Monday, July 29, 2013

Of Rocket Stoves and Asking Why

I am now the “proud” owner of a rocket stove.

I never wanted a rocket stove. I’d never heard of a rocket stove. (Have you?) I have no idea how to use a rocket stove.

I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t really want it.

But I’m now the owner of a rocket stove.

A one hundred and fifty dollar rocket stove.

The day started out innocently enough. A friend and I went to a class on outdoor cooking methods. I was there for the potluck and friends. Not that I cared too much about outdoor cooking.

They had a drawing for a free rocket stove, and all thirty of us entered.

In all my life, I’ve won two drawings – a fake flower arrangement and duck eggs.  I figured I wasn’t at risk of winning the rocket stove.

I won the rocket stove.

The only person there who didn’t want the rocket stove.

It was one of those moments when I found myself asking:
Why me? . . . I didn’t want this!”

Why this?  . . . This isn’t what I’ve been asking for.”

Why now? . . . I have no idea what I’m going to do with it.”

For some reason, I was supposed to win the rocket stove.

And I have no idea why.

My free $150 rocket stove

Often life is this baffling.

You have something in mind when you pray.
God answers differently.

You have expectations about life. 
God orchestrates life opposite to those expectations.

There are things you don’t really want out of life.
                 God chooses those things for you.

And you wonder why.

Why me?
Why this?
Why now?

We busy ourselves with the why’s, because life doesn’t always go as planned.

Despite my why's, I’ve decided I’m going to learn how to use my rocket stove.
It might come in handy.
It might be fun.

I do know . . . it’s a gift. 
Something I’m supposed to have.
Something I’m supposed to enjoy.

Something I would have wanted, if I knew how nice it will be to have one.

And life’s the same way.

I may never know why He answers certain ways; why He gives or allows certain things; why He chooses the timing He chooses.

Just like I’ll never know why He even cares about my little life.

But He does. 

And, that’s reason enough to accept all He chooses – the wanted and the unwanted.

When I use my stove for the first time, I’m going to know why all those people wanted one.

And if I had God’s perspective on my life, I’d choose everything He’s choosing for me.

Because life isn’t a drop-your-name-in-a-basket-and-risk-it type of existence.

Life is our name written on hands that are loving, wise, and good.

The kind of hands that know how to turn all the why’s into wanted gifts.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Five Steps to Experiencing the Comfort of God

Are you looking for comfort?

Here are 5 steps to experiencing the comfort of God.

Step One: Discover yourself in need of God’s comfort.
“The LORD shall comfort . . . all her waste places;
and he will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of the LORD.” (Isaiah 51:3)

Experiencing God’s comfort starts with discomfort.

We live in a society that avoids discomfort like the plague – pills and pillows, Starbucks and spas.  We search for comfort, as if discomfort is the plague that ends all plagues. 

No matter how much we try to avoid it, discomfort is a part of life, and life will have its bumps along the way.

But without life’s uncomfortable bumps, we would never find ourselves in need of God’s comfort. We would never know the joy of our Heavenly Father coming to our side to soothe. We would never need His comfort, and, likewise, would never experience it.

If you discover yourself in need of comfort, you are on your first step to experiencing the comfort of God.

Step Two: Don’t look for comfort anywhere else.
He will “comfort me on every side.” (Psalm 71:21)

Look for comfort only in the Lord.

Looking for comfort somewhere else is the belief that my “every side” is too small for Him to care about; or my “every side” is too big to find comfort.

Searching somewhere else is the notion that God is too big to care; or that He’s too small to comfort.

If you've discovered yourself in need of comfort, don’t look for comfort anywhere but in the One who is called, “the God of ALL comfort.” (2 Cor. 1:3)

Step Three: Believe God wants to comfort you.
“I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

We’re told He comforts us like a mother (Isaiah 66:13) who holds her crying baby close, wiping the tears and assuring her baby that she is near and all will be okay.

God delights in His children.

He is not delighted in allowing grief any longer than is necessary. 

As a mother who hears her crying baby and will drop everything to soothe, He comes to comfort us in our discomfort.

Jesus promised His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless.” 

And He didn’t.

He came in the indwelling person of His Spirit, who is called “the Comforter.”

If you are in need of comfort and you’re looking only to Him, believe that He wants to comfort you.

Step Four: Listen for comfort in the words God says to you.
“We, through . . . comfort of the Scriptures . . . have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

Never underestimate the comforting power of the living Word.

Choose a chapter or verse to mull over every week.

Memorize it. Write it on a card. At any moment, when your mind is free to contemplate whatever it chooses, call to mind that Scripture.

Dwell on it.
Pray the words back to the God of all comfort.
Praise Him for the comforting truth.
Hope in the words.
. . . and be comforted.

Step Five: Be comforted.
“Be of good comfort.” (Matthew 9:22)

With such promise of comfort and such a comforting God as we have, Hannah Whitall Smith was correct when she said:
“Never, never ought we for a single minute to be without comfort;
never for a single minute ought we to be uncomfortable.”
(The God of All Comfort, p. 25)

This is His desire for you . . . Be of good comfort.

Monday, July 15, 2013

He is Holding Your Hand

We walked to the mailbox at the end of the street.

She toddled in her 2-year-old toddler way.

I grabbed her hand, although I told her to hold mine.

The street is unpaved, and I knew her footing would not be secure.

Often, my holding her hand kept her from falling. If she had only been holding my hand, she would not have returned to the house unscathed.

Many times, I kept her from falling. Many times, my grip lifted her from danger.

Her grip would not have been strong enough.

I search the Scriptures. Not one place are we told to hold the hand of God.

Instead, He tells us He is holding ours - upholding us; keeping us from falling.

And I wonder. . .

Where would we be, if He were not holding our hand?

"I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, 
Fear not, I will help thee." (Isaiah 41:13)

"Him that is able to keep you from falling." (Jude 24)

Monday, July 8, 2013

What Is God Doing?

“I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass;
I have purposed it, I will also do it.” – Isaiah 46:11

Life is full of tough questions.

Out of them all, we probably tend to ask this question the most, “What is God doing?”

I love to study the character of God.
I agree with most of you reading this post that God’s ways are beyond ours, and it’s the better part of wisdom to simply trust Him.

But over and over again, I find myself asking the question "What is God doing?" and wanting an answer in writing.

Recently, I found my answer – an answer that fits any and every situation.

Paul David Tripp in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, writes:

“At any moment in time, the right answer to the question, 
‘What is God doing?’ is “Accomplishing His plan.’” (p.29)

Next time you’re baffled by His ways . . .
Next time life doesn’t make sense . . .
Next time you ask the question “What is God doing?”. . .

Rest assured that He is right on schedule; He is at work; He is accomplishing His plan.

He has purposed His plan for you and for me.

And He is bringing it to pass. (Isaiah 46:11)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Are You Looking for Shade?

Ever been on a hike in the heat of summer, and after sitting under a tree for awhile, you felt sure you could walk another mile?

Just sitting there a moment was all you needed.

Just a moment, and you knew you could go another step; another mile.

Ever been overwhelmed by life's heat?

Maybe right now you're looking for shade.

Isaiah said the Lord Himself is a "shadow from the heat." (Isaiah 25:4)

Just one thought of His character.
A quick prayer.
A verse brought to mind.

And you can face another step; another mile; another moment in the heat.

"The LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand." (Psalm 121:5)

That's how close He is.
That's how quickly we can find the strength to go another step; another day.

Rest under the shade of His presence.

And walk another mile.