Divine Deluge!

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” Actually, it has been raining a lot here in Green Bay. We are truly wondering if we will have a white Christmas.

Monday morning, I was driving to work. At a particular stop light, I normally turn left. However, I could not turn left because the road was closed. There was a police car and some orange barricades. As I drove straight, I looked to see why the road was shut down. Flooding. There was a 40-foot section of road that was covered in water. I just had to go a few extra blocks out of my way to get to the Olive Garden.

Here is the ironic part. I was listening to the worship song, “Open Up the Heavens.” One of the lines in the song says, “Open up the floodgates. A mighty river. Flowing from your heart…”

So that song is playing and I am seeing some flooding happening right before my eyes. That whole scenario got my brain thinking.

flash_floods

Historically, floods have always been associated with destruction. Noah and the ark ring a bell? I lived in Minneapolis, MN during the flooding of 1993. I still recall some of those images. In 2013, my wife and I were in New Orleans. On a tour of the city, we saw flood damage from Hurricane Katrina. You can probably recall some flooding in the recent past as well. Here is a funny picture from Alberta, Canada.

CALGARY, ALBERTA.:  JUNE 21, 2013 --  Blake Wartenbe catches his wife Desiree as she jumps over flowing water in a flooded downtown Calgary, Alberta on June 21, 2013. For City story by ? (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald)

CALGARY, ALBERTA.: JUNE 21, 2013 — Blake Wartenbe catches his wife Desiree as she jumps over flowing water in a flooded downtown Calgary, Alberta on June 21, 2013. For City story by ? (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald)

Here are two observations of mine:

  1. Flooding will cause diversion. You may have to travel a different path due to road conditions.
  2. Flooding will cause destruction.  There is always cleanup after a flood.

 

Let’s look at a flood from a different perspective now, not a historical one.

Flooding can be a good thing when a spiritual perspective is adopted. Think about God’s heart for a moment. Can you fathom how much love it contains? Is there a limit to the grace and mercy of the Almighty? What levy is going to hold it all back? When God decides to pour out His spirit, nothing can stop. It will go where it pleases and do what it wants. Spiritual flooding is a good thing. Let’s look at those two items again.

  1. Flooding will cause diversion. In my sin, I need to be diverted now and then. Sometimes, I don’t see the end result but God does. He loves me too much for me to go down that road. A flooding of God’s spirit can divert me from sin. I like that.
  2. Flooding will cause destruction. Every time I choose something other than God, I am building my own kingdom. Ultimately, my kingdom will end in ruin. A great crash is coming. God’s flooding can destroy the works that I am trying to do. This is a good thing. Now, with my ugly excuses for a kingdom cleared away, God can begin building HIS Kingdom in my life. The destruction was necessary. Rebuilding the new requires destruction of the old.

 

If you like a challenge, let me set one out for you.

For the next week, ask God to flood your life.

Ask Him to fill your heart with extra compassion during this particular season.

Ask Him to break your heart for the lost souls around you.

Ask Him to cleanse your heart from all sin.

Ask Him to prepare your heart for great and mighty things to come.

Go ahead and ask for a flood. But be careful because He may just do it.

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My Haiti Experience; Chosen…part 2

The last post left us with smooth sailing along with Jonah. He was on his way to Tarshish. That was the west, the wrong way. Let’s pick up the story.

When we make choices that displease God, I think His heart gets heavy. Yes, we can make the Almighty Creator feel sad. He loves us and has the best life in mind for us. So why don’t we trust Him? Now we find Jonah in a boat heading west. He paid the fee and is feeling sleepy, so he goes below deck and naps. (1:4) But then the wind kicks up. A storm starts blowing and howling. It is described as “a violent storm.”(1:5) Even the sailors were afraid, and Jonah is found sleeping! It was bad enough that the captain had to find Jonah and ask him to pray, but he didn’t know that Jonah was in no spiritual condition to pray! (1:6)

Let me just ask one question. But before you finish reading this article, take a moment to answer this question in your own mind and heart; “Is it ever worth it to run from the Lord?”

So let’s skip to verse 17 of the first chapter. I know I jumped over some important ideas in the chapter, so when you have time, it makes a great read. This is an important verse so I will include it here. “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

I think God got Jonah’s attention.

At the beginning of the story, God chose Jonah to go to Nineveh. Nineveh was a physical place with a spiritual purpose. I think that any place can be significant in God’s eyes. May I suggest that God has a reason for the fish even though Jonah was supposed to go to Nineveh? It comes to this: God chose Jonah and then sent a fish to get Jonah’s attention. Here are my thoughts on why God used the fish.

jonah2

1. It was to save Jonah’s life. He would have drowned if God did not intervene.

2. It was to serve Jonah a lesson. The intensity of our disobedience is directly related to the intensity of God’s discipline.

3. It was to show Jonah love. He could have let Jonah drown, but he didn’t. He could have called another prophet to Nineveh, but he didn’t. He could have sent fire and brimstone to destroy the wicked city, but he didn’t. Instead, God demonstrated His love for Jonah.

So here is where the “rubber meets the road.” God has chosen you and me for His purposes. If you find yourself in the fish, turn your heart back to God. Here are the first few words of Jonah’s prayer: “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
God will answer. So stop going west (away) from God and head east (toward) Him.

My Haiti Experience; Chosen…part 1

I think that one of the greatest privileges we have as humans is the free will to choose. Choose what? Anything and everything. My clothes for the day or where I will eat dinner tonight are choices that are common. Sometimes I need to choose things that are more important, like summer activities for my kids or where to spend a tax refund. Every day is filled with all types of choices! And I get to make whatever choice I feel like making! When I choose something, or when the final decision is set, it means that I have already gone through a mental course of filters and biases. Example: we had macaroni and cheese for dinner. Here are some of the filters and biases that I would have had to process through to make that decision.

  1. What food is available to me right now?
  2. Am I feeding myself or my family as well?
  3. How much time do I have?
  4. Do I feel like taking the time to make something?
  5. Is this food healthy?
  6. Do I have vegetables to go with the main dish?
  7. What will my family think about this food?
  8. Did we have this food in the last week?
  9. What did I have for lunch?

Do you see what happens here? Every decision is the result of going through this process. I would guess that most often, this process is very fast or even unconscious. The more difficult the decision, the more time is spent in the decision-making process.

 

So what does this have to do with Haiti? In my first two articles, I explained the ideas of God creating me and then calling me. In this post, I will lay out the thought of God choosing me. And with help from one of scripture’s most well-known characters, I think that I will be able to make the case that God specifically chooses people for carrying out His will.

 

If you recall, I explained how God called me into the ministry. At that time, I did not know specifically what He meant. The calling was a beginning. I was now on a certain path heading in a certain direction. Today, twenty some years later, I know much more about what it is that God has called me to do. In fact, one of the things that He has chosen me to do is to start writing. God’s choosing me to write is part of my calling. See the distinction? I can be chosen many times while living out my calling. So let’s get to the Bible character I was referring to earlier and analyze this story.

 

Perhaps the most famous story that comes from the Bible is Jonah and the Whale. David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, and Noah and the Ark are also quite popular, but I think it is safe to say that Jonah is in the top three stories for sure. If you would like to read it for yourself, click here. I think you will find it beneficial to follow along.

 

God had called Jonah to be a prophet. Simply put, God would direct a prophet, like Jonah, to a certain location and instruct him or her to give a certain word, “Go here and preach this message.” Sounds pretty simple. I like Jonah because he shows us what happens when we exercise our free will and make a choice that does not line up with what God asks.

 

God instructed Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. (1:1-2) This city is located on the banks of the Tigris River. It is literally hundreds of miles from the Mediterranean Sea. There was great sin and wickedness in Nineveh and God wanted to see these people turn their hearts to Him.

Jonah

Side note: God is ALWAYS on the lookout for people to turn their hearts to him. Back to Jonah… But Jonah did not think this plan was very good. So he got into a boat and headed west. (1:3) It was not enough to just not go to Nineveh. It was not enough to stay where he was staying. It was not enough to rent a boat. Jonah wanted to go to the other side of the known world! Tarshish was a port city in Spain that was on the Atlantic Ocean! This was about as far as you could get from Nineveh. Wow! It would be like God calling me to New York so I buy a plane ticket and fly to Los Angeles. Jonah went west instead of east when God spoke to him.

 

Have you or I ever done that? God asks us to do something but we refuse or try to ignore it. Does that work? Do we really get away with it? We might think we do, but as we will see, God sees all, and a storm is brewing on the horizon.

storm 2

And for more on that storm…check back within a week or so. But for right now, enjoy the smooth sailing.