Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 19 June 2017

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  Hebrews 10, verses 32-34.

Is this calling us to actively give up our possessions?  Is it telling us to be content in all circumstances, even when we’re being mistreated?   Actually, yes it is.   It ISN’T saying “be happy about it.”   God doesn’t tell us to enjoy suffering.   But He does tell us to put our trust in Him alone and be content with Him because He is more than enough to overcome any suffering.  He doesn’t promise Easy Street:   He promises to abide with us on any street.  Is this also telling us to turn the other cheek?   Again, yes it is.  When suffering happens, we should focus our joy on it’s true source, Jesus.   Instead of focusing on hurt, to stop the ‘bleeding’ of our suffering, we should focus on He who is with us even to the point of turning the other cheek to the one who is making us suffer.

A few days ago, my Billy Graham devotion reminded me that “joy” doesn’t equal “happiness” as the world defines happiness.   Brother (and sister), I understand this.   I’m sure you do, too.  Without divulging too many whines, my family is going through a difficult time.   For the moment, my wife and I are unemployed.  Just as He did the last time we went through this, God has a plan in all this.   To be honest, we don’t know what that plan is right now, but we do trust Him and His daily provision.   We’re still eating; we’re still breathing; midnight to midnight, we are still above the dirt.   Everything else is a gift from Him, even the struggles.  We pray the time will be short, and we’re blessed to be able to use it to do things that need to be done here on our farm.   God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Yet it can be a struggle to see happiness or joy in this.   “How could it” you might ask?   “Dave, you’re on the unemployment line again; you expect to be happy?”  Happy no, joy yes.   Every struggle, even unemployment or financial struggles, is an opportunity to make a choice for Jesus.  The verses aren’t saying that my problems will disappear.   It’s only saying that my unseen baggage from them can when I fix my eyes and hope on Christ.  If nothing else, why not ease that emotional burden?

And let’s get real:  the author of Hebrews wasn’t talking about a First-World situation like unemployment or paying your bills online.   He was talking about struggles like being tortured in Roman prisons.   About living in a world with astronomical infant mortality, real starvation, life expectancy of 45 years, and a host of other problems that most of us can’t fathom.   The first audience for verses 32-34 was comprised of people who lived in the primitive first century nations of the Mediterranean.  He was telling them to put all their trust, their hope, their everything on the shoulders of Jesus and let Jesus take the heat.   The author was telling his reader to rejoice in Jesus even when the branding iron struck your flesh, or you were kidnapped to row in a galley, or your family was sold off into slavery because you couldn’t pay your debts, or when they nailed you to a cross.

My puny problems pale compared to those things.   If our ancestors could trust Jesus through things like that, I can too.

I’ll admit:   it’s a struggle.   We are having to ‘skinny down;’ going through possessions, putting our farm up for sale, applying for jobs (literally) all over the world.   It’s hard to face being let go and rejected; it’s hard to face doing without things you’ve worked for or desire.   It hurts to go through this.  Jesus understands that.   He’s with us during these times and is calling us to put our faith in Him.  When the tough times are past, the lessons He’s teaching us today will come in handy.

For further reading:  Hebrews 6:4, Philippians 1:29-30, 1 Corinthians 4:9, Philippians 4:14, 1 Peter 1:4-5.

Lord, help me to trust You in all things.   Forgive my weakness and how I’ve failed You.   I trust You in Your teaching, Your provision, and Your discipline.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 16 May 2017

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10, verse 23.

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that I recently started a new job.   My previous company laid me off in December.   Now, I’m 50 and have been working in one capacity or another since I was 16.  This wasn’t the first time I’d been rolled off an account or even laid off a job.   Yet this has been the first time that my confidence has been rattled to the core.  I started a new job 3 months ago and, by all measures, it’s going very well (I’m leading a great team of really talented people).  Yet I’ve become ultra-sensitive to perfectionism, working to try to get things just right even as I know that isn’t a sustainable goal.   For the first time in my life, I’ve encountered anxiety, even panic attacks.   Couple that with some pretty heavy depression, a bunch of other stressors, and it’s a tough combination to live with.  I’ve come to dread  every time someone from my new job calls or e-mails, wondering if this is the message where the ax falls on my neck again.  50 is a tough time in life to be having to start over.

It’s as if I have forgotten how to hold unswervingly to the hope I profess in Christ.   Except that my faith is still solid. All through this, I’ve known deep inside that God was still real.  I’ve almost instinctively known that Jesus is with me, and that whatever I’m feeling, He’s beside me to help me.   That’s proof of Hebrews 10, verse 23.   And yet I’ve still been hurting.

Earlier, I was talking with my atheist friend who, once again, chided me for believing in “space fairies.”   I replied to him that it’d be better if he got to know the One he calls “space fairy” now, in thanks and admiration, instead of later in fear and dread because he will come to know Him whether he calls Him names or not.   Again, this is something I know inside of me because I believe what God has said through His Word and through His nature & history.   Yet in a world of doubt, anger, and hurt, is it any wonder that people like atheists would reject faith they can’t see, even if the One they reject is faithful and bears real hope?

Perhaps it’s natural to occasionally question one’s faith, even as the God in whom we have faith doesn’t question us.   He is always present, always the same, always diligent, always loving.   He’s God; He can’t be any other way.   We aren’t God; we can’t be God and shouldn’t try (after all, there really are no true atheists…).  I can only speak for myself in saying that I truly believe in all God says He is and that I don’t doubt that He’s saved me.   Yet I still question where He is and His purposes when things like this job loss come to me.   I didn’t deserve it, but it happened.   It has wreaked a lot of changes, some good and many not, in my family’s life, and I question “why”.

Perhaps the best answer is still the one God gave to Job, namely that He’s God and I’m not and I should just be comforted by knowing that.   Way back in the book of Job – probably the oldest book in the Bible – God upheld the hope of His faithful servant who, like me, questioned when bad things happened without rejecting his belief in his Maker.   It’s ok to be sincere about saying “Lord, this really sucks right now.”   It’s ok to be sincere about feeling bad when things make you feel bad.   It’s ok to be sincere in saying “I don’t want this.”  Vent those feelings and share those thoughts; that’s good, even Godly.   And then let them go and come back into His fold, remembering that He gives real hope for here and now, not just forever.  He who promised it is faithful in all things and at all times.

For further reading:  Hebrews 3:1, 1 Cor 1:9.

Lord, it’s been really tough lately and I’ve been hurting, questioning why these things have happened. I believe in You, though, and I know in my heart that You are with me.   Uphold me now and continue to give me the courage to face each new day.  Thanks for what You do and who You are.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 6 February 2017

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:  “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’”  Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.  Hebrews 7, verses 20-22.

Zero in on that last sentence.   “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.”   God swore an oath on Himself.   There is no higher guarantee possible.   Nowhere in the universe can you find a surer promise than one God makes and swears by Himself.   It WILL happen.   Nothing can deny it, nothing can stop it, nothing can change it.  When God says He loves you, He loves you unquestionably.   When God says He will provide for you, He will ALWAYS provide for you.   When God says He forgives you, He completely and fully forgives you in every way He promises.  When God guarantees the better covenant of His salvation, it is permanently guaranteed.

Just last week He proved it again to me.   He didn’t need to prove it, but He did.   You’ll recall in the last proverbial how I confessed my bitterness against my former employer.  I’ve been out of a full-time job, and I’ve felt deep anger over it.   I was working part-time in a new job but it wasn’t getting us by.   It seemed like a waste of their time and mine, and I was beginning to feel despondent.  Through all of my sin, God still promised “I love you, I will provide for you, I forgive you, trust Me and Me alone.”   I never doubted that, but I also never fully surrendered to it either…until I did.

You can’t make this stuff up.  That was Thursday.   Friday morning I went back to my part-time job which had been challenging me all week.  And Friday morning I was supposed to have heard news from a recruiter, news about a new position; I didn’t.   By noon, still nothing.  It was deeply disappointing, and I didn’t want to stay with the call center.   I sat there thinking of anything I could do to change the situation, but there was nothing…nothing except God.  About 1:30 or so I finally made peace with Him.  More appropriately, I surrendered to His will.   I silently prayed “if this is where you want me, Lord, I’ll give it my all.   I’ll give it my best.   I’ll do whatever You want me to do here.”   It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was what God wanted.   He had me where He had me for a reason and He would never let me down even when He provided what I didn’t expect.  Not five minutes later, I got the call about the new job and accepted it.

Stop right here for a gut check.   This isn’t some prosperity gospel; this isn’t some “God will be good to if you only do X, Y or Z.”  That kind of thing is a lie.   God isn’t a wishing well.   God isn’t some Pavlov trainer where if you give him a prayer He gives you a treat.  God chose to bless me by answering a prayer on HIS schedule, HIS way, not mine.   He could just as well have not given me what I wanted.   He could keep me there; He could send me where He wanted to.   I don’t start the new job for a week or more, and it could indeed turn out that the new job is a bust, or a harder challenge, or a path to more unemployment.   That doesn’t matter.   What does matter is that a man surrendered his will to his God, and His God always kept His promises.   God had kept His promise even before I realized it.   He always had.  God had been providing for me all along.   God had loved me all along.   God had blessed me where He had me even before the job search started.

All that is because God swore by Himself that He would always be God.   He then proved it by sending the God-man, His son Jesus, as our only Savior and as the true priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.   I don’t deserve it; neither do you.   We’ve never done anything to earn it or deserve it or make it happen…but God did.   He did it because He’s God.   We aren’t.

Sure, you can pooh-pooh all this.   You can say that my Indeed.com application was processed and that my new employer and I negotiated an arrangement.   You can insist it was all started as coincidental, and that we engineered the outcome we desired.   You can say those things and I’ll even listen to them, perhaps even find a few grains of truth in them.   Then I’ll tell you that my God is bigger than all those explanations.   He’s bigger than a job, or a website, or some process, or anything you or I could engineer here on the Third Rock.  God is bigger than us, or our emotions, or our plans, or anything we can conceive.   And He’s pure love.   His pure love is guaranteed by the better covenant that He Himself engineered on our behalf.

For further reading:   Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Malachi 3:6, Romans 11:29, Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6, Luke 22:20.

My Lord and my God, You alone are God.   You alone are good, and You alone saved me.   Thank You forever for that, and for providing for me, and for giving me what I don’t deserve.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 2 February 2017

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  Hebrews 7, verses 18-19.

You can read it as easily as I can:   these verses are talking about law (and, in context, about the divinity of Jesus, our true priest forever in the order of Melchizedek).   Let me draw another parallel for you, though.

I’m struggling to not hate right now.   If you’ve read these words for awhile, you know that my (now) former company laid me off at the end of December.  They didn’t need me anymore, and I hadn’t done anything wrong or illegal or immoral.   They simply didn’t need me anymore and I wasn’t a fit in the company culture; they didn’t want me, so they let me go.   Since then, I’ve been working part time in a call center.   There, I recently switched to a new account because the previous one also scaled back.   Along with two of my co-workers, I’m learning how this company uses a system I’ve known for over fifteen years.   It should be a good fit for me, especially as a part-time gig, yet I feel more discouraged than I have in months.  I’ve interviewed for a number of full-time positions but none has come open yet, at least not for me.   It’s discouraging to be out of work, and my wife and I are scaling back our spending drastically, contacting creditors, and trying our best to keep afloat.  I’m worried, and scared, and I feel ashamed to be out of work when I would so much rather be moving forward in success.

As a result, I find myself struggling to stay away from the selfish spiraling of blaming my former employer, of succumbing to hatred.   If you hate the people who hate you, they win, and that would simply make another wrong.   I thought I was doing the right thing in the way I led the projects they had me working on,  but the culture there had become mistake-free.   I made mistakes, didn’t do what they wanted me to do even as some of what they wanted me to do was wrong.  I find myself fighting off the urge to truly hate the men who put me on the street, to wish on them pain and hurt like they’ve inflicted on me.   It’s a real struggle; it’s a real fight, like two parties are warring for my soul.   I’m so angry and feel so hurt, and I’m really trying to not feel sorry for myself.   There are so many other people struggling worse than we are.   Yet I find myself wanting to scream at those men, to meet them in an airport someplace and punch one of them in the eye, or worse.   It was unfair, it was cruel, it was just plain wrong what they did to me, and I feel an empty burning anger inside of me because of it.

Now is the time to re-read the verses and address what God is saying in them.   In all I’m going through, God isn’t indifferent.   What was behind me is behind me.   God bless the folks still working for those wretched men and I honestly hope they do well.   As for me, God has me out of there for a reason.   In that, God is teaching me things, first and foremost reminding me to rely on Him.   My God is bigger than some job.   It isn’t Pollyana-ish to say again and again that something good is coming.   I don’t know how soon it’ll happen, but it will happen.   Until then, in good and in bad, God is still with us and is providing what He knows we need.   He has me doing what I can to move forward along a new path.  What is now in the past is rightfully in the past, relegated there because God is growing me beyond it.   It’s no longer needed for the path He has me on.

This whole job-searching process then becomes an exercise in trust, in trusting God.   He prepared me in the past for things I need to know now.   All that He’s going to use to put me in some new place has already been set in motion, even if I can’t yet see how it all fits together.  It’s frustrating, it’s anger-inducing, it has my emotions on edge and under stress.   It did the same to Job, and to King David, and to Elijah, and to Jesus in Gethsemene.  God is active in where He has my wife and I, and He’s building us up for work He’s readying for us in the days to come.   God is drawing my wife and I nearer to Him.   Imperfect as we are, we’re close as one and closer to God than we have been in a long time.   That will bear only good fruit.  What it bears will be washed in Jesus’ hope.

I still want to sock my old manager in the eye, though.   But instead of that, I’ll pray the “Fiddler on the Roof prayer,” the one the villagers asked of their rabbi concerning the tsar.   “May the good Lord bless and keep him…far away from us.”  God’s active in their lives even when they were (I feel) unjust to me.   In a way, I hope He’s active for their best as well.

For further reading:   Romans 8:3, Romans 3:20, Galatians 3:20, Hebrews 3:6, James 4:8.

Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me when I so don’t deserve it.   Bless those who persecute us, and lead me to the new place You have in store.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 6 January 2017

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”  And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.  Hebrews 6, verses 13-15.

God takes His own time to keep His promises.   Yet all through history He has kept EVERY promise He’s made.   He’s proven Himself to be reliable.   Do you find it as tough to wait on Him as I do?  It took DECADES for Abraham to see how God was keeping His promise.  It took DECADES for Moses to answer God’s call fully and see how God had delivered the Israelites.  It took CENTURIES, even MILLENIA, for people to see how God had kept His promise to send a Savior to deliver mankind from sin.  Why do I get so pissed off when I feel God hasn’t answered me immediately?   Is the problem with God or me?   You know the answer.

Now, this isn’t to cop out and let God off the hook.   Have you ever considered that God didn’t respond or answer in the way you wanted because He knew you couldn’t handle the response?   That becomes an act of mercy, not of withholding.

Case in point:   job hunting.   It’s thrillingly maddening.   It’s frightening, exhilarating, motivating, depressing, and completely necessary when your full-time position ceases to exist.   Concerning my predicament, my comment must be “all glory to God.   So far so good.”   Things are moving along well, and years of preparation and accumulating skills are paying off.   Yet behind all that, making it go forward (even making it go sideways every now and then) is the prepared, skilled hand of God.   I’ve felt His pull in everything that has happened, and because I know He’s involved, I know things will turn out just fine.

Yet they don’t turn out on my timeline.  I want the new job now.   I want to feel secure again, to not have to get up every day and beat the reeds for some new lead.   I want to know that I’ll be able to provide for my family, and pay our bills, and do the great things we have planned for this year.  To be honest, I’m scared to death every day of being a middle-aged statistic and becoming one of the millions who can’t find work; one of the millions who can’t find ‘something to eat’ in the middle of a field of plenty.

Gut-check time:   It’s not about me.   Get off the “I” train, Dave, and check your six.   God’s there.   He’s the one covering me and what I do in this life is about Him.   It’s about serving Him in whatever capacity He’s placed me.   It’s about serving His kingdom using that preparation and those skills, and that means sometimes doing it in unconventional ways.   And it means trusting God no matter what, even when I don’t understand why He’s moving me the way He is.  Now is the time to be thankful some doors are closed.   Behind them could be things that aren’t meant for me, or that could somehow make things worse.

Abraham waited a generation before seeing how God kept his promise.   He was a very old man, in his 80s, when he answered God’s call to up and leave everything he’d ever known.   Then he waited another 20 years or so before fathering Issac:  the promised child through whom God would eventually redeem mankind.   Issac waited decades before marrying the woman he loved, then waited longer before setting in motion the plan God intended all along.   Jacob did the same.   So did his son Joseph, then Moses, then David and Solomon.   Humanity waited centuries before their descendant, Jesus, arrived to make all things new.   And it has been two thousand years since Jesus promised to come back and then left.   All along, God has been active, planning to do great things through His very good creation, man.   All along, God has been working to reach all people, not just the prepared ones, so that all people might come to know Him and be saved.

Do you seriously think He doesn’t know what He’s doing?   Do you truly think He’ll let us fall without being there to build us back up again?

So I keep looking for the new job.   And I’m interviewing.   And I’m doing what I can, when I should, to do my part in gaining new full-time employment.   Like I said, so far so good.  It’s all a gift from God.  In God’s good time, a wonderful opportunity will present itself.   Until then, it’s not about me, so I get to keep the faith and move forward.

For further reading:   Genesis 22:16-17, Luke 1:73, Genesis 21:5.

Lord, I believe in You.   Thank You for sustaining me, for preparing me, and shepherding me through scary, cold days.   All glory to You.

 

 

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 5 December 2016

And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.  Hebrews 5, verse 4.

So, I’m officially looking for another job.  Last Friday, my manager, a VP in Michigan, officially dropped the axe on my neck.   Effective 1 January I’m gone from the company.   Reason is that I’m just not a fit for the work they have now.   It’s not being fired but it’s not being saved either; I guess “let go” is the current colloquialism for “don’t go away mad but just go away.”   The company was kind enough to pay me through the remainder of the month, something they didn’t have to do and most companies don’t.  And my active work is mostly done so it’s like having freely paid job hunting time.  I refuse to surrender to negative thinking or pessimism in this because I sense deep in my soul that God is at work.

He’s calling me to do something else.

I’ll put it to rest now, though:   no, I’m not going into the ministry.  I’m already in a ministry of sorts called “daily life.”   In it, I get to talk with people, share Jesus in how I conduct myself, and pray actively and diligently.  I’m not paid to do this and, to be honest, feel no particular pull in the direction of full-time ministry of ‘the cloth.’  This’ll sound weird but I’m hoping that never happens because I believe I’m making a difference doing what I’m doing now.   I enjoy spending these times with you, and I enjoy doing my best to live out my faith in wherever each day carries me.   Full-time ministry would change that somehow, maybe for the better and maybe not.   For now, let’s just say “we may never know.”

And yet I know deep in my heart that God is calling me to do something with my life.   It SUCKS to lose your job, even if it isn’t unexpected.  In the middle of an economic depression, joining the ranks of the unemployed is a terrifying, daunting thing.   Yet I know that God has His hand in it.   He’s been preparing me and my family for this for several months now in building up our faith, in providing a second job for me and a new job for my wife.   He’s been encouraging us to become bolder live-in representatives for Jesus in all we think, say, and do.   At some point in the future, I’ll secure another job.   It will happen because God has closed one door and asked me to walk through another one He opened.  In-between now and then, God will provide.   He doesn’t promise it’ll be easy; it might indeed be tough.   But He will be with us throughout.   He’s constantly providing us with all we need to get through each day.

Some people get to have this same kind of faith and live it out as called servants of Christ.   Just like Aaron – Moses’ brother and the original ordained priest and pastor – pastors and priests have sensed the call God put on their hearts.   They moved in the direction of full-time ministry, walking through doors God opened so that they might arrive in that ministry.   And they do it with more training than Aaron had.  Aaron’s only ecclesiastical training was in the mud pits of Goshen, hoping for decades that God would send His deliverer so that slaves like himself might be freed.  Aaron didn’t need training in Hebrew, Greek, hermeneutics, and adiaphora.   God put all that was needed on His heart and Aaron moved along accordingly.   Indeed, God chose Aaron long before Aaron realized that God had chosen him.   What’s more, God stuck by Aaron after Aaron had committed a grave and all-too public sin.   If the root of every sin is idolatry, Aaron’s sin in building the Golden Calf for the delivered Israelites to worship is idolatry on steroids.   And God stuck with Him anyway.   God provided for Aaron.   God used Aaron to institute the practices and tradition of being a called servant.   God used Aaron to live as an example for others to follow in working and living as selected, appointed, called servants of Christ to carry His Word to all ends of the earth.

Different from how He uses you and me, but God has called us into our lives all the same.   What will we do with that call?

If you’re reading this blog either at WordPress or on an email, you’re one of thousands to whom it’s delivered every day.  God has been using me to share these simple words for six years now.   That much I pray to continue even as I look for new ways to pay the bills.  No matter what happens, I feel God’s calling through all of it.

For more reading:   Hebrews 7:19, Ephesians 3:12, Romans 8: 31-39.

Lord God, I pray use my life and all I have so that I might preach You in all I think, say, and do.   Thank You for blessing me and providing for me.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 18 November 2016

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4, verse 12.

Read the verses listed below, then wrestle with God at what He’s telling you through them.  He’s dividing your soul from your sins.

I’ll never forget the look on the face of the CIO when she fired me.   I was the temporary IT director at a small HMO in Montana.   A few months before, I had taken the job up there in Kalispell to make a big change after a year of sin, frustration, shame and distraction had nearly wrecked my family.  Montana would be a fresh beginning, a place to start from scratch and move forward.   Nearly from the start, I knew I couldn’t fix all that was wrong in the department there yet I kept trying, doing my best to bail water out of a sinking boat.   Profession dysfunctions, inadequate systems, incompetent consultants, poor configuration, no processes:   it was an IT director’s challenge and my job to clean up someone else’s messes.   To do that, I worked with the company board to hire a new CIO and we found one with all the qualifications we needed.   She was really good.  Now she was letting me go.   I had trained her in all the issues we were facing and what was being done to address them and there I was, called in out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon and she was letting me go.   “This just isn’t working out,” she said, and without them giving me another reason I was out of a job.

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”  That’s from Jeremiah 23.  I felt crushed.  In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells the story of how God’s word is like good seed that farmers sow in various kinds of ground.   Some grows to produce a harvest; sometimes it withers and dies.  What seed had I become?  And in Acts 12 there’s this simple truth:  “But the word of God continued to increase and spread” despite the faithful being scattered, torture and murders of the saints, and all the structural impediments that the Jews and their collaborative Roman friends could build against it.  Fine words to hear but I had people depending on me!

Ephesians 6 talks about us being clothed in the armor of God to carry that word of God boldly into battle against real forces of sin and dark magic. Paul’s sometime friend Peter then says that this word is imperishable, living, enduring.   John is the one who said it is a double edged sword, one he saw in a vision coming out of the mouth of Jesus.  And as you’ve read, that analogy was also used here in Hebrews, stating how God’s word cuts us to the core, slicing away soul from sin so that our sins might be laid bare for the terrible choices they are.

Tell all this to the guy who lost his job.   Here in the real world, tell all this to the man who’s terrified of how he’s going to support his family, pay his bills, overcome the shame of unemployment, talk to the people who thought he was making a fresh start up there in the north woods.   Or in the woods of east Texas.   Or perhaps in the woods where you and I wander today.   Tell all this to that guy, and to you, and to me, and all who will listen.   Speak it loud and clear because, brother, we need it.

Even in what we think must be the worst times, Jesus is still in everything and the Word He gives is that sharp sword.  It is both the weapon to use against temptations and guilt, and the scalpel that excises cancer from the spirit.  It has been years since that day in northwest Montana when Dory fired me for reasons I still don’t understand.   Once again I find myself in a job that seems to be slipping away, and once again I find myself faced with the fears of supporting my family, paying those bills and the frustration of not understanding where things went wrong.   Yet once again I also find myself standing here, sometimes terrorized in the dark until I realize that I’m standing here, not alone, but with Jesus.   He used that door He slammed shut to walk me through others He would open.   He’s doing it again now and, in doing so, He speaks to my heart to cleanse my thoughts and my attitude.   The bills will get paid, we’ll get through the tough times, and that second job is there to help.  What matters is staying close to His side.  He reassures me in the days when the world seems harsh that I should take heart because He has overcome the world.

For more reading:   Isaiah 55:11, Jeremiah 23:29, Mark 4:14, Luke 5:1, John 10:35, John 16:33, Acts 7:38, Acts 12:24, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, Ephesians 6:17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 John 2:14, Revelation 1:2, 16

Lord Jesus, I find myself scared and worried about all kinds of things.   Comfort me with Your presence, and equip me to boldly share You where I am today. May Your piercing Word be active in my life today and in the lives of those I reach.