33 Years = 33 Amazing Things About My Amazing Wife

undefinedSome 11 years ago, I posteWedding picd something like this but decided to bring it back to celebrate Kim and mine’s 33rd Anniversary. On June 6, 1987 God started a new chapter to a crazy journey and love story. So in honor of this amazing woman God blessed me with on that day, here are 33 things I love about her….

  1. She loves me second. She loves her Lord more than me.
  2. She has godly character and integrity. (Proverbs 31:10)
  3. She is an excellent wife. (Proverbs 18:22)
  4. She is more than I deserve. (Proverbs 31:10)
  5. I can absolutely trust her with anything. (Proverbs 31:11)
  6. She is my best friend…has been for 38 years!
  7. She has always supported me and the ministry God called us to…even in difficult times. Always behind the scenes, never seeking limelight. (Proverbs 31:12, 31:23)
  8. I can honestly say we have never had a fight…a knock down drag out…we’ve certainly disagreed and argued at times, but never fought about petty stuff. (even though I know I frustrate her at times!)
  9. She gets over stuff quickly, never holding a grudge…ever! We’ve never gone to bed angry…at least I don’t think so. 😉
  10. She has an amazing amount of wisdom. (Proverbs 31:26; 14:1)
  11. She teaches our children in godliness. (Proverbs 31:26)
  12. She has the gift of discernment…which has been of great benefit throughout our marriage and ministry.
  13. She still laughs with me! (Sometimes she just rolls her eyes)
  14. She speaks truth into my life.
  15. She is prudent…with her words, actions, finances, time. (Proverbs 19:14)
  16. She is a strong woman, but she knows where her strength comes from. (Proverbs 31:17)
  17. She works incredibly hard. (Proverbs 31:18)
  18. She knows that her calling is to shape and impact another generation through our family and she never loses sight of that. (Psalm 78:5-7)
  19. She is humble. (I can assure you she isn’t comfortable reading this!😊 )
  20. She shows great hospitality…even when she doesn’t always “feel” like it…and cares about others. (Proverbs 31:19-20)
  21. She sees everything we have as a blessing from the Lord.
  22. She takes care of our family’s needs. (Proverbs 31:21-22)
  23. She would lay her life down for our children and me. She even has a gun and knows how to use it!
  24. She manages our home extremely well, making our home a peaceful place. (Proverbs 31:27)
  25. She still puts up with me! That’s a full time job!
  26. She makes me smile.
  27. She is caring and compassionate.
  28. She is dignified, modest and presents herself in a godly manner…and has taught our daughters to do the same. She is one classy lady! (Proverbs 31:25)
  29. She is an amazing mother. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  30. Kim and I.first dateShe is an exceptional teacher…and has helped so many kids and adults along the way.
  31. She is simply God’s grace to me. (Proverbs 18:22)
  32. She turned my head 38 years ago and still does today! (Proverbs 5:18)
  33. She is my treasure from the Lord. (Proverbs 31:1)

Broad Brushes…with Precision Tips

There are times you need a broad brush when painting a large surface like a wall or floor. But there are times you need a fine brush with a precision tip when painting a picture with fine details.

I don’t like it when people paint with “broad brushes.” I’ll admit I’ve done it myself at times, probably most of us have. I don’t like it when I am painted over with a broad brush and I don’t like it when I see people do that to others. We live in a culture that does this all too often. We do it in relation to politics, religion, race, careers, demographics, even what part of the country we are from, and the list could go on and on. Why do we do that? Well, I think sometimes it is out of ignorance or fear. Other times it is that we aren’t patient to wait on more info or maybe we are too lazy to look deeper into something or someone. Many times people unwittingly paint with a broad brush, but often people do it intentionally so as to cause strife.

We’ve seen this all too often in our instant media society. You haven’t done this? Bet you have. Ever “liked” or “shared” something on social media and then realized it was inaccurate or false or maybe there was more info that came out later and changed the story? Yeah, I’ve done that. Something sounds good so we grab hold of it and paint with a broad brush. Ever had a teacher or coach when you were in school punish the whole class or team because of one person’s breaking the rules? Yeah. It happens.

Here are just some ways we paint with broad brushes. Just fill in the blanks as you go:

 “all white people must be…” “all black people must be…” “all Asians, Hispanics, Africans, Europeans, etc. are…” “all people from the south must be…” “all people from California are…” “all people from the north or the Midwest or the northwest…are…” “all immigrants must be…” “all Republicans are…” “all Democrats are…” “all people who live in the suburbs are…” “all people who live in the cities are…” “all homeless people are…” “all rich people are…” “all people who are fans of my team’s rival are…” “people who aren’t wearing masks and gloves are…” “all people who are wearing masks must be…” “police officers are all…” “all politicians are…” “if you work in such-and-such and industry you must be…” “most preacher’s kids are…” “all of those people of a certain denomination or doctrine are…”

You see how that goes? You could go on and on and on with those analogies, but you get the point. I bet you filled in every one of those blanks with a negative. Broad brush strokes.

I, like most everyone in this country, have been troubled by the events of this past week. The death of George Floyd was appalling, unnecessary, absurd, ridiculous, and many other adjectives. The same can be said of the death of Ahmaud Arbery and many other cases too. The violent responses and the organized destruction is troubling. I have thought long and hard and prayed about what to say in response. I don’t want to be guilty of painting with a broad brush nor too narrow a brush either. I have wrestled with saying too much or too little or being misinterpreted. I’ve even seen people criticizing Christian leaders for not saying something. Broad brush strokes. Should we? Yes. But should we take our time to prayerfully and thoughtfully respond? Absolutely. Honestly, many don’t know what to say because it likely doesn’t matter what you say, you’re going to have someone shoot at you. That’s okay, however, as long as we speak truth in love and stand on the Word of God.

I cannot fully understand some of the deep-seated tensions that many in the black community feel and have experienced for many years. I have experienced betrayal, back stabbing, being lied to and lied about, being bullied and made fun of for various things (and not just as a kid either). I’ve experienced prejudice and rejection. I’ve been in situations in other countries where I was a minority and would have felt pretty insecure were it not for security traveling with us. I have experienced hurt at the hands of others…even fellow Christians. I’ve been attacked because of my faith (but nothing like the persecution of our brothers and sisters around the world). I’ve been unfairly treated by employers. I’ve been lied about by co-workers. I’ve had unfair treatment by police officers. Yet, I still cannot fully understand all that my black brothers and sisters deal with and have dealt with. So, I don’t want to pretend as if I do.

What we saw this week in Minneapolis was abhorrent. As I have read and communicated with people I know in law enforcement, there was no excuse for the actions this officer took. I stand with those who call for justice. George Floyd was known to be a Christian who was seeking to minister to people there. Had he made mistakes? I don’t know. Maybe…certainly…all of us have. Others describe him as a man who God was turning his life around. I won’t use a broad brush with him. However, we need to be careful that we don’t paint others with broad brushes too. Were the police targeting George Floyd because of his race? I don’t know, because I don’t know what was in their heart. No broad brush strokes. It’s possible that is true. But I don’t know. Were the men in south Georgia doing the same thing? Again, I don’t know what was in their hearts. Were they wrong? Absolutely. Were they white supremacists and racists? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. Broad brush strokes. What I do know is that George and Ahmaud didn’t deserve what happened and certainly their families don’t deserve to be going through this incredible grief, no matter if they were or were not doing anything wrong. We shouldn’t paint everyone from small towns in south Georgia with a broad brush stroke. At the same time, we should not paint all police officers with broad brush strokes. Are there bad cops? Sure. But the vast majority, who are of many different ethnicities, are good people who want to serve their community and stand for the law and justice. They are underpaid, over stressed and highly risked. So let’s not use broad brush strokes. At the same time, we shouldn’t use broad brush strokes to paint those who are protesting. Some are properly and peacefully and prayerfully doing so and some are simply taking advantage of the situation for selfish reasons. We know that people of various ideological groups are in fact sending people into these communities to stir up division. That may seem like a broad brush stroke, but it’s true. And in fact this creates a broader brush stroke that further divides and antagonizes the situation. Others are taking advantage to simply steal stuff and destroy businesses.

I appreciate what Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy wrote on Saturday. Among other things, he said:

What happened to George Floyd was inexcusable and it should never happen. Justice needs to be served, but in seeking justice we can’t fall into the trap of prejudging every police officer we see. What started out as peaceful protests have devolved into arson and looting and that should never happen, either. Yes there should be protest. But we do not have license to perform criminal acts because we’re angry.

Today we are a divided country. We’re divided racially, politically, and socio-economically. And Satan is laughing at us because that is exactly what he wants. Dysfunction, mistrust, and hatred help his kingdom flourish.

You can read his full statement in several places. It’s worth checking out.

We see it in the national media that all too often like to paint with broad brush strokes. Not all do, but sadly most do. This doesn’t help matters at all. It only seems to further enflame things. We’ve seen this repeated over the years on so many spectrums in politics and social issues and even in this pandemic over and over again. Oh, well let me be careful. See? There I did it! That might be a pretty broad brush stroke, so…maybe I shouldn’t go down that road. But you get the point. Broad brush strokes are engrained in our society.

So…there is a lot I don’t know. There are a lot of broad brush strokes that we all can tend to paint with. I tell couples in marital and premarital counseling that there are two things that will kill their marriage: assumptions and expectations. When we look at a person or a situation and we make assumptions, we are painting with a broad brush. When we have expectations of people, in marriage or work or leadership or church, etc., then we are going to be disappointed and disillusioned by those broad strokes. This is true in these current situations we are witnessing. Why? Because we are all human and we are going to let one another down. We should not make assumptions nor have unrealistic expectations about people or situations. Broad brush strokes.  

What do we do? What can we do? How do we need to respond? There’s a lot I don’t know the answer to. However, here are some things I DO know for sure. And it has to do with broad brush strokes, but ones with pinpoint, piercing precision. Here is where we turn in times like this:

Hebrews 4:12 says,
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s word paints with some pretty broad brush strokes. Jesus spoke with some pretty broad strokes. But since He’s God, He can do that. But here’s the difference. When He does that, He does so with pinpoint precision. Right into the very heart of mankind. This is where we turn. God’s word.

One of the broadest brush strokes that I can see from God’s word that explains the current situation we are in is this: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9.

In Matthew 15, Jesus says, 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person.

Pretty broad brush strokes. So when we see people killing others unjustly…when we see people selfishly taking advantage of a situation to steal and destroy…when we see people seeking political power and gain from a horrible situation…when we see people taking advantage of others…when we see people lying, causing strife, tearing one another down; we then come to understand the evil, sinful, wickedness of the human heart. Yes, that’s a broad brush stroke, but one that God’s word paints with because we, in our sinful hearts, painted ourselves with that brush.

 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18)

“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

All broad strokes that God’s word paints the sinfulness of mankind….the sinfulness of MY heart. There are many more. We are ALL sinners by nature and by choice. This is the problem.

What about justice? Doesn’t the Bible teach us to stand up for that? Certainly. Isaiah 1:17 is where most people go, seek justice, correct oppression. However, look at the context. What does God say before that? 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. We must look at our own sinful hearts first. This is the beginning of the answer. We can’t correct oppression and seek justice from a sinful heart.

However, when the Bible speaks of justice, it is God who dispenses that. We are not in that position. Our hearts are sinful and wicked. So we trust Him to do so.

 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10)
God’s vengeance is always just and His justice is always perfect.

Isaiah then says,  18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

We can’t cleanse ourselves, so what do we do? Jesus painted with a broad brush but yet His brush also has a precision tip that pierces the heart. He spoke to those religious leaders who sought to stone the woman caught (likely trapped) in adultery saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) Broad brush, precision tip.

He taught on the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; Broad brush, precision tip.

 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Broad brush, precision tip.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Broad brush, precision tip.

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Broad brush, precision tip.

I could go on and on. This is how God’s word and Jesus paint with a broad brush over and over again that shows ALL of us are guilty. But He also at the same time takes that precision tip and gets down into the finest, darkest corners of our lives and points out the hardness of our hearts and the hidden sins we don’t want to acknowledge. Not one of us is sinless. So what do we do? We need a Redeemer…a Deliverer!

Praise be to God He painted with the broadest brush ever! Just as the Hebrews painted the doorpost of their homes at the Passover, with the blood of a spotless lamb so that the death angel might pass over them, ultimately paving the way for their freedom from slavery, Jesus did the same!

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17) A broad brush!

God provided the ultimate spotless Lamb to sacrifice for our sins in Jesus.Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) That is a pretty broad brush!

I don’t know much, but I do know this: I am the one who had my knee on the throat of Jesus as He was nailed to the cross. I had the hammer in my hand. MY sin is why he died. At the same time, before Jesus, I was the one who was being held down with Satan’s foot on my throat choking my life away. I was under bondage to sin and death. BUT GOD…set me free by His grace! That grace is offered to “whosever would believe.”

The broad brush of grace paints over the sins of the world, but only through faith in Jesus. And it does so with a precision tip that is intimate and personal to each individual who puts their faith in Jesus. This is our ONLY HOPE! Thanks be to God for the broad brush of His grace dipped in the blood of the Lamb and the precision tip of that brush that continually works on the finer details of a heart that is surrendered to Him so that we might be made over as a new creation and be more and more conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). Broad brush, precision tip.

So let us as believers, paint with THAT broad brush in these days. A brush of GRACE. PRAY for God to do what HE is better at…justice and vengeance. Let us be a praying people of grace, love and mercy. But ones who are a humble and repentant people who allow God’s word to pierce our hearts and expose our sin as we seek what God requires of us. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

I will choose to not paint others with broad brushes…not be quick to judgement…be quick to listen and slow to speak… pray for truth and justice…pray for God to bring spiritual awakening and healing to our land…treat others with the grace I have been given…walk in repentance…trust in God’s sovereignty…leave the results to Him. He’s a much better artist than I am!

Spiritual problems need spiritual answers. Spiritual battles need spiritual battle plans and spiritual weapons.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis added)

Don’t Throw Away Those Christmas Cards!

Christmas card basket
Our basket of Christmas Prayer Cards for 2015

What do you do with all those Christmas Cards you received over the last month…even those latecomers that might not have arrived until January 2nd (we got a few of those!)? Why not keep them and let them help you give back to each person/family throughout the whole year?

A few years ago we began a tradition at the Whipple house. I wrote about it on this blog several years ago, but I thought I’d re-write about it this year, because it has been such an important part of our family’s Christmas tradition that usually lasts through the summer and into the fall.

We take all those cards down from display when we put the decorations away, and place them in a basket. Each Sunday, when we have our dinner, one of the kids draws a card randomly from the basket. The younger ones in particular love picking the card. Sometimes there are spirited discussions about whose turn it is. 🙂

We then pray for that person or family every night at supper for the entire week. It is a great way to give back to them by praying for them. I try to let people know that we have prayed for them, but honestly, I often don’t. However, the times that I have called, texted, or emailed the family we prayed for in a particular week, or when I simply know the circumstances in their lives, I am always blown away by the timing of God allowing us to pray for that particular family on that particular week. It has almost always come at a time when that family/individual really needed it! Then again, I don’t know why it should blow me away. His sovereign timing is always right!

SO…don’t throw away those cards! Keep them and pray for those who have been meaningful in your lives and to thank God for them. It is a great example for your kids. We rotate saying the blessing around our supper table, so it is always cool to hear our kids intercede for others…sometimes people that they don’t even know well. Then, it is even cooler when we can tell them how their prayers were very timely!

You may even take the cards and put a note on them and send them back to those who originally sent them to you, letting them know you prayed and thanked God for them. It truly is a blessing to stand in the gap for friends and family and to teach your kids about praying for others.

Make those old Christmas Cards from last year into Prayer Cards for the new year!

And know that if you sent the Whipples a Christmas Card…we will be praying for you!

I thank God in all my rememberance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you allmaking my prayer for you with joy
Philippians 1:3-4

 

Christmas is a time of Expectancy…

edwinlouiscole360084When you think of Christmas is your heart full of Expectancy or Expectations? The answer to that question will determine whether you experience miracles and the glory of God or disappointment and disillusionment.

Expectations are things that I decide that I want…at Christmas, in life, in relationships, at church. Usually I have to work hard to make these things even come close to happening. When they don’t work out like I expected, I am disappointed and can get disillusioned…even to the point of giving up.

Expectancy on the other hand is exciting and unknown. When I approach God with expectancy, then I am trusting HIM, not ME. If I come to Jesus with a heart of expectancy this Christmas, I am simply anticipating Him to do something miraculous in my life. If not here on this earth nor in a way that I expect, I can trust that whatever He is doing is going to be for my best.

The ultimate expectancy is in eternity. If you have truly put your faith in Jesus as your Savior, then you can look with expectancy to Jesus second coming where He will make all things right in this broken world. Your expectations won’t matter because He will do all that He has promised. Everything in God’s Word will be fulfilled.

That is why Christmas matters. Jesus came the first time to make a way for us to know God and to be made right with Him. Our sins are forgiven and our debt for sin has been paid. Jesus paid the price by dying in our place on the cross and conquered sin and death by rising from the grave! That is the Hope of Christmas!

He returned to heaven with this promise:

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.And you know the way to where I am going.Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:1-4,6)

 If you still have expectations that are unfulfilled, why not lay them aside and put your trust in the only WAY…Jesus. Then you can look forward with expectancy in life knowing that He has it all in control.

 Jesus isn’t  “A-way in a manger” He is “THE -Way in the manger”! Merry Christmas!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

David Landrith Was Not Great…

…nor would he want to be thought of that way. I believe that greatness in a man is measured in the greatness of his humility.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
That was David Landrith.david landrith

I knew David for a long time…since 8th and 9th grades. We weren’t in school together then, but we were in a great youth group together. We went to rival high schools in our community of Cleveland, TN. He was in school at that time with a girl who would become my wife. Later, David and I along with Jennifer and my girlfriend Kim, would be at the same college, Belmont University in Nashville where he was on the basketball team and I was in the stands yelling like a crazy man and embarrassing everyone I knew. Eventually, after graduating we would go to seminary together at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth Texas. Our first semester there in January of 1987, we roomed together. Both of us were to be married at the end of the semester to our fiancés who were finishing up college at Belmont.

On the wall of our apartment was a big calendar. There were two dates circled on it: May 23 (his wedding date) and June 6 (my wedding date). Each day we would mark off the date with a red marker. It was sometimes a race to see who could be the first one to mark it off. We were living that entire semester in great anticipation of those dates. Everything revolved around getting to those days. I wish today that I still had that calendar. Many days, especially as we got closer to the wedding days, I thought these two single, marriage anticipating, young bucks living in a small apartment might just kill one another! (Well, he likely would have killed me, since he was bigger) We made many a long 12 hour road trip from Ft. Worth TX to Nashville, TN to see our ladies, leaving at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon and rolling in to Nashville at 3am! Then turning around after the weekend and driving back. Love will make you do crazy stuff! The anticipation for that date marked on the calendar was…to say the least…HUGE!

There was a date on God’s calendar this past Tuesday; an appointed time for David Landrith to come Home. David’s life was one that lived in anticipation of that date. He lived in a state of readiness to meet his Savior. I know that David, Jen, their family and all of us who knew him, never thought that date would come this soon…and we would wish that it had been another date on God’s calendar, sometime off in the future. But God…in His sovereignty, had this date circled. And David, I’m sure would say to us (in a very loud voice and with a big smile) “C’mon! You gotta get fired up! If you could see what I see now…Glory!”

The thing about David during all these years since those early days I knew him…as God has used him to do some remarkable things over the years as a pastor and leader…he never changed. He was always goofy, crazy, LOUD, laughing, joyous, caring, serving…but mostly, humble. He didn’t see himself as great. I’m sure those closest to him would say David had his weaknesses…as all of us do…but from the time I first knew David, he never seemed to pursue being great. That wasn’t what he was after. Even as an athlete, he was about the team.

What made David a great husband and a great father and a great pastor, leader, evangelist was not that he was great at anything himself. It was that he recognized with all humility Who it was that was doing it all.

In an interview with Pete Wilson last year, David said, “I don’t really want the imprint I leave to be about me, but Christ in me.”

David Landrith’s view was that if he was used in any way it was because of what Jesus did in and through him, not because of anything great about himself. It was only by God’s grace, through David’s faith in Christ, that God did great things in and through him.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:11-12, The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

I don’t think I ever heard David Landrith exalt himself. He just humbly submitted himself to God and faithfully led his family and the church God entrusted to him and proclaimed the Gospel. He never stopped ministering even in the hospital in the last few days there as he impacted the medical personnel that were treating him.

No, David Landrith wasn’t great. His God is great. He was a great husband, father, leader, pastor…because of a great God who lived in him and was using him for His own glory. David never lost sight of that. He understood his place. David’s pursuit was always God’s glory, never his own. And God honored that and exalted him, blessing his family, as well as the ministries and churches he led. That is the mark of a great man…one who has great humility. David’s greatness was only because he walked humbly before a great God…and he wouldn’t have it any other way. I pray that I might be half as good a pastor as David was…never losing sight of that legacy of humble leadership.

If I could leave this world and people say, ‘What a knucklehead! What a country bumpkin! He made a difference, but it wasn’t him. It was Christ in him and I’d like to know that Jesus better,’ then that would make me happy.” – David Landrith, December 2013

David, you can be happy, then. Because that’s what we are saying now. And God has said to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done!”

What to do when you don’t know what to do…

So…it’s been several months since I posted any blogs. the last 6 months have been pretty crazy in a lot of ways and blogging kinda took a back seat. Well, I’m once again trying to return to somewhat regular blogging. So for the few of you that read this…here we go.

Have you ever found yourself in a place in life where you just didn’t know what to do? Whether it is in ministry or family or career or school or relationships or even politics. We all can find ourselves at a place where we are at a loss as to what to do. Many of us are right now at a loss of what to do with our nation, the economy, the political landscape. Others are at a loss of what to do in their personal life, their marriage, their job (or lack of one). So, what do we do?

In recent weeks and months, I found myself in that place. I’ll admit that much of this journey of planting a church these last 7 years I have been at a loss of what to do. Most of the time, actually. However, I think that is a good place to be because it makes me realize my utter dependence on God. I should be leaning on Him, but while I know that, I still “lean on my own understanding” many times. When I get to a place where I can’t come up with what to do on my own…and even after asking God…what do I do then? Finding oneself in this place can lead to dispair, depression, slavery to fear, even falling into sin. We’ll turn to that secret sin or pleasure, we can get bitter, anxious. We might even turn to our favorite ice cream to help! So what do we do?

When I found myself in this place recently, God showed me something from His word that I had never really seen before in an Old Testament story. I was prompted to turn there when I saw a verse posted on facebook by my good friend Aidan McKenzie. The verse was 2 Chronicles 20:12b…

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Wow! That is what I needed to hear. So, I backed up and read the context of the story of King Jehoshaphat…which is what one should always do in studying the Bible. (“Context is king”, as Kay Arthur always says.) STOP NOW and read it for yourself HERE before going on. No really, you need to take the time to read 2 Chronicles 18-20…its a good story and the message is strong.

Did you read it? If not, the rest of this post won’t mean much. READ IT before going on. You did it? Good!

Jehoshaphat was King of Judah at the time that Israel was a divided kingdom. He had made an unwise alliance with King Ahab of Israel and went to war alongside him…this almost cost him his life too. God was not pleased because of the wickedness of King Ahab. Yet God knew Jehoshaphat’s heart was to seek Him. After this, Jehoshaphat brought reforms to Judah and brought the nation back to God. Then, enemies from within turned against Jehoshaphat. In Chapter 20 we see where the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites, who had been allowed to live in peace among the children of Israel when they conqured the Promised Land, came against Jehoshaphat in battle (20:1). When Jehoshaphat was told, he did not know what to do. He was about to be overcome by a great horde. What did he do?

What we read in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 gives us the answer and also gives us a prescription on what to do when we don’t know what to do. If you haven’t read it, go there now and read it. (You get the idea I want you to read this?) What did Jehoshaphat do when he didn’t know what to do? (all scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version)

  • v. 3 – Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
    When we don’t know what to do we are afraid…but when we are afraid we should determine to seek the Lord…with intensity. The proclaiming of a fast was to seek God with greater intensity. Fast and pray.
  • v. 5-6 – And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.
    Cry out to God…Pray. Jehoshaphat cried out to God in front of the whole assembly. We should not be afraid to cry out to God with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Have them cry out on your behalf.
  • v. 12 – “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
    We need to admit our poverty and in humility understand our powerlessness and utter dependence upon God. Then turn to and KEEP our eyes on the LORD alone. He alone is worthy and He alone is able to win the victory. We can’t, but He can! Sounds trite and cliche-ish but it’s true. Jehoshaphat realized this. His own wisdom had gotten him in a mess and nearly killed him. That leads to the next step…
  • v. 15-17 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
    Recognize whose battle it is...and quit trying to fight it ourself! Interestingly, v. 17 is the middle verse of the Old Testament. It’s no coincidence that this verse somewhat sums up what God had to continually remind the children of Israel…”see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf..the Lord will be with you.”
  • v. 18-19 18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
    WORSHIP! Sing praise to God…even in the midst of your circumstance! For HE IS WORTHY! Jehoshaphat worshiped in humility. When you don’t know what to do…DON’T PULL AWAY FRRM THE CHURCH! I see this all too often. Don’t stop gathering with the Body of Christ for WORSHIP. Jehoshaphat worshiped before the battle…while surrounded by enemies.
  • v. 20 – And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” (emphasis added)
    Be OBEDIENT. They stepped out IN FAITH. Continue to walk in obedience. Whatever you KNOW God commands…continue to do. Whatever the last thing He told you to do…continue to do, even while you wait on Him. Step out in obedience. Oh…and by the way…STOP the things you know are in DISOBEDIENCE. Notice that they didn’t come up with a plan, Jehoshaphat simply told the people to do what God had instructed. “They went out“. God calls you and I to obedience…because He loves us and we love Him. When your finances are in trouble, don’t stop tithing. That’s “robbing God” (Malachi 3:8). When your marriage is struggling…don’t give up and break the covenant you made before God and pursue another relationship or lifestyle. When you have sinned against your spouse…don’t continue in it. STOP and repent and return to walking with God in obedience.  When you don’t know what to do…step out in faith…each day. DO the things you already KNOW to do…and DON’T do the things you know you are not to do.
  • v. 21 – And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise himin holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
    Give THANKS in advance. The people thanked God ahead of the battle. Thank Him before you know the outcome. A heart of gratitude will keep everything in perspective. The Bible reiterates this over and over. (see James 1:2-3)
  • v. 22 – And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
    Sing and praise God for the victory. WHEN they began to sing and praise the Lord…HE ACTED! When they stepped out in faith and obedience…THEN God acted.
  • v. 29-30 – And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
    God’s glory was evident to ALL! His glory will be manifested (made vividly clear) in your life and church to everyone around…even enemies. In the previous verses (23-28) we also see the provision and blessing that God gives Jehoshaphat and the people as a result of HIS victory and their FAITH. More evidence of the glory of God.

So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? I don’t know what enemies you are facing right now…what “horde” is surrounding and advancing upon you, but your eyes need to be on the Lord. That is our only hope. Our eyes don’t need to be on government, elections, people, economics, leaders, pastors or anything else in this world. We should simply fololw this pattern Jehoshaphat did:

  • seek God intensly
  • pray…cry out to God
  • in humility turn our eyes to the Lord
  • trust Him to fight the battle
  • worship and praise Him
  • step out in faith and walk in obedience…daily
  • give thanks in advance
  • watch God work!
  • repeat continually… 🙂

Dead or Alive?

 

46 years ago, Time Magazine put this question on their cover. Many people then were saying that God no longer had a place in America…or anywhere for that matter. He was dead. Not relevant. Unneccessary. Afterall, man was so enlightened that he had all the answers. Culture was moving away from a need for God, so therefore He was dead.

But what about today? What do you say? Is He dead or alive in your life? Do we need Him anymore?  Well, as we approach Easter, here is a headline for you:

Join us for Easter @ The Ridge! This Sunday, April 8, 1012
9:30 & 11:00am at Austin Middle School on Ridge Rd in So. Paulding Co!

  But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,  taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found  the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold,  two  men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were  frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you,  while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man  must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and  be crucified and on  the third day rise.” 8 And  they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they  told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. – Luke 24:1-9 (emphasis added)

OneCry

Beginning this Sunday @ The Ridge, we will start a new series called OneCry. I am excited about this series like no other series we have done. I believe with all my heart that God is wanting to do something significant in our church, community, and world, but it has to start with us as individuals. Will you join me as we join with others across our country in OneCry for God to bring revival and spiritual awakening to this land?

Be at Austin Middle School at 10:30am this Sunday, March 11th. Don’t let the time change keep you from gathering with the church. Set your clock…get to bed on time…you have an appointment Sunday morning.

The Truth Is…

Last week I was in my devotion & prayer time and I was reading in Ephesians 6. A familiar passage, no doubt. I quickly read through it as I have many times before. Then I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me to pray through it, so I did. Praying through the armor of God, but I felt like I needed to pray through each piece of the armor. It turned out to be just what I needed that day. It was one of those days that I was kinda down…sort of in a little funk. So, I went back and reaqt verse 14: Stand therefore,  having fastened on the belt of truth, then I stopped and started to just pray back to God the things I knew to be true…about God, from His Word. But I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying, “Write these down.” So I got my prayer journal out and started writing. I don’t normally share what I write in my journal, but I thought I would share this. I wrote the things that I know to be true from God’s Word, about God, about me, about His will. After SIX pages I simply stopped and thanked God for the “belt of truth” from His Word! I was blown away! The more I wrote, the more God brought to my mind.  I came away inspired, revived and renewed to face the day, having immersed myself in the truth and remembering what I know to be true and seeing more clearly the falsehoods of the enemy. Here is just a little of what I wrote as a prayer back to God:

The belt of truth = Truth is…

Your grace is sufficient; salvation is sure, real, paid for; forgiveness is offered and given; You are a God of encouragement; You have overcome the world; I am no longer a slave to sin; your power is made perfect in my weakness; I have access to the throne; You love me unconditionally; You are Jehovah-Jireh; the Holy Spirit dwells in me; I don’t have to be good enough; I am a new creation in Christ; You are preparing a place for me; Your plans are to prosper me and not to harm me; You are sovereign and in control; I have nothing to fear; You are Lord Almighty; there is healing in Your wings; Your Word is a lamp to my feet; I can fully trust You; You have already won the victory!

That was just the first page I wrote that day. What do you know to be true from God’s Word? I’d love to hear your comments.

Take some time this week to do this little exercise. I can promise you God will use His truth to lift you up.