Series 20


Facing the Giants

The front row—that’s where Phillip wanted to sit to watch the movie Facing the Giants. Not my preferred location. Yet with all the realistic football scenes, it was as if we were in the games. The movie instantly gripped me. I was near tears many times.  I was thinking: “What will Phillip think if I start crying?” 

And then, other times we both laughed out loud.

I’m Phillip’s mentor; he’s almost sixteen. I’ve told him several times: “Phillip it matters a lot to me how your life turns out.” Actually-- more than he could understand.

The message of the football-themed movie was: “We can face seemingly impossible giants in our lives with the everything- possible-power of God.” As Philippians 4:13 says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Driving home that dark, cold- rainy evening I said to Phillip, “I’m facing a giant in my life.” Then I told him that earlier in the day I had sent a letter to the world’s largest Christian book publisher to entice their interest in publishing a book I’ve written. He responded, “I want to buy a copy.” With doubtless faith he already sees my “dream” book as a hold-in-the-hands reality.

Now that’s the kind of friend you want in your life; someone who already sees your giants whipped, your goals attained.  You know what? That’s exactly the faith I have for Phillip’s life—for God to be his strength to achieve his plans, hopes, and dreams.

Jesus said, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven.”

Hey Phillip, I agree with you; you agree with me.  Let’s go kill some giants, achieve the impossible—you, me and God.


Picture This

Wow! Only $234.  I needed a digital camera. An internet search churned up this incredible “deal.” The company’s website stated: “Commitment to complete customer satisfaction.” So I clicked my credit card information into cyberspace.

A few days later I received an e-mail from the company: ‘Regarding your order, call Johnny …” 

When I contacted Johnny, he informed me that the ordered camera was programmed in Japanese and prodded me to purchase one programmed in English. Johnny said, “We’ve got a deal for $325.”  

I paused, slowly gathering my thoughts. “Johnny,” I said “Are you telling me it’s going to cost me ninety dollars to have the camera programmed into English?” He responded with a significantly raised voice, “Are you calling me a liar?”  Several times I tried to get him to explain. He kept repeating, “Are you calling me a liar?” Exasperated, I said, “Cancel the order.” Johnny tersely said, “Fine.”

No, it wasn’t fine.

I cannot separate a camera purchase gone awry from the filter of the Bible’s timeless truths. I sat in my office with my Bible, considering my response. The Bible says, “Don’t let the sun do down on your anger.” 

Guilty. Was Johnny? The Bible tells me not to judge him.

I started praying, “God forgive me.” I forgave Johnny and asked God to bless him. I renounced anger, telling God I would resist its reappearance.

Why would I do this?

Jesus said: “If you have anything against anyone, forgive them, so your Father (God) in Heaven may also forgive your failings and shortcomings. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.”

Holding anger and unforgiveness towards another person is tragic. It short-circuits God from pardoning the mess-ups in our lives.

Bring your life into godly focus. Forgive others. 


The Thunder of God's Power

My twenty-four year old friend Andrew was dying of leukemia. I wrote his mom this letter.

Dear Cathy,

Early in the morning, when the whole world is quiet I can hear a train whistle-- so far off in the distance. I know when its flute-like horn sounds; somewhere a train is rolling down the tracks.

By its faint whisper, I absolutely know this train is real. Job 26:13-14 says of God: “By His breath the skies become fair; His hand pierced the gliding serpent. And these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him.”

It seems, too much of life is lived only knowing God in a whispering fashion. The scripture goes on to say, “Who then can understand the thunder of His power?”

Cathy, may you know God not as a mere whisper, but understand Him in the thunder of His power.

There is no way I can fathom what you are experiencing as a mother. Me? I’m praying for a miracle. You know—the thunder of God’s power.

God bless you…Rick

Eight days later Andrew died.

A few days before his death, four of us gathered around Andrew’s hospital bed— Andrew’s mom, his girlfriend, our mutual friend John and me. We prayed, we sang: “Our God is an awesome God…” We cried. We trusted God.

And Andrew heard the inviting whisper of God that day. He trusted the salvation words of Jesus Christ: “Whosoever believes in Me shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Andrew understood; his sins caused a separation between God and him-- with eternal consequences. Andrew accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to reconcile himself into a right relationship with God.

This is God’s power, His thunder at its best—even angels celebrate.


Does God Want You to Be Rich?

I sensed God was saying: “Be quiet.”

The men’s Bible study conversation shifted to God’s blessings. Kevin explained the difference between “blessings” from Old Testament times to the present. “Blessings then were material; today blessings are usually spiritual.”  Dave, our leader, affirmed Kevin’s viewpoint. No one objected by voice or wrinkled forehead.

The discussion moved on.

Well, except for the discussion that was bouncing around in my head. That very day I had pondered the question, “Does God want you to be rich?”  Money wise—blessed beyond the spiritual.

I silenced my opinion. Dueling Bible scriptures with my Christian brothers would have been pointless.

And none of them knew that my fingers hadn’t felt that satisfying caress of a full-week’s paycheck in months. I had been praying a lot lately for foldable green twenties. And fifties.  Not just peace to endure. Praise God; I had that.

The Bible states: “He who looks into the perfect law of liberty (the Bible) and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

I looked up “blessed” in a Biblical dictionary. It actually means: “Super-blessed.”

Forgive me if you disagree, but if I’m going to be “super-blessed” from my loving Father God it will include being financially rich…well let’s say richer.

Does that mean all Christians will be rich? Nope.

There are stacks of requirements. As a starting point, do what the mentioned scripture instructs. Read the Bible diligently, do what it says continually, and do the work—God’s work.

Above all, listen to Jesus: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Make the things of God number one. Then, expect earthly blessings.



“I’ve got good news; you’ve got pneumonia,” the doctor said.  Clint seemed to grow two inches as an age erasing smile lit his face. 

Two days earlier Clint had been rushed to the hospital, thinking: “Heart attack!” The doctor informed him differently and as he exhaled, a feeling of freedom engulfed his total being.

During ancient Bible times, any sign of leprosy caused that same heart-attack, gripping fear. It meant living misery; even death. Additionally, it always carried the guilt-jarring connotation that the person was sinful.

Only rarely was anyone healed from leprosy. Then an elaborate ritual involving a priest was required to complete the healing process. The scriptures say, "The priest shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from leprosy, pronouncing him clean, and shall let a live bird go free over the open field.”

This freebird soaring symbolized the person’s monumental moment of freedom.

Freebird, the well known Lynyrd Skynyrd song, ends with these words: “Cause I’m as free as a bird now, and this bird you’ll never change. And this bird you cannot change. Lord knows, I can’t change. Lord help me, I can’t change.”

The lyrics portray a cycle in which countless people have been trapped. Rebellious, “You can’t tell me what to do,” easily erodes into, “Oh no, now I want to change. I can’t stop a life-crippling behavior.”

Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” Jesus continues, “If the Son (Jesus) liberates you from the dominion of sin, you will be free indeed.”

Good news. Dramatic, dynamic life change can be yours. Cry out: “Lord, help me. I can’t change.”

The Lord will answer. The answer is Jesus. Only then will you truly be able to soar as the freebird God wants you to be.