Recently one of our friends came to see the house. We have been a little discouraged because in the last 3 weeks there has not been a whole lot of work taking place on the house that is evident to the eye. When our friend had walked through the entire property she turned around and said, “When others see shepherd boy, God sees a King.” She was referring to that bible story of David who would become one of the greatest Kings in Israel’s history. Many people saw him as just a shepherd boy. He was not the biggest of his brothers, smartest, or even the most handsome. He was God’s pick!
Our friend said “I see how God is going to use this place in mighty ways.” I almost wanted to cry. We have been so near to the project daily that our hearts have at times been discouraged. We want it all completed and yet we know that time is the gift God has given us to see each part of the house done cost effectively and yet with excellence. Every step we can come away thanking God that He has revealed major problems that had been covered up. Had they not been discovered they could have cost thousands in years to come to replace. While the house is to the stud it is easier to see these problems and yet we are weary of finding yet another challenge.
Isn’t that how it is in our personal lives as well though. Deep underneath what we want people to see, God sees not just our imperfection and sinful hearts, but he also sees the potential for what we will one day be. Glory to God! He sees a person clean before Him because of His Son. One who walks with Him and knows and does His bidding, even if we are not quite there yet. Oh how my heart thrills to know that where others see me less than, God sees me as filled with potential and forgiven in His eyes.
Ask the Father today to help you see yourself as He sees you. Then walk in what you know God wants you to be. Others may see a less than, but He sees you as His child, precious to Him and highly favored!
I can’t imagine what it was like to hear Jesus in person here on the earth. His wisdom was so evident that the most schooled in the land were impressed and yet so many did not believe. They were more concerned about the customs and rituals of their church than seeing God’s power displayed through His Son. This is how the gospel writer Mark put it. 3:4 “And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Jesus was angered and grieved at their hard heartedness. Have you found yourself at that same place? Have you tried to love like Jesus does and share your faith in Him and those you love still did not get it? It is hard not to get discouraged, but look how Jesus handled it. It did the right thing even when they did not believe. He continued to do the Father’s work. What a wonderful reminder for us as well. Keep doing what God has called you to do. Hopefully in time the gospel message will penetrate even the hardest of hearts.
Do you feel ready for all God wants to do through you? If your answer is no you are in good company. Even Jesus withdrew into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting before His public ministry began. I wonder what the conversations with God were like. Did He miss His Father and the sweet times of fellowship they had? Did He find great frustration in the limitations of His physical body. To be infinite and yet choose a finite body must have been challenging! Whatever they conversed about, Jesus emerged from His solitude ready for battle and it met Him before He got out of the wilderness. Satan too knew the finiteness Jesus had chosen and challenged Him with hunger, power, pride and prestige. Satan certainly knows what makes most humans tick. Jesus stood ready fighting back with God’s word.
What a great reminder to me that time alone with the Father is not a good suggestion, it is mandatory to face the challenges our physical limitations represent. If the divine needed preparation time, so do we! I am also reminded that during those solitude times prayer and scripture are an integral part. Both allow us to communicate with the Father as He prepares us for what is ahead. Last but certainly not least I am reminded that Satan is waiting to sift me and challenge me at any weakness he can find. It is only God’s word and knowing it that will fight the flaming arrows he will throw. The end result will hopefully be as it was with Jesus, Satan will withdraw waiting for another opportunity. May we all know the power of the Spirit that Jesus knew and be prepared.
If you ever watched the Beverly Hillbillies, you probably remember Granny talking about the “cement pond”. The “pond” was a beautiful clear blue pool that was the setting of many of their adventures. When we bought our house it too had a “cement pond”. The problem with ours is that it looked like a real pond or swamp. The first time we looked in it we could see about six inches deep and it had swimming critters in it! It had sat for two years with nothing done. It had been covered at one time, but the cover had disintegrated and now some floated and some had sank. Water weights had held it down and a few remained on the surface, but others had fallen in and submerged or partially floated. When we removed the first water weight from the pool after being half submerged, something jumped at us and I screamed! We eventually got a pump and began to remove the algae and critter infested water. AS we got to the bottom, sludge remained and had to be shoveled out. We pressure washed the surfaces then had an acid wash applied to rid it of any bacteria or infestation. Then we sealed the pool with a coating. (the sealant was $200 per gallon so it must be liquid gold)
The sealant left the pool clean white and was ready for the top coat of paint. You will never see the sealant we used because it was covered the next day with a beautiful blue top coat, but it plays a valuable roll. It sealed the pool from any minor cracks and it smoothed the rough surface of the concrete. The liquid sealant protects from moisture getting into the pool wall as well.
In our spiritual lives we have a seal as well. He is called the Holy Spirit. He is described in detail in John chapter 14. He was given when Jesus was taken into heaven, and He comes into the heart of believers at the point of salvation. He is also described as The Helper, Guide, and He leads us into all Truth. He only speaks what He hears from the Father. Ephesians tells us we are sealed with the Spirit until the day of redemption when Jesus comes back to take those who believe home to be with Him. Wow! That is encouraging. No matter what comes in our world we can know His abiding presence! Just like the pool, He seals all our cracked and broken places and prepares us for what is ahead. He comforts, directs, encourages and so much more. We will never see the Holy Spirit in person just as you will not see the sealant for the pool, but you can definitely see the affect He has. The affects are found in Galatians 5:22-23. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. The more we listen to the Spirit’s guidance and choose to follow His instruction the more we will see the effects of the Spirit on our life.
In the near future we will fill the pool with fresh water and we too will have a beautiful “cement pond”. It will be safe from minor cracks and will be smoother on tender feet. Best of all it will not have critters!
Did you see how many times Joseph was led by a dream? God spoke very clearly to him and he led his family to obey. Very few Americans see dreams and visions from God, but in the Middle East there are many unbelievers who are seeing dreams. There have been many stories of people who saw a dream of Jesus and were told where to go and hear about Him. They are led to other believers, missionaries, and even churches that they would not otherwise know. I revel in the stories of those who have found Jesus while obeying a dream. While we were in the Middle East last year we heard for ourselves about those who had followed a dream and the pay off was their involvement in a Evangelical church. To my knowledge they had not professed Christ as Lord yet, but they were attending services regularly searching for this Shepherd who instructed them there was peace by the waters. Peace can only be found in the Shepherd. Please join me in praying that many more will have dreams and visions and that they will come to The Shepherd and find Him sufficient for their every need.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Do you ever just get to the point you ask yourself “Why”? Why am I working so hard to be who God wants me to be? Why am I serving others when there are times I just want someone to serve me? Why do we have to lose people we love? Why do evil things happen to good people?
Let me begin by saying I don’t have all of the answers to your questions of why, but I do have an answer that will help with many of them. It is because since the fall of man our world has been dying. When sin and evil entered our world so did hard work, sickness, pain, separation from God, selfishness, greed, and in the end death. Our gracious God did not want us to live forever in this fallen world, so Jesus came to make a way for us to once again be restored in our relationship with Him. Jesus is our way back to the Father. We try so hard to please Him not because it earns us His love. We already have that, but we serve Him because we love Him. We also tell others because without Him they will not experience Heaven. Heaven doesn’t just start at our death, but it is the peace and joy we experience as Children of God here on Earth. It is the calm assurance of God’s presence in our lives guiding and directing. It is claiming His promises about his strength, provision, protection and love.
When you do die on this earth you will not really die. You will just relocate to your heavenly home. Knowing Jesus and following Him assures us that our residence will be a home prepared by God just for us in His Home. Now that is something worth living for and is the reason that when we start becoming overwhelmed by the why questions here on earth we can raise our eyes to the heavens and thank God for what is yet to come.
I knew it was going to be a good day when the first worker to arrive introduced himself. He had tanned skin with rough hands yet a big smile and he said my name is (said in Spanish) Jesus you know like Jesus in the bible. I smiled big and said, I know Him well. That was how my first encounter with Jesus the worker at our house began. Jesus is the owner of a company that removes Chinese sheet-rock.
Jesus’ team consists of two amazing women and 3 men who tore out the infected sheet-rock. They cleaned up after themselves and left the house spotless. It has taken them 10 days to get the house completely cleansed of the sheet-rock and contaminated building supplies. There were days I would walk into the house, music blaring and the team knee deep in insulation. Every day I came the women would be toting sheet rock out either on their back in cloth sack or by wheel barrow. Now I am a hard worker, but I don’t hold a candle to these amazing women. The men were the climbers and they used anything from ladders to stilts to reach the affected areas. They had mopped every floor, vacuumed every nook and cranny, removed all of the nails and screws and the final step was to wipe down every piece of wood left in the house. They used a steamer with a water solution and sprayed each stud and hand wiped it with a white cloth by hand. I have been blown away each day to see their hard work! They rarely took a break, but when they did you could hear them laughing and having a good time. Yesterday Jesus had joined them and I observed him laughing with them and telling stories as they enjoyed a cool drink on the hot day.
I have pondered their job and I have wondered what made them so precise and work so hard. The answer is they wanted to please their boss. You can tell they respect him and he works hard right along side them.
The bible tells us in Colossians 2:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. “ Giving our best effort is a reflection of the One we serve. So I guess the real question is, do you daily give your best as working for God? Do people walk into your work environment and say, “wow, he or she works with excellence.” Your Master is right beside you as you work. No not physically in person, but His Spirit is with you. Do you work to please Him? Is your work a witness to who you serve?
I have told Les I would not be disappointed if they were the crew who built the house back because I trust that the work they produce will be done with excellence. Oh that the world around us would see us that way. Oh that each of us would give our very best daily as a gift to the Lord.
When we first started this project we had no idea all that would be involved. From the surface the house looked in good condition and foundationally it is. As we removed layers of covering we began to find issues that were a problem that had been masked by carpet, padding, tile, wood, insulation and so much more. One of the first real problems was that the sub-floor was a pressed wood board. For those of us not in construction that means wood chips that were pressed together with some form of binding to form a sheet of wood. They are usually used on roofs but for some reason the previous contractor chose it for flooring. The problem is when it gets wet it molds and eventually it breaks down. Under the carpet in the hallway was black mold. Under the slate tile floor was the same familiar black. The tile floor had a noticeable dip in it. Tile was put down with grout and grout was made up of water and a sand like compound that dried hard. When the tile was laid the floor board had begun to deteriorate. If we had not gotten to the bare floor we would have never known about the mold or the deterioration of the wood. Yes, it is frustrating to know there will have to be even deeper demolition to the property, but I am so grateful to know when we do reconstruct, the black mold will be gone and our health inevitably will be saved.
I thought about how spiritually this parallels. On the surface many of us look pretty good. We attend church, say the right things, we may even give and be involved in missions, but under the coverings of our spiritual acts there may be sickness breeding where the eye doesn’t see. God knows though and even if man doesn’t see it still affects our spiritual health and well being. It can be covered for a while, but eventually our life begins to buckle when pushed. The smoothness of our life hits a hiccup then the bitterness, anger, lack of forgiveness, hurt or whatever has been hidden rises to the top and it must be dealt with . Why not do what we are doing with our house. Lay it bare before the Father and allow Him to take away the broken and corrupted. No, it won’t be easy, but you can do the hard work now or wait until everything is falling apart and try to make the repairs then. By that point the problem may be so far gone that the repair will carry deep scars. God can and will heal you and help you through your broken parts. There are many of us who are living examples that God heals and forgives. As we see this house built back, you too can see your life reconstructed with healthy life. Our prayer is that each of us will uncover our own weaknesses and allow God to make us all new. Les and I are praying for you that you will find healing and strength.
Would you know if the Spirit of God departed from your church? This passage is so sad because Ezekiel witnessed the presence of the Lord leaving the temple. My heart aches even as I type that because that once great house of God was now an empty shell. It reminds me of churches around the world including our own country that once held an active body of believers who knew the presence of God in a powerful way now stand almost empty. There may be a handful of people that meet weekly but they no longer experience the power of the Holy Spirit at work. Did the people of Jerusalem know the power of God had left their building? Did they continue to have meetings weekly? Oh Father, help us your church to be so aware when we start doing things our way and in our power we choose to exclude you and your power is not at work among us. Help us to see that our diminishing numbers and zeal for God may be because our churches have become more like a business than a place of worship to the one and only True God. Please forgive us where we have had our own agenda and help us to listen to You. Help our leaders to hear Your voice and lead us to follow You. Then may YOUR presence fill our churches again!
Psalm 94:18-19 “When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.”
One step, just one step that faltered and the young man’s life was changed forever. We were not at the house the morning one of the roofers lost his footing and tumbled from the top of the roof to the concrete below. We were not informed until days later, but even when we heard our hearts were broken for the young man. They had just started their morning of work. He was on top of the roof with two others. They had turned their heads busy with a project and then they heard their co-worker tumbling head over heels down the valley of the roof. He was able to stop his descent at the edge of the house but was unable to hold on. He landed on his hip and the bone and socket were pushed into his pelvic. Both arms were broken and he had gashes on his head and arms. There was no apparent reason the young man fell. The roof was moist but not wet from rain. There wasn’t a high wind or even distraction from other activity. He just slipped and was unable to keep himself from falling.
As I have prayed for this young man and his family, I have pondered how easy it is to lose footing spiritually. So often we are going along trying to make good choices and out of the blue Satan temps us. It isn’t always a black and white issue. It is more like a small enticement. Before you know it you are tumbling! It may be an email that leads to pornography, a temptation to cheat just once, a small piece of gossip that opens the doors to wrecked friendships and broken hearts. Temptation usually comes with a small slip. We are usually ready for a big issue, but even a minor slip can have huge consequences.
If you find yourself being tempted, stop and look for 3 things:
*A rope to prevent the fall before they happen. God’s word can and should be your security and prevention. As you know and live growing in God’s word, even if you slip you are listening for God’s voice and sense immediately conviction. Quickly confess any sin and shore up your steps.
*A friend can be super helpful. The other roofers were scrambling to help the young man who fell. They had a rope to throw to him, but they were too late. Don’t wait until too late to hold the rope your friends are offering. Hold each other accountable and when needed speak truth to the one walking closely to a slippery spot. Have a rope in hand for those slipping and lovingly help them find firm footing again.
*Be on your guard! Satan would love to take you down! In the case of our young worker he just lost his focus and was not as careful as he should have been. He did not aim to fall, but because he was not as cautious he did. As we acknowledge the enemy’s constant attack we are more prepared. Stay alert! Satan is like a lion seeking to devour the bible tells us. As we look for those slippery spots or areas we may be vulnerable, we will be less likely to fall prey.
When you do slip having faith family around to help you is super important. As faith family we need to be quick to forgive and willing to help restore. We ask you our faith family to pray for the young man who fell. He will have a long road to recovery. Pray for fellow believers you know who have taken a spiritual spill as well and need to find firm footing again. Pray for yourself that you will be able to see the spiritually slippery places before you come upon them and know your Heavenly Father is there beside you to help you over with firm footing.