Years ago Anita had to be gone for the evening and she asked me to fix hamburgers for the kids and I. Now, I have a reputation in the family as a non-cook. So, she explained to me how to broil the burgers, how much water to put in the pan, how close to the top oven burners to place them, and what to look for when they would be done. It sounded like a simple project to me. How could I mess that up? So, at the prescribed time I turned on the oven, placed the burgers and the pan on the top shelf and let them cook. But they never got done. Black on the bottom and red on the top. She had failed to advise me to flip the burgers! How was I to know I should flip them? It couldn’t be my fault. So, we had half-baked burgers that couldn’t be eaten.
God said, “Ephraim [northern Kingdom of Israel] is a cake unturned…But they do not return to the Lord their God (Hosea 7:8, 10).
Just as I had only half-baked the burgers by not flipping them, so Israel was half-baked in their service to God. They did certain things well, but they failed to do others. They embraced God’s goodness, but they failed to repent of their evil ways. If we’re going to receive God’s grace into our lives, we should go all the way. Don’t be a half-baked Christian.
36 years ago Anita and I were living in an old farmhouse just outside of Waterloo. Our 3-year old daughter, Jennifer, was playing alone in her bedroom. I went in to talk to her and she was curled up in the fetal position against her wall chewing her nails with a horrified look on her face. Next to her was an electrical outlet with a hairpin inserted in each opening. She had gotten the shock of her life and didn’t understand what had happened.
The prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Jenny didn’t have the knowledge that the hairpin would complete the circuit and give her a jolt. The same happens to each of us if we don’t have the knowledge that our acts today have repercussions tomorrow. Our society focuses upon freedom and liberty, but if people aren’t made aware of the results of their actions, they will always want to blame someone else when the disaster comes.
Fifty years ago almost everybody knew marriage to be a sacred institution. They recognized homosexual practices as perversion. They had no problem identifying abortion as a form of murder. But today many people lack moral knowledge in all these areas. The result? Thousands of emotionally scarred children. Unprecedented numbers of suicide. Overcrowded jails. Lack of knowledge can be a killer.
God said through the prophet Ezekiel, “I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went” (Ezekiel 36:21).
God is very jealous of His reputation. What do our lifestyles and Facebook posts say to the world about God? Are we profaning His name among the world around us?
Do we try to make God a Republican? Do we really think God is against Health Care for the poor, or that He hates sinners blinded by a gender crisis put on them by a warped society? Are we communicating that God wants all Christians having a loaded gun handy in case they need to kill somebody? Or that God gave Christians this land of liberty so that we can hoard it and keep others from receiving the same liberty? What is it our Christian witness is saying about God’s name to a lost world? I think we can do a better job.
You can hold unto whatever beliefs you have, but be careful how you portray the image of God to the lost world.
Back in 1978 a mother wrote to evangelist Oral Roberts to thank him for touching her son’s life. She wrote, “We didn’t know how to reach God for our son. He’d gotten into drugs, was disturbed in his personality, and had been in an accident and almost lost his life. Now through your prayers our son has found his life again. We’ve got a new son. At that time we couldn’t find God for ourselves and our son couldn’t work his way through the trouble he was in and find God for himself. You were the man who brought us to God. That’s why I say thank you, Oral Roberts.”
God is always the healer and the One Who brings breakthrough. But, God also uses people like Oral Roberts and you as human instruments through which God can work. We are the Body of Christ; His hands and His feet. We can stand in the gap for someone else.
“I sought for a man…to stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30).
I have been seeing a chiropractor because I have some disc problems from not lifting incorrectly years ago. The chiropractor attaches electrodes to my lower back and then turns on electric currents to manipulate the muscles around the sciatic to ease the pain. It works pretty good.
I went Thursday morning and they put me on a machine that didn’t produce much current. “That’s the highest it will go,” said the attendant. It worked as it was supposed to, but the current was too weak. I made a mental note to ask for a different machine next time.
There are things that are designed to produce power, that just don’t produce enough. There’s a leak or short somewhere that drains off the power to do the job. Could it be that God has designed you to produce powerful results in this world, but the power produced is too weak to be effective? In those cases we might need to switch to a different source. Instead of relying on our own wisdom and ability, we should switch over to God’s wisdom and ability. He always produces enough power.
Anita and I are planning an upcoming vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I remember vacationing up there one year with my family. I think I was about 11 or 12. We were camped in a big World War II surplus tent (MASH style). Dad woke me up about 2:30 AM and we went for a drive. We were looking for deer or bear, or anything wild roaming around. I remember we saw a dog-like animal on the road (perhaps a coyote or wolf) running down the road. We gunned it and got right up on top of it before he dodged off into the deep woods.
Sometimes you have to get up early to see what others don’t see. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to experience what others will never see.
In our world, the supernatural isn’t seen in the normal. Someone has to do what is abnormal or go where no one else wants to go to see God come through. Most of the miracles and breakthroughs I’ve seen in my ministry have been when I stepped out of what is convenient and did that which was expedient. Let’s go on a treasure hunt in our own “Deep Woods” and see what God sets us up with.
Steve Fisher just got promoted and is in heaven with Jesus. He and Donna always sat front and center as close as they could get to me. Steve had a fascinating ability on the dobro and banjo. He was a regular at ministering to older folks in nursing homes all around the area.
When I first met Christ, I was working in a factory in Butler assembling hydraulic pumps. Shortly after my conversion, Steve got saved. He was working at the same factory, and there was a revival spirit sweeping the plant, as each of us shared our faith with co-workers. I was asked to share a few thoughts from the Bible during lunch break. That group grew from two of us to seven or eight sitting together in the shipping area. I shared a daily Bible study with those men for several years, and Steve was a daily regular.
We’ve been friends ever since and he was a great supporter of what God was doing at New Hope. What will you remember about Steve?