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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bumping Into God

Hello dear readers, I'm away from my computer and using a recently purchased ipad. I am still navigating around the so called "user friendly Apple gaget," so I regret there are no pictures on this blog. Now you are welcome to write and let me know how to retrieve them and place them in the blog. Thanks. Also, please excuse long paragraphs. I have them clearly delineated in the rough draft, but for some reason they do not show in the posting. Oh, well. I can't believe how fast time has flown. It seems like just the other day I was on the overnight train from Ivano Fronkivsk, to Kiev. It was Memorial day and the beginning of summer. I was snacking on Russian salted string cheese as the train rocked back and forth. Now, suddenly, we are already at the end of the summer. We are celebrating Labor day with the great American cookout. Beef hamburgers and of course the famous favorite for children and adult alike, the "hotdog," with ketchup, mustard and relish. As a family we will be contributing to the amazing national statistic of over 800 hotdogs a second being consumed on this day.

Presently, we are sitting in our son and daughter in-law's air conditioned home in Florida. In this part of the country the rules of summer do not apply. Summer is not over here, we are still putting SPF 30 on our untanned skin to protect us from the intensity of the sun.

Noline and I have been vacationing with our family Stateside for the last month, hence the vacation from the blog. We started out with our daughter and her family up in a cabin nestled in the foothills of the awesome Rocky Mountains. We took time out to preach for Gary Wilkerson, at The Springs Church, in Colorado Springs. And now after some time in Florida, we will return to Ukraine and to the revival meetings in Ivano. It has been a wonderful time relaxing with some of our favorite little people, the grandchildren.

I have often spoken of the concept of "bumping into God." These are unplanned meetings with God which are unprecedented and unpredictable. For example, Joshua, while walking toward Jericho, on a recce to determine just how to conquer the city, met with the Son of God. Just maybe, it was in the cool of the evening as he walked (A favorite time with God and Adam) in the lengthening shadows of his surroundings toward the ominous walled fortress. There, standing alone, was a man with a drawn sword. "Friend or foe?" Joshua cried out. Little did he know at the time this was going to be a "bump into God moment." And that is how most of our meetings with God are. We are surprised by the moment, and only in retrospect do we recognize it was God we bumped into. Most call that significant meeting of Joshua's a 'Theophany,' and I tend to agree with them. I believe it is here where he receives heavens directions of toppling those impenetrable walls.

Saul of Tarsus, is another example of "bumping into God." On his way to persecute renegade Christians in Damascus, he is knocked to the ground by light. The voice of the Son of God is both intimidating and intimate. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" "Who are you Lord, and what do you want me to do?" Replied the smitten Pharisee. It is in this "bump with God" that turns a murderer into a missionary extraordinaire.

The bible is full of amazing stories concerning men and women who, 'bumped into God,' and their lives were instantly changed and forever. But don't get me wrong, you are going to need courage to head off into the sunset with God when He bumps into the mundaness of your everyday life. "Many are called, but few are chosen," declares the scriptures. Another translation says it this way; "many are called but few prove themselves to be chosen." In other words, few respond with the boldness needed to be outrageous for God.
Just sit back and take another hard look at the strategy given to Joshua on how to defeat this barricaded enemy. Think about it for a moment. After that meeting in the wilderness with a man and his drawn sword, Joshua had to then follow the directives which were given to him. By the way, this my interpretation of this meeting with Christ in the desert and Joshua. I believe it was at that same meeting in the desert where Joshua hears how the city will fall. He was told to simply march around the walls for seven days and then shout on the seventh and at that moment, they would crumple and fall straight down. Yikes! Easy to read this story, but it is another thing to believe it could really happen this way. Place yourself into Joshua's shoes. Would you have believed a complete stranger in an uninhabited wasteland by simply walking and shouting your victory would be accomplished? That act of faith on Joshua's part could not have been easily manufactured. It had to of come from a meeting with God. Without "bumping into God" we will never be able to do or see the impossible take place.

Being more practical than spiritual I can easily see the utter complexity of taking a few million plus people around a stone fortress and telling them that after six days those walls are going to come down. I can hear the chatter going on in the tents that night before the first day of marching around Jericho. "What do you think the people in the city are going to think of us?" "No doubt they are going to say we are nothing more than a bunch of fanatical heretics, following a leader who does not really have a battle plan." Listen to me today. Unless you see these stories in real life drama, which they are, you are never going to believe that God can bring down your walled cities. You will always succumb to being a hearer and not a doer of the word. To be a leader, even if it is only to your own family, you must meet with God. It does not have to have the dramatics of a Joshua meeting Christ in the desert, or a Saul knocked down to the ground on the road to Damascus. It can be as simple as sitting in a service and the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart as was the case with us living in Africa. In the late 1970's there was a visiting guest speaker from the States. I do not remember the message, but I do remember the voice of the Spirit saying, "you will be going to the United States." That was it, not a huge bump from God, but enough to make me sit up and listen. On the way home that day I said to Noline, I had a strange feeling in the service today. She said she did as well. I said, "You tell me first." She said, "No, you tell me first." I then said, "I brought up the subject so you go first." She said, "OK, OK, this is what I sensed, I felt the Lord saying we would be going to the United States." "Me too!" I exclaimed. Then three years or so later we were on a plane with a one way ticket heading to the US. Yes, you could buy one way tickets in those days believe it or not. We landed in Chicago's O'Hare International airport, and ended up pastoring a church in Sioux Falls, SD. All because we "bumped into God" in a small house gathering to hear a speaker from the good O'l US of A. Today is Labor Day. We celebrate the worker. Commissioned a national holiday in 1882. The first Monday on September, 5th was selected as it was halfway between Independence day and Thanksgiving day. It was designed to give the hard working man or woman an honorable day of rest from their labor. And that is exactly what faith is. It is REST from our labors and trusting in the power of God to do the impossible. So we might be enjoying the well deserved break form our labors today, but don't forget this national holiday has a spiritual counterpart. Hebrew 4:11 "Let us labor therefore to enter into His rest." A great play on words from a mighty God who is not only able to deliver, He wants to deliver us from all our fears.

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