God’s Beautiful Embroidery Work

(Dedicated to those in the challenging arena of life issues.  You serve in Pregnancy Centers, counsel on sidewalks, speak up as  government officials, pray without ceasing.  As we finish January, Sanctity of Human Life Month, I wanted to chime in with one more reminder of why you do what you do and do it so sacrificially!)

Read Psalm 139, but especially vs. 15

Wow!  Pretty awesome and intricate embroidery example pictured above.  At first, I thought it was a painting.  But nope! It’s embroidery.   

Embroidery is quite the fascinating art form.  Take a moment and think about how detailed the work, how gifted the embroiderer, the plan in mind, the beautiful outcome that reflects the mind and heart of the gifted embroidery artist.

Thoughts about embroidery draw me back to the rich soil of the Old Testament to a place where we find a very interesting example of this art form.  Turn to Psalm 139:15. It would bless you greatly to read the whole Psalm today, to remind you of God’s care for you.  But, for this blog post let’s focus on vs. 15:

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.”

Did you catch it?  Skillfully wrought.  Some translations say, “woven together” or “intricately knit together”.  The word in Hebrew is Raw-kahm which means to variegate, mix colors.  Okay, I didn’t know what “variegate” meant either.  It’s the word used in the Hebrew lexicon.  Webster’s defines it this way –

to diversify in external appearance especially with different colors.

God chose such a marvelous way to have the Psalmist describe what every human being experiences – life in the womb.  We are told that in the womb we were intricately and beautifully embroidered with each passing day.  Wow!  What a picture! 

This truth was unbelievably driven home to me some years ago when I serving as head of a Pregnancy Medical Group.  One of our donors was a post-doctoral fellow with a major pharmaceutical company and served on the team that developed a well-known arthritis medicine.

We went to lunch one day and were chatting about life issues and particularly the awesome nature of ultrasound images.  During this discussion, he explained his work – microcellular biological research.  He made the comment that with today’s technology, he can see each and every cell.  Not only that but he can watch them in action – they know what they’re supposed to do; when they’re supposed to do it; with whom they are to interact, etc.

He went on to comment on how many of his colleagues around the U.S., many of whom are atheists or agnostics, are being challenged to their very core.  Could this embroidery, this intricate detail really be the product of evolution?  If not, is there actually a Creator of this whole picture?  If so, how would I find out who He is?

When one looks at an ultrasound image of a developing baby, you quickly recognize it isn’t just a mass of tissue without feelings, form or purpose.  There is a little life being formed in that womb – a life that is unique, intricately woven, filled with purpose and destined to make an impact on their world!

21st Century Applications?

  • Next time you are doubting that God cares for you, read Psalm 139, especially vs. 15.
  • Since God took time to intricately weave you in the womb, be encouraged that in your life right now, no matter what you are facing – God is intricately weaving all for good.
  • Contact your local pregnancy center and pray about volunteering, donating, praying for them.  Speak up for life, get involved at the polls, get informed, impact your world!

Your in good hands…with the Ultimate Embroiderer!

“In the Eye of the Hurricane”

Blog purpose – to dig around in the rich fertile soil of the Old Testament and draw out relevant, practical applications for 21st Century living.

Read Lamentations 3:22-23

Just what is the “eye of the hurricane”?  

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather found at the center of strong tropical cyclones.  In other words, it is a place in the middle of a fierce cyclone or hurricane where it is eerily quiet and calm.

In the midst of a crazy storm, there is actually a place of peace or calm.  Sound like your day or mine?  Things are out of control; yet in the midst of the chaos a peace overtakes you.  A peace that passes all understanding.  

Before we delve into the fertile soil of the Old Testament, I’d like to give you a quick view into Hebrew writing style and symbols. Acrostics were a very popular form in the ancient days that helped in memorizing and/or passing on truth to the next generation. 

Examples?  Proverbs 31:10-31 talking about the virtuous woman.  If you were to view this passage in the Hebrew language, you would notice that there are 22 traits described.  There also happens to be 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  So, as moms would teach their daughters about being a virtuous woman, they would literally be teaching them the ABCs or, better yet, the ABGs (Aleph Bet Gimmels) of how to be that type of woman.

Psalm 119 is another great example – 22 sections of 8 verses.  Each verse in each section begins with the same letter of the alphabet.  In other words, all verses in the first section begin with the letter “Aleph”, all verses in the second section with the letter “Bet” and so on.  How cool is that?

Another place where an acrostic is found is the book of Lamentations.  Open to Lamentations.  Okay, before I give it away, what do you notice about the structure of the five chapters?  I’m waiting.  Don’t worry; I’ve got plenty of time.  Take a look.

Yup.  You’re right.  Five chapters in the book.  Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 each have 22 verses. 

So, what does that mean?  Each verse in those chapters begins with one of the Hebrew letters of the alphabet.  

Notice anything different about the third chapter?  Bingo.  There are 66 verses, made up of 3 sections of 22.  Yup!  Each section contains the whole alphabet as the beginning letter for each verse.

Why an acrostic in Lamentations?  The book was written as a way to express national grief after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.  Perhaps God wanted Israel to have an easy way commit to memory the truth about their storm but also His presence in the midst of that storm.

I find it quite fascinating that Lamentations 3:22-23, some of the most encouraging verses of the Bible, are found where?  Smack dab in the middle of a book of Israel’s lamenting.  Where is the eye of the hurricane?  Smack dab in the middle of a chaotic, destructive storm.

What are some 21st Century applications?

  • Storms are inevitable.  No matter how we pray or hope or wish, often times God teaches us huge lessons during times of storms.
  • Even in the greatest storms of your life, there is a place of uncanny, unfathomable peace – resting next to God’ heart.
  • This peace in the middle of the storm isn’t cooked up by our PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).  No, it is the power and presence of God in your life.
  • Right now, you may be in the midst of your biggest storm ever.  Know that even there, peace is available – Philippians 4:6-7; John 16:33.
  • 

    God’s eye is on you in the eye of the storm!

 

 

 

“Buying up EVERY opportunity”

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

Read Ephesians 5:16

As a follow up to my post last week “To Life, To Life, L’Chaim…” I want to continue mulling over the idea of being fully engaged in all that God has for us – whether it’s good, bad or ugly.  (Amazing how a crazy Clint Eastwood movie title has become such an all-encompassing catch phrase.   Also reminds me of the folks that say, “Watch out!  It’s going to get ugly!!)

Just in case you haven’t discovered by now – life isn’t always pretty.  Thankfully, it isn’t always bad or ugly either.  But, remember about L’Chaim – a full measure of joy and sorrow; a life fully engaged in the midst of both successes and failures.  That’s all part of the whole Megillah. (Hebrew word for “scroll” and specifically relates to the scroll of Esther; modern day meaning, similar to “the whole enchilada!”)

So, this brings me to the title of my blog post – “Buying up EVERY opportunity”.  As some translations say it, “Redeeming the time…” or “Making the most of every opportunity”.  I like the idea of buying maybe because I’m Jewish (Oy, such a deal I have for you!).  No, but seriously, the idea of buying brings with it the idea of depleting my resources so as to gain something special.  Sort of like God emptying me out for the sake of serving Him.

Making the most of every opportunity – you failed recently? Then squeeze that experience for all it’s worth; broken relationship?  what could you have done different (if anything).  A recent success? how did it happen?  What good principles did you apply” Who’s getting the glory – you or God?

While life has certainly dealt its harsh blows at time, I’m still a hopeless optimist (but now with a twinge of pessimism firmly planted).  Not a bad combo as far as I’m concerned.  I still hope for the best in a situation, in people, etc. but recognize that isn’t always going to be the case.

As my mom and I talked over the years (she passed on back in 2002) she would tell me that I was always in the thick of things.  I remember when my older sister had friends over, it wasn’t hard to find me standing right in the middle causing some type of trouble or cracking jokes. 

I have this insatiable sense that if I close my eyes just for a minute I’m going to miss something important.  (Yes, I do sleep at night and quite nicely thank you very much).

Side note – I heard a joke about one mogul talking to another.  So, Abie, how do you sleep at night?  Abie answered, “I sleep just like a baby.  I wake up every two hours and cry!”

Okay back to the original thought.  I have this sense that when I came out of the womb my first words were, “Okay, world, what did I miss?”

My point in all this?

All of us face the challenges of life to varying degrees.  Some handle them better than others.  However, how are any of us doing when it comes to engaging fully (that L’Chaim principle”) in the day God has given us rather than obsessing over what’s going to happen tomorrow, the next day or the next week? Yeah, I don’t like my answer either.

Key application points:

  • Opportunities are everywhere.  Take time to notice.  You don’t have to change the world for another person but how about changing their day!
  • We all have our pre-judgments concerning people we deal with every day.  Some we like to be around, some we like to avoid.  How about stepping out of your comfort zone by reaching out to someone “unlovely” and “unloveable”?  Last I checked, “God so loved THE WORLD…”
  • Okay, I’ll say it – I know Politics and Religion are the big taboos.  How about reaching across the “boundary line” and honestly engaging with those who don’t believe the way you do.  Not necessarily to change their mind but maybe just to understand where they are coming from.  Last I checked, we all bleed the same color.
  • Finally, I dare you to make it a daily prayer.  “Lord, help me to have my eyes, ears and heart open today that I might encourage someone who is in need.”

I’ll never forget the line from the movie Joe vs. the Volcano, where Meg Ryan is quoting her dad –

My father says almost the whole world’s asleep.  Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to.  He says only a few people are awake.  And they live in a state of constant total amazement!

Are you awake?  Do you live in constant total amazement regarding how many opportunities God has given each of us in our daily lives; opportunities to change someone’s day, maybe just a little.  I pray so!

 

 

“To Life! To Life, L’Chaim”

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

Read John 10:1-10, esp. vs. 10

Remember the part in Fiddler on the Roof…wait a minute.  You haven’t seen it yet?  How shameful of you.  What would your mother think?

Quick, go to Netflix, download it, watch it, then come back to my blog post.  Just kidding.

But what I’m not kidding about is the awesomeness of the movie, Fiddler on the Roof.  So many moments, so many poignant thoughts.  Oy Vey!  What’s not to like?

One of my favorite parts is the scene where Tevya and Lazar Wolf struck a deal about Tevya’s daughter.  They lifted up the glass and sang “To Life, to Life, L’Chaim, L’Chaim, L’Chaim, to Life…” (You can view it on YouTube – just type in “to life l’chaim Fiddler on the Roof”)

Okay, first, a little Hebrew lesson.  (By the way, I know a little Hebrew.  He owns a tailor shop down the street!)  Okay, okay. Back to the lesson.

L’chaim.  Chaim is pronounced – cha – yeem.  How do I explain the “Ch” sound?  It’s like the “ch” in the German word “Achtung” – guttural, throat-clearing.  The root word in Hebrew is Chai – pronounced “chy” like, “Chy, how ya doin’?” (tee hee)

Chaim is the plural form of Chai.  So, as Chai generally means “to live”; Chaim tends toward the meaning of living a multitude of days or a full life. The “L'” on the front of a Hebrew word means “to”.  So, L’Chaim – to living a full life.

Thus, the reference to John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life and life more abundantly”.  Abundant life.  Full life.  A full experience.  My cup runneth over.

I want to be careful not to step on too many toes of some TV preachers but abundant life doesn’t necessarily equal how much financial wealth someone has, how many cars, houses, toys, etc.  I’m not dissing those to whom God has blest that way. 

But the modern-day application of this term has been born out, especially as I know from my Jewish heritage, with life that has been oft lived in a ghetto setting or in the shadow of a cruel dictator or whatever.

The point being is this concept of full life or abundance goes MUCH deeper than material possessions or life circumstances.  It hits straight to the heart.  It strikes to the very core of our being.

L’Chaim is a phrase used in all kinds of Jewish settings.  It is often repeated at weddings, even funerals, Bar Mitzvahs, Shabbat (Sabbath) or all kinds of other get togethers or special events.  In our upbringing we would say it after having some Manischevitz wine (even though to this day I’d much prefer a nice White Merlot by Beringer…but that’s a whole different topic).  It’s much like the word “Salut” in the French language.

Okay, let’s dig a little deeper to see how it relates to you and me today, this idea of a full life or abundant life.

A key part of the Jewish wedding ceremony comes when the couple drinks from two separate cups of wine – the cup of joy and the cup of sorrow.  They can’t just drink from one or the other.  They both must drink from both cups.

The symbolism?  They can only experience full or abundant life when they experience a full measure of both good and ill in their lives. 

Scripture even tells us that all good makes us think we can do it on our own.  (Read Deuteronomy 8:11-20)  All ill can bring bitterness to the heart.  (Read Job 7:11)  A proper mixture of both reminds us of the fact that both the joys of life and the sorrows of life are allowed by Almighty God, our Abba who cares deeply for us.

So, as we journey through 2011, what are some of the take aways of this post?

  • GOD is sovereign, not YOU or ME.
  • Whether He allows it or causes it, both good and ill will come to the life of a follower of God.  (check out Lamentations 3:38 but also don’t miss 3:22-23)
  • If you are experiencing good times, be sure to give God all the glory for His blessings.
  • If you are experiencing ill times (as so many are in the U.S.), work hard to see God’s hand in your life.  Boy, do I know this one!
  • Give thanks IN all things.  (I Thessalonians 5:18).  This has been the toughest one for me during this most recent journey.
  • “To Life” brings with it the idea of celebration.  In the midst of your challenges, take time to notice moments that you can celebrate. 

My recent moment of celebration

  • Just today, as I crafted this blog post, I noticed an unbelievably red cardinal sitting on a branch in our backyard with the backdrop of freshly fallen white snow here in Ohio.  What a stark but beautiful contrast and evidence of God’s handiwork in His creation.  If He cares that much about a cardinal and snow, think how much He cares for YOU and ME.

So, to the snow and to the red cardinal I say, “L’Chaim!”

Talk About a Breath of Fresh Air…

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

(Read Acts 2:1-12)

Some time back we were attending a music venue to hear some friends who are in a traveling band. The hall was packed, the A/C was broken, the music was blasting, the crowd was crazy.

At a certain point in the evening I just had to get away to take a break. I stepped outside and felt an instant revival as I breathed fresh air, got a bit cooler and was able to give my eardrums a break.

Have you ever been at a point in your life that things were just caving in around you and you knew you just had to get away? You make a decision to hop in your car, ride out of town and up a favorite hill overlooking the city. You either stay in your car or get out and walk. All of a sudden you stop and just take in the fresh air, the quiet, the peace. And soon, you feel a mini-revival taking place.

Let’s transport ourselves back about 2,000 to first century Jerusalem. Long story short, that area became a virtual pressure cooker for the early followers of Jesus. Think about the life they had with the Master and then having to witness His arrest, murder and crucifixion. Talk about needing a breath of fresh air.

One of the last things Jesus said to Him in His resurrected body and before ascending into heaven was to wait in Jerusalem so they could receive the Holy Spirit. But, how long were they supposed to wait? How was this going to happen? What would this mean in practical terms? Many questions left unanswered.

Along comes Acts 2 – one day as they were gathered, a monumental event took place – a noise like a mighty rushing wind invaded their atmosphere and tongues of fire rested on their heads. This was the evidence of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell the believers and give birth to the Church.

The word Spirit in its original Hebrew form, means “Breath or Air”. So, in essence, the Breath of God breathed on the believers and new power came upon them. The rest of the book of Acts describes how they went about with this new power doing miracles that pointed people to God and His grace and mercy.

So how does this apply to you as you begin a new year?

  • Are you in a tight place, feeling like you can’t breath? Your world falling in around you? Feel like you have no place to turn? Turn to God, the One Who will breathe on you and bring revival. (Psalm 46:1 can actually be translated, “God is our refuge and our strength; abundantly available to help in TIGHT PLACES.”)
  • Literally get away from your circumstances, as soon as you are able, go to some place secluded, reach your arms up and ask God to breathe on you in a fresh and new way. Receive His strength and power in a way you never have before.
  • Daily take in God’s “air” by spending time with Him – in His word, talking to Him, listening for His voice.
  • Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart does good like medicine”. Doing good like medicine brings forth the idea of taking a bandage off a wound so as to allow the fresh air to promote proper healing. As we take stock of 2010 and look toward 2011 maybe there are wounds in your life that you have covered over but actually need to be exposed to the breath or air of the Holy Spirit to promote full and complete spiritual healing.

Ah! Take a moment right now to breathe in the air of God’s love, truth, mercy and peace! Allow 2011 to be a year of healing and restoration in your life. I’m certainly praying toward that end.

The “BABY-CAVE”

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

Read Luke 2

I’m always fascinated by new words that are introduced into our vocabulary.  Recently, I’ve been hearing more often than ever the phrase “man-cave” or “chic-cave”. 

The basic idea is a place where there is total dedication (perhaps even bordering on obssession) with the person’s interests, like cars, surfboards, etc.

Some years ago I “toured” the man-cave of a neighbor.  As the garage door opened you could almost hear the angels sing.  As the door rose more and more of the garage was revealed.  I was actually stunned at first. 

Black and white checkered floor.  A real live (refurbished) juke-box.  A 57 Chevy in absolute mint condition.  Posters on the wall dating back to the 50’s in mint condition.  The list goes on.  (Never been in a chic-cave so I have no clue what I’d find there – don’t know, don’t wanna no).

I’ll bet you didn’t know that 2000 years ago there was a special, different cave that would change the hearts of mankind – A BABY-CAVE.  Yup!  A BABY-CAVE.

Stan, what in the world are you talking about?  Glad you asked. 

I love nativity scenes but the reality is they don’t do justice to what the place was like in which God chose to bring forth His Son through a young virgin named Mary.

Bethlehem, the place of Jesus’ birth, was a very desolate place.  I wish I could tell you that when Joseph and Mary were directed to a “stable” as we call it, that it was a nice, clean well-lit place – a place appropriate for the King of Kings to be born.

Not so much…

It was a cave…a cold stone cave…a dark and dingy cave…filled with animal smells and dirt…not quite like the peaceful, sterile birthing rooms of today.

(Sample of a feeding trough that would have been in the Manger.  This is where Jesus would have been placed after His birth)

It is just plain crazy that God would allow His Son to be born in such conditions.  But He did.  Maybe, just maybe there are a few practical lessons to learn from this part of the Christmas story.

  • Man-caves, chic-caves, even kid-caves aren’t inherently bad or wrong.  I’m not dissing their existence.
  • However, how about focusing more dedication – our thoughts, actions, how we spend our money – as we ponder the humiliating, down right nasty conditions of the “BABY-CAVE”.
  • As I’ve alluded to in past posts, do we have to sell everything and be humbled like Jesus was on that first night of His birth?  Not necessarily, unless that’s what God is calling you to do.
  • As we are in the aftermath of a Christmas Day celebration, let’s NOT dart off too fast to what the future holds.  The future will be there.
  • Ask God, through His Holy Spirit, to show you what lessons you should be learning from the humbling story of the place of our Savior’s birth – the “BABY-CAVE”.
  • How should we be affected in our own thoughts, actions, how we treat others, how we view the material gains God has granted us, how we accept that we can be content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves?

The “BABY-CAVE” – Do we dare to enter into that story one more time before we leave the Christmas season and allow ourselves to treasure up all these things (as Mary did)?  I hope so!

In the Fullness of Time

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

Thought I’d add my two shekels of thought and insight regarding this awesome and glorious time of the year.  The outline below is from a sermon I gave at a church near Colorado Springs back in January 2009.  I kept this blog post simple.  Feel free to use these thoughts as a devotional around your tree, a basis for your personal meditations this week or as your sermon preparation for next weekend.

If you’d like to hear the sermon in its entirety, go to my website – www.stankellner.com – click on Teaching Samples page, pop some popcorn, fix a nice steaming cup of hot chocolate, sit back and enjoy! 

 

But when the time had fully come… God sent His Son, born of a woman…

to redeem those under the law…(Galatians 4:4-5)

Prophetic Timetable

Geographic Location

Spiritual Climate

Military Occupation

Economic Conditions

Prophetic Timetable  

Daniel 9:25-26

Isaiah 9:6-7

Micah 5:2

Isaiah 7:14

 

Geographic Location

Israel is a key crossroads by its very location, relating to trade routes, pilgrimages, etc.

 

Spiritual Climate

400 years of “silence” between Old and New Testaments

Greek and Roman influence oppressing Jewish faith expression and infiltrating Jewish life and beliefs

Darkness was on the increase (Is. 9:2)

 

Military Occupation

Israel became a Roman outpost (Pontius Pilate, a Roman, was governor of Israel – Matthew 27)

Herod was a puppet leader for Rome

 

Economic Conditions

Jewish Religious leaders were easily bribed by the Roman leadership.

Most everyone else was living a poor existence.

 

 

 

God’s Way versus Man’s Way

Herod’s Palace versus The Manger

Royal Robes versus Swaddling Clothes

Thousands of Lambs versus One Precious Lamb

 

Practical Applications

God’s timing is perfect – 1st Century

God’s way is perfect – Lowly Entrance

God’s packaging is perfect – Swaddling

God’s choice is perfect – Yeshua (Jesus)

 



Uncharted Territory

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

I crafted this blog at Starbuck’s in downtown Franklin, TN yesterday afternoon. Yup. You’re right.  We don’t live here.  What are you doing there Stan?

Good question.

We actually came down last week to attend a band friend’s wedding reception.  That was the only part that was planned.  Five days later we’re still here.

We had planned to leave by Sunday but we both felt we were supposed to stay here for a bit longer.  Why? – Uncharted Territory.

We went to an awesome church on Sunday and God spoke mightily through the pastor.  At the end of the service we were standing there and a very nice woman turned around to greet us.  As she mentioned her first name, we all simultaneously recognized each other. 

We had had dinner with her and her late husband and mother perhaps 8 years ago.  She asked if we had plans for lunch.  We said no.  As the conversation ensued, we agreed to have dinner together instead.

Then an unusually harsh snowstorm hit the Nashville area but we braved the storm to have dinner with our friend.  She asked if we wanted to stay overnight.  We decided to take her up on her offer and that is where we are presently staying for a few more days.  Again – Uncharted Territory.

Here’s a cool detail about this divine appointment.

What we didn’t know and what she didn’t know was this – I had thrown out a fleece Saturday night and basically asked if God wanted us to either leave after church on Sunday or stay overnight until Monday.  If a divine appointment happened at church that would involve lunch or dinner then we’d leave on Monday morning instead.

The other person, during the church service, felt a compulsion by God to invite someone to lunch, especially if this person was a visitor to the church.  So, she was our answer to prayer and we were her answer to prayer.  Too cool!

Consequently, we are here in the area longer than expected but, then again, nothing seems to be happening “as expected”, which is fine with us.  Uncharted Territory.

My point?

UNCHARTED TERRITORY is:

Scary – think of the explorers of old who had no clue what they would eventually discover.

Exciting – For almost a week every moment of everyday has been absolutely uplanned.  We’re going with the flow.

A God-Thing – Let’s face the wonderful reality – what is absolutely unknown to us is absolutely and fully known to God.  “He knows the way I take…” (Job 23:10)

So, as God has been working with me overtime regarding the Waiting Room concept, He now seems to be taking me a step deeper – my allowing Him to literally order each and every step I take.  “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23)

After 37 years of walking with the Lord, you’d think I would already be an award-winning “Stepper with God”.  But I’m not.  So, sue me.  (Tee Hee)

Finally, do we all have to leave our employment in order to experience what I’m experiencing?  Well, that is certainly one way. 

How about this – in our daily lives, our daily grind – let’s be willing to hear God’s voice then obey what He says – no matter how small or large that step might be and no matter how uncharted the territory might be.

Who says Star Trek has to have all the fun.  Let’s plan on going where no believer has gone before – into Uncharted Territory with God as our guide!

God’s Waiting Room? (Part II)

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

I fully intended to move on from last week’s blog post.  However, a number of things have challenged me to linger a bit longer on this concept of “God’s Waiting Room”.

First, shortly after I posted the entry last week I received a comment that struck me deeply.  The basic idea was that my blog post became a huge encouragement and lifeline to one of the readers.  The timing was unbelievable.

They had been deep in thought regarding their present and future and how they were to cope with the huge challenges in their lives.  They apparently felt what I had felt – where is God when we are waiting? Did He leave me on a shelf?  Has He forgotten me? Why is He so silent?

This tells me there are others who are in the very middle of this challenge and thought-process as well.  Of course, the Bible echoes that thought as well.

Our situation has continued to deteriorate in the financial realm.  We are contemplating a number of action steps in order to pave the way toward resolution while, at the same time, putting our lives in God’s capable hands every day.  No, make that every moment!

I’m not one for flinging Bible verses recklessly and giving advice that can sometimes comes across as insensitive or uncaring to those I’m attempting to encourage.

So, in the spirit of being a fellow-struggler (sometimes fellow-straggler) I’d like to share a few passages that I’m clinging to, sometimes with all the faith I can muster – even if it’s only the faith of a mustard seed!

“Faithful is He Who has called you and He will bring it to pass” (I Thessalonians 5:24)

“As for God His way is perfect…” (Psalm 18:30)

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (I Corinthians 10:13)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

“God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.  I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” (I Peter 1:5-7)

In the midst of our present challgenges, I’m fascinated by the unexpected “border enlargements” God is giving me from time to time, especially as bill collectors call.  I’ve found that, for the most part, they are very nice people who are merely doing their job. 

Interestingly, there have been moments when one of the collectors would respond with – “I’m praying for you Mr. Kellner.” Or “Mr. Kellner, not long ago I was in your exact situation so I can empathize with you”.

One time our car loan collector called and asked if I could make some type of payment to stave off repossession proceedings.  I told her I wish I could but had no money.  I arrived home and found a check in the mail.  I called the car loan folks back and, believe it or not, got the same person on the line.  They were greatly impacted that an hour after the last call, I was able to call them back and make a payment.  I gave glory to God and she appreciated that!

What was even more astounding is that this company has phone banks in three states and yet I got right back to the exact person I had been dealing with an hour before.  THAT was a God thing!

So, as I’m on my “appointed journey” God is revealing Himself to me in ways that I either hadn’t seen before and hadn’t take time to observe before.  Even as Naomi didn’t know all the reasons why God took everything from her in Moab, only to provide Ruth who would be part of our Messiah’s lineage, so we have limited view as to what in the world God is up to.

Either way, I’m thankful for His love, mercy, lovingkindness and GRACE.

How are you faring during your appointed journey of challenge?

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?