Why Are You Astonished?

Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:7)

I was listening to someone read through Revelation 17 and 18.  I do find it mysterious, hard to understand.  I think this is probably common.  As I listened to them read it, I was thinking, “Why am I so confused?  God is not a God of confusion.  He does not divulge everything to us.  But He does not give us His word to confuse us – those who are His.  He gives us truth, and we CAN search it, and He does give us answers in it.  Don’t get it?  Dig deeper!  Ask the Lord to show you!

Then they got to this verse.  “Why are you astonished?”

I think we can look at a book like Revelation, and probably feel two things:

– It’s so exciting!  It’s like a huge action movie.  Scary.  Exciting.  Dramatic…

– It probably doesn’t apply, cause I don’t understand it…

Well – it applies.  Jesus IS coming back.  And as horrific as Revelation can sound – it’s going to happen.  So we should pay attention.  We should strive to understand it.  We should tremble.  Not because we will be tossed away – those of us who are His, will always be His.  But – what about those who are not His?  That makes me tremble…

And – we should not assume that we are safe…

continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13)

I always read this verse in two ways.  If you are “comfortable”, and think that just because you prayed a prayer that you are “in”, but don’t really seek the Lord – are you really saved?  I would suggest you work that out WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING.  The Lord is loving – but just and righteous.  He’s not to be mocked…

And if you DO seek the Lord, albeit imperfectly (we are imperfect after all), I would still suggest you do so with fear and trembling.  For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good, perfect pleasing will.  Woah…  God works in me?  Through me?  That does make me tremble…

Are we pursing God?  With fear and trembling?  Are we desperate for Him?  Or are we comforted in and by the world and our flesh?  Do we love the Lord, or the world?  We can’t love both…

 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them (1 John 2:15)

Yet – I do love the world, so much…

So – God has given us His word.  To sanctify us.  To draw us to Him.  Over and over and over…  How do we respond to this invitation?

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20)

OPEN THE DOOR, brothers and sisters!  If you are His, LIVE LIKE IT!  Don’t just say the bible is confusing, hard do understand, or even out-dated.  Don’t excuse your sinful nature.  Don’t mock God!  Own your moral depravity, confess your need for Jesus, and REPENT!

Lest you think I am on a high horse here – I am in this with you.  I too need to repent.  I too need to cast off pleasures of this world, so that His blessings, which are infinitely greater than anything this world has to offer, can be realized in and through my life.  No – I am not “better at this than you”.  But this invitation – this challenge – this CHARGE – is for you just as it is for me.  I pray you do not take it lightly, or disregard it, simply because a fool is delivering the message in this post.  If it disturbs you, please just dig into the word of God, let Him and His word transform you.  And if you don’t “get it”, DIG IN DEEPER.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)

I’ll leave you with this video, where David Platt goes in to this much better than I ever could.  And where the word is read aloud first, which goes in to it much better than Platt ever could…

Welcome To the Real World…

It’s been almost a week since we headed home.  I’ve been awash of different emotions, feelings.  There is a desire to go back and see our brothers and sisters in Christ, to continue this very good work that the Lord is doing, to be used and useful for His kingdom!

If the Lord wills.

There is a desire to carry that into life in the states.  To plant a church, here or elsewhere.  To GO OUT.  To leave my life of comfort and pleasure, and become a missionary, here or abroad.

If the Lord wills.

There is a desire to curl up in a ball, under a blanket, and just SLEEP.  And this is ok, for a time.  But that time is up.

This week, I got my car fixed.  I visited with my mama, which was very, very sweet!  I got to hang with a couple of my grandkids.  I was able to connect with my wife.  I was able to connect with Dylan.  I was able to chat with Stella about the trip.  I was able to connect with my brother Mike about the trip.  I was able to share with my small group.  I was able to serve customers and co-workers at work.

This week, I was thrust into a sort of “depression”.  I really, really didn’t want to do anything.  I was tempted in every way – and fell on my face with regards to exercise and diet.  I was reminded of the Lord’s grace and mercy.  I was able to show mercy.  I failed, but the Lord does not.  I got up, by His grace.  I succeeded, again by his grace…

My kids are sick.  I am busier than I like.  I am overwhelmed.  I am – ok.  🙂  God is so good…

Home Sweet Home

What an amazing trip…

These people were so gracious, so loving, so funny, so on fire for the Lord and what he has for them – both in serving and in their own lives. God you are so good…

We missed our connecting flight. Oh well. By gods grace, we ended up just 2 1/2 hours late getting home ( some of the team or later, and they got home by six. Not too bad considering we were originally told we “might” get on a flight by eight at night).

Was so good to see P and Dylan. So wonderful and so sweet. Had a very nice brunch with them and we told them all about the trip.

Then – we crashed. Stella a little harder than I, as she caught a cold on the flight. Got up and went for a walk with P – it’s gorgeous at home here in Minnesota! Had an amazing dinner! Still got up to eat and crashed again.

Then just relaxed with P. Was soaked nice connecting with my wife again.

I’m so glad, Lord, that you let Stella and me on this trip together. Such a blessing! God you are so good…

Perspectives…

Well we missed our connecting. I could grumble about it. But instead here is something I learned while on our trip, to put things in perspective.

We got Burger King for the team one day. For twenty people, the cost of Burger King was more than the cost of materials to replace a roof in the Dominican Republic…

Last Day…

Today is bittersweet… We leave our family in Santo Domingo, to rejoin our family in Minnesota. God is so good…

We went back to Haina today, to do VBS, and pass out Operation Christmas Child gifts. Today I was filled with joy, watching the teachers watch their kids as they opened the gifts. I can’t help but think the Lord looks on us this same way, as we receive and rejoice in the tremendous gift He has given us…

Leaving for one last dinner with our brothers and sisters in Santo Domingo. Then we head to the airport… 😦

First Time Obedience…

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
(‭Luke‬ ‭6‬:‭46-49‬ NIV)

Last night we studied this passage as a group – both US and Dominicans. Our method was to read this ourselves, write down some thoughts on what the Lord showed us, then share and pray as a group. It was so encouraging to hear how some young believers are growing in the word, in their faith, in the Lord!

The Lord reminded me of the foolish builder I WAS, before He saved me. And of the wise builder He is making me to be. This is awesome, when I stop and look at what the Lord has done.

The challenge I was given was this – do I trust Jesus enough to do what He says, IMMEDIATELY?

Many parents in church teach their children first time obedience. This is not to lord anything over their kids. It’s because they love them and know what is best. Just like my loving Father.

Lord You are so good… Please help me to remember, to trust, to obey, IMMEDIATELY…