KLOVE Radio Features – February 2020
Perry Como and the Our Father
My father was in politics, and lived mostly in Washington D.C. Consequently, my twin brother and I were sent to a two-month long summer camp for nine years, from ages five to fourteen. Every night, the camp loudspeaker would play the “Our Father” sung by Perry Como. One day, when I was 16 years old, I had the opportunity to play golf at an exclusive country club. Walking into a men’s room, I was stunned to see Perry Como washing up at the sink next to me. Here was the fatherly voice who had comforted me during those 500 lonely summer nights. Battling insecurities, I was unable to find words to express my deep appreciation to him. But, now decades later and knowing Jesus, I receive this miraculous encounter as a kiss from God. An affirmation that God was always with me, in the same way He’s always been with you.
Underestimating the Moment
We have all missed big moments, great opportunities. Forks in the road that would have changed our lives. There’s always a danger of underestimating the season, even the moment we are in. At one point, Jesus wept for the people of Jerusalem because they did not know their time of visitation, their day of salvation. (Luke 19:41-44) It’s one thing to discern the significance of a new day, new month, or even new year. But what is the unique importance of a new decade? It must be great! Especially in the age we are in where so many changes are taking place in such a short period of time. So, my appeal to God for you is the same for me: “Jesus, reveal to me the value, the importance, the significance of this next decade. If it is to be my last, then make it my best.”
When We Build Golden Calves
All of us can get so discouraged by life, we can sometimes wonder where God is. Has He forgotten us? Is He ever going to come to our aid? Whenever we think, in some way, God is not coming back to help us, we all tend to build golden calves… to return to old idols. In Exodus 32, when Moses did not return promptly from his encounter with God on Mount Sinai, the people panicked and decided to return to their old gods. You could call these idols their old ways of processing pressure. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, pornography, food or entertainment, the false comfort we receive from old idols, always, always, leads to emptiness, loneliness, and even guilt and shame. The next time you wonder where God is, remember this promise from Jesus, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Here’s a statement that might turn your head: What you need is often hidden in what you have. In 2 Kings, chapter 4, when an impoverished widow was asked by the prophet Elisha, “What do you have?” she didn’t realize her increase was hidden in a tiny jar of oil. What she needed was hidden in what she had, but it took the prophetic words of faith from Elisha to jumpstart her faith. What gifts, dreams, and convictions has God given to you? They very well may be the tiny seed for your future harvest. So, rather than looking at what God has given others, or belittling what you already have, perhaps you should value and appreciate it. Maybe what you really need to do is what I do every day: spend time in God’s Word to awaken my faith so that I see what God has given me.
God, is This the Day?
A young oncologist (a doctor who helps cancer patients) leaves his home every day, and as he pulls out of his driveway he prays, “God, is this the day I’m going to find a cure for childhood leukemia?” When asked how many children he has seen completely cured, he responded “None yet.” But he has resolved to never give up. I thank God for those researchers and care givers in the medical profession who are laboring tirelessly to treat and even find the cure for the cancers and other diseases that ravage our society. I was recently in an ICU ward with a dear friend, and was so impressed by the care the doctors and nurses were giving their patients, I told them they were all superheroes. Pray for them and encourage them. They need it.
When Response Beats Results
Which is more important for each of us to do? To get a great result, or have an exceptional response? Great results will come and go, lasting for a short time, while exceptional responses have an eternal shelf life. In Genesis 4, Adam and Eve’s son, Abel, offered a sacrifice to God that was completely accepted, while his brother Cain was dejected because his offering was not given with the right motive. God then told Cain that he would be accepted if he responded well, and did what was right. But He then cautioned Cain that if he didn’t, sin was crouching at his door, waiting to devour him. (Genesis 4:7) God, help me to respond well to the challenges in my life. The results of my efforts are in Your hand, for You alone know their true value.
Here’s an important principle that I often forget, but desperately need to remember. What people say and do is a reflection of what’s going on inside of them, not a reflection of what’s going on inside of me. Often, too often, I’m stumbled by what others say and do, especially when it comes in the form of hurtful and mean-spirited criticism. I know I should dismiss unwarranted and derogatory comments at face value, but I regularly find they have already lodged themselves in my heart and mind. It leaves me unsettled and troubled when I rehearse what was said. I may know that the comment is not credible, but I still have to squash the nagging thought like the bug it is. One verse that I often reflect on to help with this is Philippian 4:8, “Fill your mind with things that are true…”
Whining vs. Winning
The other day I found myself complaining in my head about the fact that God once again was requiring me to believe for something I didn’t have… Ironically, it was even after a significant answer to prayer, that was, frankly, a “Hail Mary pass.” I was embarrassed to think that my attitude toward my faith walk had become more whining than winning, even though God has been so faithful to me for many decades. It’s an unbelieving tick I need to stop. So, I’m doubling down and listening more carefully to the words I say and the thoughts I dwell on. If they are not fueling faith and hope in me, then I reject them as the lies they are. The thief always comes to steal, kill and destroy. We should not be ignorant of his devices.
Fixating on Bad News
The other day, one of my daughters said, “Dad, that’s the fifth sad story you’ve told me in the last hour.” It caused me to reflect on a tendency I have to fixate on the challenges in life that surround so many people I know and love. I realized I was tending to focus on the dark side of life. There’s a difference between being caring, concerned, and intercessory, versus being continually focused on the challenges and tragedies of life. When I do that, it sucks the life-giving truth out of my heart and mind. If, as the Bible says, all things work together for my good, and if I’m loving and trusting God, then I should be sharing the gospel with myself first, and then with others. That’s right, the “gospel.” It’s a word that means “good news.” It is always my responsibility to keep the “good news”…good.
Getting Old is a Gift
Yep! I’m getting older, and it’s a gift; a blessing, not a burden. The best way to process every season in our lives is to believe that each one is a treasure waiting to be discovered, a joy for us to explore. Sometimes, I forget this. I begin to have the “Poor Me’s,” instead of seeing how much God has blessed me. If, as the Bible says, long life is a gift from God, then I need to look forward to getting old, not dread it. Sure, we all hope our health will last, and should do all we can to live healthy lives, but irrespective of our circumstances and any physical impairments we may eventually struggle with, make a conscious commitment to look forward to your future. Trust the One who wrote your script, believing love never fails, and God is love.
Cling to Jesus
Did you ever consider that you and I can’t cling to more than one thing or one person at a time? At one point, after the resurrection, Mary was so overjoyed to see that Jesus was alive, she reached out to hug Him. He stopped her and said, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended.” You’ll notice He didn’t say, “Don’t even think about hugging me!” It’s because Jesus longs for us to cling to Him. To hold on tight. He’s not just a God of love, He’s a God in love. So, what are you and I clinging to? Too many of us cling to false comforts that hurt us, not the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who wants to help us. We cling to the world, our flesh and, at times without fully realizing it, even the Devil. Cling to Jesus! Cling to the One who loves you most! John 20:17
Adam and Eve and 2nd Hand Truth
Did you ever wonder why Eve was so susceptible to the lies of the serpent? Perhaps it was, in part, because she didn’t have first-hand knowledge. The revelation about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had been given to Adam. God had spoken to him personally about its dangers, before Eve was even created. Adam then communicated the life and death revelation to Eve. Somehow, either within the initial communication, or over time, there was a breakdown in belief and trust between the first and second generations. I’ve seen this myself. Both in the revelations previous generations have tried to impart to me, and those insights I have attempted to pass on myself. “Jesus, help me to fully believe and embrace the life-giving revelations entrusted to me and previous generations. Let them be cherished always.”