Category Archives: Trust the Lord

Holy Recalculating

Proverbs 16:9 

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

Planning Trips

Years ago, before Google and smart phones, I loved planning long trips. I would get a big, impossible-to-fold-back-into-its-original-shape map and plot my course, making sure I did not miss any landmark with free admission.

Not long ago there was a tour bus driving through a large city at night. Thinking he was on the right path, the driver took what he thought was a ramp connecting one highway to another. Unfortunately, there was nothing at the end of the ramp. The roads on the map were wrong, and the bus took a dive off a bridge, killing several, including the driver.

Maps were pretty reliable, and they still are, but what was impossible to know was the road conditions since the map was published. Even though a map may show a logical route from point A to point B, pieces of paper have a hard time remaining up-to-date. A well-planned route on paper could wind up being a detour nightmare.

Devising Ways

Courtesy of ShutterElf

Photo by Shutter Elf

Life is trip (in more ways than one), and we all make plans. We make plans for this and that, make reservations, and even daydream about what tomorrow’s activities will include. In our hearts we “devise our ways.”

However, I am thankful for a God who knows the road that lies ahead. He is not only up-to-date on all the current construction and detours, but He even knows what accidents are going to happen. Not even Google knows that.

We make long range plans, but God guides each step we take. He not only looks out for us down the road, but He makes sure each and every step is profitable. Sure, we can stray, but since He has promised to complete what He has begun (Romans 4:21), the Holy Spirit is always there to “recalculate.”


Sovereign God

Proverbs 16:4

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. (ESV)

The Lord works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster. (NIV)

What is God’s Plan?

Do you know what has caused much division within the Church for at least the last 500 years? Really, it existed long before Jesus came to Earth as a baby.

The answer is another question: How much control does God have in the world and with our eternal lives?

The major beliefs fall into three major categories (though, I can assure you there are more, but most fall under these three), and I will use the traditional names from Protestantism: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Molinism. (And please excuse the butchering they receive in this short space)

Calvinism Calvinism’s big thing is God’s sovereignty. God is in complete control, and many Calvinists believe this to the point that He ordained from eternity who was going to Heaven and to Hell. His grace essentially is offered to those He wants to come to Him. In His sovereign power, God controls everything to this end with the goal of glorifying His Name.

Arminianism Arminianism’s big thing is God’s love and freedom. Put another way, God is in control of events in that He guides them toward His desired goal of His glorification. He goes about this by allowing us, through His prevenient grace, to freely choose whether or not to accept the offer of grace and forgiveness for our sins. He gets all the glory from those who have accepted His redemption.

Molinism A friend calls this “Calminianism”, because Molinism focuses primarily on God’s justice, His sovereignty and love working together. Basically, God was able to see all of the possible timelines, but He chose the one timeline in which His He gets the most glory. This allows for our freedom to choose, but God ultimately made the choice proving His sovereignty.

Still Sovereign

Interestingly, no matter what (except for a few sub-beliefs) God’s sovereignty plays a role. It is His plan of which we are all a part. The righteous will eventually receive glory with the Son which glorifies God, but in God’s sovereignty even the destruction of the wicked brings glory to God.

Sovereign Lord, awaken our hearts and minds to Your power and control and to Your love and grace. Help us to realize that You are the only in control. Help us to trust in You alone.


Father Knows Best (16:1)

Proverbs 16:1 

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.

I began my University studies when I was twenty-eight years old. It was a big sacrifice for my wife, who stayed at home with our two oldest sons, aged five and three, while I lived away during the week. At the beginning of my third year my wife started to get sick. I was really worried. Any relief I experienced when I found out that the sickness was down to my wife being pregnant vanished when I discovered that the baby was due the following May, right in the middle of my final examinations.

As the time approached for the baby to be born I started to pray. First I prayed that the baby would be born early, at least two weeks before my examinations. I thought that this would give me time to be at home for the birth, and then focus on my revision. Then I changed my mind and started to pray that the baby would be born after my examinations. Then I found myself chopping and changing between the choices. One day when I was praying about the situation God spoke very clearly. He said he was prepared to answer my prayer if I could make up my mind. But then He challenged me to trust Him to make the decision for me. That meant letting go completely. Surrendering myself into His perfect will. It wasn’t easy, but I knew there was no other way.

My first paper (quantitative methods) was scheduled for the morning of Friday 20 May 1988. I left Thursday 19 May to revise for this examination, my intention being to work through past papers from the previous three years. I had already revised for my other papers, all of which involved essays rather than mathematics. At 08.30 on 19 May my wife called me to tell me that her waters had broken (the fact that there was a telephone in a 1988 student house is another story of God’s provision). I was home by 10.30. James was born at 12.20. During the seventy-five mile journey home I repeatedly questioned God. In my opinion this was the worst day for the baby to be born. But it wasn’t. It was the only day for the baby to be born. I returned to my student house in the evening and went straight to bed. I set the alarm for 04.00 and got up to revise my formulae. Then I sat the examination and flew through it. Then I went home for the weekend.

If James had been born really early I could never have revised because my mind would have been elsewhere. If James had been born after my examinations I would never have focused on the examinations for worry that a call would come. The only day James could have been born was the day that he was born. God knew. I didn’t.

We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer. (NLT)

Don’t Be Gullible

Proverbs 14:15

“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
Ah, the Stories…

There are so many stories I could tell about the stories I can tell. To paraphrase a saying, “So many stories, so little time.” Therefore, when I read this proverb, I immediately began to think of a couple of good examples.

Example One:

Back in the 1990’s I worked in the sporting goods section of a major retailer. One day a couple asked for my advice about a football. They wanted to know which would be better to buy, the one made of leather, or the one made of “Durahyde,” a synthetic, man-made material.

For some reason I started with this nonsense about how the Dura was going extinct and how only the young duras were used because of their fur-less pelts. The more I talked, the more they seemed to believe me, so a vicious circle of humor-gone-bad and gullibility took over.

“So what do you recommend?” they asked. “Buy the leather,” I suggested. “It might be a little more expensive, but I just can’t approve of the way they kill those young, little duras for their pelts.”

The more I talked the more it became evident that some people will believe anything, no matter how outrageous. In retrospect, I am ashamed that I forgot to tell them I was only kidding.

I was just so stunned that they actually believed me! (Note: the leather ball was the better choice, and that was what they wanted.)

Example Two:

It was a Christmas dinner, and my mother-in-law (we could stop right there, I suppose) was complaining that someone had made meatloaf. “Why did [she] make meatloaf? Since when was meatloaf a traditional Christmas dish?”

“Well,” I said, “meatloaf is a very traditional Christmas dish, as a matter of fact.” “Really?” she asked. “Yes, it goes way back to around the year 1260 in England.” I went on to tell her that long ago there was a good king who prepared a great feast for all the peasants in his kingdom. Each Christmas he would invite all of them to come in and take part in a Christmas meal, the centerpiece being a large animal cooked over a fire.

As the story went, one year things got really bad. There was great poverty throughout the land, and when it came time for the annual Christmas feast, the king had no cattle, dear, or any such animal to offer. Saddened, the people of the local villages rallied together and decided to save the good king from embarrassment. They killed and cooked chicken, rabbit, and pheasant, combined them all together in to a large “loaf,” and offered it as a gift to the king who had been so good to them.

I told my mother-in-law, “That is why meatloaf is probably the MOST traditional of all dishes served at Christmastime.” “Is that so? I never knew that! Wow!” was her reply. “I guess I shouldn’t have gotten so upset,” she said (Then my wife had to spoil everything by telling her I was only joking).

Be Prudent

I believe Solomon was the first to say, “Don’t believe everything you read, hear, or see on television.” He did say that, didn’t he?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to joke around with people, but I hate lying. My stories are meant to eventually be understood as told in fun – like a grandfather who insists he has pulled a quarter from your ear. Nevertheless, it’s better to follow the words of Paul and “prove all things” (1 Th 5:21).

The gullible believe everything without question, and there are those who will take advantage of them. The prudent (wise), therefore, learn to check sources.

Let God be true, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).


Bittersweet Testimony

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.”

Know Thy Self

The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.

All by Myself

So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.

Grieving and Rejoicing Together

Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.

Extended Family

When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”


Vision or Fantasy?

Proverbs 12:11

“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
Uh Oh

Hmmm. This is a proverb I usually avoid. Why? Because I have been labelled as a bit of a dreamer. Some have called me a visionary. That might sound great, but visionaries are often the one’s with ideas who never seen them through to completion! Who wants that?

Vision vs Fantasies

I guess there has to be a distinction between vision and fantasy. The Bible tells us that without vision the people perish. But how do we know that we have the right vision? Vision will give you food, and abundant food, it will also involve work – work for you to do.

But what if you are chasing the wrong vision? A man-made fantasy? Then there will be no pay of any real value. It will provide no sustenance. You will spend your days chasing one fantasy after another to try and find your fill, to make your million, and all to no avail.

Leaning on Webs

What about the times when we are pretty sure we have a God given vision and yet seem to be making no progress? Does that mean we are chasing fantasy? Don’t ask me! Go back to the source – ask God.

Have you stopped trusting in Him? Have you moved the goal posts? Cherish the vision He has given you. Work at it and never stop trusting.

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
    so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
    what he relies on is a spider’s web.
 He leans on his web, but it gives way;
    he clings to it, but it does not hold.” – Job 8:13-15 (NIV, edited)

Lean on God.


No Servant, No Problem

Proverbs 12:9

“[He that is] despised, and hath a servant, [is] better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.”

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food. – NIV

Nobody Has a Servant!

This proverb had me musing for a while. Not many people I know have servants these days, even the well known ones. But digging a bit deeper and flicking across the translations we find a few varieties. The essence remains the same, and ends up sounding a bit like “count your blessings.”

What do You Have?

When Moses first got acquainted with God it’s safe to say old Mo’ was a bit insecure. God reminds him of a few things and then asks Moses what he has in his hand. Moses looks and sees his staff. Nothing special there he thinks, after all it’s just a tool I use everyday. But maybe that’s the point?

We think so much about what we don’t have, about the ways we could be blessed, that we miss the obvious – the ways we have already been blessed.

The Pretender

And then we fall into the trap revealed in the second part of the proverb – we start to pretend. Pretend we are more than we are, we have more than we are, we like what we don’t, we value what we despise, but yet what we actually have is nothing.

Lord, help us to look not to what we don’t have, but instead to the things You have already given us, and in doing so give glory and gratitude to You.