Category Archives: Perseverence

Bartimaeus, stick a sock in it!

jesus_healing_blind.gifWhat do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked. (Mark 10:51)

Bartimaeus was the lucky guy to whom this question was addressed. He was blind, a beggar, and when he heard Jesus was passing by he began yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

The crowds tried to quiet him. If it was 2008, security would have tasered him. But he was desperate. No way was he going to let this opportunity slip by.

A blind man in that day was helpless, hopeless, destined to sit by the road and spend his pathetic life begging. Bartimaeus knew this might well be his only hope of rising above his circumstances. He kept yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus turned and asked:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Wow! I’m trying to imagine how that must have felt. Like Bill Gates handing you his ATM card and giving you the PIN number. What is it you need? Take my debit card. There’s enough in the account to cover it. Just take what you need!

What lesson can we take from Bartimaeus today? A couple of things. First, seize the opportunity when it presents itself. It may not come around again. Jesus may never have passed that way again. Bartimaeus knew it may be his one and only hope.

The other lesson? Persistence. Tenacity. Forget the detractors. Don’t listen to those who try to hold you back, hold you down.

If there is something you want, if you have a dream, a vision, go after it with your whole heart. Make no room for discouragement. Put away doubt. Cling to hope. Strengthen your faith. Then be ready to hear the words of Jesus:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

He’s still asking that question today of those who cry to him with their whole heart!

Hidden between the lines

desert2.jpgThe whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sinai, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1

Discovered this little passage a while back. It’s the kind of verse I would  normally fly right over the top of. But something between the lines caught my eye.

It seems to be saying that sometimes, God intentionally leads us into dry places. Look at the context. The Israelites were following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and it led them to a place where there was no water.

I’m not sure about you, but in my life, I have times I feel close to God. Other times, He’s light years away.

I love it when my time of devotions is sweet. God is speaking to me, encouraging me, giving me direction. I feel His presence in my prayer life.

But other times, just to be honest, I’m dry inside. Devotions are tedious. Prayer is laborious. Your time with the Lord is about as exciting as kissing your sister. (Sorry about that, Carolyn!)

Usually in the dry times, I blame myself. It’s my fault. I must be crowding God out of my life. He’s displeased with me for something I’ve done.  

But could it be that, like way back then, He is leading us into a place where there is no water?

See, it’s easy to live victoriously when everything is going well. Our faith soars when we are experiencing the blessings of God, when He is answering our prayers.

But during the dry times, all we have to hold on to is our faith. But the faith that really pleases God is the faith that remains strong when nothing is going right, when God is a universe away.

True faith evidences itself in the realm of the unseen.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I don’t like the dry times but I have come to learn that in those times, God is often doing His greatest work in my life. And if I will remain strong in my faith, well, like in the days of the Children of Israel, a major gush is just about to happen.

Daily stock tip

You claim you are pure in the eyes of God. O that God would speak and tell you what he thinks. O that he would make you truly see yourself, for he knows everything you have done. Listen, God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve. Job 11: 4-6

They have a term for it. It’s called “adding insult to injury.” Someday, I’ll write a book on the subject. I endured my share of it growing up.

The setting was where Zophar, one of Job’s “comforters,” was explaining why all these calamities had befallen him. “Bottom line, Job? It’s because you’re such a wicked sinner. God isn’t even giving you what you really deserve!”

I grew up in a church that placed an emphasis on miracles and prayer for the sick. They would often form a “healing line” for those in need of prayer. I had polio as a child, so I would go through the line time after time. When I wasn’t healed, inevitably, I would hear one of two explanations. I didn’t have enough faith, or there was sin in my life.

Now, before I continue, let me say I am not knocking healing. I believe very much that God heals today but in His plan, he chose to let me go through life with a disability.

But like I was saying, I cannot count the times well-meaning church members, in an attempt to explain why I was not healed, would accuse me of having sin in my life. My only question, “Who doesn’t?” There’s only one person I know of who didn’t and it “twernt me!” If God went around crippling everyone who sinned, all I can say is, “Buy stock in crutches. Dump your tech stock and invest in wheelchairs.”

Now before I get indicted by the SEC for giving investment advice without a license, I have to wonder, “What terrible sin did I commit at age two that warranted being hit with polio?” Unless it was the time I threw my bottle out of the crib.

In today’s verse, Zophar is blaming Job’s calamity on sin. “Job, it’s your wickedness that brought this on.”

I got four words for you, Zophar. “Look in the mirror, Dude!”

Okay, that was five. But today is buy four, get one free day.

No, it was not about sin. There was something much bigger going on behind the scenes. Job’s life was the focal point in a conflict between God and Satan. How he responds to his adversity will determine if the Father and all the angels of Heaven rejoice or if Lucifer and all his demons get bragging rights.

Aren’t you glad Job’s faith remained strong?

Whatever you’re going through today, my friend, you stay strong too. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes.

 Stay strong, you hear?!

Brother, can you spare some change?

I came naked from my mother’s womb and I shall have nothing when I die. The Lord gave me everything, and they were his to take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

Job is one of my favorite Bible characters. In my book, he is a superstar! There’ll never be another Joe Montana. There’ll never be another Michael Jordan. And there will never be another Job!

Here is a guy who had everything; wealth, influence, an incredible family! He was at the top of his game. Then he lost it all. His computer crashed. The hard-drive wasn’t backed up. His life savings was in Enron. I’m looking for words to describe a worse-case-scenario. Let’s just say, Job was finished.

Now, it’s one thing to find yourself penniless when you’ve never known wealth. But here’s a guy who was one day on Forbes list of wealthiest people and the next, he’s pushing a shopping cart down the sidewalk, sleeping on a park bench.

So what was his attitude?

Job stopped, took a deep breath, stepped back a pace or two, looked at the big picture, and said, “What’s the big deal? It wasn’t mine to start with. It’s all God’s. He can do with it as he sees fit.”

What an amazing attitude!

Philippians speaks of Jesus much the same way. Read it for yourself. He was in the form of God but did not grasp or demand to keep his rights as God but made himself into a servant and submitted to death on the cross. But then, God elevated Him to a place of highest honor.

Later, we will find that God also greatly rewards Job. But right now, Job can’t see it coming. He can’t read the back of the book to see how the story will play out. Still his faith remains unwavering.

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. (Job 13:15)

I’ll never come close to being a Job. Maybe you will. But his story gives me inspiration. Something to shoot for.

Nope, there’ll never be another Babe Ruth. And there will never be another Job. But we can try!

Dad’s praying chair

Living in Hawaii, we get calls at three in the morning from telemarketers trying to sell time shares in Florida. They have no clue we’re six hours behind. One actually thought Hawaii was in the Caribbean. 

Sleep is a personal thing with me. I love my pillow. My futon is my favorite friend. So anything that gets me up at night better be important.  

Having said that, today I found a verse in my Bible I highlighted years ago:

Rise in the night and cry to your God. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord; lift up your hands to Him; plead for your children… Lamentations 2:19

I discovered that verse while going through some deep waters with one of my children. I had underlined, rise in the night, and plead for your children. Dated it September 9, 1999.

This passage speaks to me of someone who is desperate for an answer. Desperate to the point of sacrificing personal comfort in order to be heard by God.

“Rise in the night…plead for your children…”

The sin that grips our children and their generation is strong. Unrelenting! It attaches itself like a nut rusted to a bolt. They become inseparable.

Prayer, serious, sleep depriving prayer, is the only thing that will break the grip. It is the penetrating oil that will dissolve the corrosion and loosen the threads and cause it to become functional once again.

I actually went to Sears and bought a chair back in 1999. A big, overstuffed chair for the living room. And I would get up at night, sit in the chair and pray. The kids started calling it, “Dad’s praying chair.”

God heard the prayers of that heavy-hearted dad and proved Himself faithful once again. Not that everything is perfect. But when I think of the way it was then and the way it is today, I can only thank Him for His mercy and grace!

What is it that makes you toss and turn at night? Is there something going on in your world that keeps you awake? If so, let me suggest you get yourself a praying chair.

Herman who?

The Lord says, ” I will make my people strong with power from me! They will go wherever they wish, and wherever they go, they will be under my personal care.” Zachariah 10:12

I love promises like this. They give me so much encouragement! So much hope! Makes me feel invincible.

Sure, there are those who will tell you this passage was directed specifically toward the Children of Israel. It was not meant for today. That’s what the seminaries teach in their Biblical Hermeneutics courses. I know. I took the class. Slept all the way through.

Let’s say the promise was for back then, not for today. Still, it shows the heart of God. His heart is to make His children strong, powerful, to give freedom. His heart is to keep His children under His personal care. And His heart has not changed.

History has changed. Circumstances have changed. But His heart remains the same!

So, how does this promise apply to our lives today? When it says, they will go wherever they wish, and wherever they go, they will be under my personal care, I take that to mean we have been given a great amount of freedom to pursue our passions.

I may be pushing sixty but I still have things I would like to do. I hear Him saying, “Go for it, Del! I’ll be with you. It’s not too late to pursue your dreams!”

And as I do, He will make me strong, give me power, keep me in His personal care. That was His heart back then and it is still His heart today!

What are your dreams? What is your passion? Go for it, my friend. Go for it! He will be with you every step of the way.

Hurry up and wait

Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord … Psalm 27:14

It happened again this morning. I got in line at the grocery store and it stopped moving. New clerk. She couldn’t figure out the credit card machine.

So I bounced over to the next line and it comes screeching to a halt. The lady in front of me can’t find her checkbook.

Meantime the first line is now moving. The guy who was behind me is walking out the door with his bag of groceries. That would have been me!

Am I the only one this happens to?

And why is it that every time I’m heading for the ten items or less line, ten people or more cut in front of me? 

I really don’t like waiting in lines. I don’t like sitting at red lights. I don’t like waiting for the check to come in the mail.

And to be honest, I don’t like waiting for God to answer my prayers. So I take matters into my own hands and then I really make a mess of it. 

God allows us to wait for a reason. There may be areas in our life that need tweaking. Or a major overhaul! Some pride, immaturity, wrong attitudes. And He can’t give us the desires of our heart. Not just yet.

So we learn patience, understanding, perseverance. We change our attitudes. Let go of bad habits. Develop new disciplines.

And then when He sees the time is right, the light turns green, the check arrives in the mail. God answers our prayers.