Living Stones

I encountered a friend in Menards who asked me, “Why do you think we don’t see many millennials in our churches today?”  Great, thought provoking question!  Is it because our church facilities are old or they don’t look like a rock concert hall?  Or, could it be because we cling to our 60’s or 70’s songs or even hymns?  A short while back Barna Research studies found those outside the church, especially the millennials, were not looking for skilled guitarists, smoke, lights or anything close to that.  They hadn’t given up on God or Jesus Christ.  They had given up on the church because so much of what they saw was mere lifeless tradition.  What they wanted to find when they chose to attend a church was people with notable life-change and authentic passion to know and serve God.

When considering all evangelical churches today, it appears to me they all have the same people mixture as the seven churches in Revelations 2-3.  Each church then had a percentage of worshippers called “overcomers” with the remaining consisting of what we might call tradition worshippers.  These tradition worshippers knew Christ, the truths in the Bible and practiced all the religious rhetoric.  They simply had lost the fire in their belly and had become content and distracted with the cares of daily life.  Of course, this stopped them from continuing to be changed or going from glory to glory as Paul called it.  It was like they had somehow become weary in well-doing and fossilized.  Again, the seven churches seemed to have a different percentage of each type of worshipper.  I clearly see that today.

Each and every one of those churches mentioned in Revelations have now closed their doors.  I wonder if part of the reason they no longer exist can be traced to once lively church attenders having spiritually fossilized.  This resulted in young people giving up, not on God, but on the church.  The younger generation was searching for solid evidence of a God who still literally changs lives.  Beyond lifeless tradition, the church then no longer had anything to offer their young people.  Therefore, without that strikingly intangible yet real, divine quality of fire in their belly—passion to know God and make Him known, they eventually died.

I’ve been so inspired and encouraged when I encounter those in many of our churches who, although now past their prime years, are still very fervent in their desire to know God in a more personal way AND dream of sharing that fervency with others, so they too can have the joy, hope and excitement they are experiencing.  I’m reminded of Peter who first described Jesus Christ as “a living stone,” then in the very next verse said, “… you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple!!” 1 Peter 2:5 NLT2.  That inspires me!  That challenges me!  Am I a living stone, or am I a petrified rock getting in the way of living stones?  It is my sincere prayer that I remain connected to the vine and pass on to others who cross my path the life-changing power, hope, divine peace and joy, so they can enjoy the truly good life.  Candidly, I get excited each time I encounter someone in Menards, a restaurant or church who loves to talk about what our great God is doing in their life today.

I want to say to those of you I encounter who have authentic passion; “Thank you, for being a living stone whom God is using to build His temple today.”  I want to be placed in His temple among people like you and be His light on the hillside.  I choose to believe you are the type of people who can and will inspire young millennials today to joyfully give their all to build His kingdom instead of their own.


It is kind of hard to believe, but Connie and I have two great-grandchildren!  Our newest one is a girl who they said was born hungry!  They said she, being the queen of her new kingdom, wanted to eat NOW and let everyone know that!

Perhaps the most amazing aspects of a baby for me are their tiny features like ears, nose, mouth or fingernails formed in such perfection.  When I see them, I think of the size and shape of my features, especially fingernails.  Their tiny features will change a bit as they grow but only in size.  Their hunger level increases as well!  Many babies get so excited when they see a bottle their arms and legs leap into full speed.

Peter must have been thinking of babies when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write 1 Peter 2:2 (ESV), Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…  Initially, perhaps the most common interpretation of this verse is that Peter was implying that his readers were infants.  Along with that is the idea that the Word of God is always milk and not so much meat.  However, the word “like” identifies the passage as a simile, so it does not imply the readers as being babies or the Word as always being milk.  After all, they had been facing severe persecution in their world far more intense and abusive than we here in America today can imagine.  It was the Spirit inspiring him to write their prescription (and ours) for handling the heat of harsh harassment.  While much can be learned from this passage, the hot topic in this verse is about the intensity of desire or longing within a person to devour truths and insights as they meditate on God’s Word.

I suspect that most believers, even some unbelievers, go to the Bible when they face a crisis in order to find some comfort or understanding for what they are facing.  Unfortunately, that is like a person attending church primarily on Christmas and Easter or when facing a major challenge.  What happens to a person who only sporadically nibbles on morsels of food, especially junk food?   They are very unhealthy and weak at best, and at worst they soon die.  The same is true of a person who lacks an intense desire for ingesting truth from God’s Word.  They seem to survive spiritually if they are supported by other believers and don’t face any serious personal temptations or full out abuse.  However, we all know that does not describe a normal believer’s life.

All of us face multiple misunderstandings, unfulfilled expectations, attacks from others (even other Christ followers), or very attractive temptations.  We even have emotional ups and downs every day, some being more acute than others.  Jesus promised in John 15:20 (NLT2), Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you, and Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV), Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

The Spirit is saying to you and me today, nurture and feed the hunger you have within you for knowing personal truths and insights imbedded in God’s Word.  In doing so, like a baby’s hunger, your hunger will grow!  It will be the Holy Spirit whispered revelations as you regularly reflect on God’s Word that will empower, strengthen, energize you and give you confidence, peace and joy that will prepare you to face any giant God allows to cross your path.  What have you been doing with the hunger, no matter how faint it maybe, in your life?  Can you do more to grow it into a stronger passion?  You will NEVER regret investing in increasing your appetite for God’s Word.

Sincerely Love Other Believers

After digging deeper into what 1 Peter 1:22 says, I’m in a bit of shell shock.  It has been in the Bible all this time.  I’ve read it many times, studied and even taught it, yet just now I discovered it in a brand-new way!  Has that happened to you before?  I love it because it tells me God is alive and well, I am still learning, and He is still changing me!  PTL!  Let me share a bit of the gold I’ve just found.

Regardless of our belief of the righteousness of our new Supreme Court Justice, I have been appalled at the unjust treatment he was given, just because of his conservative interpretation of the law of our land.  Both he and Christine Ford were seriously abused for totally political purposes.  It is most sobering to think of being publicly abused and accused with virtually no corroboration or due process that our laws require.  I believe this is a snapshot of the persecution we Christians will face in coming days—and we will have far less support from national leaders.  Peter was writing to Christians living in exile and suffering even more physical persecution than Justice Kavanaugh or Christine Ford.

In brief, Peter was affirming them by pointing out perhaps the most defining mark of the initial evidence of spiritual regeneration they were living out. 1 Peter 1:22 (NIV) …you have sincere love for your brothers.  Along this line, Jesus had said, John 13:35 (NIV) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   John wrote the same thing with different words, 1 John 2:10 (NLT2) Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. He also flipped it around and using extreme words wrote 1 John 2:11 (NLT2) But anyone who hates [has prejudice or ill will towards] another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.  It is clear.  Loving other believers is the primary fruit Jesus used that would identify an authentic believer.  Considering the factions and infighting we have in churches today this is a very sobering revelation!

It is tempting to tighten our belts and determine to try harder to show love for other believers who think differently than we do.  However, this kind of love is a fruit the Spirit of God develops within us not a result of self-discipline.  Peter is saying that one’s spiritual transformation includes the implantation of God’s love, especially for those in His family—our fellow believers.  This love grows within us as we spend serious time soaking in God’s presence.  Then, in those awkward moments when a believer offends us, all we have to do is take our eyes off our misguided expectations or bruised egos and allow His love to leak out of our spirit as …sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.

In that, Peter is compelled to go on to exhort them (and us today) to love each other deeply with all your heart 1 Peter 1:22 (NLT2).  This command indicates believers in that day, and still today, became so self-focused they restricted God’s love for their fellow believer from flowing out of them.  It is no wonder Jesus and Paul tells us to be alert.  What we cannot do through our flesh or self-discipline we CAN do by being alert in striving to increase our intimacy with Christ.   As we spend time in His presence we start believing what He believes and loving who and what He loves—even those who abuse us.

As you reflect on the revelation I have passed on to you, how has it affected you?  If you are like me on this one, my core has been challenged as well as inspired.  It inspires me to consider that He has allowed me to actually see an example of His continual life-changing work in me.  I see that as His invitation to join Him in that effort.  How about you?

How Will God Judge Me?

Whether we I like it or not God designed life to bring continued changes in every area of our life.  Knowing that, Connie and I intend to grow old gracefully.  The only exception to involuntary changes is in our spiritual life. Although He purposes for each believer to become like Jesus, our daily decisions determine the pace of that spiritual formation process and whether we will endure to the end.

Peter, Jesus’ outspoken lead disciple, wrote, … if you call on [God] as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 1 Peter 1:17 (ESV).   We may think we judge impartially, but we invariably respect some more highly than others and treat them accordingly.  God does not prefer one over another because He has nothing to hope or fear from any of His creation.  So how is it that He will “judge” us if He is impartial?

Did you notice that Peter pointed out God will judge … according to each one’s deeds and not according to Christ’s deeds on our behalf?  Now that is thought provoking.  On which of our deeds will He focus His attention and make His judgment?  Paul added some insight here when he wrote For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Rm 8:29 (ESV).  If God purposed for each believer to be conformed to the image of Jesus, then anyone not continually becoming more like Jesus will be judged for not allowing the Holy Spirit to reshape them.

Here is a revealing paradox.  The sobering judgment challenge is set in contrast to the incredibly desirable hope of being conformed to the image of Jesus.  It is stunning to think of being able to literally be like Jesus as when He endured all He did between His resolution prayer in the garden to His final breath.  He hardly said a word, certainly NOTHING evil to his abusers!  Plus, to think I can literally experience the intense pleasure of His joy (Jn 15:11) along with the other fruit of the Spirit.  Who could possibly look askance at those things?!

The Bible teaches healthy fear and love for God result in the same promises and fruit in our lives.  Both are essential for authentic faith in God just as two sides of the coin are needed to validate its value.  The difference between healthy and unhealthy fear is unhealthy fear focuses on you potentially getting hurt while healthy fear focuses on not hurting others—God in this case.  Peter is saying the latter type of fear is essential to living the acceptable Christian life.

On the fear side of the coin, if I’m understanding what Peter is writing, God will judge each of us according to how far we have allowed the Holy Spirit to take us in our spiritual reformation.  If we allow ourselves to stall in our progressive changes, He will judge us for decisions surrounding that resistance.  It is in that context Peter writes …conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your [time on this earth] 1 Peter 1:17 (ESV).  The loving God side of the coin leads to being …filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV) and growing …to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Ephesians 4:13 (ESV).   It all boils down to which side of the coin we focus our attention on.  When we chose the latter, fear fades into the shadows.

I, more than anyone else, know that I have a long way to go in my spiritual reformation.  I allow the unhealthy fear to affect my life far more than I would like.  But I take great comfort when His Spirit challenges me to change in one more area of my life—in fact it gives me great confidence!  I want to mature to the full stature of Christ.  How have you been doing in the process of being changed into the image of his Son?  I urge you to come grow with me.

God Encounter

What happens when you have developed a routine of reading the Bible and praying every day and then take a two-week family vacation?   Most of us mean well yet end up drifting away from our quiet time with God for those two weeks.  Imagine being forced to walk more than a hundred miles to live as captives among people who don’t speak your language and with no place to worship God—not for two weeks but for seventy years!   Do you suspect that maybe the practice of your faith would begin to become a fading memory?  This was exactly what happened to the Hebrews.

It was sometime in October or November of 445 BC, all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey  Nehemiah 8:1 (NLT2).  The Book of the Law of Moses consists of Genesis through Deuteronomy in the Bible.  If you’ve read those books, you’ve probably found it is easy to get bogged down in the last three of them.  Imagine listening to a solitary voice reading those books and trying to explain what the words meant.

Instead of drifting off to sleep, Ezra had to tell them “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law  Nehemiah 8:9 (NLT2).  What in the world would cause them to cry when hearing those books read?

There is a huge difference between studying words on a page and having the words on the page study you, getting such a grip on your heart that it would cause you to weep!  I’ve literally had that happen to me.  I clearly know the difference between intellectual curiosity and being overcome by an invisible power and knowledge much bigger than myself.

Interestingly, if you study the vast history of Christians over the millenniums, you will find in their writings how they too have had the same kind of supernatural experience these Hebrews had.  Trust me when I say that this experience is far more than just reading the Bible.  It not only assures a person the Bible is infallible, it tells us what can happen when you actually connect with the author.  You then are confident God is very much alive and well!!  I literally thrive on this happening to me nearly every time I take time not to read but to reflect on only a few verses.   If you have experienced that in your faith journey, you stand within a large body of believers with a common experience.

It’s my conviction God intends to meet with each one of His children as they take time to meditate on His Word.  If you can imagine a very intimate time with a very close friend, family member or a spouse, encounters with God are like those times on steroids multiplied many times over.

How long has it been since you have had such an encounter with your Creator, friend and lover?  If this is new to you know this, it IS possible to experience.  The French Catholic lady Jeanne Guyon wrote the classic book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ on how to come to enjoy such encounters.  While it is not perfect, she has been able to best explain what I have learned from personal experience to be very profitable to my spiritual journey.   If it has been a while since you had such an encounter with God, why not schedule a time for solitude with God and His word, cleanse your soul, ask Him to open His truth to you through His Word and then allow yourself to enjoy His incredible presence.   I would love to hear your story of time with God.

Acid Test

Overly polite!  That was the give away!  I met a lady who was overly polite with me, even calling me “Sweetie,” as if she really might care about me.  We’ve all encountered people who are not authentic, but this lady was over the top.  One of my core values is authenticity, so that behavior flipped my recoil switch.  I wanted to politely get away from her as quickly as I could.  Do you recall ever being less than authentic with someone?

It’s no secret that we all put on artificial masks at times.  Unfortunately, we can wear them so often we begin to confuse our true identity with who our mask shows us to be.  Could it be that we are even inauthentic in our love for God and like Moses wear a mask to hide God’s fading glory?  We say we love God, go to church and even contribute our time and money.  But is authentic love for God defined by what we do?  Really?  I believe genuine love for God or another person is far more than how they behave.  I’ve counseled couples going through the motions of being married while their words and behavior betray what they feel in their heart.  A person can discern when their spouse is just going through the motions—just as God can and does.

Peter’s first letter was especially written to believers whom he called elect exiles who were passing through severe trials and enduring serious persecution.  Their homes and property were being stolen leaving them with nothing.  Some were imprisoned or even killed.  Their love and faith were being tested with fire. Peter’s purpose was to comfort them in their trials so they could bear up under their heavy emotional load.

One of the ways to know a person has authentic love for God is how they respond when they face serious abuse, mockery, rejection, or physical pain.  To reassure them as they faced these conditions, he pointed out 1 Peter 1:8 (ESV) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.  When I read this verse, it causes me to pause to consider, how many Christians today would still love and believe in God to the point of literally rejoicing with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory if they were living in that condition?  I ask myself, would I have that kind of joy in those conditions?

There must be other qualities in the definition of authentic love and belief these believers had that are unfamiliar to us today.  I’ll never forget visiting a bedfast woman who had such severe MS her body hardly raised the sheet covering her.  She had to blow in a tube to turn the TV on.  But like those in exile, she had the most incredible joy and loved to talk about God’s goodness.  It is when our belief and love are put to the acid test that we know if we really believe and love Him and subsequently experience the joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.  It will look and feel like the joy we experienced when we were genuinely regenerated at our point of salvation.

What might it say to us if our joy has lost its luster?  Is it a symptom of having left our first love?  I suspect that the cares of life slowly choke out or otherwise fossilize our first love.  Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT2) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. When David discerned his love for God had failed the acid test, he cried out to God, Restore unto me the joy of my salvation (Ps 51L12).   If you were to superimpose an acid test on your love and belief in God, would those virtues turn out to be as genuine as you want them to be?  If not, I’m sure David would urge you to cry out to God as he did and have your authentic joy restored today.

What do I need to know?

When I was younger I used to think I had to understand everything in order to preach or teach it.  Unfortunately, all too many of us continue to feel that way and use that as reason for not taking on teaching a class or small group, or even sharing our faith in Christ.  We’re afraid we might position ourselves where we will be asked questions and don’t know the answers.  Have you been reluctant to take a step of faith because you didn’t feel you knew enough to satisfy the questions still bouncing around in your own head?  I felt that way when approaching my current district leadership position.

I have been very captivated with 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)  Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  That took courage to give prophecies about salvation and grace while not even understanding them.   Would you have the nerve to do that?

I suspect all of us have made statements that made sense when talking to our friends or family then later discovered our words meant far more than we thought.  In the last 24 hours I commented on a slightly misguided statement someone had made.  While doing so, I noted that what I said had never even entered my mind before saying it.  Yet something within me resonated my statement was true.  I knew it had come out of my spirit rather than out of my mind or emotions.

The prophets in this passage did not understand what they prophesied but they had the integrity to acknowledge they did NOT understand.  Admirably, they understood the Spirit was anointing them to speak, but instead of putting their own spin on the words, they “searched intently and with the greatest care” to gain more knowledge of them.  It was then revealed to them the words they had been anointed to speak were not even about them or their generation but for generations to come!!!  What might have happened if they had dogmatically taught their assumed speculations of what the Spirit had meant in the words given them?  They would have misguided many through the centuries.

It is important that we try to minister in faith. This means we may not fully understand the message we have been given yet can minister with humility remaining open to additional insights new to us.  Can we have peace with not fully understanding yet have the courage to teach, preach or share what we have found to be true?  How might that more noble approach to teaching controversial doctrines allow for there to be less divisions in the body of Christ?  How might that approach provoke others to maintain a searching heart to seek to learn more from God’s Word and have attentive “ears” for what the Spirit may want to say to us?  How might that approach minimize conflicts in relationships, especially in our marriages?  Such humility is vital to authentic Christianity.

I desire to have greater integrity and transparency in order to enjoy deeper peace within when I minister.  But I also want to provoke a hunger within others to study and learn more from God and His Word about things they don’t fully understand.  I wish I would have learned this truth earlier in my life!

Presumptive Expectations

Try as Connie and I do, we still misunderstand each other from time to time.  When we realize that we try to clarify each other’s expectations.  Expectations make a big difference for everyone.  But it is more frustrating when Connie tells me multiple times when an event is coming, and I still forget!   I’m grateful for her patience especially as I get older and my “personal computer” bogs down from overload.

Although Jesus had explained many things about the kingdom of God (e.g. the kingdom was within them) minutes before He ascended into Heaven His disciples …kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” Acts 1:6 (NLT2) They obviously had heard but totally misunderstood what Jesus had taught about the kingdom of God!!  And now, Jesus would no longer be there to straighten out their thinking!

I’ve witnessed people misunderstanding, even misinterpreting, God’s promises in the Bible.  It is easy to read verses like Mark 11:24 (ESV), Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours; and Matthew 7:8 (ESV) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened; then assume the Holy Spirit will answer what they request.  But that is clearly NOT the case!!

Jesus said to [blind Bartimaeus], “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51 (ESV)  He then received not only his healing but also his salvation!  Jesus also asked two of his closest disciples, James and John, virtually the same question, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36 ESV) But this time, Jesus did not give them what they asked.

What!!  Why would Jesus say “yes” to the blind man He hardly knew and “no” to men closest to Him in ministry?  Consider the motive of the hearts behind each request.  Bartimaeus’ heart for Jesus would go on and faithfully share with others God’s grace to him, but James and John asked for what they would consume on themselves.  James explained it this way in James 4:3 (NLT2), And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

Jesus clarified the issue when He said Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them Mark 11:24 (NKJV). What we ask for when seeking God’s heart will be very different than when pray seeking soulish lusts.

If God doesn’t give us what we ask, we should evaluate our prayers. Are our motives selfish? Are we asking for far less than God wants to give? (2 Ki 13:19; Ep 3:20). Are our requests worthy of the God we approach? Do we lack the faith God requires to give us our desires? (Mt 17:20).

Perhaps it might help if, before we ask, we filter our attitude with the Jesus’ words Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.   If we will ask according to His will, like Bartimaeus, we will receive far more than we anticipate! (Je 33:3).  Just think of all the gifts God has planned to give us when we align ourselves with His plan and purpose on this earth rather than our own selfish desires.  Can you imagine what power can be released in this world when that happens to all believers in Nebraska alone?

Believing What Jesus Believed

While attending college I took a local youth group to camp where the leader manipulated the youth to artificially speak in tongues.  I was appalled, determining to separate myself from that teaching if that was how it was supposed to be done.  The good side of that experience was my hunger for truth led me to research that doctrine in the Bible.  Through that I discovered truths about the gift of tongues I had never read or heard before.

When sitting in a seminary grad class on 1 Corinthians, the professor interpreted a passage about that gift of the Holy Spirit identical to what I had discovered in my studies.  I could hardly sit in my chair!!  I felt validated!!  I’ll never forget that professor!

Dallas Willard once raised the question, “Do you believe what Jesus believed—not just what He said but what He believed?”  Great question!  It is one thing to say, I believe what Jesus said, but quite another to say I believe what Jesus believed!  If I believed what He believed while on this earth, I would behave like He behaved and talk like He talked and even think like He thought.

What did Jesus believe about serving others when He taught the parable of the good Samaritan?  What did Jesus believe that motivated Him to forgive the woman who had broken the law by committing adultery then told her to, “Go and sin no more”?  What did Jesus believe about paying taxes when He told Peter to go fishing and he would find a coin in the mouth of a fish that would pay their taxes?  What did Jesus believe about forgiving others when He told the parable in Matthew 18:21-35 about forgiving from the heart someone who owed you something or who you felt had somehow abused you?

No one can believe what Jesus believed without first having a personal spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit.  Nor can one learn to believe as He believed without desiring to spend significant amounts of time mediating on God’s Word.  The Bible is an expression of God’s mind.  As a person reads and studies it intelligently, humbly and openly, that person comes to increasingly think like He thinks.  There is a natural connection between a proper use of God’s Word and the fruit of being connected to the vine as Jesus said.  John 15:1-2, 5-8 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

I’m certainly far from thinking or believing all of what Jesus believed or thought.  But I so want to be that kind of Christ-follower!  That is one reason why I have such a passion to dig beneath the surface of what is said in His Word.  By His grace I am convinced that His Word will transform my way of thinking and believing.  If we dig in His Word together, we will be able to learn and be transformed faster.  Can we take this journey together?

Sustainable Faith

Elijah, my youngest grandson, asked me to play a game with him.  Within five minutes of getting the game set up, he didn’t want to play anymore.  Hum!  His childish, short attention span was alive and well.   On the other hand, he absolutely loves playing games on his iPad.  He can become so riveted to his video games that he doesn’t hear grammy call him for dinner!  Are children capable of extending their attention span about important things before their mind properly matures?

I applaud school teachers, especially those who teach kindergarteners like our Elijah.  They not only have to teach the children their ABCs but also stretch their attention span.  I wonder if the teachers must be equipped with a touch of super patience to keep from going crazy trying to keep the children busy in an instructive way.  Wow!!

By adulthood, people’s attention spans have dramatically expanded—at least in some areas of life.  When speaking in a church recently, I had not even finished my introductory comments before one man’s head nodded and he was “out” (asleep)!  I wondered if spiritual truth was the only thing he struggled to concentrate on.  What is it about attention to faith or spiritual truth that makes it so vulnerable to becoming unattractive?

I recently reflected on Caleb and his sustained faith in God.  He was about 40 when he joined the other 11 spies as they crossed the border of Canaan in order to scope out the best way to take the land God had promised.  But 10 of them let giants in the land scare their faith out of them.  Those ten even led the majority of the Jews to vote against claiming God’s promise.  Only two adults subsequently survived the next 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and were able to finally enter the Promised Land.

Please consider this! Caleb was probably in his mid-80s when he requested of Joshua, Will you now give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim [giants] were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.  Joshua 14:12 (NKJV)  Really, at 85 years of age??!!!  Get this, Caleb’s attention span of faith in God had lasted over 40 years!!!

When adults today hit 65-70 and are challenged to “take a mountain for God,” all too many find excuses to not engage in the work of the ministry.  What was it that kept Caleb’s faith in God as strong as it had been 40 plus years earlier?  Is your faith still as strong as when you were first regenerated by God’s Spirit?

I admire men and women like Monte Standage and Faith Tyson who after achieving retirement age, rise up and ask for another mountain to take.  Is your faith fit to take a mountain at your current age?  If not, join me in getting a grip on our desire for comfort, stirring up our spirit, and determine a strategy for expanding our attention span for love and service to our God.  Do whatever is necessary to make sure doesn’t fade with time.  Remind yourself of Paul’s exhortation to younger Timothy, fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  2 Timothy 1:6 (NLT2)