the trouble that i’ve experienced in the past few years, months, weeks even. when i was 25 i wouldn’t have dared asked God why. that would have been weak and faithless. i mean i had ALL the answers…right?

but today at 41, i ask Him why all the time. He hasn’t revealed the exact purpose of anything, but I know He is forming me into His image, so that has to be enough.

but as i was contemplating these thoughts, i ran across this passage.

2 Corinthians 4:6-12

The God who spoke light into existence, saying, “Let light shine from the darkness,” is the very One who sets our hearts ablaze to shed light on the knowledge of God’s glory revealed in the face of Jesus, the Liberating King.

But this beautiful treasure is contained in us-cracked pots made of earth and clay-so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us. We are dented and dinged on all sides from our afflictions, but we are not crushed by them. We are greeted with pain at every turn, but we are not trampled or defeated. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give into despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. For while we live, we are constantly handed over to death on account of Jesus so that His life may be revealed even in our mortal bodies of flesh. So death is constantly at work in us, but life is working in you. The Voice

when you read that you think man, i’m a big baby. those people had it a lot worse. but there is a lot we can learn from that passage.

1) we will have trouble. we will be greeted with pain at every turn.

2) we won’t be defeated. Jesus life will rise up in us

3) the power comes from Him. but the treasure of His glory is contained in us.

so i will still contemplate the why, but i know that i won’t be crushed or abandoned, and i’ll try not to despair even though running and panicking is the easiest thing to do sometimes. i mean there are some cracks in the pot.

are we like Elijah?

1 Kings 19 

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.There he went into a cave and spent the night.

so if you know the story, Elijah has just called down fire from heaven and has wiped out the prophets of Baal. not only that, but he has prayed for rain after a severe drought, and God answers the prayer and sends an amazing rain.  heck, Elijah even outruns Ahab’s chariot on foot.

then it all comes unraveled. he gets a threat from Jezebel and he bolts. he runs and he whines. in fact, he says he’s had enough and it’s time to die.

i feel like Elijah. i’ll have a great victory and amazing things happen, then my enemy sends a threat or does something to derail me. it seems to be that way for a lot of people i know. we let the enemy come in and steal what joy we experienced in the victory. the fact is the enemy is fighting a losing battle as he has already been defeated, but we still let him get to us.

it happened to me today. i had a great week of freedom. we had an amazing service this morning at uncommon, and then i let something that was pointless and trivial derail my day. 

but there is good news.

first of all, Elijah gets fed and is strengthened with some food from heaven. enough to be able to travel for 40 days. and now read the rest of the passage.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before theLord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lordwas not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

so Elijah gets to stand in the presence of God and present his case to Him. how cool is that? and God comes and whispers to him and then promises him that he is not alone. so my question is, how many times do we have a victory, get derailed by our enemy and then miss the opportunity to be fed by and  stand in the presence of God. i don’t know about you, but i don’t want to miss that. in His presence is fulness of joy. that’s where i want to be.

Psalm 96

i’ve been giving people snippets of Psalms on FB and twitter as i go through the 40 day reading plans in The Voice of the Psalms. it’s a great translation.  today, there’s not enough room to post this whole thing and i didn’t want to put 20 posts up, so i’ll just link to here and you can read the whole thing.

Sing a new song to the Eternal One; Sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth.

Sing to the Eternal of all the good things He’s done. Bless His name; broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day.

Enlighten the nations to His splendor; describe His wondrous acts to all people.

For the Eternal One is great indeed and praiseworthy; feared and reverenced above all gods, the True God shall be.

For all human-made, lifeless gods are worthless idols, but the Eternal plotted the vast heavens, shaped every last detail.

Honor and majesty proceed Him; strength and beauty infuse His holy sanctuary.

Give all credit to the Eternal One, families of the world!

Credit Him with glory, honor and strength!

Credit Him with the glory worthy of His magnificent name; gather your sacrifice, and present it at His temple.

Bow down to the Eternal, adorned in holiness; lay awestruck before Him, trembling, all people of the earth.

Shout out to the nations, “The Eternal reigns! Yes, indeed, the world is anchored and will not shake loose. He governs all people with a fair hand.”

And so, let the heavens resound in gladness! Let joy be the earth’s rhythm as the sea and all its creatures roar.

Let the fields grow in triumph, a grand jubilee for all that live there. Let all the trees of the forest dig in and reach high with songs of joy before the Eternal One, for He is on His way. Yes, He is coming to judge the earth.

He will set the world right by His standards, and by His faithfulness, He will examine the people.

i was looking over at my bookshelf…

and saw this subtitle to a book. (btw, my bookshelf doesn’t look like that)

“A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas”

that kinda started me thinking.  are we as the church a curious people with dangerous ideas, or are we satisfied with the knowledge we already have which is safe and predictable.  i mean that’s the message i’ve gotten from the church pretty much my whole life.  just simple pat answers or cliches.  nobody would admit if they had doubts or if they had questions because they might seem weak or less “holy”.  it’s a shame that our piousness holds us back from the mission we’ve been given by our Lord.  i don’t think that Jesus ever promised us safe, all questions answered religion as His way.  in fact we tend to gloss over the dangerous ideas from the bible.  when Jesus presented things to people that they didn’t find palatable, they walked away (John 6:60-66)

so what do we do with this?  how do we become curious people with dangerous ideas? i just point you to the 8th chapter of Romans.  i can’t say it any better than that. we live by the Spirit and ask God to give us His dangerous dreams and to make us curious to know more about Him.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

what dangerous idea or burning question do you have today?

i was meditating on this verse…

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

i remember hand writing Dennis Jernigan’s thoughts on this verse.  i don’t sing a lot of Dennis Jernigan songs anymore, but i will say he was a driving force in my wanting to  lead worship.  i met him once.  he was a humble and gracious man.  and, he was tall.  i didn’t expect him to be tall.  but it’s not that.  his words and music were some of the most beautiful that i had heard, and although we don’t use them in corporate worship as much, they are still a very real part of my personal worship.

this is his word picture on the verse.

“The eternal Self existent God, the God who is three in one. He who dwells in the center of your being, is a powerful valiant warrior. He has come to set you free, to keep you safe and to bring you victory. He has cheered and He beams with exceeding joy and takes pleasure in your presence. He has engraved a place for Himself in you, and there He quietly rests in His love and affection for you. He can not contain Himself at the thought of you, and with the greatest of joy spins around wildly in anticipation over you. He has placed you above all other creations and in the highest place in His priority. In fact He shouts and sings in triumph, joyfully proclaiming the gladness of His heart in a song of rejoicing … All because of YOU!”

i think my favorite part is where he says He cannot contain Himself at the thought of you….and spins around wildly in anticipation over you.   like when a father comes home and can’t wait to play with his children.

great thoughts.  thanks DJ!