Monthly Archives: December 2015

God, Why Won’t You Answer My Prayer? (An Encore Podcast)

prayerKey word for this PODCAST? Expectations.

There is nothing more toxic to our faith than when we base our faith on misinformed expectations. More precisely, holding God to expectations that He never intended for us to form; expectations God never committed Himself to fulfill.

They say that “confession is good for the soul.” OK, here’s my confession to you: Every week, when I open the Bible and begin to teach, I keenly, keenly feel my inadequacy. That’s not a me-trying-to-sound-humble statement; that’s a me-being-brutally-honest statement. A true statement, an honest admission, because I know that each and every person who listens to my voice and hears my words is experiencing their own challenges, asking their own questions, working through their own difficulties.

Consequently, there is so much that I would like to tell you, but literally so little time. How much can we accomplish in less than an hour together each week?

I am certainly not alone in my frustration. I take great comfort that Jesus felt it too, keenly so. Which is precisely what He told His disciples in one of the landmark chapters in all of the Bible. Yet, ironically, it’s a chapter that is so often overlooked as to its significance and importance.

If I were to ask you to tell me your favorite chapter in the Bible, or the one that brings you the greatest level of comfort, I doubt you’d say John 16. But for me, without a doubt, I’d say John 16. And it’s in this chapter that Jesus expressed my same exact frustration.

There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.

The scene was the Upper Room. The night was His last night before the crucifixion. Jesus knew what the next 24 hours would be like. Consequently, Jesus had to recalibrate His disciples’ expectations. And so on this night, Jesus huddled with His disciples at what should have been the singular celebration of the year: a Passover Seder.

A beautiful night that would soon turn ugly.

These men had left everything to follow Jesus. They had literally put their lives on the line to become committed Christ-followers.

Jesus had warned them repeatedly that this night was coming — the night of His betrayal and arrest.

But you know, it’s amazing to me what we hear, and what we don’t allow ourselves to hear.

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The First Noel

12390995_10153185910760841_423099692962636577_nIt is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and meaningful of our Christmas carols.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, its seven stanzas tell the complete story of Christmas, brilliantly combining both Matthew’s and Luke’s Nativity narratives.

The carol to which I refer? The First Noel.

The First Noel, the angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep, on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star shining in the east beyond them far. And to the earth it gave great light, and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star three wise men came from country afar. To seek for a king was their intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest, o’er Bethlehem it took it rest. And there it did both stop and stay right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then did they know assuredly within that house the King did lay. They entered in then for to see, and found the Babe in poverty.

Then entered in those wise men three, fell reverently upon their knee, and offered there in His presence their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought.

Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.

Let’s talk about those Wise Men, mysterious Magi.

And the star, what it was and why they followed it.

And their gifts, and their amazing significance.

From all of us at the Safe Haven, to all of you, A Very Merry Christmas!ThreeWiseMenblueskyandstars

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“Let the Reader (or Hearer) Understand!”

menorah-thinkstock-157389389-335sm112613Welcome to December.

Not our December, even though today’s date is December 13. Which, BTW, is for our Jewish friends the 7th day of Hanukkah.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, I’m talking about Jesus’ December, His final December.

As John observed in John 10, it was winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem for what John calls the Feast of Dedication.

As we break seal on this story, we are now a mere four months from the crucifixion.

When we last left Jesus, He had just healed a man born blind following the Feast of Tabernacles in October. This led to a rather heated confrontation with the religious leaders who kicked the now-healed blind man out of synagogue and denied that this man was ever blind. When that didn’t work, because everyone in Jerusalem knew this formerly blind-beggar, they accused Jesus of healing Him in the power of Satan. The confusion caused by these Pharisees left the crowd reeling. Thus we read,

“Many of them said (of Jesus), ‘He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”

That’s vs 21. And that happened in October. Next we read in verse 22,

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.”

A full two months transpired between John 10:21 & 22. Indeed, after that heated and life-threatening exchange with the Jewish leaders, Jesus and His men got out of Dodge. Jesus needed to, since once again Pharisees wanted to kill Him.

So here’s my question: Why in the world, then, did Jesus risk returning to Jerusalem here in the Winter? Why did Jesus literally put His life at risk to be there?

The answer is profound.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The World’s Most Beloved Psalm in High Definition

1430424577032Spoiler alert! You will find this PODCAST heartwarming in the extreme.

Let me set it up in this way: When Jesus declared “I AM the good shepherd,” He revealed volumes about Himself and where you and I stand with Him — today, tomorrow, and every day, no matter what.

It would not be an overstatement to suggest that contained within those five words are our theology of exactly who God is and what God is like. Most importantly, how we relate to God, and how He relates to us, in His own words, according to His own description of Himself.

And as you will soon hear, of all of the metaphors used by the biblical writers to describe God, none comes close to the beauty of this one statement: “I AM the good shepherd.”

What does that statement mean — to Jesus’ original hearers, and to us today? More than you can possibly imagine.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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