Sun almost set - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Never give up.

I avoid hatred. I don’t think hate solves anything. Ever. It’s one of those emotions that can move you to do terrible things, and if you get into a lifestyle of hatred, you will become a miserable person. And even Scripture tells us that we’re never supposed to hate another person. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done to us or how they’ve treated us or how they’ve treated someone you love, hate never improves the situation. It just makes you miserable.

But what about our enemy? Our real enemy. Not Osama bin Laden or any of the men and women who have done such evil things to each other. Not people. Because people are never our enemies. Satan is. And he hates us so very much. Is it okay to hate him?

And the moment I start talking about Satan many people may start rolling their eyes because we don’t like to think about him as a real person who’s truly after us. But he is. And he’s not some costumed clown in a red suit and pitchfork as our culture would like to believe. He’s not a man in a suit. He’s not a terrifying monster. He’s brilliant and he’s beautiful and he’s alluring, and he knows us better than we know ourselves.

And he tears people apart. And he takes things that are good and corrupts them. And he gets in between people who are making a difference and tempts them to hurt each other, and before you know it, they can’t even talk to each other anymore. He fills our heads with lies, and because we are broken people we listen. And the only consolation is that God is big enough to take the situations that Satan had destroyed and can still do something great with them.

Paul and Barnabas are a good example. They disagreed about a young man named John Mark. You can read it in Acts 14:36-40. But they fought about it so much that they split up because they couldn’t work together anymore. Did their ministries end? No. God still used them. And maybe some would say that it was God’s will for them to go their separate ways. But I don’t think it’s ever God’s will for us to be in conflict with another believer. Not like that. Not the kind of conflict that splits you apart and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

God still used Paul and Barnabas separately. They still did remarkable things around the world. But as far as we know, they never reconciled. Now they’re together in heaven. I wonder how that went when they spoke to each other again for the first time in so long.

Sun almost set - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun almost set – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Micah 7:7-8.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
    I wait confidently for God to save me,
    and my God will certainly hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
    For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.

Satan is going to throw everything he has at us. I don’t think any of us really understand how much he hates us. What we have to do is to realize what is happening.

Satan hates us and wants us to fall. He wants us to go to pieces. He wants us to focus the sum of our disappointment and our fears and our loneliness on each other. If he can’t separate us from God (and he can’t, by the way), he will manipulate us and use us to hurt each other, to drive each other away. And we’re so good at rationalizing that we are always in danger of listening to his temptation and supporting it with our own reasoning … so it makes sense to us. And we think we’re doing something good, but we’re really just playing into his hands.

But if whatever path you’re choosing to act on contradicts Scripture in any way, don’t do it.

So what if you’re in the position of watching people give in to Satan’s taunts and threats?

Pray.

And if you know them well enough, confront.

And if that doesn’t change anything … let them go. God will take care of it.

Quite “by accident” this morning, when I logged into Biblegateway.com to get the verse, it was set on The Message as the translation. I use the Message sometimes because I like to get the feel of a whole passage. This is the whole context of the verses for today:

But me, I’m not giving up.
   I’m sticking around to see what God will do.
I’m waiting for God to make things right.
   I’m counting on God to listen to me.
Don’t, enemy, crow over me.
   I’m down, but I’m not out.
I’m sitting in the dark right now,
   but God is my light.
I can take God’s punishing rage.
   I deserve it—I sinned.
But it’s not forever. He’s on my side
   and is going to get me out of this.
He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways.
   I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is.
And my enemy will see it, too,
   and be discredited—yes, disgraced!
This enemy who kept taunting,
   “So where is this God of yours?”
I’m going to see it with these, my own eyes—
   my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter.

We have an enemy, and he hates us. And he’s going to do everything he can to break us down and tear us apart, and there are going to be days when he succeeds. But God is bigger. And God is stronger. And God is going to make everything right again. And Satan is going to see that. Actually, Satan already knows that.

It’s up to us not to give up. It’s up to us to keep doing the right thing. To keep living lives that please God, living according to the Scripture, living according to the Spirit. And God will work everything out.

Grainery door at Safe Haven Farm

Waiting for God to open the door

Having a dream can be really discouraging at times. Because you can see how the pieces of your life could possibly fit together to achieve what you’ve always wanted, but for some reason God doesn’t choose to act the way you think He will. And it can begin to feel like opportunity after opportunity passes you by. Maybe God chooses to do that so we never get the idea that we orchestrated the events in our lives. I don’t know. I just know it can be very frustrating.

So when I see all sorts of opportunities going past in things that I feel like I should be doing, I start wondering if I’m doing the right thing at all. And my first inclination is to drop everything I’m doing and chase after what I feel is right for me to be doing. But is that the right thing to do?

Grainery door at Safe Haven Farm

Grainery door at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Today’s verse isn’t a verse. Actually, it’s a whole book. I’ve been struggling with this for a while, the concept of being completely spontaneous versus being prepared. Even now, I don’t think I can tell you which one is better; I just know that God uses both. And what matters behind both of them is the heart and the motivation.

I never really paid much attention to the Book of Nehemiah. I knew what it was about: a Jewish cupbearer to the King of Babylon has a vision to see his people reunited and the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. God works through him, and in spite of opposition from enemies and infighting between workers, Nehemiah and his team rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days.

Usually Nehemiah is a book that people usually use to study leadership. But it said something different to me in the last few days.

In the first chapter, when Nehemiah is told that Jerusalem has fallen into ruin, he is distraught. And in verses 5 through 9 of chapter 1, Nehemiah has a heart to heart with God:

“O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses. Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’ ”

Nehemiah had a dream, something that God had put in his heart that he wanted to achieve in his lifetime.

I think everyone has dreams. Everyone has a vision for leaving a legacy or making their mark on history in some way. We all want to make a difference. And somehow we have this idea that dreams will come true as long as we’re good people and sincere in our beliefs and treat others the way we want to be treated. But that kind of Disney princess theology doesn’t really hold water. Because you can be good and sincere and compassionate and still never see your dreams come true.

What did Nehemiah do?

Well, he prayed about it. And he went about his everyday business until the king asked him why he was so sad (Neh. 2:2). So Nehemiah was able to explain the problem, and because he was a good servant (and because God had given him grace), the king offered to help. The king provided everything that Nehemiah would need, from supplies and personnel to protection on the road to Jerusalem.

Maybe I’m stretching this. Maybe this isn’t what the Book of Nehemiah is about. I’m not a scholar and I don’t know a lot about Bible culture. But to me, Nehemiah’s story is about being prepared to achieve your dreams.

I know people who have dropped everything and run toward their dreams to achieve them. And God has called them to do that, I have no doubt. Because God has done amazing things through them and they have achieved the desires of their heart. And that’s something only God can help you do.

But what do you do if you have a dream but you know you can’t leave? What happens when you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but you know that God has called you to something bigger?

That was what happened to Nehemiah. He knew that God had given him a purpose, but he recognized that his purpose was far bigger than he was. And instead of dropping all his responsibilities, he waited for the right moment. He waited until God had arranged for everything to work out, and then all he had to do was say yes.

Did he still have trouble? Yes. Throughout the book, Nehemiah experiences all sorts of setbacks and dangers and opposition. But that never stopped him.

I guess the point of this thought today is that everyone has dreams, but we aren’t all called to accomplish them in the same way. While there is a large part of me that wants to run away from everything that I’m struggling through in my life right now, I know I’m not supposed to. Because everything I’m experiencing is helping me prepare for what is coming. It’s not wrong to be steady. It’s not wrong to wait. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not following God’s commands.

It just means you’re waiting for Him to open a door.

Courage while you wait

Today’s verse is Psalm 27:14.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
      Be brave and courageous.
      Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

The Amplified Version says it this way:

14Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

I have blogged before on waiting with patience and waiting confidently. But I’ve never really noticed this until today. This verse says to wait for God to do what He’s going to do, but it gives us something to do while we wait.

Be brave. Be courageous.

I’ve never seen that before. To me, that means we are to be brave and courageous when we face life. Because what is more uncertain? And what’s scarier? And what is more painful than life?

We are to wait patiently for God. We can’t rush Him. We can’t convince Him to move faster. God has a certain timeline and a specific plan that He’s working out, and we don’t have access to why. We have Scripture which can tell us all about His motivation, but it won’t tell us specifically what He’s doing. Just that it’s good.

What do you do when all you can do is wait?

Be brave as you go to work. Be brave as you go to school. Be brave as you stay home. Be brave as you clean your house or take care of your family or hang out with your friends.

When you’re scared and uncertain, don’t shut down or run away. When you’ve lost everything, keep going. When you’re sad and discouraged, don’t give up hope. And don’t give up on God. And don’t deceive yourself (or let Satan deceive you) that God isn’t doing anything in your life.

God is always working.

Courage has always been defined to me as action in spite of fear. We are to be courageous. We are to act when we are afraid. We are to move when we are uncertain. We are to do when we don’t feel like it.

Waiting is a part of life. And waiting on God is the larger part of a Christian life. Because God has to work out the kinks in us before He lets us continue doing what He’s called us to do.

The hardest part of waiting is not knowing. At least, it’s the hardest part for me. Because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do all the time. And I don’t know where God is going to put me tomorrow. And I don’t know what He’s going to want me to say. And I don’t know if I will always be here or if I will always be on my own or if He’s going to pick me up and move me.

And I’m such a control freak that I have convinced myself that knowing for sure would be better for me. But it wouldn’t be better. By letting God have control of that part of my life, I have to trust Him. And for a control freak, learning how to trust is the most important part of being a Christian.

So I’m waiting.

And even though there are days when I’m afraid, and even though just about every day I face uncertainty, I’m not called to sit around. I’m called to be active. I’m called to do things. I’m called to face the day with courage, not meaning that I shouldn’t be scared. I’m human. I’m going to be afraid of things I don’t understand. But just because I’m afraid doesn’t mean I have to shut down. All it means, is that I have to put my faith in God and trust that He will give me the strength to carry on.