Due Time

Just so you don’t worry about me, I want to let you know that I probably won’t post anything again until school starts back next month.

 

Due Time

 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. – 1 Peter 5:6 (ESV)

 

Years ago, I was the king of needing exaltation. There is no way there was a needier guy on the planet. I just didn’t feel that I was receiving the rewards for all that I was doing. Then, I read this verse along with Colossians 3:23 and knew that I had to make a change. I prayed to God and asked Him to help me start working for the right reasons and to help me humble myself. For the first time in my life, I began to work for His approval and not the approval of people.

 

So, I did a couple of things. I asked another teacher to teach me how to teach. I listened to him and then did the stuff he suggested. I stopped reading all these coaching books written by these folks with the best of the best of everything and I just figured out how to maximize my team’s potential and play to their strengths. I cannot explain how much I enjoyed those next few years. Along with enjoying work and life, I was as close to God as I had ever been. Then, at the end of the school year when awards were given out, He just decided to exalt me like crazy. I’ll never forget it because I really felt like those awards were all straight from Him.

 

The more I think about this, we American Christians live in a world where it is almost impossible for God to exalt us. We are too good at exalting ourselves. Facebook has become such a tool for self-exaltation. It is practically our own shrine to ourselves where we actually believe others are supposed to care what we think about anything and everything. We are constantly trying to get the world to look at us and what we do and what we are accomplishing.

 

Now, I’m not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with posting on Facebook. It’s certainly not a sin, but surely you see how it could be. I’ve heard students talk about “likes” on Facebook and thought, “Their entire self-worth is based on how many people click on a stupid button.” If you really think about it from the perspective of the Bible and the fact that there really is nothing new under the Sun, then we are basically idolaters saying, “Bow down to me and this shrine I’ve built to myself!”

 

Ok, so maybe that was a little extreme, but the point is that I had way too long of a spell where I cared about how many people hit the “like” button on my posts. That is the opposite of humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God. Worse, I have really been convicted about teaching “Facebook approval” to my kids. I’ve posted videos of my kids and basically said, “Look at what people are saying about you and how much they approve.”

 

What was I thinking?

 

The opposite of 1 peter 5:6, I know that.

 

Recently, my daughter did something really good by the world’s standards. My first inclination was to get my phone and plaster it on Facebook. I knew she’d be exalted. But, I thought of this verse and did something else instead. I told her myself how proud I was of her and that I thought we should celebrate. I told her she could pick the place and the whole family would go out for lunch. She enjoyed that and probably got tired of me hugging her, kissing her, and telling her how much I loved her and was proud of her. Tonight is our “date night” and you can bet that I’ll be doting on her some more.

 

My prayer is that as she gets older, she will not need man’s approval, but only the approval of Her Heavenly Father. The best thing I can be is a picture of humility that she can look at constantly.

 

Lord, help me to be an example of humility in a world where arrogance is exalted. Help my kids learn how to be from me. Help me live a life that you exalt in due time. I can’t imagine better words to hear than, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

Later

 

Adam

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The Seventh Time

So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. – 2 Kings 5:14

 

Naaman had Leprosy. One would think that he would be wiling to do whatever he had to destroy this skin condition that would slowly and literally eat him alive. However, this was not the case. When Elisha sent a servant to tell Naaman exactly what he needed to do, he became angry. Cleansing did not come like he thought it should, so Naaman almost rejected healing.

 

I wonder what Naaman thought the first six times he dipped himself. Did he look at his skin after the third time and not see a difference? Did he say to himself, “This is stupid and pointless”? Or maybe, “If this God is so awesome, why can’t He do it the first time”?

 

Which raises a great question: Why does God sometimes require so many times? I mean Jericho had to be marched around seven times before the wall fell. How did they feel when nothing happened the first six days? Did any of them quit showing up within those first six days?

 

I pleaded with God to save me and make me whole when I was sixteen. Even though it was a wonderful feeling that I’ll never forget, I was absolutely no different afterwards. This worried me. I thought I would just automatically be different. I got “saved” again with the same results. Then, I got saved again, again, and again. This went on for quite a few years. If anything, I was getting worse spiritually, not better.

 

True, and lasting change eluded me. I began to wonder if I had “blasphemed the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 12:31) or maybe God just chose to reject me because I knew better and still chose the wide gate that leads to destruction a few too many times. (Matthew 7:13-14)

 

Oh the glorious day when it all changed! That wonderful day the old Adam died! That wonderful day where all things became new! It must have been well over the hundredth time I had tried. What was different about this time? What if I’d stopped one time short? On that day I stopped living my way and asked Him to place me on His lighted path. I had never read His Holy Word for myself. Sure, I’d listen to the preachers talk about it on Sunday, but never even considered studying it for myself. Nearly every day for 15 months I read The Bible a little bit at a time until I had read it all.

 

I didn’t know it, but I was daily dipping myself in His cleansing waters. Even today, I don’t know how He did it, I don’t even know when He did it, but somewhere during that 15-month period He washed this old sinner and made him brand new. I know how Naaman felt on that glorious day when his flesh was restored. But, I still can’t help but wonder, “What if he had quit after 6 dips in that Jordan River?”

 

The answer: He would not have been made clean.

 

I believe God allows this sort of forced perseverance to weed out the quitters who are really only looking for Him to be one more resource who gratifies their worldly desires. If I need healing, I’ll call on Him. If I need a job, I’ll call on Him. If I’m in a bad situation, I’ll call on Him. If I’m lonely, I’ll call on Him. As soon as God refuses instant gratification, most people are done with Him. I’ve heard people say things like, “I tried Christianity and it just didn’t work for me.” Others go as far as to deny His very existence, simply because He doesn’t do instant.

 

In reality, they just quit prematurely. What would have happened if, instead of quitting, they had continued to dip themselves in the water of the Word of God?

 

The Israelites who saw the walls fall down on the seventh day had one thing in common; they did not quit!

 

Naaman saw his leprosy removed for one reason; he didn’t quit dipping himself when the first six dips didn’t work.

 

If you want to see God do an amazing work in your own life . . . Don’t quit!

 

Never, ever quit!

 

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 3:14

 

Later

 

Adam

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Freedom to Not Speak

Woe is me, for I am undone!

Because I am a man of unclean lips.  – Isaiah 6:5

I have often wondered exactly why Isaiah reacted this way in the presence of God.  It seems that when a man or woman gets into the Presence of God that there is an acute awareness of sin.  Moreover, there is an awareness of specific sin.  My first encounter with the Lord was quite similar.  I was a liar.  I was keenly aware of that fact in the Presence of God, so I repented, not just of sin in general, but specific sin that had to go.  That was young adult Adam in the late 90’s.  Of course he was an idiot, but this is the prophet Isaiah we are talking about.  What was he saying that made him unclean?

I was reading Isaiah this morning and knocked out the first 8 chapters.  Until today, I’ve never seen Isaiah’s chapter 6 encounter in its context.  If you read it for yourself, I think you’ll see what I see.  Before Isaiah’s encounter with the Almighty, his friend, King Uzziah dies, and another takes the throne.  It is a time of uncertainty, and the political climate is polarized.  There is a minority on one side saying “we have forsaken God and must return,” and another side saying, “We can live however we want . . . God will not judge us.”

Sound familiar?

I’m guessing that Isaiah joined in the attack of people who had taken sides.  I’m thinking that Isaiah might have been one of those people who had to be right all the time in conversation and assert his superior knowledge.  If someone said, “We must return to God,” then he would say, “Too late, we have refused Him too long and judgment is coming!”  If someone mockingly said, “Ignore the ‘God’s going to judge us’ crowd,” then he promptly put them in their place as well.  If he lived in today’s world, he might have been the king of Facebook calling out political parties, and posting articles that showed dissenting opinions precisely why they were wrong.  And, if the truth were known, he probably would have been correct in all of his assessments.

But, something about the way Isaiah communicated with others made him feel extremely unclean in God’s Presence.  Until today, I conjectured that he must have said foul words or something.  But, more than likely, he was simply convicted of the way that he did not speak to his fellow man in love.  In the presence of God, he realized just how careless he was with His words.  An angel came with a hot coal and touched his lips and purified them.  He was then free to NOT speak as he pleased, but only as God would have him speak.

Would to God that we all learn from this one.

Later

Adam

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Taste and See

Taste and see that the Lord is good.  – Psalm 34:8

When Tonya and I were dating, I only ate ketchup on pretty much everything.  I was 24 years old and wouldn’t even try any other sauces.  Chili’s was our favorite restaurant for a spell (I asked her to marry me after a date at Chili’s).  We both really liked Chicken Crispers.  She would eat them with honey mustard, and I would eat them with ketchup.  One day, she just said, “try it.”  I acted like a 4-year old having to eat veggies for a bit, but then I tried it.  I think I could have drunk it straight up.  I could not believe I had never tried it before.  To this day, even though we rarely eat there, Chili’s has the best honey mustard.  All I had to do was taste it.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I was in a church service and the Spirit of God was just moving like crazy.  Absolutely everyone seemed to be in on this amazing experience but me.  I got home and hit my knees, “Lord, whatever they have . . . I want in on it.”  I didn’t want to watch others enjoy His Presence; I wanted the Presence for myself.  Sure enough, within a couple of weeks, I got in on it.  To this day, it is the greatest treasure I continue to seek.  When you really find God, when you really taste and see that He is good, then everything else life offers pales in comparison.  There is simply no one and no thing like Him.

Real Christianity, at first, is the most unnatural thing in the world.  I mean, nobody wants to give up the sin that they enjoy, or the lifestyle that seems to work for them.  I enjoyed playing and listening to music that did not honor God.  I enjoyed being immoral, even after hurting a lot of people in the process.  I enjoyed partying, cussing, telling lies, and simply living for me, myself, and I.  That came natural to me.  God’s call was clear:  “Walk away from all that, and put your trust in me.”

“Taste and see that I’m good.”

It took a few years to answer that call, but I finally did it.  I won’t say that I didn’t have regrets for a few years after answering that call, because every once in a while, I would. When I saw my old friends living it up, I thought God was ripping me off big time.  There was and occasionally still is, a voice that tries to convince me that He just isn’t worth it.  But now, right now, I can’t thank Him enough and I love Him so much.  The relationship I have with Him, the wife I have, the children I have, the church I have, the job I have, and basically the life I have right now, I simply would not have had I never gotten that first taste of His Presence.

Thank You, Lord for giving me a taste.

 

You are so good.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.  – Psalm 34:8

Later

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Adam

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Being Merciful

And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.  – Jude 1:22

God works in people’s lives in so many ways.  Every Christian is at a different place in their walk with Him.  I have come to believe that a mature Christian has allowed the Holy Trinity authority over their lives.  When I just “believed in God” it didn’t seem to make much difference in my life, at least in the decisions I made.  But then, at 16, I found out that He loved me and sent Jesus to die for me, so I “received” Him.  I still pretty much lived how I wanted to, but now I seemed to feel guilty for my poor decisions.  Years later, I would allow the Holy Spirit to fill me and I actually began to turn from my sinful ways and walk the Christian walk.

I remember catching so much flack in those early days.  I remember wearing my KISS shirt (my first authentic concert shirt) and a teacher telling me that I was “going to Hell” for wearing it.  I remember a guy just flat out telling me that I had to stop listening to rock and roll music if I wanted to go to Heaven.  Repeatedly, I remember hearing that I was a “backslider” that needed to really give his life to God.  There wasn’t a lack of people who would point that finger and tell me that certain things I was doing was wrong and that I’d be judged for it.  Looking back, they didn’t really help me.  I hadn’t progressed to living by the Spirit and had no power to actually stop my sinful ways and, if I’m honest, I really didn’t want to.

When the Spirit got a hold of me, following Jesus became a want to, not a have to.  It was only through a full year of pursuing God by going to regular church services, revival services, and reading through the entire Bible that God began to change me.  I hope I never forget that . . . God changed me.  I didn’t have to try harder.  I didn’t have to muster up the fortitude to stop sinning.  God changed my heart and I didn’t desire many of the sinful things that I desired before.  I was so grateful.  I began to actually keep the first and greatest commandment . . . to love God!

Jude lets me know in this verse that I must be merciful to others.  It is so easy to look down on immature Christians (especially Christians who have had more than enough time to at least be halfway mature by now) and judge them by pointing out their sins and condemning them.  Honestly, I have seen enough of that.  How about we show mercy to people who are at different places in their walks with Christ?  I think I would have responded a little better to someone letting me know that they’ve been exactly where I am and actually encouraging me by telling me how they got through it than just being told one more time that I’m going to Hell.

I’m sure glad God never gave up on me.  I look back and there were so many times He’d be more than justified if He had thrown His hands up and said “I’m done with him.” 

Lord, help me show others the same mercy that You have shown me.  You have been so merciful to me.  How can I not show that same mercy to others? 

Later

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Adam     

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All Your Works Shall Praise You

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You. – Psalm 142:10

 

I was reading this Psalm this morning when this verse stopped me dead in my tracks. It was just a beautiful thing in my mind to imagine a time when all of God’s creation will praise Him. How beautiful and majestic will the New Heaven and the New Earth be? John the Revelator tries to describe it in Revelation 21, but we can only imagine the glories of Heaven and a brand new Earth.

 

Then, I thought of the most amazing thing about the verse: All of creation doesn’t praise Him right now.

 

When God was creating He said, “Let there be light” and light praised Him. It shined so brightly, piercing the darkness at 186,000 miles per second. He said, “Let there be dry land and let the mighty ocean waters come only this far” and the sounds of the ocean roared in praise. He said, “Let there be plant life and animals,” and the birds sang and still sing their praises to their Creator. All of His works praised Him!

 

Then, He made man in His own image.

 

He said, “Love me and obey me” and we almost immediately said “No!” The first man had one command, “Do not eat from one tree,” and he refused to obey. Thousands of years later, He asks another man named Adam to do so many things for Him; sometimes I obey, and sometimes I put off and put off until I have disobeyed. As I pray and spend time with Him this morning, I want so badly to live a life that praises Him and honors His Holy Name.

 

Herein lies the beauty of the Gospel: Christ came to restore His creation. Yes, everything went downhill after the fall of man. But after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, everything is now going back uphill. People are giving their hearts, minds, bodies, and lives to Him and learning to obey Him, learning to hear Him, learning to do His will, and learning to follow Him wholeheartedly.

 

And one day . . . one day . . .

 

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You.

 

Later

 

Adam

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Digging Ditches

2 Kings 3:6-20

Go ahead and take the time to read these amazing verses. This is such a cool story! The three kings from Israel, Judah, and Edom planned to go destroy Moab, but were so bad at planning that they ran out of water in a week. Just like most of us did at some point in our lives, they ran straight to God when they had no place else to turn. They went to the prophet Elisha. He didn’t really want to help them, but knew he was supposed to.

I love how Elisha inquired of the Lord. I think this is such a key for many of us. He asked for a harpist. This was the equivalent of putting on some Praise and Worship music today. He set his mind on the Lord. God spoke to him and gave him the solution. He told the kings to have their men dig ditches in the desert! Now that sounded like the dumbest solution ever, but that’s what they were to do. They did, they won, and God got all the credit.

So many people are just stuck in life. They’ve wandered away from God and are just dry. When you are dry, meaning, you don’t feel God’s presence, “stuff” becomes more important in your life than anything else. Dry people are focused on themselves, their boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, their job, their television sets, their video games, or other hobbies. They’re basically “bored” all the time and will verbalize this. God doesn’t even make the top 10 list of their lives, which is not good considering the only place He accepts is first place.

So, what do you do? This story tells you the answer. You have to dig some ditches. Elisha told them that if they would dig the ditches, God would fill them with water and everything would be fine. He goes on to say, and don’t forget this; this is EASY for God! If you are in a desert, meaning, you don’t think about God on a daily basis, much less feel His presence, you’ve got to start digging some ditches. You are to carve out some time daily to focus on God. It may be in the morning when you first get up that you “ditch” 10 or 15 minutes of extra sleep and give that time to God and His Word. It may be in your car that you “ditch” the radio and talk to Him on your way to work. You might need to “ditch” the secular stations and listen to Christian radio for a while. You may need to “ditch” the TV and read your Bible for a bit. You may need to “ditch” that boyfriend that is pressuring you to do things that you know go against His Word. You may need to “ditch” those friends that when you get around them, you use language you don’t use around anyone else. The point is, “ditch” those things that are keeping you from Him!

You may be thinking, “Why in the world would I want to do that?” Well, because if you will dig the ditches, then He will fill them with water. He will fill them with His Holy Spirit and His presence. When He sees you faithfully carving out time for Him (digging ditches), He can’t help but show up! The key is for you to expect Him to fill those ditches with His presence. Don’t treat it like a checklist that is making Him happy and giving you more “credit” that other people. Expect Him to show up for you! Elisha didn’t hope God would show up, he knew that if he put on that praise and worship and focused on God, He would be there. Why? Because he had been carving out time for God his entire life! He decided long ago that he would never stop digging ditches.

To that army, digging ditches seemed like the dumbest idea ever. Not to mention, it was a lot of work. Plus, can you imagine somebody walking by and seeing ditches being dug in the desert? They would have made fun of them like crazy! However, it was God’s way.

I know you want God’s Presence to be real in your life. If you really want Him, you have to do some things that most people will look at you and say, “You are an idiot that is wasting your time.” You have to carve out some time for Him and expect Him to eventually fill that time with His presence. Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t listen to the people that will discourage you and maybe even make fun of you . . . just keep digging! He will fill those ditches up with His Holy Spirit!

This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord! (2 Kings 3:18)

Later

Adam

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