Month: January 2016

A Voice in The Quiet

Quiet… it’s really so rare.

It’s so hard to find.

All around us is noise.

Noise that captivates our moments.

Noise that keeps us from thinking.

We long for silence.

Silence slows down our life.

It allows us to pause and reflect.

He waits.

He waits for us to be still in the silence.

Longing for us to be quiet.

It’s in the silence when we hear

the most important sound ever…

the voice of God.

A Voice in the Quiet.

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Living Life When God Surprises You

I hate surprises.

I don’t like them at all. I hate surprise birthday parties.  I don’t like being surprised at Christmas and most assuredly I hate situations when I don’t know what is going to happen.  I like a plan and I try my best to know the outcome of whatever I am a part of.

Of course I have had to adapt because there is no way I can control every aspect of life.  Life throws you curves and unexpected things.  There are forks in the road and decisions that take place everyday in our life that will result in a “surprise”. There is no doubt that God allows these curves and unexpected things in life to take place.  They are not surprises to Him.

God is full of surprises. Many times we expect Him to do one thing, and He does another. We anticipate His movement in one direction, but often it is in another. Sometimes we trust Him to handle something immediately, and He waits and it seems to take forever. Then other times we anticipate waiting for a long time, and almost overnight He has solved what appeared to be the impossible.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been surprised by the events that have affected my life.  I have had to be “surprised” on two different occasions, when I have had to deal with people I looked up to had passed away.  Similar to 2009, when a few of my closest friends died, 2016 has started off going down a path that I hope doesn’t continue. 

I thought about it and my thoughts wandered to all the surprises that I have had in recent days. They were events that I did not see coming.  I guess that living my life without the expectation of events that turn into surprises is part of my problem.  I need to understand that God has prepared the “surprise” long before the day of the event.  Again, God does not call them surprises, and make no mistake He has prepared them for all of us. 

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.                                                                                                                                                         1 Corinthians 2:9

We live in the potential of a surprise from God all the time.  We just live our life without really considering the things that could happen.  I believe that is how we should live our life. We cannot live in fear of the future.  We cannot be paralyzed by the surprises of life. Of course, it will challenge our faith and our trust in Him and its human nature to question and to wonder why God would allow certain things to happen. When God surprises us with an opportunity, our first reaction is to view it from the god supperspective of our own sufficiency. We fear the unknown, we fear the loss and we fear the uncertainty.

What gives us the most hope every day is God’s grace.  We know that God is going to give us enough grace and strength to get through anything we am going through.  None of this is a surprise to God and if we trust Him to forgive us of our sins and our past, we must then be willing to allow Him to guide our future.  Even if that includes a few future surprises that we don’t like. 

With every surprise and opportunity God also brings answers for our fears, objections, and defenses. His answers in every instance point to Himself and His own sufficiency to meet our every need.

I believe that there are five promises God’s answers for us when we are subject to the surprises that we have to face:

1. His Plan.  There is a sovereign purpose and plan for everything including our lives. He planned the events with us in mind. What we consider surprises in life are not surprises to God. They are part of His plan for His ultimate glory and we are a meaningful part of His plan. There was a reason for it happening.

2. His Presence.  We are not alone as we participate in fulfilling God’s plan. Many times we allow ourselves to be alienated from Him when we go through the bad surprises of life.  He hasn’t forsaken us.  He’s there and knowing He is always with us brings peace amid tumultuous times and comfort amid challenging days.

3. His Provision.  God designed us so He knows exactly what we need. God is sufficient not just for comfort but for all our needs in every situation He surprises us with.

4. His Power. Our weakness is not a defense against doing what God asks. We are told to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. And when His power is at work through us His plan and purpose will be fulfilled.

5. His Promise. God has promised to never leave nor forsake us. He will be there… always.

The next time God surprises us with an opportunity, a challenge, or a change in life, we need to take a moment to pause before we get into defense mode. We need to think about who we are focusing on—ourselves and our limitations, or God and His unlimited sufficiency.

Knowing He is sufficient in every way we will begin to accept these surprises with more grace.  We read in God’s word,

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”                  Proverbs 19:21.

We may make our own plans, set our own course and directions for our lives, and soon discover that it is God’s purpose that will prevail.

For me, I have had a week of trying to put all of this in perspective. I have come to accept that there was nothing anyone could do to change what happened.  We like to think we could have changed God’s mind or influenced the end result.  The bottom line is that many of our prayers are opportunities for us to accept that which is His will and not change the outcome of what was planned by God himself.

Living life when God surprises you can be difficult. It challenges our faith and our confidence. At the end of these surprises, we may not understand it completely but God will still make sure that things turn out for our good and His glory.

Hold on. Stay Strong.

God loves to do the things that we have absolutely no power over, and that’s the way He has planned it for our lives.

 

My Tribute to Hershel Case

Our history books tell us that great men change the whole world. 

It’s true, but they do it from a great distance, from a height almost all men will never reach. They cure a disease, lead men into battle, or walk on the moon.  They are extremely rare and almost always we only read about them in history books.

By the world’s standard, Hershel Case was not a great man. We will never read about him in our history books. He was never famous or rich; never led troops into battle or walked on the moon and he never found the cure for any disease.

So, as I say, by hershelthe world’s standard, he wasn’t a great man.

He was, however, something so much more. 

Something so much more precious, something so much more important  –  he was a Good Man.

This is what I have come to understand.

Good men change the world around us. They change the world as we know it.

Good men walk among us. We see them every day.  And in most examples it isn’t until they are taken from us do we realize what a wonderful gift they have given us.

For you see, Hershel Case gave us a gift. He had an impact on so much more than the world. The world may never take note but eternity was impacted because of the life of Hershel Case and that is much more honor than any history book would ever give him.

Hershel was indeed a good man, but he was even more than that. He was a better follower of Christ.  His commitment to Jesus Christ was evident in every aspect of his life. Seeing Christ in him wasn’t evident because of something that he did… it was who he was.

It was simply him.

I have known many Godly men but never anyone like Hershel.  He had the simple, but nearly miraculous gift of being himself in any situation and when he was with anyone.  He never put on airs, he was at ease and he put the people that he met at ease. I never saw him treat anyone of any nationality, religion, skin color, physical or mental condition with anything other than ungrudging respect.

I have never known a harder worker than Hershel.  He was a man that worked hard his whole life.  He was a talented builder.  He built more buildings, churches and houses than I could ever count.  But most of all he was a preacher.  He has led countless men, women and children to the Lord.  He sacrificed and he did it with joy in his heart. 

He never received the recognition in this life that he deserved but if you knew him he did it for the Lord.  He will be rewarded in eternity for the hard work and effort he did for Christ on this earth. His life was one that brought honor to his family and to his Savior.

I never met a better follower of Jesus Christ than him.

He was a masterful dispenser of good medicine: laughter. He had a genuine wit and he loved to laugh.

I keep thinking of all the crying that’s been done over him in the last few days; and while I’m sure he’d have been touched, I’m equally sure he would have kidded us all about it.

No… he wasn’t perfect but he was the best example I have ever witnessed of what it is to live for Christ.

The measure of a person is not how many biographies are published about them, or how many buildings will bear his name, or how many testimonials are given.

Rather, the true measure of a person’s lasting legacy is not tangible at all except in how a person sets and lives their priorities.

With Hershel, it was his Savior first, then his family. He loved his family.  Apart from Jesus Christ he was a dedicated husband to his wife of 53 years.  He was a loving father to his daughters and he was a wonderful grandfather to his grandchildren. 

He also was part of something that I have always watched in awe.  His relationship with his brothers and sisters is case family2something that I have always envied.  The bond with his siblings was a big part of his life.  It was something rare and I have been able to see it first hand.  It something that I have always secretly called “Case Strong”.  It was strong because of the love that binds them together.  There is genuine love that is seen in their bond that is called family.  I am honored to be apart of that family that is Case Strong.

As I write this, I am experiencing the distinct split between mourning and a sense of celebration for the life of a truly remarkable man. A friend once told me God places certain people in your life at certain times to help guide you, even though you may not recognize at the time you need the guidance. Make no mistake… Hershel Case gave me guidance and direction.

On January 14, 2016, he passed away… but in truth he began a new journey. It’s hard to believe that we now have to say good-bye. The time I spent with Hershel was far too short.

What will I miss about Hershel? Well, for starters is his humor. He was incredibly witty. Most people missed that about him.

Then I would have to say his incredible intelligence, and his grasp on Biblical truth.  He was a scholar of God’s Word.

Also, I will miss the interest he took in the lives of so many people. As I said before, the fact that he cared about and loved people was always front and center.

Hershel 1Simply put, He was just such a humorous, giving, caring, intelligent, Godly man. A good man.

I have no doubt that the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  apply to him.  We know with confidence that Hershel is now with his Savior.

I loved Hershel. I admired him. I am honored to be part of his family but even more proud because I was his friend.   I know those of you that really knew him, loved him too. And while it is natural for us to be sad that he’s gone – it is infinitely more important for us to be happy he lived, and that we all got to share part of his life with him.

I will miss him.

My prayer is that what I am as a husband, a father and grandfather will forever be influenced by the legacy of Hershel Case.

So even if you didn’t know Hershel, I would ask all of you to do this:

Love those around you as if they could die tonight.  Hug them tighter.  Never let one day pass without them knowing just how much you deeply love them. 

Don’t hold grudges.  Love and love fully.  Love like Hershel did. 

Live as he did–with humility, dignity, kindness, respect, and total selflessness.  That will be his legacy.  His footprints have left a legacy of these very things.

Imagine what the world would be if there were more Hershel Case’s in it. 

That’s the world I want to live in. 

Until we meet again… Grace, peace and prayers of comfort for the Case family. 

#CaseStrong