Where Is God? 

Same old story: Mom had two sons who were driving her crazy. She had read all the parenting books. She had tried every disciplinary strategy imaginable. Her kids weren’t children; they were uncontrollable force of nature.

One day she was bemoaning the situation in an over-the-fence conversation with a neighbour. Her friend said, “I took my son to the pastor, and he hasn’t given me a problem since.”

It didn’t should like much reason to get her hopes up, but Mom had tried everything else — what did she have to lose? She marched her two sons to the car and drove them to the church, where they had an appointment in the pastor’s office.

The clergyman worked like a good police detective: He separated the two suspects for interrogation. The younger one waited outside while the older one faced the somber, robed minister alone. Without so much as introducing himself, the pastor stared into the eyes of the frightened boy and began his interrogation with this thundering question: “Where is God?”

The boy was speechless.

The pastor repeated, “Where is God?”

The young lad looked away, searching the room as if the answer might be found on the shelves or in the framed picture. He still kept silent. The thunder sounded closer as the minister demanded for a third time, “Where is God?”

This time the boy leapt to his feet and fled the office. In the waiting room, he grabbed his brother and shouted, “Let’s get out of here! They’ve lost God and they’re trying to pin it on us!”

Have you ever lost God? Have you ever felt as if the folks at church have lost God somewhere? In my household, when something is lost, someone usually asks, “Where was the last place you had it? For many of us, maybe that’s the right question. Where was God when I lost Him? Where did I leave Him?

And as we reflect over these questions, we usually come to the conclusion that the last time we had God, there was a certain something in the air. There  was a feeling. There was an energy. Perhaps the right word is passion. Somewhere in the course of doing life, we lost the art of feeling God. The passion drained away, and the emptiness became palpable.

The idea of losing God is a terrible one. As a young believer, I was given a copy of a remarkable book called Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I remember writing out the statement that seemed to be the very secret promised by the title. Hudson Taylor wrote: “I saw Him, and I sought Him, and I had Him, and I wanted Him.”

Those fifteen words carry the whole story. All the ingredients of the conquest of life are held in those four clauses — to see, to seek, to have, and to want. That last part addresses this issue of losing God — will we keep wanting Him once we’ve found Him?

Isn’t that what losing our spiritual passion is all about: losing our desire for God? And, how can we explain the idea of not wanting God? How can we acknowledge such an awful truth?

A.W. Tozer wrote that the great people of the Bible and Christian history have had an insatiable hunger for God. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with so many of us He waits so very long in vain.”

Here’s my point: Desire for God is that spark that can ignite into flame (passion) or, when untended, fizzle into ashes. As we grow in the Christian life, we understand more and more that it’s a fire that must be fed. Coming to know God and realizing that He wants to be wanted does make the flames (passion) leap within us. Think about the first time you fell in love and the object of your affection loved you back. There were two elements: your wanting and the other person’s wanting to be wanted by you. It makes a world of difference, doesn’t it? If you find that your feelings are not cherished, neither will your love last.

In the same way, we come to a place where we not only desire God but feel His pleasure. His yearning for us. Every one of us wants to be wanted by someone. As a result, there is no heart in this world that will not be touched by the realization of being wanted and cherished by the Creator of the universe. It feeds the fire of our passion, and we want him all the more.

If you have lost God, turn around as He is right there. He wants to be wanted! Ask Him to rekindle your love and your passion for Him. That, is a prayer that He will answer immediately. Guaranteed. 

First and Second Coming of Jesus

It is an historical fact that Jesus came and was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Galilee, ministered in Israel, died on a Roman cross, and rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to be with us.

It is a prophetic fact that He will be coming again.

However, His second coming will look drastically different from His first…

      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a baby. When He comes back, He will come as a full-grown king.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came lying in a manger. When He comes back, He will come riding a white horse
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came in weakness and meekness. When He comes back, He will come in power and glory.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came to pay for the sins of the world. When He comes back, He will do away with all sin.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a suffering servant. When He comes back, He will come as a conquering master.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a sacrificial lamb. When He comes back, He will come as a roaring lion.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He suffered momentarily on the cross. When He comes back, He will make sure that Satan will suffer for all eternity in hell.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, very few people in a town called Bethlehem knew about it. When He comes back, everyone on earth will know who He is.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, only a few wise men bowed down before Him. When He comes back, every knee will bow down before Him.

There will be a few similarities:

      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came because He loves you. When He comes back, He will come because He loves you.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came because He remembered you. When He comes back, He will come because He remembers you.

Yes, contrary to popular belief, Someone has come and is coming again. He cares. His Name is Jesus.

SOMETIMES I WORRY

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-worry/

Today, let’s look at “worry”

“But what if…”

Pastors and Church leaders are suppose to exercise unwavering faith

No matter how circumstances might appear – pastors should rest confidently in the faithfulness of God

As men and women of faith they should not worry or ever be anxious

When everyone else struggles with worry and the resulting anxiety, the fearless leader is expected to step in with just the right faith-filled words

That’s what we are taught in seminary … and that’s what most Christians think, believe, and expect from their leaders

That’s why when a pastor or Christian leader falls into sin everyone is shocked and dismayed

Yet, when someone at work or in the neighbourhood falls into sin – well, its just being human … I mean, what did you expect  Read more

Just Do Something!

Did you know that showing compassion has measurable therapeutic value for our lives? Doing good for others does good for us. One of the benefits of showing compassion to others is that it reverses the destructive process of self-absorption, moves us into the healthy arena of seeing the need of others, and ultimately opens us up to the reality of God and His destiny for us.

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was passionate about showing compassion, especially for the downtrodden of the London slums. One day his son Bramwell entered the room early and found his father furiously brushing his hair, brushes in both hands, as he frantically finished dressing for the day. No time for “Good Morning”; Booth looked at his son and cried, “Bramwell! Did you know there are men sleeping outdoors all night under the bridges?” He’d been in London late the preceding night, and this had been a shocking sight on his way home.

“Well, yes,” said Bramwell. “A lot of poor fellows, I suppose.”

“Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself for having known it and done nothing for them,” answered William Booth,

Bramwell began constructing elaborate excuses. He could never add such a complex project to all the things he had going on in his life, which he now began to name. His plate was full.

His father simply barked, “Go and do something!”

That moment of resolve and compassion was the beginning of the Salvation Army Shelters, a special ministry that changed the lives of hundreds of homeless men during the early days of the Salvation Army work in London.

Have you ever had a Booth moment, when suddenly you saw some person or situation through God’s eyes and developed a fiery determination to see it change?

That is almost always the start of an amazing adventure with the Lord as you move forward out of self-centredness and begin to respond with compassion and meet the needs of others. Reminds me of an old saying I heard when first saved: “Find a need and meet it!” 

So many believers sit and wonder what the Lord has called them to do. They want to know what their ministry is. It’s simple: “Find a need and meet it.” In doing so the Lord can then direct you and reveal to you your unique calling and personal ministry. Just sitting and waiting for a revelation does not work. It is much easier to steer a moving car than a car that is parked. So, “find a need and meet it” will get you moving and then God will steer and reveal. 

Good advice: “Go and do something!”

Knowing the Shepherd

A story is told of a talent show held in a small country church many years ago. Two performers stood out in people’s minds that evening: the first was a visitor from the city. He was a seasoned professional actor, well trained in the Shakespearean tradition. Stepping up front, he cleared his throat, and in a deep, resonant voice, the Twenty-third Psalm echoed throughout the chapel. The actor recited the classic psalm with sweeping gestures, masterful poise, and flattering eloquence. He concluded to the brisk applause of a thrilled audience.

The pastor let a moment pass as a brief afterglow ensued. Then the pastor nodded his head towards a farmer near the back door. “Joseph, would you be next?” The pastor said.

“Aw, shucks,” the farmer replied. “I don’t know nuthin’.”

“Sure you do,” the pastor said. “Come on up, Joseph.”

Others joined in the coaxing until sheer embarrassment forced the farmer forward. Fidgeting from side to side, he half mumbled, “Shucks, I don’t know much; but all I can think to do is quote the same psalm as this other man did. I’m not much one for reading, and it’s the only one I ever learned by heart. I’m afraid this other man beat me to it.”

“Well, share it again, then,” the pastor encouraged, and soon others were echoing the request.

The farmer was in his early sixties. Hard times had fallen on his life and little farm but he remained godly and soft-spoken, a man who never complained. Swallowing hard, he stammered and started with his own paraphrase. “The Lord is my Shepherd and ‘cause of that one thing, I figure I have everything I need.” Detouring on a side route, he continued, “Y’all know that my dear wife died six years ago. When my Helen passed, I didn’t think I could go on without her. But God never left me and He reminded me that I was gonna do just fine. He said He’d be there for the kids and me, and He was.”

The farmer paused to remember which verse he was on, then continued, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still streams. He restores my soul. He leads me …” The farmer paused as his thoughts were interrupted by yet another remembrance. “Y’all know that when the war broke out, my boys felt it right to join up. The day they left was the last day I saw them alive. I run the farm alone now … But the Lord goes before me and prepares my table. I’m never truly alone. Not really. And when I don’t think I have much left, my cup always overflows.”

He concluded the Twenty-third Psalm: “Surely good and mercy will follow me and I look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord, and I know it will be my home too, and my wife’s and my boys’ … forever.”

Without anyone noticing, a profound silence had filled the room; the kind when a deep respect is the only response you can give. It’s the kind of silence when you don’t know what to do, so you don’t do anything at all.

Joseph sat down, and no one moved. Then, slowly, the professional actor made his way to the front again. Standing for a moment as if to find words appropriate enough to disturb the silence, he spoke: “I many know the Shepherd’s Psalm, but this man —“ he pointed to the farmer — “He knows the Shepherd, and that makes all the difference.”

Knowing about God and knowing Him personally are galaxies apart. One might bring notoriety or even fame, but the other brings depth. Recognize the difference and choose well. That one decision will make all the difference, now and for all eternity.

God’s Love Is…

I have been studying the topic: the love of God. Amazing study. As I looked at the verse “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:35-39) I ran across an amazing story.

A fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople was such an eloquent preacher that, after his death, the Greek word Chrysostomos (“golden mouthed”) was added to his given name, John. History has since known him as John Chrysostom. He did not hesitate to point out abuses of power wherever he found them, and his outspoken oratory got him in trouble with both the church and the Roman Empire. On one such occasion, he was brought before the Roman Emperor. Tradition tells us that the emperor fixed Chrysostom with a glare and said: “I will banish you if you do not give up your faith.”

“You can banish me,” Chrysostom replied, “for the whole would is my Father’s house.”

“But I will put you to death.”

“No, you can’t. My life is hid with Christ in God.”

“Then I will take away all your material possessions.”

“No, you can’t. My treasure is in heaven along with my heart.”

“But I can drive you away from man. You will have no friends left.”

“No, you can’t make me friendless. I have a Friend in heaven from whom you can’t separate me. I defy all your attempts to silence me. There is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

This brave and bold man had a firm grasp on the power behind true courage, the power behind clear resolution, the power behind unshakable faith. He believed without wavering that the love of God held him firmly and would never leave him, no matter how severe the adversity he faced. 

How different would your life be if you found the same security in God’s love? How much more freedom would you feel? How bold would you be? How much more peace and contentment would you have? The same power that motivated John Chrysostom is within your grasp — the overcoming power that comes from realizing how tenaciously God loves you.

Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Power of the Word

One of my favourite preachers is G. Campbell Morgan (1863 to 1945) and he has an amazing story to tell about the power of God’s Word in the life of anyone who is truly seeking for truth and purpose.

He had grown up in a Christian home, never questioning that the Bible was the Word of God. But in college, his faith was severely challenged and he began to entertain doubts. “The whole intellectual world was under the mastery of the physical scientists, and of a materialistic and rationalistic philosophy,” he later said. “There came a moment when I was sure of nothing.”

That was an era when it was fashionable to launch attacks on the veracity of Scripture. The new crowd hired out great lecture and concert halls across England for the purpose of attacking the authority of the Bible. Armed with their intellectual artillery, the army of skeptics troubled the young Morgan. He studied every book he could find — for and against the Bible, for and against Christianity — until his mind was reeling with arguments and counter-arguments.

He finally heaved a sigh, gathered up all the volumes, and locked them in a cupboard. He then walked to a bookshop and purchased a brand-new Bible. He had decided it was time to let the venerable old Book speak for itself. The young Morgan believed that if the Bible truly was divinely inspired, and if he would simply read it with an open mind, then the Book would do its own convincing. So he opened its covers and began to read.

The Bible spoke to him with eloquence and authority. The unity of the sixty-six inspired books, the many literary forms gathered across time, and the depth of the message itself — all these elements of the Bible experience overwhelmed him. The clear power and presence of God could be encountered here! “That Bible found me,” he later said. After that year, 1883, he was a devoted student of the Scriptures for the balance of his life. 

Our cynical culture would like you to believe that the Christian life is a mindless thing, built around an ordinary book that is a dusty grab bag of mythology. It’s all so much emotion, they claim, so much self-deception. According to the stereotype, you check your mind at the door when you take up Christianity, and smart folks would stay away. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. And most members of the cynical culture have never honestly, with an open mind and heart, even read the Bible they appose and ridicule. 

The Titanic

In 1912 the Titanic, the largest, most luxurious, and most advanced ship of its time, sank on its maiden voyage, taking the lives of 1,514 passengers. Though the disaster occurred over one hundred year ago, several movies, documentaries, and books have kept the horror of that night alive in our minds. We’ve all heard of passengers such as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown and the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor IV. But one of the most astonishing stories from the Titanic has received little press.

It’s the story of Pastor John Harper, a widower who was travelling with his six-year-old daughter at the invitation of the great Moody Church in Chicago. Not only was he to preach there, he intend to accept the church’s offer to become their next pastor. His hopes were high, and it seemed he had a brilliant future ahead. 

After the ship hit the iceberg and it became apparent that it would sink, Harper got his daughter safely aboard a lifeboat. It’s likely he could have joined her, being her only parent, but he chose to stay aboard the sinking ship because he knew that with this disaster, God had given him an urgent message.

Harper immediately began to go from one person to another, telling them about Christ’s love and urging them to accept Him. He shouted for Christians to let the unsaved fill the lifeboats so that would live to come to belief. When one angry man rejected the message, Harper removed his own life vest and gave it to him, saying, “You need this more than I do.”

Harper was still actively pressing his urgent evangelism when the ship tipped upward, wretched in half, and slipped beneath the frigid North Sea. Even then Harper did not stop. Seeing the many passengers struggling in the water with little chance of rescue, he swam to as many as he could, urging them to accept Christ’s loving offer until hypothermia finally overcame him.

Four years later, at a Titanic survivors meeting in Ontario, one survivor told the story of his own encounter with John Harper. He was clinging to a piece of flotsam when Harper swam to him and urged him to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The man rejected the offer and Harper swam away. But soon Harper came around again, and this time, knowing death to be only minutes away, the man gave his life to Christ. Moments afterwards, he watched the near-freezing waters finally take Harper’s life just as a returning lifeboat approached to rescue him. At the conclusion of his story, he said simply, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

The titanic left England with three classes of passengers aboard. But when accounting for their fate, the White Star Line set up a board listing two classes: KNOWN TO BE SAVED and KNOWN TO BE LOST. These categories provided a fitting analogy for what John Harper already knew. There are only two classes of people in this world: those who have chosen to accept Christ and will spend eternity with God in heaven, and those who have not chosen Him and will not.

Which class are you in?

Sometimes I Miss the Big Picture

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-miss-the-big-picture/

 

It seems we all have issues we need to be dealing with

This week I have been helping some of the young people I work with deal with issues of guilt, anger, and greed

It is interesting to note:

    • Guilt says, “I owe you”
    • Anger says, “You owe me”
    • Greed says, “I owe me”

The person whose heart is coated with greed believes he has earned the good things that have come his way

He is, therefore, determined to control his possessions and wealth the way he sees fit – the way he wants to

Greedy people have a supersized sense of ownership Read more

Sometimes I’m Afraid I’ll Fail

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-am-afraid-i-will-fail/

Everyone faces a fear or two in their lifetime …

One fear that I have faced a number of times over the last 50 years has been fear of failure … looked a little different each time

          • Fear of not being able to live up to my ordination vows
          • Fear of failing to be adequate enough in my first parish
          • Fear of preaching
          • Fear of starting an independent church
          • Fear of overseas ministry and the unknown over there after communism fell
          • Fear of not honouring the Name of Jesus
          • Fear of pushing too hard and burning out

Here’s one that is still there behind the scenes digging at me on occasion

Fear of not finishing the race wisely and in a way that honours God 

“…run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1b) Read more