Show Me The Future

Last night I laid down in bed, put my head on the pillow, and began praying. This is my normal routine. But it stopped being normal right after I prayed the first sentence.

My prayer isn’t the same every night. It’s just a conversation between God and me, and so the content varies greatly. Last night, my first sentence was, “Father, as I sleep tonight, give me a dream of my future.” This, in itself, isn’t particularly extraordinary. I’ve made this request before. Sometimes he says yes, sometimes he says no. But last night, as soon as I made the request, I became terrified. Terrified seems to be the right word, but in some ways I know it will create the wrong picture in your mind.

I opened my eyes in bed, laying there in the dark, and asked, “What’s wrong with my request? Why does it alarm me? I’ve prayed this prayer before, and it’s always been fine. What’s wrong?”

Do you understand the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Have you felt his nudge? Have you received direction and knowledge that you knew wasn’t your own? If not, I can’t explain this next part to you in any way that you’ll understand. Just take it for what it is. Take it with a grain of skepticism, if you like. It doesn’t matter to me, and it doesn’t affect the outcome.

Anyway, in that moment, when I asked, “What’s wrong with my request,” I received my answer. So I prayed again, with a different (and this time correct) request: “Father, as I sleep tonight, give me a dream of my purpose.”

The future, you see, comes directly out of purpose. The future doesn’t just happen to you. It’s a result. There are causes for the future, explanations, antecedents.

It is my understanding of my purpose that will bring my future to pass.

And, of course, it is your understanding of your purpose that will bring your future to pass.

–Bob Young
[3/15/2017]

Did you like reading this? Then you should buy one of my books. (Thank you!)
Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

How You Can Know God

It doesn’t have to be difficult to understand Jesus. Or, maybe I should say, it doesn’t have to be difficult to know Jesus – to really know him.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 10:21-22, ESV)

I’ll get right to the point. We don’t decipher truth about God by reading the Bible, or by analyzing it closely. You cannot fathom God. No matter how hard you try, no matter how many Bible commentaries you read, no matter if you study Greek and Hebrew so you can read the Bible in its original languages – no matter, no matter, no matter – you’ll never figure him out.

Did you catch what Jesus said in Luke 10? God hides, and God reveals. And the revelation of God is so simple that a child can understand, so even Pastors can’t count on their seminary degrees to help them grasp our Father and Creator.

During Jesus’ days on Earth as a man, the Pharisees used the law – that is, the written Word of God – as the source of knowledge. It was everything. If you could prove it from the scriptures, it was true, and if it disagreed with the scriptures, it was false.

But the Pharisees were wrong about so many things. Jesus showed them that their infallible proofs were very, very fallible.

Today, many Christians are being taught to think just like the Pharisees. In so many ways, nothing has changed. If a Bible teacher can apply a convincing logical proof to the grammar and syntax of a Bible passage, then that logical proof, rather than the words of Jesus, becomes their divine, infallible, revelation.

Here is how you know they’re wrong: little children can’t understand what they’re saying. Jesus said, “You [God] have revealed these things to little children.”

Here’s what Jesus said: “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

So, how can you know God? By being the kind of person that Jesus chooses to reveal him to.

And how can you be the kind of person that Jesus chooses to reveal God to? By deciding to follow Jesus. Jesus reveals God to his followers.

Be warned, though. Be ready for some push-back. Christians who put the Bible ahead of Jesus will disagree with you. Or, more accurately, they disagree with Jesus, because he hasn’t chosen to reveal himself, or the Father, to them.

When you read the Bible, don’t analyze it in order to prove your comfortable preconceptions. Don’t read it in order to reinforce your sense of holiness. Instead, look at Jesus. See his compassion, his patience, his generosity, his love. Then – follow Jesus. It’s simple, isn’t it? Simple, and wise.

–Bob Young
[3/10/2017]

Did you like reading this? Then you should buy one of my books. (Thank you!)
Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

The Heart Of The Matter

There are lessons to be learned in the ordinary tasks of life. Sometimes, the most mundane is the gateway to the most profound. Here is today’s lesson: the heart is hidden in the husk.

“On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands.” (Luke 6:1, ESV)

Before Jesus’ disciples could eat, they had to rub the grain in their hands. This is a most intimate experience. The grain is in the hands before it is in the mouth – in the stomach – in the blood – in the muscles. The soft and precious heart of the grain is shielded by a hard shell. The heart is delicious, but the husk is not. The shell must first be removed.

Who do you know, whose soft and precious heart is protected by a hard, unwanted husk? Friend, you will never touch their heart if you don’t first touch their shell. Only by your personal, intimate contact can you ever help them drop away their protective exterior.

You can’t command the husk to fall away. “Open up to me. Be tender towards me.” No, that won’t work.

And it won’t fall away by itself, no matter how long you wait. Don’t congratulate yourself for your patience, saying, “I’ll wait until he or she heals.” No, you must put your own hands to the task. The husk is removed, and the soft heart obtained, by your touch.

“But, you are speaking to me in parables. How do I do it? How do I remove their shell?”

Friend, I’m not the one to give you that answer. Listen to God. Get to know Jesus. Hear and understand the communication of the Holy Spirit. He’ll show you, and teach you, and tell you.

And now, I will end with this: the heart does not come out of its shell without reason.

Touch hearts.

–Bob Young
[2/17/2017]

Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

Fiery Love

Moses and the Burning Bush – Holman Bible, 1890

What happens if you don’t take off your sandals?

“Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5, ESV)

So, what happens if you don’t take off your sandals? Will you be struck by lightning? Will the earth open up and swallow you? No. No, not at all. Here’s what will happen:

Nothing.

And that’s the problem.

All that God has planned for you is put on hold if you don’t obey God’s first command. Every step forward depends on the step before.

Until this day, Moses was a hired shepherd, tending sheep for his father-in-law, Jethro. In Exodus 3, God performed a fiery act of love. He set a bush aflame with Heaven’s fire. Moses was mesmerized. He watched and watched this uncanny fire. He watched it for a long time. And then, with a start, he realized something: “That bush should be all burnt up by now!” But the bush was as bushy as ever. Burning, but not consumed.

Did his mouth drop open? Did he squint, unconsciously projecting an air of befuddlement? The Bible doesn’t say.  But we do know that he walked closer, to get a better look.

Only then did God speak. “Moses!”

God is like that. He does something to get your attention, something that is at once obvious and subtle, ordinary and astonishing. If you’re not observant, you might miss him. Eyes wide open, looking past a God who is, to you, invisible.

But on this day, God’s act of love did not go unnoticed. Moses first gave his eyes to God, and then his ears. “Moses!”

Then Moses gave God his mouth. “Here I am.”

God replied, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Question: at this moment of decision, did Moses give God his feet, or his sandals? Neither is the real answer. At this crisis of decision, Moses gave God something far, far more important. He gave God his obedience. And that’s why there was an Exodus. That’s why the children of Abraham walked out of Egypt, free from slavery. It happened because Moses obeyed God’s first, tiny command, and took off his sandals.

God’s first command to you may be small. Be careful, though, not to dismiss God’s first command as trivial, because everything now hinges on what you do with that first command.

“God, don’t toy with me. Look, I love and respect you and all that, but it really doesn’t matter whether I’m barefoot, or wearing sandals, or my cowboy boots, or my golf cleats. What matters is that I’m here, right? So, please, God – don’t make a big deal out of a silly pair of shoes.”

God will reply, “Okay. Keep your shoes on, then. We’re done here. Bye.”

Is that where you’re at today? Do you realize now that that’s exactly what happened to you? You were on the edge of being close to God – so close! – and then, somehow, suddenly, it all vanished. You walked away from the burning bush. And the fire within you died.

I have good news.

This God who let you have your way is a forgiving God. His fiery love is still in the bush, waiting to set your heart on fire. The bush didn’t walk away from you. You walked away from the bush. And the bush can burn with God’s holy fire for a very long time, because, as you recall, the bush is not consumed.

Here is a mystery: God is nearer now than when you first believed. Odd, isn’t it? No matter how far you walked away from God, when you turn around, he’s right here.

Today,

Give your eyes to God. See him.
Give your ears to God. Hear him call your name.
Give your mouth to God. Here I am.
Now, this time, give your obedience to his first, small command.

–Bob Young
[2/10/2017]

Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

I Can’t Prove God To You

Credit: Washington Dept. of Transportation

Rationalization doesn’t get you to heaven. You can’t find the path to God by reasoning your way to him. He is beyond your understanding.

It’s also true that there is no emotional proof of God. It’s pointless to say, “I feel like there must be something more, and therefore God must be real.” God is here whether you feel him or not, and sometimes you won’t, so don’t consider your emotions to be the measure of his existence. In that case, God would have to pop into and out of reality according to the whims of your biochemical rushes manifested as feelings.

There is no empirical evidence for God, either. We can’t view a video of him creating the universe, or our sun, or Earth, or us. The existence of matter is the biggest “whodunnit” mystery ever written. Matter is here. You and I are here. But to claim that it was our God, rather than someone else’s god, is a claim without evidence. We can’t even disprove the claim, held by many, that matter must exist, inevitably, and so they don’t see a need to believe in a creator-of-matter at all.

These are the reasons I never try to prove God’s existence. Quite simply, it can’t be done. And yet…

And yet – God is. Or, as God says of himself, “I am.”

For me, my firm knowledge of God’s existence, presence, and personal companionship is experiential. It’s difficult to put into words, but I’m trying. Experiencing God isn’t the same as feeling God. Sometimes, when I experience God, I also feel a worshipful sense of euphoria – emotion. But not always. The emotional part of the experience may be anything but euphoric. There may be a sense of awe, or guilt, or love, or shame, or forgiveness, or that most mysterious emotion: grace (yes, I called grace an emotion, and I won’t be able to explain it to you if you haven’t felt it yourself).

But, this experiential knowledge of God can be entirely separated from the emotional. It’s possible to know that he’s here, with me, in the room, and not really feel any particular emotion associated with the experience at all.

I’ll try to explain. Imagine I’m in the car, trying to merge onto the crowded freeway, and this guy in a white Mercedes won’t let me into the lane. So I get mad at him. My emotion is anger. Meanwhile, I’m fully aware of the experience of God’s presence in the car with me. I know God doesn’t want me to be angry, but I am anyway. I’m not mad at God. The emotion I’m experiencing at that moment has nothing to do with God, whose presence I am simultaneously experiencing. Do you see? My emotion is one thing, and my experience is another.

This is what I mean when I say that my understanding of God is experiential, rather than rational, emotional, or evidential. You may conclude that I’m crazy, and that’s okay. At least it’s a “safe” kind of crazy. I mean, since I’m doing my best to follow Jesus, I’ll help you, and not harm you. I’ll forgive you, and not seek revenge. I’ll love you, and not hate you. Well, except for that guy in the Mercedes that wouldn’t let me merge. I’ll forgive him tomorrow…

–Bob Young
2/4/2017

Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

The Next Four Years

I’m not going to spend a lot of time writing this. I’m not going to look for just the right words. I’m not going to put a picture with it to attract more readers. I’m just going to tell you what God has shown me is going to happen.

You voted for Trump because you liked the fact that he’s against abortion. You think you’re saving sons and daughters. Here’s the truth. The number of American sons and daughters who will die in war in the next four years will be far greater than the number of babies saved from abortion. You have voted for death.  You have voted for an outpouring of blood.

Chaos. You have unleashed chaos. You have sown the wind, and you will reap the whirlwind.

God didn’t allow Donald Trump to become President to bless you. God is repaying you for your hardness of heart and your lack of grace. You think you are holy, but you are without love for so many. You built churches and shut the doors to keep out those you didn’t love. You gave acceptance for a price, and demanded payment for every act of generosity.

Repent, and pray that God will have mercy.

–Bob Young
February 1, 2017

Parable of the Woman and Her Burden

A woman was walking on a busy downtown sidewalk. Her shoulders were pulled down by the weight of a heavy bag in her right hand, and two heavy bags in her left hand. The handles of the bags hurt her fingers. She was very tired. When she came to the corner, the pedestrian traffic signal said, “Don’t Walk.” Slowly, the tired woman put her bags on the sidewalk to rest. But, even as she straightened up again, the traffic signal changed to say, “Walk.” The relief on her face changed to disappointment, and she bent down to pick up her bags. With great effort, she lifted the heavy bags. Her arms hung straight down with the weight. She stepped off the curb and slowly walked across the street.

A man on the other side of the street quickly moved close and walked alongside her. He asked, “You’re obviously very tired. Why didn’t you rest a bit when you put the bags down?”

She said, “Because the light turned green and said, ‘Walk.’”

The man said to her, “My friend, when the sign says, ‘Walk,’ you can walk. But you don’t have to. You can wait and rest as long as you like. When you are rested, and the sign says ‘Walk,’ then is a good time to walk again.”

Jesus said,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)

–Bob Young
[2/1/2017]

Did you like reading this? Then you should buy one of my books. (Thank you!)
Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

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