How Would I Respond?

What would I do 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.  Five 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 Genesis in 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? Be honest with yourself – 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 might not be ready to hear this, but 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. And it won’t work.

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 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.

She ate it.

Yep, like Eve, we still want to be like God.

Let’s just call it. Sin. We are sinning against God when we try to take away some of the total control He has on our world.

We are not like God. We are not in control. And our lives will be much better, much more peaceful, much less anxious and much less stressful when we admit it and realize our total dependence on God.

It’s hard to do this. I still struggle and I’ve had several huge lessons in this area. Whenever I start to feel anxious, I have to remind myself. I’m not in control – God is.

It’s a good thing He is in control. He is all-powerful. He is always good, always right. And He loves me with a perfect love. He loves you with a perfect love.

It’s a good thing I’m not in control because I am none of those things.

I just need to be reminded sometimes.

In the Beginning

So I begin again.  Genesis 1:1.

This will be my 13th consecutive year of reading through the Bible.  I’m anticipating great mornings of hearing God’s voice as he speaks to me through his Word.

It’s also fun knowing that there is a group of around a dozen of you who are reading the Bible every year with me.  After each of us did it the first year, we realized that we couldn’t imagine not doing it every year.  It’s a spiritual discipline that feeds our souls all year long. If you haven’t read the entire Bible before, this would be a great year to start. I read the Daily Bible arranged chronologically by F LaGard Smith.

One of my favorite things about reading the entire Bible is I get a good understanding of God’s overall message on important topics.  Like God’s love – reading the Old Testament and then the New Testament gives me a knowledge of God’s love that I’m not going to get reading a verse here or a chapter there.

I am also hooked on reading the Chronological Bible for several reasons – here are a few:

  • The Old Testament prophets are placed in the story with the king they talked to and in the correct time in history.
  • One of my favorite reasons – the psalms David wrote are placed in his story when he wrote them.  So I read the psalms David wrote while he was hiding from Saul in the cave when David is actually hiding in the cave.
  • The several different and extremely detailed accounts concerning the tabernacle and the temple are combined into one reading on each.  As a result, what I read makes much more sense to me.   All of the laws are combined into one reading instead of repeated in various places.  I used to skip over all of these sections because they were too repetitive and uninteresting.  Now I actually enjoy reading them because I’m only reading them once.
  • The New Testament gospels are combined so it doesn’t feel like I’m reading the same story 4 times.  It’s interesting to see the differences in perspectives.

The Chronological Bible is not good for in-depth Bible study but it’s great for reading and getting the big picture.

Once again, I start reading this first day of 2023…..

knowing God will open my eyes to more truth this year and he will focus my eyes on truth I already know but need to be reminded of.

In the Beginning.

Send Someone Else

It’s true.

I’m reading Exodus 4 and Moses – one of the major ancient Patriarchs of Faith – says to God, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  Please send someone else.”  Exodus 4:13.

What?  God had 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.”

Not true.  No one is better qualified than you to tell your story of how Jesus has saved you. 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 through the years have been my Bible study small groups.  I am in one now that meets Monday nights and another that meets Thursday nights.   I am also still a part of one that has been meeting at 6 am on Thursday mornings for over 20 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.

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, 11 years later, still reading through the entire Bible every year and sharing the journey with you in this 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 with 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 you and I 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.

Which Direction?

So many decisions…

sometimes its hard to figure out my next steps.

A lot of options.

burning-bush

Why can’t I get a burning bush like God gave Moses?  It was big.  It was dramatic. There was an angel in the bush.  Moses couldn’t miss it.  If I got one of those, it would be so much easier to listen and follow, right?

In my life, God gives me what I would call burning plants.  They are a lot smaller than a bush and much less impressive but when I’m reading God’s word, praying and listening, God will set fire to the next small plant – lighting the way to my next decision – and then my next.

Here’s how it works – I’m regularly reading God’s word and listening to how he wants me to apply it to my life.  I pray – expecting God to move and answer but keeping my mind open knowing that God can answer in a way that’s much different from how I think he will answer.

I watch.

And he lines up my circumstances, one step at a time.

He will also add confirmations along the way.  Godly people around me will say something that reinforces the direction indicated by a recent burning plant.  And it’s not unusual for my pastor on Sunday to say something that confirms my next decision.

When God knows I am watching and listening, he can work through all of these things to make my next step clear to me.

I have found that I don’t need a big, dramatic burning bush if I’m paying attention.  My small burning plants work just fine.

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father.

The Pieces……

The pieces are falling into place.

He’s creating one piece, changing the shape of another and he is moving all in the pieces in the direction they need to go.  Gradually – piece by piece – they fit exactly where he planned.

God is the Master Conductor of the Orchestra of Life for those of us who have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ.  God has promised that he is working all things out for the good of those who love him.

His children.

Me.  You.

Piece by piece.

God has been doing this since the beginning of time.  It’s interesting to read how he orchestrates his purpose all through the story of Moses.  When Moses was born, Pharaoh had ordered that all Hebrew baby boys must be killed.  Pharaoh thought there were too many Hebrew men already and was concerned they could rise up and overpower the Egyptians.

Moses’ parents were able to hide their infant son for 3 months.  When his mother could no longer hide him, she made a water-proof basket for him and placed him in the Nile River.

Very soon, Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the Nile and she saw the basket.

Of course, she did.  God made sure of it.

When she opened the basket, she saw the baby and realized he was a Hebrew child who was very hungry.  Moses’ sister had been watching the basket so she walked up to Pharaoh’s daughter.  “Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby?”  Exodus 2:7.   Pharaoh’s daughter agreed and said she would pay the woman who took care of the baby.

Of course, she did.  God had this puzzle all figured out.  Only he could arrange a situation where Moses’ mother could now publicly take care of her son until he was older – and she got paid for it.

This was just the first puzzle piece for Moses.  As we read Exodus, we see God’s hand moving in every step of Moses’ life.

This same God wants to be a part of everything that happens to you, too.

Looking back, I can see God orchestrating my life – moving mountains, parting rivers, putting the pieces of my life together in a unique way which only he can do.

As I start a new year, God has told me some of the things he has planned for me but I’m just going to need to trust him for the rest.  I know he loves me and wants the best for me so I am prepared to watch….

and see the puzzle pieces fall right into place.

Thank you, Abba Father.

When Bad Things Happen….

to good people.

It’s hard to understand.

I sometimes ask ‘why’?  Do you 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.  I don’t believe God causes all the bad things that happen to you and me.  Some of them happen because we live in a world where we all sin, we all make bad choices.  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 at Satan who is doing the dirty work.

Yes, God is in total control so he could stop the bad things from happening.  But we have free will and sometimes 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 – where God is with all believers 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 because he got his old job back, bad news for the Baker who was killed.  The Butler forgot about Joseph for 2 years (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 himself.

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 had sold him into slavery.  This indicates the level of maturity and faith Joseph had acquired through his trials.  Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. ” Genesis 50:20.  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 day as I learn to live with the grief and pain of losing a child.

And he wants to walk through your trials with you, too, – if you will let him.  He wants to bring good out of the bad things that happen to you – if you let him.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The Years of My Pilgrimage

I am on a pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about themselves or the world.

Are you on a pilgrimage, too? Those of us who have put our faith in Jesus are making our way from our birthplace here on earth to our heavenly home.

In Genesis 47, Jacob (Israel) met Pharaoh and blessed him.  When Pharaoh asked Jacob how old he was, Jacob replied, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty.  My years have been few and difficult and they do not equal the pilgrimage of my fathers.”  verse 9.

We think 130 years on earth is a very long time but people lived much longer time at this point in history.

I don’t want to live here 130 years.  There is too much pain and suffering and evil here.  I am on this Journey Towards the Truth until my time on earth is done.  As a Christ-follower, I am called to devote every day of my pilgrimage here on earth to completing my God-given purpose.  I am called to grow deeper each week in my relationship with God.  I am called to let God change me to be more and more like Christ every year.ftdDSC_0527

Almost 8 years ago, I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Israel.  It was a very different, and yet familiar, place.

I had heard and read so much about what had happened in Jerusalem that I experienced an odd sense of deja vu as we pushed through its crowded streets.

Tears rolled down my face as we made our way down the Via Delarosa – the Way of Suffering – where my Savior dragged his cross that day so long ago.  In my mind, I could hear the shouting and the curses of thousands of years ago bouncing off the stone walls on either side of me.ftdDSC_0523

And, then…..

the overwhelming peace and stillness of the garden.

It was done.

The price was paid.

And Jesus was no longer there.  He had risen, just as he said!

Amen!  Hallelujah!ftdDSC_0564

The years of our pilgrimage here on earth are not easy…..

but we know where this journey ends.

At home.

Full of joy.

Surrounded by peace.

With our Father.

Thank you, Abba.

A Long, Precious Legacy

Since I was born –

from then to now –

God has been my Shepherd.

So Jacob’s words echo through my mind as I read in Genesis 48 how Jacob blesses Joseph and Joseph’s sons before he dies.  ” Then he blessed Joseph and said, ‘May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may he bless these boys.” verse 15.

Jacob and I share the experience of having a long family legacy of faith.

As Jacob blesses his grandsons, Joseph isn’t happy when Jacob  switches hands and gives the younger son the greater blessing.

But I know that one of the biggest blessings these grandsons and all of Jacob’s grandsons received is the long family history of belief and faith they have been nurtured in since their birth.  It started with their Great, Great Grandfather Abraham and it has been passed down to them.

They have had years and years of role models in their lives of people who followed God and obeyed.  This is a precious blessing that will change their lives forever if they choose to follow in the steps of those who have gone before them.

I have received this blessing as I pursue a life of loving God and being faithful to him….

as my mother and father did….

and my grandmothers and grandfathers…..

and my great grandmothers and great grandfathers – on back through history.

If this isn’t true of your family, you have the awesome opportunity to get it started.

Thank you for giving me the blessing of having a long family history of faith, Abba Father.