On – Knowing Him

On – Knowing Him


“…  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:9-11)


Focus – “I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death “ (Phil 3:10)


Paul says he is quite ready to give up the usual status symbols of the Christian for the personal knowledge and friendship of Jesus Christ.

Please understand that he is speaking of this as an academic subject.

Indeed, this is not a course in Christology or on the person of Christ.

This is not knowing about Christ.

This is knowing Him.

As has wisely been said… knowing about has value; knowing has vitality.

This knowledge the apostle is talking about is not simply a casual contact now and then.

You and I don’t get to really know our friends that way.

The friends we know best are the ones we have spent the most time with, or have gone with through deep experiences.

This knowledge of Christ comes the by continual sharing of experiences together.

It comes as – two… Jesus and you… Jesus and me… living our lives together, moment-by-moment sharing experiences.

It comes by gazing on the face of Jesus Christ as he appears in the pages of scripture.

It comes by allowing every circumstance to make us lean back on His life, hiding nothing from His eyes, by bringing every friendship and every loyalty to His gaze, for his approval or disapproval… It comes by walking every day expecting Him to be with us.

O’ such a blessed secret to the successful walk with Jesus.


That is exactly what Paul says comes of… knowing Christ.

O’so much more…


First there is that power of the resurrection.

It is a risen Lord who dwells within us, and we have that power which is able to do in us above all that we ask or think, according to that power which works in us.

This is the power of Christ’s resurrection.

Please know that it is power that is perfectly adequate for every possible circumstance.

It is confidently acting in full assurance that He is acting with us simultaneously, and that risen power is ours.


The second thing that stems from this knowledge of Christ is the participation in his sufferings.

The remarkable thing about the sufferings of Christ is that they are always for someone else, never for one’s self.

This is that compassion we all earnestly long for.

It doesn’t come by trying.

It comes by knowing him; by simply entering into what He is to you.

This makes you compassionate.

This is the primary reason why Christians suffer.

Not so much for you, but for others.

Have you ever noticed that when a Christian gets desperately sick and he takes it as an opportunity to manifest the grace of Christ, that Christian becomes the center of victory and hope and blessing to everyone who visits him?


Then the last thing… becoming like Him in His death.


What does that mean?


The death of Jesus Christ was the end of the old life of sin and self-pleasing.

We know that there was no sin nor self-pleasing in his own life, but on that cross he was made to be all that we are, sinful and self-pleasing, and then it was put to death.

The cross was the end of that.

Now, that is liberty, because for the first time if we accept this as being true, we are set free from our selfish, ease-loving, luxury-seeking.

We are free to be real men and real women… Unbound, delivered, no longer constantly concerned about what happens to us, but only concerned about what happens to Christ.


What a journey this is.

Like the marvelous ministry among many people the apostle Paul had.


This is freely offered to every believer in Christ.


Please see that this is not achieved by just trying, struggling, striving.

It comes as a by-product of truly knowing Christ.


Dear Lord…

Thank you, for the joy of simply knowing You.

We pray that we may know the power of Your resurrection and the participation in Your sufferings, being conformed to You.


Consider this…

Do you want to know Christ merely to define your theology and refine your doctrinal views?

Are you missing the life-defining pursuit of knowing Christ intimately?

How can you truly learn to know Him?



Yep, all in…

He is near and awaits you.

“Energy For 2020”

Energizer Bunnies of the Bible


Have you ever thought about it…

Wow, there were many exceptional people in the Bible who exhibited exceptional energy… energizer bunnies… Those who kept going for a very, long time… Those who kept going despite horrible circumstances… Those who kept going even the when people sought to stop or kill them… Those who kept going when confronted with poor health, old age and even surrounded my nay sayers.


So what kept them energized?

What or Who were they plugged into?


Indeed, there were many, but this morning, let’s take a brief look at just one… plugged In David.



David… an Old Testament Energizer Bunny



What made David run?


What makes the child run and shout with glee on a summer morning?

What brings the lover running to the door where their beloved returns?


So what made David run?


David was a God-intoxicated man.

For David had gazed on God until he was enraptured and he could not always contain that rapture.


While still a young man, in the presence of the Holy Ark he let himself go in an ecstatic dance that delighted God as much as it outraged the coldhearted Michal.


I don’t know about you…

But, when I was young… I loved the Psalms of David long before I knew why.


Back then I would return to them again and again… and at times it seems more than to any other portion of Scripture… I would chide myself for this preference for after all I was a New Testament believer and the Psalms belonged to the Old.


Then one day I read a sentence from a little book by Horatius Bonar.

It said simply… “The Spirit of Jesus dwells in the Psalms.”

I thought… so true… I knew what I saw… what I loved… that same rapture of the Spirit of God touching… speaking to me through the Word… through the expressions of David… David, sold out to the Lord… at his best… even at his worst.


For, David in the Spirit knew and communed with the One who was to be his son according to the flesh, “and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).


It was the love of Christ that made David run… “O love of Jesus! Blessed love!”


Yes, for energizer bunnies like David… David waited patiently for the LORD.

He delighted in the LORD and committed his way to Him.


This was David’s power source.


It can be ours as well!


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7a)


Dear Lord, we have a hard time being still and waiting for You.

We seem to be activity prone and impatient.

May we sit still, shut up and wait on You… Amen


Draw Close…

He is Near…


“Thoughts on Your Calling”

Thoughts on your “Calling”


“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’” Mark 10:49 (NIV)


Push the pause button on your busy world for just a bit.


Consider this…


Have you considered that your highest calling was something you sensed that you are supposed to do?

Have you further considered that your highest calling might be something else… i.e. maybe some place you are supposed to be?


Have you thought that a “calling” was reserved only for some “special people” or those paid to do ministry.


Yep’… I know the word calling can be complex…


One dictionary definition of calling is “a profession or occupation,” but the one we most commonly think of is “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career.”

Christians identify God as the source of that strong urge, so the word calling sometimes seems too big for us.


But… let’s take a look at  Mark 10:46-50… where Jesus calls a very ordinary man.


“As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means ‘son of Timaeus’), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’

“Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’

“So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus” (NIV).


Bartimaeus wasn’t anyone special.

In fact, he would have been considered sub-ordinary by a culture who mistakenly prejudged his blindness as sinful.

That could have been a barrier, yet when Jesus called, Bartimaeus rushed to Jesus’ side.

Bartimaeus didn’t let anything deter him from Jesus’ calling.




What barriers or obstacles have kept you from God’s calling on your life?


Sometimes doubt keeps us stuck, wondering if we really heard God or just imagined it.

We can even doubt God would want to use us.


Another stumbling block to calling is self-doubt, feeling certain that someone else is better or more equipped.


Comparison kills calling.


Some of us have let our callings die because of hard circumstances, the voices of naysayers or the diversion of busyness in our day-to-day lives.


The dreams we once held dear have faded until they’re fuzzy and distant.


The biggest obstacle to fulfilling our calling is that we often misidentify what our first calling really is.


Our highest calling isn’t what we usually think.

It’s not a job we do, a title we earn, or even a check we write.


Our first calling is to respond to Jesus and go to Him, just like Bartimaeus did.

We’re called to come close.


When we do, Jesus draws us near and calls us His brothers and sisters (Matthew 12:50).

He erases the divide between our humanity and His divinity by calling us friends (John 15:15).


While our faith leads us to accomplish good works, our first and highest calling is simply to be near Jesus.

When we are, everything else… all the doing… begins to fall in place.


Dear Lord… we’ve often confused Your calling for our doing.

Although faith includes action, our first and highest calling is to be near You.

Today… this very day…

We hear and accept Your calling.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Draw Close, He is Near=

Personal Prayer

What’s Prayer Look Like in Your Everyday Life


“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…” (Colossians 4:2) “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) (And many more)


God has been speaking to my heart recently about spending more time with Him in my life’s daily journey.

Sometimes when the Holy Spirit is bugging me about something, I am led share it.


Because I’ve found that if I’m dealing with an issue, there are often other folks dealing with it too.



On this matter…

I really do believe God loves it when we spend individual, undivided time in prayer with Him… i.e. prayer closet time.

Time that is specifically dedicated to Him and for Him.



If that is the only time He gets, then just maybe, we haven’t allowed His presence to live in our hearts as He fully intended.



This prompted the question:

Where and when can I pray besides those arranged quiet times alone with God?


In other words…

When our families are engaged in those especially busy seasons….

When we are working… trying to make that latest, pressing deadline… When we have to take care of our homes, our cars, or even that pesky, consuming “tech” we carry with us all the time… Whatever God has entrusted us with…



Where and when can we pray?

Can we simply have a prayerful conversation with God wherever we are?


Let me share a simple story with you.

There was a time some years ago when I was working in Xi’an China.

A rather busy small Chinese city of 7.9 million people… even though my residence was in the “smaller” internal village of Xi’an called Dianzicheng (about 1 million residents).

Daily communications at work in the city was intense… as was general life because it was always in Chinese… For, you see, I was one of only 5 english speaking expats in that area of Xi’an.

I also found it difficult to find a quiet place to spend “quality” time with my Lord… as the noise of millions and millions of city folk can be rather deafening.

Each day, it was a challenge to whittle out prayerful moments in the crazy… busy schedule that was life in China.


I began to complain to God… asking The Holy Spirit to tell me… show me how and where to find a place to daily pray while in the city.


His answer kind of startled me…

“You know… daily you walk most places as you do not have a car and your directions to the taxi drivers is less that precise. Therefore, while you walk along the sidewalks to your appointments, offer a silent prayer for the people you see walking near you.”

I thought… sure… but which ones, there are sure lot’s of them… He responded… “Let’s start with people carrying babies”… I thought… hum… I see a number of them along the way.

Who else, I inquired…

“Let’s keep it simple for now… I want to show you the power of silent prayer in busy, noisy environments.”

So, the next morning while walking… I did as instructed… Soon I saw a mother carrying a baby on her shoulder… As I began to silently pray for the baby being carried in front of me, something amazing happened… the baby jumped, raised its head and turned to look directly at me… and smiled.


That morning… time and again, the same reaction.

I pushed the envelope a bit on the way back in the afternoon… silently praying for any child I saw along the way… each time… they would turn and smile.

For, you see… the Holy Spirit blesses each of us with many, many opportunities for prayer.



How about your opportunities for prayer…


In the grocery or other shopping line… Has He placed someone near you to pray for?

In the kitchen of your home… yep… while stirring the pot.

Maybe while driving… lift up some of those wonderful windshield prayers… But, don’t get too carried away with this one or you might miss a turn.

Not that I’ve ever been known to do that.

Maybe while heading to your desk or cubicle at work… pray for those along the isle or even the empty chairs that will soon be occupied.

Or maybe when you first awake… “Lord, give me strength to live for You and glorify Your Name.” 

And, at night… Why not fall asleep while praying. 

Somehow, I don’t think God is offended at that one bit.

In fact, I think He loves it. 



How about you? 

I know you have some times and places that work for you… Why not, share them with others.


Where do you find time to pray?

Y’a know… it’s ok to pray to God anywhere at any time.


Draw Close… He is Near.

Find Your Place

On the “maddening ambiguity” of our faith

Remember the words of C.S. Lewis… he said that you and I live in what C. S. Lewis called a “maddening ambiguity.”

On one hand, our Father loves us individually beyond compare.

In “The Weight of Glory”, Lewis observed: “Everything that is joined to the immortal head will share his immortality.”
He noted, “It was not for societies or states that Christ died, but for men.”

On the other hand, our value lies not in who we are but in Whose we are.

According to Lewis, “As mere biological entities, each with its separate will to live and to expand, we are apparently of no account; we are cross-fodder” (cf. Galatians 2:20). However, “as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.”

We were made for a life more abundant than our fallen culture can experience or even imagine (John 10:10). 

But we will find this life only when we join ourselves to a larger narrative in which we play only one part.

How can one find their role in God’s redemptive story?

Bob Buford (a most effective leadership mentor) wrote numerous books and collaborated with a number of other authors.  In his foreword to Chip Ingram’s insightful “Good to Great in God’s Eyes”, Buford stated his threefold passion:

  • To help people discover their Core (the best they have to offer);
  • To create Capacity (make time and money available to fulfill their God-given calling and design);
  • To discover the Context (the unique role and place they fit to make the greatest difference) for the glory of God.


What is your core?

What spiritual gifts has God bequeathed to you?
What abilities and resources has God entrusted to you?
What is your capacity?
Are you devoting your time and money to serving God and others with your best?

If not, why not?

What is your context?

Do you believe you are making your greatest impact on our culture for God’s glory?

If not, pray for God’s leadership and seek wisdom from those to whom He directs you.

Christians who are committed to their core, capacity, and context change the world, one eternal soul at a time.

Let’s not miss a day to engage in this important assignment our Lord has entrusted to us.

(Some of the above from The Denison Forum)

Drew Close… He is Near

“The Ministry of the Holy Spirit”

The Holy Spirit… Indisputable Fact

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:36-49)

Salvation occurs when we trust Jesus as our Savior…

He forgives us.

He transforms us.

He sees us as righteous. 

In that very moment, we are redeemed, and though we continue to struggle with sin, sin is a defeated foe. 

Then as time goes on, our service, our gifts, and our love for Him should naturally become greater.

Unfortunately, a lot of Christians sit in church week after week, going through the motions yet lacking passion and failing to grow. 



How is such a thing possible? 


Tragically, many believers are unaware of the essential ministry of God’s Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity and co-equal with God the Father and God the Son. 


The opening chapter of Scripture tells us that He existed before the formation of the earth and in fact participated in creation;

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Gen. 1:2) and “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” (Gen. 1:26)


Today, the Holy Spirit has the critical role of helping and counseling all believers.

The Holy Spirit is a gift to every child of God. 

Yep, even you.


His presence within us isn’t something we have to earn or acquire. 

Rather, it is a marvelous privilege… by indwelling our hearts, He can guide and strengthen, steering each believer away from danger and into truth; “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7-8). 


Scripture tells us that Jesus came so we could experience a full life; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10). 


Hear this clearly, this is possible only when we listen to His Spirit and obey.



Are you experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised? 

Understand that He wasn’t talking about happy circumstances but rather the joy and contentment possible through a relationship with Him.


If you’re lacking in this area, consider your understanding of the Holy Spirit, and pray to be in tune with His promptings.


Press in…

Build an intimate relationship with Him…

For, He is So Near.

Do not tarry. 


Hearing God in a Noisy World

On Hearing God in a Loud, Loud World


For sure, we live in a loud world.

But, ya-know, noise is nothing new.

Just, take a stroll through the woods on a cool night and hear the tree frogs, cicada, hoot owls, and more… there are plenty of noises.

But, come daylight and enter the concrete jungle… Oh, such an enhanced level of noise.


And there are other types of “noise”… those exacerbated by the “benefits” of technology.

Today, we are continually bombarded with screen images, vibrations, words, and messages. 


A result… not only are we aware that we regularly ignore some of the messages we hear, we actively attempt to bypass many of the voices seeking our attention (spam filters, fast-forwarding through commercials, screening calls, etc.).

Yet no matter how much we attempt to limit the noise in our lives, we still live in an ever-louder culture.




How do you hear God in such an environment? 

A God Who tell is that He whispers.

Yes, a quiet God.

Indeed, He speaks…

He has chosen to communicate with His creation.

And, yes, while He is free to speak however, He chooses, He most often chooses to speak in quiet ways.

And, so often, rather than wowing our eyes, He chooses to reveal Himself and His counsel to our ears.


So… here we are.


Whereas our God chooses to communicate with us quietly… ever so quietly… humanity shouts and screams nearly every message.

Yes, our God quietly continues to whisper His presence, His revelations of His character, and His invitations to us to follow Him.


I sense that maybe this convergence of a loud world and quiet God is one reason so many people do not believe God is real or active or loving.

For, having not heard from Him, they assume He doesn’t exist.

But He does…

Yes, He does…

He just speaks with a softer voice than people assume.

And, being technically (and probably clinically) deaf from listen for years to over-amped music either through your earbuds, car stereo, club-scenes, over-the-top venue performances or even feel-it-in-your-chest church music… is no excuse, as God speaks in ways He can only do.


Think about it…


Imagine being seated across a lunch table with someone very, very wise. You are seeking direction on an important business venture. The sage speaks quietly with intention and purpose. You hang on every word he speaks. In a quiet restaurant, he is easy to hear. But as the restaurant fills, it becomes more difficult. Groups are laughing and talking. Servers are bustling around taking orders and delivering food. As a line forms with people waiting to be seated, the restaurant manager turns up the music. Now… the once quiet conversation is impossible to hear. So, what do you do? You lean in. You stop looking the other person in the eye and start watching their lips. You might move tables, change restaurants, or ask the host to turn down the music. If the message is truly important, you go to great lengths to hear.


I believe… right now… yes, now.

Humanity has never lived in a time in which we needed to use such intention to hear the words of God.

If you and I are not intentional in seeking the voice of God, we will likely never hear Him.

Not in this culture.

Not in the loudness of our times.

His voice will be ignored, overlooked, and even if heard, forgotten.

You and I must seek Him.

Knowing the importance of His voice and understanding the loudness of our times, we must intentionally seek to hear from God.


So… are there some time tested, scripturally centered things you and I can do?


Maybe… some things we can each do which can greatly increase the likelihood that we will hear Him better. Please know, before considering the following, I want to make sure there is no confusion over one issue. God speaks to us through His Word…the Bible. While He is free to speak in other ways, those methods are uncertain and greatly open to human misunderstanding. The one thing we never have to doubt is the truthfulness of Scripture. For many, far too much credit is given to impressions, feelings, and pointless circumstances and far too little time is spent with the Bible. Learn to listen to the God of the Bible.


So… just some prayerful suggestions.


Weekly… regularly submit to Biblical preaching and teaching.

I know, for many today, it may seem a foolish method of communication, but it’s a method God chose. Podcasts don’t count. Videos don’t count. Find an average man chosen by God at an average church who diligently preaches the Bible. Repeat regularly. Take notes and trust God to speak.


Daily read His Word alone.

Don’t expect to understand everything. Don’t feel pressured to gain a great insight every day. But every day read at least a chapter if not more and soon, you will know that over a lifetime this will likely be the greatest avenue through which God speaks.


Regularly read His Word with others.

Every community needs a Bible and every Bible needs a community. By reading with others not only will you gain accountability, but also you will invest in the lives of others. Possibly the most overlooked aspect of American Christianity is the fact that the Bible was originally written to people who would listen to it together.


Routinely learn from others.

Podcasts, videos, blogs, books, and other formats should not replace involvement in a local church, a small group, some other gathering. But… they can play an important role in our spiritual lives. Avoid the flashy titles and modern superstars, but find solid men and women who daily model godliness and teach His word faithfully.


Indeed, it’s a loud, loud world and it’s only going to get louder.

If you and I don’t show intention in listening with all our important relationships, you and I will pay a price.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our relationship with God.


He’s speaking.

Are you listening?


Draw Close, He is Near




Thoughts on Prayer

Assurance That God Hears and Answers Our Prayers


Question…. Is it through the scientific method of observing cause and effect that we can prove that prayer works?


C.S. Lewis argues in his essay, “The Efficacy of Prayer”, that it’s not through scientific experimentation, but rather through knowing God personally, as God reveals Himself to us through prayer that we gain assurance that God hears and responds to us.


Lewis further writes…


Thus in some measure the same doubt that hangs about the causal efficacy of our prayers to God hangs also about our prayers to man. Whatever we get we might have been going to get anyway. But only, as I say, in some measure. Our friend, boss, and wife may tell us that they acted because we asked; and we may know them so well as to feel sure, first that they are saying what they believe to be true, and secondly that they understand their own motives well enough to be right. But notice that when this happens our assurance has not been gained by the methods of science. We do not try the control experiment of refusing the raise or breaking off the engagement and then making our request again under fresh conditions. Our assurance is quite different in kind from scientific knowledge. It is born out of our personal relation to the other parties; not from knowing things about them but from knowing them.


Our assurance—if we reach an assurance—that God always hears and sometimes grants our prayers, and that apparent grantings are not merely fortu- itous, can only come in the same sort of way. There can be no question of tabulating successes and failures and trying to decide whether the successes are too numerous to be accounted for by chance. Those who best know a man best know whether, when he did what they asked, he did it because they asked. I think those who best know God will best know whether He sent me to the barber­s shop because the barber prayed.


For up till now we have been tackling the whole question in the wrong way and on the wrong level. The very question “Does prayer work?” puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. “Work”: as if it were magic, or a machine—something that functions auto- matically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incom- plete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary— not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.


“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”   Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV)



Do you know Him…

Really know Him personally… intimately…

Draw Close.

“The Woodcutter’s Wisdom”

The Woodcutter’s Wisdom

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.


People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.


One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”


The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”


The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”


The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”


The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.


After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”


The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?


“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”


“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.


The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.


“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”


The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”


It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.


“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”


The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”


The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life’s storms until we know the whole story.


I don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:


“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)


He should know.

He is the Author of our story.

And he has already written the final chapter.

by Max Lucado

Rejoice in God’s Sovereignty

Rejoice in God’s Sovereignty

The next time you fear the future, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty.

Rejoice in what he has accomplished.

Rejoice that he is able to do what you cannot do.


Fill your mind with thoughts of God.


“He is the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25).

“He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

“His years will never end” (Psalm 102:27 NIV).


He is king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, and overlord of all history.


An arch of his eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute!

Every throne is a footstool to his.

Every crown is paper-mache next to his.


He follows no worldly kings.

He consults no advisers.

He needs no congress.

He reports to no one.

He is in charge.


Sovereignty gives the saint the inside track to peace.


Others see the problems of the world and wring their hands.


We see the problems of the world and bend our knees!




In today’s crazy world… remember His Words…  “Mankind will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.’” Psalm 58:11


Indeed, David was frustrated.

He was even angry… as he looked at and experienced the actions of other people.

Many did not seem concerned about doing the right thing or concerned about the consequences of their actions.

Many seemed so self-centered that they didn’t care about the impact of their actions and continued lies or concern for the truth.

Indeed, through their actions… they were like “the venom of a serpent,” stinging deeply, hurting.

They even closed their ears to the cries of the affected… the needy… those would would give them good counsel.


David was so passionate about the wounds he witnessed that he cried out to God to take action.

It wasn’t enough that God knew what was going on: David desired that God would make things right.

That God would “break the teeth in their mouths.”


David desired that those with these kinds of attitudes would “vanish like water that runs away.”

David’s prayer was that God would display His righteous indignation and pour out His wrath on all those who lived in such a way.

David felt that “the righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance.”

When they saw justice being done.


How frustrating it must be… it can be to be a victim of broken promises and evil and false manipulations… Even if some come from well-intentioned people.



The Bible reminds us that all people are flawed.

The Word counsels us that all make mistakes and commit sins.


The fact is that people may fall short…

Some may make promises they don’t keep…

Some may even habitually lie and scheme… But God is faithful.


He promises that, eventually, justice will be done.


That everyone, in every nation, will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”


Draw ever so close to our Savior…

Let His Holy Spirit protect and guide you… Let His Grace define your thoughts and actions… Pray for those, who through their actions, demonstrate that they are not carrying our His Will… and may not know Him Pray that they repent and come to Him… For one day… in a nanosecond… it will be too late.

Adapted from Max Lucado