Friday, August 16, 2013


"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" - Psalm 37:23 
Christian Evangelist and Educator George Mueller noted in the margins of his bible, "And the stops also." ht

How true. How true.

-Still Processing

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


N.B. I did not write the following piece but, for the same reason I named this post "DOORS," I am posting it here for you. Was blown over by the clarity of an issue that often vexes me and perhaps even sabotages "right" choices. Door #1? Door #2 or Door #3 ?

How many times have you NOT KNOWN which way to go, chosen a way so you can go yet, remained uncertain even while there was ease and unusual favor during the inevitable road blocks of your journey? We all have been there; facing uncertainty but knowing God wanted us to step out of the boat. 

"Where to?" we so frequently ask, all the while, tiptoeing on that rough water.

This has been my experience causing me to fret and wring my hands, convinced I didn't properly identify the door God had opened for me. This article just assuaged all that accumulated anxiety. That one open door IS God's answer.

A good friend recently reminded me to not let perfect be the enemy of good. And so I exhort you, let the door currently open to you, although it doesn't appear to be the perfect answer, be God's faithful answer to your faithful prayer.

Read on. You will love this...

-Still Processing

David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill. Ps 78:72

When you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one…Meanwhile keep on as you are, and consider the absence of indication to be the indication of God’s will that you are on His track…As you go down the long corridor, you will find that He has preceded you, and locked many doors which you would fain have entered; but be sure that beyond these there is one which He has left unlocked. Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of the river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your sunniest dreams. Launch forth upon it; it conducts to the open sea.

God guides us, often by circumstances. At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked; and then shortly afterward some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes. Sometimes these things are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.
—F. B. Meyer

If you go to Him to be guided, He will guide you; but He will not comfort your distrust or half-trust of Him by showing you the chart of all His purposes concerning you. He will show you only into a way where, if you go cheerfully and trustfully forward, He will show you on still farthcr.
—Horace Bushnell

Friday, July 12, 2013


So Be It

"For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."  2 Corinthians 1:20 (KJV)

That verse is probably the most puzzling Scripture you’ve ever committed to memory. Why? Because when you’re left standing on those unfulfilled promises, you start to pepper yourself with questions shaded by confusion like, "Did God just slip in a 'No,' somewhere before that ‘yea and amen’ part? Am I standing in the wrong place? Does that Scripture even apply to me or is it only for all those ‘Super Christians’ out there who’ve got this walk sorted out?”  
Take a closer look at the Scripture.

"In Jesus we hear a resounding 'yes' to all of God’s many promises. This is the reason we say 'Amen'  to and through Jesus when giving glory to God."
2 Corinthians 1:20 (The Voice)

Does that mean you will get everything you ask for as long as you believe so? Perhaps you’ve come to believe the verse means if you declare your desired answer over and over God will just capitulate to the answer you’ve been rehearsing. Maybe you’ve begun to believe that everything you pray for will be greeted by that ever elusive “yea and amen” if you supplement your prayers with a lengthy fast - water only - or praise and worship so robust your vocal chords emerge raw or so much reading of a Bible Commentary, you could paraphrase Marten Luther's Ninety-Five Theses.  

That kind of understanding of  “yea and amen” only leads to the disillusionment you’re now experiencing.  As cute as the concept is, God will never be that “genie in a bottle” who wafts up when you summon Him. No.

"For as many as [are] promises of God, in him [are] the Yes, and in him the Amen, for glory to God through us;"  2 Corinthians 1:20 (Young's Literal Translation)

Read that literal translation, again. He never promised you that “YES”  is His response to everything you request, everything you want, everything you pray for. That’s the rub.

Start with what He has promised as written in the Bible. Then, you won’t pray in error. In other words, know what to pray for. Your heart’s desires are a good pace to start. Not your vanities, not your fantasies. Rewind your prayer tape to give an honest  listen to those heavily detailed requests you send up.

"Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth - a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling?Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes? Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus."
 2 Corinthians 1:17-22 (The Message)

God promises to keep HIS word to meet your needs and many of your wants - in order to complete the good work He began in you until Jesus returns.  

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

So, you want to get married?  Pray for a mate. That’s cool. It’s not good for man to be alone. That’s in the Bible. A marriage partnership is a good thing but your whacky specifics can lead you to that narrow place of disappointment.

Specifics aren’t bad when they make sense and aren’t fantasies.  A mate who looks like Clooney with the height of Denzel? A mate built like Kate Upton with the complexion of Halle Berry? The stock options of Warren Buffett, credentials of Sheryl Sandberg and skill set of Dr. Ben Carson?  Sometimes, we frame our prayers with those kinds of dubious details.

Do you have any of the same to match that mate you want in your life? That’s a good way to judge if your prayers are just vanity or are somewhat realistic.

Ok, so you want a nice home. That's cool. What about that house you’ve walked around seven times? Can you even afford a 5% down payment on the $2.2m McMansion you've pinned to your PInterest board? How about that 3 bedroom, $850K condo?  Let it go. Go pray across town and start circling that semi-detached you can afford. 

Unless you’re Mark Batterson trying to open a coffee house to the glory of God, you most likely will not get an anonymous $3m to purchase a home!

As Pastor Michael Giroux of The City Church DC says, “Plan for the practical and pray for the miracle.”

Ok, so you want a nice car  to get around. Nothing wrong with that.  Just stop asking God for a Rolls or that other hand-made, crazy expensive vehicle. Just go buy it. Clearly, you can afford such a beauty; its upkeep; its gas and the insurance on it. Oh, you can’t? LET IT GO. Get a Toyota.

God promised the following with His "yea and amen" to back it up:

He would heal you; give you peace; be the banner over you. He promised He would never leave you; that you have the victory over your enemy and you won’t have to beg for food.

He promised He would settle the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children; that He would be Baal Perazim – God of the breakthrough – and be your Shepherd. He promised yea and amen to the new mercies you would see every morning and that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him.  

He said, “Yea and Amen” to your righteousness shining forth as the noon day sun; that He will give you a crown of beauty for your ashes and that the valley you are walking through is but a shadow. He promised to prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies and He said, “Yes and So Be it” to that tremendous plan, hope and future He has written out for you next to your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

He promised “Yea” with an affirmation to renew your strength; that living waters flow for you and that you are the lender not the borrower; that you are the head and not the tail and that if you obey Him, you will be blessed coming in and going out.

Stand on those promises He made -  in writing. That is where you get His “yea and amen.”  

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

Follow her advice if you want to lay hold of what He means when He says, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."  AMEN and SO BE IT!

-Still Processing

Monday, July 1, 2013


The following is a piece I did NOT author. It is the final section to the HAGAR series I posted all of June and today. It is so good, I am still processing it.  The good news in this sometimes sad tale is that God is rooting for each player in the drama. There is no Protagonist, no Antagonist, only a good God directing everyone to their best life. 

The Forecast Concerning Ishmael

     In the strength of the revelation of God received in the desert, Hagar returned to her mistress and bore Abraham his child. Abraham was 86 years of age (Genesis 16:16) and then, when he reached his 100th year (Genesis 21:5), Sarah bore him Isaac. This means that for over 14 years Hagar and her son lived in the patriarch’s home with all the tension and feeling there must have been as Sarah daily looked upon the son of her husband by another woman. After Isaac was born Hagar and Ishmael began to manifest their jealousy, and when Ishmael began to maltreat Isaac, Sarah could stand it no longer, and compelled Abraham to cast out the bondwoman and her child. As Bible names often set forth some feature of the character or history of those who bore them, so Ishmael meaning “God shall hear,” was fully understood by Hagar when in the wilderness (Genesis 21:9-21) God heard the moaning of her broken heart.

     How painters and poets have seized upon this pathetic incident of the poor woman and her boy in the wilderness, thirst-ridden and ready to die! One of the finest masterpieces adorning the Dresden Gallery is the painting called Hagar in the Wilderness—and cold is the heart that can gaze upon it without deep emotion. The boy is pictured on his back, dying with thirst, while his poor but beautiful mother in an agonizing prayer, “lifted up her voice and wept,” saying, “Let me not see the death of the child.” Could anything be more poignant? True, Hagar had “despised Sarah” and “mocked Isaac,” but surely she had not deserved such cruel treatment as this—death from hunger and thirst in a barren land!
But how Hagar’s extremity became God’s opportunity. When the last drop of water had gone, and Hagar tenderly places her almost dead boy under the shrubs, God heard the dying cry of the lad, and also the wail of Hagar’s broken heart, for out of heaven came His voice, “What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and both she and her boy were saved from death. Abraham had given Hagar a bottle, but it was soon empty. God gave her a well, and the lad drank and God was with him, and he grew and became an archer in the wilderness. The last glimpse we have of Hagar is of her securing a wife for her son, out of the land of Egypt, her own land (Genesis 21:21)—the land of idols and worldliness. Untaught by the piety and instruction of Abraham, and by God’s mercy to herself, Hagar failed Him in the choice of such a wife for the boy whom He had blessed.

     The practical lessons to be learned from the history of Hagar have been fittingly summarized by Dr. James Crichton in his article on Hagar in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The life and experience of Hagar teach, among other truths, the temptations incident to a new position; the foolishness of hasty action in times of trial and difficulty; the care exercised over the lonely by the all-seeing God; the Divine purpose in the life of everyone, however obscure and friendless; how God works out His gracious purposes by seemingly harsh methods; and the strength, comfort and encouragement that ever accompany the hardest experiences of His children.
It only remains to be said that Paul uses the story of Hagar as an allegory to distinguish law from grace (Galatians 4:21-31). Hagar the bondwoman is contrasted with Sarah the freewoman, and Ishmael “born after the flesh” with Isaac “born through promise”; thence freedom and grace appear as the characteristic qualities of Christianity. Hagar represents the Old Covenant and Sarah the New Covenant which is superior to the Old with its ordinances. Under grace all within the household of faith live by faith, and Sarah represents “the Jerusalem that is above”—“our mother” (rv), which is the free spiritual city to which all children of the promise even now belong (Philippians 3:21).

Friday, June 21, 2013


N.B. All JUNE posts are excerpts from All the Women of the Bible

I did NOT author this post. I am STILL PROCESSING it because the piece is so good! Each time I read about Hagar, I get angry with Abraham! His choice caused trouble still reverberating generations later. Hagar was the victim of Abraham’s ill-advised action. She was a mere slave in his household. In other words, she was not an “at-will” employee who could rebuff Abraham's sexual advances. Hagar was a slave subject to the commands and whims of her owners.

I can imagine when her boss, Sarah, told Hagar to have sex with Abraham, Hagar felt bone crushing pain - inside. First, because she was being forced to procreate; that with her boss’s husband and with an old man – Abraham was 76 years old when Ishmael was born! Then, Hagar had to allow this man,  of a strangely different culture than her own Egyptian one, to father this child she knew could never be her own. She would be forced to hand the heir over to  her frustrated, mean, childless boss, Sarah. Awful dynamics. They get weirder.

I am willing to believe Hagar held out hope that bearing such indignities, child included, could be assuaged by having a son which, in turn, would give her status within the household and increased value in the eyes of her owners. Didn’t happen.

Abraham should have told Sarah an unequivocal, “No! No, I am not having sex with that woman. God made a promise to me and I believe Him.”

With unwavering conviction, he should have told his aching wife, Sarah,“I am having that baby with you, Honey. Hang in there. This thing will happen. And besides that, I don’t want Hagar involved in our promise, ok?”

But he didn’t refuse Sarah's anxiety ridden request. He didn’t calm her with words of faith. He did the dirty with the slave maid and there came Ishmael.

Admittedly, I am foisting my 21st century, Western sensibilities onto the ancient circumstance. I am blissfully choosing to ignore my familiarity with that practice of old. Still, I posit that had Abraham “manned up,” held his “manhood” in check, exercised his godly authority as head of the household refusing his wife’s distraught request, the painful results we see today would have been avoided.

Hagar, I am sorry you were forced to play understudy in Abraham and Sarah’s dream. The promise was never made to you; no role drawn up for you. You had to improvise. I thank God He delivered you from their nightmare. Read on…

The Flight of Hagar

Strife quickly followed the human arrangement that Sarah had made. Having conceived by Abraham, Hagar chides the childless Sarah, and the jealousy begotten between these two women was transplanted to their maternal hearts and penetrated even their children. Ishmael came to tease and vex Isaac, and discord arose between Abraham and Sarah. The ill treatment accorded to Hagar by Sarah was not only cruel, but also irrational. Had Sarah not instigated the wrongdoing that was the cause of her jealousy? Therefore it was unreasonable for her to lay the blame upon another. As things were, mistress and maid could scarcely dwell together, so Hagar fled. Better a flight than a fight! Being compelled to flee was a thing forbidden to a bondwoman.
Far from home in “the way to Shur,” the appearance of a calm and gracious angelic messenger from God must have been a relief to the poor, pregnant fugitive. As Hagar traveled further from her jealous mistress the Lord was at her heels, and said to her in her distress, “Return to thy mistress.” Hagar had left her position as handmaid without notice and without permission, so she must return. Sarah had wronged her, but she was not permitted to retaliate by doing wrong herself. Two wrongs do not make a right. It was no easy matter for Hagar to return and submit herself to Sarah, but it was the only right course, and a divine revelation helped her to pursue it.
At that renowned well Hagar met God, and in awe cried, “Thou God seest me.” He had given her counsel, and although not pleasing to flesh and blood, Hagar took it and went back to Sarah. Had she persisted in remaining in the desert she might have died in it. God gave her a promise that although the wrongdoing of her master and mistress had led her into a false position, yet His favor would rest upon her and she would have a son who would be the progenitor of a great multitude. The soothing promise of God was a balm for the wounded spirit of the poor and lowly handmaid. Though Ishmael, the name God gave Hagar for her coming son, might not be the Child of Promise as Isaac would be, yet he would be the child of a promise made to her.
Is it to be wondered at that she called the well where God spoke to her and revealed the future of her son “Beth-lahairoi,” meaning, “The well of Him that liveth and seeth me”? It was there that the veil fell from Hagar’s eyes, and she received the assurance that she was the object of God’s special care. Dr. Alexander Whyte extols Hagar for her submission to God in this glowing fashion—
Hagar, by reason of the extremity of her sorrow; by reason of the utter desolateness and brokenness of her heart; and by reason of the sovereign grace and abounding mercy of God—Hagar, I say, stands out before us in the very foremost rank of faith, and trust, and experience, and assurance. Hagar, to me, stands out among God’s very electest saints. Hagar has only one or two who can stand beside her in her discovery of God, in her nearness to God, in her face-to-face fellowship with God, in the instructiveness, in the comfort, and in the hopefulness of her so close communion with God.... The best and the most blessed of them all was not more or better blessed than was Hagar the polluted outcast on her weeping way to Shur. The pure in heart shall see God.

- Still Processing

Monday, June 10, 2013


N.B. All JUNE posts are excerpts from All the Women of the Bible

I did NOT author this post. Because the piece is so good, I am STILL PROCESSING it myself. One of the lessons illustrated here is that even the strongest Believers falter - in their faith, in their decision-making. Sarah was a godly woman who had seen Yahweh miraculously perform multiple times in her life. Yet, she stumbled at the promise she wanted to see fulfilled more than anything else she had ever hoped for in her life - having a baby with her husband, Abraham. Perhaps growing tired of the 25 year wait after receiving God's word about having that son or perhaps trying to comprehend how she could now conceive since she was already ninety years old,  Sarah's despondency catapulted her to the actions you must read below:

The Folly of Sarah
We have already seen that Sarah’s folly had its root in unbelief. She was impatient, and wanted the promised child without delay. Her unbelief became contagious for “Abraham hearkened unto her voice.” The pious phrases she uttered were worthless. “The Lord judge” (16:5). She should have appealed for judgment to the Lord before she took the wrong step. She was a godly woman (Hebrews 11:11), but fell into the meshes of unbelief. With distrust there came dishonor. She confessed “my wrong,” but Hagar was the real sufferer, and Sarah’s sin bore bitter fruit, for when she gave Hagar to Abraham, she originated a rivalry which has run in the keenest animosity through the ages, and which oceans of blood have not quenched.

- Still Processing

(see HAGAR III for more about the fallout Sarah's act of desperation continues to have on her descendants)


N.B. The posts for all of JUNE are excerpts from All the Women of the Bible

I did NOT author this post. Because the piece is so good, I am STILL PROCESSING it myself. I want to share with you how El Shaddai cleaned up the mess HAGAR and others made of her life. His redemption intersected at a miracle of mercy and fulfilled promises for Hagar, Sarah and Abraham, in spite of their recklessness. The take-away is Yahweh is good in spite of our folly that can and should be an offense to Him.  That point is so poignantly and generously made in  Psalm 103 (The Voice)

"8 The Eternal is compassionate and merciful. When we cross all the lines, He is patient with us. When we struggle against Him, He lovingly stays with us—changing, convicting, prodding. 9 He will not constantly criticize, nor will He hold a grudge forever. 10 Thankfully, God does not punish us for our sins and depravity as we deserve. In His mercy, He tempers justice with peace. 11 Measure how high heaven is above the earth; God’s wide, loving, kind heart is greater for those who revere Him. 12 You see, God takes all our crimes—our seemingly inexhaustible sins—and removes them. As far as east is from the west, He removes them from us."

The Woman Who Lost a Bottle But Found a Well
Scripture ReferencesGenesis 16; 21:9-17; 25:12; Galatians 4:24, 25

Name Meaning—Hagar, an Egyptian name, closely resembles the root of the Arabic, flight, familiar to us as the history of Mohammed, descendant of Hagar. It may be taken as an adaptation of her original name to the principal circumstances of her life, and understood to mean, fugitive or immigrant, which Hagar became.
Family Connections—While the Bible gives us no record of Hagar’s genealogy, legend has supplied her pedigree, as being the daughter of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, the same who coveted the possession of Sarah in vain. This legendary source affirms that the Egyptian princess became so attached to Sarah that she told her royal father that she would accompany her when she returned to Abraham.

     “What!” cried the king, “thou wilt be no more than a handmaid to her!”

     “Better to be a handmaid in the tents of Abraham than a princess in this palace,” the daughter replied.

Hagar would not stay behind and join again in the idolatrous rites of her home, so when Abraham and Sarah moved on, she went with them. Sarah was an active missionary of the faith of Jehovah among women, as Abraham was among men, and so Hagar became a convert to the worship of the true God. While this is a pleasing tradition, the likelihood is that Hagar was an Egyptian girl-slave whom Sarah secured for her household while she and Abraham were in Egypt. Hagar bore Abraham his first son, Ishmael, and thus became the foundress of the Ishmaelites and Arab peoples from whom came Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

If Hagar was a slave girl then her mistress was legally entitled to do as she pleased with her. Knowing that it was humanly impossible for her to have children by Abraham, she gave her handmaid to him, that she might have children by her—a custom consistent with moral standards prevailing at that time. Abraham reminded Sarah that her word was law to her own slave and that he had no choice in the matter. Under Sumero-Babylonian law there is this clause in Hammurabi’s Code—

If she has given a maid to her husband and she has borne children and afterwards that maid has made herself equal with her mistress, because she has borne children her mistress shall not sell her for money, she shall reduce her to bondage and count her among the female slaves.

But Sarah ran ahead of God in giving a Gentile idolater from a pagan country to Abraham to bear the promised seed. Poor Hagar—she became the helpless victim of Sarah’s scheming! The whole affair was a sin before God—a sin all three were guilty of. Sarah distrusted God when she resorted to such a wicked expedient. As a child of faith, did she not know that God was able to raise up children out of stones unto Abraham? As for this “friend of God,” in spite of current custom, he should have stoutly refused Sarah’s scheme and obeyed the law of God, and believed the divine promise made to him. The attempt to secure the Child of Promise by Hagar was the result of a lack of faith in God’s omnipotence. Then, Hagar, although the least free and the least responsible, should not have yielded to such an unholy alliance merely to gratify any ambition she may have had. What sorrow, anguish and loneliness Hagar reaped for her compliance in such a plan to forestall God’s promise of an heir for Abraham (Genesis 15:4, 5).

Although the chapter recording the unworthy method of trying to fulfill a divine purpose is only a short one, yet like the shortest verse in the Bible, it is saturated with tears. Genesis 16 is made up of only sixteen verses and with such we have these three features— (see HAGAR II)

-Still Processing