Look Both Ways Before You Stay Where You Are

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (Acts 16:5-7)

The passage cited above from Acts 16 is fascinating because Paul and his preacher friends were on their way to Phrygia and Galatia to do something completely righteous, Christ-like, and holy: they were going to preach. So, why on earth would “the Spirit of Jesus not allow them to”? I’m sure Paul and his friends were left scratching their heads as they worked to find one good reason why they shouldn’t be preaching in Prygia, Galatia, and Bithynia. I believe the reason lies in a little word we call “timing.”

Sometimes, it’s the right move, but the wrong time. If the enemy can’t get us to “cool our faith,” he’ll simply tempt us to “take our faith into our own hands,” ignoring the details God is trying to share with us.

Henry Blackaby once wrote, “The world shouts at us, ‘Don’t just stand there, do something!” But, God whispers, ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.” God very much wants to include us in His plans. But, much like the “false start” penalty in the NFL, we sometimes get ahead of the game. We’ve got to remember: God, alone, sees the bigger picture.

There may well be times in your life that God gives you a “red light” even when it appears there’s not a single logical reason for staying put and staying quiet. That’s when satan baits us. “What are you waiting on??”, he hisses. “The ‘window’ is closing!” We’re tempted to “jump the gun,” to take matters into your own hands. Satan is a liar.

If there’s something in your sights you just know God is telling you to do – but circumstances don’t seem to be lining up as fast as you’d like – be patient. Timing (God’s timing) is everything. In Acts 16:8-10, we’re told that during the night God gave Paul a vision/dream of a man in Macedonia begging, “Come and help us.” So they did. And they found nothing but “green lights” from God this time.

Soli Deo Gorlia, Nick

My Name is Gossip

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor….” (Matthew 12:36; Prov. 11:9)

We live in a society – both Christian and non-Christian – obsessed with a desire “to know the inside scoop.” Pastor, Greg Laurie, once said in a sermon, “The old saying goes, ‘Good news travels fast.’ I submit to you that bad news travels faster….[in fact], ‘A lie is half-way around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”

The running joke among churches is that Christians don’t gossip – they share “prayer requests.”

Read Romans 1:28-31, and you’ll find “gossip” included in a list of sins that includes murder.

So, although it may not show up in our “bad sin list,” it shows up in God’s.

In addition, in the somewhat-familiar “Six things the Lord hates” passage in Proverb 6:16-19, four of the six, by implication, are related to the sin of gossip.

In the late 1980’s, the Gaither Vocal Band sang a song called, “The Rumormill.” Here’s an excerpt:

“The people that work there are all volunteers; The only qualification is a mouth and two big ears. If a story’s not clear enough, that’s okay! They’ll just doctor it up and then send it on its way. It doesn’t matter who’s involved or who it’s gonna hurt, As long as folks are listenin’ they’ll keep shovelin’ dirt at…The Rumormill.”

Don’t be fooled: a person who will gossip to you will also gossip about you. Paul warned Timothy, “Avoid godless chatter [GR: empty, fruitless discussion], because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Tim. 2:16-17a, 23)

I don’t know the author of the following poem. But, it bears sharing here.

“My Name is Gossip”

I have no respect for justice, I maim without killing;
I break hearts and I ruin lives;
I am cunning and malicious and I gather strength with age;
The more I am quoted the more I am believed;
My victims are helpless;
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name or face;
Tracking me down is impossible; The harder you try the more elusive I become;
I am nobody’s friend; Once I tarnish a reputation it is never the same;
I wreck marriages and I topple governments;
I ruin careers and I cause sleepless nights, heartaches, and indigestion;
I make innocent people cry on their pillows;
I make headlines….and headaches;
Even my name hisses….my name is Gossip.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Just Hold On

Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:3)

Perhaps you’re at a “breaking point” of sorts – one more proverbial “straw on the camel’s back” and you’re done. Marriage, relationships, finances, your job, your health, raising kids,…take your pick at a number of issues that can make us want to give up & let go of our faith & hope in Christ. But don’t let go.

The following story is true, recorded by Craig Larson & Leadership Journal. It proves that, although our present circumstances may appear unbearable, holding on is definitely worth the effort. Here’s the fascinating story:

On a commuter flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Henry Dempsey, the pilot, heard an unusual noise near the rear of the small aircraft. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and went back to check it out.

As he reached the tail section, the plane hit an air pocket, and Dempsey was tossed against the rear door. He quickly discovered the source of the mysterious noise. The rear door had not been properly latched prior to takeoff, and it flew open. He was instantly sucked out of the jet.

The co-pilot, seeing the red light that indicated an open door, radioed the nearest airport, requesting permission to make an emergency landing. He reported that the pilot had fallen out of the plane, and he requested a helicopter search of that area of the ocean.

After the plane landed, they found Henry Dempsey – holding onto the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had caught the ladder, held on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4000 feet, and then, at landing, kept his head from hitting the runway, which was a mere twelve inches away. It took airport personnel several minutes to pry Dempsey’s fingers from the ladder.

Christ could’ve “let go” when He was on the cross. But He didn’t. When you feel like you’re losing your grip, “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

So That….

As [Jesus] went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. (John 9:1-3)

No doubt, many of you who are reading this have gone through something that has caused you to ask God, “What could You possibly be trying to teach me through this?” I suspect most, if not all, believers have, at some point, felt this way. There are simply times in all believers’ lives that rack our brains and make us wonder if God has “stepped out for a minute and forgotten about us.”

Sometimes we’re “let in” on why we’re going through trying times. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul was given insight as to why God had given him his “thorn in the flesh.” “To keep me from becoming conceited…,” Paul explained in verse 7. Other times (most times), however, it’s as though all we get is silence from heaven – “a door bolted shut”, as C.S. Lewis describes it. Job – as far as we know – was never given an explanation for his suffering. Using human intellect, logic & reason, it is a waste of time trying to “figure God out.” Isaiah 55:8-9 and Romans 11:33-34 are just two passages that remind us that we’ll never comprehend God.

In John 9, the disciples thought they knew why the man in the story had been born blind. (Due to a faulty rationale in Hebrew culture, they believed the blind, lame, and leprous all somehow deserved what they got because of someone’s sin – either theirs or a family member’s.) Fortunately, God-Made-Flesh was close by to shed some Light on the situation. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

There’s no easy explanation as far as suffering is concerned. But there’s one thing I want you to hold onto tightly: Regardless of if you know the reason for your trials or not, God’s in the midst of all of it. And His overriding purpose is this: to gain glory.

How can God gain glory through our suffering? Leave that up to God. You’ll be surprised (just like the man born blind.)

Are you going through a tough time and, as hard as you try, can’t figure out what God’s up to? Remember, God always – always – has a purpose – a “so that” – for the difficult times of our lives. God is saying to you, “Be still My child. You cannot comprehend My love for you. Know that I am allowing you this time of trial and difficulty so that I may be glorified in your life. I know it doesn’t make sense to you right now. Trust Me. I’ve got this.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick