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… 🙂

Heroes

I went to the store today to pick up some items for supper tonight. My oldest came home from summer school so the whole family is here! After several hours at a friend’s pool, we were doing the traditional grilling out. It appeared that the whole community is having the same menu, by the appearance of the shelves at Kroger. All the baked beans were gone as were most of the ingredients for homemade ice cream!  As we enjoy our family time and the day off…don’t ever forget what Memorial Day is really about…don’t let your kids forget either. We remember those who made our freedom possible by making the ultimate sacrifice…true American Heroes.

Thank you veterans!

This is a video tribute that we shared this past Sunday @ The Ridge.  I share it today to thank and honor all of our veterans and their families…because freedom is not free. My prayers go out on your behalf…especially today to those who were impacted by the attack at Ft. Hood. May God bless you and give you peace. Thank you for your service to God and our nation!

“V” …. has anyone else thought about this?

If you’ve seen any tv lately you have seen the promo for the new series “V” which starts tonight. It is actually a remake of a series from the 80s. However, as I watched the trailer for it. It struck me as eerily current. Has anyone else thought about the current political correlation of the statements made in this promo? Very similar to recent political rhetoric. Is this intentional? I remember where the original series went with the plot, but I wonder what the take on this one will be? Who will be the heroes and who will be the villains. Could be kinda ironic…if it wasn’t so close to reality. Just some random, interesting thoughts. Watch it and tell me what you think…

Water, Water Everywhere…but not everywhere

At the end of September, NASA launched a missile at the moon. The mission of the LCROSS Project was to determine whether there might have at one time been water left over in a crater caused by a comet’s collision. A missile was launched hoping to explode and cause a plume of water vapor from long frozen water particles to rise fromt he surface of the moon. A probe with sensors flew through this plume to see if indeed there was some remnant of water on the moon. Interesting Sci-fi stuff.

However, all this to me, begs the question “Why?”  What is the point? Do we think that at some time in the future we will be living on the moon? How much water could there be to tap into anyway? Is there enough to sustain a colony or science station? What if there is? What would we do there anyway? I know there are answers to all of these things. I’m not totally opposed to space exploration, but we have to be realistic about it. We were created with this perfect planet. God made this our home and positioned it perfectly in the solarsystem by His design. It is the only place that can sustain life. Any closer to the sun and we’s burn up, any farther away and we’d freeze.

Water on the moon? Okay. What does that do for us here? Did you know…

  • Roughly 12 percent of the world’s population, or 884 million people, do not have access to safe water.
  • About 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation — roughly two-fifths of the world’s population.
  • Approximately 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This is around 5,000 deaths a day.
  • Diarrhea diseases can be reduced by more than 40 percent through the simple practice of washing hands with soap and water.
  • Water-related diseases are the second biggest killer of children worldwide. Number one is acute respiratory infections, such as tuberculosis.
  • Approximately 97.5 percent of the water on earth is saltwater. If all the world’s water could fit in an average bucket, only 1 teaspoon would be drinkable.
  • Nearly 90 percent of water-related diseases are due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene; and most victims are children in developing countries.
  • The average person in the developing world uses a little more than 2.5 gallons of water each day for drinking, washing and cooking.
  • Whereas the average person in the developed world uses 13 gallons per day only for toilet flushing.
  • Every 15 seconds a child dies in Africa from lack of access to clean water

I’m no bleeding heart and I’m not just talking statistics. I’ve actually been there and seen it.

village girls draw water from hand dug well in Burkina Faso
village girls draw water from hand dug well in Burkina Faso
look at how unclean this "drinking water" is as it comes out of the ground
look at how unclean this "drinking water" is as it comes out of the ground
this well being drilled in Burkina was made possible by the Dry Tears Campaign
this well being drilled in Burkina was made possible by the Dry Tears Campaign

An African walks an average of 6.2 miles a day just to get access to water. There is also no guarantee that the water will be clean when they reach it.

Did you know that a hand dug well in Africa only costs about $1500 and can supply water for an entire village. Yet most of the time it isn’t very clean and it doesn’t last as long and can have much disease. However, a drilled well costing around $4000-5000 on average, can supply better, cleaner water because it comes from deeper below the surface. One well is said to be able to supply water for 1000 people, but we saw that the reality is many more than that will use it. Most drilled wells will last many years longer than hand dug wells.

According to The Water Project, $10 will supply one person with water for 10 years…So what did you spend on lunch today?

Now, back to NASA. The LCROSS Project cost $79 million. That’s a low cost mission by NASA standard. Yet to what end was this mission? To simply discover if there might have at one time, many moons ago…sorry! bad pun :)… been a comet the collided with the moon and produced some water vapor that froze there? Okay, so what?  Why are we spending so much money on this?

Consider this…$79 million would provide 17,555 drilled wells in Africa…a place where we KNOW there IS water and where we KNOW there ARE people who need it and can use it for at least the next 10-15 years! That would be enough water for 17.6 MILLION people. That’s more than the population of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi combined! The population of the 28 counties that make up the metro Atlanta area is 4,917,717.

Many of us in this area were inconvenienced a few weeks ago by having to boil water for a few days after the recent flooding. Some were more seriously in need and out of water for several days. Yet, we could get access to it if necessary. We could buy bottled water or, in some cases, we were given it by relief workers. In these third world nations, however, there isn’t a Kroger down the road. And there isn’t relief coming in a few days. And repairs won’t happen in days or weeks to provide clean water. The infrastructure doesn’t exist and the funds simply are not there to produce it. In my trip to Burkina Faso last year, we got the chance to meet with several government officials from regional governors to the mayor of the capital city. All of them said that the number one issue was clean water.

When was the last time you dumped out a half empty water bottle because you didn’t finish it and it got warm in your car? Just think about it next time.

And NASA and anyone in the government who might be listening…which I’m sure no one is…I’m not some liberal greenie who is opposed to space exploration, but why don’t we stop wasting our money on fruitless efforts that have no real meaning and make no real difference in the grand scheme of things; when we could be helping people HERE and NOW. We like to talk about all the needs in the world and how someone whould do something about it. Well, I just gave you one idea that would literally save millions of lives.

Just a thought.

If you want to support some worthy ministries and missions who are digging wells and making a difference check out these sites:

The Dry Tears Campaign (this was started by some local Paulding Co. teenagers)

The Water Project

Blood Water Mission

Pledge of ???

Saw this article yesterday about how schools are struggling with giving kids the chance to opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance by remaining silent.  Many are considering giving a “Miranda” type warning that says the students have a “right to remain silent” during the pledge. Unbelievable! Read the article here, then watch this video from the past and see how amazingly prophetic Red Skelton was back in January 1969. A GREAT reminder of what this nation was intended to be and how we should feel about it.  On two separate occasions, this has been read into the official Congressional record. Maybe they need to do that again.

Friday Funny…with a serious question

This is one of my favorite bits from my favorite classic TV show. Don Knotts was pure comedy gold. Most people don’t know that Don Knotts is the only undefeated Emmy Award winner in TV history: Five straight nominations, five straight victories. No one could touch him in those days. Few today could touch him either. I laugh everytime I see this!

After you’ve laughed at this. Cry about this. How many of our politicians know as much about the constitution as Barney Fife? Sadly, many likely don’t. They don’t even read the legislation they vote on. They don’t even know what the founding fathers meant when they framed the constitution. Heck, our leaders don’t even want to hear the people…make them listen to us! The politicians just don’t get it, when it comes to the foundation of our government…The Constitution. Do you? Do your kids? They likely won’t be taught it correctly in school. It’s up to you and I as parents to know it ourselves, teach it to our kids, hold our leaders accountable to it, …make sure they know it…and vote accordingly.

Our leaders are servants of “We the people…” , not the other way around!

If you want a great site with lots of good, educational information and even a free copy of the Constitution, go HERE.

Thank You and a Sad Farewell…

george-w-bushI have strong political opinions, but I don’t talk about them much here and as a pastor, I try to be cautious about what I say. However, I was struck last Thursday as I watched President Bush’s farewell speech.  I was struck, first of all with sadness. I have been a supporter of him overall, but have disagreed on several things he has done or not done over these eight years. I won’t go into all of that here right now, but even though I didn’t agree on some decisions, I overall supported him. I was saddened because I could see in him a weariness. Never has a sitting President been so unfairly maligned by the media and left-wing ideologues like George W. Bush has.

I was saddened by the lack of media coverage of the speech on the main networks; while this week and likely next we are subjected to a “love-fest” over the incoming President.

It is sad to me that as I searched for an image of him that 90% of the images that came up were negative, mean-spirited, unfair caricatures of a man who has served this country well during some incredibly difficult years. It is okay to disagree with our leaders…which I do a lot of times…however, the way President Bush has been treated these past eight years is ridiculous. It saddens me that those who are driving this nation and its opinions and its image are the same ones who have such a venomous bitterness in their hearts toward someone whose only crimes have been to serve and lead this country during incredibly tough times; which we can only imagine how tough they have been.  It is a disgrace to our nation, how the Office Of The President Of The United States has been maligned (by the way there is no such official thing as the “Office of the President Elect” just in case you wondered).

I will not agree on most things…if anything… with the incoming President, because I think his ideals are dangerous for our nation. I think his direction is wrong. I think he doesn’t have the necessary experience and I think he has just surrounded himself with old ideas and old ideologues that didn’t work when they were tried before. That said, however, we as Christians and Conservatives must not be like those bitter people who have spent eight years destroying the character of a man who, I believe has led our nation well overall. I will pray for President Obama, just as I prayed for President Bush and for President Clinton. I will pray for his family and for those he surrounds himself with and listens to. I will pray above anything else that God would change his heart (especially on certain issues like abortion), that He would give him godly wisdom; and that God would protect our nation from people who would manipulate the President and the decisions he has to make, for their own political gain. Like it or not, God has allowed Obama to be in this leadership position for this season. And God is still on His throne.

So I am saddened, because I think George W. Bush is a man of strong character and conviction and he served us well. I heard Karl Rove once say that he would get so frustrated with the fact that the President would not fight back to the false and unfair accusations against him. Rove said that the President would always say, “Don’t worry about it Karl. History will get it right.” That’s the kind of leader I like. One who never takes his eye off the ball and understands that his job isn’t to be popular, but to lead with character, faith and conviction. I believe he’s right, Karl. History will indeed get it right. George W. Bush was a good President.

Finally, I was struck as I watched his speech last week with gratitude.  I want to say a “THANK YOU” to our President…as if he will ever read this little blog entry! I am thankful that he led the charge to dramatically lower taxes on Americans. Allowing us to keep more of our money. I am thankful because George W. Bush has kept us safe in an incredibly tumultuous time. The greatest attack on US soil in history took place September 11, 2001. Yet there have been NO ATTACKS on our soil since then. He has put into place policies that other Presidents…if they are smart…will continue so as to keep us safe in the future. I promise you that there were attacks that were thwarted that we never knew about; things that were done to keep our nation secure that we were never aware of; and because of his integrity, President Bush never told us things that might jeopardize that security. Because he was  not and is not interested in building a “legacy” as some politicians and former Presidents are. He was interested in doing the job he was hired by us to do.  In his words from last Thursday’s farewell speech, President Bush said, “You may not agree with all of the tough decisions I have had to make, but you’ll have to agree that I was willing to make them.” AMEN! Thank you Mr. President for making the tough decisions. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for serving this nation so strongly. Thank you for staying on your knees when you made decisions.

So on this, his last official day in office, from this citizen, “Thank you, farewell and may God bless you and your family.”