Monday, April 22, 2013


Earth, Wind and Fire: Head to the Sky

You must be living right if you get picked up in a heaven – bound, multiple horse-powered, fiery ride that leaves everybody in a whirlwind of your dust.  Elijah surely was. He got his last ride on a celestial chariot and broke the sound barrier into eternity!

Elijah had endured for God in spite of the people in his life that made him wish he were dead. Ever been there - white knuckling it as you determine to stand in God’s perfect will even while life lands blow after blow on your hopes and prayers? Remember what Elijah faced as He walked in God’s perfect will?

This Mighty Man of God first broke onto the scene in 1 Kings 17. God appointed Elijah to speak out against the idolatrous reign of Israel’s duplicitous King Ahab and his wicked wife, Queen Jezebel. Those two got sick of Elijah doing treasonous things like withholding rain for three years, showing up with nothing but bad news, calling them mean names like “Hypocrite” and humiliating their palace employees – namely the 450 priests in charge of their Baal worship. Jezebel only decided to slice Elijah to bits when he added insult to royal injury by slaying her devoted, Baal loving leaders - en masse.

So, like any reasonable, miracle working man of God who could raise kids from the dead and summon fire from heaven, Elijah - the mighty prophet, anointed and favored to withstand the wrath of Kings and Princes; the powerful man of influence whom angels fed; the fearless traveler who could, on foot, outpace horse drawn chariots cross country - RAN FOR THE HILLS! Yep, that’s right. He got scared, tossed in the towel, experienced major suicidal ideation, holed himself up in a cave on the Mountain of God and fell sleep. 

Have you ever told God you were staying put, snuggled safely under your warm, soft sheets to avoid the hard-edged, fierce world antagonizing your prayer-filled fight of faith? Have you occasionally veered from your God gps’d path because it was too painful to serve those adversarial people not cooperating with you? We all have. And just like God met Elijah when he was in that cave of despondency, He goes there with you, too.

When he [Elijah] arrived at Horeb, he walked into a cave and rested for the night.
Eternal One (to Elijah): Why are you here, Elijah? What is it that you desire?
1 Kings 19: 9 (The Voice)

Do you know how Elijah answered that question folks long to hear from a fairy-tale genie let alone the True and Living God of the Universe? He complained!

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 19: 10 (NIV)

Yet, God didn't chide Elijah for kvetching and accusing the people to whom he was called to minister. He gave Elijah a break. Why?

He will not constantly criticize, nor will He hold a grudge forever.
Thankfully, God does not punish us for our sins and depravity as we deserve. Psalm 103: 9-10 (The VOICE)

God made a deal with Elijah. Because He “gets it” when we get in that despondent place,

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103: 12-14 (NLT)

God showed His glory to Elijah, anyway, to strengthen his faith; to show Elijah he was right where he was supposed to be. On that same Holy Ground - Mount Horeb - where God revealed Himself to Moses Exodus 33:12-23, God showed that even the mightiest wind, earthquake and fire were under His control; something from which Elijah could glean that God is not subject to the creation, but creation to Him; not subject to life - threatening circumstances, but those circumstances to Him

Your circumstances, especially when you are in His perfect will, can be incomprehensibly tough. Still, they are subject to Him. He is not the chaos in which you find yourself , but He is present in that appointed place, with His still, small voice inquiring through those disturbances rocking your world. 

Elijah did not watch God's display even though he was in the appointed place. He had to peek out from his cave to respond to God. 1 Kings 19: 11-15 He had withdrawn instead of keeping his head to the sky and watching all that earth, wind and fire! When the glory show was done, God posed the very same question for Elijah, perhaps because Elijah was in the very same place. And Elijah’s response to God’s second question? That very same complaint.

And through this breeze a gentle, quiet voice entered into Elijah’s ears. He covered his face with his cloak and went to the mouth of the cave. Suddenly, Elijah was surprised.

Eternal One: Why are you here, Elijah? What is it that you desire?

Elijah: As you know, all my passion has been devoted to the Eternal God of heavenly armies. The Israelites have abandoned Your covenant with them, they have torn down every one of Your altars, and they have executed all who prophesy in Your name by the sword. I am the last remaining prophet, and they now seek to execute me as well. They won’t stop.

Eternal One: Travel back the same way you traveled here, 1 Kings 19:12-15 (The Voice)

Imagine if Elijah, instead of answering God's question, 'What are you doing here?' with a complaint, had said something like, "I am standing on your Word, that's what I am doing here! I am counting on you to do through me again, every mighty thing you did before! I see how the rocks and stones themselves worship you! So do I! I refuse to leave this place afraid!"

Don't stay holed up in melancholy, discouragement and defeat. You miss SO much. Do you want to go back the way you came? Do you want God to ask you the same question twice because you are out of position with your first response? At least He asks a second time. 

What is your answer going to be to "What are you doing here?" How about a little declaration of praise and determination? 

No matter how hard life gets we must STAND. Stand even if it's a faith-threatening storm casting your dreams to the wind; a shaking so fierce it quakes the foundation of Bible verses on which you are standing; a fire so intense that your hopes are consumed by disappointment.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

The good news is God sent Elijah back to complete his tasks - anointing and appointing a few more kings, meeting his successor Elisha, and prepping for his flight to heaven. Elijah hung in there, eventually took his stand and rode off into the sunset of Heaven. 

Keep your head to the sky when the earth, wind and fire threaten you. After the show, God's still small voice is there to whisper His love and direction.

- Still Processing

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Earth, Wind and Fire: Electric Universe

Ever tell God, “Just please, stop. NO MORE!”  Are you slapping the mat of your life in surrender while the latest trial feels like it has you in a headlock? Trial after trial, tribulation after tribulation does that to you.  You’re not alone. Consider Elijah.

“He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. ‘Take my life; I am no  better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and  fell asleep.” 
1 Kings 19: 4-5 (NIV)

He was a Prophet of God who hit the wall of depression, discouragement and fear even while walking in obedience. Sound familiar?

God cared about Elijah’s emotional state so He gave him something to do. He told Elijah to journey to a mountain to meet Him there.  It was a forty-day journey that included a climb so God provided Elijah with food and water before he left.  This demonstrates that:

1) God provides what we need to accomplish what He asks us to do

2) Even while He asks us to continue through the pain – towards Him – He promises we can make it up that mountain. 

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” 
Psalm 18:33 (NIV)

3) God urges us to that intimate mountaintop experience with Him because it situates us above the fray of everything assailing us.

Elijah made that trip up Mount Horeb but,
“There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?

"The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’

Still, Elijah did not exit the cave. The mighty man of God stayed holed up; withdrawn and isolated.  

We do the same. Many of us attend church, sing the praise songs and even read the Bible from the latest App. But we can stay in a funk. We are rightly expecting to see God’s glory but worry, angst, and disappointment – all our distraught emotions - fragment us. We retreat from God just when His glory is about to manifest. God didn’t fault Elijah anymore than He faults us. He showed His glory anyway.

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."   
1 Kings 19: 11-13 (TNIV) 

Imagine what Elijah could have seen, felt and heard had he obeyed God completely. Had Elijah stood, really taken his STAND on the mountain and not retreated into the cave, He would have witnessed the holy pyrotechnics of earth, wind and fire.

Perhaps he would have felt that wind whip across his face refreshing him, breathing in new life and vigor.  Perhaps those crumbling rocks and the swaying ground beneath him would have forced a stance Elijah never knew his legs could bear.  

"You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great." 
Psalm 18:35 (NIV)

And what about that fire?  Perhaps he would have felt its intense purification but never the searing temperatures of its heat. Perhaps his stand on Holy Ground would have made him witness to a fire that destroyed all the wood, hay and stubble of his life but never consumed him.

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the  righteous stand firm forever.”
Proverbs 10:25 (NIV)

Elijah would not have even smelled of smoke.

“Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” 
Psalm 5:12 (NIV)

- Still Processing

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Earth, Wind and Fire: Don’t Miss the Show!

The intrepid prophet Elijah was in God’s perfect will when the results of his unquestioning obedience landed him in the middle of a three-year drought, secreted in a ravine with just a bird to provide his food - no water and at the city gate asking a desolate widow and her little boy for their last meal. The kid died not too long after.  By then, Elijah’s appreciation of God’s blueprint for his life was hanging on some very frayed nerves of faith.
Then he cried out to the Lord, ‘Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?’” 1 Kings 17:20 (NIV)

God answered the grieving prophet and mother only after Elijah labored in prayer. Nothing came easy even while Elijah was centered in God’s will.

 “Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “‘Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!’” 1 Kings 17:21 (NIV)

Do you see any parallels in your walk? Obedience = circumstances getting tougher? More prayers getting, "No's" and "Not Yets" than the , "Ok, Right Aways?"

After that little test of faith, God’s assignments for Elijah escalated - in difficulty. Elijah went on to command an audience with an already vexed King Ahab to accuse him of being an idolatrous hypocrite taking his nation to hell in a hand basket. The King pronounced Elijah a troublemaker to the nation. That is treason in our parlance.

On the heels of that tense encounter, God used Elijah to display His displeasure with King Ahab’s executive decisions by having the bold prophet humiliate then slaughter 450 priests in the service of Queen Jezebel. By then, the Evil Queen had had it with Elijah’s unsolicited opinions. She put a contract out on his life.

That was the last straw for Elijah. God’s perfect will or not, Elijah’s nerve snapped. He reacted like a deer in headlights and bolted!

Have you ever watched your situation go from bad to worse when you know you are in God’s perfect will? When circumstances seem to get more daunting, more painful, more impossible as you gladly obey God? When plausible outcomes are so terrifying that fear suffocates you even while His affirmation abounds?

During those times you may just feel like Elijah felt and want to move from being an Elijah, which means “my God is Jehovah,” to Elij-i-Quit!

Frequently, God stretches you rubber band thin when you’re precisely where He wants you. Before offering any substantive relief, He may demand of you something akin to having to climb a mountain in the midst of debilitating exhaustion and dismay. 

Consider this. When Elijah let God in on just how tired, hungry and suicidal he was, God’s solution was thin on the coddling comfort. Besides proffering the minimal bread, water and a nap, God told Elijah to take a trip - forty days and nights - to a mountain – to climb it!

“Who may live on your holy mountain?  The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart…Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” Psalm 15:1-5 (NIV)

God had something wonderful in store up on that mountain for His blameless prophet.  You see, God hadn’t sent Elijah to just any mountain. God sent Elijah to Mount Horeb - the very same mountain upon which He revealed Himself to Moses some five hundred years earlier. Elijah obeys – sort of. He hides out in a cave on that mountain and misses God's tremendous display of Earth, Wind and Fire (see STAND II). 

God is urging you toward that same mountain top experience. He tells you as He told Elijah to keep going. You can! Keep going so that you can STAND on that mountain. 

Will you continue your walk in spite of the dismay, discouragement and weariness? Will you climb your mountain of yet one more arduous challenge in order to STAND and see His glory? Or will you give up and miss the show?

“Now then, STAND still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” 
1 Samuel 12:16 (NIV)

- Still Processing