Bringing Order out of Chaos

Too much to do.

New things getting added to the list every hour.

It’s hard to focus.

I’m drowning!

Ever felt that way?  I used to feel that way pretty regularly – until I learned an important lesson about my Father God.  He is a God of order.  When I invite God into my chaos, he provides clear priorities and organization.

I love the historical account of Moses with his father-in-law, Jethro, in Exodus 18.   Jethro saw that Moses had large numbers of people coming to him all day every day to settle their disputes.  It was a great opportunity for Moses to teach them about God and direct them in the way God would want them to go.  The problem was that a crowd of people stood around Moses each day, waiting a long time to get help with their issues.  Moses was becoming tired and overwhelmed.

I know that feeling, Moses!

Seeing this, Jethro sat Moses down to share some of his experience and wisdom with him.  He told Moses, “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.”  There was a better way.  We would say today that the process Moses was using was not ‘sustainable’.  Moses was going to ‘burn out’.

Any of that sound familiar?

Jethro suggested that Moses pick some honest, capable men who feared God and ask them to take care of the smaller, more common issues.  Then these men could bring the more major cases to Moses.  So smart!  This way the men handling the smaller disputes would hear what Moses had to say about the more major concerns and they could gradually learn how to handle these more difficult issues as well.

Jethro also showed great wisdom when he told Moses to consult with God to make sure this is what God wanted him to do.  Super smart!  I have learned to always go to God for confirmation when I get Godly counsel from someone.   The people I am  talking to are just people with their own perspectives and bias’.   God always gives me confirmation if the advice I am hearing fits into his plan.

Moses asked and God confirmed, so Moses did what Jethro suggested.

Jethro and Moses were creating the process that we know today as our judicial system.  And it reveals to us that our God is a God of organization and structure.  He is not messy or forgetful.  He is not lazy or late.

God brings order to my thinking when I am confused.  He clarifies my priorities when I am overwhelmed.  He helps me focus on what he is asking me to do rather than all the other ‘good’ things I could do.  He shines a bright light on what is best, helping me make decisions and making it easier to say ‘no’ when something would distract me from the path he wants me to take.

Do you need God to create order in your life?  If so, ask him and listen.  Be ready to obey…..

and then blessed.

Thank you for bringing order out of my chaos, Abba Father.

It’s a Plague

“Let my people go.” God told Moses to say these words to Pharaoh several times throughout the book of Exodus.  But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he did not listen to God.  As a result, Pharaoh’s people experienced multiple plagues which built up to the painful and tragic deaths of all of their firstborn.

Looking at our culture, I can see a lot of hard hearts that are turned away from God.  I can see several modern-day plagues as well.

The Plague of Broken Families – the divorce rate just keeps rising and now large numbers of kids are being raised by single parents.  Many of these parents are trying their hardest but how much better it would be if they had a  loving partner to share the responsibilities so that their kids could experience all of the blessings of growing up in an unbroken family.

The Plague of ‘It’s All OK’ – it’s all ok as long as you don’t get caught.  Integrity is a lost value in our culture – we lost it at the same time we lost a correct sense of right and wrong.  Morality is a scary word to use these days.

The Plague of Emptiness – people are working harder and longer to pay off a mountain of debt that just keeps growing as they buy things they think will make them happy.  After buying the next thing and the initial happiness wears off, they start to look for the next thing that will make them happy, never really addressing the God-sized emptiness in their soul.  It’s not surprising that the list of things we can legally use to try to fill this hole is growing.

 The Plague of Fear – I have been truly amazed this last year by the level of constant fear I see in some people’s lives.  Yes, a worldwide pandemic can be a scary thing but God is in control.  He is good and perfect. He wants the best for those who have put their faith in him and he is working all things out for our good.  Yes, be careful.  Yes, be wise.  But those who trust in God don’t need to be afraid.

The answer to saving our families, bringing back the value of integrity, being whole and not living in fear is God.  The answer has always been God and will always be God.

Please soften our hearts towards you, Abba Father.

Do You Feel It?

In Exodus, we are witness to an epic battle between Moses and Pharaoh – actually God and Pharaoh – and Pharaoh is losing badly.

By chapter 10, God had sent 8 plagues causing wide-spread disease and hardship for the people, death and destruction for livestock and crops.  But Pharaoh continued to refuse to let God’s people go.  And the intensity of the plagues continued to grow.  It’s significant to read that the 9th plague – worse than the other 8 –  was darkness.  Darkness spread across Egypt for 3 days.  It was so dark, they couldn’t see anyone else around them.

Pitch black for 3 days.

Can you imagine the depression, anxiety and fear?  This plague affected their minds – it was worse than the rest.  Because we can’t go somewhere else to get away from our minds.   We can’t avoid thinking.  They couldn’t stop feeling the oppressive darkness – the void where light and warmth used to be.

Pitch black for 3 days.

I love the fact that during these three days God provided light where the Israelites lived.  I visualize a huge spotlight shining down from heaven onto the Israelites.my-people-live-in-the-light

The light of God’s love.

God’s care.

Light for God’s favorite people.

Bright, warm, good.

Those of us who trust in Jesus know how this feels because we live in this light every day.  It’s the light of God’s love and care for his favorite people – those who have accepted salvation through Jesus.  Through my relationship with God, I have watched him faithfully turn any darkness in my life into light.

He  wants to transform your darkness into light as well. He wants to fill any void in your life with warmth and goodness.

His spotlight of grace, strength and wholeness shines down on me everyday, filling my mind and heart with his love.  I feel it.

Do you feel it?

Thank you for your light, Abba Father.

What’s in Your Hand?

What do you already have?

Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the right skills or experience or knowledge to do what God is asking me to do.  That’s how Moses felt when God told him to go back to Egypt to free his people from slavery.

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me..?”  Exodus 4:1.   I can hear the worry and concern in Moses’ voice, can’t you?

And then God asked Moses to look at what he already had in his hand and use that to do what God was asking him to do.  Moses was holding his staff in his hand.  As the story of the Exodus unfolds we will read of Moses regularly using his staff in order to do what God is asking him to do.

Applying this to my life, I need to consider what I already have and figure out how to use it to serve God.  What is God asking me to do and what has he already given me in order to accomplish it?  I have a car.  I have a house with chairs.  I have leadership and writing skills.  If I turn off the TV and close down my computer and lay down my phone, I also have time.

When God asked me to start writing this blog, I was already writing a different blog.  So I had everything in my hands to do what he wanted me to do except for time.   I had to take a couple of things out of my already packed schedule to fit the new blog in but God blessed my efforts.  Here I am, 9 years later, still reading through the entire Bible every year and sharing the journey with you in my blog.

I have learned that it’s important to remember when God tells me he wants me to do something that I’m not doing it alone.  God and his supernatural power is working with me – making the impossible possible.  When I focus on what I can do, God takes care of the rest.

The questions God has for us today are – what is he asking us to do and what can we use that is already in our hands to do it.

Please open our eyes, Abba Father.

 

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.