How Are You Doing?

Two things stood out to me from a recent conversation with a man who has been super successful in leading one of the world’s most well known companies. I was quizzing him on what makes a great leader. From that conversation I gleaned two ideas that anyone can profitably apply.

Dave related that a man with a landscaping business came to him for advice. Things weren’t going as well as he hoped. Dave asked, “Do you check up on your men’s work?”

“No, I don’t need to. I trained them myself.”

Dave suggested, “I think you should check their work.”

The man returned. “You’re right. They were cutting corners. Do you have any other advice for me?”

Dave said, “What are you doing to WOW! your customers? Do your men notice if a scrub isn’t doing well and advise their client on a plant that might thrive in that shady spot? Are they alert to ways they might better serve their customers?”

So I ask you, my reader, how are you doing in keeping your date with the Lord? If you are helping others walk with Jesus, how are they doing? We need to help each other pursue the highest.

What has God called you to do? Are you seeking to WOW! your boss, employees, students, family, whomever, to the glory of God? Do you have their best interest in mind?

I’ve reposted a video of a ten minute talk I gave at the Navigator National Staff Conference last year on keeping a daily date with the Lord. I hope it will encourage you and those you are encouraging. Let’s pursue the Lord and put a little WOW! into our love for others.

Live the mystery.

 

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Always the Scriptures

If I could be a fly on the wall to overhear any conversations in the Bible this would be my choice. In Luke 24 the risen Christ reveals Himself and the plan of God to His disciples from the Scriptures. Oh, to hear Jesus’ voice gather the threads and display Himself in all the Scriptures. Jesus did this twice in this chapter, pretty much back to back, to two emotionally distraught companies of His disciples.

First: He opened the Scriptures to the grieving and confused disciples on the road from Jerusalem. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (verse 27).

Second: Then Jesus appeared to the eleven. It’s easy to imagine their fragile emotional state after all that has happened. The arrest, mock trial, flogging and crucifixion followed by rumors of resurrection. When Jesus appears suddenly they are “startled and frightened.”  Jesus describes them as troubled and doubting.

“Then He said to them, ‘These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’

          Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and the repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. And behold I am sending the promise of My Father among you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high’” (verses 44-49).

When Jesus comes to His emotionally fragile people what does He do? He opens the Scriptures to them.

When troubling emotions rob my peace and joy I need Jesus to preach the gospel to me, too. The glory is that Jesus still draws near to speak His Word to me. My part is to reserve space daily to open His Word and to engage with expectation.

Let’s live the mystery.

Tell Me What to Do

 

Mothers Heart

After the caesarian birth of our first child I sat on the side of the hospital bed and cried. My son and I were frustrated trying to master breast feeding. He had been swept to the nursery when I went into recovery and had a large bottle-nipple, stuffed with cotton, stuck in his mouth. My anatomy didn’t meet his expectations.

A kind, black Army nurse entered my world of inexperience and unbalanced hormones. She told me a funny story. We laughed. Then she told me that her family was poor and when sickness came, her mother asked God to tell her what to do. She said that it wasn’t until she was in nursing school that she realized that her mother had mixed up concoctions for sore throats that were similar to what doctors prescribed. I’ve thought of this gentle woman many times. She came to my mind again this morning when I read Isaiah 28:23-29.

In this passage the Lord asks farming questions. Does the farmer plow and plow and plow and never get around to planting? Does the farmer plant all crops in the same manner? Does the farmer harvest all crops the same? Of course, the answer is NO. He prepares the ground, then plants each crop according its needs. Each crop is harvested and made ready for use in the appropriate way.

“For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him” (Isaiah 28:26).

“This  also comes from the Lord of hosts; He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29).

So I think: what is it I don’t know how to do? how to handle? how to respond? how to go forward?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:8).

Lord God, You are wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. You made me and you know my circumstance. You love to instruct and teach. My part is to humbly ask: Tell me what to do (see Proverbs 11:2).

 Live the glorious mystery.

 

Draw Near

This summer I’m trying to notice answers to prayer.

My prayer: Father, bring to maturity seeds that You’ve planted in my life. So this morning I was excited when the Lord put some fertilizer on a promise I’m believing Him for this summer.

The promise: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

The fertilizer: Insights from Luke 24:13-36. As I read this passage the Lord drew near to me as I read about Him drawing near to others.

After the resurrection two disciples walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were deep in troubled and confused conversation—“When Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” He drew near, but they were kept from recognizing Him. As they walked together, Jesus asked about the content of their intense conversation. And out it tumbled. They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah. But He was crucified. Women and angels declared He was alive. Risen from the dead. The tomb was empty. They’d seen it themselves.

Jesus drew near and walked with them.

Jesus drew near and asked questions.

Jesus drew near and listened.

Jesus drew near and lovingly rebuked their lack of faith (verses 25,26).

Jesus drew near “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (verse 27).  Imagine Jesus so close explaining Old Testament passages about Himself.

As they approached Emmaus, Jesus acted as if He were going farther. They strongly urged Him to stay with them. It wasn’t until Jesus prayed before their meal that they recognized Him. He vanished. And they believed. They got up and marched right back to Jerusalem to tell Jesus’ eleven disciples that Jesus was alive—and that He drew near. Even so, the eleven doubted until Jesus drew near to them.

Mark’s gospel gives a great condensed version:

“After these things He appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

            Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:12-14).

 

This morning I saw that Jesus is always drawing near to grow the seeds He’s planted in us. He draws near to reveal Himself. I realized, too, that God answered my prayer that I would notice answers to prayer. He draws near to connect my prayer and His answer. I pray: “Lord Jesus, draw near and mature seeds You’ve planted in me.”

Lord God, i want draw near to You confident that You draw near to me. Lord Jesus, i believe that You draw near when i engage in conversation with others about You. Please draw near to lovingly rebuke me when I need to be stirred to faith. Draw near and explain the Scriptures to me. Draw near and help me recognize You, more and more. Help me to love the fellowship of believers because You are near. Please draw near and fill me with Yourself. Amen.

 

Only at Death?

It’s sad, tragically sad, if we see the truth only when it is too late to do anything about it. We’re motoring through life dealing with the here and now, chugging along. Then, death. The end of life on earth. Another life, one chosen on earth, begins. Too late we realize our eternal destiny is determined on earth. We see it now. The truth was right there all the time, but we missed it, or ignored it, or resisted it.

That’s the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). Only at death did the rich man see the truth. In torment the rich man begged, “Send Lazarus to warn my five brothers.”

To his request, father Abraham said, “They have Moses and Prophets, let them hear them.”

The rich man: “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”

Father Abraham: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

This is a powerful warning to us and our world. Jesus has risen from the dead. The eternal God became man and lived among us. He brought us truth from outside this world. He lived among us doing God’s will on earth as He had done it in Heaven. We have seen God and His perfection in flesh. Jesus fulfilled all that the Scriptures foretold. He died on the Cross to forgive our sins and reconcile us to God. He rose from the dead to give us new life, eternal life.

But even that isn’t enough to convince.

How sad if we only realize at death that we missed the truth.

Father, I know I’m missing so much that’s right before my eyes. Please open my eyes to SEE. Put Your finger on truth and light it up for me. Put Your finger on my heart and mind.  I’m so dense. Shape me to Christ, to grace and truth. I want to fully live the mystery.

Summer Parable

In an earlier blog (June 10), I invited you to join me in asking God for a personal parable that expresses His intention for your summer growth. I prayed, thought, waited, but nothing. Then I scrolled back to previous blogs to refresh my memory and I saw my photos of angel statues taken at a local nursery. The angels were nestled in among spectacular foliage. I saw in their upturned faces devotion to God, surrender, holy desire. My spirit resonated. I want those things to grow in me. However, the parable took me to unexpected places.

 

MY PARABLE

 

          AN OLD WOMAN went to the local nursery. Everywhere scarlets, pinks, corals, purples and sunny yellows. Geraniums and petunias, mint and basil, orchids and plumeria. She lifted her hands and heart to God, Maker of heaven and earth. Here she felt the glory of God, His invisible substance, His greatness, the unfathomable depth, height, length and weight of God.

 

          Then she saw it, snugged in among the plants, an image of worship and surrender.

 

blog statue

Blog picA

The old woman was moved. She photographed the statue. She put the photo in her blog. She took her husband to the nursery. He looked at the price. Ridiculous! He lifted the statue. Light. Hollow. One step up from papier mache.

 

          Then, the old woman stopped and thought: “Glory” means “weight.” God is heavy—beyond comprehension. Unfathomable. Worthy.  Splendorous.Then, she saw that only as she beholds His worthiness and beauty does she gain “weight.” 

 

          II Cor. 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

 

          II Cor. 3:18 “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the GLORY of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of GLORY to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

 

          Rom. 8:18 “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the GLORY that is to be revealed in us.”

 

II Cor 4:16-18 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of GLORY beyond all comparison, as we look not on the things that are seen but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

 

Behold the Lord and live the mystery.

Blessed to See

The phrase “[Jesus] rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21) stopped me. The image of our Lord, Spirit-filled, joy-filled, exulting, set my spirit swelling. I think what sets Jesus’ spirit soaring should set my spirit soaring, too.

As I considered the context, I placed this phrase beside surrounding verses.

My name is written in heaven: Preceding the phrase, Jesus warns the seventy-two disciples returning from a successful missionary endeavor not to rejoice that they had authority over evil spirits, but “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

Father and Son have revealed Themselves to me: Jesus thanked the Father that though supreme truth is hidden from the wise, He has graciously revealed it to little children. He goes on: “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or Who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom He chooses to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22).

I have seen and heard what was long hidden but earnestly desired: “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Luke 10:23,24).

My spirit rises. My name is written in heaven. The Father sent the Son that I might know both Father and Son. Because I can’t know God by discovery He has revealed Himself to me. Throughout the ages, men of wisdom, prophets and kings, longed to see and hear what Jesus has revealed to me. These revelations are veins of riches bought with the blood of Christ.

Paul got it when he wrote: “To me…was given…the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). Unsearchable! Paul takes me to the shore of an endless ocean and bids me rejoice in awe.

I acknowledge that “my rejoicing” isn’t in right proportion to the wonder of these things. I’ve seen lottery winners jump and scream. I’ve seen fans at the Super Bowl paint their bare torsos blue. I’ve seen teens at Rock Concerts swoon, and I acknowledge that my responses to the unsearchable riches of Christ are comparatively puny. Although my responses lack visible enthusiasms, the reality is that the Holy Spirit is mining the treasure-store to me, quietly, faithfully, privately. He reminds me that each of these wonderful riches is meant to stir joy in me today whatever my circumstance.

As I consider the Lord Jesus “rejoicing in the Spirit,” I think how pure and intense His joy was. He knows, like no one else, the glory these riches represent—and He knows what it cost to procure them for us. I believe He rejoices when I seek from the Spirit more insight and experience of things hidden—and revealed. May my joy in some measure reflect His joy.

Live the mystery.