The fire that consumes

This morning as I lay there in a stupor between wanting to continue
sleeping and not wanting to get up, I fell back asleep and had an
amazing dream. Like all dreams, they aren’t exactly life-like in all
aspects, but this one seemed to speak to me.

I dreamed my family and I was out in the woods somewhere. We were in
some cabin our house. I didn’t recognize it, but was fully comfortable
there. Somehow my laptop computer was open on a small table by the
front door and it was connected to the internet. I wasn’t even in front
of it because my family and I were doing something else. All of a
sudden, Gail and I looked at the screen and we were getting some kind of
pop-up from the US Forest Service telling us that there was a forest
fire in our area. We thought, that’s kind of interesting, how did they
know where we were? But all of a sudden they had an online aerial view
of the very house we were staying in and showed the fire moving rapidly
towards us. The forest service was trying to get us to evacuate! We
looked out the open front door and saw what we had not noticed before –
the flames within 75 yards of the house and moving towards us at a rapid
rate.

We grabbed the kids and threw them in the car – interestingly enough, it
was a white version of Shane’s “God Car.” We drove away as the flames
were lapping at the edges of the drive we were driving on. That’s when
I woke up.

This morning, in my devotions I read this passage of scripture:
“…the LORD knows how to rescue godly men from trials….” 2 Peter
2:9
The previous verses tell about rescuing Noah and his family
from the flood, Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom and
others.

Interesting. It felt like God was telling me to stay away from
the edges of life and cling to the center of eternity. It was like He
was telling me through the passage in 2 Peter and in my dream that we
need to make sure we are at a safety point. But the best news was that
HE IS ABLE. God is good…ALL THE TIME!

“He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
And by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on him
The iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:5, 6

When we stop and imagine what God did for us. We’ve been pulled away
from the fire – sometimes at the last moment and we feel very grateful.
But have we remembered that the one who set us free from the fire,
stayed back and got burned so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus hung on that
cross for you and me. He hung on that cross and died for us. But in
Isaiah 53:11 it says that after the suffering, He saw the light of life.
Yea God! Not only did I get saved by Jesus taking the punishment for
me, but Jesus was also reunited with his father too.

It makes me want to stay even farther away from the edge – so I don’t
have to get burned.

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Pay Attention

7/26/2004 7:04 AM
Title: PAY ATTENTION</b?

S: “.I am the LORD your God who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid
attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your
righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have
been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains.” Isaiah
48:17-19

O: I never knew that “peace like a river” – the song – came from
Isaiah 48 and 49. It’s actually quite amazing that so many songs came
from scripture and not just ideas. I think that’s pretty good,
actually. But Isaiah is saying here that if we would have listened to
God and his ways, we would have had an ever-flowing river of peace and a
constancy of righteousness like the sea. But he also states that our
descendants would be like the sands of the sea – although he doesn’t say
they will all happen in one generation.

A: I think God is trying to encourage me and say that I need to
learn that HIS ways are always the BEST way. I think he’s trying to
allow me to follow him and not walk away from him. I think he’s trying
to allow me to work with him and not do things according to my standard,
and not his. In other words, God is promising great things for me if I
would only listen, if I would only do it his way and stop fighting him
and stop doing it my way. I have a tendency to fight anything new that
comes along – especially from God. I all too easily feel I’m pretty
good and like I don’t need to make any changes. But God seems to never
let me rest on my laurels. He pushes, he prods, he leads and he
disciplines. And all to often I fight him. Isaiah says we should pay
attention to HIS commands and then we will receive God’s blessings. I
guess it’s a lot like Hebrews 2:1 where it says “We must pay more
careful attention to what we’ve heard so that we do not drift away.”
(paraphrase) It’s like we’re on a river and there’s nowhere to go but
forward or backward. We cover a lot of ground at some point in time,
but then we think it’s only right that we should get a time of slack and
a time of rest. We say things like, “I’ve been working hard a long
time, I think I’ll just sit here and rest awhile.” We feel it’s okay to
do things or go places that really don’t feed our Christian nature and
we begin to drift. The problem is that drifting will lead to
destruction.

I think God is calling me to a higher calling. One where we are truly
listening, and truly following. I know that He is calling me to listen,
to pay attention to His commands, and He is asking me to follow. I need
to submit. Submission to God is the key here, I think.

P: Lord, I want to be willing to follow you. Please make me
willing to be willing. I want to be willing to listen to you. Please
humble my heart and my spirit to be your servant and your friend. I
pray that I will pay better attention to your commands, your decrees,
and your desires for me. I pray you will lead me to walk with you. I
pray you will lead me to listen to you. I want to get to the place,
Lord, that when you ask something of me I say, “You know, God has never
been wrong yet, and I trust him – okay, no questions asked, no fighting
Him, I’ll just do it.” I’m not there yet, God, but that’s where I want
to be. That’s where I want to go in my life. Please focus my energy in
your direction.

I want your peace like a river. I want your righteousness like a sea.
I want your blessing of children. I want your presence in everything I
do. I pray, Lord, for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I pray for the Holy
Spirit to lead me. I pray for Jesus Christ to come into my life and
live in me. Please fill me and guide me and today I rededicate myself
to you. I love you.

True Religion

From my journal this morning….

7/17/2004 6:31 AM
Title: TRUE RELIGION

S:</b? "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is
this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep
oneself from being polluted by the world.”

O: Interesting to note that this is looking after orphans and
widows IN their distress. James makes it sound like this means to look
after them when they lose their parents or their husbands. But after
their distress is gone, you can move on. Orphans may always be in
distress, but perhaps not. Once someone took them it, it would be their
responsibility.

A: I think the church does a pretty good job of taking care of
widows. They are usually old ladies and we spend the time comforting
when the initial shock of things hits. We spend time helping around
their house, etc. Orphans. I don’t know of any orphans other than
grown children except for maybe ________. She was about 13 when her mom
died and she was essentially alone in life. Her older sister took her
in at that point and that worked out good also. But it seems like we
did okay with that one too. I don’t think it’s about overtaking the
parent’s role, and I don’t think it’s about becoming the parents to
them, unless they are very young. But it’s about seeing them through
their stress, helping where they need it, and getting them back on their
feet.

But the next part of this is interesting to me – someone who pushes for
and wants to do evangelism at such a huge part of church-life. This
next statement actually sounds like we should build walls of protection
around us – “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Does that
mean that we should move away and build walls around ourselves, and take
the time to stay away from people of the world?

I guess when I first read that, I almost thought that. But as I read it
again, it’s not saying stay away from the world. It’s not saying to
ignore the people of the world. It’s not saying we should do something
different, but it is saying that we should follow God and stay pure.
It’s like Jesus’ statement that we should be in the world, but not of
the world.

P: I think that’s what is going on here, Lord, at our home. We
are in the world, but not of the world. We haven’t sold our house. We
haven’t sold our home and haven’t found anything that we all were
comfortable in and didn’t know how we would get to move there or here or
wherever. In other words, we’re on the edge of the country. In a
matter of 5 years, we will probably be surrounded by houses that will
put us directly into the city. Perhaps then we will move.

I just kind of feel like, Lord, that you may be leading us to stay here.
Our garden was in full bloom when we first put the house up for sale –
so it’s been about 10 months. The average is a year. Well, what are
you calling us to do, Lord.

I know that you are leading us. I trust your leadership, Lord. It
almost appears as if this verse really pertains – keep yourself from
being corrupted by the world. As the father of my house, I need to make
sure that I spend enough time with my kids, designing a plan that will
keep them listening to you. It’s my responsibility right now to make
sure that they are keeping themselves pure in you. Lord, I pray for the
Holy Spirit to lead me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I pray
for the Holy Spirit to lead me and to focus my energy and my family
towards you. Please come in, Lord.

I pray for the outdoor service today, Lord. I pray you will bring
people to come and listen to you. I pray you will bring people to focus
on you. I pray that Jim will speak to us and he will be comfortable to
do so. I pray you will help us to listen to you.

I also pray for the weather, Lord. I t looks like the fog will burn
off. Rain could be a problem, but I pray you will lead us, Lord and
keep the weather good for us.

Perfect Peace

7/16/2004 5:03 AM
Title: PERFECT PEACE IN GOD

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he
trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever for the LORD, the LORD, is the
Rock eternal.” “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my
spirit longs for you.” Isaiah 26:3, 4, 9

This morning, I read this passage in Isaiah. Isaiah is simply saying
here that when we keep our minds on God, we will be at peace. I think I
see vs. 9 saying that when we haven’t kept our minds steadfast on God
that is when things really begin to take off and we wake up in the
middle of the night and cannot sleep. We get up and still do not have
peace. When we don’t have peace, our soul yearns for God.

Is your soul yearning for God today? Where are you on the path of
yearning or turning?

I woke up at 3:30 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. Something
seemed to be troubling me and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Eventually I had to get up and spend a more significant amount of time
with the Lord today to see if we could figure it out. We did and am I
ever glad.

I was telling Gail about it as we went on our daily ritual date-walk.
It was intriguing to see how God was moving me and working on my heart.
It’s also very humbling to know that I am a target of God’s affection.
He wants my steadfast love, trust and mind. I want to give it to Him.
I pray you will too!

rog

On The Verge

I just feel like we are on the verge of something really great. Pastor
Jim and I were talking the other day, and we understand it very clearly
that God did not bring two other pastors on board at The Adventure (3
total) to maintain our work and reach in the community. On the
contrary, we honestly feel like God opened some very unusual doors to do
just that for the purpose of making a significant impact on our
community.

Jim, Shane and I are very much in tune with what is happening in our
communities and how they are bursting at the seams. So we’re trying to
get things in place – foundationally, missionally, and strategically –
to see God truly work.

Ellen White says that God rarely works in the miraculous, but usually
according to well-laid plans. We’ve begun to lay those well-laid plans.
And we can’t believe how much is actually going on

Preparing for Russell Burrill’s “Prophecy Explosion”
Leo Schreven’s All Power and All Power 2
Small Group Training
Contagious Christian Training
Kindness Projects
And so much more….

But I just feel like we need to make sure and move forward only while
we’re on our knees.

Someone once told the story of a woodpecker who just as he struck a
tree, it was also hit by lightening. The woodpecker, although a bit
fazed, walked away saying – “Wow! Look at the power I have!”

We are in danger, often, of being just like that crazy woodpecker –
trying to take credit for the power that is not ours….

Forward on our knees….

Jake Bohlender Funeral

We did the funeral of Jake Bohlender today. Wow! All I can say is
that I am impressed with the professionalism of the firefighting community.
As a Chaplain for the Windsor-Severance Fire Department, I was able to see a
little more the inside workings of what was going on today. I was
impressed.

I was impressed with the team from Brighton who came to honor their friend
and co-worker. I was impressed with the Evans Department who stood at
attention while we drove past in the procession. I was impressed with the
“Last Call” that drove so many of us to tears.

Jake received the honor he was due. Struck down at 26 years old,
struck down and leaving his 6 year-old daughter. But today, God showed up.
It was an awesome service and things went exceptionally well. Okay, we had
some technical glitches, but that even worked out for good, because then
Angie, Jake’s sister was able to do her testimony live, rather than on video
tape – which was much better.

Special times today. Very hard times for all involved. A lot of memories
we will carry with us for a long time – of Jake, of the service, and of the
firefighting community.

Thank you, Lord, for such a good event to honor someone so brave, as Jake.