In My Haste, and My Stupidity, I Nearly Blew It!

It’s true! Here comes a real personal and honest story. I’m not proud of this, but it happened. To me!

It was a normal day in my household. I had plenty to do. Places to go. People to see. Phone calls to make. Laundry to do. House to clean. Lessons to prepare. Dinner to think about. But I also had LOTS of text messages. emails, Facebook postings, blogs sites, and all kinds of socializing to do as well. Can anyone relate so far?

Just before I headed out the door to head toward an appointment (one that I must not be late to!), I thought I would take a few moments and check my “social media” sites, just in case someone had something important to say to ME! I was ready to “like,” to “love,” to “haha,” to “wow,” to “cry,” to be
“angry” or to “comment” to anything I read. I didn’t really have time to, but that is what’s expected, right? I admired pictures, laughed at a couple of funnies, but sorry, I will honestly admit that I bypassed anything in that moment that I had to read. I don’t have time to read you right now. I’ve got things to do. Can anyone relate?

Well, a few days prior to this, I had written two blog postings – “Hope in God” and “Did God Go Out to Lunch?” – both on the subject of having hope in God. I was happy with what I wrote and yet I wondered, “Would anyone read these articles?” I even encouraged friends on Facebook to visit my blog site and have a read. And yet I wondered, “Would anyone take the time to read these articles that I spent time thinking about and writing?” I hoped so, but right now I’ll just take a quick glance through the rest of these messages. Can anyone relate?

Someone did response!

A former student of mine, from years ago. I hadn’t heard from them for a very long time. Sadly in my haste, I brushed it aside. After all, I had things to do and places to go. Maybe I could send a quick emoji. But what? “Like.” “Love.” “HaHa.” “Wow.” How would I know which? In all honesty I hadn’t read their message to me. I was in a hurry. Didn’t have time. Had places to go and people to see. Can anyone relate?

I quickly skimmed through their message. It was too long. I didn’t really have time. Maybe later. Not now.

But then –

One word caught my eye! One simple word! And everything changed for me! What was that word?

SUICIDE! That got my attention. It literally screamed off the page at me. Then I took the time to read the entire message.

“Ms. Kathy, I just read your articles about hope in God. Hope? What’s that? I am writing to tell you that I have been hopeless for years now. It’s a long story and I don’t want to bore you with my life details. But I have been planning out my suicide for this afternoon. I had just finished writing my note to the family. But then, my computer started “pinging” – notifying me of a message received. I went to see who was interrupting my most important moment. It was you. But because I really like you and you taught me a lot over the years of knowing you, I took the time to read your message. Every word. I actually liked your message of hope. I cried at what I read. I am telling you now, Ms. Kathy, you helped to save my life this afternoon. I flushed the pills and called my counselor. I want God’s hope in my life again.”

No words! I have no words!

I sat and cried, sitting at my computer for the longest time. And yes, I missed my appointment. But that’s okay.

I feel very embarrassed and humbled right now!

What if, in my haste, I had just clicked the “like” icon? How awful, in my haste, I had “love”d it? Or simply said a passive “Wow!” Or, even worse, how horrible it would have been to have “ha ha” at that heartfelt message. In my haste, and in my utter stupidity, I nearly blew it!

I learned a very valuable lesson that day!

Can anyone relate?

And just so you know, I will read each and every text message, email, Facebook posting or blog that comes to my inbox. I will develop the habit of taking the time to read every word, no matter how long the message is. I will think twice before I automatically hit an emoji button out of convenience. I will respond to the person writing with dignity and thought. I will respect you, your opinions and your funny pictures. I will do that every time, because YOU matter to me!!

Did God Go Out To Lunch? – Psalms 10:1

Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” Psalms 10:1 (NKJV)

Is there any one else, besides me, that feels at times like God went out to lunch and left you standing all alone?

You know, that feeling like God isn’t really there. When you pray, and He seems silent. When you search for Him, but He seems to be hiding. When you go through difficulty, and He seems to have left you alone. When you are overwhelmed with life’s happenings, and He seems to have gone out to lunch.

Or, has He really gone out to lunch?

In your mind’s eye, think back to the last time when you felt that way. Let your mind go back to that moment when you were so overwhelmed by the powerfully traumatic event that life gave to you. I know, all too well, I know that it can be painful. And perhaps you really don’t want to go there. I totally get that, I do.

But, I would like to share with you, a powerful lesson that God taught me, at that very moment when I thought He had checked out on me in the midst of trouble and He seemed to go out to lunch. The lesson came to me as a simple reminder of a biblical truth I had known all my life. Yet this reminder, this lesson really changed my thinking during a recent event in my own life. As I share this, I pray it will help you too.

Think about the last overwhelming, difficult circumstances that was going on in your life. Think about that last time you wondered if God had left you. That time, when you thought He had abandoned you. That time, when you felt all alone, helpless and hopeless. Go ahead and identify your most recent upheaval, the blow you felt, the trauma you endured, the wound you are licking, the diagnosis received. Identify that “thing” that woke you up from that “everything is going smooth in life” dream you were having. Are you in that moment?

Did you call out to God at that time? “Where are you, God?” “Why have you left me here?” “How am I suppose to deal with this, God?” “Are you listening to me God?”

Did your heart sink, thinking that God had left you alone? Were you afraid of going at it by yourself? What if God walked away, and went to lunch?

In that moment, you must have felt all alone, powerless in fear and completely overwhelmed by the circumstances that life just dealt to you. Oh, I must honestly admit, I have felt that way too many times to count them. It truly is a horrible feeling!

BUT, let’s change our mindset for just a moment. This was my lesson learned. A much needed reminder in the form of a simple Bible truth. It was delivered with hopeful encouragement that blessed my heart.

Consider, for just a moment, that God was there in the fullness of that event that devastated your life!

The simple Bible truth is that God WAS there!

He is always there!

In the darkest moments of our life. In the upside down circumstances that frighten us. In the overwhelming events that leave us feeling alone and abandoned. In the times when we feel afraid, helpless and all hope seems to be gone. He was there!

He saw the very shape of your crisis. He felt the weight of it as it settled upon your life, as it crushed your very being. He could hear it as it began to break your heart. He sensed your fears, frustrations and feelings in that very moment. He was there!

He knew the exact size of the wrecking ball that hit your life with a thud. He felt it as you were knocked to the ground. He understood when your world fell apart. He knew in advance that things in your life might never be the same. He was there!

He knew your heart would be broken. He knew that the phone call would come during breakfast with your friends and interrupt the laughter. He knew that the car accident would happen that very afternoon. He knew just how your doctor would phrase his diagnosis that needed to be delivered to your listening ears. He was there!

He knew how your boss was going to explain your job away from you. He knew how your arms would tremble as you stood reading that note left by a loved one. He knew what horrid pictures you would discover on your computer screen. He knew who would be standing on the other side of the door when you opened it. He knew the numbing pain you felt as you stood at the graveside. He knew the pain of your circumstances that just rocked your world. He knew! He was there!

But, in that moment of your crisis, there is something else that He knew.

He knew that you needed for Him to draw near to you. He knew that you wanted Him to hold you tight and just let you cry. He knew to lovingly wipe away your tears. He knew you wanted Him to take away your fear. He knew that you needed His help and comfort. He knew to be gentle in the words He spoke to you. He knew in the midst of your pain, that He would whisper to you, “My child, I am right here with you!” He knew!

He knew that when He reminded you of His presence, when He began to give you His love, His strength, His peace and His hope, then you would collapse into His arms. He knew that He would offer you a safe place of refuge; a place to abide with Him during the course of the storm that raged in your life. He knew that He would carry you through the circumstances. He knew that He would set your feet, once again, upon solid ground. He knew!

He knew that it wasn’t lunchtime. In the midst of your darkest moment, He never left you. He was in those circumstances with you. He was waiting for the right moment to speak, to act, to perform that miracle, to provide that blessing, to bring encouragement. He waited for you to acknowledge His presence with you. He was there with you!

He knew that His child needed Him. He knew! God knew all about your life event. He knew all about His child.

He knew! Because, He was there! He was right there with YOU!

Hope in God – Psalms 42:5-11

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, for the Hill Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me – a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my Rock, why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Psalms 42:5-11 (NKJV)

I saw her in the hospital’s surgical waiting room. My eyes were drawn to the woman in the corner of the room, sitting alone, crying. I really wanted to go to her right then, but someone was waiting for me; someone who desired to sit with me while my husband was having surgery. This someone could only stay for a little while as work was calling for their attention. I appreciated the fact that someone loved me enough to come and sit with me so I wouldn’t have to sit alone. But still, my eyes were drawn to the woman in the corner of the room, sitting alone, crying.

The surgical waiting room was populated with plenty of comfortable chairs, sets of tables and chairs, many of which were occupied by a person waiting. Several televisions within the large space were vying for one’s attention. The noise from them was a little distracting, but then, perhaps those waiting really wanted that kind of distraction. A person could watch the news, or over there, on the other side of the room, was displayed a fitness and health program. One television had a children’s cartoon playing. Two children sat close by, quietly laughing together at what they were watching. I would have enjoyed watching the cartoon with them in an attempt to totally take my mind away from the present circumstances, if only for a few moments. Their laughter made me chuckle to myself. One man sat all alone, by the window, working diligently on a crossword puzzle. There was a family huddled together, sharing memories, laughing at pictures collected on their phones. Right in the middle of the room was a fairly large group of people, circled around two people who were standing in the middle. They were all holding hands and praying together. One young mother sat with her young boy, who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years of age. She comforted her son in her arms, as he softly sobbed, asking, “Is Daddy going to be okay?” Another lady, sat reading a book, her face bearing a widening smile and then a audible chuckle; obviously responding to what she was reading. I turned around to see an older couple come into the room. The wife, fussing over her husband, telling him where to sit and that “it will be just a few moments before they call you back.” I loved the compassionate look of love that the husband gave to his wife, as he patted her hand. He gently reassured her, “You are going to be just fine as you wait. I will be in the good hands of my surgery team. We will be back together soon.” I smiled at the preciousness of that relationship. I watched as a volunteer worker came to get a young man, whose girlfriend had surgery and was coming out of the recovery area. “You can come with me sir, I will take you back to your party and together you can prepare to take her home.” All of the sudden I realized that my “party” was waiting for me. I went over to where they were sitting, hugs were exchanged. I then sat down and we started talking. But still, my eyes were drawn to the woman in the corner of the room, sitting alone, crying.

It didn’t seem like that long before a volunteer came for me. “The doctor will meet with you now and tell you how your husband’s surgery went. Would you like to follow me?” She led me to a little room, where after a few moments the doctor came to tell me the details of the surgery and to give me the assurance, “Everything went well.” Hubby was moved to recovery and I would have some more time to wait. My “party” excused themselves saying that they had to get to work. We hugged and I thanked them for the time they had spent with me, waiting together. I walked back into the main waiting area, and once again, my eyes were drawn to the woman in the corner of the room, still sitting alone, and still crying.

This time I walked right over to her, sat down in the chair beside her and placed my hand upon her shoulder. “I’m sorry to bother you, but…” I gently said to her. Without any hesitation, she welcomed me. “Oh, you are not bothering me,” she said as she wiped the tears from her eyes. I handed her another tissue and said, “I have been watching you for some time, but couldn’t come over to you until now. Do you mind if I ask – – Are you alright?”

With tear stained eyes, she looked me in the face. I couldn’t help but notice just how tired this dear lady appeared. She cleared her throat and introduced herself. I then told her my name and a little something funny about me and hospital waiting rooms. We both laughed. Instantly I felt like we had known each other forever. The conversation that pursued was precious, as two people came together in the beginnings of a new friendship. We were comrades in waiting. Both of us were waiting for our husbands to have their surgeries, spend their time in recovery and hopefully not have to wait a long time before they were sent to their rooms for the night of observation and care.

In the course of our conversation, my new friend asked me a series of questions. Prior to asking her questions, she had shared that her husband had been ill for a long time, had many surgeries and this one, well, it was “the last hope” of any help for him. My heart just ached for this dear lady as I listened to her story. No wonder she was crying. It just broke my heart that she had to sit there all alone. I wrapped my arms about her. We cried together.

After a few moments, through the tears, the questions began.

  • “Have you ever felt totally helpless and hopeless?”
  • “Have you ever felt like you were in a very long, dark, black tunnel and you wonder if the light will ever be seen again?”
  • “Do you know about hopeless circumstances? That’s where I am now and I don’t know what to do. I feel so alone!”
  • “What do YOU do when you feel hopeless?”
  • “Do you know about hope? Where does it come from?”
  • “How can I find hope?”

I held her in my arms, her body shaking with her sobs. As I tried to comfort this dear woman, sitting alone in the corner of the room, I began to pray. Out loud, I prayed for my new friend.

“What are you doing?” she said as our tear-stained faces met. “I’m praying to the God of all hope! I’m asking the God that I know, the God who has given me hope in many dreadful circumstances, to meet you right here in this surgical waiting room. I’m asking God to wrap His loving arms around us both and give us comfort, peace and hope for the situations we both find ourselves in. I’m asking God to be your light at the end of the tunnel, to be the One who wipes away all your tears, to be your source of hope.”

She sat silently, looking right at me, but not responding. Perhaps she was pondering over what I had said. I was hoping that I hadn’t offended her. Finally, she calmly and gently said, “No one has ever prayed for me like that before. Thank you! Is your God really the source of hope? Can you keep on praying for me?”

I started praying again, out loud, to the God I know so well, who was listening at that very moment to my heartfelt prayer. God was present in the corner of that surgical waiting room, and He brought comfort and peace to this dear lady. For the next hour, we prayed. We cried. We talked about God, about His great love, about His Son, Jesus Christ, and about hope. Together, we talked to God. There was an indescribable preciousness to that conversation. One I will never forget.

Truth of the matter is this, my dear blog reader. Every one of us are faced with difficult times when we wonder what happened to hope. We might face seasons of disappointment, bouts of depression, periods of despair, cycles of doubts and questions. These can come as a result of health issues, job loss, financial stresses, family difficulties, relationship battles, or any other major experience that life likes to throw at us.

We have all been, or will be at some point of life, in the place where we search for hope. We will be in the place where we wonder what we did wrong, or where we question the circumstances, or where we feel like the tunnel just got very dark. We find ourselves asking, “Where is God now?” or “What happened to hope?”

The Psalmist faced a time like that. In Psalms 42:6, we have recorded for us the Psalmist’s cry to God, as he searched for hope. He writes, “O my God, my soul is cast down within me.” I can assure you that God heard that cry! We aren’t told what the circumstances were; we don’t really need to know. Yet, we can relate, can we not? I know I can. I’ve been there. Many times. I’ve been in the midst of circumstances when all I could do is cry. I’ve been in the midst of troubled times when I simply didn’t know what to do next. I’ve been in the pit of despair and depression when I was certain that pit would swallow me whole. I’ve been in the tunnel when it suddenly went dark. Very dark. No glimmer of light was to be seen. There was no hope of it ever shining again. Hopelessness became my shroud. I understand what that feels like.

And yet. . .

I craved for hope! I needed hope! I had to find hope!

It is within that very moment – that moment of searching for hope – that we can turn to the God of all hope. The Psalmist said it well, in three simple words, “Hope in God!” God is the source of our hope.

You see, God meets us in the darkness of our circumstances. He knows when we feel all alone. He sees our tears. He hears our cries of anguish. He comforts us with His peace. He is the light at the end of our tunnel. He is our source of HOPE!

So, how do we tap into this source of HOPE? How can we bring HOPE into our difficult circumstances that life throws at us? I would like to suggest four things that will lead us closer to the source of HOPE:

Hang on to what you already know about God and believe that He is with you. You don’t have to know everything about God, to know that He wants to bring you hope in the midst of your difficult circumstances. God is simply waiting for you to call out to Him. He will be right there with you. In fact His promise to you is this: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). Even if you don’t acknowledge His presence, He is there. Even if you can’t talk to Him or don’t know what to say, He is there. Even if you’ve never talked to Him before, He is there. He is there for YOU! He is your source of Hope!

Open your heart to the fact that God wants to use your present circumstances (no matter how bad you think they are) for your good and for His glory. Yes, it is true, our bad circumstances in life can actually be used for good in our life. It is through the bad, difficult, or hard times of life that we turn toward God. And that is a really good thing for us to do. It is at these times, that we can learn a lot of good lessons, like character development, dependence upon God, patience, self-control, understanding of others, forgiveness and the list goes on. We learn valuable lessons during our difficult circumstances that we could never learn any other way. We can carry these lessons with us throughout the rest of our lives, using them to help us the next time we are facing difficult circumstances. We can even use the lessons that we learn to help and encourage others who are going through the same kind of difficulty. God receives glory through our circumstances when we have a heart that seeks after Him. God receives the glory when we allow Him to do His perfect work in our heart during that time. As we open our hearts to God, during our difficult circumstances, He shows us more of who He is and what He can do. Through our open heart, God is glorified!

Pour your heart out to God often in prayer. Learn to talk to God during your difficult times. Talk with Him often. He will always be listening. While He already knows all about your needs and your circumstances, He still takes great delight in hearing from you. Every time you begin to pour your heart out to God, in blatant honesty, we open the door for God to do His perfect work in our life, in our heart, and in our circumstances. Every time you begin to pour your heart out to God, you will be reminded of His presence with you. He is there in the peace that comes to your heart. He is there in the people who come alongside you to offer assistance and help. He is there in the provisions that come your way to meet your needs. He is there in every comforting hug, in every word of encouragement, and in every prayer that is offered up on your behalf. Every time you begin to pour your heart out to God in prayer, He is there for YOU. Allow Him to embrace you with His great love. Receive His love with open arms and a welcoming heart. Embrace the light that He brings to your darkness. Hang on to the HOPE He offers you.

Expect an answer to your prayer, to your cry, to your heartache, to your search for hope. God will answer! Perhaps not always in the way, or in the manner that you might expect. But He will answer. In His perfect timing. In His perfect ways. And in His perfect means. His answer to you will be perfect, because the God who is answering is perfect. He’s a Sovereign God and He knows what He is doing on your behalf. During your difficult circumstances, you can trust Him. He knows what He is doing in and through your circumstances. And while you wait for His answer, hang on to the HOPE that He is offering you.

I saw her in the hospital’s surgical waiting room. My eyes were drawn to the woman in the corner of the room, sitting alone, crying. The God of all HOPE met her in that corner. He wiped away her tears!

*************************

Book Recommendation – –

I just finished reading an excellent book about hope that I recommend to anyone who is searching for hope in the midst of life’s difficult circumstances. It will give you lots of “food for thought” and inspire you to seek after hope until you find it.

The book is: Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light. Written by Nika Maples. Published by Worthy Inspired.

Passing the Baton of Spiritual Instruction – Psalms 78 – Part Four

Shepherding the Next Generation (Pass On the Baton) – Psalms 78:65-72

In a quick review – – We have learned that God set the standard (He created the baton) for spiritual instruction to be pass down from one generation to the next. The standard is His Word. Through hearing and listening to that Word, we will know more about Him, His teachings and His instructions for all of mankind. God’s desire is that those of us who know Him, “pick up the baton” and willingly share it with our children, their children and the generations to come. We also learned that God gave a stern warning that there are consequences if we “drop the baton” and fail to tell the next generations of our God. Simply put by God – We will have “a stubborn and rebellious generation. A generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalm 78:8)

As we come now to this last portion of Psalm 78, in verses 65-72, we see that God intervenes on behalf of this “stubborn and rebellious generation” and brings about a plan of hope.

Verses 65-67 says, “Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a mighty man who shouts because of wine. And He beat back His enemies; He put them to a perpetual reproach. Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.”

God chose NOT to use this stubborn and rebellious generation. His blessing was not upon them. The tribe of Ephraim and its children were so against the Lord God that He chose to not use them at all in accomplishing His plans and purposes for Israel. God totally rejected them because of their ungodliness! He had to reject them. Their stubbornness, rebellion, ungodliness and hardheartedness went completely against the ways of God. He wanted nothing to do with them. To be totally rejected by a Holy God is a terrible thing.

God chose to use a different tribe. Verses 68-69 tells us, “But He chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which He loved. And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has established forever.”

Judah was not a perfect people either. Not by any means. They disobeyed and dishonored God at the best of times. But, they were willing to repent and return to God though, where the tribe of Ephraim never did. The difference with Judah was this; they had a heart after God! They had a heart’s desire to love, obey and follow after the things of God. And that is what God saw in them. God saw their heart! Judah loved God!

Out of that tribe of Judah, God chose one man to “pass the baton.” Verses 70-71 says, “He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young. He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.”

David was the man of God’s choosing. God took him from the sheep pens, from tending his father’s sheep and brought him to the place where he would shepherd God’s people. Out of all of Israel, God picked this man of His choosing to do the most incredible task of shepherding His chosen people. What an honor for David. What a blessing for the people of Israel.

The word “shepherd” in this passage is the word meaning “a teacher or a guide.” David became Israel’s teacher, or their guide. God passed the baton on to David. David joyfully received the baton, and thus received the challenge of a lifetime. “Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done” (verse 4). David passed on to the children of Israel the things that he had learned about God, about His teachings and about His instructions. He was careful not to “drop the baton” at any time. He was faithful to the task God had given him to do.

Verse 72 tells us what kind of a teacher, a guide he was. “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” With integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands, David “passed the baton” on to the next generation of God’s people.

Could YOU be a David within your own generation? Do you know and love the Lord God? Could you take what He has taught you and “pass the baton” to your children, their children and the generations to come?

I just think we need more people like David to join the relay race of life. Time is getting short. The finish line is in plain sight. We need more people to accept the “baton” from God and run with it. We need more people who will not “drop the baton” and fail to teach our children about God. We need people who will make sure our next generation is not a stubborn and rebellious generation, but one that has a heart turned toward God. We need people who will shepherd our next generation with “integrity of heart and a skillfulness of hands.”

Is that YOU?

God’s holding out the baton. Will you accept it and run?

Passing the Baton of Spiritual Instruction – Psalms 78 – Part Three

Consequences of NOT Teaching Our Children (Don’t Drop the Baton) – Psalms 78:8-64

God desires that each and every generation of people be told about Him. His information, His knowledge, His teachings and His instructions should be passed on from one generation to the next. That was God’s plan for mankind. When God created us, He created within us a desire to know Him and thus our journey towards a relationship with our Creator God begins. Sadly, over the years and throughout many generations, interest in God has waned. Families don’t attend church as much as in days gone by. Individuals have given up on the search for knowing God. Talking about God, reading His Word, and even praying to Him is now forbidden in many public places. The quest to know God, to learn more about Him and to have a relationship with Him is no longer a strong heartbeat among the various generations. How this must break the heart of our God!

I meet people all the time, to whom God or His Son, Jesus, is nothing more than a swear word. There is no interest within some people to even know God. And if the senior members of a family do not know God, then they certainly won’t be “passing the baton” of God’s knowledge, God’s teachings and God’s instructions on to their children and grand children. That has to break the heart of God!

God, in His Word, warns that there are some rather serious consequences whenever we withhold teaching our children, their children, and the generations to come, the things of God. Psalms 78:8-64 spells out those consequences in detail. This happens to be a rather lengthy portion of Scripture to write out in this blog posting. But I do greatly encourage those who read this blog, to take the time and read it in the Bible for yourself. In this post, I will share the highlights though.

Verse 8 is the summary of all those consequences. It says, “And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation. A generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Simply put – if we do not “pass the baton” of God’s spiritual instruction on to our children and their children, then we will end up with a “stubborn and rebellious generation.” We will have a generation whose hearts are not one bit loyal to God, for they have no desire to know Him. We will have a generation whose spirits are not faithful to Him. Hmm, does that describe our generations of today?

But God doesn’t stop there. In verses 9-64, God paints the most vivid picture of what a “stubborn and rebellious generation” looks like. I must forewarn you; this is not a pretty picture! God, through the writings of the Psalmist, tells us about the children of Ephriam (one of the twelve tribes of Israel). Let me share with you some of the highlights of that generation:

  • They did not keep God’s covenant (verse 10)
  • They refused to live and walk by God’s laws (verse 10)
  • They forgot what God had done for them (verse 11)
  • They continued to sin against God (verse 17)
  • They willfully put God to the test (verse 18)
  • They spoke against God (verse 19)
  • They did not believe in God (verse 22)
  • They did not trust in God’s deliverance (verse 22)
  • They kept on sinning (verse 32)
  • They did not believe in spite of all the wonders God did for them (verse 32)
  • They flattered God with their mouths (verse 36)
  • They lied to God with their tongues (verse 36)
  • Their hearts were not loyal to God (verse 37)
  • They were not faithful to God’s covenant (verse 37)
  • They continually put God to the test (verse 41)
  • They rebelled against the Most High (verse 56)
  • Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless towards God (verse 57)

Does this, my friend, sound like our generations of today? Does this break your heart? It breaks the heart of our God!

But, here’s a tougher question that I wish we would all consider. Do we want that to ever be said of our children, and their children, and the generations to come?

The good news is this: It never has to be said of our children, IF we are willing to “pick up the baton” with a determination that we will be the ones to tell the next generations about the Lord our God. It never has to be said of our children, IF we “don’t drop the baton” we are now holding in our own hands. If we know God, know His teachings, know His instructions, we hold within our hands, (and hopefully within our hearts!) the obligation to tell our children, and their children and the generations to come. God wants us to “pass the baton” of spiritual instruction on, so that we do not have a “stubborn and rebellious generation. A generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

God wants something better! Do we want that too?

Passing the Baton of Spiritual Instruction – Psalms 78 – Part Two

Why God Wants Us to Teach the Next Generation (Pick Up the Baton) – Psalms 78:4-7.

We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony to Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”

In Part One, we learned that it was God, Himself, who set the standard (created the baton) for spiritual instruction. We learn what that standard is through hearing and listening to His Words. Through His words, we receive His teachings and instructions throughout this race of life. It is those very words that God desires us to pass on to the next generation.

I believe that there are three things that God wants us to do first, before we “pick up the Baton” and run with it. If we do these three things, then we will have a successful experience of passing on the spiritual instruction that we have been given:

  • We need to purpose in our hearts that we will not hide what we already know about God. We may feel like we know so little at times. Yet, what we do know, is well worth sharing with our children and their children.
  • We need to make the determination that we WILL tell the next generation. Each one of us are to have a part in that, not leaving the job to others to do for us. Each believer in God, needs to make a firm commitment to passing the baton of God’s teachings and instructions on to the next generation.
  • We need to realize that we are commanded by God to teach our children. May we take seriously God’s words, “He commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children.” When we realize that God has spoken, our response should be, “we will not hide them from our children.”

Are you inspired yet to “pick up the baton” of spiritual instruction?

Perhaps, this will help encourage you a little more.

Why should we do this? Why should I “pick up the baton”? Why should I teach my kids and grand kids? Why should I be interested in passing on God’s Word to the next generation? Why??

Verses 6 and 7 gives us five reasons:

  • So that the next generation will KNOW the laws and decrees of God. My friend, they will never know unless someone is willing to tell them.
  • So that they also will rise up one day and tell their own children. Parents and teachers, get your children ready to be the church’s future leaders, to be great parents themselves, to teach the next generation and the next.
  • So that our children will put their trust (their hope) in God. That should be the goal of every Christian parent in our homes or every teacher within the church; that we lead our children to put their trust, their faith in the Lord our God. Without the accomplishment of that goal, then our children will not be in heaven and that is (or it certainly should be) a rather grim thought.
  • So that our children will not forget what God has done for them. As parents and teachers we should be constantly reminding them of the wondrous things that God has done in the past. And what He is doing right now. This will help keep them focused on God and hopefully, when they are older, they will not stray from what they have been taught.
  • So that they will determine in their own hearts to keep God’s commands as they grow up. Can I say that a parent’s or a teacher’s example is so very important here. When children observe you keeping God’s commands, then, they are more likely to do the same.

We can’t really argue with those five things, can we? Hey, I didn’t say it. God did! I read that list of five things – five wonderful reasons why I should be actively involved in “picking up the baton” and passing it on. They are great reasons for why I should be sharing God’s words, His teachings, His instructions, His commands with the next generation.

Forty plus years ago, when I first began my Christian teaching career, I purposed in my heart, I would “pick up the baton” and run! I determined I would tell the next generation! I know I am commanded by God to do that! But more than that, I WANT TO!

I am in this race for the rest of my life. Are there any other runners with me? Have I inspired others to join me? Anyone else willing to “pick up the baton” and run with me?

The next generation is waiting to hear, wanting to listen!

Passing the Baton of Spiritual Instruction – Psalms 78 – Part One

God Has Set the Standard for Spiritual Instruction (He Created the Baton) – – Psalms 78:1-3

Being a Bible teacher, I have always loved Psalm 78. If I had to pick a favorite Psalm pertaining to ministry – well, without a doubt, nor a second of hesitation, I would choose this Psalm. It’s been the motivation in my teaching and mentoring ministry to children and women for over 40 years now. I love this Psalm!

In fact, I am of the opinion that every pastor, teacher, missionary and parent should spend some time with this inspirational Psalm. I call it “The Parent-Teacher Psalm” for within its every word, we read about an exciting challenge from God to pass on, to the next generation, the spiritual instruction that we, ourselves, have received. The challenge comes from within the pages of Israel’s history and straight from the very heart of God and His Word (The Scriptures or Bible). It’s a somewhat lengthy psalm. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to break it down into four different parts.

  • Part One – Verses 1-3 – God Has Set the Standard for Spiritual Instruction (He Created the Baton)
  • Part Two – Verses 4-7 – Why God Wants Us to Teach the Next Generation (Pick Up the Baton)
  • Part Three – Verses 8-64 – Consequences of NOT Teaching our Children (Don’t Drop the Baton)
  • Part Four – Verses 65-72 – Shepherding the Next Generation (Pass On the Baton)

Let’s get started with Part One, shall we?

I love to watch relay racing at a sports track event. The relay course can be set for any variety of lengths. Usually four runners make up a team in a given relay race. A baton is passed between them to mark a change in the runners. There is usually set rules that each runner must follow in order to successfully pass the baton from one runner to the next. It must be passed without dropping the baton. The goal is to cross the finish line with the baton in hand.

Watching all that in action actually reminds me of the art of teaching. A skilled teacher takes what information or knowledge they have and they “pass the baton” – pass that information or knowledge on to their students. Dropping that baton simply means that lessons are not taught, nor learned, which, in the end, results in a tragic loss for the students.

A long time ago, God set the standard of how He wanted His information or knowledge, His instructions and His teachings passed on. He chose to use people as the conduit (the instrument) through which that knowledge is to be passed on. The “baton” holds all the things that we have learned from God that should be passed on to the next generation. And as we make our journey through life, we run the race, knowing that we are sharing God’s information, knowledge, instructions and teachings with those running the race with us. We have to pick up the baton from God, and run with it for a time, striving not to drop it, until we cross the finish line. That’s what I think about as I read this particular Psalm. Passing the baton. That image of runners racing to the finish line, passing the baton from one to another, is very vivid in my mind as I read Psalm 78.

Psalms 78:1-3 tells us about the standard of spiritual instruction as it was set out for us by God Himself. Here’s what it says:

Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.”

We will learn God’s standard of spiritual instruction by hearing and listening. God says, “Hear my teaching.” and “Listen to my words.” Sounds simple, right? Perhaps not so simple, my friend.

Think about your communication with your spouse, with your kids, or with a coworker. Do they always hear and listen to what you say? My guess is probably not. You see, there is a big difference between hearing and listening. They may hear your words – hear what you are saying. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they listened to what you said. While they were hearing you talk, they easily could have been thinking of something else altogether. Thus, they weren’t listening to you at all. They heard, but they didn’t listen.

Oh, how often I am guilty of doing that same thing with God. I hear His words. I read them from the pages of my Bible. I hear His voice at times responding to my prayers. But that doesn’t mean that I listened to what He was saying. Not hearing, not listening leads to not understanding and not obeying. I miss what God intended for me to know. Please, tell me that someone else out there does that same thing ?

In these verses, God tells us four things that He wants us to hear, or to listen to. I actually like the way He says it in the New King James Version of the Bible, “Incline your ears to the words of my mouth,” In other words, “listen up!”

Hear and listen to these four things: (1) “spoken parables” – to the stories that are being told to you, (2) “the hidden things of old” – I like to think of these as the family secrets, stories only your loved ones would know about, (3) “things others have heard and known” – truths that have been handed down from one generation to another, and (4) “what our fathers have told us” – Dads and Granddads have some pretty good stories to tell their children.

The Scriptures, God’s Word, or the Bible, are full of those four things. Through them all, God has clearly spoken. We are to hear and listen to those things from God (read them in His Word). Hear them read out loud, hear them told in our homes, in our churches; really hear them. Listen carefully to them, so that you will be able to remember and recount them at a later time. Listen to them over and over again. Hear the very heart of God coming out of the words. Listen to His instructions and learn from Him.

God’s standard of spiritual instruction is really quite simple: hear and listen to His words! He has created the baton for us – His Word! He has set the race before us – the race of life. The finish line is just ahead. But, where are the runners? Who will hear? Who will listen? Who will take an interest in the baton God created for His people?

Will it be YOU?