Genesis 32:28b.

Then God blessed Israel (Jacob).  God also wrenched Israel’s hip out of its socket while they were wrestling and Israel limped the rest of his life – evidence of his successful wrestling with God.

Like Israel, God has blessed me and given me answers and understanding as a result of our wrestling matches.  I have learned more about how much he loves me these last 4 1/2 years than I knew all of my earlier years on this planet.  I have rebuilt my life on the facts that God is good, he is always right, nothing is impossible for him and he is working everything out for my good.  I have learned to filter everything that happens to me in this world through these facts.  This has totally changed my perspective and significantly increased my level of trust in him.

God has also changed one of the names I go by – now I am a ‘Survivor’.  I  have evidence in my life that I have successfully wrestled with God.  With God walking beside me, I have overcome my questions and frustrations.  He has given me a ‘limp’.

God has helped me experience his love and faithfulness in the deepest part of my soul.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Lies and Trickery

Saying things that aren’t true in order to get what we want.

Changing the facts a little to avoid dealing with the consequences for choices we have made.

Making a situation look and sound like something it’s not in order to get our way.

Lies and trickery.  This all sounds pretty bad when it’s listed out like this.  None of us really do any of this – do we?  Are we tempted?

I have a strategic mind which means all of the dots in my life connect.  I can see how each choice and decision connect to each other and where they are going to take me.  I can see how I got here and I can tell you where the dots are going.  It’s almost like being able to tell the future.

I am aware that not everyone’s brain works like this and, if I wanted to, I could use this to manipulate others into doing what I want them to do.  Trickery. Deception.  I don’t want to be a manipulator so I’ve worked hard at not using this strength to ‘trick’ anyone.

I don’t want people around me to feel like they’ve been manipulated into doing what I want.

When I read Abraham and Sarah’s story in Genesis, I definitely don’t want to leave a legacy of deception and trickery to my family and friends like they did.  Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife.  Sarah manipulated Abraham into having a son with her servant and then she decided both of them needed to leave.  Their children and grandchildren continued this tradition of trickery as they lied to and tricked each other over hundreds of years for personal gain.

As we read through Genesis, we’re able to see all the pain and separation and distrust and suspicion that this legacy caused …….. from generation to generation.

I don’t want that in my family and relationships.  So I choose to be honest and truthful – even when it’s hard.

What about you?

Please help me avoid dishonesty and deception, Abba Father.

Tunnel Vision

I’ve had it.  Have you?

I think it happens to all of us at times – especially when our emotions are running high.  When I see only what I want to see.  I notice only what I’m expecting, not what is actually happening.  When my perception clouds the facts, I can go down a path of thinking that is not right, it is not helpful, and it is not true.

If I don’t realize what I’m doing when I’m in a tunnel, I can go to a dangerous place which creates havoc in my life.

So I can relate with Hagar as I read her story in Genesis.  Abraham banished her and their son, Ismael, out into the desert with food and a container of water.  Because she was focused on this one container of water, she felt that all hope was gone when it was empty.

She prepared to die.

She forgot all about reaching out to the Creator of all Things – who created water.  His angel had spoken to her and guided her before but Hagar was in the tunnel – not seeing for any way out except for death.

God heard Ishmael’s cries.  “Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well full of water.”  Genesis 21:19.

What?  Was the well there all along and she just wasn’t seeing it?  Was she so lost in despair and discouragement that she didn’t even look around?  Or did God create the well for her?

We don’t know – either way, God provided for her.

And he provides for me constantly.  I need to remember that because, like Hagar, there are situations where I get tunnel vision, especially when emotions are involved.  Especially when something looks big and bad. When I’m lost in my incorrect thinking, I need to remember to reach out to the One who has all the answers.

Please open my eyes, Abba Father.

Branded

Yes, the truth is that Jesus is the only way to get to Heaven.  But he is standing with his arms wide open to everyone.  His gift of grace is available to all, no exceptions.

The Old Testament is mainly focused on the history of God’s chosen people – the Israelites who became the Jews.  Yet, even in the beginning of the Old Testament, we see evidence of God’s ultimate plan to offer salvation to everyone.  God directs Abraham to circumcise all males in his household, “including those born in your household and bought with your money.” (slaves). “It will be a sign of the covenant between me and you.” God explained. Genesis 17:13

God’s promise to Abraham was that he would bless him and ‘greatly increase your numbers.’   God promised to make Abraham fruitful.  God promised that he would have a unique relationship with Abraham and all of Abraham’s descendants for the generations to come.

This circumcision sign was not limited to Abraham’s blood relatives.  I can imagine that Abraham had male slaves of all sizes and shapes and colors and God clearly indicated that they all had a part in his promise.

They didn’t know but God knew that he was sending his son, Jesus, to save all people who would put their faith in him.  And those people would become Abraham’s children by faith – Children of the Promise.  I’m one of those people and so are you if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior.

On a related note – some women get all itchy about ‘men’ being specifically talked to in the Bible.  I’m a female but I’m clear about how God feels about me and I know God is speaking to me, even when the Bible says ‘men’.  I usually substitute ‘mankind’ in my head.  It’s also clear in the New Testament how Jesus respects and appreciates and loves the women in his life.  There’s nothing to get itchy about.

On the subject of circumcision which seems like a totally male thing, God tells us through the Paul in the second chapter of Romans that what God is looking for is an internal circumcision of the spiritual heart of the person who believes.  This circumcision of the heart means we are cut out from the world to love and serve the One True God.

All believers – male and female.

Branded by a heart sold out to God.

Thank you for your gift of grace which is offered to everyone, Abba Father.

 

 

He Keeps His Promises

You and I are witnesses to this sign telling us that God is still keeping the promise he made over 4000 years ag0.

God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all the living creatures of every kind.  Never again with the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  Genesis 9: 12 – 16.

Thank you for being trustworthy, Abba Father.

What Would I Do?

How would I respond if God asked me to build a gigantic boat in my back yard while my neighbors ridiculed me for my foolishness?

Would I willingly bring my entire family onto this boat filled with wild animals and poisonous reptiles?

Would I complain as the rain fell continuously for 40 days with the boat rocking wildly as it was lifted on the water high over the mountains?

How would I feel as the world as I knew it was wiped out below me?  Fearful?  Worried?

It took the waters 150 days to recede.  5 months.  Would I be calm as the boat now rocked down and down and down….to whatever was left below me?  Would I be anxious?  Scared?

After spending over a year on this boat, would I feel ready to face what was coming as the it once again settled on land?  Would I be happy to get off the boat?  Concerned about what I was going to find when the door opened?

I wonder how Noah felt when all of this actually happened to him?

As I read this historical account in chapters 6, 7 and 8 of the Bible, all God ultimately tells me is ‘God said, Noah did.’  It’s clear that Noah trusted God through every step of this monumental struggle.   And when he finally got off the boat, the first thing he did was build an altar and make a sacrifice to honor God.

Noah’s faithfulness inspires me.

His perseverance amazes me.

His level of trust in God challenges me.

It’s awesome to know that the God who guided Noah, loved Noah and provided for Noah is the same God who guides me, loves me and provides for me.

God always keeps his promises.

Thank you, Abba Father.

In Control

Do you work really hard to be in control? Do you get frustrated or angry when this world throws you a curve ball and things don’t go your way?

This used to describe me. I am a planner and a strategical thinker so my natural tendency is to try to organize the world around me according to my desired outcome.

I wanted control.

I was gradually learning what a waste of time it was to try to control everything around me when I had a defining moment. I learned the hard, painful truth about how much I am NOT in control. My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016. Reality slapped me in the face. The only thing I’m in control of is my response to what happens to me.

You are not in control, either.  Trying to control other people or circumstances will use up your time and energy on something that just is not possible.

Does it surprise you that this issue of wanting to be be in control goes way back to the Garden of Eden?

Satan tempted Eve to eat the apple which was a sin by saying, “God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.  Genesis 3:5.

You will be like God.  

Let’s face it.  When you and I are trying to make everything around us work out the way we want it to, we are trying to be like God.

That’s God’s job, not our’s.  He is all-knowing and all-powerful and perfect.  We are not.  Far from it.  We prove it over and over as we mess up our lives by trying to make everything happen like we want.

I have stopped trying to be in control.  I’m done.  It’s all a facade’ anyway.  I know who really is in control and I claim my dependence on him.   My life is in God’s hands.   It’s a great place to be – filled with strength and love and peace.

Thank you, Abba Father.