Series 16



“He’s gifted.” It was as if these barely audible words were generated out of own my mind. It was the lady sitting behind me verbalized my exact thoughts.

The setting was a funeral for a twenty-three year old acquaintance. During the open-mike invitation for remarks concerning the deceased, a young man sauntered to the front. He spoke for less than six minutes. I was captivated by the near-poetic cadence of his delivery. He conveyed a message of hope with his compact, engaging use of words. Then he delicately tied a bow on the package, beautifully wrapping up his emotion grabbing tribute.

I’m thinking, “I need to talk to him after the funeral.”

Afterwards I shook the stranger’s hand-- Brock, and spoke of the gifting I saw in him.

As we talked, my brain was connecting to what the Bible says. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above . . .” That’s from God. And this verse is so relevant regarding God’s bestowing of talents upon people.

I was curious: “So Brock what do you do for a living?” He looked at his hands, made joking allusions to his seemingly insignificant factory job. This world needs capable people in these noble positions.

Still, I don’t believe God gifted Brock in communication for this to be his destiny. And he was not using his job as a bridge to his next level. Yes-- it was a pointing-finger challenge: “Brock you need to connect with God.”

Connect with God?

Yes. This “yes” is for everyone.

Look at your hands. Contemplate their astonishing only-God-could-create functions. Likewise He created you. Listen-- “You’re gifted.”  Now look to God; connect with God. He’s the gift giver. And may you allow Him to reveal, enhance and activate the special purpose He created you for.


Mad Face

“Show me your mad face,” Armani said.

My wife, Nancy, had just picked him up along with his sister and brother for an evening at our home. This was their first visit. So was eight year old Armani preparing himself for an eventual mad-face encounter?

Nancy caught Armani’s drift and answered him: “My face would look about the same.”

Have you ever wondered: “Does God have a mad face?” 

Yes, God has a mad face; He gets angry. Listen to these words from His mouth out of the Book Of Isaiah: “Because of the iniquity, the sin of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry. And he went on turning away and backsliding in the way of his heart.”

I don’t know what God’s face looked like, but it wasn’t a smiley-face-bumper-sticker moment. Here’s the deal-- don’t fear the face; fear the consequences.

Nancy established grace-filled boundaries; then warned Armani regarding repeated trespasses. “If you don’t do what we tell you to do, my husband will take you back home.”  Consquences.

Armani and seven other children were under our care for a cookout and swimming. We did not want anyone getting hurt and we require cordial, peaceful interaction between everyone at our home. All of this is for their benefit. This is the parallel with God. He reacts for our good.

We see this as God continues speaking: “I have seen his ways and will heal him. I will also lead him and restore comforts to him.” Now this is always God’s focus—heal, restore, comfort; draw us back to Himself.

Think you might have seen a mad-faced God? Is it time for a turn around? You are one redemptive prayer away: “Dear God, I’m sorry . . .”


How Does My Hair Look?

“How does my hair look?” Jerry said. I pondered. Louder with added force, he repeated, “How does my hair look?”

I quickly responded, “It looks fine.”

I lied. It looked awful.

I thought: “Why is Jerry concerned about how his hair looks?” His clothes were filthy. He smelled. Facial disfigurement and leg sores covered his bloated body. And he sometimes twitched, coming down from his latest drug binge. Now he was checking in at the gospel mission—again.

The Bible says, “God does not see as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." It would be difficult to consider that Jerry’s heart was possibly more attractive than his hair.

Jerry has traversed more spiritual mountains and valleys in his thirty years than most people in a lifetime. When he is hot for God; he blazes. When he’s cold; he crashes hard. Through all he knows more scriptures than almost anyone I know—when his mind is clear. And I’ve often thought that we would be ministry partners someday.

But today he was not a pleasant companion. I wondered what would happen if he had one more binge, one more street fight. “Jerry, look at me,” I said. “This may be the last time I see you alive.”

This angered him; practically yelling: “I’m not going to do drugs anymore!”

Was this the real Jerry? What did his heart look like at that instant? I do not know. I need to ask God to forgive me; my eyes were focusing on his outward appearance.

I need to go visit Jerry, changing my attire. As the Bible says—“clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience; bearing with one another . . .  forgiving as Christ forgave you . . . beyond all this-- wear love. 


You Called God Awesome

Ethan jeered as if I had committed a theological snafu: “You called God awesome.”  This was part of my evening meal blessing. With the “amen” barely past my lips, my fourteen-year old nephew gave his editorial.

It was a week long summer gathering at my father-in-law’s lake house. At every evening meal he would stoically nod at me, “You going to pray?” How do you pray when most of the people gathered are not Christians? Especially since others besides Ethan have felt entitled to comment immediately following the prayers’ conclusions.

Now Ethan toned his remark as a question. He never goes to church, so “awesome” relates to his world. He might think about his dad’s new laptop computer, his brother’s two-thousand dollar digital camera, or movie special effects.

So praying: “God, You are awesome,” introduced Ethan to an unfamiliar way of thinking about God.

And he’s probably never read the many biblical references to God like this one out of Deuteronomy. "For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God . . .”

Who can even exactly say what the word “awesome” implies?

How about this from Webster’s Dictionary? “To express a profoundly humble and reverential attitude in the presence of deity; abashed fear inspired by authoritative power.”

Can we even approach the thought of our own littleness set before God—the creator of the universe?  Some adjustments need to be made.

It’s simple to call God awesome. Yet someone like Ethan will not connect to our meaning. But what if I, what if you, lived a life reflecting the awesomeness of God?

God, today—help me to cast a glint of who You truly are into my world.


Is This Person God's Miracle?

When the door opened to her compact, abundantly stocked store, Annie warmly welcomed her customer, thinking: “Is this person God’s miracle?”  Annie needed a miracle. The store was nearly moneyless with the rent due in a couple days.

Her store, more correctly, as she says, “This is God’s store,” is unique because anyone can walk in, no questions asked, and shop free for clothes, books, toys, small household items, etc.

Annie’s only fund raising effort is the red looks-like-a-child’s-tackle-box attached to the countertop. A note taped near a slot cut into the top says, in English and Spanish: “Donations are used for the rent and utilities.”

No asking, pleading, mailings during the store are seven years. She doesn’t even ask for the hundreds of thousands of items which have been donated to give away. Well actually Annie does fund raising: “I pray to God.”

This month, for the first time, the situation was pressing. Some days the little box contained a few pennies. Other days-- zero.

Annie prayed and with joyful anticipation her faith held firm. And with all her heart, she believed the words of Jesus: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Thursday night Annie put the closed sign up. One more day for the store and then the rent would be due. It had been a lean day for donations. Then Annie heard a rap on the door. It was Pastor Jerry from a church two blocks away. He had never been to the store.

Apologizing for his late arrival he handed Annie an envelope and left quickly. Alone again, Annie opened the envelope.

Near tears, Annie held a check for $1000.

She had sought the Kingdom first. God provided—a miracle.