Archive for » October, 2015 «

When God Shows Up

Click here to read 2 Kings 1 on

“This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub?” 2 Kings 1:16

imagesOnce upon a time, there was a somewhat innocent 7th grader, who had a younger brother around the age of 4.  This younger whelp found a lifejacket lying around the house one day, and – mistaking the lifejacket for a kevlar vest – dared his older, wiser, and stronger brother to punch him in the chest.  The older sibling obliged, giving him a gentle jab.  “No, hit me for real,” demanded the youngster.  Summoning all the jerkishness that resides in the heart of a middle-schooler, the 7th grader unleashed a falcon-punch directly center-mass.  After he managed to start breathing again, the youngster ran off to inform a parental unit, and that jerkish mocking sibling grew up to be a bitter, cynical man who wrote devotional blogs.

You have to be careful what you ask for. A common complaint about God is that he never “shows up” when we want him to.  The problem is, do we really realize what we’re asking? Do we really want the most awesome, powerful being in the universe to show up on our doorstep? A being whose holiness is fatal?  That seems like a pretty short-sighted wish for us fragile morons.


Look at our reading today – In 2 Kings, King Ahaziah is dying (because he fell out a window? majestic. ), and sends his messengers to an idol (doh!) for advice, rather than ask God.  Apparently, Ahaziah didn’t believe that God was real enough to consult.  When his messengers inform him that Elijah said he’s going to die, Ahaziah sends them to take custody of Elijah.

Attempt 1 – 50 men consumed by heavenly fire.
Attempt 2 – 50 more men consumed by heavenly fire.
Attempt 3 – 50 more men beg Elijah to stop barbecuing soldiers.

Do you think Ahaziah believed God was real by that point? It certainly seems like the soldiers did.

Too often, we think we know what we want.  We want God to heal this person, to provide this resource, removed that person from our lives.  You’ve probably thought and hear other people say “If God just showed up (that is, in the way and timing we want him to), then everyone would believe in Him.”  Is that really the case?  God showed up and gave a message to Ahaziah, and he still wasn’t believing after 2 miraculous events.   Do you think people would be happy if God showed up and people died? Or would we just be mad at him?


The truth is, we don’t want God to show up; we want God to obey us.  We want to be able to “pray,” by which we mean make our demands known, and have God grant them.  And when we’re done, we want Him to leave us alone to live our lives.

But that’s not what God wants.  God wants us; time with us, relationship with us.  You can’t have that if you just use God as a cosmic ATM.  We have to be willing to admit that if God is truly God, then it just might be possible that He knows more than us.  We have to accept that perhaps we don’t know exactly what our real needs are.  We have to trust God does what he does for our good.  And we have to believe that the transcendent Creator of the Cosmos might have the right to do as He wills.

Can you accept that?

Heart Drive

Click here to read Ezekiel 36 on

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27

images (3)If you have access to a small child (your own, a niece or nephew, an annoying neighbor), you have probably already seen the natural desires of Man at work. If you put two children at a table, with two M&Ms, what usually happens? Do they each take one? Or do they face off in the Infant Thunderdome for the right to consume both mighty chocolates?

What about as they get older? Do we become more caring and generous as we get older? Or do we just find ways of hiding our greed? Like hiding the extra cheesecake from our spouse at the back of the fridge? Running through the drive-thru on the way home so they don’t notice? Grabbing an extra pair of shoes when we “run out to get groceries”? Do we do the right thing just because we’re old enough to know?


In the New Testament, Paul talks about the struggle of wanting to do the right thing, but he finds himself always doing the opposite. Anyone who has followed Christ for any length of time (or even if one isn’t a believer, and just tried to do the right thing) can testify that just because one may know the right thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that one will do the right thing.

We know we shouldn’t watch television shows that don’t glorify God, but the DVR is normally full. We know we should take care of ourselves, but the doughnut sirens call out to us. We know we shouldn’t get angry, but those co-workers. We know we shouldn’t gossip, but then she wore “that” again. Our actions often fall short of our knowledge.

As a general rule, we do not guide our actions by what we know. We are driven by passions and desires from deep within ourselves – how do we change that? More willpower? Is it all just about being “strong enough” to resist? It appears that God doesn’t think so. Yes, we need self-control, but God has said he will help us, almost as if he knows we’re a bunch of weak-willed weasels.


Sounds good, you say, but how? By changing our heart. What if you desired to do the right thing? Wouldn’t that be easier than trying to fight yourself all the time? Wouldn’t it be nice if your strongest desire was to obey God’s laws? Sure would make that weekly altar call less awkward.

But there is something you have to do. God can’t (or more accurately, probably won’t) change our hearts and our minds if we aren’t around him. If you want to be more Christlike, you’re going to have to spend some time with him in the shop. Turn off the TV and read your Bible for 20 minutes instead. Spend that little extra time in prayer in the morning. Don’t skip church to go hunting, or watch sports, or sleep in. If you want to have a new heart, you need to be around the transplant team.

Then maybe our desires could work for us for a change.