Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Have you ever been lost? I mean, drive around, get mad, pound the wheel, afraid of the neighborhood lost? That feeling of lostness (is that even a word?) where all sense of direction has fled? It is the most unnerving feeling. I have experienced that feeling before, myself, while driving from Ann Arbor, MI to Milwaukee, WI. While making the trip, we had just gotten to Kalamazoo, MI, when my daughter announced that she needed a potty break. Since we had just passed up the last rest area for a while, I thought that I had better get off I-94 at the next exit and find a McDonald’s.

Once I got off the expressway, I soon realized that I was on unfamiliar turf. I think I was in Kalamazoo one other time as a small kid, having taken an Amtrak ride with my Dad and brother there. I was in a new area, and it looked none too safe! We found the McDonald’s, and my little girl got her potty break. That was when all the fun began. The road I had gotten off the interstate at was one-way. I had no clue how to get back to it. I saw no signs, and simply went in circles driving around a rough area like Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Vacation. It was one of the most frustrating times I have

Well, that isn’t the only time I have ever been lost like that. While I am certain that there are lots more times that I was lost physically, there have been times that as a follower of Christ I have felt that sense of being lost and directionless. It is spiritually a very unsettling feeling. I felt that I was groping and grasping for some sense of direction from the Lord, or confirmation that I was on the right track. Heck, I would have been happy to hear from the Lord that I was all wrong, just as long as I knew I had heard from him! So, during those times, I simply did what I could, helping out the ministry where needed, and making myself available to the Lord, and to those over me in the Lord, like my pastor and leaders.

One thing I am sure glad for is that fact that God never gets lost. He never needs directions; he never needs confirmation or encouragement. God sees and knows all. That means he sees where we are at, even when it seems like nowhere. I like what the Lord Jesus told us in Revelation 22:13- "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." I like that. The cool thing is, the terms Alpha and Omega are actually the first and last letters and the Greek alphabet. What that tells me is that even when I don’t know where I am, or where I am going, Jesus is the end, and as such, he knows where I am going. He sees the big picture, while I only see what is right in front of me.

That reminds me of the life of Joseph, the 11th son of the Patriarch Jacob. Here was a young man who was highly favored by his father. His brothers knew it, and they hated him for it. While they worked the field, Joseph stayed home with Dad and often got sent out to check up on the others while they worked. And to top it off, Jacob gave Joseph something that he had not given his other sons. He gave the young man a bright, shiny coat of many colors. It must have been something to look at, because it didn’t get him in any better with the siblings.

Joseph’s story continues when he began having dreams. And these dreams weren’t because he had too many figs before bed. God began showing Joseph that he would one day rule over his family. Remember, in that Jewish culture, the oldest son became the head of the clan. So, for a younger man to have such dreams seemed to spit in his older brother’s faces. They finally got sick of little brother, and did something about it. They sold him down the river, and he went to the auction block in Egypt. They then took his precious coat and tore it, covering it in animal blood from the flock, and told Daddy that he was dead. What great people, eh?

I am sure that Joseph felt some of what I sense while in those “lost times”. (Or maybe I am feeling a bit of what he felt.) He must have found himself wondering where God was as he worked as a slave, and later in prison after being falsely accused of rape. The Bible doesn’t say, but I wonder if Joseph maybe, even in the depths of his heart, doubted, wondered, or feared? Did he ever once sit back and ask, “God, are you there?!” I know I have.

The good news for Joseph was that God indeed was there. He was for Joseph the Alpha and Omega, just as he is now for us. He was with him in that prison as he just kept on being the good, righteous, and trustworthy man he was. And God honored him in his own time. We know that Joseph was eventually released from prison, and immediately promoted from prisoner to Prime Minister in one day. And when his brothers were forced to Egypt years later for food during a famine, they met Joseph. They didn’t find him bitter. He wasn’t angry or even a little bit miffed. He was able to see on the other side of his “lostness” that God was there all along, and used the years of uncertainty as preparation. In fact, Joseph comforted his brothers when he assured them that what they meant for evil, God used for good, to save them in their time of need.

That makes me happy, friends! For years, I felt as though I was adrift on the sea of confusion, just trying to make my way through it. When I seemed to be totally perplexed and confounded, it was hard to understand that an Unseen Hand was guiding my path. Now, I am just starting to see that every step I had taken during those times was directed by the Lord. When I could not see him, he could see me, and knew just where he was leading me. Just see what the Word of God has to say about this:

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way.” (Psalms 37:23)

So, friends, if this describes you right now, please be encouraged that God is with you, guiding and leading you and molding you into the person he has called you to be. Even when he seems a million miles away, just know that he is right there with you. Remember that he has plans for you that you cannot even fathom right now. Be blessed as I leave you with a final scripture that I used in last night’s blog.

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Stretched

I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. From time to time, I get an urging to work out, and usually when I get going, I hit the ground running. I keep it up for a couple of weeks, then, the hate part of the equation comes in to play. Not that I hated the process, but it is so much easier to do other things than it is to work out. I end up choosing the path of least resistance (literally!).

But, I am not opening up with this to talk about exercise per se, but to talk about what we need to do beforehand to prepare for the impact our bodies are about to take. That is, stretching. Yup, stretching-that painful, annoying activity that serves to make us more limber and cut down on the chances of injury. It is very important whenever we are about to engage in exercise that we properly stretch ourselves.

Did you know that the physical realm isn’t the only arena in which we need a good stretching? God makes sure that we who are following Him get all the stretching we need in a spiritual sense. He has so many amazing plans for each of us. One of my favorite verses of Scripture is 1 Cor. 2:9-“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Yet, we can never realize those things he has prepared for us unless we are willing to put up with the discomfort of stretching into areas we are uncomfortable in or unfamiliar with. That is what I like to call “getting out of the comfort zone”.

I am reminded of something the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

When I read this passage, the verse that really stands out to me is the third verse. Paul came to this city in fear and trembling. Why was he so scared? Maybe it had to do with the fact that the people of Greek culture were known as extremely wise and learned people. Whatever the reason, it scared the pants off him. But God used this to stretch Paul, and he had a powerful ministry in that city.

Lately, God has been stretching me, as well. February 3rd marked a new chapter in mine and my family’s life. A door opened up to work as an associate pastor of outreach in a church in the Greater Orlando area. Now, nearly a month later, I am experiencing the stretching of the Lord. He is putting me into work that I haven’t had tons of experience in. I have of course worked in ministry outreach over the years, but not to the degree that I am now. I am the one coming up with ideas and plans on creatively reaching the lost of Orlando, and while I love the work, it is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. And, to be honest, it is a bit unnerving. There are worries about doing good work with lasting fruit. But like Paul, I am pressing on in spite of the fears. I too know that I will see God’s blessings on my labor as I reach the harvest for my Lord and my church.

Keep me in your prayers, friends, as I continue to follow the Lord. I most definitely need them!

God bless!