Do You Walk Along Side or Follow?

For awhile now, I have been calling myself a follower of Jesus in an attempt to differentiate from the religious institution. I thought it was a good way to open up a conversation with others and avoid the stereotyping that goes with the word Christian. While the media and other groups like to classify all Christians in a negative light, my desire is to show that is not the narrative that Jesus teaches in the Bible. Christ loves everyone and has a desire for all to know Him. In my attempt to let others know I follow Jesus, not an institution, I realized that just following is not enough.

Following can be very easy. Following does not require any thought. Simply go in the direction the leader is heading. Go to church, listen to the sermon, worship for a few songs, go home. Read the Bible, pray and do a Bible study. It is easy to get into a rhythm of following that is, well safe. It is safe because there are others doing the same thing. It is safe because it doesn’t require anyone to take any risks. Peter exemplifies this on the night Jesus was taken to by tried. The night Jesus was captured and brought in front of the religious leaders who judged Him and found Him guilty of nothing but disrupting the religious institution of the day. What did Peter do as the guards were taking Jesus away? Mark 14:54 tells us, “Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.”

Peter followed Jesus at a distance. He didn’t want to get caught by the guards. He didn’t get too close. He didn’t let anyone else know that he knew Jesus, for three years in fact. Peter was one of the three closest friends to Jesus. Peter followed Jesus at a distance. When he got to the courtyard of the high priest, what did he do? He sat down and warmed himself with the fire. He was close to Jesus, but not too close. He was willing to accept a warm fire instead of the Spiritual fire that came directly from Jesus. One might even say that Peter looked more like the non-followers than a true disciple of Jesus. How many of us have been content to follow Jesus and follow Him at a distance? Go to church on Sunday, where it is safe. Surrounded by other believers or at least would-be believers. Then satisfied to warm ourselves by the fire during the week, not getting too close to the Spiritual fire of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to say, “I am a follower of Jesus” but does it look like Peter when he betrayed Jesus? There is another way. It looks move like Peter after Jesus raised from the dead and visited him on the beach. Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him three times. Which redeemed each of the three times Peter denied him to others. This act of forgiveness transforms Peter from a follower to someone who is waking in step with Jesus.  In Matthew 11:28-30 it says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

After Pentecost and Holy Spirit was poured out on humanity, we have a chance to walk with Jesus instead of just following Him. I love how the Message version puts it, “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.” We are invited to walk with Jesus and work along side Him and Holy Spirit. We don’t have to trail along at a distance. We don’t have to be timid and wait until Sunday to come alive. We can walk with Jesus every day, watch what He is doing and be His hands and feet. We have an opportunity to BE Jesus to a hurting world. Religion may not be attractive to non-believers, but Jesus is. His love, compassion and grace draws people to Him. We can be that love, compassion and grace to everyone around us.

Today, I choose to walk with Jesus, not just follow Him. What do you think?

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Searching for the Heartbeat of God

1 Peter 4:7-11 (MSG) Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
I love the fact that we are made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26). This means that God would have an appearance and aspects similar to a man and woman. No other creation bears His image. I think it is so cool that we look like God and that means we can be His sons and daughters. I also wonder if it means He has internal organs like we do? Does God have lungs, a liver, a stomach? Does He have a heart like ours? We know David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), however is our heart fashioned after God’s heart? It will be one of the many questions I ask when I see Him someday.

While we don’t know if God has a similar physical heart, we know He does have a heart that loves us dearly. I pray that each of us would have a heart like God’s and understand what His heart beats for. We know the normal resting heart rate for an average person at an average age is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. In contrast, the humming bird hearts can beat as fast as 1,260 beats per minute. I imagine the heartbeat of God is much more complex than a our own. It is not so important to figure out what God’s resting heartbeat is, but much more important to understand what He is passionate about.

If we align our heartbeat with His, then we will start to see and feel the world differently. In Luke 19:10, Jesus gives us a picture of what gets His heart beating. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” His greatest desire is to see every one of His children to know Him and have a relationship with Him. When we allow our heart to beat like Jesus’s heart, then we find the courage to do the things He would do.

Noelle and her family made a family budget at Christmas to make sure they did not overspend. After they had completed their purchases for the season, they realized they still had some money left over. Instead of absorbing it back into their overall budget, they felt led to give it away. So they split it up between the family members asked their children to pray about where God wanted this money to go. They wanted this offering to be Holy Spirit-led and given away when they saw an opportunity to give it to a stranger. One day, Noelle and her ten-year-old were at a fast food restaurant. Her daughter saw a man sitting in a corner and wondered what he was doing. He was disheveled and was most likely homeless. When they approached the man, Noelle noticed he was making lemonade out of the free water, lemon packets and sugar. Her daughter felt the stirring of Holy Spirit and told her mom she wanted to give her designated money to this man. The gesture moved the man to tears as he felt the love of Jesus, and in that moment Noelle’s daughter was perfectly aligned with the heartbeat of God.

Today, align your heartbeat with God’s heartbeat by looking for an opportunity to give someone hope. Maybe it is helping someone who is homeless. Maybe it is paying for someone’s meal or coffee. Maybe it is giving an extra tip to a waiter or waitress and let them know God sees them. Maybe it is helping a mother of a crying baby at the store. Maybe it is praying for someone in need of God’s intervention. Be open to the opportunity the Holy Spirit puts before you. When we seek to align our heart with God’s heart, we will see His children the way He see them. We will have compassion and be able to bring Heaven to earth and show others His heart!

Weathering the Storms of Life – Part 3

Picking up from yesterday’s post in chapter 33.

“Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.”

During any storm, it is important to keep up your strength.  In Paul’s case, it was food for the physical body.  In some storms, it is important to eat and get that kind of nourishment.  But it is just as important to sustain yourself with the word of God and the presence of the Father.  The last thing you want to do is fast from the Father.  You don’t want to fast from prayer, discussions with God, from reading His word.  Just as it is important to keep your physical strength, you have to keep your spiritual strength up.  You can lean on God for that strength.  Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “

He wants us to rely on Him.  We can get sustenance from the Father.  He will renew our spirits, He will restore our souls.  Jesus really is the living water and when we put all our faith in Him, He will fill us up.  Our spirit and our soul will feel His love.  The Father will freely give His love to us.  It will sustain us and it will help us get through any storm that comes at us. But we have to open ourselves up to receive His love and be willing to seek its nourishment.  Just as the body needs food, our spirit and soul need the love of the Father.

I found myself going to prayer more often, going to the bible more often, seeking the Fathers love.  He really did sustain me during this storm.  He poured out His love.  He reassured me.  He told me, like Abraham, that He will take me to a land that He will show me.  It is because I looked for Him in the midst of the storm and He was willing to pour out His love.  Through His love and nourishment, my soul and spirit got renewed.

 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach.” 

When God brings you through a storm and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel or see the land there is one more item that is left to be done.  You must cut loose the anchor that is holding you from being able to see a new dawn.  This can be anything that will keep you in the storm.  For me, the Father has shown me that my anchos were judgement and arrogance! I was quick to judge and proud of what I had accomplished.  I forgot that it was not by my hands that I was successful.  Rather the Father desired it for me to grow and be successful.

I had to cut the anchor of judgement and arrogance. I am thankful God started to speak to me about humility during this storm.  He revealed a number of things that all point to pride and humility.  I am starting to cut that anchor, but it is not an overnight thing.  I pray that someday, I can share the journey to find true humility and really be able to shed the mantle of pride.  But for now, I know that the anchor of pride for my job has been cut.  I now am relying on the Father to open the door for my next adventure.  Whenever, wherever and whatever that might be.

Then what do you do once the storm has passed?  You are changed, you are always changed.  Romans 5:3-5 says, “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

The storm will produce perseverance, character and ultimately hope.  Hope comes from the Love that the Father has poured into our hearts. Tomorrow we will finish up this series with a deeper look at how to rejoice after the storm.

Smartphones and Being Saved

Cell phones, or more precise smart phones, have become an internal part of our world. Wherever you go, people will have them in their hands, next to their ear or outlining their back pocket. Too many drivers have them in their hands texting or against their ear talking. Smart phones have become an extension of each person. You can look at anyone’s smartphone and they will all be different. The hardware may be the same, but the case will be different and what apps a person have will be unique to them.

People are very similar to smart phones in that way. Our hardware is all the same. We all have organs and blood and muscles. Our external appearance will be different, just like the covers people protect their phone with. The other thing that is unique to each person is our personality, behavior, skills, competencies, knowledge, and experience. Individual phones will have unique attributes as well. The ring tone, the wallpaper and screen saver pictures will all be different. The apps will also be different based on the persons interests. Phones can get filled with apps that are not used and take up valuable space. Others can have negative impacts like drain the battery. Others can be used to search positive things or negative things. So people are not all that much different than our smart phones.

Awhile ago, I had to get a new phone. My battery had gone bad and I no longer had enough space to hold all of my music and pictures. I went to the store and found the phone I wanted and the person asked me if I had backed up all of my information. That way I could make the new phone look and feel like my old phone. I started thinking about the question, “did you back up all of your information?” The sales person was really asking if I wanted to keep everything I had accumulated on my phone. All of my pictures, music, apps. In other words, did I want to keep all of the good things along with the bad things.

When you buy the new phone, everything is new on the phone. It has only the important software and apps necessary to do the basic functions: make phone calls, surf the internet, play movies or take pictures. No other clutter. Nothing else. It is clean and fresh. It is a new creation in many ways. As soon as we plug our phone in and start to restore our backed up information, we start to contaminate the phone with anything that might be harmful to the phone.

This go me thinking, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become a new creation. We are no longer sinners, but become sons and daughters of the living God. We become a royal priest and part of a holy nation. The grace of Jesus cloaks us in righteousness. We get clothed in the power of Holy Spirit and are transformed into something new. It is similar to that brand new cell phone that doesn’t have any of the old apps, pictures or music on it. It is clean, fresh, and new. It has been capabilities and is ready to add new things. We are the same way, as long as we don’t try to restore the bad things in our life, we can walk in the assurance we were sinners saved by grace. We never have to think of ourselves as sinners again. We are saints and friends of Jesus.

It may be tempting to restore the backup files because it is familiar and comforting. However, we get to leave the old life behind and live a life free of bondage, shame and condemnation. We get to live a life full of love, truth and peace. Knowing Jesus has cleaned us through His ultimate sacrifice, we get to celebrate that gift every day. So next time you have to replace your cell phone, remember how much Jesus has done for you and upgraded you. Think about what you are putting on that new phone and maybe, just maybe you want to start fresh and clean. Just as you did when you came to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Healing the Division

Valentines is a day dedicated to show and share love. Unfortunately, we are all too eger to share our thoughts and show our contempt for those who think, act or behave differently than ourselves. It has caused a large division within our society. There has always been division in humanity. Ever since Cain and Abel we have seen jealousy, fear, envy, distrust and misunderstanding. People have always had prejudices, which means pre-judge or to form an opinion that is not based on fact. Sometimes it is an unconscious bias against a person, race, or gender. It does not help that the media loves to stereotype people and people groups. None of this is new. In Galatians 3:28 Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Even two thousand years ago people were labeled by race, gender and class.

When I was ten, my family moved from Mexico to New Jersey. As a third culture kid and new to a small community, I stood out like a sore thumb. I tried my best to fit in, but the US culture was foreign to him. I had a number of misunderstandings with other kids, mostly because I really didn’t know any better. Somehow, I got on the wrong side of  the playground bully. The bully, Nelson, was also a third culture kid as he was originally from Puerto Rico. Nelson called me out to a fight one day after class. I had no interest in fighting him and had no idea why Nelson wanted to beat me up.

As I walked home that day, a group of kids had gathered to watch the beat down. I had made up my mind to talk some sense into Nelson. When I approached him, I asked Nelson why he was mad. Nelson said I had called his mother a name. Besides not knowing what the name was, I denied ever saying anything about him or his mother. Apparently someone just wanted me to get beat up. Unfortunately, since a crowd had gathered, Nelson needed to do something to keep his reputation intact, even though he believed me. Choosing not to get a black eye, I decided to duck and run. Nelson landed a blow on my back as the crowd cheered and heckled me as I ran away.

The next day I approached Nelson to let him know that I had not made any derogatory remarks against his mother. It was not who I was. We talked for a bit and eventually reconciled our differences. We became really good friends for the next few of years while I lived in the community. If I had not sought to reconcile with Nelson, I would have missed out on this friendship. While God call us to reconcile with each other (Matthew 5:23-24), His ultimate desire is for us to be reconciled with Himself. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation, where we are helping others be reconciled with Jesus. We are to help others know Jesus as their Lord and Savior so they can also be sons and daughters of God.

Unfortunately, our society is all about division. It might be politics, religion, race, gender, sexual preference. Everyone feels it is better to condemn and ridicule versus loving and accepting. We don’t all have to agree with each other. In fact, that is not a good thing. We need to bring our differences, our experiences, our skills, our background to make things better. We were made unique and different. It is time we celebrate our differences and simply love one another. I encourage everyone to try blessing others. Celebrate the differences through the love of Jesus. “For God so loved the world He sent His only Son to die for us.” This way we can be reconciled with God, just as we reconcile with each other!

Give someone a Valentines present!

Is there anyone you have an issue with? Anyone who has wronged your or you have wronged? Today, make the decision to reconcile with them. Raise the white flag of peace and go make it right with the other person. Maybe it is a family member or old friend. Maybe it is a co-worker or a child. Whoever it is, put on the mind of Christ, set aside any pride and make amends.

Journey of Unemployment – Choose Hope

January has seemed to be a microcosm of life in general. It has been an interesting month. As in life there have been some highs and some lows. The good news is the job market seems to be picking up. I now have 5-6 opportunities I’m chasing, which is   certainly a positive sign. The publisher closing their door was clearly the valley of the month. This is certainly the challenge of being unemployed. Your day, week, month can hinge on how many interviews you have. If you are advancing in the interview process, you can feel the excitement the job is around the corner. Things outside of the job hunt can have magnified impacts. Some things that would not normally bother you can seem huge. Things that use to seem huge look insignificant. It is a unique state of mind.

Though the highs and low, I have learned to focus on hope. It is the thing that helps me get up each day. Thinking that today will be the day. Believing something good is going to happen today really helps me to keep moving. Not in some self help, power of positive thinking way. Rather in a sound Biblical way. The way Jesus would have encouraged us. The verses I have relied on to keep me hoping are:

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Proverbs 16:3: Stay committed to me my child. I will establish your plans and bless you. There is not anything you will need to do, but trust in my power and sit at my feet.

James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isaiah 51:11: Those the Lord has rescued will return.

    They will enter Zion with singing;

    everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

By continuing to seek God and His love for me, I can have hope for today and for tomorrow. I know He has something wonderful for me. I only want His best and do not want to settle for something less. So I choose to rejoice and hope, even through the low points. Because in the end, it is all about Jesus and the love He poured out to us, so we can live a full life.

How Are You Doing?

Right now, it is difficult to smile. I praise God, as I know He is good. He wants good for me and is not a malicious father. So how to handle the greetings when I am out and about? Usually we have a pleasant greeting where we say something like, “Hi, how are you?” We are not really asking about a person’s well-being, rather we are simply a nice way to start a conversation. I find myself using this greeting with anyone, even a person I am just passing by. A good, “hey, how are you?” and a slight head raise helps to fill the awkward gap between eye contact and walking past the person I will never see again.  Of course, the only possible response is, “good, and you?” Neither of us are really concerned with each other’s mental or physical state. It is the socially acceptable answer in all situations. So today, I am ok with the surface level stuff. But I shouldn’t be. I should care more about others than how I am feeling.

Unfortunately, this dance of pleasantries is the same for strangers and close friends. With the end result of us never really knowing the other person’s condition. In our fast paced, always too much on my plate culture, we do not have time to really stop and find out how the other person is doing. So we look to social media to get that kind of update. Even though we know social media only shows a shadow of the real health of the person. It is the most expedient form of keeping tabs on friends.

I am reminded of a day I that was not great, but had a great outcome because I didn’t let my feelings get in the way. I was in the office one day and for some reason it was super quiet. Most of the employees were on vacation or out of the office. As I took a break to get some coffee, I noticed another person in an otherwise empty floor. I knew the person, but had never really stopped and spoken with them. When I saw them I said the obligatory greeting and they responded with the obligatory response. This day I intentionally asked the question a second time. I said, “really, how are you?” with a stress on the question. Ann was taken back a little bit. When she saw I meant the question, she opened up that she was having some difficulties. I got to know more about her in the few minutes that she shared than I had the previous three years.

Ann’s willingness to open up allowed me the opportunity to pray for her. It turned out she also had a faith and was so encouraged to have a co-worker pray for her. This interaction revealed a desire many have to be known and share their burdens. Too many of us don’t stop long enough to listen to each other. If you ask the question a second time, you will find most people willing to open up just a little bit. It is thought that door where Jesus can minister to that person. I have seen great results with servers, airline attendants, retail workers, as well as friends. Go ahead, take some extra time to really find out how someone is doing and watch how God works. Even on your worst day, you will end up feeling better.

Rich young ruler

In Matthew 19:16-26 we are told the story of the rich young ruler. Here was a man who believed in God, followed His commandments and wanted to know what else he needed to ensure his salvation. Let’s take a look at the conversation this young man had with Jesus.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

The young man needed to be willing to give up everything for follow Jesus. In one more week, I will have been unemployed for nine months. The story of the rich young ruler cuts a bit closer to my heart than I care to admit. You see, While I have followed Jesus since I was a teenager, I also followed success and climbed the career ladder. While I had attributed my success to God, there was always a part of me that would just work harder and longer to get the results. Even when Jesus gave me a book to write, I would quickly shelve it to focus on my job. Finally, God had enough of my procrastinating and took me out of my job and upended my career. It was only then where I realized I had not given Him everything.

It is a humbling admission that I am out of work and am having to rely on God everyday for my provision. Jesus helped me see I was serving two masters. Clearly, He is a jealous God and doesn’t want to share us with anything. As an American, who has bought into the American dream, this concept is particularly difficult. We are born to work hard and get everything we desire. We should have it our way and whenever we want. We should be able to shop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and have it shipped to our door the same day. Isn’t it about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

God has different plans. When He needs to get our attention, He will do radical things like moving you to a new city and taking away your job. So here I was ten months into a new job, having moved my family, finding myself waking up without a job. In my arrogance, I figured it would only take a couple of months. Besides, I would get 2-3 calls a week from headhunters asking me if I would be interested in a role. Even if it took a couple of months, I should be set to save my severance payment and start a new job immediately. Well, God had other ideas. He wanted to break the pride from my life. He wanted to get me to the point of only serving Him. That meant, no job and having to rely on Him everyday.

Why it has been difficult, I have a better relationship with Jesus than ever before. I am also finding He is putting me in situations where I can encourage others who are in the same boat as I am. Unemployment is no fun and can wreak havoc on a man’s psyche. But God! If it were not for Jesus, I have no idea how I would have made it this long. So here I am coming up on nine months with nothing solid in sight. What I do have is my eyes fully on Jesus and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He will provide for my family. I have to give it ALL over to Him and by doing that, I have become free.

Redemption after our failures

When Abraham and Lot were deciding to split up because there herds had gotten too big, Lot chose to go to the plains of Jordan. This is where Sodom and Gamorrah were. Even at that time Sodom was known as a place where the men were wicked and sinning against God. I would not be surprised if God nudged Lot a little to be a righteous man in such a wicked place. This was a great opportunity to have a positive influence on a city and turn it around. Turn it to good.

So Lot goes and settles around Sodom. He is accepted and continues to grow his herd and stature. When judgement was pronounced on Sodom and the cities of the plain, Lot was given the chance to flee with anyone else who would go. His family was slow to hear the warning, so the angels forced him, his wife and daughters to leave the city. In fact, Lot was told to get out of the valley where all of the cities of the plain were.

Remember, God was willing to hold his judgement if there were just ten righteous people in the city. Lot, his wife and two daughters ended up being the only righteous in the city. Lot knew he had made a mistake in not influencing the city to turn from its ways. In a desperate act to save something, he asked to go to the city of Zoar. This was one of the cities of the plain and was arguably just as wicked as Sodom. His request to allow him and his family to go there saved the city of Zoar from the judgement of God for a short time. The rest of the cities of the plains, including Sodom and Gomorrah were not so lucky.

Lot, his wife and daughters ran for their lives and were instructed not to turn around. Unfortunately, his wife stopped to look at the destruction and was turned to a pillar of salt. Most experts would say that she was longing for the life she had just left and as a judgement on her, was also destroyed. However, I believe when Lots wife turned around to see Sodom it was not because she wanted to go back to the life there. Rather, it was because she knew she was to be the salt and light in that wicked place. Since she had not taken the necessary steps to turn the tide of the wickedness, she, like Lot, sat idly by while the city descended further into the depth of human depravity. So when she turned around with a deep sense of sorrow, she physically became the thing she was meant to be to the city as a follower of Yahweh. SoLot lost his home, his wealth, his friends, his status and his wife because he had not engaged to be a positive influence on the environment.

Lot didn’t settle in Zoar and try to influence them to be a city on a hill, shining the light of Yahweh. Again, Lot failed and historians believe God destroyed Zoar as soon as Lot left. This time, it was due to fear, not because of apathy or selfishness. Instead he runs away to a cave and lives the rest of his life in seclusion. The story thankfully does not end here.

Abraham loved Lot, and I am convinced he called upon the promise God gave him in Genesis 18:19. God is walking with Abraham and says, “for I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” I imagine Abraham interceding and praying for Lot, who was part of his household. Lots father had died, so Abraham took him under his wing and treated him like a son. He was family after all. I am sure Abraham prayed for the redemption of his nephew whose inaction destroyed a city. God is just and merciful. He also had a plan to make sure the lineage of Abraham was secure, since he was to be the father of nations. God chose to redeem Lot’s and graph it back into the line of Abraham. It took seven generations, but when the lineage of Abraham and the lineage of Lot come back together they produce the line of David and a direct lineage to Jesus.

Lots daughters slept with Lot in the cave to get pregnant. The older daughter gave birth to Moab, who became the country of Moab and wher known as the Moabites. Seven generations later, a woman name Ruth was born from the line of Moab. Ruth married into a family from Bethlehem. The father in law was Elimelech and the mother in law Naomi. We are not told which of their two sons Ruth married, but we know that one married Ruth and the other Orpha. Elimelech and Naomi had left Bethlehem due to a famine and had settled in with the Moabites. When Elimelech and both sons died, Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem.

In Hebrew tradition, when a husband died, the brother was suppose to take care of the widow. Unfortunately, both of Naomi’s son die so there is no one to remarry Orpha and Ruth. Since Naomi was already older and did not expect to marry again or have more children, she wanted to spare her daughter in laws the pain of living the rest of their lives without a husband. Naomi tells both girls to go back to their fathers and get a new husband. Orpha thought that was a good idea and left. Ruth had other ideas. In an instant she made a decision that began the redemption of the lineage of Lot. She decided to take action, something her great grandfather (seven generations before) didnt do. She chose to stay with Naomi and live with her in Bethlehem.

Her action enable God to repair the family line when Ruth met Boaz. Boaz came from the line of Abraham. God gave them a child named Obed, who had Jesse and Jesse had David who was a man after Gods heart and the direct lineage of Jesus. Where Lot failed to take action to save a city, God took action that saved the world through His son Jesus. I would guess that Ruth had no idea the legacy she would create by her actions. One thing is clear, we too can leave a legacy for future generations. We just need to listen to God, follow His leading and join Him in the works He is doing.

Gift of Knowledge

In John 3:11 Jesus was talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus and says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen but you do not receive our testimony.” Nicodemus was having a hard time understanding everything Jesus was talking about. He was curious, but was having difficulty understanding what Jesus was saying because of his deep rooted teaching. Nicodemus had heard something so unbelievable that he was not able to reconcile this new teaching with his past teaching.

This is very similar to the first time Nick witnessed a Cirque du Soleil show. Cirque du Soleil is a circus that travels around the world and performs some of the most amazing feats of acrobatics that you can imagine. You almost need to see it first hand to truly understand the magnitude of giftedness of the performers. Nicodemus had his own “Cirque du Soleil” moment, when he hears what Jesus told him. He heard the words, but could not grasp the depth of their meaning.

Jesus was sharing the knowledge of Himself, via His testimony. Nicodemus heard Jesus’s testimony first hand. The Bible is the best way to read about Jesus. However, there are many good books that also reveal God in new ways. Mike loves to read. He’s always on the lookout for new revelation and great stories about his Lord and King. Whenever Mike finds a book that moves him, he wants to share it with those around him. When “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young was first published, Mike met the author at a conference and picked up his book. After reading it, he proceeded to buy cases of the book to give out to everyone he met. It had such an impact on Mike, and millions of others, that he just could not keep it to himself. He freely gave the new revelation to others so they could share in his amazement. He spread the knowledge of Jesus beyond his closest friends and had a positive impact on dozens of people through sharing the book.

Action for the day

Think about a book or music CD that had a profound impact on your life. Pick up a few extra copies and pray about who you should give one to. Let them know why it had such an impact on you and why you thought of them. Let them know how special they are and how you pray the book or CD will have the same impact in their life.

Prayer for the day

Jesus, I am glad you revealed Yourself through many different ways. You do it through the bible, through books, through music and directly to us. I ask that You put a name on my heart to share what I have learned through a book or through music that has moved my soul. I long to share it with others so they too can have the knowledge of You. Thank you for the work You will do in that person’s heart through the gift I am to share. It’s in your name I pray. Amen.