Worshiping God Produces Good

1 Comment

Worship On The Way – Part 2

Two weeks ago, we began looking at the importance of joining together with fellow believers and worshiping God corporately. Many people will agree that when we worship God together with others that we can connect with God and therefore build our relationship with Him to be even deeper and stronger. And when we stay in connection with God, it is not unusual to find that God has put a bubble of protection around us to help us get through the coming week and all that it has in store for us.

These are the first two reasons that Atteberry gives for us to maintain our corporate worship of God in his book “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel.” In this article,  we will consider two more reasons for going to a local church and worshiping God. We will come to see that worshiping God produces good not only within us but also has a positive effect on those who may be watching us.

1.  Worship Improves Your Outlook

Somehow, this reason for worshiping God with other believers in the local church should be rather obvious, and yet for many this is not the case. When we feel sick or tired or depressed or just frustrated with life, you would think that going to church would be a “pick-me-up” and so a positive thing to do. But instead of going to fellowship with other believers and coming out feeling better about life, I have talked with many who have believed that going to church would not help them, and so they stay home and often their mood or situation gets worse.

I do recognize that there are some places and some times that this will be the experience one might have, but it is my experience that this is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I think we need to check what attitude we have before we enter a church, and also try to determine what it is that we expect to find when we go to worship. Consider Atteberry’s words here:

I will tell you right now that if you go with the right spirit to the right church, and open your heart to God, you will come away with a brighter outlook on life. I don’t care how bleak and dismal your world looks when you walk in, worship just has a way of infusing our hearts with hope.  (pg. 136)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Certainly in this ideal picture that he paints, we are bound to come away feeling more positive than when we first entered into worship. And immediately I can hear some people telling me, “But you don’t know our church!” And they’re right, I don’t know what negative things may be happening in their church. Perhaps it may be time for them to consider being in a better fellowship in order for them to experience God were positively.

But notice that I underlined three things within that quotation. Often, people will equate the “right” church with the “perfect” church. And as long as there are people involved with church (which is obviously the case) we will never be able to find the perfect church here on earth. As the saying goes, “A church is not a sanctuary for Saints, but a hospital for Sinners.”

More importantly, the other two important aspects in this quote have to do with you and me personally and are within our control. What is our attitude when we go to church? Is our heart truly open to receive a word from the Lord? In other words, if we go to church openly and honestly seeking God, we will find Him and be renewed and refreshed. Even in poor church situations we can still have these encounters with God, and that alone is a good reason to continue going to local churches to worship God.

2.  Worship Enhances Your Witness

Here is one last thing to consider as we talk about reasons to go to church on a regular basis. Think of all of the activities and behaviors that you display throughout a week and ask yourself this question, “What things do I do that people can see and will clearly know from it that I am a Christian?” Being nice to others is good, showing consideration and love is very good, but you do not need to be a Christian to show these kinds of attitudes and behaviors.

On the other hand, going each Sunday to a local church is a clear signal that you identify with that church, and it is assumed that you would in fact be a Christian. Now we do know that just going to a church does not make a person a Christian; believing in Jesus and accepting him as Lord and Savior of your life is what makes you a  Christian. Still, going to church regularly is a form of witness to your faith.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is how our family felt while we lived in our village in Papua New Guinea. There was a local church there, but it was based mostly upon ritual and form that had been imported by foreign missionaries decades earlier. There was not very much life in the church, and very little understanding of faith and the Gospel. But to not attend that church would send the wrong signal, and would likely have a negative impact later upon our credibility as “Christians”.

So even though we felt that was the “wrong” church for us, we still went with open hearts and a desire to seek God and worship Him. And you know what? We often still had a personal encounter with God, and the people appreciated us coming and identifying with them. This allowed us to build our relationships with the people and to impact them later in our ministry to them.

So there are some very good reasons for all of us to continue attending our local church, to worship God and fellowship with others. It pleases God, it can lift us up, and it can have a positive effect on others. Any one or all of those are good reasons for us to worship God corporately.

Advertisements

Worshiping God Is Good For You

Leave a comment

Worship On The Way – Part 1

Do you remember when you were young and you were told, “Okay, it’s time for church.” Did you ever respond with, “I don’t want to go today.” Or perhaps you just thought these words. For those of you who are reading this and are parents, perhaps you hear these words from your children today. If we are honest though, I think that all of us have had many Sunday mornings we just don’t feel like going to church.

But is that bad? Is that wrong? Can’t we worship God by ourselves at home? Actually, we may be on the wrong track of thinking altogether. Let me back up and ask the question, “What is worship?” Answering that question could take pages and pages to answer. And it is true that we can and should worship God individually, but I want to talk in this article about the importance of our corporate worship of God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

We are starting chapter 10 of our book study of “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted To Travel” by Mark Atterberry. Mark has been a preacher for many years, and so it would seem quite natural for him to advise people that it is important to come to church and worship corporately with other believers. After all, isn’t that the “normal practice” of Christians?

To think like that is to misunderstand the purpose of corporate worship. Going to church is not about attendance and ritual, but is about experiencing God. There is something powerful in the gathering together of believers to jointly lift up the name of God in praise, and there is something very humbling to bow together as a corporate body in prayer, recognizing Christ’s Lordship over all of our lives.

Now back to where we started, the idea that sometimes we do not “feel” like going to church to worship God, have you considered that it is in these exact moments when we feel the worst and life is difficult that we should make the extra effort to get out to our local church? Even with all its warts and wrinkles and problems, the church is the place where we can receive the help that we need. Atterberry gives us some good points in his book why we should continue to gather for corporate worship.

1.  Worship Nourishes Your Relationship with God

Think for a minute what it would be like if we never gathered with other Christians and worshiped God together. Do you think that we would be strong enough to be able to resist the temptations that are in the world around us? Would we get in the practice of setting aside some time every week to put our full attention and focus upon God?

My guess is that it would not take very long before God became less and less a part of our lives. Atteberry cautions us on this very point as he shares from his experiences over the years by saying this:

I’ve heard all the arguments from the I-can-be-a-Christian-without-going-to-church crowd, but I’ve never seen any evidence that their claims are true in my experience, every time a Christian drops out of church and abandons corporate worship, he starts sinking spiritually. Maybe not the first day or the first week, but eventually. I can’t recall a single exception.  (pg. 130)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The best analogy that I can think of that points to the truth of what Atteberry talks about is that of a small cooking fire, such as they use in the villages of Papua New Guinea. They take little twigs and sticks and work up a fire, but they only put the tips of each stick into the center of the fire. Slowly they push the burning sticks into the center to keep the flame on the tips of each stick at a constant height and temperature.

But as soon as they pull out one stick from the fire, the small flame at the tip of the stick almost immediately goes out. Now they can swing the stick to keep the red ember at the tip still hot, and if they just laid the stick to the side even the ember would burn out. But as soon as they put the stick back into the fire, a flame will again immediately burst forth at the tip of the stick.

The church can and should be our place to keep the flame of our spiritual lives alive. When we go back out into the world from our place of corporate worship it is up to us to keep our spiritual embers alive throughout the week. Then when we come back to worship together with our fellow believers we infuse some more spiritual vitality in our “fire” for the Lord.

2.  Worship Guarantees Your Protection

Consider Ezra 8:22 which says, “Our God protects all those who worship Him, but His fierce anger rages against those who abandon Him.” This was spoken by Ezra to the king of Persia just before Ezra and many other of the exiled Jews began their five-month journey through dangerous territories on their way back to Jerusalem. And we know from Scripture that they in fact did make it safely there.

In a similar way, when we worship God corporately there is a spiritual reality to the idea that we are drawn in under His over arching protective care. Some would suggest that we simply gain psychological and emotional strength from our gathering together with others. But it is my belief, that when we gather together in worship we do not just add to one another’s spiritual strength and vitality, but we multiply our spiritual strength through the bonds of our Christian unity.

I think I will tie off this article at this point and pick this up in two weeks with part 2 where Atteberry gives us two more good reasons to worship God.  This article has meant to be an encouragement to you in your Christian walk, and I hope that I have been able to do that.

God’s Little Detours – Part 2

2 Comments

The Value Of Detours

This is the second article that I want to talk about this concept of encountering detours in life.  And let’s face it, the question is not whether we will encounter detours, but what to do when we encounter detours.  In the last article, I mentioned that we will all have good moments, and that we must treasure those moments and count them as blessings. And now I would like to suggest that we even consider the detours of our lives to be blessings and to treasure them also.

This is exactly the kind of attitude that I sensed as I read the second half of chapter 9 of Mark Atteberry’s book entitled, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel”.  For those who have been reading these “Hard Road Journey” articles, I would like to suggest again that this book is certainly one worth getting and reading many times.  (You can click here to find out how I can help you to get this book.)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Let’s look then at how Atteberry considers detours in life to be helpful:

1.  Detours Can Train You

One of the first things that Atteberry does in this part of the chapter is to make a distinction between “to teach” and “to train”.  I thought that this was quite good because there is an important difference between the two concepts. You can hear about something, watch something, and even study something, and that might “teach” you something important. But until you have gone through an experience, you have not really been “trained” to be able to handle that experience.

I shared with many people of the strong interest that I had in Bible translation work since the time that I was age 16.  Then, when I tell them that I was 36 years old when our family went over to Papua New Guinea to start working in a translation project, people often ask the obvious question, “So what did you do in those 20 years?”

And I will respond, “Let’s see, I did some short-term mission work in Central and South America. I went to Bible school, then got married, then carried on and went to seminary. After that, I did about five years of pastoral ministry. Then there were some in between years where I felt a little lost and God was teaching me some lessons in humility. And also, we started a family and began raising our two boys.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to ministry work, and especially Bible translation work, I can be very passionate about it. Almost to the point that you could say I become so absorbed or obsessed with it that I can lose perspective with regards to other people or other important things in life. But I would never say that those 20 years between the time that I first thought about being a Bible translator until when I finally got onto the field were wasted years.

This came home to me in a powerful way in 2007. I was in PNG and attending a course to train translators to become Bible translation consultants. We were trained to listen well, ask good questions, be patient, be sensitive to cultural issues, know how to exegete Scriptures well, offer suggestions but not be forceful about it, and much more.

By the third week of this course we had had opportunities to sit in and watch experienced consultants work with other missionaries and the national speakers to check their translations. We were also given opportunity to lead sessions ourselves. When the teacher of this course asked me one day how it was going for me, my reply was, “Everything in my life up to this point now make sense to me.” And I still believe that is true: my theological training plus my years of pastoral ministry plus my village experience as a translator had honed me to be able to be a good translation consultant.

2.  Detours Can Test You.

But just when I thought that everything was now in place for me to be traveling the world as a Bible translation consultant and trainer, that was when my muscle disease hit me and its symptoms flared up. In February of 2008, I had just returned from PNG after doing six weeks of intense consultant sessions and some training sessions. I literally went from running through airports to barely being able to walk across my own living room floor.

As my health deteriorated that year, I slowly released one responsibility after another of the many international tasks that Pioneer Bible Translators had asked me to be involved in. By the spring of 2009, I was hardly doing anything at all, except feeling sorry for myself. And I felt like my ministry work and even my life was coming to an end.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Praise the Lord, God showed me that there were still many things that I could do and that if I leaned on him and trusted him for my daily strength, He would empower me to continue to do this translation consultant work. What I’ve come to realize is that while there may be many things that I would like to do, I am to focus in on this one thing that I can do and which God still wants me to do.

Many people who are aware of my muscle condition have commented to me how amazing it is that I am still able to do this work. I could let this go to my head, but instead, I point to God and say it is by God’s grace and grace alone that this is possible. I will close this article was a very good quote from Atteberry on page 124:

Make up your mind that you’re willing to learn whatever the experience is ready to teach you. And remember that your character is being put to the test. People are watching and will be influenced for better or worse by what you say and do.

God’s Little Detours – Part 1

Leave a comment

Expect Detours – Part 1

The last two articles in this series on “Hard Road Journey” gave us some hope and showed that we can expect some periods or moments of refreshment, even through the most difficult experiences of life.  I’ve touched a little on the difficulties we experienced when our oldest son went through the 30 moths of chemotherapy for his leukemia, in the article “It’s Not My Fault“.  But when I get to writing more about that period, you will also see that those three years also contained many moments of blessings from God.

We must treasure those good moments and count them as blessings.  That does not negate the fact though that life has thrown us a curve-ball.  We find at those moments that whereas we may have been counting on having a smooth, straight road, instead, we find that we have all of a sudden found ourselves on a major detour and we don’t know what to expect ahead of us.

Now if a detour was simply that, a detour off of the main course we have charted for our lives, then all we need to do is to get back as quickly as we can to the main path of our lives.  But what if that detour happens to come while we are slowly making our way through a difficult period.  Now that can really get us discouraged.

The book we have been following on this series is called “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.  Our author, Mark Atteberry, has this to say about detours on page 114:

Few experiences are more disheartening, especially when you’re already growing weary.  Just the thought of a longer road with even more challenges can break your spirit.

I would compare it to the idea of having a major paper cut on your hand, and then just before it heals, you get another paper cut right on top of it.  Yowwee!  The first cut was bad enough, but the second one is even worse and  makes the healing process take that much longer.  Atteberry recognizes the danger of this.  But he advises us to expect detours.  They are a part of life.  And so to help us, he gives us four facts to think about that will help us when we encounter a detour in life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

1.  Detours Can Trick Us

Probably the most dangerous aspect about a detour in life when we hit one, is that they can trick us into thinking either one of two possible incorrect conclusions.  We may think that we have done something wrong and God is punishing us for our bad behaviors, our “sins”.  Or we might think that God has abandoned us, which really says we believe that God does not care about us.

The first conclusion may have some truth in it seeing as it is also true that there are always consequences to sin.  But to assume automatically that when something goes wrong that it must be because we have done something wrong, is to assume the wrong thing about the character of God.  God is not a vindictive God who sits up there somewhere with a big stick in His hand, just ready to hit us and punish us if we step out of line.  If you believe this, then you have not understood the Good News of His great love which is written all through the pages of the New Testament.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And as far as the second conclusion goes, the idea that God has abandoned us, I think is often the result of us not waiting long enough to let God move and work out a wonderful solution to our situation.  Or put it another way, I believe that there is always something else going on, and maybe many things going on, that we are not aware of, and so because we cannot see the bigger picture, we start to lose our faith in God.

I think that Atteberry has a very good point when he says on page 116:

Isn’t it interesting how quickly we can go from blaming God to praising Him?  One little fact–one little nugget of truth suddenly revealed–is all it takes to completely transform our feelings and show us how wrong we were to assume the worst.

Don’t let your circumstances fool you into believing the wrong things about God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

2.  Detours Can Teach Us

It follows then, that if the detours we encounter are not mistakes or punishments from God, that there must be some purpose to them.  It is quite true to say about me that I am an optimist.  And so I embrace a verse like Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  This does not say that all things are good (because bad things do in fact happen), but it does say that God can bring good out of every situation,

The question here is: do you believe this or not?  Actually, I can be even more bold as to say “Do you believe the Bible to be true?  Do you believe God to be a good and loving God as presented by the New Testament passages or not?”  If you say yes to these two questions, then you will have to also believe that God can teach you something very important in life, and often it is through detours that He can teach us the most.

If you are still not sure about all this, then I ask you to go back and read my last two articles about my personal journey in life.  The first one is “Humbled by God” and the second one is “God Restores My Passion For Missions“.  Talk about a major detour.  But also, talk about God’s tender care to teach me something important.

The next two facts about detours will be in two weeks from now.  So stay tuned.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

God Provides Oases – Part 2

Leave a comment

This article will cover the second part of chapter eight of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel.”  The title of this chapter is, “Enjoy Every Oasis.”  The premise of this chapter is that no matter how difficult the road you are on may seem, there will still be many moments when griefs and sorrows, worries and anxieties will be suspended for a moment and we can experience again joy and hope that brings refreshment to our souls.

I have already summarized the first two of four sources that Atteberry says can help provide spiritual refreshment for us.  You can read about that by clicking here.  The last two sources are ones that all of us should look to, namely Refreshing Scriptures and a Refreshing Savior.  There are many ways in which these can be expanded, and Atteberry provides some good stories and illustrations of people who are at the “end of their rope” (i.e. spiritually destitute) and who find Scripture that speaks to them, and a Savior who cares about them.

Both of these examples are critically important, seeing as we would like all people to turn to God and to Scripture to find the Truth and be made spiritually whole.  But I want to take Atteberry’s ideas and apply them to fellow Christians, those who have given their lives to the Lord, but for some reason have found themselves on a hard-road journey and who also need this kind of spiritual refreshment.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

It is my hope that Christians in general do not view Scripture (the Bible) as simply the source book for preacher’s messages nor as just an evangelistic tool used to present the Gospel to unbelievers in order to “get them saved”.  This kind of view can easily result in Christians owning a Bible, but never reading the Bible on a regular basis.  Sadly enough though, there are many “Family Bibles” which are merely house ornaments, or place holders on book shelves.

In sharp contrast to this, my view of the Bible and its ability to be a source for spiritual refreshment rests upon the idea that the Bible is our Guidebook for Life, and is meant to be opened and read and reflected upon on a regular, if not daily basis.  Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16,”All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

I believe it is important for my fellow brothers and sister in the Lord to realize and accept that difficult times and dark days are a part of life.  But if we have been in the habit of reading God’s Word, and allowing it to soak in to the deeper parts of our being, then when these troubled times come our way, we have a pool of Scriptural knowledge to draw upon and to apply to our life.  Often, it is in these very times that we come to see the Truth of God’s Word come alive for us in a fresh and very personal way.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Let me now turn my attention to Atteberry’s last point, that Jesus Christ is the very best source we can tap into to find our spiritual refreshment.  It is amazing, and almost shameful, to realize that for many Christians who are going through difficult periods in their lives, that often the last person they turn to for help and encouragement is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Shouldn’t He be the first Person on our “Emergency Contact List”?

And yet so many of us today get so frustrated and flustered and tied up in knots over the events and circumstances of our lives.  In fact, we allow ourselves to be held hostage to our circumstances, our personalities, and our old nature.  When we do this, we take Christ off the throne of our hearts and we put ourselves there instead.  We must reverse this, remember who Jesus is and what He has done for us, and let Him be Lord again in our lives.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Now contrary to popular belief, when we truly give our lives over to Christ and let Him be Lord that we are most free.  I know this sounds contradictory, but it is through submission to Him that we gain our freedom.  To understand this, we must realize two aspects of our freedom:  there are certain things that we are “freed from”, and similarly there are certain things that we are “freed to”.  Let me explain.

When Jesus died on the Cross and we gave our lives to Christ, there were things in the Past, in the Present and in the Future that Jesus freed us from.  From the time of Adam until now, there has been the inherited nature of sin, and the consequent penalty for sin that we could do nothing about ourselves.  In the Present, as much as we would like to not commit sinful acts, in our own strength we still do that.  And without Christ, we would face the fear of death and eternal punishment.  But Christ saved us from all that.

When Jesus died to pay for our sins and we accepted Him by faith, then the old nature was done away with and we became new persons in Christ.  By the power of his Holy Spirit within, we have found we can live a life of righteousness.  And we can look forward to everlasting life with God and an eternal reward for those who serve their Lord well.  That is what Jesus freed us to.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And what is my point here?  Namely this: when we who are Christians find ourselves in the midst of difficulties and the trials of life, then we must more than ever before turn our focus upon Christ, who has saved us from so much that is evil and saved us towards all that is good.  And if we can keep our eyes on this “Bigger Picture”, then we can ride through these storms of life so much better.

God Provides Oases – Part 1

2 Comments

Have you been in that place where you say to God, “Enough Lord!  I don’t think I can take any more of this?”  You feel like the hard-road journey you are on is never going to end.  It can take many forms: financial pressures, bad relationships, chronic health issues, or any number of other stressors that seem to be an endless painful journey.

Now normally I do not like to pass on silly sayings, but it is kind of cute when someone says, “Do you know what are the most encouraging words in Scripture?  They are, ‘And it came to pass.’  That means that bad times will not stay with us; they come, and then they will pass on by.'”  I wish it were that easy to say that if we just wait a short while, everything will get better.  In fact, things may stay bad, or even get worse, for a much longer period of time.

But don’t let this get you super discouraged or depressed, for even during the worst periods of our lives there will be moments of great joy and periods of relief from the things that press down on us.  Our author that we are following, Mark Atteberry, who wrote “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“, has some wise words to say, and then gives us some very good points to talk about in Chapter 8.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Consider this quote on page 99:

Maybe you’re just getting started on your hard road and you’re deeply discouraged.  Perhaps your first steps have been agonizingly difficult and you feel you’re not going to be able to endure.  Well, cheer up!  Every desert has some oases, and sooner or later you’re going to come to one.  It’s true!  Even on the hardest roads, there are wonderful pleasures to be found.

Atteberry goes on in the rest of this chapter to explain that there are at least four excellent sources from which we can draw upon and be refreshed.  I will reflect on two of these sources in this article, and then two weeks from now I will reflect on the other two sources of encouragement and spiritual refreshment.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

1.  “Refreshing Seasons”.  It is very normal for most people to talk about the weather.  Even if the person is a complete stranger, it is not unusual to make casual comments like “Looks like it’s going to rain again,” or to say, “Man, it sure is cold today!  I just about froze my fingers off walking out there today!”  And if after a long period of such bad weather we finally get a good change, like the sun shining  in the midst of a clear blue sky, or a warm wind coming to break the cold spell, then we feel such a sense of relief.  Even if it is only for one day, that good weather is enough to help us go forward and to continue enduring the bad weather.

I think it was kind of like that when our older boy, Eric, went through his cancer journey.  That first year of the aggressive drugs he took to battle against the leukemia seemed to stretch on forever for us.  Week after week he endured his chemotherapy, and there were a few times when we were very worried for him, and with good reason.  We did make it to the end of the aggressive year, and continued on with other regular but milder drugs for another 18 months.

It certainly was a difficult road for every one in the family.  But God was good, and He provided some wonderful refreshing moments throughout the 30 months of treatment.  Eric was chosen as a cancer “spokes’ kid” for one year and had a blast meeting famous athletes, radio announcers and got a special private dress rehearsal concert with his favorite Christian rock band.  These islands of pleasurable and memorable experiences made the hard-road journey more bearable for all of us.  Thank you God.

2.  “Refreshing Servants”.  There is a little spot in northern Ontario (Canada) that may not be on every road map, but one spot that Jill and I will never forget.  It’s called Agawa Bay.  I mentioned in another article about how sick I was in Ontario in 1989, and this prompted us to leave Toronto in January to pull a U-haul 3,300 kilometers across Canada while Jill was 6 months pregnant and I was lying on a mattress in the back of our station wagon.  (Read that story here.)

When we got to Agawa Bay, after fighting our way through a Canadian blizzard and snow squall conditions, we stopped to get a bite to eat and to gas up as there would be no more restaurant or gas station for at least 150 more miles.  We went to start the car, and the battery was dead.  But even if we could go, the Mounted Police just put up a barricade to stop traffic from entering deeper into the forest wilderness of northern Ontario.

So what were we to do in this little place that had only a restaurant, a gas station and garage, and a couple of houses for staff to sleep in.  And a dead car.  We needed a miracle, and He sent us a refreshing “servant-hearted man”.  The car mechanic on duty heard about our dead car, and that the road was closed.  So he helped us push the car into the garage and hoisted it up and started working on it.

He figured that with the roads closed and nowhere to go, he might at well make himself useful.  So through half the night he fixed our battery engine problem and also found that our timing belt at the back of the engine was actually half chewed through and worn down.  If we had continued past Agawa Gay, there would have been a good chance we would have broken down literally in the middle of nowhere.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So what is the point of these two stories?  Namely this:  life is full of difficulties that can seem endless and may go from bad to worse.  But if we have the eyes to see it and discern it, we will often notice how God actually was there with us through the difficulties and in one way or another, He provided a short season or a person with a servant heart to bless us and to give us refreshment so that we can carry on down our hard-road journey.

Walk With God – Part 2

1 Comment

Go At God’s Pace – Part 2

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how wonderful it must have been for some of the earliest mentioned people in Scripture to be able to walk with God.  I can just about imagine how awestruck and cautious these people would have been in the presence of the Almighty.  There would have been no need to rush around and be busy doing something, for the most important thing that mattered was to simply “be”, to be with God and experience His glory and majesty, and simply exist in a pure and loving relationship with God.

Oh, that would have been glorious to walk with God as Enoch did, or to talk face-to-face with God as Moses did, or to experience the dazzling glory of Christ as Peter, James and John did when Jesus was transfigured on top of the mountain.  But instead, for most of us, life seems to be a busy rat-race of existence which often seems to throw us curve balls that keep us in the valley of “hard-road” life.

It is at this point that our author, Mark Atteberry, shares some profound wisdom.  (We are going through a book study on “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.)  In an age where everything seems to be based on speed and being busy, Atteberry talks about the importance of slowing down and “walking” with God.

Our author gives us three good principles on slowing down, or as he entitled chapter seven, “Go At God’s Pace“.  This has got to be in my estimation one of the most difficult things for us as Christians to do.  Our society today is quite literally based on instant results.  Whether it is your boss demanding something to be done in a ridiculously short time (because your company, or at least your job, will be in jeopardy) or it is the fast-food-solution at the end of the day.  We have learned to live with the pressure of the “NOW”.

Instead of living like that, consider Atteberry’s first principle: Reflect on life’s lessons regarding the importance of slowing down.  We all know from our earliest school years up through into adulthood the consequences of going too fast on something and reaping bad results, even disastrous ones.  I can think of something as simple as a math test in elementary school where I rushed to beat the time of a friend of mine, but when the grades came back, I had made more mistakes than him.  I can also think of some missionary friends that thought they were ready for the field, but had not prepared themselves for life on the field.  Sad to say, they did not last very long on the mission field.

Another easy picture to bring this point home is that we all know that if we go over the speed limit we run the risk of getting a speeding ticket.  But is those four extra minutes saved really worth it?  I remember the time I was a school bus driver and at a red light I was revving my engine in fun to beat my friend in his bus.  By God’s grace I sensed in the last split second when the light went green that my friend hesitated and a huge panel truck went through the red light and could have killed me.  It’s not worth it.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The second principle in this chapter is this: Slowing down will be easier if you remember what you have been called to do.  Atteberry quotes an excellent Scripture verse on page 90 from Micah 6:8, “This is what the Lord requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (He places the emphasis on the three italicized words.)

In this verse, it may not be too difficult to convince people in general to do the first two requirements.  Doing what is right and being kind to our neighbor, isn’t that a lot like “keeping the Ten Commandments”?  Well, yes, in part.  Following the Ten Commandments and being kind is certainly a good thing to do, and which many people do try to do, but that is not how to enter into and maintain a living relationship with God.

No, to truly have a relationship with God, we must place ourselves under His authority.  He is to be Lord of our lives.  So we should not try to run ahead of God.  At the same time, God loved us enough to let His Son die for us to provide forgiveness of our sins, and since Jesus calls us His brothers and God has adopted us to be our Father, then we are to walk with Him, beside Him.  We are not wretched slaves dragged behind God, but children who walk humbly beside Him, thankful for His love and mercy.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The last principle in this chapter is: Slowing down will be easier if you reject the counsel of people who urge you to hurry up.  We need to be very careful when it comes to taking the advice of others or following their example.  One of our famous quotes as parents to our children when one of them did something foolish that a friend of theirs had suggested or done was to say, “And if he had jumped off a cliff, would you have done that too?”

Advice is something that is easy and cheap to give out.  But do we always take the time to weigh out the advice, or allow enough time to pass to let God get things done for us when the timing is right?  Atteberry offers us good counsel on this point, “Remember that the decision you make will probably not affect the people who are so freely offering you advice.  But it could profoundly affect you, possibly for years to come.”

And so dear friends, please take the time to slow down at least a small part of your life and humbly seek your God and allow Him the opportunity to show you the right way to come through whatever is your hard-road experience.  You will be amazed at the answers that God has in store for you.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Older Entries Newer Entries