Archive for September, 2019

There’s No I Told You So

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

Do you like being right? I know I do. There’s great satisfaction in knowing what you said is true.

For a brief time in my work history, I was business consultant, providing recommendations for solutions, process improvement, or remediation. But, as a consultant, you do just that: consult. You can’t force anyone to take your advice.

It always felt great when workgroups listened to data- and industry standard-driven recommendations. They’d implement the suggestions and achieve successful outcomes. In the end, I was satisfied because it worked, and slightly because I was right. (The warm and fuzzy feeling ensues.)

But, not everyone took advice—as they’re not required—and moved forward with their own plans, sometimes contrary to recommendations. When they were successful, I was happy for them. But, when they were struggling in the aftermath of their decisions, sometimes it took everything within me not to say, “I told you so.”

Do not gaze and gloat [in triumph] over your brother’s day, The day when his misfortune came. Do not rejoice over the sons of Judah In the day of their destruction; Do not speak arrogantly [jeering and maliciously mocking] In the day of their distress (Obadiah 1:12, AMP).

You might be a lot like me—finding it difficult not to gloat when others aren’t successful (especially when they don’t implement your advice). In every situation, it’s challenging not to revel in someone’s shortcomings and not announce, “I told you so” (in a sing-song voice) from the rooftops.

I know I’m not the only one out there who struggles with an evil bone (it’s also called flesh, in case you were wondering). My flesh rises up and starts operating in a prideful, jealous, unloving, and ungodly spirit. If I don’t keep my flesh in check, it can burst forth in those moments and behave contrary to what the prophet Obadiah writes in Scripture.

You may not struggle to keep the “I-told-you-so’s” to yourself, but your elation may manifest in another form. A repressed smile, eye twitch, or fleeting thought of happiness when seeing someone in the middle of a mess is all the same to God. No matter what it is, God says simply not to do it.

What’s worse to consider is this instruction wasn’t given because of a conflict with an enemy, but a brother! Has this hit close to home yet? This means God doesn’t want any inkling of this in our relationship with our spouses, children, extended families, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, church members, or anyone else. We’re not justified in any instance; we’re without excuse.

I know I need God’s help every day to keep myself aligned with Him, and that includes my thoughts, words, and actions. I want God to change my heart so the words, “I told you so” aren’t in my vocabulary or the first thought I try to repress. I desire compassion, love, and understanding to spring forth instead, as well as a willingness to help a brother or sister in need.

Lord, help all of us to honestly reflect and examine our hearts. How do we act when someone has experienced misfortune? What is our first reaction when someone fails when they don’t heed advice? What’s in our heart that’s not in alignment with the Word? Change us so we reach for the hurting instead of rejoicing over destruction. Help us to remember there’s no, “I told you so.”

Don’t Make Up the Words

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think my siblings and I came out of the womb singing. We sang all the time, usually at the top of our lungs, and we never, ever, sang the right words.

I was a master at deriving my own lyrics to songs and/or filling in the gaps with my own etymological genius. I enjoyed such classics as “La Bumba,” “Orpal Achard of Love,” and “American By.” I sang them incorrectly so often, I was almost convinced my lyrical replacements were the correct words.

It wasn’t until I was older, did I learn the correct lyrics to songs. I not only had the right verification tools at my fingertips, but I had the desire to know the accurate words. Was it imperative I learn them? No—there weren’t any repercussions other than the potential embarrassment of singing the wrong words in public. But, aside from song lyrics, knowing the right words in other areas of our lives is quite important.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die (Genesis 3:1–3, KJV, emphasis added).

Developing our relationship with God keeps us busy, and rightly so. We attend church, have a prayer life, fast occasionally, read the Word of God, etc. In addition, we’re busy in our day-to-day life with work, school, appointments, etc. To be frank, there’s a lot to do and a lot to remember. Try as we like, we physically cannot remember everything perfectly.

When we try to recall what God’s said in His Word, it’s easy to forget. Drawing a blank, our minds try to fill the knowledge gaps by leafing through mental files of what we’ve read, seen, and heard. We contemplate: Did God say this or that? Am I sure God said it, or did I hear it somewhere else—in a book or conversation with someone? Maybe I’m confusing it with this Scripture… These thoughts can be dangerous: thoughts turn into words, and words into actions.

I hate picking on Eve, but she’s the poster child to illustrate my point. Confronted by the enemy, her knowledge of God’s Word was put to the test. As it turns out, she didn’t remember it 100% correctly, so she decided to throw in a few extra words. In many ways, Eve’s Scriptural addendum is a lot like my made-up lyrics. Neither of us remembered the right words, so we attempted to add our own. But, neither Eve nor I should have exercised this “creative” lyrical gene.

Plain and simple, we’ve got to know what’s in God’s Word. We can’t afford to make up our own versions of the Bible and/or fill it up with an amalgam of words we’ve heard throughout our life (I Timothy 4:7). If we don’t return to the source, we risk inserting false information into our minds. Over time, we’re in danger of believing something is in the Word of God that really, truly isn’t.

Eve and I wanted to rectify the “lost words,” but we didn’t go about it the right way. If you don’t remember God’s Word perfectly, it’s okay. But, here’s what you should do: Realize what you don’t know and immediately rectify the gap. Get in the Word and get a refresher. Study the Word of God so you can know what it says (II Timothy 2:15). Don’t add just any words or you’ll wind up looking foolish to the enemy and will damage yourself spiritually (Revelations 22:18–19).

Remember we’re all humans and can’t remember it all, but we have the Word available to help remind us. So, when we’re not sure, we can simply look it up. Just don’t make up the words.

Let Him Out

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Years ago, I moved into an apartment and was in need of a few items. One, of which, was a vacuum cleaner. Before long, I was bequeathed one, and I got to work vacuuming the floor.

One day, the vacuum cleaner stopped picking up any debris, so I had a friend come over to diagnose the problem. After scarcely examining the malfunctioning appliance, he smiled, looked up at me, and asked, “Did you try emptying the bag?”

I’d never been a fan of domestic housework growing up and didn’t help much when I lived at home (sorry Mom and Dad). Therefore, in my naiveté, it never occurred to me that the vacuum cleaner (bag) would need to be emptied. The dirt could have magically disappeared for all I knew, or have gone out the vacuum, through the cord, and into the wall…

Unzipping the fabric exterior, we discovered overflowing (and compacted) dirt, carpet fibers, and other debris. The physical bag had been filled to the max and exploded long ago. The rest of the vacuum chamber continued to fill when my vacuuming didn’t subside. Basically, the vacuum was entirely full, and the grime was trying to get out.

And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak (Mark 7:35–37, KJV).

In Scripture, Jesus performed miracle after miracle, healing the blind, deaf, and lame. In Galilee, upon curing a deaf man, Jesus charged him not to tell anyone what He’d done. But, the man couldn’t keep it in. He had to let the world know what Jesus had done for Him.

A few years ago, at the “Because of the Times” conference, Vesta Mangun preached a powerful message: Let Him Out. She spoke primarily on why Jesus can’t just stay inside of us; we have to let Him out! We must tell the whole world about Him!

All too often, we’re a lot like my college vacuum cleaner, collecting the grace and mercy of God. He continues to bless us, and before we know it, we’re busting at the seams. But, He needs to come out instead of being bottled up! We need to fulfill our command to be a witness and share with the world.

The fire of God’s Spirit (the Holy Ghost) has been poured into us, and it’s not meant to stay confined. It’s a fire we can’t keep shut up inside. Like the man in Scripture, the joy of the Lord exploded forth from him. He had to let Jesus out and we should do the same.

If we don’t share the whole Gospel to the whole world, being witnesses to every creature, I imagine we’ll become like my vacuum cleaner. We’ll lose our ability to consume the goodness of God and become stagnant and unusable. God’s mercies will compound within us and start wreaking havoc on our spiritual life. If we don’t make room for more (by emptying out), we won’t be able to get anything new!

We’re a vessel—we’re meant to draw in and pour out. We’re called to be witnesses for Him. We’re commanded to let Him out. This may seem elementary, but it works. All I had to do was simply empty the bag and my vacuum worked again. Listen to God’s call. Be a witness. Let Him out and see what happens.

Don’t Waste Your Memorial

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Watch Service Online

And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan. Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before. And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever (Joshua 4:15–24, KJV).

The Dryer Sheet

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

I’ve been on a never-ending “man-hunt” the last decade for a household item, which presence eludes me at every turn. It’s none other than the common, dryer sheet. I’m cognizant of its whereabouts when placed on the shelf of my utility room, once in hand being transported across the room to the dryer, and the second it lands atop a wet load of laundry inside the dryer. But, the moment the dryer starts, the sheet vanishes into thin air, never to be found again… Well, at least never to be found at the opportune time, somewhere in the span of the next several months or so.

I’m completely baffled as to how these dryer sheets make their escape. I’ll pull every item from the dryer, examine it thoroughly before folding, and even stick my head inside the dryer to ensure it’s not pulling a gravity-defying stunt by clinging to the top of the dryer drum. But, every time, they disappear, and I’m left mulling over how it managed to muster a successful escape plan.

I lie awake at night staring at my ceiling, covered with wanted posters of every devious dryer sheet. The escapee of 2009 is still giving me nightmares—it’s out running loose in the laundry world and who knows what and whom it’s victimized all these years… Occasionally, I’ll be able to close a MIA case, but it’s not done with any glorious detective work on my part. The mystery’s solved the moment I thrust my arm through a shirt sleeve I haven’t worn in months, and out pops the dryer sheet.

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring (Acts 17:27–28, KJV).

Albeit strange in comparison, I’ve realized God is like my mysterious dryer sheets. God is a Spirit; therefore, we can’t see Him—no matter how much we feel around or dig into the recesses of our life. But, He’s always present and able, catalyzed by a supernatural power very much like the static electricity at work in the dryer sheet.

In the daily (laundry) lifecycles we endure, we know God’s been added to our load because we’ve prayed, fasted, and read the Word. Sometimes when the load comes out, it doesn’t appear that God was ever there. We can’t feel Him, but I promise He’s there every time and there’s evidence of Him in every basket of fresh laundry (Lamentations 3:22). He’s even told us He’ll never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

God’s always working in the background even though He’s hidden from sight. However, just like a dryer sheet can pop out from a shirt sleeve when you least expect it, God will appear to us—in some form or fashion. His arrival, and reassurance that He’s an ever-present help in a time of trouble, is always wanted (Psalms 46:1).

We may not always be able to find God in our own life at times. It might take someone else to step in and point Him out. We need the church to help us in our search and discovery of God at different seasons. We many not need their help for every load, but in the times we just need an extra set of eyes.

I could tell you many more ways in which our God is like a dryer sheet, but I encourage you to draw your own analogy and find those similarities. Just know that we serve an awesome God whose ways will escape us occasionally, but we’ll always be able to find Him when the timing is right. Don’t give up the search.