Follow Me to The Place I Will Show You

road-220058_1280
I can do that.

My husband and I both had the same reaction at the same moment in church. A guest speaker was sharing of a need he had, and the Holy Spirit whispered, “He’s talking to you.”

I love when this happens. Holy Spirit talks. We listen. The we listen part is key. So many opportunities are lost because we didn’t act on the words we hear from Him. Hearing and listening are not the same things.

Years ago, we made a move that was very unpopular with our then twelve-year-old. She cried and complained for weeks. One of the times when she was being quite vocal about her discomfort over the whole thing, she asked her dad why we had to move. He simply told her, “Because God said so and we do what He says.”

It was a little bit like the story of the Calling of Abram found in Genesis 12. One day God said, “Leave what you know—your country, your friends, family, and all that feels safe and secure—and go to the place I will show you.” Right there in the midst of God’s challenge to Abram is a gift. Do you see it? Abram was not striking out on his own. God was going to lead the way. He would be with him. And Scripture says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” Smart man.

I think of how God did just that for us when we relocated and every other time he has called to us to do something outside our comfort zone. He led the way every time, and oh, the adventures we have experienced following Him just from being willing to do what we’re told.

Our daughter listened to her dad that day. His statement has impacted her life since when faced with hard or challenging decisions. It has become a family legacy of sorts, so when God told us to say yes, we did.

The mission we decided to accept doesn’t appear to be hard or challenging or even out of our comfort zone. (At least I don’t think so, but God might have other ideas.) It is actually in our wheelhouse. We will be traveling to New Jersey to help with the remodel of the Liebenzell USA Retreat Center. We have no idea what to expect or what we will be asked to do but our hearts and hands are willing. Many of you know we work with a ministry called Hands of Mercy that constructs small homes for the people of Mexico. The skills we have learned there along with the recent renovation of our own home are sure to be put to use in this new project we’ve been called to. We are excited to see what God is up to in that part of the world, and we will keep you posted.

If you would like to pray for us while we are following where God is leading, please do. We want to make as many people as possible part of what God is doing. For every one person heading out to work, many are needed to support them in prayer. Like the root system of a forest, we intertwine creating a strong foundation that will keep us connected, allowing us to work together in strength. Please sign up to receive new posts in your email.

This portion of Scripture written for the Israelites as they were crossing into the Promised Land speaks to me when thinking of listening to God’s voice. Perhaps it will speak to you as well.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees, and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Deuteronomy 30:11-16 NIV

Choose Life. Follow God’s Lead into the Land of Promise.

 


As with anything, there will be a certain amount of expenses to going on a mission. If you are reading this and the Holy Spirit is saying to you, “This is for you,” and you would like to help out with providing money for our transportation costs, go here to make a donation. Thank you so much for coming along on the journey with us.

 

Eaten Alive

big-fish
Jonah is a story for our times.

More than the Big Fish Eats Man story we learned as children, this tale has little to do with the fish, but everything with being eaten alive. If you are not familiar with tale of Jonah, you can find this short story here. It’s a quick read but packs a punch when considering today’s current events.

As peek into Jonah’s life, we realize he was being consumed on several fronts. Disobedience, hatred and anger have taken the large bites. But before we are too harsh on this man, perhaps we run a mile in his shoes.

As the story opens,

Jonah has received his next mission. Like many people, Jonah wished the message had gone into his junk mail, and he responded like many of us do with, “I’ll do anything you say, God, but don’t send me to . . .” Fear takes over. Excuses start to rise. Everyone has their own specifics on why they can follow God anywhere but there. Jonah’s? He admits he simply does not agree with what God was doing. His running was a way of showing his disgust with God’s plan. Death rather than compliance with God’s will was preferable to Jonah. He even confronts God saying,

“Oh, LORD, this is just what I thought would happen when I was in my own country. This is what I tried to prevent by attempting to escape to Tarshish! – because I knew that you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and one who relents concerning threatened judgment.

Jonah 4:2

Jonah is one crazy dude. . .

challenging God about His kindness and compassion. But, this is where we must be careful lest we become like him. Like our friend, we all love the benevolent God, especially when it comes to our own sin or short comings. But then, there are times we want God to show the just part of His character and get on with avenging our enemies. “Take those guys out!” rings from our lips when someone has done us wrong or threatens our security. This ‘giving them a second chance’ You have in mind, God. . .well, let’s not and call it good.

But, that is not how God operates. His good often times does not resemble our idea of good. His good sees the bigger picture, the greatest outcome, the most eternal value. Ours? We tend to get hung up on comfort. Yep, comfort. Sacrifice and suffering are far from our thoughts. We just want peace and quiet as we wile away the hours in blissful contentment basking in the glory of our Lord that our Christian life promises us. Can you hear the birds twittering?

This is the place Jonah may have gone wrong. Commissioned to be God’s voice often has its pit falls, especially when His voice does not line up with our sensibilities. Jonah actually admits at the beginning of the story he is “a Hebrew and he fears the Lord, the God of heaven who created the sea and dry land.”  [Jonah 1:9]

Really?!

What we see here from Jonah is lip service. He says one thing but his actions tell us a different story. He does not fear the Lord. In fact, in the story he does his best to undermine God’s mission. He thinks his way is best. AND he’d rather die than do what God commanded. That’s a bit extreme, don’t ya think?

But, how much do our lives resemble this man Jonah? Do we call ourselves Christians, yet don’t act like Christ? Do we hate what God does not? Do we intentionally choose our way over His? I heard it said recently from a friend many of the atheists she knew were better ‘Christians’ than those who claimed to follow Christ. Ouch! That is a very telling statement. The thing is, the same was true in Jonah’s story.

I don’t want that to be true about my life. I want to be exactly what following Christ means. I want Jesus in my actions and words. I want what He values to be what I value most. I want to live for Him and not die wishing I done more to make a difference.

In the last bit of the story, God gives Jonah a bit of respite from the hot sun. A vine grows up to shade this man’s head, giving him a measure of comfort and causing gladness in Jonah’s heart. But alas, in the morning, a worm comes and eats away the vine and along with it, Jonah’s happiness.

In the end,

Jonah is so consumed with anger his life has become a walking death. I don’t know about you, but that is not my idea of a satisfactory existence. If I am to be eaten alive, may it be by generosity and compassion. God’s mercy towards me shouldn’t stop with me. I need to act it out in my own life. That way, I can demonstrate what loving God and acting in obedience truly looks like. And from there ‘loving my neighbors’ is not a huge leap. The ‘love God, love your neighbor’ combination is a world changer. So, with that in mind, unlike Jonah I’ll be running in God’s direction. Wanna join me?


I came across a cool resource that will further explain the book of Jonah called The Bible Project. Take a trip over to see what they have. Check out the link here.

Thunder

Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying: Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign!

Revelation 19:6 HCSB

 


 

drag racersThe roar of the engines rumbled through the earth, shaking the ground beneath my feet. Ear plugs plus sound cancelling ear muffs did little to minimize the force ten thousand horsepower created. My heart was in my throat from the power reverberating in the air each time the dragsters accelerated towards the finish line. This is one of those things you really cannot imagine. It must be experienced to understand the sense of strength that is manifested in the sound alone.

In 1 Samuel 4, a story is told of a similar earth shaking event. It would not be the roar of engines that would cause the ground to rumble, but rather the audible worship that could be felt for miles. The Israelites were engaging in war with the Philistines. At the end of their first offensive, Israel found themselves the losers. Four thousand men had died. Questions of why they were defeated circulated the camp. Their only answer, God was not present with them in the battle. How could He be? The Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence with His people, was miles away in Shiloh. To win the next round they would carry the Ark with them into battle.

When the Ark of the Covenant arrived in camp, it was met with a thunderous shout of praise from the Hebrew soldiers. So loud were their voices, it was said the ground shook. Now I go to a worship service that can be pretty loud and energized. Instruments and voices raised to nearly deafening levels, praising God can be heard from the outside of the building, but I don’t ever recall the ground shaking. The Israelites must have engaged in some pretty extreme worship.

The display of power heard was not lost on the enemy warriors. They had heard the reports of the kind of God Israel worshipped. They could hear the kind of enthusiasm He produced in His people. With this combination, how could Israel lose this time?

Then, the very thing neither side could imagine happened. Israel lost again. It was unthinkable. The Philistines must have been scratching their heads on this one. Just hours before thinking themselves doomed to annihilation, they now found themselves the victors. What the Philistines did not know was that sin had taken its toll in the upper ranks of the priesthood in Israel, and God would let defeat and death be their punishment.  The power of the Lord was not with His people that day and His name would not bring victory to those whose words and actions did not match up.

The one thing that I keep learning as I trek through the Bible is that God really cares about how we act. He wants us to not just hear His word or believe in His name. He wants our obedience in our actions. Here in this passage, I see that our worship should be reflected in our activity. On one hand, Israel as a whole trusted God to provide a great victory, but in practice, individuals were living very sinful lives trusting their own schemes. They were living a double life, both of which were quite visible to the world around them.

So how should this story of the Israelites affect our lives?  When we sing with our hearts lifted in worship, “You are my everything,” do we mean it? Do we mean it enough to act like we mean it? Or do we worry and fret, making our God look powerless to the world around us? Do we choose our way because we believe we will lack what we want or need if we wait for God to provide?

One thing I learned at my very LOUD, EARTH-SHAKING experience with the drag races was, every single car that came to the starting line produced an ear deafening roar as it raced down the track. Each was a loud as the last one, but not every car won. The clear winner of this power match would not be decided on the strength of their sound. It would be the integrity of the driver and the performance of the car—every time.

It really does matter how we act. It is how people around us see the power of God on display in our lives as we walk in obedience. Don’t neutralize that power by singing, “How great is our God,” and then make Him small in our lives. Let’s let the way we act as well as our words, be our witness to the world of God’s strength and might. Let’s shake things up. Let our words of an awesome, powerful God thunder in our actions.

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

 Look to the Lord and his strength. . .

Psalm 104:1-4