Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beginning To Cope ...

"The difficulties of life are intended to make us better not bitter." - Unknown

Don’t you just love words of encouragement from, “author unknown”? Such pithy statements so easily flow from the tongue when things are going well. But when the difficulties of life are experienced I’d like to find, “author unknown” to wring his or her neck!

Sickness, loss, fear and anxiety do not automatically make us better. However, the harm that evolves from a heart unable or unwilling to squarely face the challenges of life will ultimately become more devastating than the external battle originally faced. We unwittingly forfeit God’s ability to give our life new meaning when we allow our inner opposing forces to take control.

Consider a few opposing forces:



others will not believe us;
others might avoid us;
our challenge might jeopardize our future;
we might be treated like we’ve treated others;
we are alone - no one can understand;
we want to be alone - not a burden to others.

For some the list is longer. Left unchecked, each of these internal burdens contributes to the multiplied despair of the suffering individual. Focus upon the primary battle is lost and little remains of the resources to fight the primary fight. Christians, we are often quick to proclaim we are placing the battle in God’s hands but we fail to release to His authority and care the internal burdens. We then fail to experience the reality of His presence and His care because we've failed to cast the totality of our fears, shame, depression and pride at His feet. How can we experience the peace that passes all understanding if we are unable or unwilling to release to God's authority the internal burdens rising within us? God wants it all!

Have you given it all to God?

"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved." - Psalm 55:22

When preaching on this verse the great evangelist, Charles Haddon Spurgeon said:

"He [the suffering child of God] may move like the boughs of a tree in the tempest, but he shall never be moved like a tree torn up by the roots. He stands firm who stands in God. Many would destroy the saints, but God has not suffered it, and never will. Like pillars, the godly stand immoveable, to the glory of the Great Architect."

“Casting ALL your care upon Him because He cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

All means all and that’s all all means! When we release ourselves of the “us” issue and those inner opposing forces, we can see and experience God’s miraculous love at work. While we may be faced with external battles what a blessing it is to begin to feel His love healing the internal!

Although you may have little power over the battles you are facing, God has power. God has the power to heal the very soul of the individual in need.

Today, how about a little self examination? What is the battle? What are the resources? Are you yielding to internal opposing forces or giving those forces over to God and yielding to Him?

Therefore, cast all your care upon Him, because he truly cares for YOU! It's a first step in coping with life's struggles.

God bless

Monday, January 7, 2013


The layers of fear, isolation, uncertainty, detachment and shame accompanying the anxious heart compound the dark depths an anxious soul experiences. Add to that the well meaning directives to, “just relax; let go and let God”, or the loving encouragement, “it will pass and things will soon be better”, place an unintended sense of responsibility upon the already burdened soul. As a result, not only do they unsuccessfully fight their personal unknowns, they feel responsible for the peace of those around them. All five senses are heightened. The next moment is cavernous! Or so it seems....

Perhaps you have never experienced anxiety. You are most fortunate. And yet, you might have witnessed a loved ones personal hell. You observe, but you are powerless. Yours is the daunting task of providing profound love, while you quietly experience your own fears, frustrations, hurts, anger and guilt. You wish it would, “just go away” and you are tempted to recoil from what appears to be a helpless and hopeless situation.

Oh, how I wish there was an easily defined and universal cause for this disorder that would be easily diagnosed and readily alleviated. One that required no emotional sense of failure, no chemical side affects and no social labels. But that’s just not the world we live in. And so, we must face the issue as best we can with all of the remedies afforded us through medical science, therapy, social acceptance and spiritual underpinning.

I am no expert in this area. I did not, with specific and sacrificial intent, devote years of study to earn the degree and [therefore] the right to speak knowledgeably about anxiety. However, may I all the more aggressively state that I did not devote years of intent to suffer this malady! Having experienced it I find that I am not any more prepared to speak with authority. Perhaps openly exposing those moments of horror will give hope to the hearts of someone personally afflicted and those around them powerlessly affected.

Labels are so convenient. Labels often disregard the minutia of life’s events and the complexities of the human creation to comfortably package what is unknowable as if [it were] convenient “fact”. They often serve to replace awareness and acknowledgement, care and comfort, spiritual dependence and deliverance. So what kind of person might suffer from anxiety? One living and breathing! No one is exempt. Humbly facing the plague of anxiety, totally eliminating labels and replacing them with sacrificial love prepares a pathway of freedom for the afflicted upon which the affected must pave and take the first steps. The pathway must be patient and kind. It must be faithful and unwavering. It might be a long pathway; the distance will remain unknown until that moment when the afflicted recognizes they have been reached and willingly accept that they are not alone.

Having attempted to paint what is obviously a far to simplistic word-picture of anxiety it is important to note that the afflicted have many wonderful means of help. Each method requires an honest recognition of the need and a willingness to take the next step. It is so much easier to take when a friend or family member has first reached out with non-judgmental and sacrificial love and understanding. Perhaps adjusting may require medical assistance, ongoing neurological or physical therapy. Regardless, these means of help are available and should not be overlooked.

There is, however, a spiritual underpinning that must not be disregarded. It is often the last “help” sought - if ever sought at all. It is often turned to only when the afflicted and the affected have been exhausted beyond measure. And yet, while it is not the “mend-all heal-all mystic medical elixir”, it alone can reach into the depths of the soul with words of encouragement that must be refused to be avoided. No, these words may not change the circumstances of life. It is highly unusual for them to immediately eliminate anxiety. As quietly as they work within the hidden areas of the soul, they quietly underpin the afflicted so that while an episode may exist, there comes a sense of spiritual awareness that love is not far off. This “medicine for the soul” is very unique. It can be taken at any time. The individual need not feel responsible for missing a dose nor should they feel it imperative that they be capable of taking a dose during an episode of anxiety. The affects are not often seen but they are real and they are residual. The soul stores these Words and with each dosage a thin but ever capable foundation of hope is laid. My spiritual prescription is growing daily.

“Your hands have made me, cunningly fashioned and established me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Those who reverently and worshipfully fear You will see me and be glad, because I have hoped in Your word and tarried for it. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right and righteous and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray You, Your merciful kindness and steadfast love be for my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. Let your tender mercies and loving-kindness come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight! Let the proud be put to shame, for they dealt perversely with me without a cause; but I will meditate on Your precepts. Let those who reverently and worshipfully fear You turn to me, and those who have known Your testimonies. Let my heart be sound - sincere and wholehearted and blameless - in Your statutes, that I be not put to shame.” - Psalms 119:73-80

“O Lord, You have searched me (thoroughly) and have known me. You know my downsitting and my uprisings; You understand my thought afar off. You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue [still uttered], but, lo, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have beset me and shut me in behind and before, and have laid Your hand upon me. Your (infinite) knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it. Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? I ascend up into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol [the place of the dead], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the night shall be the only light about me”, even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You did form my inward parts, You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will confess and praise You, for You are fearfully wonderful, and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret and intricately and curiously wrought (as embroidered with various colors) in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written, before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. How precious and weighty also your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they are more in number than the sand. When I awoke [could I count to the end] I would still be with You.” - Psalms 139:1-18

Anxiety; am I responsible? If you are harboring unfinished business, perhaps uncomfortable or potentially confrontational matters, take care of the matters and deal with the situation. If, however, this neurological and physiological horror sweeps in and over you without warning, without cause, and you suddenly find yourself sinking, observing the world around you but somehow fearfully detached, then no; no, you are not responsible. As wonderfully as you have been created, you are human and you suffer the maladies of our humanness. King David, although great among men, cried out to Jehovah God as a weak and fearful child would cry out to his earthly father. Although comfort was not always immediate, King David knew within his heart that his Heavenly Father was mighty to love, might to care, mighty to save.

If you have suffered anxiety you will recognize that in the midst of your fear it is reassuring to know someone is close by to help. If your episode requires medical attention and you find yourself waiting in a doctors office just the knock upon the door and the appearance of someone who is there to help you brings an ever-so-delicate “peace”. It does not immediately eliminate your condition - but it gives you the sense that there is hope. I would encourage you to open your heart’s door to the Great Physician. Call upon Him even now. He knew you before time. He was there while you were formed. He knows your comings and your goings; there is nothing unknown to Him. He alone fully understands your condition and your need. Somehow, when you feel His knock upon your hearts door, when you let Him in, the appearance of Someone Who knows you, Who loves you, and Who will help you brings an ever-so-powerful, “peace”.

God bless you as we travel through this world together!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Breaking down the congratulations and prayer ...

Congratulations, President Obama.

You were awarded, by Popular Vote and the Electoral College, a second term as President of the United States of America. Please implore your Senate to consider your words that we are a “UNITED” States of America. Please consider those of us who wish to be represented at best, simply considered at worst, even though our methods to heal the country are quite different. Work with us, hear us and perfect your plan through the amalgamated wisdom of our combined Representatives.

Prayers for God's guidance and your willingness to be led while leading.

I cannot begin to imagine the enormity of your job. I cannot begin to categorize the multitude of considerations you must, on a daily basis attend. I shudder to think of the responsibility for the well-being of the citizens of this land and the impact that responsibility has upon a watching world. I would not compound that responsibility by depending solely upon you. I believe that it is only by God’s grace, God’s guidance, God’s providence, God’s mercy, God’s design and God’s sovereignty that any man can withstand the wiles of evil to lead the nation in a course of righteousness. It is only a man willing to be led by God who can follow Him and thus provide the leadership we need.

Prayers for your family, their safety, the wellbeing of your wife and children.

Are we not truly blessed? Do we not have a great responsibility for the well-being of our families now and into their future? I pray for your children to continue to be enriched by the love of a mother and a father. I pray for those who would be parents but who, by no fault of their own, will never hear the giggles of their child, nurse their child’s scrapes or bruises, proudly watch these gifts from God grow and mature, and experience a parent’s joyful legacy as grandchildren and great-grandchildren are brought into their lives. And sir, I sorrowfully pray for those children who, through no fault of their own, never.

Prayers for our country. May we be united with a singleness of purpose. By being Americans we have already been given, "a break". May we look to God to grasp the opportunities that come with our birthright of freedom. There is no gift but that we were born in a land where we can freely overcome obstacles to "become".

The feebleness of mankind is strengthened only by humbly yielding to the will of God. Our founders, separated by so very many beliefs, were united in an awesome duty by God’s strength. This nation appears to be turning from Devine leadership. While tolerance is profoundly needed for a people to be united, it cannot replace Godly virtue and an awareness of our own spiritual need. We are Americans. We are free. But what does this freedom entail? Is it lawlessness? Is it freedom from the consideration of others? Is freedom a lonely island of self gratification or is it a willingness to deny selfish endeavor for the good of all? Does sacrificial love simply empty itself or is it continually filled to overflowing with the joy of participating in this wonderful gift of freedom? And what about opportunity? No, simply being in America does not guarantee any measure of success. It does, however, guarantee the potential path, however difficult, however filled with obstacles, however painful and long that few other countries offer to their citizens. This is a country wherein a citizenship guided by God's will selflessly uphold those who cannot lift themselves.

May we understand that it is not the value of our land and it's beauty that attracts God's blessing but that in times past we recognized God as the source of our blessing. May we willingly recognize God's appointment of leadership.

From sea to shining sea, beautiful! But it is the beauty of a people willing to recognize from whence this source of freedom, happiness, and opportunity comes, God. There can be no compromise in this conviction. There can be so edict that moves a nation to comply. Herein is a soul-change that only God can effect. And so, those of us who are believers call upon God to guide our lives in such a way that He is evidenced, daily, to our fellow citizens.

... without compromising our conviction and may our conviction be so well heard that leadership is moved by God's will. It is so wonderful to be an American!

May we believers be the living proof of His Devine providence. If no God is seen in us, then in our scope of influence no God exists. May the contrary become true and may He be proved right by our spirit of love, hard work, sacrifice and optimism. May the heart of our Representatives be turned to Him and may your heart be filled with confidence in leading because of the evidence you witness in those willing to put Him in His rightful place as God of all, Creator of all and Savior of all who would humbly call upon His name.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shhhh ... listen! (3 of 3)

“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!’ Then he was afraid, and arose and went for his life, and came to Beersheba of Judah [over eighty miles], and out of Jezebel’s realm] and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat under a lone broom or juniper tree, and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord; take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.’ As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ He looked, and behold, there was a cake of bread on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank, and lay down again.” - 1 Kings 19:1-6

Elijah the Tishbite, might have accomplished very little during his time by the brook of Cherith (17:3) but he made up for it in Zarephath and Mount Carmel. Now, the tired prophet, very much aware of the Queen’s decree, escapes and flees into the wilderness.

Why is it that our first inclination is to focus upon the prophet’s fear rather than his faithfulness? We tend to immediately assume a sudden weakness has overcome the prophet. It would appear that he has lost faith and has fled the very power of God that had sustained and protected him. We must be careful or we may miss the message, the personal nature of God, and our private time with the Creator of the universe.

It was more than the fear of Queen Jezebel that caused Elijah to flee. Consider the circumstances. Elijah had just been in the very presence of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He had been totally exposed and vulnerable to their desire to do him harm. Why now, after having been the instrument of the One and Only True God, and after killing every false prophet, why now would Elijah flee? Because he was afraid?

Have you noticed that from 1 Kings 17, through 1 Kings chapter 19, Elijah was simply going about life - until he heard the voice of God!

Think about that for a moment.

You wouldn’t have picked him out in the crowd. He was just another one of hundreds, going about their daily lives. There was nothing significant about Elijah - until he heard the voice of God!

Time and time again we read how Elijah was busy about life and and suddenly, his plan was interrupted by the voice of God, the direction of God, the instruction of God and the provision of God! Elijah had grown totally dependent upon the awesome power of God! God told him when to move, where to go and what to do. God had always provided miraculous sustenance to strengthen Elijah.

Until now.

Now, after a mighty display of power - there was no voice.
Now, after the judgement and slaying of the false prophets - there was no direction.
Now, after hearing the chilling decree from a Godless Queen - there was no instruction.
Now, in the face of imminent peril - there were no provisions.

No voice, no direction, no instruction, no provision ... none!

How would we respond to this sudden silence?

Perhaps Elijah assumed his mission accomplished. Thinking he was without Devine guidance, perhaps Elijah reasoned it better to vanish and die alone in the wilderness than be made a spectacle, defeated by the hands of Queen Jezebel. Perhaps, not hearing the mighty voice of God, not feeling the mighty presence of God, not experiencing the mighty power of God, Elijah fled to protect the work God had just accomplished.

And so we read in verse 4 of chapter 19:

“...He said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord; take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers’”.

Elijah fell asleep but his slumber was interrupted by the sudden shout of a mighty angel of God! No. The angel grabbed Elijah by his cloak and shook Elijah into reality! No.

“As he lay asleep, under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angle touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’” - 1 Kings 19:5

Oh my goodness! Can you imagine the thrill that must have come over Elijah?

“He looked, and, BEHOLD, there was a cake of bread on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank, and lay down again.” - 1 Kings 19:6


Oh, to feel alone in the wilderness of life and have a messenger of God gently touch us! Oh to lift our eyes to recognize that not only is God’s provision always available to us, it is already on the coals, prepared perfectly according to God’s specific plan! Oh to then relax in the knowledge that we have not been forgotten!

“The Angel of the Lord came a second time, and touched him, and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” - 1 Kings 19:7-8

This does not sound like a man fleeing from God. Rather, it sounds like a man fleeing in search of Him. There is no tone of judgement from the angel. There comes no rebuke. There is no charge to turn back - but Divine provision to carry on! And where does Elijah go? Elijah reviews and retraces God’s plan thus far and goes to a very familiar place.

“There he came to a cave, and lodged in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him and said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” - 1 Kings 19:9

Elijah does not recoil in fear. This is a familiar voice.
This is the voice of One Whom Elijah could depend.
This is the voice Elijah was seeking.

This is the voice of Almighty God! THIS is the One and Only One Elijah could pour his heart out to, share his most personal feelings with and lay bare his soul. And so he does. It is a conversation. It is a confession. Most important, it is communion. And do you hear what God is asking? Read it again.

“I know why I brought you here Elijah; but why do you think you are here?”

God knew why. God is more up to date than tomorrow’s headlines. God wanted Elijah to empty himself - so that he could be Divinely filled!

God then gives Elijah a directive:

“... Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice. When Elijah HEARD THE VOICE, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went and stood in the entrance of the cave.” - 1 Kings 19:11-13

God was not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire. Unlike the non-existent false gods whom so many had attributed these powers, the One True God has power over all!


It is vitally important that we take notice of what is missing! We have no record of Elijah’s awe at the splendor of God’s power. We read of no reaction whatsoever! God systematically and miraculously provides Elijah with unimaginable power. Put yourself in Elijah’s place! Wind powerful enough to actually tear the mountains apart and break into pieces the remaining rocks! Not only was there unimaginable wind, there was an earthquake shaking the very ground upon which Elijah stood. And after these two spectacular events, FIRE; incomprehensible fire such as only God can create! And Elijah stands witness to these events without response; that is, until, perhaps for the first time, Elijah experiences the power of God’s gentle stillness, and hears a still, small voice. In that moment Elijah is overcome with such a reverent awe and wonder that he is compelled to hide his face in his mantle!


There It is; FINALLY! The still, small voice. And yet, as I review these three chapters of 1 Kings, I now see evidences of the voice at work. Who spoke to the widow’s heart that she would give the last portion of her sustenance to Elijah? Who directed the parting steps of Ahab and Obadiah and the proceeding steps of Elijah so that Elijah and Obadiah would meet on the road? Who directed Obadiah to care for the remaining prophets of the Lord exactly in the manner God Himself had been providing Elijah? Who lovingly and quietly merged Elijah’s flight into the wilderness with the perfect will of God, bringing him to this revelation?

“... Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts!” - Zechariah 4:6

Elijah, having experienced the power of God’s Holy Spirit, was prepared to be the instrument of God’s continuing love and care for Israel. And so, without rebuke, without condemnation, without bringing to mind Elijah’s weaknesses, God says to his prophet,

“Go!” - 1 Kings 19:15

Are you ready to take the next step? Where have you placed your confidence? Do you find yourself standing in the door of the cave? If so, in which direction are you facing? Are you facing into a cave of darkness and unknown danger, or, are you facing out of the cave but depending upon the wind, earthquake and fire to fulfill your quest for evidence that God Almighty still has a plan for your life?


Stand in His sweet silence; shhhh; listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, and then go in His power!

Shhhh ...

God bless!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shhh ... I'm still listening! (2 of 3)

“As Obadiah was on the way, lo, Elijah met him. He recognized him and fell on his face, and said, ‘ Are you my lord Elijah?’ He answered him, ‘It is I; go tell your lord, Behold, Elijah is here.’ And he said, ‘What sin have I committed that you would deliver your servant into the hands of Ahab to be slain? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom, wherein my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they said, He is not here, he took an oath of the kingdom and nation that they had not found you! AND NOW YOU SAY, GO , TELL YOUR LORD, BEHOLD ELIJAH IS HERE! As soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where; so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me! But I your servant have feared and revered the Lord from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? AND NOW YOU SAY, GO TELL YOUR LORD, BEHOLD ELIJAH IS HERE; AND HE WILL KILL ME!!!’” - 1 Kings 18:7-14

I find this humorous. Oh, I admit; it would not be humorous if I were in Obadiah’s position. But since I am not, it stirs a little giggle. Allow me the opportunity to translate this passage in a manner whereby we might better relate:

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? THEY’VE BEEN LOOKING ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR YOU! OH, WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE ME THAT FOUND YOU? WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO TELL AHAB THAT I HAVE FOUND YOU? OH SURE, I KNOW; DON’T TRY AND FOOL ME! IT WILL BE JUST MY LUCK; I’LL TELL AHAB. HE WILL COME. YOU’LL DISAPPEAR AGAIN, HE WILL KILL ME! THANKS A BUNDLE ELIJAH! THANKS A DAW-GONE BUNDLE! Uh; er ... What I meant to say was ... (pause) ... Ah, come on, Elijah! I’ve been hiding my true identity from “King A” and “Jezzy” all this time that you’ve been gone! I even protected one-hundred servants of God from them. I came up with the idea to hide them in a cave and bringing them bread and water to sustain them! Come on Elijah; didn’t you hear about that? Haven’t I already done enough?”

Haven’t I already done enough?

Have you ever thought that? Have you ever felt that you’d paid your dues. According to your tabulation, the ledger appeared balanced. Enough is enough! And then God says, “Okay; Let’s get started!” Excuse me? Haven’t I already ...?

Although he was feeling a bit defeated, Obadiah did as Elijah commanded. Obadiah returned to Ahab and announced that he had found Elijah. We read that Ahab then went to meet Elijah. It’s a pitiful meeting. The King; all powerful amongst the people, with armies and chariots ready to rise at his beckoned call, fearing only his wife, Queen Jezebel, sheepishly asks:

“... are you who troubles Israel?” - 1 Kings 18:17

Elijah replied:

“I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, by forsaking the commandments of the Lord and by following the Baals.” - 1 Kings 18:18

For a refresher on the Baal’s family, please refer back to PART ONE ...

Elijah then proposes a bar-b-cue. All 450 prophets of the non-existent god, Baal, and all 400 prophets of Baal’s non-existent mother, Asherah, were to provide the entertainment by way of a little contest. It would be the, “god’s VS God” contest.

What a spectacular marketing event! I can just imagine Jezebel dictating the look of the fliers. She was, after all after all, the “Bel of the Baal”. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The rules of the contest were quite simple. Two fine bulls would be selected. The prophets of Baal and Asherah would be allowed to select which of the two they wanted. (This, obviously put Elijah at an advantage seeing that decision by committee never works!) The prophets would dress their bull and lay it on a wooden altar but they would put no fire under it. Elijah would do the same. The prophets would call upon their non- existent god, Baal, to provide fire from the heavens; Elijah would call upon the One True God to do the same.

Imagine the crowd of people in attendance! All of Israel was present. No doubt Queen Jezebel and King Ahab were in seats of honor so as to see all of their mighty prophets of the false-gods! No doubt these prophets were adorned in robes of splendor! There must have been music and dancing! Vendors provided appetizers to the throngs of spectators! IT WAS AN EVENT!

So, there you have it! Perhaps as many as eight hundred prophets stood on one side of the playing field with their personally chosen, fully dressed and prepared sacrifice, while on the other side of the playing field stood Elijah; one man standing alone - that is, except for the sacrifice that had been rejected.

Well, the prophets called upon their non-existent god from early morning until noon. The anticipation mounted! They leaped around their altar until they could only limp around their altar! They cried out with loud voices, but there was no voice in return; no one answered. (18:26)

On the other side of the playing field sat Elijah; I picture him filing his fingernails. The crowd was becoming restless. The fury of unbridled anticipation was now diminishing as were the vendor’s appetizers. And an emboldened Elijah just sat there, mocking them all ...

“At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’” - 1 Kings 18:27

Morning passed to noon. Street vendors went back to their shops. The crowds dissipated. Embarrassment now replaced anticipation. No doubt Queen Jezebel slipped away from this disgraceful failure. Belief hung in the balance as the once honored prophets of the non-existent god lay exhausted on the ground having bloodied themselves with knives and lances. But still, there was no voice; no one answered.

It is at this point that Elijah said to the people:

“‘... Come near to me’. And all the people came near him. And he repaired the (old) altar of the Lord that had been broken down [by Jezebel]. Then Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob to whom the words of the Lord came saying ‘Israel shall be your name’. And with the stones Elijah built an altar in the name [and self-revelation] of the Lord. He made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. He put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood, and said, ‘Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and the wood’. And he said, ‘Do it a second time’. And they did it a second time. And he said, ‘Do it a third time’. And they did it a third time. And the water ran about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.” - 1 Kings 18:30-35

The focus should not be upon Elijah and his preparation for the sacrifice. The focus should be upon God’s preparation of the peoples hearts! Think about it. Their only hope had been in a false-god and it now it was evident that their hope had been in vain. Their only sustenance was the precious water that they had been storing during the drought - and Elijah commanded them to pour it out upon the old altar of God; the altar they had long ago walked away from. Perhaps they felt like the poor widow who, having lost everything, prepared that last small loaf of bread for Elijah, and then prepared to die.

So, Elijah called the people together. He made no grandiose spectacle of himself. He simply 1. re-erected the altar to God and then 2. called upon His name. Elijah’s humble action was a testimony to those watching. It spoke to the heart of Israel. Those present needed to personally re-erect their spiritual altar, their communication, their praise to God, and once again call upon His name!

“‘Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You, the Lord, are God, and have turned their hearts back [to You].’” - 1 Kings 18:37

“Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench! When the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, He is God! And Elijah said, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one escape. They seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and [as God’s law required] slew them there.” - 1 Kings 18:38-40

This passage is rich in the completeness of God’s forever plan! Upon which message do we focus? There are so many truths being taught. Obadiah was clearly being used of God but he suffered from fear and exhaustion thinking he was doing so in his own strength. Obadiah did not falter because of God’s power, but because of his own pride. Perhaps it is the message that says, “Now that you are humbled by your own weakness, Let’s get started by My might and power!” Notice the comparison. Obadiah was stressed, tired, a beaten man who thought his luck had run out! He had been in hiding, living a double life, perhaps just waiting to be found out; daily living in fear! Elijah, on the other hand, stood in the very presence of those who sought to kill him. He stood, totally alone and vulnerable! The crowd pressed in, the King and Queen of evil watched expectantly, all the powers of darkness were called upon, and Elijah calmly stood, alone.

Ah, but wait, he was not totally alone. There with him was the rejected sacrifice. So is THIS the message we should focus upon? Is this a prophetic picture of Jesus, the sacrifice rejected by all and yet THE ONE TRUE SACRIFICE FOR ALL? Is this the message?

How about the fact that Elijah re-erected the old altar? Does this show a return to the One True God? Or are the components of the sacrifice, the detail by which Elijah placed the wood, the pouring out of the people’s precious, life-sustaining water in addition to the rejected sacrifice the message?

Is it the fact that although the false prophets put on a show, although they cried out to their false-gods (false-gods well known to the people, false-gods whom the people had become dependent upon) and after doing everything humanly possible to catch the attention of their false-gods to the point of bloodying themselves with knives and lances, STILL, no voice was heard; no answer was given. Is this the message?

What is the message to you? Is there one? Is there something in this passage that just seems to jump out at you? Perhaps there is something you never really took notice of before. Perhaps it is something that speaks directly to the circumstances of your life, today, right now.

And what about that still, small voice?

We’ll need to look further in the next writing!

God bless!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shhh ... I'm listening for the still, small voice ... (1 of 3)

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” - 1Kings 19:11-13 (KJV)

This has been a very difficult passage for me to understand. I've read commentary after commentary and still feel there is something within this passage I've yet to fully enjoy!

More often than not, commentaries interpret this passage as one of rebuke. They focus upon the frail humanity of Elijah rather than the forbearing provision and love of God. They hear the thunder of condemnation rather than a voice of calming

You see, Elijah had been in this situation numerous times. This story actually begins in chapter 17 of 1 Kings. It is interesting to me the way the chapter begins:

“Elijah the Tishbite, of the temporary residents of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, God of Israel lives, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word.’ And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go from here and turn east, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan.’” - 1 Kings 17:1-3

Let’s be honest. If the passage had left out the fact that it was the word of the Lord that told Elijah to go and hide, how many of us would have condemned Elijah for hiding? Elijah, a committed instrument of God, humbled himself to God’s will, and God provided.

“You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” - 1 Kings 17:4

We would have misjudged Elijah completely. We would have missed his faithfulness to God. Although he was about to travel, unprepared, to a place he did not know, he believed God would sustain him.

But the story is only beginning. As we read on we see that the brook dries up! Oops! Didn’t God know the brook would dry up? Well, of course He did; and so did Elijah. Why? Because he had just prophesied that there would not be dew or rain for years to come.

And then the word of the Lord came to Elijah again telling him to go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, because God had commanded a widow there to take care of him.

“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” - 1 Kings 17:9

Now, wait a minute? What tremendous ministry did Elijah have back at the brook Cherith? How many souls were saved? What armies were defeated? What miracles did Elijah perform? How many churches did he start? We have no record of anything being accomplished at the brook Cherith; nothing! From our vantage point, it was a miserable waste of valuable time. Here a man, chosen by God Himself, relaxes by a brook and eats whatever flesh is being brought to him by a flock of birds.

What was that all about? Why didn’t God tell Elijah to go directly to Zarephath?

BUT, the story doesn’t end there. Elijah doesn’t meet and marry the widow, raise her son, and live off of the widow’s fortune like a hollywood movie. As a matter of fact, this widow had nothing to offer:

“So he arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink’. And she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’” - 1 Kings 17:10-12

Thanks God; thanks a bundle... I thought God COMMANDED the widow to take care of Elijah....

But Elijah never falters. Elijah takes it all in stride. Why? Because Elijah has put his faith in God and not in the circumstances surrounding him. Elijah told the widow to bake him bread. Elijah told her that doing so would result in her household being filled until the rain returns. Perhaps this poor widow mustered the faith to follow his request. Perhaps she reasoned that it made little difference; she was already preparing to die.

Nevertheless, we read the widow baked. She continued to bake. She could open a bakery of her own with the amount of bread she was able to bake! The jar of meal never emptied and the bottle of oil never ran dry!

Things were going along just perfectly until the widow’s son became sick and died.

Time for introspection. What would we have thought? Oops! Must have been something the kid ate! We knew it was too good to be true. It had to catch up with old Elijah sooner or later. If it had been us, would we have been fraught with pain, or faithful to God’s promise? Would circumstance outweigh our faith in the quiet work and will of God?

To make a long story short, Elijah calls upon God, God hears his call and revives the boy to full health. (I know you are wondering how this preview has anything to do with 1 Kings 19:11-13. I’m getting there....)

And so we arrive at chapter 18.

God begins this chapter with a direct and simple command; but He does not give Elijah the whole picture of coming events. God simply says:

“Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” - 1 Kings 18:1

Isn’t this the same Ahab, son of Omri, that we read about in chapter 16?

“So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Sameria. Ahab his son reigned in his stead. In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri began his reign over Israel in Samaria. And Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all before him.” - 1 Kings 16:28-30

It is important here to see what Ahab did during his first years of office. We see that he took a wife, Jezebel, who served and worshiped the non-existent god, Baal. He even erected an altar for the non-existent god, Baal, in in a temple he erected for the non-existent god, Baal.

Here’s the non-existent god, Baal’s, background ...

Baal also bore the name, Hadad, which means “thunderer”. Baal was the weather-god and was given credit for controlling thunder, lightening, wind and rain. We mustn’t take him lightly. He was thought to come from a powerful line of non-existent gods. His non-existent father, El, meaning “strong one” was married to Baal’s non-existent mother, Asherah, the non-existent fertility goddess. Baal’s siblings were his non-existent sister Anath, meaning “surface of the earth” who was also his wife who bore veggies because of her non-existent brother/husband’s power over the weather. He had a non-existent brother, Yamm, who was god of the seas. As is the case with any family, real or non-existent, these two brothers did not get along. Yamm would get stirred up and cast waves up toward Baal who would return the brotherly quarrel with thunder, lightening and rain after which their little spat would dissipate and all would be calm.

The non-existent family of gods went about a rather normal life of spats, winds, seas and veggies until, having matured and having left home, Baal decided to throw a banquet for his non-existent father El.

Baal did not invite his non-existent brother, Yamm.

Well, Yamm did not take this lightly so killed his brother Baal. I just hate it when god’s act like that ...

Sister Anath was none too happy because she would not be able to bear veggies without rain; so she killed her brother Yamm and went to the non-existent god of death, Mot, to have Baal resurrected to rule the air once again.

Although you might be hearing this mythical story for the first time, the people living in Elijah’s time knew the story very well. It was a part of their daily life and they were reminded of it with every change in the weather. Therefore, the people worshiped these non-existent gods to win daily favor.

Anyway, Elijah went to show himself to Ahab.

While this was going on, we are given a glimpse what was happening with Ahab. Ahab called Obadiah who was Ahab’s governor of personal affairs. Unbeknownst to Ahab, Obadiah was also secretly a follower of God. We know this because when Jezebel went about killing all of the prophets who refused to bow to Baal, Obadiah hid fifty of them in a cave and fed them bread and water. Interesting, isn’t it? Hid them in a cave; fed them bread and water? Interesting ...

Ahab was desperate! The lack of rain caused a terrible famine throughout the land. Ahab’s only option was to look elsewhere for moisture and fresh grass so that the horses and mules could be saved. Ahab divided up the land ordering Obadiah to search in one direction while he searched in the other direction. And it “just happened” that along the way, Elijah met Obadiah!


1. Why did God command Elijah to hide by the brook of Cherith?
2. How could God have COMMANDED a widow to care for Elijah yet the widow was ill- prepared for Elijah’s arrival?
3.God has spoken to Elijah numerous times. Why do we not find reference to Elijah being in awe by His voice?

God’s will for us is not always readily apparent. Others might mock the direction we take. Others might mock that we appear to take no direction at all. Sometimes, however, God tucks us away in His care to more affectively prepare us to trust Him even more! God’s personal instruction does not teach us to adapt to life’s circumstances but to adhere to His promise.

Where are you along the way? What has God already prepared for YOU this day? Are you ready to claim His promise, against all odds, and steadfastly depend upon His sustenance?

PART TWO of this wonderful passage will bring us full circle. The complexities of life and the completeness of God’s will plan provide a wonderful comfort to all who read!

God bless!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don't Be Misled

(Repost, by request)

Bold outbursts and passionate oratory do not establish truth. Chaotic frenzy is not inspiration. Treading upon the sacred altar of another’s beliefs is not evangelism. Words of condemnation are not proof of power. Inciting an uprising is not evidence of leadership.

Who authorized these displays be honored as evidences of a worthy cause? What validates willful abuse of another’s honor, character, belief or property?

Who would follow the tyrant’s noise?

Watch closely, you who would wade into this mighty stream, lest you be misled to think you govern it’s goings. - Laurie De Seguirant