He’s not what you may think

There are many definitions of the “Glory of God”.  To me the greatest attribute of God’s glory is his humility. God chose to humble Himself and love me when I was arrogant, boastful, insulting and rude; to others and especially to Him.  If God had not endured my disrespect, I would probably be in hell by now.  And rightfully so.  

My greatest weakness may be “Pride.”  I wrote evangelistic advertisements for a newspaper.  The ads ran every Saturday.  I did this for two years until my pride was such that I couldn’t hear from God any more.  I didn’t write again for 8 years.  I knew I was getting proud.  I didn’t want to get proud.  I thought I confessed my pride to God.  But I was proud.

Pride is the opposite of love.  Love gets its joy from helping others.  Pride thinks only about itself.  I still need to die to myself.  Every day.

On the other hand, God’s humility is amazing.  His depths of self-denial are so great that if I loved like He does I would feel embarrassed.  Like the father of the prodigal son, God undignifies Himself and runs after us to love us.  Where I would feel humiliated to love someone who treated me like I treated God, His strength-of-self knows no such weakness.  He voluntarily throws aside the respect due Him, in order to meet my need.  And He has.  And He truly has my Respect.

How about you?  Did you think God was stuffy, formal and pretentious?  Did you think you were too low for Him to come down to meet you where you are?  He’s already there.  And He is waiting for you to ask Him into your life.  And He wants to give you His love.

God is faithful in small things, and will be faithful in large things

I was told by a mentor that seeing as much answered prayer as I do is a gift.  I hope this is not true.  I don’t see nearly as much of what God is doing as I would like.  And I hope everyone sees as much or more of what God is doing than I do.

“Thank you Jesus”

If you are like me you have blamed God when things go “wrong”.  “God, how could you let this happen?”  If God gets the blame when things go wrong, shouldn’t He get the credit when things go right?  And if He should, do I thank Him? for everything?  Did my alarm clock get me out of bed for work?  Thank you Jesus.  Was there air in my car tires to take me to work?  Thank you Jesus.  Did my car start?  Thank you Jesus.  Did the traffic lights work?  Thank you Jesus.  I could spend all day thanking Jesus in my head for all the things that He makes go “right” for me.

If I think these examples are trivial then what would I do if Jesus didn’t make these things go “right” for me?  I overslept, had a flat tire, my car wouldn’t start and after I had changed the tire, jump started the engine I found myself in a traffic jam because the traffic lights were out.  If it is not trivial when it goes wrong, it is not trivial when Jesus makes it go right.  I’m going to thank Him.

“Fired”

I told my employer that I would not work with pornography, occult, or abortion ads.  They threatened to fire me.  My Bible-study group prayed for my wife and me and I prayed God would tell me what to say.  God didn’t give me the exact words to say, instead He made my thinking very clear, He made the path of love very obvious.  I would be hurting others by doing these ads.  I was responsible for my actions.  There is a chain of actions that takes pornography from producer to user and I would not be part of that chain.  God gave me the chance to tell top level management about Jesus.  And in the end, I didn’t get fired.  In fact, five years later they asked me to write an evangelism series of ads for them.

“Finding the Lost… Toys”

When we first adopted our two sons (they were 6 and 2 years old) they had lost a toy.  I suggested to them that we pray and ask Jesus to help us find it.  We prayed, “Jesus would you help us find this toy”.    I simply told my two sons that Jesus would help them find the toy and that He might not bring the toy to them so they needed to start looking.  And then I had to resist the urge to “help God find the toy.”  This was nerve-wracking for me.  Did I really trust God to come through?  What if we didn’t find the toy? What would that communicate to my sons? to me?  I was relieved when they found the toy.  I decided that every time we lost something we would ask God to help us find it as a faith building exercise for my two sons, and me.  Sixteen years later we now depend on God to answer our prayer to help us find things that are lost and for everything that concerns us.  And I realize God doesn’t need my “help” finding things, I need His.  We have found all but a handful of the things we have lost.  And some of those things may have been thrown away by mistake.

“Mator and the big public test”

Jeremy and John were swimming in a lake with their toys, one of which was a truck called “Mator” from the Disney film Cars.  They lost it in the murky water thirty-five feet from shore.  They yelled to me, “Dad, we lost Mator, we’ve been looking for it and we can’t find it anywhere… should we pray?”  Now this was a test for me.  I have never found anything I have lost in any lake if I couldn’t see it. And, dozens of strangers were standing around us waiting for my response.  I yelled back,  “Dear Jesus, please help them find it.”  Jeremy took one step and his foot stepped on top of Mator.  My boys were ecstatic.  But not as much as me.  My trust in Jesus soared.  I laid my public reputation and my life’s purpose on the line that Jesus could do something I could never do, and He came through.

“Faith Games”

I expanded this idea for my youngest.  He spent a lot of time playing video games then and I said to him, “You know how we pray to Jesus and He helps us find things?”  He said, “Yeah.”  I said, “He can help you play video games too.  Just ask Him.”  Jesus has turned playing video games into a faith classroom for my youngest son.

“NOT hearing from God”

Interest rates were at record breaking lows for mortgages and the time seemed right to move.  I decided I wouldn’t do anything until I heard from God.  My wife wanted to move, people were telling us now was the time, but I wanted to make sure not to run ahead of God.  I waited and prayed for God to let me know it was His will to move.  I waited months and heard nothing from God.  I told God that time may be running out.  Finally, my wife said, “Jim, you’re waiting for God to tell you it’s time to move, how will He do that?”  I said I was waiting for an impression, something similar to how God has communicated to me in the past.  She said, “Maybe God is speaking through our circumstances?”  Though our elementary school special ed experience had been excellent our sons needed a school system with stronger middle and high school special ed programs.  I realized I had had tunnel vision, expecting God to work in only the ways I had experienced before.  We moved and our boys have had a great special ed experience.  My wife is my best counselor and Jesus uses her daily to help me.

“Looking for a House… and the Bathroom Door”

In our old house I could lay on my bed with my head at the foot of the bed and look through the bedroom door, across the hall, through the bathroom door and make sure my youngest son was okay taking a bath.  I asked God, “How am I going to be able to watch him like this in our next house?”  He had me stand next to my bed, lay down and look at the wall.  He said I would be able to monitor John by laying on my bed just like that.

I didn’t believe Him.

After we had bought our new house I realized that the extra door to connect the master bedroom to the main bath  was exactly where God said it would be for me to be able to see into the bathroom and monitor John in the tub.

“Jeremy Tithes”

I told my oldest son about the benefits God claims for those who give Him back the extra 10% he gives us.  My son gave 10% to our local church of the money he had earned and we watched what God would do.  Within a few days a co-worker had run out of people to give free movie tickets to so she offered them to me and my family.  God had taken Jeremy’s $7 and given Jeremy $40 in tickets.  Now here’s the disclaimer:  God is not Santa Claus, a vending machine or the stock market.  If you give to get rich you will be very disappointed.  God’s goal is that we learn to love and depend on Him, not manipulate Him so we can love money more.

“Two of my Mentors say I Over-Spiritualize”

When I first was saved by Jesus my mentor said that I over-spiritualized.  I saw everything in the context of Jesus.  More recently one mentor said, “God doesn’t care what color socks you wear.”  I believe that if it matters to me, it matters to God, and that if it matters to God, it should matter to me.  And I believe no circumstances are by chance, everything that happens has been planned by God.  And I believe there is no part of life that you can say, “This doesn’t have anything to do with God.”  There is no such thing as “secular.”

What do you want?

What a man wants is unfailing love, better to be poor than a liar.  (Proverbs 19:22 NIV84)

God created us to want unconditional love, to want Him.  It is better to be poor in spirit (know you need God) than to lie (and say in your heart you don’t need God).  Satan appeals to our desire to meet our own needs, be our own “god”, to be our own source.  Satan hates God, hates that He is love, and hates those who accept Him and His love… and return His love.  He hates God because God’s goodness exposes satan’s evil selfish corruption.  People worship (value) God because God demonstrates His humility and self-sacrificing care for them every day.  God puts our needs ahead of His own.  He is not only the Great King He is the Lowest (Head) Servant.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45, NKJV).

 Satan tells people to blame God for all the evil in the world.  Satan tells people that God is uninterested in them, in their struggles, hurts, cares or dreams.  Satan tells people that God is a nitpicking tyrant just waiting to pounce on them for doing the littlest thing wrong.

These are actually the qualities of satan and the opposite of the qualities of God.

God demonstrated who He really is when He walked on earth with us, in the person of Jesus Christ.  Read the truth about God in the Bible.  Read the Gospels, literally the “Good News”: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John at the beginning of the New Testament of the Bible.  Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and proclaimed the coming of His kingdom where His kind of loving service would rule; instead of this world’s current selfishness.

Do you want a God who is a loving leader; who values you and even your smallest dreams; who has served your greatest need already by paying the cost of your sin so you could spend forever with Him, so He could love you, and you could freely love Him back?  If so, ask Jesus to come into your heart, to be your Servant and your Leader.  Spend time talking to Him and listening to Him through prayer and reading the Bible.  Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit.  Find a church that believes and preaches the Bible.  And tell others what a great thing God has done for you.

Why Give?

The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is servant
to the lender.
Proverbs 22:07 NIV84


Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:5-9 NKJV

Darwin suggested that the “strong” were to win out over the “weak”; the survival of the “fittest,” and the extinction of the rest.  But what if the rich are allowed their riches by God in order to give the rich the opportunity to bless the poor?  Not forced redistribution of wealth that the socialist advocates, but a freewill chance to love like Jesus loves.  The rich could provide resources and knowledge to those who lack them.

What if the poor has something to offer the rich?  “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith…?”  The poor could help the rich see past this material world, which operates on the principle of selfish gain; to see another world: A world which operates on the principle of loving service, powered by God’s love flowing through each of us to the other.  This world’s system operates on the basis of “what’s in it for me?”  Jesus’ system operates on the basis of: “God, what can you give others through me?”  It is a battle of the “get” (or “greed”) versus the “give” (or “love”) systems of thinking.

Complementariness, or each providing what the other lacks, is a theme that runs through God’s creation.  Unequal distribution of wealth (and faith) is no accident.  God made us each of equal value to Him, but unequal in our various abilities.  This is so we come to realize that we need each other.  This is so we can truly bless each other by giving some of what we have more than enough of (resources or faith), and giving it to the other, to meet each other’s needs.

And when God gives to you and me, and we each give to each other, the joy you and I and God share with each other, will tell a dying world where to find God.