Friday, July 30, 2010

Free Bird in a Cage

. . . vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

It is crucial, yet so difficult in a crisis, to remember to look to my only true hope! My dearest friend or most loving family member may be unable to release me from my limitations, but help is a heartbeat away. I'm free at a moment's notice to go straight to the source of immediate, life-changing power.

Today's reading was a great reminder to keep my eyes on Jesus when frustration sets in and I feel stuck in the muck. My prayer for you is that you will remember to call on God, "with whom we shall do valiantly." I pray you will see Him at work treading down your foes right before your very eyes.

God's way of helping is a sight to see, surprising and ironic. Today's New Testament section (Acts 28:16-31) is a prime example of the laugh-out-loud humor that happens when God decides to turn the tables. The apostle Paul was preaching the gospel from a protected position as a prisoner under Roman guard, just like a cartoon Tweety bird safely out of reach of a hungry cat.

Technically Paul was the one in the cage, but for all practical purposes the Jews were his captive audience, taunted like Sylvester, with their mouths watering, but powerless to pounce. Though they wished Paul dead, they had to listen to his arguments. They couldn't touch or harm him in any way while he awaited his day in court.

May the good news have free reign in your heart and in our mouth, even if you feel you are weighed down by chains of doubt and dilema. May the Holy Spirit empassion you and me to take in, and dispense, the truth of the Word day by day. May his joy lift your heart till you feel as light and happy as a certain little yellow-feathered friend!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Paul and his group were stopped repeatedly, even though they were doing exactly what God told 'em to do. They were trying to share the good news, and must have wondered what in the world was going on when they were blocked at every turn. All the delays were necessary, though, to put Paul in the mood to see what God really had in mind:

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia,
having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to
speak the word in Asia.

And when they had come up to Mysia,
they attempted to go into Bithynia,

but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
And a vision
appeared to Paul in the night:
a man of Macedonia was standing there,

urging him and saying,
“Come over to Macedonia
and help us.”

- Acts 16:6-9

Forbidden to speak the word in Asia?! That seems pretty strange in light of the Great Commission. Obviously God didn't intend for the Gospel to be off-limits to the Asian people, to the people of Bithynia, or anybody else. One of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith is that the good news of Jesus is for EVERYONE.

At that particular moment, however, God had something specific in mind for Paul and his little Gospel road show. The Good News bus was stopped dead in its tracks, but not for long. On close inspection, what appeared to be senseless roadblocks were actually helpful STOP SIGNS, indications to look and listen for direction.

The next time you feel like you're doing nothing but spinning your wheels, I pray that you'll be blessed with the presence of mind to calmly pause and read the Spirit signs. When you encounter delays that just don't make sense as you're trying our best to follow the right road, don't take it personally. Remember that there's specific direction at those stop signs of life.

And though the Lord give you
the bread of adversity and the water of affliction . . .
your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right
or when you turn to the left.
- Isaiah 30:20-21