Prayer is the word we use for communication with God. This implies a couple of things. First of all, prayer is the opportunity for us to open our hearts up to our Maker. Tell God everything that is on your heart, in your mind, and that you are concerned about. This is important. It is our opportunity to ask God the questions that we have about life.

The other thing that the word communication applies is that God responds to our cries of prayer. Too often we don’t hear the response because we walk away from the conversation before giving God the chance to respond. When this happens we think that God doesn’t even listen to our prayers.

The truth is that God not only hears our prayers, but he answers them. He answers them sometimes with the exact response that we expect. Often  he answers our prayers with something that looks absolutely different from what we were expected. Listen for his response.

 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)

In math classes in school they still teach a concept known as “greater than/less than.” This is not the technical name for the concept, but as children we learn that some quantities are greater than others.

The book of Hebrews is a testimony to this concept on a much deeper level than what quantity is greater or less than another quantity. In the book of Hebrews we find that Christ is greater than every other person or thing that we know.

The prophets of Old Testament days were important. They had a direct line to God. He spoke to them and gave them a message that was always true. As a group, these prophets were revered long after their death because of the intimacy they had with God. But the book of Hebrews teaches us that the prophets of old had nothing on Jesus. As closely as these men walked with God, as spiritual as they were, and as important as they were to the history of Israel, Jesus walked closer; He has a greater spirit; He is more important to the history of the World.

Jesus is the great Greater Than.

 “[T]hat at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” (Philippians 2:10a)

Hardly anyone does anything without the aid of the Internet these days. For someone to get on-line to do research, check email, or a number of other tasks, he must have a “service provider.” When the provider has problems the access to the internet goes down. And in our area, I find that my provider is not always adequate to the task I am doing.

Healthcare has jumped on the “provider” bandwagon, too. We no longer get to see our doctor, but must make appointments with our “primary care provider” which is often a group that has been approved by our insurance—that’s how healthcare providers get paid. This kind of system makes it cumbersome to need and see a physician.

There is one provider who never lets us down, though. God has chosen to be the provider for all the needs of mankind—He just wants us to receive this provision. He does all the work. As the hymn writer said, “Have faith in God, He provides for His own.”

 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

I’ve watched cheer squads work on their stunts. You know, building a human pyramid, stacking one on top of another to create a giant physical tower. What I noticed is that these squads always put the bigger, sturdier members on the bottom so that the one on the uppermost layer is the lightest. They do this so that the foundation will be strong enough to hold steady. (I think they want the smallest burden to be held, too.) What they are trying to achieve is a creation that will work.

The lesson is learned from the builder, who puts strong, worthy material at the base of his creation to make sure that the building holds up.

Life should be handled in the same way: build on the best foundation available. We know that foundation to be Christ and His teachings. Start with a true, strong foundation and your structure (your life) won’t falter.

 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. . . . He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit In season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:1 & 3)

When he was about two, my son decided that he would venture up to the top of our van. As best as I can piece the events together, when Mom and I had our backs turned, he proceeded to climb up on the bumper then the hood and windshield of the van until we looked up and he was sitting on the roof of the van. It happened so fast that we missed the whole thing. Then the trauma came. He knew he must come down, but was afraid to move. Going up was one thing, descending another thing altogether.

Daddy to the rescue: I stood facing him with my arms out-stretched and called to him, “Trust me. I’ll catch you.” Through tears and fears, he finally inched close enough for me to bring him safely into Daddy’s arms.

Sometimes it’s difficult to trust Jesus. We get ourselves into tricky situations—either by design or accident—and we need someone to bring us to safety. We need to trust Jesus. He comes to us, advises us of the right action plan, and waits with open arms to draws into safety. Will you trust him today?

 “Humble yorselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

I measured a room this week. We are in the home study process for a forthcoming adoption, and we wanted to be sure that the room where our new family member will live meets the standards set up by our state.

We measure lots of things. One of our favorite things to measure is the growth of the children. Some entrepreneurs have capitalized on this desire to measure and created colorful measuring charts to hang on the wall (some are even in the shape of happy animals) so that we can keep periodic measurements of the kids. Some families have the kids stand at the same doorpost every year to mark with ink this year’s growth in height. This post will never see paint because it bears the family record.

Whenever we embark on a new task, we want to figure out just how to measure up. What score should I make? How many widgets must I produce? What are the expectations I must live up to?

Interestingly enough, in the one area where we want most to “measure up” we will always fall short. That is in the arena where eternal life is earned. I will never be good enough, smart enough, or rich enough to earn, trick, or buy my way into heaven. I will always fall short of the measuring standard because that standard is Jesus—Perfection Personified. That’s hard to take. But wait! There’s good news! Even though I don’t and can’t measure up, Jesus (the measuring stick Himself) is good enough—perfect enough—to lift me up to the standard. And He’s powerful enough to lift you up to the standard as well. With Jesus, we can measure up with room to spare! (And by the way, the room measured up with space to spare!)

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24)

[My annual Post-VBS Post]

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

This has been the inner instruction for myself and all of the volunteer workers this week as we tried to keep up with the children in Vacation Bible School. We now have another successful year of VBS behind us. Children roamed the halls of the church, spent time in worship, ate interesting-looking snacks, and studied some of the fun and ancient Bible stories. Stories about Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, Nicodemus, a blind man, and the children, were highlighted by Jesus’ presence and understanding. During the week, seven children came to know Christ, we averaged 66 children for the week, and attenders gave over $300 to benefit the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services. In the midst of all of this we learned some new songs that linked our Bible stories to the over-all theme of “Submerged! Find the Truth Below the Surface.”

Interestingly enough, the new songs highlighting the old stories brought to my mind some of the old songs that I learned as a boy. You may remember some of them, too. Songs like: “I May never March in the Infantry,” “Deep and Wide,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” helped me to learn some really deep truths about God, His Son, His love, and how He desires to be a part of even the most “insignificant” of lives.

That will lead us to a study of some of the great Sunday school songs from childhood. Hopefully, we will be inspired by some familiar verses over the next few weeks. In the meantime, breathe, breathe, breathe.

 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God”    (Psalm 20:7)

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