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All their vast array

01 02 01 their vast array
God doesn’t need the heavens, of course. But we need the heavens and the earth to begin to comprehend who God is. The same God who arranged the galaxies, has a lofty plan that includes us. The God who shaped the earth is shaping our lives. The God who weaved together strands of DNA, is weaving our circumstances with His love. And the God who built protons and neutrons and sent electrons flying around them is the One who cares about the tiniest detail of our lives.

I really enjoy the slide show on this page, and had it in mind as I wrote these comments:

From the Bible:
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. Genesis 2:1

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Bob Familiar, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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God is building a mansion

42 06 38 God is building a mansion2
I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I did enjoy watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition a few years ago. For those of you not familiar with the show, people contact the network explaining why they need their home remodeled—often there’s an illness or some other tragedy or disaster that requires a change in the person’s living environment. The network gets 1,000 applications a day and, of course, can choose no more than one family per week.

In one episode, an eight-year-old cancer survivor, Kassandra, sent a tape to the network explaining that she didn’t want her home remodeled. She only wanted help going back to the children’s cancer ward to brighten it up and make it a happier place for the children who were there.

The network sent Kassandra and her family to the hospital with a team of Disney animators to create beautiful murals on the walls in every room of that children’s ward. They remodeled the play room and made it beautiful for those who were suffering.

What Kassandra and her family did not know was this: While they were busy painting rooms and encouraging patients, over 300 people were busy with their home. They tore it down and built a beautiful mansion in its place. Kassandra, her mom and dad, and her five brothers and sisters came home to the surprise of their lives.

Well, I cried. This is so much like God. While we are busy losing ourselves caring for others, God is building a mansion. Some day the door of that limo will open, the crowd will cheer, the bus will move, and we will experience far more than we could ever ask or imagine.

From the Bible:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Duncan Harris, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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True wealth is already in our possession

42 12 14 true wealth
As we bring Jesus into our world, we may be tempted to put to right situations we are not called to correct, injustices we are not called to resolve.

Consider this passage from the Bible:
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Luke 12:14

In this passage, a man from the crowd is trying to get Jesus to act as a probate court—dividing an inheritance. Jesus flatly refuses to get involved.

This is a tough one to unravel. Why does Jesus turn down this request?

Let’s start with what we know and what we don’t know. We know that two brothers disagreed on how and when an inheritance should be divided. But we don’t know which one is in the right and which one is in the wrong. All we know is that the man in the crowd thinks he’s been wronged.

We also know that God loves justice. If injustice has been done, God will someday, somehow make it right. And we know that the people of God are called to “loose the chains of injustice” (Isaiah 58). But exactly how and when we are to do that isn’t always clear from scripture.

Maybe the clue is in the next verse: Jesus said to them: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Here’s the answer. Sometimes, settling an injustice builds the kingdom of God. Sometimes, it’s just a distraction. I think the Lord was showing this man that he had lost his mooring. He was so focused on getting what he wanted that he was unable to see the true wealth that stood right before him.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Frank Kovalchek (Alaskan Dude), Flickr, Creative Commons License

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04 21 34 victory
Spiritual victory rests on two things:

First and most important, the LORD must hand our enemy over to us. In our spiritual battle, that has been done. Jesus triumphed over all the forces of darkness. They cannot defeat us because they have been defeated themselves.

Second, we must go take possession of what is ours. The battle amounts to bringing the triumph of Jesus into all the dark corners of our lives and of our world. It really boils down to this: How do we bring Jesus into everything that isn’t right in our world?

Once Jesus is there, things change. Darkness turns to light. Fear turns to peace. Shame turns to radiance. Injustice turns to celebration of righteousness.

This is our privilege and our calling as sons and daughters of God: to turn our world upside down.

From the Bible:
The LORD said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.” Numbers 21:34

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by DeusXFlorida, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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The path to healing

04 21 08 the path to healing
We have a daughter who was born with a club foot. When she was a little baby, the bottom of her foot was turned at a 90 degree angle away from where it should have been. This was a problem, of course, because unless her foot moved into the correct position, she would never walk properly.

Clearly, this seemed like a perfect opportunity for God to heal. We prayed and prayed, believed, expected a miracle, and, instead, got a blood soaked cast, a little baby with dull pain in her eyes recovering from a five hour surgery that was only partially successful. Four years later, we did another surgery. Six months after that, the new surgeon said, no, that surgery was all wrong, we need a different surgery.

Today my daughter is a young woman. Most people have no idea that one of her feet is about 40% smaller than the other. The “little foot” (as we call it) is scarred and twisted, but it works. She walks; she runs (with just a hint of a limp); she rides horseback. I don’t know if the saga is over, but for now, for practical purposes, she’s okay.

In the Bible we read about an infestation of deadly snakes that were terrorizing and killing the people of God. When Moses asked the Lord what to do, he got this answer from God:
“Make a model of a venomous snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who is bitten by the snake will live if he looks at this model.” Numbers 21:8 The Easy Bible

The people asked God to take the snakes away. There’s no record that He did. Instead, He gave them a bronze snake—all who looked to the bronze snake were healed. The bronze snake didn’t keep them from being bitten; but it did keep the bite from killing.

Sometimes we need to go through some pain before God heals. We would all like our problems to instantly disappear, but that isn’t always God’s plan. The same God who put a bronze snake in the wilderness sent us two surgeons who disagreed on how to operate on a child’s foot.

What is true here physically is also true emotionally and spiritually. We all want a painless solution to our secret sins; we want an instant cure for our depression or panic or whatever other misery we may experience. But God doesn’t always take the snakes away. Instead, we may need to travel with Him through the place of pain to find His final healing.

I don’t completely understand this, to be honest. I don’t like pain, and I would rather avoid it altogether. But I do know this: In the end, our lives will be far richer if we let God do it His way.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Sarah Ackerman, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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What defines who you are?

04 20 28 What defines you
What defines who you are? Where does your identity come from?

We read in the Bible that Aaron (the brother of Moses and high priest of Israel) had a place of great privilege before God. No one else could enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. Only Aaron could approach God Himself to bring atonement for all people.

But then we read these words:
Moses, Aaron and Eleazar climbed Mount Hor. There Aaron died. When Moses and Eleazar returned to the Israeli camp, the people of Israel mourned Aaron’s death for 30 days. Numbers 20:27-29 The Easy Bible

And now, it’s over. Aaron fell. His body returned to dust there at the top of the mountain. Another, Eleazar—a minor character up to this point—takes his place of leadership. The spirit of Aaron who lives on, who goes to spend eternity with God—this Aaron no longer represents the nation to their God. Although he may have privilege in heaven that I know nothing about, as far as we do know, he is simply another son of God.

Though Aaron had one of the most important ministries and responsibilities in all history, this calling did not follow him to heaven. God didn’t call a high priest into heaven. God called a son.

And so it will be with us. We have jobs and ministries and responsibilities—they may be of great importance. But the day arrives when we lay them aside, just like Aaron laid aside his robes of privilege, and we enter God’s presence as a son, as a daughter.

Does that speak to you? Do you know that it is not your accomplishments that God is calling into His eternal presence? Rather, it is you. He desires you. He wants to spend forever with you.

You may or may not do something great in your lifetime. In either case, God’s delight is in you, His eternal child.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Getting at the root of things

59 01 14 Getting at the root of things
Where do evil desires come from?

Here’s my take: God is a creator; the devil and his allies are corrupters. God creates good desires, and the devil twists them as soon as he can.

Some time ago we did some prayer ministry with someone who was trying to get at the root of why she overate. As we sought the Lord on this, we found a little baby that only got attention when she was being fed. Otherwise, parents ignored her. God had given this baby (and all babies) a desire to be loved. But the enemy corrupted that desire with a lie: the only way you will be loved is to be fed. So, where did the temptation to overeat come from? A corrupted desire.

Here’s the good news. The Lord untangles things. In the case of this woman, the Lord deeply reassured her that she was loved, and that she didn’t have to eat to receive God’s love. God purified her desire. Now He satisfies her desires with good things—her pure desire for nourishment and her pure desire for His love.

Jesus instructed us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” So we don’t go looking for it. But, when it comes, find the corrupted desires, take them to the Lord and watch Him untangle them!

From the Bible
…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. James 1:14

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Edmund Garman, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Opportune times

42 04 13 opportune times
In the Bible we read, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

Exactly what is an “opportune time”?

Well, first of all, forget about the devil fighting fair. It isn’t going to happen. He doesn’t shake hands like a gentleman and wait until you’re ready. He looks for the weakest moment, the time when you’re defenses are down.

My strongest temptations come in the middle of the night when I’m trying to get back to sleep. I’m tired, and the last thing I feel like doing is fight a spiritual battle. But that’s often when the battle comes—when I’m weak.

Did Jesus have weak moments?

Let’s look at this occasion. Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights. Now he was ravenously hungry—His body was tearing apart internal organs to find the nutrients to survive. Food was not a luxury for Him in this moment—it was a necessity.

Along comes the devil. “So, you’re hungry, huh?”

(Does the devil care whether Jesus is hungry? Of course not.)

“Try my solution. Turn these stones into bread.”

What’s the temptation? To get Jesus to act independently of the will of God. To separate Him from His Father. To get Him to doubt the loving-kindness of the Father. To get Him to doubt His own identity as the Son of God.

Jesus got hungry, tired, angry just as we do.

If Jesus, in His humanity, had weak moments like we do, then the devil ran into something he did not expect: God’s strength is made perfect in weakness; God doesn’t need our strength to win the battle.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Pain, empathy and obedience

58 05 08 pain empathy and obedience
What was it like for Jesus to obey?

It was pure joy. His heart and the Father’s heart were one. God’s desires were His desires. For Jesus to obey was like asking a child, “What would you like to do more than anything else in the whole world?” and then letting the child do it.

Yet the Bible says:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered… Hebrews 5:8

What, then, did Jesus learn? He learned that sometimes it hurts to obey.

We spend a lot of time as Christians talking about the benefits of obedience, and, yes, there are benefits. But there is a cost too. Jesus experienced the cost of obedience.

Every time it hurts to say “yes” to God, Jesus is there with us. He can empathize because He has felt the pain.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Truth and temptation

01 03 01 truth and temptation
A spirit spoke through a creature we’ll call the dragon and made him enchanting, slick, mesmerizing. He asked the woman, “Is it really true? Did God say you are not allowed to eat any fruit from any of the trees in this garden you tend?” Genesis 3:1 The Easy Bible

At the root of every temptation is a lie. This was the opening punch. It wasn’t designed to knock Eve out, just to throw her off balance. Here’s the message behind it: What kind of God do you serve? Why does He deprive you of what is good?

You’ll find a lie something like this at the core of every temptation you face. God isn’t good or sufficient. If He was, you wouldn’t be in this mess. You need a different solution. Here, I have something custom designed for you.

That really is what sin is: a different solution.

But Jesus is the truth. When we bring our temptations to Him, we find that God can do what He said He could do: satisfy every one of our desires with good. (See Psalm 103:5.)

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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