Thursday, July 14, 2011

Divine Cloak of Invisibility

Would God protect an average Joe Q. Believer from a speeding ticket? What about 2 in one week?

I’m not normally a speeder—at least since I left the frenetic pace of my late teens-early twenties (coincidentally the same period that I was the proud owner of a turbocharged Dodge Daytona). But, yeah, I usually push the speedometer four or five miles past the posted. On the highways, at least.
Neighborhood streets, where children and squirrels often play, I’m very conscious of my speed and peripheral vision. But the other day, heading late to work, I urged my truck to about ten over the posted on a main asphalt artery to Highway 77. I know this stretch is often targeted to fatten the coffers of the city of Bloomington, MN, so I rarely push my luck here. But I was late, mid-year reviews, etc. etc.
So there I was, doing 45 in a 35 when I spotted the black and white. I even watched—in slow-motion it seemed—as the officer set aside the radar gun in preparation of the short pursuit to hand over my certificate of donation to the city.
But it never happened. I called my wife 5 minutes later—when I was sure I was in the clear—and told her “God’s Cloak of Invisibility is on my truck!”
Five days later, rushing down I-35 to my son’s orthodontist appointment, I was doing my usual, carefully-calculated 10 mph enhancement. Parking is hell in downtown Minneapolis, so I tweaked an additional 5 on my speedometer to buy an additional 5 seconds of parking time.
And there he was, a two-wheeled keeper of the peace, lounging in the shade of an overpass, radar phaser in hand.
Three miles down the road I called my wife and whispered—not wanting to alert my son to the scofflaw status of his father—“God’s Divine Cloaking Device is still on my truck!”
“You better stop it!” she chuckled. This coming from a woman who has received two speeding tickets in the last year! Of course, in the twenty five years leading up to those two, she had only received one such summons.
Now, I’m all for trusting God in everything—EVERYTHING—I do. But I also knew I better stop testing Him. I’m officially on the speed-limit wagon. Go 55!
Last night at work, I received an email from my wife. She was organizing the junk drawer—it’s an annual rite for her—not sure why. She wrote: “Found the license plate tags for your truck—from May! Three months??”
The bible tells me that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. I can’t always see God working in my life—haven’t seen that hefty advance for my first novel. But I have faith that He is working it everyday. And even though I saw it this time, I put those tabs on first thing this morning. And I cranked up my Trust-In-God dial to 11!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Son Teaching This Papa

Once again, God sneaks in with a little reminder where I least expect it. This time it was a bible lesson that I had prepared - ostensibly - for my son. Methinks it night have been meant for me!

When I read Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest" I am always amazed at how clear Mr. Chambers' thinking/distillation of biblical concepts is. And I thought I would like to share this with Andrew. But I knew I needed to simplify the message a little for an 11-year-old brain. So I re-worked yesterday's message, "Don't Hurt The Lord", and shared it with Andrew today.

When I read the part - We look for God to show Himself to us, but God only shows Himself in us. And while other people can see signs of God’s presence in us by our words and actions, we do not see it in ourselves. As much as we want to notice what God is doing in us, if we keep asking God for proof and watching for that proof, we hurt the Lord  - I realized how much that describes ME. Especially lately. And boy did I confess it right away to Andrew (see son, even Papa makes mistakes!)

I have been telling Minda lately that I feel like I am hyper-vigilant for signs of my relationship with Christ. Which is not necessarily a bad thing - focusing on God is my utmost. But I confessed to her and later to God, that I have been so focused on what God is doing in my life that I may have forgotten about all the "brothers and neighbors" - that Jesus tells us to love - around me.

And yes, what I am looking for is proof that God loves me.

So I confess this to God and family and whomever is reading this: I have been self-absorbed with my relationship with Christ and hurting Him by questioning, analyzing and over-thinking our relationship. And I repent for it here and now.

The final part of today's lesson was very fitting for me and Andrew. (The paraphrase of) Chambers' essay said:  Believe it or not, choosing NOT to be worried about things—weather, grades, food, money—actually honors Jesus. It’s another way of saying, “Thank you God for loving me.”

What was interesting was right before I read to him, he mentioned that he thinks God is helping with his fear (terror) of thunderstorms because he slept right through one the other night. And that made the final line even more awesome:
Realize that Jesus is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A White and Pink Coffee Cup

I haven’t had a God-dream in a while and I miss them! Then last week, Boom! This one was different - it was short, succinct and amazing. It was also unique in that I was purely a witness rather than a participant. And unlike most of my God-dreams, when I woke up I immediately knew what the dream was telling me.

The Dream: I was in a library-like setting and I was watching a woman who was standing alone, 15 feet away, sipping a coffee. I didn't recognize her, but felt like I knew her. As I watched, a man walked behind her and as he passed he reached out and gently touched – just touched – her back and kept going. I never saw the man’s face, just his touch and passing . The woman turned, with a slightly stunned look, as if to see who had touched her and then as I watched, her face lit up with a smile.

And then I woke up and instantly knew that I had just witnessed Jesus blessing this woman. Very cool dream! But who was she?? I wanted to tell her the good news!

The only clue was her coffee cup: it was one of those plastic white ones meant to look like a Starbuck’s travel cup with a pink sleeve. I pondered this detail for awhile and remembered a woman co-worker visiting my desk just the other day with a white/pink coffee cup. I couldn't remember who but I thought it might have been Jessica or Kim.

Saturday I arrived at work to find Kim pulling a weekend shift. I asked her nonchalantly if she had a white/pink coffee cup – Yes! Later, when we had a moment, I explained my dream and my interpretation of it, and that I believed she may have been recently blessed by God. She seemed to like the idea of a “blessing” (although she might have been humoring the "crazy bald guy") but then she informed me that "Jessica also has a white/pink coffee cup."

Arrgghhh! God must really enjoy irony!

Along came Sunday and toward the end of church we were praying for Jill’s healing and Jill was crying and I kept thinking, “I wish the blessing in my dream was for Jill!”. At one point I opened my eyes and looked at Jill, wanting to comfort her and realized she was wearing a PINK sweater over a WHITE shirt!

So, maybe the blessing was for her. Or for Kim. Or Jessica. Or for all three. They have all been informed now that they may have been recipients of a God-blessing  and to keep their eyes open to spot it. But of course I already know, they were blessed by God a long time ago!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Speaking of Race Bib Numbers...

A writer asks: Hey Scott, does God ever speak to you through marathon racer bib numbers? (signed, Scott).

What? Actually I know exactly what "Scott" means. You see, I recently ran a 7 kilometer race—my 1st race ever—called the “Get Lucky” 7K Race. And my bib number was 1777.

I did not pick my bib number, it was just random chance that I received that number. Or was it?

I thought it was a pretty cool coincidence—my #1 race was a 7K. And I was lucky to get the three 7s. But wait there’s more to it. As my good friend, dream interpreter, and talented artist-celebrity Josie said: “Your bib number reminds me of Deuteronomy 28:7," which reads:

The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face:
they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

I love it! And so I delved a little deeper into it, which is what any self-respecting person who respects Josie would do. Here’s what I found: According to Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke:

The Lord shall cause thine enemies, etc. - This is a promise of security from foreign invasion, or total discomfiture of the invaders, should they enter the land.
They shall come against thee one way - in the firmest and most united manner.
And flee seven ways - shall be utterly broken, confounded, and finally routed.

I love promises from God, especially a promise of security. And there’s no doubt of the disposition of the enemies as they flee: utterly broken. God has my back!

Then there’s Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible which says:

They shall come against thee one way - in a body, all together,
in large numbers, marching in great order…

That’s pretty daunting…and I would expect nothing less from The Enemy. But wait:

And flee seven ways – this phrase is expressive of an entire victory,
and of a complete rout and dispersion of an enemy.

That’s pretty epic: an entire victory and a dispersion of an enemy. God rocks!

Josie followed up with this:
The significance of seven has to do with refinement, and references God's perfection (rest on the seventh day, etc). So it's about the best number you could have in your corner. If numbers can go in corners.

And, delving deeper, because that’s what Josie does, she added this:

Okay, so I'm not trying to wear this 1777 thing out, but I ran across it AGAIN today in my reading. 1777 is the Strong's [Concordance] number for the Hebrew word "din", which means to judge or defend. The origin is having to do with the straight course of a sailboat, or judge as an umpire. A couple of verses that use this word seem important as it relates to you. I'm thinking it is maybe a gifting that you have that you are coming into--my gut is it has to do with intercession but also course correction, as in you are a "course corrector".

You have to make a judgement of a sort to make intercession--unless something is wrong you don't need to intercede for someone. So you have to identify the wrong thing. Also, defend people that need defending, and maintain a straight course. I think you are uncomfortable making assessments/judgments, which is probably why you have a gift in that area (i.e. you could never be mean spirited or critical in a vicious way.) I'm also thinking about that race tag being pinned on you--you've been labeled, marked, as it were. The heavens know, and soon other people will know too.

She provided 2 verses as examples:

Proverbs 31:8-9 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead (#1777) the cause of the poor and needy.

Zechariah 3:7 And the angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern (#1777) My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.

So, to answer Scott’s question…maybe God speaks through race bibs. More likely, God speaks through Godly women and men who are inspired by God to inspire and encourage others.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Letter

Dear Jesus-

In my nearly-completed novel, “Such Is Life”, you play a starring role. In fact, it’s safe to say that you are the main character. The other main character, Steven Todd, is the one I envy, for he has access to you in the flesh-and-blood sense.

The story is a time-trip—which is feasible since you are not bound by time—and of course it is fiction. Perhaps even more specifically and realistically it is Speculative Fiction. A preacher might even call it Science Fiction--if he wasn’t calling it blasphemy.

Lucky man Steve gets to talk to you, in person, hear your responses, your laughter, your thoughts on favorite songs (Dr. Hook and Eric Clapton). He gets to feel, physically feel your love and strength, wonder about the power contained in a single tear as it courses down your cheek—and long to reach out and touch one. He gets to unabashedly hold your hand. Oh to be Steve.

Of course in a sense I am Steve—or rather Steve is me. Steven’s past is modeled on my past. And it wasn’t pretty--for either of us. Unfortunately for both of us, most of Steven’s story is not fiction. It really happened to me.

Except the hanging out with the Son of God in a St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball cap part.

So I find myself envying a fictional character of my own invention based on me. I’m sure there’s a paradox or an enigma in there somewhere. And the truth is I have more access to you than Steve does—it’s just a different kind. It’s real-time but not flesh-and-blood. It’s heart-to-heart but not splashed across the written page in visceral detail. It’s glorious without the drama—at least on your part.

And most importantly it’s real.

In the last 24 hours I have sensed you making moves in my life. Preparing me for a change. Or changing me for a new path. I see things in a different focus - like hig-def televison. I get little thrills from the most mundane occurrences: a bird flying past a window, a precise architectural feature, a spoken word--or one on a vanity license plate--that echoes in my mind throughout the day. I anticipate a new direction and feel exhilaration at the prospect. I have no idea what it is—a new career, a new business, success with my writing, a change in living situation? Whatever it is, it is from you so I know it will be good.

And in the meantime I am trying not to get bogged down in the little details, the circumstances of my life. Rent. Gas for the truck. Tires for Minda’s car. Braces for Andrew. These are all things you take care of—have been taking care of for many years. You boggle my mind with your just-in-time provisions. You are so good to us. All I do is pray and believe, and for every obstacle and challenge, you have a bundle of provision waiting in the breakdown lane.

But I won’t pray for the rent this time. You already know. I want to pray for others’ situations: Jill’s mouth, Pria’s health, Linda’s healing, glasses for Minda, Julie’s salvation. You already know of these things. You have no need for me to pray for these either.

So tonight I will pray for my relationship with you. For growth, and trust. For knowing you, not knowledge about you. For hearing you in my heart. For feeling your presence in me, not around me.

That is something Steve—if he was flesh-and-blood—would envy me for. And I couldn’t blame him.

Because that relationship is real.

As Kathy would say, Woo-Hooo!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Soundtrack

Once upon a time, Satan told me…

It's always here and now my friend, it ain't once upon a time
It's all over but the shouting, I come to take what's mine
We're searchin' for the latest thing, a break in this routine
Talkin' some new kicks, ones like you ain't never seen

This is home, this is Mean Street
(“Mean Streets” – Van Halen)

But I told Satan…

Is that all you got?
I'll take your best shot
Is that all you got?
I'll take your best shot
I'll take your best shot
(“Boom” – P.O.D.)

And he did and I didn’t. Then one day God said to me…

I can be the wall when you fall down
Find me on the rocks when you break down
I heard it in the song when you call out
But I got to say now it's got to change
(“Renaissance” – Mat Kearney)

And He did and I did, too. But it wasn't enough; I looked at my family and told God…

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone
Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone
("Lead Me" - Sanctus Real)

And He is. And I proclaim to Him...

In your word I place my trust
In your word I rest
In your word I place my trust
For I know I must wait
(“I Wait for the Lord” – Jeremy Camp)