Math is from the devil

I was always pretty good at math. That is, until my freshman year of High School. It was a tough year for me when it came to math. I had always got A’s in math, but this year would be different. I stayed after school almost every day to get help with the homework and I barely squeaked out a B-.  My confidence was shot and I started to question my ability to succeed in this area.

The subject was geometry. No longer could I relish in the concrete solutions for the letter x. Now I had to memorize theorems and postulates. I had to figure out areas and angles. It was like math mixed with art… and I was pretty sure it was from the devil. Math is supposed to be black and white. Math is a fact, not a theory. What is this geometry? Get behind me, Satan!

1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

See! I told you math was from the devil! Do you know what a census is? It is counting people by groups and then adding them together. And here in 1 Chronicles 21, Satan made David do math. Okay, I’ll admit it – that’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe math isn’t really from the devil. So why was this census such a bad idea? Why did God explicitly instruct David NOT to take a census?

The problem with the census was that it would cause David to put his confidence in his resources rather than in his God. David wanted to know how many fighting men he had in case he was attacked. He wanted to calculate his odds at winning a battle. Even though God had consistently fought his battles for him, David still had this need to discover if what he had was enough. Unfortunately, this math experiment turned into a giant disaster for him. Math did him in.

Don’t we do the same thing that David did? We let anxiety and worry lead us to our calculators. We fret over all the possible alternatives and the inevitable outcomes. We lose sleep over the fact that no matter how hard we have thought about it, 2+2 simply does not equal 8.  We are short on resources and it looks like we are gonna lose this one.

God isn’t intimidated by math. He doesn’t worry about geometry. Not enough resources? No problem. Having a hard time getting all that you can gather to add up to 8? He doesn’t need 4+4. He can make W+S=8 if He wants to. You just bring the W and He will bring the S and it will all work out. What is the W you ask? It’s your weakness. The S is HIS strength.

Your God has all the resources you will ever need. You don’t need to put your trust in math. You can simply put your trust in Him. He has always been the one to fight the battles. He has always been the God who provides. He will not let you down. In the words of Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

You still have those bell-bottoms?

There are some people out there who hang on to their clothes forever. Now it’s possible that when they bought those clothes, they were in style. But when you wear that same thing for 10+ years, you are behind the curve. Yes, I’m talking to you, lady who saved those bell-bottoms because they fit well. You too, husband who is still wearing the same shirt from 20 years ago. My goodness, how in the world has that shirt not worn out? Oh, you’re wife says that it has worn out, but somehow you’ve managed to prevent her from throwing it out. Impressive.

bell-bottom-flared-70s-jeans

You know those people. You may even be one of those people. It’s not all bad, though. If you hang on to it long enough, it might be back in style when your kids are teenagers. After all, doesn’t fashion just recycle every 30 years or so? I swear a few years back I saw a ton of 80’s fashion again. Please no. I mean… just… no. We don’t need another era of neons and acid washed jeans. We don’t need more huge hair and certainly not more perms. Now I can respect a girl who rocks her natural curls. But perms need not apply.

*I’m really tempted to post a picture of my once teenager sister with her braces, perm, white tattered jeans, and jean jacket. But I’ll be nice. After all, she might come back at me and post a picture of me in my pink shirt, black leather skinny tie, and side-spike haircut. Oh, and penny-loafers complete with pennies. Truce? 

I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the fashion merry-go-round. As I as saying, if you hang on to old clothes long enough (not recommended), they will eventually come back into style again. Which is why I believe that the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years were all pretty fashionable at one point or another. I’m pretty sure they were at the beginning and the end, because the fashion merry-go-round would have come around by then. Let’s take a look.

Nehemiah 9:21  For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.

Hello? Their clothes did not wear out! The old husbands still had their college T-shirts that just wouldn’t wear thin. The wives were in disbelief at the quality of that tired old shirt. Well, not exactly. But seriously, their clothes did not wear out. How in the world did that happen. How is it that 40 years later, they were still rockin’ the same bell-bottoms?

I’ll tell ya how: God is an incredible provider! Even in the midst of Israel’s disobedience, rebellion, doubt, whining, and complaining, God took care of them. He took really good care of them. He supernaturally provided food for them. Shoot, water came out of a rock for goodness sake. And their clothes. Their clothes did not wear out for 40 years! They lacked nothing. zip, zilch, nada, NOTHING!

When God leads us on our own journeys, He is faithful in the same way. He is a good provider. He makes bell-bottoms last (although He can’t guarantee they will be in style). I have found in my own life that as I pursue His ways and His calling, He takes care of my needs. Cars seem to run longer. Food is always on the table. Clothes last, bills are paid, kids are provided for. That is the God that we serve. He cares for us. He is the PROVIDER!

We, too, can find the same level of provision that the Israelites found in the wilderness. It all starts with trust. Place your trust in Him today and find that He is the God of the everlasting bell-bottom.

 

Running the play like it’s called

The football team in my state recently released their former starting running back. To some fans, this seemed like a surprise, because the team had been saying that this was their guy. At the beginning of the season, he looked liked “the guy.” He ran hard, ran solid, and gained good yardage. But as the season went on, his production began to decline. He was replaced by a rookie and let go shortly thereafter. So what went wrong? Well, it seems that the team no longer trusted what he would do once he got the ball. Apparently, he wasn’t running plays like they were called. Rather than hitting the gap and fighting through contact for a few yards, he was bouncing to the outside, spinning, avoiding, running out of bounds. He was relying more on his judgement than on the play call by the coach. This ultimately led to his dismissal.

Hand drawing a game strategy with white chalk on a blackboard.

As a coach, it’s important that the players run the plays that you have drawn up. The coach generally has an idea of how he or she is trying to approach the game. And as a player, you have got to trust your coach. You need to run the play like it’s called. At my daughter’s soccer award night, the coach mentioned that when my daughter started catching on to the plays as called, she started scoring more. It’s true! She listened to the coaches’ instructions and had multiple games where she scored more than one goal. She simply just had to run the play like it was called.

Which brings me to Exodus 40:16 Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him.

This was the marker of Moses’ life. He ran the play like it was called. Over and over again, we read this statement regarding Moses. He did it the way God told him to. Moses wasn’t in danger of being cut from the team. He wasn’t going to lose his job. There weren’t any trust issues. Moses just ran the plays that God called. 

So how am I running the plays that God gives me? I can’t say I have the same track record as Moses did, but I am certainly trying. Reading that simple verse today challenges me. It challenges me to obedience when the Lord instructs. But it also challenges me to seek the Lord for the play in the first place. The truth is, that in life, I am sometimes just running around the field with no direction. But when I go to the Lord, He dials up the right play for me to run. The rest is up to me. Will I doubt? Or will I simply run the play like it’s called? I hope I run the play.

What about you?

 

I have no idea

Genesis 41:16  “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

no ideaMany years ago, I was working for a company in which I was climbing the ladder.  I was being promoted and was moving up quickly.  I recall many days in which I was being stretched beyond my ability. My boss or even district manager would ask me to do things that I didn’t know how to do.  At first, I was not very confident and would tell them I was unsure if I could do it: “Um… I have no idea!” But I had a manager one time tell me that the answer should simply be, “No problem. I’ll get it done.”  So this became my answer.  When I was given something I didn’t know how to do, I figured it out. I found people who knew and they helped me.  Because of that, I became trusted.  There didn’t seem to be anything I couldn’t do.  That wasn’t remotely true, but it seemed that way since I always said, “I’ll get it done.”   Kind of risky, don’t you think?  But God gave me favor and it worked. If only I had given Him some of the credit.

In Genesis 41, Joseph didn’t have a problem giving God the credit right up front. He was asked to do a job by the highest authority in the land and his response was, “I can’t do it.”  But before the Pharaoh sent him back to the prison, he followed up with, “but God can and will.”  To answer like that requires both faith and absence of fear. You can’t care what others will think about you. You can’t question whether or not God will pull it off.  You just have to trust that He will.

I wonder sometimes how well we do at giving God the glory for something He deserves glory for. I see people operate in their gifting and take for granted that God is the one who gave it to them. A word of prophecy shouldn’t glorify the giver, but should glorify God. A song of worship should draw attention to Jesus, not the singer.  Yet we go along taking all the credit for things that God pulled off.  Not Joseph – He was clear about who was really doing the work. I think it would be a good idea if we did the same.

*In what places in your life do you take the glory for things that God is doing? In what places are you afraid to speak up where God is working?

Hug it out, bro.

Genesis 33:3-4 He himself [Jacob] went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

The unknown can behugitout scary.  Waiting for test results, an upcoming job interview, an impending difficult conversation… a reunion with a potentially angry relative who is angry because you stole everything that was important to him.  Yes, Jacob had cause to be scared. He had stolen his brother’s birthright and his inheritance.  He ran away from home before his brother could get his revenge.  He was a sneaky little thief.  He had it coming!

Now it was time to meet him after all these years.  And he was terrified! The problem is, Jacob left God out of the situation completely.  He didn’t ask the Lord for wisdom.  He didn’t plead with God for favor from his brother.  Rather, he sent lavish gifts and bowed seven times in hopes to be spared of revenge.  However, he didn’t get the response he expected.  He didn’t encounter a blood-thirsty brother.  He wasn’t attacked or beaten or hanged.  He was hugged.  Didn’t see that one coming!

We do the same things as Jacob. We peer into the unknown and expect the worst. We give ourselves cause to fear when there is really nothing to fear in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, bad things happen… and to good people at that.  But we serve a God who is bigger. He is a God who goes before us and restores the heart of Esau before we have our reunion. He goes before our test results and our job interviews.  He gives us wisdom when we ask and favor when we don’t deserve it.  That’s our God.  He can handle fear. In fact, He not only handled it, He man-handled it.

*Jacob feared. You might too. Will you turn that fear over to God today and let Him handle it? Remember that He who is in you is greater!

 

Dragging our feet

Genesis 19:15-16 At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

dragging feetI’ll admit it: sometimes I have a hard time making a decision.  The little decisions aren’t so hard, but the big ones are another story.  It’s likely that I am a perfectionist and don’t want to make the wrong decision.  But that often leads me to make no decision at all.  This has caused me to miss out on great deals and great adventures.  I just over think it sometimes; I drag my feet.  By the time I make up my mind, it’s too late.  Can anyone relate?

 There are certain times, however, when dragging your feet is an even bigger deal: when God has told you to do something.  He calls us out to a great purpose, but we aren’t sure if the water is safe.  He calls us out of places of danger, but we refuse to leave the burning house.  Why is that?  Do we fear the unknown more than we fear the danger of the present? Because if God is IN the unknown, that’s actually a pretty safe place to be. 

There’s some good news for all of us in this feet dragging conundrum: God is gracious.  Lot was in a dangerous situation and hesitated leaving it.  But the angels of the Lord grabbed his hand and brought him to safety.  The Lord does the same with us today.  When we are dragging our feet, He grabs our hand and leads us to safe places.  Hesitation happens, but when you feel Him nudging you on to safety, that’s when the feet need to stop dragging and start moving.  Trust that where He is leading you is far better than where you are. 

*Are you dragging your feet?

The open road

Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country,  your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

Open RoadSome people are more adventurous than others.  I think of those that love to get on their motorcycle, hit the open road, and take it wherever it leads them.  I’m not one of those people.  I like GPS.  I like to know where I am going.  In fact, when I have an upcoming road trip to an unfamiliar place, I like to get on google maps and take a look at the street view of where I am going.  That way I will be familiar with my surroundings once I get there.  That may seem over the top to you, but I don’t enjoy getting lost.

So what if God were to say to me, “go to the place I will show you?”  Not the place I HAVE shown you.  No, the place I WILL show you.  That makes me a bit uneasy.  It leaves me searching for my GPS.  But I don’t know the coordinates to plug in.  What’s the ending address, God?  “I will show you,” He says.

It seems to me that God’s instructions to Abram were lacking destination.  Maybe it was because the emphasis wasn’t the arrival but rather the leaving.  Maybe it was more about the drive than pulling into the driveway. 

God asks us all to leave our starting place.  He asks us to leave the places of sin that remain within us.  He asks us to walk away from the world as we know it and enter the journey toward the heavenly destination He has for us.  I find the biggest challenge to be leaving when I don’t know the exact destination.  And that is what faith is for.  Faith challenges me to trust when I don’t know what turns lie ahead.  Faith urges me to get in the car and leave.  Will I leave those old places today?  Will I set out on the open road and engage in the journey God has for me?

*Abraham was called a man of faith.  Like Abraham, will you have the faith to leave old places without knowing your destination address?