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“You meant… but God meant”


Joseph has one of the greatest lines in the Bible, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Gen. 50:20)

I’ve remembered it as life hits me like a bus – or quoted it when someone else felt thrown under the same bus.

It means that evil doesn’t triumph, even though it sometimes looks that way.
It means that the worst motives on earth don’t rule, God the Ruler with the best motives does.
It means that all the wickedness, scheming and hatred has restraint, for it cannot thwart God’s purpose.


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Living with a Limp


Jacob wrestled with God.

That is not an easy subject to get your arms around, but the Bible actually forms that exact word picture, “…for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” He endured 20-some years of struggle over 4 chapters. Not only did Jacob have an exhausting physical push-and-shove with the angel, he had a whole family thing he struggled that unfolds, particularly with his father-in-law, Laban.


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Text a Prayer


When I was skiing years ago, I’d decided to jump off an incline and go airborne. What I didn’t know, however, was that the slope I was about to land on was closed off by a large rope that stretched across the place where I was supposed to land. 5′ high and 50′ across, this rope became my destiny. I went into the air, saw the rope, tried to clear it, failed and went into an unexpected downfall. It was as the rope became entangled within my feet and skis and I was pulled back to earth. In that moment, I prayed an instantaneous SOS prayer.

As I remember it went something like, “Oh, Lor…” SPLAT.
He answered me, but not in an audible voice. It was kind of like, “Don’t you ever do that again.”

Sometimes prayer is a kneel-on-the-floor and spend time with God kind of thing. Sometimes it’s a briefer – and very, very desperate.

Nehemiah prayed this kind of prayer in Nehemiah 2:4. It was short, and his boss, the king asking him a question and him needing to know the answer. Some people have called this “arrow” prayer, as in shooting off an arrow toward God that says, “Help!” Some have called it “faxing” a prayer – and now, “texting” a prayer to God.

Whatever you call it, it is the same principle. When we think things are going well, God is there. But when the chips are down and we’re out of our minds with desperation and fear, He’s still there. Call on Him.

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What You Need to Know If God Asks For the Impossible


Abram (later renamed Abraham) was a man God decided to use to lay down the foundation of how man and God would walk together. He’s actually called by many, “The Father of Faith.” Among the words that come out of the story, some are “faith” and “covenant,” or promise.

God entered into a covenant relationship with Abraham and his family for all generations to come. But before that promise was made, God spoke to him. God is a God who speaks. He gives us His spoken word, and He also now gives us His written word.
Listen to God’s first words to Him. Can you imagine God speaking to you and saying, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1)

It’s pretty clear to me that when God speaks, He wants us to believe and then go for it. It’s not easy – after all God often seems to speak about things that we might not even conceive as possible.

  • “I’m going to make a great nation out of you – even though you don’t have any children at all and you’re over 90 years old.”
  • “I’m going to bless all the nations of the world through you.”
  •  Or, “Your descendants will number more than the stars in the heavens.”

That was Abraham’s story. Sometimes, Abraham seemed to believe God easily; sometimes he laughed. But always …God’s word came to pass.

What is God saying to you? And how are you taking it?

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When Your Flippant Faith Stinks


I saw Bradford Pear trees along the streets of Atlanta years ago.  I asked a few locals if the pears from the trees tasted good, they laughed at me. “They don’t bear fruit,” they said, as though I was the village idiot. My question was, “Why call them pear trees if there are no pears?”  I may not be the sharpest guy, but I thought it was a good question. When we lived in Tennessee, we loved looking at our five huge Bradford Trees, but hated managing them. When we sold the home, the buyer actually required me cut them down (and pay for it!) in our agreement.  Smart fella. In moving to Texas, my wife told me she’d found the house she wanted.  My first question was not about price or location or taxes.  It was, “It doesn’t have any Bradford Pear trees does it?” “Only one,” she said, “and it’s cute.”  …Won’t be for long, I thought. I’ve spent so much of my home owner’s life pruning, repairing, raking the leaves of, and generally detesting the trees we’d had in Tennessee. Downsize to cute, and still I remain with truckloads of crashed leaves and branches, my chainsaw, and more pruning –even a damaged roof! The Bradford Pear is as troublesome as an undisciplined child.  It just won’t do anything right – and it gets more complicated with age. According to my friend, Steve McCary, the Bradford Pear is like sinful flesh of a not-so-serious Christian.

  1. It looks beautiful when in full leaf, but never bears any fruit – never.
  2. In the Spring, it stinks when the leaves come out – the stench of it’s own glory is nauseating.
  3. If it is not pruned, the branches grow into a complex system, rubbing against one another in conflict and friction.
  4. Left alone, the branches become heavy enough to split from the trunk.
  5. The upper branches can only bear their own weight.  No ice, snow, or wind with rain.

There are times when those who say they are Christians are eerily similar to this fruitless pear tree.  Jesus said something about trees like that.  Concerning a fig tree that was supposed to bear fruit, Jesus said, “…if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.”  Luke 13:9 Don’t be a Christian in name only.  And don’t buy a house with a bunch of Bradford Pears. So now you know.


Knowing what God thinks: Finding Our Rest and Purpose in the Storm


Sickness happens. We’re sure of that.

The question is: at whose hand does it happen? Is sickness merely part of the human condition in which all of us are victims? Is my sickness caused by sin, present or past, and a consequence for what I’ve done or failed to do? Is it the diabolical curse of Satan that brings us into physical ruin and weakness? Or is sickness from God, a part of His sovereign purpose and plan that is brought for my good and His glory?

The answer is Yes.


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