God’s Waiting Room?

(Blog Post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com)

Read Isaiah 40:31

As I am in the midst of a very unexpected job transition, I have often used the phrase in my discussions, “While I’m in God’s waiting room…” 

I’ve done a ton of thinking about this phrase that we so often use in our Christian culture today. 

Challenges come and we’re waiting for God’s answer.  We’re in a tough job situation and we’re waiting for release.  We’re in a tough relationship and we’re waiting for help.  You get the idea.

By the way, I’m not here to bash anyone’s theology or diss anyone’s book titles, etc.  But I do want to share some personal insights that I am gaining regarding the “waiting” process.

Most, if not all of us, have experienced many kinds of waiting rooms in our lives.  The waiting room for the dentist office to get a root canal, the doctor’s office waiting to get the biopsy results, the vet’s office waiting to get our pet’s annual shots, etc, etc, etc.

Now, unless you are different than me (and my guess is some of you are!), when I’m in one of those waiting rooms, I’m doing nothing.  Well, I’m probably reading the latest People Magazine (like I care about Hollywood gossip) or the latest Forbes magazine (like I’m some big financial tycoon) or staring aimlessly at the clown picture on the wall wondering if there is some deeper meaning in the canvas.

The point is, typically, I’m accomplishing nothing.  Oh, I know, today we have notebooks, IPhones, etc.  But even then maybe we have our IPhone out and we’re reading, for the fiftieth time, the same text we got two hours ago.  Come on.  Let’s be honest. 

Before I digress, most of my experience is – I’m just sitting, just waiting, just filling space.

Okay, as I’ve been pondering the gravity of the “waiting” periods in my life, I’ve realized that my perception has been that when I say I’m in “God’s waiting room” what I’m really feeling is –

  • He has put me on the shelf temporarily. 
  • He’s busy somewhere else and He’ll get back to me when the time is right.
  • Maybe He’s even forgotten about me. 
  • Maybe this is some unexpected detour that is throwing off God’s plan. 

Just Sayin… 

So, if I go by these definitions then…

  • The forty years that Moses was on the backside of the wilderness was totally non-productive time
  • The periods of time that Joseph spent in prison were of none affect
  • The fourteen years that the Apostle Paul was caught up in the third heaven was just a waste of precious time.
  • The forty years of the Israelites wilderness wanderings taught them nothing.  (By the way, in the Hebrew, the root word for “wilderness or desert” is the root word for “teach”.  Ooh.  How convicting!)
  • The years that David spent as an obscure shepherd boy meant nothing at all.

Personal Application:

  • God is opening my eyes to increasingly recognize that this waiting period isn’t for naught.  He is preparing me, teaching me, preparing the next role, working out the timing, etc. 
  • This time is NOT a detour but, in fact, I’m smack dab in the middle of God’s will.
  • In my Western mindset, my deeply rooted habit patterns tell me that I’ve always got to be productive if I’m going to show the world what a great disciple of Jesus I am.
  • I’m increasingly viewing this time through the Hebrew mindset (should be a no-brainer for a Jew like me) that this time is all part of the solidifying process for my faith, my resolve in life, my willingness to persevere in tough times, my ability to be still and hear God’s voice and ponder life’s lessons.

Recently I gained a wonderful insight from a precious sister in Jesus – she told me that the word “wait” in Hebrew can mean “the strengthening of a rope or the tying together of the chords of the rope to make it stronger”. 

Wow!  Could it be that this is, in fact, a necessary time in my life that God is using to strengthen me so that I may be more effective in my serving Him in whatever role He leads me?  I think – YES!

So, I’ve quit saying “While I’m in God’s waiting room…”  Instead, I’m saying, “As I’m on God’s appointed journey…”

How about you?

“Walking Holy of Holies”

(Blog post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com)

Read I Corinthians 16:9

I’ll never forget the day…

I found myself standing face-to-face at the site I had longed to go to since I was a young Jewish boy growing up in the U.S. – The Western (Wailing) Wall.  My wife and I were on our first tour to Israel, back in 1997, and the first day we arrived in Old City Jerusalem a group of us quickly bolted to the Wall for a much anticipated awesome meeting with God!

I walked up to the Wall, began to pray, and strangely enough – nothing happened.  You might ask, “Stan, what was supposed to happen?” My answer, “I don’t know.  I just had the assumption that something magic would happen”.

Our tour guide, David, asked me later as we stood as a group at the Wall, “Well, Stan, was it an electrifying experience for you, since you are a Jewish follower of Jesus?”  I had to be honest and say to him, “No, not really”.  In fact, God showed me something special in that moment in time. 

I went on to explain how God spoke to me – not audibly but in my heart.  (I’m paraphrasing God)

“Stan, this is a great memorial by my chosen people of the place in which I had dwelt in the Holy of Holies.  But, Stan, as my son through faith in Jesus, YOU are now My Holy of Holies!” 

I explained to the group that all who are followers of Jesus are now “Walking Holy of Holies”.  In ancient times, all people who wanted to worship the One True God would have to COME to the tabernacle or temple.  But, now since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (according to I Corinthians 6:19), we have been commissioned to GO TO the people, bringing God’s presence to them. (Mt. 28:20)

As I continue my job search, I’m in the middle of a three-week temporary role working in a warehouse setting.  I love what I’m doing, the people I’m meeting, the interactions I’m having.  Not to mention that I’m using muscles that I haven’t used in 20 years.  Oy Vey!

What an awesome reminder for me regarding the truth of this blog post. Everywhere we go – be it a music venue, Starbucks, in the classroom, in the workplace, shopping mall or neighborhood or even into the darkest parts of culture – the presence of God goes with us. 

Today, think about it:

  • You may be the only sense of God that someone in your life today may ever experience. 
  • Are you living comfortably in the proverbial “ivory tower” or “holy huddle” or are you proactively making inroads into the culture in which our Lord commanded us to go?
  • May the fragrant aroma of our love and sacrifice for Him waft over those with whom you come in contact today, tomorrow and the rest of your days.

No Speculation Zone

Blog by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com

(Various passages)

My post for this week is actually a repeat of the one I did on the first of January of this year – 2010. 

As I am continuing in God’s waiting room for His job provision and as time seems to be stretching longer than I expected toward this end, I couldn’t help but be reminded that it’s times like these in which I have the greater tendency to speculate.  I have such a bent toward trying to figure things out and, often times, paint things bigger than they really are.  So, to remind me about how not to do this (and maybe help some of you as a by-product) I am repeating this post.

Oh – before I get started I want to share a total God-thing.  I recently got a temporary warehouse job (a three-week gig) which I love.  With all the lifting I’m doing I’m starting a new business – “Body by Stan”.  Ha!  I’m also meeting a ton of people who come to the warehouse to pick up their wares for delivery.

Recently, as I was chatting with one of the customers, I discovered that he was a pastor and went through a very similar earth-shaking change about the same time I did – this past June.

We have been able to be a very unexpected blessing and encouragement to each other as we are walking a VERY similar path.  So, I dedicate this post to my new bud and fellow-sojourner and to others who are walking through similar trials.

Here’s the post from January 2010:

I’m reminded of a young news guy who came onto the scene in cable news some years ago.  Somewhere along the way he coined the phrase, “No Spin Zone” and now people all over the world recognize this as the famous catch phrase of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.  I’m not here to comment on Bill’s strengths, weaknesses, etc. 

My point is I’m adopting, for 2010, the phrase “No Speculation Zone”.

Etymology: Latin speculatus, past participle of speculari to spy out, examine, from specula lookout post, from specere to look, look at — 

intransitive verb 1 a: to meditate on or ponder a subject: reflect b: to review something idly or casually and often inconclusively
2:
to assume a business risk in hope of gain; especially : to buy or sell in expectation of profiting from market fluctuationstransitive verb 1: to take to be true on the basis of insufficient evidence: theorize
2: to be curious or doubtful about: wonder <speculates whether it will rain all vacation>

I saved you time and looked up the word “speculate” for you in Webster’s online dictionary.  Speculation isn’t all bad.  The oil business literally mushroomed in growth due to those willing to speculate about oil locations, output probabilities, etc.  The stock market is another place where speculation is a huge factor.

Let me distill it down to practical daily living.  As a follower of Jesus I’ve come to recognize that as the Apostle Paul said, “I am the chief of sinners”, I can say that there are times when I feel that “I am the chief of speculators”. 

My definition of speculation is simply this – taking thoughts about Bible promises and as I apply them to practical living, I begin to make voluminous lists in my mind as to how these promises should take place, how often, in what manner, etc.  You get the idea.  Of course, since I’m the only one on planet earth plagued with this tendency, I’ll just assume that you’ll have to strain to gain some kernel of truth that will be helpful to you.  Ha Ha!

Also, before you get your hackles up – I appreciate and regularly exercise the concepts of examining, pondering, meditating and reflecting.  I’m not arguing those points at all. But, go back up to the definition and notice the sections I put in bold.  Ah!  Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Let’s look at it this way – all through the Bible we have examples of God’s promises and how common ordinary people, like you and me, tried to apply them, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so much. 

Abraham was told by God about his future as the leader of a nation.  Good ole Abe stands as an example of my definition – he knew he was too old to have children and his wife, Sarai, was barren so, in the process of his speculations, he chose another route – had relations with Hagar, his handmaiden.  Well, 3,000+ years later we know the outcome of that decision.

Joseph found himself in a pit (of despair) and then in leadership, then in prison, almost let out of prison, then in leadership again!  I realize the Bible is rather silent on this, but my sense is that Joseph accepted God’s path without a whole lot of speculating or figuring out.  He certainly, in his wildest dreams, never thought that he’d be second in command in Egypt and be God’s instrument for the physical salvation of Jacob and his tribes. 

Am I saying it’s wrong to make goals or plans or strategies, etc.?  Absolutely not.  There are many places in the Bible where we are instructed to “count the cost”, “examine carefully”, “search things out”, among tons of other references.

What I am saying is let’s make our plans, goals, etc. but do them knowing that we are going to allow God to confirm, affirm, overrule, redirect, reconfigure, re-engineer, etc.   Sort of reminds me of passages like “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).  Or this one, ”Faithful is He who has called you, and He will also do it”. (I Thessalonians 5:24).  Let’s not forget this famous passage, ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN NOT on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and HE shall direct your paths”.  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

In my personal walk with the Jesus I desire to hear God’s voice more clearly and be willing to be much quicker in my obedience, without resorting to the usual habit of allowing voluminous thoughts to flood my mind as to why this will work or why that won’t work.  Rather, my desire is to take those thoughts captive and allow the Creator of the Universe (who, by the way, has a bit more experience than I) to guide my path day in and day out.

Sounds simplistic and perhaps even radical in our culture of exponentially increasing technology, success-driven business models, human potential, carving out my own destiny, the list goes on.  I know this sounds radical but then, the One whom I follow was viewed as a radical in His day as well. So, I think I’m in good company.

God Delights in Me? Wow!

(Blog Post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com)

For the Lord your God is living among you.
      He is a mighty savior.
   He will take delight in you with gladness.
      With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
      He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

(Zephaniah 3:17)

(Typically in my blog posts I place a passage at the top for you to read in whatever version you prefer.  In this case, I chose this passage from the New Living Translation.  It speaks more clearly as to what I sense the intent of this passage is trying to communicate.)

This passage strikes me to the heart (in a good way).  I, like many of you, want to love Jesus and grow in His love and grace everyday.  There is a plethora of scriptures that encourage us to delight in God, to see Him as our “all in all”, to walk with Him through the eyes of faith, to fall in love with Him more and more each day. 

Many years ago, however, I was deeply impacted by this passage in Zephaniah.  In fact, I first heard it as a song, taught to us back in Bible College days, by an awesome worship leader and fellow student from Hutchinson, KS.  Singing this passage not only made it easy to memorize but even 30 years later, I can readily recall the song to my mind and remind myself of a critically important truth –

GOD DELIGHTS IN ME!

The word “delights” can mean to exult which means to have exceeding joy or to be jubilant.  God has exceeding joy over you and me; in fact, He is jubilant because of us.

Other parts of the Bible tell me that He loves me with an everlasting love; that He lavishes His love on me; I am His beloved because my life is hid with Christ in God.  The list can literally go on and on.

During this recent chapter of my journey with God my desire, my focus, my passion has been and continues to be to honor God in all that I do, hear His voice more clearly, obey His will more readily and love Him more deeply.

But…today as I read this passage it was like God saying to me, “Stan, I love you My son and am greatly encouraged by your desire to honor and obey me during this challenging transition time in your life.  But, I want you to know and understand something even beyond that.  Stan, I delight in you.  I rejoice over you. My love for you is SO deep.”

This sounds pretty basic and seems like a pretty simple truth portrayed in Zephaniah 3:17.  But, if you are like me (and I know you are because we all live with the taint of Adam and Eve’s choices), you tend to be driven by pleasing God, doing things for God, taking actions that show forth His fruit in your life and well we should.

However, how long has it been since you just allowed the truth to soak deep into your heart and soul that God DELIGHTS in you and REJOICES over you, even to the point of singing.

I’m grappling with this truth even as I write this latest blog post.  So, here’s a few points to ponder along with me, your fellow sojourner:

  • Do I really believe that God delights and rejoices over me through the power of His unconditional love?
  • How often am I guilty of doing things for God because I’m driven rather than drawn
  • How often do I feel His rest and peace in my life?
  • Am I willing to cease striving and allow God to hug me?
  • When was the last time I “sat in Jesus’ lap” and just rested against Him and  chatted with Him or even just sat in silence?

I wonder what joyful song God is singing over you and me today?

Our “In Tents” Experience

Blog Post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com.

(Read II Corinthian 5)

 I think we all can relate to a multitude of situations in which we find ourselves and when we get pressed against the wall regarding an important decision, a relationship that needs to be mended or a deadline that is to be met, we call those times – “intense” experiences. 

What we base our lives on, how we view our circumstances, where we get our help in these intense times contribute to revealing our inner character and, at the same time, can speak volumes to those who are watching our lives.

I’d like to give a little twist to that phrase “intense” as we look at life in Bible times and see if we can derive any helpful principles that will help us on our daily journey.

As I’ve spent time in the Word and traveled to the Middle East, it has always been fascinating to recount the way God has often led His people.  During certain seasons of Old Testament history, for example, the Israelites lived in tents and worshipped in a big tent. 

In other words, they had “in tents” experiences. LOL!

It was said of Abraham that he was able to pull up his tent stakes.  When we hear the story of David and Goliath we hear again of “tent cities”.  The pinnacle of the physical tent experience was the tabernacle in the wilderness – a structure that, while complex in assembly – could be taken down in a fast way so that the people could move on to the next location for how ever long they would dwell there.  By the way, it was in this tabernacle that the glory of God resided during those days.

We can learn two things from the tabernacle example – God is present in our midst (in general) and He goes with us wherever we go (in specific).

What are some of the characteristics of living in tents?

  • They’re easily assembled (except when you were learning to do this at Boy Scout camp!).
  • Most tents keep you exposed to the elements at least to some extent (in other words they’re not as air-tight as a typical home)
  • Many people can dwell in a small area.
  • They can be easily disassembled.
  • They can be easily transported.

So, having “in tents” experiences isn’t all bad, depending on the context in which you are living, of course.

If you’re careful not to rush by a short verse in the New Testament, you get an even further example of the “in tents” experience.  It says in John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” (NASB) 

“Dwelt among us” can also be translated “tabernacled among us”.  What was the tabernacle?  A big tent.  So, it even says of Jesus that His physical, earthly body in which He was born through Mary was only temporary in nature.

II Corinthians 5, like everything mentioned above, is challenging us to view life through different lenses, with a different mindset, a different set of goals at stake.

Are we all supposed to move out of our houses, apartments, condos, etc. and live on the streets or in tents?  Only if God calls you to that lifestyle or if your circumstances cause you to end up there.  Actually, though, that’s not even the issue. 

Okay, Stan, so what IS the issue?

Here it is – how much do we hold on to this life’s possessions, values, experiences, mindsets, influences versus how much do we hold on to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith?  Pardon the pun, but there is much at stake related to how you answer this question.

The world is looking at you.  The world is hungry and thirsty for truth.  They are yearning for answers, ultimate answers.  Is the way we are choosing to live our lives making an impact on those who are watching us or do we comfortably fit in with little or no impact on our friends, neighbors, school or work mates, etc.

So, after having read II Corinthians 5 and the previous thoughts of this devotional, what can we gather from this?  How does this apply to my life today?

  • We need to adopt an eternal perspective – this life isn’t all that there is.
  • We need to adapt to a different lifestyle – hold on to this life more loosely.
  • We need to be adept at applying the II Corinthians 5 principles, which will then affect how we view our relationships, our journey in life, our jobs, schools, neighborhoods and spiritual involvements and the level of impact we can make on our world.

As we face intense experiences, let’s remember God’s “in tents” principles!