Faith, Fire, and God’s Great Victory

I recently had to fight a massive church fire, likely the biggest I will ever fight in my career. As I think about all that happened, seeing the smoldering ruins where beautiful church buildings stood, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a few things.

The First Bossier Fire is a terrible tragedy. No one was hurt, and people will truthfully proclaim ‘It’s just a building’ but that building was built by human hands. Hands created by God to build things like churches which glorify His Name if the Body of Christ within operates according to His Word. I’ve heard many stories since about the memories people had in those buildings. My friend met his wife there, proposed to her there, and was married there. When we have fond memories of something tangible, it’s okay to ache for their loss as long as that ache doesn’t become an idol. That’s a little off track of where I was going, so bear with me as I correct.

Too often in great tragedies like this one, we focus on what happened and why. We look for reasons to pass judgement and focus on the bad. This was true even in Jesus’s day (Luke 13:4). What we focus on becomes our thought life and affects everything and everyone around us (Proverbs 4:23). We are aloud to mourn, we are aloud to root out blame when necessary, but our Good Father never intended for us to live in those distressful states of mind (Philippians 4:8). Doing so only leads to a negative outlook of the future, which leads to negative actions.

When I see this picture, despite all the tragedy, it makes me excited for the First Bossier Family. I’ve attended services there and read their Statement of Faith. I’ve seen the Body of Christ, their Church Family, live and breathe in a godly manner. I know the Spirit of the Living God dwells in His people in that church. I’ve seen Him bring about wonderful things through the ‘tragedies’ in my life, through the metaphorical fires and car wrecks that happened by chance, or were self-inflicted. I’ve seen the good He brought out of them for my sake. Like the good He brought out of Joseph’s time in prison, and the decimation of Job’s family and possessions (Psalm 105:19, Romans 8:28, Job 42:10-16).

So, all that being said, I can’t wait to see how brightly the Church Family of Bossier shines in the wake of this tragedy because of the Faithful God they serve and their earnest desire to be the Body of Christ to this broken world. I’m excited to see what good things God Almighty lifts out of the ashes of this terrible fire. There are too many verses about our faith being ‘tested with fire’ not to see the beautiful victory God is preparing for the First Bossier Family. In their hearts, they have doubtless already claimed that victory, but our God’s Power radiates through the physical world as well as the spiritual. I believe the physical victory of the First Bossier Church will affect lives in this city for years to come, all for the Glory of Jesus Christ. May we all mourn with them, pray with them, and then, after the Lord has restored everything that was lost, celebrate with them.

1 Peter 1:7
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

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Let Your Father Buckle You In

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” -Ephesians 5:1

God continually blows my mind as He shows me His Plan in the daily things of life. My three year old is in the ‘I want to do it’ phase. She just discovered she is capable and now insists on doing certain things (like buckling herself into the car seat). Most times she is successful, but it’s not uncommon for a thick coat or baggy jacket to throw a wrench into her efforts and send her into an epic tantrum.

The Holy Spirit showed me that our relationship with our Heavenly Father is very similar. When we’re born again, everything’s easy. We’re bathed in the Spirit, zealous for the Lord, doing everything we should. Like a baby in its mother’s arms, we need only let the Father care for us. Obedience comes easily . . . but only for a time.

Like any good parent, the Lord doesn’t coddle us forever. We grow and mature. We become ready for His work. God’s way is never easy, though. To do His work, we must pass His tests. He lets us venture out, do things on our own, be obedient without offering His hand to hold. Because if we’re not holding our Parent’s hand as we walk down the metaphorical street of life, we can trip and fall.

To this day, I watch my little girl fight with her car seat. I no longer help her buckle in immediately. We’re past that point in her life. She knows she can do it herself when she wears normal clothes, but she hasn’t figured the complications cold weather clothes bring to the problem she can normally solve, so she’s faced with three options:

1. Try on her own and fail, suffering the disappointment and misery that comes from losing a battle you know you’re capable of winning.

2. Ask me for instruction. I’m not buckling her in anymore, but I’m still her father. I know more about the car seat than she does. I can give her instruction if she’ll heed my words. She can use my higher level of wisdom to defeat the problem and buckle herself in. But she must memorize what I say and put it into practice. (Like memorizing Scripture and doing what it says)

3. She must ask me for help. Even if my little girl listens to my instruction, memorizes it, and applies my advice correctly, at the end of the day. Some problems will still be too big for her. Her tiny fingers and arms won’t be able to perform the complex movements necessary to adjust the shoulder belts to the correct position to accommodate her coat or tighten them afterward. I know she physically can’t do it. Only I can. And I want to.

I’m her father. I hate watching her struggle and fail and get upset. But at this point in her life, I’m restraining myself for the sake of her independence. I wait for her to ask for my help. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes I can simply reach back and put one finger on the buckle that needs a little extra pressure to lock itself in. Other times I have to get out of the car, walk around, open her door, and use both hands. My level of intervention differs in every situation.

It’s the same with the Lord. We are His dear children, adopted into His family by the Cross of Christ. He has no favorites among us. One day, He won’t reach for our hand any longer, He’ll ask us to reach for His. If we don’t, we will fail. If we don’t listen to and memorize His life-giving words, we’ll head into spiritual and physical battles unprepared. If we don’t pray for His help facing problems too big for our little fingers and arms, we might never get ‘buckled all the way in’.

And, because we aren’t buckled, the car can’t go anywhere. Our Heavenly Father is the one driving, after all. He’s a Good Father. He won’t let us speed down the road when we aren’t safe. We’ll sit in the driveway of our spiritual lives until we’re ready to ask for help, or until we grow strong enough to apply His instructions successfully.

Regardless of how long it takes, whether we sit in the driveway, crying and frustrated, grow strong enough to do it ourselves based on His instruction, or simply ask for help when we know we need it…we must realize why it’s happening. Our Heavenly Father, our Good Parent, is driving the car. He wants to take us somewhere exciting and new. But how fast we get there is entirely up to us.

God’s Perfect Solution

Some time ago, my wife came in to show me her dress that she loved. It was stained. Several of those blotchy, grease-type stains that darken the fabric. She explained that she tried washing it and was upset the stains had not come out. The fabric was delicate and there appeared to be no solution. If you know my wife, you know how hard she works to find solutions to her problems. I’ve always assumed if she couldn’t figure something out, there’s no way I could. So she ended up throwing the dress away in the trash can under the bathroom. Then we both forgot about it.

A few days later, I was throwing something away and happened to see the dress in that trashcan under the sink. Instinctively, I thought “I can fix it!” I grabbed the dress and quickly hid it cause my wife was nearby. Over the next few days, I didn’t have time to work on the dress, but I kept moving it from one hiding spot to another to keep her from finding it. I never had time to look up stain removal techniques or anything like that. I was so busy it was all I could do to keep it hidden.

Then, today, busy as I was, I decided to work on removing the stains from the dress because my wife wasn’t home. I looked up the fabric, rayon, and read about a myriad of stain fighting techniques. One even involved WD-40. Never felt confident about any of them, but as I was about to put the dress up again, a thought popped into my head. Call your friend Robby. I’d seen a post he’d made on Facebook asking for accountability in his Christian life. I’d been proud of him so I’d been thinking about him a lot that morning. He also happened to manage a dry cleaners.

I called and congratulated him on his efforts to mature in his walk, then asked him about the stain. He told me to go find something called Totally Awesome. He said I could buy it at any dollar store, treat the stain, wash it, and it would be like new again.

I went to the dollar store. They didn’t have it. I went to another dollar store. After twenty minutes of searching, I found it. I’d been looking for an exquisite bottle with brand lettering and graphics and all the pizazz of a high end product. This wasn’t what I found. I found a cheap plastic spray bottle with plain red lettering…located not in the laundry isle but in the cleaning isle. It was a general degreaser, nothing about laundry written on the bottle. It even had the words ‘As Seen On Tv’ off to the side. I was immediately skeptical and called Robby back, but he confirmed that was the correct product and gave instructions to dilute it and treat the stain.

I got home, followed his instructions, then washed the dress and waited. It came out stain free.

God does the same thing with us. He is an expert in all things, because he created all things. If we have problems we can’t solve ourselves, we often hide them, and keep hiding them, sometimes with the best intentions. The problem remains though. The dress is still stained, hidden in the dark where no one can see. Someone else will find it eventually, no matter how well you think you hid it.

However, if you examine the problem at the right opportunity, call the Expert, and do what He tells you, strange or pointless as it might seem, you’ll find that His Perfect Solution was exactly what you needed. Give your life to God. Let the blood of Jesus wash away your stains. He will lift you out of the garbage where circumstance left you, hide you under the shadow of his mighty wings, and, at just the right time, make you clean. Make you new. You can have everything you want in ways you never expected.

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

-2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

The Least of His Abilities . . .

Why doesn’t God do miracles today? Why doesn’t He show His power the way He did in the Bible? These are common questions that cause many to stumble, and in my musings while raking the yard today, the Holy Spirit gave me a satisfying answer I wanted to share.

There are plenty of verses in the Bible indicating God’s immutable nature. He doesn’t change. Therefore, he can still do the amazing things witnessed by men and women in the Old Testament. But we don’t see fire called down from heaven, or thousands of people fed with a single basket of food. Is that any reason to think God’s somehow changed or doesn’t exist? Not if you read what He said about these things.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

“8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[a] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.”

Paul wrote this letter in the first century A.D. and seems to be speaking about a time when God start dealing with humanity differently than He is in their day. And the passage suggests God at some point plans to withdraw His large scale miraculous events from the world at large. Not to say these things can’t happen. But perhaps they’re just less likely to. Jesus himself even said something similar in Matthew 12:

…The Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”

39But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Again, this passage could indicate ‘the age of miracles’ is winding down. There’s nothing to stop God from dealing with every age of humanity differently. If He’s God and we’re His creation, He can do whatever He wants. We slip up when we try to apply what we would do to Him without really knowing Him. So, bearing in mind all that, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed an awesome truth to me about why the Lord chose to do this.

Many believe that we are living in the End Times where numerous passages state that sin will be rampant and the love of many will grow cold. We do find it increasingly hard to meet and know real christians vs. carnal ones or malicious pretenders. We face persecution on social media, in schools, and death in other countries around the world. But what amazes me is how people come to know God through these little encounters in their lives. Situations, circumstances, all brought about through prayer and reading a single book (the Bible) where lives become radically transformed so that the person living them is no longer recognizable. Compared to what He used to do, it may seem like God is barely doing anything. But even in the Old Testament, God did something similar. From the middle of a tornado, He spoke to Elijah, in a ‘still, small voice’, so I believe he could be doing the same thing now.

And all to display His awesome power. Now, at a time, when evil runs rampant through every facet of every corner of society, God has pulled back. He has all the power in the universe. He has not lost his strength. His arm has not grown tired. But because He is so marvelously, awesomely powerful, He shows us that, even with the Devil at the height of his power, God can give us victory with the Least of His Abilities. His Whispers, Suggestions, and Nudges, are more powerful than all the armies of Hell. If you submit your life to Him through Cross of Christ, you can see that His ‘still, small voice’ in the back of your mind, can be the miraculous sign you’ve been waiting for. And it’s more than powerful enough to give you a new life, and victory.

3>2

Isn’t incredible that in the spiritual world you have two enemies: the devil and yourself.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 NLT
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT

But while you have two enemies, you have THREE defenders: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–the One God in three Persons.

“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:26 NLT

We can take comfort in simple numbers. Even if our defender wasn’t God Almighty, the ultimate, infinite cosmic source of goodness and power waiting to unleash Himself for the sake of anyone who asks…3 is still greater than 2. Simple math can assure you that you’ll triumph in the end. I’m not saying it won’t be hard. You’ll have to fight, not your way, God’s way. But you’re fighting from a position of victory.

“And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 24:10‭-‬13 NLT

Adam’s Quick Review: A Dragon Moves In

When a group of animals adopt a baby dragon, he quickly outgrows their tiny house. But they show him he’s more important than their stuff, building a new place that’s big enough for all of them!

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