During a devotional time this morning, our Associate Pastor read 1 Kings 3:7-12 and something grabbed my attention that I’ve never noticed before. It was in verse 12. In the ESV it reads, “I now do according to your word.” The interesting thing is that in this portion of Scripture, God is speaking. God said to Solomon, “I now do according to your word.”
What?!?!? We’re supposed to say that to God. He’s not supposed to follow us! He’s God right?? So why would He do “according to our word.” We’re just stupid, arrogant, prideful, selfish people. Of course you all know the answer. God is willing to say He’ll do “according to our word” when we have completely lined up with His will – when our desires are the same a His desires – when He has placed His words in our mouths – when our word is the same as His Word.
So here’s my question: Can God say to you, “I now do according to your word.”? Is your desire the same as His? Is your heart in line with His? If you could ask for anything in the world from God (like Solomon), would your request be a selfish one? or one that would honor God and be in line with His desires for the world?
Me? To be real honest, I’m not sure what my request would be. I believe that in moments like that God gives us strength to do the right things, but I also know that my first temptation would be to ask for a job and a way to support my family right now.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I’m a selfish man – that I want things my way way too often. I confess that I’m fearful for the future of my family. I do trust You. But I’m also fearful. I know those things don’t really go together, but it’s truly where I am right now. There’s a real tension between my faith and my fear and the two of them are waging war within me. Lord, I’m weak and I know that in these moments, You are strong. So please Lord, take charge of this battle. My true desire is to be faithful, to honor You, to hold fast. My deep desire is to have my words, my desires, & my life in tune and in step with You – to put myself in a position where You can say, “I now do according to your word” to me. May it be so. AMEN.
I think writing/blogging is a bit risky. Exposing your thoughts and commenting on the world around you opens yourself up to all kinds of criticism and other ideas. It’s like driving through uncharted territory with your friends/readers as backseat drivers trying to tell you which way to go or what to think or how you should react or. . . whatever. And yet. . .as the driver of your own thoughts and actions, you still get to drive. You’re the one in charge. You’re the one who is breaking new ground and going places – venturing off into new territories. Anyway, it’s a bit adventurous to charge the hill of opinion with nothing but another opinion and a dream that yours will somehow make a difference.
I’ve been reading the book “Meet the Rabbis” by Brad H. Young lately, and I’m learning a lot, but I just had to share one of the thoughts I had today as I read. He quotes Elie Wiesel as saying,
“To comment is to reclaim from exile a word or notion that has been patiently waiting outside the realm of time and inside the gates of memory. When you pray, said the late Louis Finkelstein, you speak to God; when you study, God speaks to you. If study is discovery, commentary is adventure.”
I had to read it a couple of times but I love it! Commentary is adventure!!!! I love the idea that study is discovery and as we comment or respond, we step into adventure! With blogging and the web, there have become more and more commentators – more and more critics – more and more voices – more and more words just to wade through in order to discover the things that move us and call us into deeper ways of living. But I’m one of those people who needs someone to bounce things off of – I need a sounding board. Blogging and writing helps me to work through the things I believe myself. It helps me to understand my own thoughts – to make sense out of life. It’s my way of venturing out into uncharted territory and exploring the ideas before making the mistakes that come to people who act without assessing the situation.
Louis Finkelstein agrees. My blogging/commenting on life is an adventure. Maybe that’s why I love doing it so much. There is a bit of that explorer in me. I really think it’s the adventurer entrepreneurial risk-taking voice inside of me that really enjoys writing. It allows me to stake my claim on an idea – to stand up and say “Here’s where I draw the line and I will defend it.” It also allows me to test the waters of those ideas that I’m a bit sketchy on.
Anyway, I guess these were just some random thoughts today. I probably haven’t organized them very well, but . . .well, I’ve stepped into the adventure.
I’m not much of an artist, but I painted this during one of our “Art Worship” times a few years ago. It reads, “Matthew 5:3 – You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” A few years ago I hung it on my wall next to my desk so it’d serve as a reminder to me of God’s providence when times were tough. I honestly haven’t thought much about it again since – well, that is. . .until today. God spoke to me today and reminded me that He is still in charge.
Prayer: Thank you God. Our lives are in your hands. We trust your hands of providence. Even the fact that You led me to hang this painting so many years ago to remind me of the message today is an example of how we can trust Your providence. You’re amazing!! AMEN!!
Whoa!! I came home from a rough day @ church last night and found the most amazing e-mail awaiting me.
Simon was a “hard headed punk kid that had it all figured out.” Those are his words but I’d say they’re pretty accurate. I was the leader for a youth ministry skating outreach program called “The Wave.” In those days, we typically had between 70 and 150 youth, but every one of my volunteers knew Simon. He was loud. He was disrespectful. He did whatever he could to be the center of attention – even if the attention was negative. The volunteers and I prayed for Simon pretty regularly and discussed how we could keep being witnesses to him without letting him railroad us. He was tough. We didn’t have very many answers – just prayers.
I think it’s been about 7 years. Anyway, here are some pieces of what he wrote to me:
It’s Simon Holloway from Tomball. How are you doing brother?
Wait. . . .Did he just call me “brother?”
I was thinking about you today and the influence you had in my life, when I was younger. . . I sincerely want to thank you for showing me grace and spreading the word with me. . . About 2 months ago I was saved and for the first time had a better understanding about Him and Jesus. After that happened I thought about you many times and you inspired me. I knew it was all real because I had proof from another source, and that was you. It’s all because I think of an old time at The Wave when I was cussin at you and just being a pain in the rear for everyone up there, I was thinking you were coming to rip me a new one when you came and talked to me and gave me grace. It’s almost like in the Bible when they bring the woman who is caught for adultery and they’re expecting Jesus to get mad. Instead Jesus gives grace like he always does and I now see that in you, today.
Whoa! I sure don’t remember that incident. All I really remember is wondering how I could try to be Jesus to him when I really wanted to “rip him a new one” – Had I done it, I would have done exactly what he expected and I would have lost any influence I had with him. Wow! Only by God’s grace did I do the right thing – the thing that he remembered and that made the difference in his life. Had I reacted on my own emotional influences, I would have played right into his misconceptions of God. I guess in some ways, this whole thing sounds sort of like I’m bragging, but what I’m trying to say is that I know how close I was to doing the wrong thing and that God’s power. . . His Spirit is the only thing that made a difference. I want to brag for sure, but on God, not on me. God is amazing!!
Well Steve, I just wanted to thank you a lot and let it be known what you did for me when I was younger and now. . . . I will definitely be praying for you bro and I know God will show you grace in the situation!
Talk to you soon.
God got a hold of Simon!!!!! Whoa. That’s an e-mail I would have never imagined receiving. If Saul could become Paul, I guess Simon could become a Christian too, but. . .well, sometimes those ministry days seemed unfruitful. They were hard. We kept trying, but it just didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere. I can look back now and see that’s true. We weren’t getting anywhere – BUT GOD WAS!! He used those times and used us in spite of our ignorance. In spite of ourselves.
Man, I love these kinds of stories. We serve an incredible God!!! He is amazing! His power is ultimate and intimate and infinite! He can and does move people’s hearts. (Both Simon’s and mine that day.) He gives us the strength to follow Him even when we don’t feel like it. He can take a hard headed punk and turn him into a humble servant. He is over all and above all and through all. He is God. He is Yahweh! He is our strength, our redeemer, our salvation, our joy, our light, our love. He is love! He gives love! His character is love!
Prayer:Lord, thank you for Simon. Guide him deeper into your presence. Hold him close to You and draw him close to other believers who will truly disciple him. Use him for Your eternal works and for Your glory! Thank you God for sending this message to me. As You know, it was perfect timing. I needed it. Thank You for choosing me for that time and place in ministry. It was an honor to have been a part of such amazing blessings and to have worked with so many incredible volunteers and students. Lord, hold me close and guide me deeper into your presence. I love You and truly can’t imagine this life without You. I need You.You’re are amazing and it’s not just me that thinks so. . . “Simon says” too! AMEN!
PS – Simon gave me permission to repost his e-mail. He even said, “Never know, it could make an impact on someone else life.”
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.
So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.
My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.
Prayer: God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.
Our church has struggled through this rough economy. Every full-time programming staff position is being made “part-time” in January. They have been very intentional about communicating that this is not a “performance related” decision. Here’s a letter drafted by the SPRC chairman describing the circumstance: Clarification Letter Anyway, I have until January to find another way to support my family.
In spite of the title of this post, I’m NOT looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one in which I can bring Jesus glory and make a difference in the world. This might be another church position, a teaching position, or any number of endless possibilities.
Over the years in youth ministry, I have developed many skills and believe I can be an asset to almost any setting.
I have experience in:
Leading contemporary worship
Multimedia and film Production
I love dreaming, leading, casting vision, and chasing after God’s preferred future.
I’m not too proud. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. Miranda and I are confident in God’s hand of providence, but we will also need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Want to contact me?
A friend of mine, Michael Chapman is going through a tough time right now – watching his mother die. She’s been whispering to someone while she’s in a out of consciousness over the past few days. Mike wrote a blog describing it and shared this quote:
In his book, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner says this about prayer: “Everybody prays whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way.”
What a beautiful way to describe prayer. It reminds me of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” He knows our hearts and hears our prayers even when they’re not spoken, but the even better news is that He “groans” for us too!! I also love the imagery of the phrase in the quote saying the . . . . . “that floats up out of you.” Could that be the Spirit at work within us? I hope so.
Sometimes I close my posts with a prayer. Today, I’ll just say that something seems to be “floating up out of me” as I think about Mike’s mom, Jan. Maybe that’s the best prayer I can offer.
Miranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.
Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.
Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.
As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.
Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.
Ever seen a movie or tv show where a drowning victim is discovered? You know that “dead man’s float?” Face down. Arms raised. Knees down. Can you picture it? That’s what Kasen (my 18-month-old son) looked like Saturday.
We were at the pool with his cousins Reid and Kallie. Kasen and Reid were playing in the kiddie pool and Reid playfully pushed Kasen. He fell in face first and did that dead man’s float. My son was facedown in the water with his arms bobbing above his head. I can still see his haor floating in the water beside his head. It couldn’t have been more than a second before Jared (Reid’s dad and Kasen’s uncle) and I were scooping him back up, but that image will be engraved in my mind forever.
After it was all over, Kasen just coughed once and wiped his face (like he does when he’s in the bathtub) like nothing had happened. He was fine, but daddy was changed. Daddy’s heart was racing. Mommy’s too. She had been sitting on the side of the pool and witnessed the whole thing too.
Anyway, all this got me to thinkin’. Kasen was clueless that his life had been threatened. (By the way, thank you God for that “hold your breath” instinct You placed in kids.) I wonder how many times I’ve been clueless to the real dangers in my life? How many times has God saved me from some unknown threat?
Prayer: Thank you God for Your protection – for the times when I don’t even realize You’ve gotten involved. For the times You’ve saved me from myself or some other unknown danger. Thank You for Kasen and for protecting Him Saturday. Help me to be a father who will in every way possible reflect You and Your character to my children. Allow me to protect them and to recognize that it’s truly a reflection of You and Your goodness – Your power. It’s the strength that You have given to me that allows that to happen. I truly want to honor You in all that I do. Help me.
Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.” So far, it’s a great book – all about the Jewishness of Jesus and the insights that come to the Scriptures when you understand Jewish culture. I’m loving it!!! (I’m hoping to write a blog later about the things I’m learning from it.)
Anyway, one of the insights that has jumped out at me is the relationship between a disciple and his rabbi. One of the sayings found in the Mishnah, Bava Metzia 2:11 is, “If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first.” – Now that’s amazing devotion! Disciples lived with their rabbis with the goal of becoming like them. They served them and attended to their personal needs with the goal of understanding not just the concepts that they taught, but the lifestyle with which they lived. A rabbi was once (recently) observed in Jerusalem walking in a bent-over position with a little shuffle. Behind him walked several other men (presumably disciples) in the same manner.
Earlier this week I was in the backyard watching Kasen as he ran around playing – pulling the wagon, collecting leaves, stooping down to pick up sticks on the ground or whatever he happened to notice, etc. (It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little boy discovering the world around him.) Anyway, as he played, I kicked at the ground – there was a specific spot where there was no grass and the mud had dried. Anyway, I was off in another world, kicking the ground, thinking about life and God and who knows what when I realized that Kasen had joined me to kick the ground. He was watching everything I was doing. He wants so desperately to be like his daddy and I must admit – that really scares me.
Scripture is pretty clear that Miranda and I are responsible for training up our children up in faith and teaching them. (Deut 6:6-9) Whoa! That means that for Kasen and Kesleigh – I’m the rabbi. What?!?! That’s crazy. God would put that kind of responsibility on me? I’m no rabbi. I haven’t had the training. I don’t have the knowledge. Or do I? I mean, it’s true I don’t have that kind of wisdom – but I have something better. The true rabbi, Jesus lived out the perfect example for me and for all His children (that includes my kids). The Holy Spirit also dwells within me and with His guidance. . . well. . . I’m hoping those are the things Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate – I’m hoping I can be better at modeling the behaviors that the Holy Spirit guides ’cause it’s definitely true. Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate me – even if all I’m doing is playing around in the dirt.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I have played in the dirt for way too long. I don’t want to waste any more time though. Help me to build Your kingdom. Cover my children and draw them to Yourself so they can also join their parents and one day build Your kingdom too.