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Tag Archives: obedience

Impossible-Hard-Inevitable Stuff

Impossible02

Speak of the impossible and someone might say: “It’s not impossible – it just hasn’t been done yet.”

As true as that might be, you sometimes face situations that you feel are impossible.

Or perhaps inevitable might be a better word to describe some situations. You feel like something is inevitable and hard at the same time and you would like nothing more than to avoid that situation. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

When you are in a hard-inevitable situation, have you ever asked God for something impossible, such as stopping the inevitable? Me too! In fact, whenever Jesus came face to face with the hard, yet inevitable suffering and death by crucifixion, he did as well. In fact, the way he talked to God in that moment has often guided the difficult prayers that I have prayed. More precisely, the prayers were not difficult, but the circumstances in which I found myself were indeed difficult.

The model I personally use in such times is Jesus’ prayer(s) in Gethsemane. To say that he was facing a difficult situation would be the understatement of all time. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” were his exact words. You’ve heard his words but have you noticed the clarity?

First read his prayer…then pray your prayer following his example.

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

First, pray intimately. After all you are speaking to your heavenly Father.

Second, pray expecting that God can and will answer…acknowledge his power: “Everything is possible for you.”

Third, pray specifically. Don’t be chicken. Don’t concern yourself with how it sounds. You’re talking to your Father and you are desperate! Pray! Ask! Seek! Knock!

Finally, pray better than you are. All I mean by that is this: when life is said and done you will be glad that you lived in God’s will. You will never regret asking that God’s will be done before your own. So in every bold prayer say this: “Yet (even though I have asked for some things I would like/prefer) not what I will, but what you will be done.” Accept his will above your own.

I learned from a wise woman…and sometimes it is this simple: “You have not because you ask not.”

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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Provision

ProVision01Recently, while writing a prayer, I thanked God for His provision.  I suddenly noticed that the word is comprised of two words: “pro” and “vision.”  You probably already knew that but it was a new thought for me.

Provision means to provide or supply something for someone’s use such as food, drink or equipment.  Add an “s” and you’re suddenly looking to the future. Provisions means to make “financial or other arrangements for future eventualities or requirements.” For example, saving for retirement…you don’t need it yet, however, if you live long enough, you will.

What struck me is that the word “pro” can mean “to be for something”. For example, you might be pro-life which simply means that you would choose life over death when possible. And sometimes “pro” is used as slang to describe someone that has achieved the highest skill level such as someone that excels in their career like a speech writer or athlete. But the whole idea of being pro-vision struck me because it might mean that you would choose vision over illusion any day.

You probably remember the story of Abraham going through the motions to sacrifice his dearly loved son, Isaac, when suddenly, just in the nick of time, God provided a ram to use as a sacrifice in the place of Isaac.  Obviously the story offers us a picture of Jesus being offered as a substitutionary sacrifice for us.  Look closely because there is an emotionally charged moment in the story when both Abraham and Isaac are trying to understand how this was going to play out.  This is how it is written:

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.” (Gn 22:7-8)

Abraham’s response is simply that God would make pro-vision…God would provide.  Maybe you have been in a place when you are walking forward in obedience and not totally certain how everything will turn out.  But you keep walking!  Each day, you get out of bed and remind yourself to breath.  You really only know the next thing to do and so you do whatever that thing is.  For Abraham and Isaac it meant building an altar, placing the wood.

At some point they had to do the hard thing…they had to go through the process of binding Isaac’s feet and hands, and laying him on the altar.  Seeing no way out of this hard obedience, Abraham finally raised the knife to kill his son.  Freeze!

Which do you think required more faith:  Being bound and laid on the altar or raising the knife?  I’ll let you think about that one.

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Gn 22:14)

In this true story the Lord’s Hebrew name is Jehovah-Jireh which means ‘The LORD will provide’ or ‘The LORD will see.’  It means to give a means of deliverance; the root means “to see.”  In other words, and this is the interesting piece of pro-vision, the LORD will see and provide.

The good news is this: when the Lord requires hard things from you, he also sees what is needed and provides.  Not ahead of time but always in time.  He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and just in time provided a ram.  Whatever He has asked of you, he will also make pro-vison. Just keep walking.

Vision definitely makes the hard things easier.  On the other hand “Where there is no vision, the people perish (cast off restraint)” Proverbs 29:18.

And that, my friend, is no illusion.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Bible Verse, Goal Setting, Leadership

 

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Influence

Familie Müller Dez. 2007

Heinz and Ruth Müller were household names in my family. We even named a Siamese cat Heinz, after our beloved German friend. If I am not mistaken, I think that my youngest sisters middle name is Ruth. More than that, this German family was used by God has had a Christian influence on my life. Heinz and Ruth Müller are pictured to the left, front row, first and third from the left respectively.

Heinz served as the pastor of the church that our family attended while we were stationed in Augsburg, Germany. More than once I heard dad say, “I fell in love with Jesus while in Germany. I learned to love Jesus from Heinz because he was the first person I had met who acted and spoke as though Jesus was present with him at all times.”

Following nearly 15 years of active military duty, and due in great part to Heinz’s influence, my father spent 30 years serving the Lord in ministry. He served as both a minister and elder during that time. How did Heinz have such influence? The first thing Heinz did was to walk the talk. He was authentic (before being authentic was cool). He also invited my father to participate in the ministry of the church. Heinz would occasionally invite dad to lead a Bible study or to teach a Bible lesson. This simple act of placing faith in my father enough to trust him to teach, according to my mother, had an enormous impact on dad.

Look again at the picture: The man seated on the front row and far right is one of their sons, Klaus. He also learned the heart of his father and has served as a missionary in Africa for more than my entire adult life. I remember a time when I was teenager that dad and I visited Klaus at Texas Tech University where he was studying agriculture. He was preparing to move to Africa where he would carry the gospel by teaching people how to grow food under the severe conditions that exist there. Klaus has continued to train people in techniques for obtaining maximum food production from minimum water and land.

That Klaus is passionate about the training he gives is obvious: “Let’s face it, farming is one of the most biblical occupations we have,” Klaus Mueller tells a room full of African Christians at a ministry conference (according to  the Christian Chronicle).

Klaus and Christiane moved to Zambia in 1979.  “He is teaching Zambians to farm, to raise cattle and chickens and to serve the Lord,” said Evertt Huffard, dean of the Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn., who recently taught in Harding University’s Zambia program. Along with growing crops Klaus also teaches pricing and marketing where they learn to feed those in need and maximize their profits. A boost in their income increases their ability to spread the gospel.

“Don’t complain about the market being flooded,” he says. “Kill the competition. Be better competitors.” Sounds very American, or should we say German or perhaps Zambian? The point is, getting grain effectively out into the market place to those who need it most requires great effort, and so does getting the gospel out to those who need it. That is pretty good advice: For now, put into practice what Klaus taught those Zambian farmers. Don’t complain…be better competitors.

Heinz and Ruth joined Klaus and his family in Zambia in 1996 where they continued to have an influence for Christ. According to the Christian Chronicle, “Heinz raised funds to build a primary school” and “in 2011, Mueller and his family added a carpentry workshop to the primary school to teach vocational skills.”

People such as the Müller family have impacted the way I see the world and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for their continued faithfulness to God and obedience to Jesus Christ. The truth is, if my parents could have and the Lord had made a way, they would have returned to Germany to serve alongside Heinz and Ruth. But dad is already with the Lord. I am not sure if Heinz and Ruth are still alive, but I know for sure that they had a positive impact on my family. And I thank God for that.

Look around today and notice the people with whom you have influence. Don’t complain about where you are; rather influence the people who are near you. I would also encourage you to think of someone that you can say thank you to for the good influence they have had in your life.

BTW – I had the opportunity to personally thank Heinz for his influence in my parents’ lives – and in my life as well. After preaching in London in the early 1990’s Beth and I flew to Wiesbaden Germany to visit Richard and Leslie Nesbitt (my sister). While there we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Heinz and Ruth lived in the area. It meant so much to me to be able to say thank you to Heinz. That unexpected opportunity was a special gift from the Lord.

The Müller family reminds me of the verse: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Co 9:22)

If you would like to check out Klaus’ work please check at http://www.goodhopezambia.net

Dan

 
 

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