Guessing the Mind of God

Cheerful teenager playing with grandmother guess who game while making surprise in light living room

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He’s not breathing, and his eyes are glazed. The other guy quickly calls 911. “I think my friend is dead!” he yells. “What should I do?” The operator says, “Calm down. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There’s a silence, then a shot. Back on the phone, the guy says, “OK, now what?”

A car hit an elderly man. Once in the ambulance, the EMT asks, “Are you comfortable?” The man says, “I make a good living.”Readers Digest


Both jokes are based on misunderstanding. When it comes to God, we accept all of God knowing He has revealed only a small part of His infinite Self (Isaiah 55:8). God’s Word makes it clear to us that He has limited the revelation of Himself. And we know that across millennia God progressively revealed His names, and with each name, we have gained further insights into the “only God” (John 5:44). 

Because we can’t comprehend all of God, it is a fool’s errand for us to try to guess what God has not revealed. In math, if I show you 1,3,5,7 and ask you the next number, many of you will say 9, because nine would be the following “odd” number in that sequence. However, if I say dog, grass, cat, tree, baby, you may be unable to tell me the next item in this sequence because you don’t know the rules to extrapolate the next object. For this sequence, the following item is a playpen since this series represents animals and their hunting locations. 😉 I instituted the rules, but I didn’t share them with you.

What, Not How

When we try to tell God how He should do something, based on how He did something in the past, we are being foolish. Notice that I didn’t say “what” He should perform. God has given us promises and demonstrations for the building up of our faith. We, like David, can say:

The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!  1 Samuel 17:37 ESV

When a wall impedes the path that God has laid out for us, God may walk us through the wall, or He may remove the wall, or He may do something that we have never seen before. The “how” is unknown to us; guessing the “how” is crazy. Our faith in God incites confidence within us that He will make a way.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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Don’t Give Up On Jesus

boy hit the ball running for the next base

Think back to when you first encountered Jesus. I don’t mean the first time you heard about Him or, if like so many, the first time you said you accepted Jesus, but you didn’t understand what you were doing. No, I mean the first time you fell to your knees or threw yourself on your bed, or bowed your head on the steering wheel of your car, and you responded to the presence of Jesus, the Messiah. Do you remember that? Have you had that experience?

An Encounter with Jesus

I remember the first time I honestly encountered Jesus, whether I was saved before then, I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter. For there was a day when Jesus called to me. The Holy Spirit showed me my condition and revealed hope to me. On that day, I was made alive in Jesus. I still had big problems, but Jesus led me through them. Let’s consider a person that had a desperate need for Jesus.

Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. – Mark 5:22-24

Hope is Built From Faith

Jairus was an important man. He had an image to maintain. Going to Jesus would send the wrong message, but Jairus had a need that was beyond something anyone could do. His daughter was dying and all hope was gone, except for the hope Jairus had in Jesus.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 KJV

The hope that Jairus had was constructed with faith. So, even while throngs of people were shouting and buffeting Jesus, Jesus put His attention on Jairus and accepted Jairus’ plea.

It would have been so easy for Jairus, when seeing the huge crowd, to turn back and give up hope, but he didn’t. We need to be like Jairus when we need help that only God can provide. 

Don’t Give Up

To make this personal, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) Don’t give up on Jesus. Run to Him. Ignore all the reasons racing through your mind as to why all hope should be lost. Focus on Jesus. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
– Author: Helen Howarth Lemmel (1922)

Don’t give up. Have hope. Take your need to Jesus.

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Faith Comes Through Revelation

Woman pointing up.

There is a general revelation and a supernatural (special) revelation. (for more information click here) Maybe we’ll discuss general revelation sometime, but today I would like us to consider this statement:

Faith comes through revelation. Without the latter the former is impossible.

That may seem like an odd statement. Let’s verify its veracity.

God Revelation

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:16-17 (CSB emphasis added)

What happened in Peter that was exceptional? Several people already knew that Jesus was the Son of God before the apostle Peter. 

The angel Gabriel told Mary, Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”  –Luke 1:31-33 (CSB)

An angel told the shepherds, Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.Luke 2:11 (CSB)

The apostles told Jesus, When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped him and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:32-33 (CSB)


So, what was special when Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:16 (CSB)? Peter received a supernatural revelation. Peter believed. The Father revealed this truth to Peter so had God-faith. Others heard the news, and some spoke this truth, but Peter had a supernatural revelation from the Father, which gave him the faith to believe in Jesus.

Let’s jump over to the book of Galatians. The apostle Paul wrote: I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Galatians 3:2  (CSB) The obvious answer is by believing what they heard.

Now let’s go to the book of Ephesians. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB emphasis added) 

The Galatians were saved by grace through faith, which was a gift from God. In this miraculous process, they received the Holy Spirit. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers has this comment: And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.—This attribution of all to the gift of God seems to cover the whole idea—both the gift of salvation and the gift of faith to accept it.

Faith Comes Through Revelation

When a truth is unfolded by God it most naturally becomes a power in man, who then finds himself able to believe. Faith comes through revelation. Without the latter the former is impossible. This explains why many do not have faith, for though they mentally understand they do not have God’s revelation. –Watchman Nee (his bio)

God-faith doesn’t stop after we are saved. That’s just the beginning! Each person that God calls, He calls for a purpose. In Christ Jesus, you have a purpose, but you can only correctly fill that purpose if you pray in faith, act in faith, and partner with fellow believers in faith; that faith is born from God’s revelation to you. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Does anyone else remember pointing like the woman in the picture is doing? Think 1960s, 1970s.

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

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Building Our Brands

orange BMW i8 coupe

John the Baptist said, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.(Matthew 3:11-12 NLT)

Building Our Brands

John was quite clear that he was doing the work that God had assigned him, but he was not the Good News. He was called by God to identify and announce the Israelite’s Messiah. He wasn’t the one.
A problem we, as Christians, wrestle with is how to carry out God’s assignment while not becoming the focus from those to which we are ministering.

Many years ago, my wife took a down and out couple under her wing. She helped them with transportation, with food, with other assistance. All of her actions included guidance to truly commit their lives to Jesus, attend church, and embrace the Christian walk. They did not.

They didn’t embrace Christ; instead, they looked to my wife to supply their needs. She became the focal point of their faith. When it became evident that they did not desire Jesus, then my wife removed herself from their lives.
For each of us that are believers, we must always ask ourselves, “Am I pointing to Jesus? Am I calling others to see Jesus instead of me, or am I building my brand and implying that they need me to gain access to Jesus and all the blessings of God? Am I a Christian Home Shopping Network, or am I like John the Baptist, calling the lost to repentance and pointing to the Messiah?

Are We Fulfilling the Reason That God Called Us?

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, Children, do you have any fish?They answered him, “No.” He said to them,Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. (John 21:3-6 ESV)

I’ve seen so many Christians with great intentions begin “branding and marketing” themselves. They have a unique pair of glasses that distinguish them or a distinctive hairstyle or a memorable “tag line” with which they always open. None of these things, in themselves, are sin. But when we begin using our abilities to promote ourselves to “catch fish” then we’ve gone off the tracks. If we are to gather those whom God has given into our hands, we must place our trust in the Holy Spirit to use us for the purpose which God called us.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

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Brave New World

a man holding an open Bible in a crowd

Acts 4:32-37 (ESV) 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

This passage of Scripture is, perhaps, the most threatening in the whole of the New Testament. Over the years, I have heard innumerable Pastors and Evangelists manipulate or even desecrate God’s message contained in these few verses. And I understand why. They appear to fly in the face of Capitalism and they most certainly cut the legs out from under any leader in God’s kingdom that has set their heart upon constructing a magnificent edifice (building).

I’ve been praying to understand what God is doing in the world today and I think I see three things. I’ll save the best for last.


Christians were first, and horribly, targeted for persecution as a group by the emperor Nero in 64 AD. A colossal fire broke out at Rome, and destroyed much of the city. Rumours abounded that Nero himself was responsible. He certainly took advantage of the resulting devastation of the city, building a lavish private palace on part of the site of the fire.

Perhaps to divert attention from the rumours, Nero ordered that Christians should be rounded up and killed. Some were torn apart by dogs, others burnt alive as human torches. Over the next hundred years or so, Christians were sporadically persecuted. It was not until the mid-third century that emperors initiated intensive persecutions.

From a BBC article by Dr Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe titled Christianity and the Roman Empire

Note that the date is 64 AD. This persecution occurred after Acts, chapter four. What God did for the early Church, He has repeatedly done for the Church down through the ages. He gives times of rest and refreshing and then He leads the Church into battles where many die a martyr’s death – the greatest growth is during the battles.

Therefore, my first point is that God gave the Western Church a respite but we turned it into a lifestyle.


No doubt, for the early Church, it was from the wealth of the members selling their possessions that funding for the great dispersement provided. This dispersement was triggered by the stoning of Stephen. We find this in Acts 8:1, And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 

There are no times when we can be cruise-control Christians. If God is building the Church’s wealth then a battle is just around the corner.


Throughout all of the history of Adam, God has used peculiarity (i.e. set-apart) to draw the attention of God’s elect to Himself. God’s people have prepared for a flood when none was visible, prepared for a baby when age cried “Impossible!”, birthed a nation from a baby floating in the Nile, trusted God when surrounded and vastly outnumbered by their enemy. Yes, I have Scripture for this and it’s best seen in the KJV, 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” (emphasis added)

God’s people don’t try to be peculiar, it’s just what happens when we follow God. Peculiar doesn’t mean crazy. As I wrote, it means “set-apart” but being set-apart often makes a person seem peculiar. A good example of peculiar was “Mr. Rogers” on PBS. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, he was certainly peculiar within the staff of PBS. Fred Rogers is quoted as saying,

“I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen.” My guess is that we have rarely, if ever, taken a job because we thought we could turn the employer from bad to good.

We, as true believers, are peculiar people. That is God’s way. People living in the world must notice us, and notice that there is something different, a good difference, between the children of God and the children of the world. As true believers, we quickly surrender our possessions, surrender our rights, surrender our lives, to demonstrate the character of Jesus to people who remain under God’s curse.

A missionary once told me that every missionary had to able to do any one of five things at a moment’s notice: 1) preach 2) pray 3) teach 4) sing 5) die. We all should hold our lives as a gift of service to Jesus our Savior.

However, for decades now, while we’ve been living the lifestyle of Christianity, we have continually moved the Church closer and closer to the world. We justified these actions as attempts to remain relevant in a changing world. 

It is Christ Jesus who makes His Church relevant; it’s never within our ability to accomplish this.

God Stopped the Whole World

Never in my lifetime has the whole world stopped. Until now, the closest it came was in 1969 when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. If you are old enough to remember that then you remember how TV networks cut to locations all across the globe, showing people gathered around TV sets, all gobsmacked. 

Well, this pandemic is more profound than Neil’s history-making step. Trust me on this, God did this out of His great love. You may ask, “How could God allow this to happen to good people?” The answer is simple and painful; there are no good people. And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

God stopped the world so we all would consider what life is about. For His Church, we face profound changes, not in the Gospel but in our lifestyle. Comfortable Christianity is not God’s intent. Jesus said, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

Yes, we are told by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.” We are to have this goal but we are also told to “take up our cross” and told by the Apostle Peter that we are a peculiar people. These messages are from the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. These messages do not conflict. We are not faced with a dichotomy. So, what does God want from us? 

What does Obedience Look Like?

What Jesus said to His disciples is that He wants us to be obedient, and if we are, then our joy will be full. (John 15:9-11) So, obedience is not something we can choose. Our decision is to either be a Christian, or not. Choosing not to obey is choosing not to love Jesus. (John 14:15)

The Point

I’ve written a lot of words to lead us to the following thoughts, and they are: 

  1. God has prospered the members of Western churches for one hundred years. And countless churches own behemoth buildings that, overnight, have been rendered useless. This is not a mistake, rather it is God’s “bank account.”
  2. God’s blessing of an accumulation of wealth has not been for “us” to look like the world. That wealth is not ours.
  3. God’s people do not overcome the world by being a twin of the world. “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Revelation 12:11)

No revival, no world movement by God, can start or continue without the Holy Spirit moving and igniting souls. When we are full to overflowing of the Spirit within us then the oil of God’s anointing splashes into the fire of the Holy Spirit and we burst forth with power, testifying to the world the things of God.

What will the Church look like, now that we’re in a post mega-church building era? Perhaps, in cities, we will be those peculiar people that sold our cars and gave the money to churches in Syria and Egypt.

Perhaps we will now flood mass transit systems – and the world will take notice. Perhaps, in the new world, the Church will unwaveringly speak what we know as true even if our testimony costs us our homes, our liberty, or even our lives. Perhaps, we, as God’s children, will choose Truth over political correctness, and not allow God’s Truth to be bridled by godless people.

Brave New World

I don’t know what this new world holds of us. I don’t know if we have the will to rise to the occasion of becoming peculiar to our family, our friends, our workmates, our employers, our community, our country. Will we be a “Fred Rogers?” Will we carry Jesus into places we hate? I just don’t know. However, I do know that God is watching to see how we respond to this brave new world.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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Make No Provision For Sin


a Tapestry with angels

When Judah was in great distress from an invading country, Judah’s king, Hezekiah, sent a plea to the prophet Isaiah. Here’s a snippet of king Hezekiah’s request: Isaiah, 37:4, “therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.

The world has been fractured since this pandemic hit. In America we have become a collection of remnants. Remnants of churches, of employers, of social services, of humble hearts, of human love.

Almighty God is a defender of remnants. There are so many accounts in the Bible of remnants that it’s apparent that there is a purpose in the heart of God for remnants. Consider this: In the English Standard Version of the Bible, there are 84 references to the word “remnants.” And if we search for remnants in the King James Version, we find 91 references.

God’s Word is Full of Remnants

Here are just a few passages about remnants that I’ve pulled from the ESV:

Genesis 45:7 And God sent me (Joseph) before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.

2 Kings 19:30, And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.

Isaiah 10:21, A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God

Amos 5:15, Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Acts 15:17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things

Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant , chosen by grace.

God Specializes in Remnants

So, you get the idea; God works with remnants. Don’t become downhearted if just a remnant of your local church remains, or a remnant of your ministry remains, or a remnant of your family remains. God will still use and bless these remnants and prosper them.

Through the work of the Apostle Peter, Syria was one of the first regions to receive Christianity. Today, in Syria, only a remnant of Christians remain. As Christians, we need to lift our prayers for our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria, for they are in great distress.

Pray for Syria, pray for your remnants, pray for our nation’s remnants, pray in faith, believing in the steadfast love and power of God. Pray in the name of the Father’s beloved Son, Jesus. Together, through prayer and through Holy Spirit-directed action, we will see God use His remnants, sewn together to create a beautiful tapestry which glorifies God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Photo credit: PHOTOPHANATIC1 on / CC BY-NC-SA

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The Problem With Our Understanding

man holding round bread

Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat. They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.”Matthew 14:15-18

In this Scripture we find the disciples telling Jesus what He should do. It seems to be human nature for us to think that we have the answer to every problem. Many times, our solution is to blame someone or something; to provide the well worn, “If only” response.

Notice that Christ’s disciples justify their decision by implying that Jesus, perhaps, has kept the people too long. They tell Jesus the obvious; they are in a desolate place, and the day is over. There is no trace of faith in what the disciples say to Jesus. 

Our Understanding

Christ’s disciples were leaning on their understanding, which is the opposite of what God’s Word states in Proverbs 3:5. So Jesus briefly puts the onus on them. He says, “The people are staying. You give them something to eat.” But as we see, Jesus doesn’t leave the burden on His disciples. He steps in and feeds five thousand men, not counting the women and children. Jesus is full of mercy.

When we pray do we tell God what to do? Do we tell Him “when”? Do we say, “If only…?” Do we abandon faith? Let’s not council Jesus, our Lord. Instead, let’s ask for big things but within His will and His way. Jesus fed thousands from five loaves of bread and two fish, so surely He can meet all of our needs. May we recklessly* throw all of our cares upon God because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7).

  •  Reckless – a state of mind in which a person acts without caring what the consequences may be

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

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I Go To The Rock

There was a time, back when I was in my 20s when I played bass guitar in my local church and a Gospel group. That Gospel group was important because that’s where I met my wife-to-be. I’ve never met anyone that more exemplifies the Christian life than my wife, plus she’s beautiful and talented!

During my life in Gospel music, there was one songwriter that dominated the songs we played. That person was Dottie Rambo. She’s like the Loretta Lynn of Gospel music; more accurately, Loretta Lynn is like a Country music version of Dottie Rambo. Here’s some background about her:

Some of Dottie Rambo’s History

From her About page of the website for Dottie Rambo (1934-2008): Her songs have been recorded by such luminary artists as: Elvis Presley, Barbara Mandrell, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Whitney Houston, Vince Gill, Dottie West, Pat Boone, Sandi Patty, the Oak Ridge Boys and countless others. Whitney Houston recorded, “I Go to the Rock” for the movie “The Preacher’s Wife” and won a Dove Award (along with Dottie).Dottie’s final album was her 71st album, “Stand by the River”. Again it was a chart topper — giving Dottie hit records through five decades. And it had the added prestige of the duet with country legend Dolly Parton, being nominated for CCMA song of the year, duet of the year, Dove nominated for Country Recorded Song of the Year, Gospel Fan Awards for Duo of the Year and Song of the Year.

Her style of music isn’t appealing to everyone, but her massive discography testifies to her love for Jesus and her desire to share Christ’s love.

During this time when we all are wondering what will be the final outcome of the coronavirus, I thought we should listen to Dottie’s song, “I Go To The Rock” because we can find peace and solace in Jesus.

Jesus is the Rock

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? – Matthew 21:42

Photo by NATHAN MULLET on Unsplash

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a lighthouse

“A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.” – DL Moody

A Brief Light

Back in the early 1990s, I was in Budapest. While there, I was introduced to a young man who was being mightily used by God to strengthen the Church in post-Communist Hungary.

I didn’t know how impactful his ministry was; I was new to Budapest. Anyway, he and I began talking about the things of God. We were enjoying our conversation, and he decided we should go for a walk. Somehow we ended up walking on a footpath through the woods on the Buda side of the Danube river.

Finally, we stopped, looked at the hill we’d walked up, kicked some stones on the footpath, and after a few minutes, we walked back. I returned to the guests where I was staying, and he went on to a meeting he had. 

Less than a year later, he died of cancer, which was a tremendous blow to many Christians in Budapest and something I ponder from time to time. That walk we shared was the only time I talked with him. 

The Light of Jesus Simply Came Out

I did not know his ministry, but what I did know was that he lived his life the way Jesus desires all of us to live. He didn’t force his faith, nor did he restrain it; instead, he rested in it. The light of Jesus simply came out.

Here’s what Jesus has told us to do: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven…” – Matthew 5:14-16

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A Lesson From My Sears Guitar

kid playing guitar

I learned to play guitar when I was in grade school. My parents doubted my commitment, thinking it an interest that would soon pass, like my love for school. They bought me the least expensive guitar that Sears carried. I’m confident Sears gave the guitar to my parents, just to get rid of it. With that Sears guitar in hand, my dad said, “Teach yourself to play a hymn, and I’ll get you a better guitar.” That was like saying, “Win the Indy 500 in this VW Bug, and I’ll buy you a real car!”

The strings on my new guitar were nearly impossible for my young fingers to press down to form a note – “a” musical note and chords were impossible. Since this was way before the Internet, the only guitar information I had was a booklet that came with my Sears acoustic. So every day after school I’d go to my bedroom and try to figure out how to read music and how to make my guitar play those notes. Having at least a modicum of musical talent would have helped.

Show Time!

Finally, the day came when I was confident. Dad got home, Mom finished up in the kitchen, and then I said I wanted to show them something. With my track record, those were frightening words to my folks! They both sat down on the sofa, braced themselves, and stared at me; I don’t blame them.

I ran to my bedroom and ran back into the living room with a hymnal and my guitar. I don’t remember which hymn I chose; no doubt, I’ve blocked it from my memory. Anyway, I played the hymn all the way through including each verse, note perfect’ ish. By the end, my fingers were bleeding; that week, Dad rented an electric guitar and amplifier, and signed me up for lessons – the horrid sound of that Sears guitar was a real blessing!

Wait, you’re writing about fasting?

So what does this narcissistic story have to do with fasting? Before I answer, let’s read what Jesus said about fasting.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward…” Matthew 6:16

Jesus said, “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” He left us no elbow room. Fasting should be part of every Christian’s life. For those celebrating Lent, your fasting and abstinence from meat are already underway; I’m proud of you! For others, fasting and/or abstinence may be a new or atypical aspect of your walk with Jesus.

Fasting doesn’t need to be total self-denial of food. In fact, that can be dangerous or impossible for many people. The self-denial of food (i.e., fasting) is something you must discuss with your family doctor before trying it.

We each need to pray and ask Jesus to show us the things that have control over us. Food, TV, video games, shopping, and so forth; things that aren’t sin until they are. From your list allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to one and fast it. How long? It’s between you and Jesus.

Why Fast?

Why fast? Well, there is that directive from Jesus we just read. Also, fasting is intended to help us hear from God. We don’t change His will by fasting, and we don’t fast to lose weight. We fast to carve out more time for us to spend in prayer and to draw closer to our God.

Oh, how does the story about my first guitar fit with fasting? Well, learning on that Sears guitar was really difficult and really painful, but I didn’t care. I was learning something I loved; I still play. Like the Sears guitar, fasting is something that can be difficult and uncomfortable, but those annoyances pale in comparison to what we gain from walking more closely with Jesus.

Photo by Shawn Rodgers on Unsplash

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