Friday, October 22, 2010

Everything is crooked

The following is taken from Shepherds Balm, a new devotional tool for pastors by Rich Earl. Visit for more info.

I searched one day but could not find any straight lines on earth. Among the animals, the trees, the flowers, the multitudes of fish, and birds, even people, I searched in vain for anything that was purely aligned.

I found plenty of things that were pretty straight. Mighty redwoods, the edge of a bird’s wing, mountain ridges, even flower stems and blades of grass. But none of them were completely straight. None of them qualified in my eyes.

I wondered and then realized that this is as it should be. God alone is completely straight. His creation, especially considering the Fall, is filled with anomalies and imperfections. We have knots in trees, bumpy noses, jagged seashores. Our ways are crooked, His way is straight. But there was more.

Sitting on the rocks of a jetty on my native Long Island’s south shore one day I discovered not one, but two straight lines in the seascape before me. They remain the only two straight lines I have ever noticed in the natural realm, though neither is actually located on terra firma itself.

First I saw that the spot where the water met the sky was perfectly straight. The horizon, the unreachable, fabled place always in the distance, always just out of reach, was perfectly straight. I think God and His preferred future for us are there.

Then just a few moments later, as I was still taking in this truth of the horizon, I saw another straight line. In fact, I saw lots of them. Through the clouds, dozens of sunbeams came cascading down from heaven in perfectly straight lines that were miles long. There was no effort, they were just there. Our heavenly Father remains the only source of straightness in a crooked world. The beams did not start at the earth’s crust and fly upward, but came downward to us from Him.

In ministry, we sometimes think it is our job to straighten out what is crooked. Clearly this is an impossible task, and I don’t think God ever called us to that. How many a minister has collapsed in exhaustion trying to weed out every trace of sin and corruption in the flock or in society?

Moses himself ministered to a mixed group of people. There were many sincere followers of God in the group to be sure, but there were also some real laggards. Imagine if Moses had spent his time trying to straighten them all out!

Our task is no different. For the sake of our sanity a balance must be struck between the discipline we bring as God’s undershepherds and allowing the Lord to bring His own discipline. They are His sheep, not ours.

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?” Numbers 11:4

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obedience to the Vision

The following is entry #38 from Shepherds Balm, a 52 week devotional tool for pastors and Christian leaders by Rich Earl and available at Amazon or at

From that time many of His disciples went back, and
walked no more with Him. John 6:66

When God gives a vision by His Spirit through His word of what He wants, and your mind and soul thrill to it, if you do not walk in the light of that vision, you will sink into servitude to a point of view which Our Lord never had.

Disobedience in mind to the heavenly vision will make you a slave to points of view that are alien to Jesus Christ. Do not look at someone else and say— “Well, if he can have those views and prosper, why cannot I?” You have to walk in the light of the vision that has been given to you and not compare yourself with others or judge them, that is between them and God.

When you find that a point of view in which you have been delighting clashes with the heavenly
vision and you debate, certain things will begin to develop in you—a sense of property and a sense of personal right, things of which Jesus Christ made nothing. He was always against these things as being the root of everything alien to Himself. “A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things that he possesses.” If we do not recognize this, it is because we are ignoring the undercurrent of Our Lord's teaching.

We are apt to lie back and bask in the memory of the wonderful experience we have had. If there is one standard in the New Testament revealed by the light of God and you do not come up to it, and do not feel inclined to come up to it, that is the beginning of backsliding, because it means your conscience does not answer to the truth. You can never be the same after the unveiling of a truth. That moment marks you for going on as a more true disciple of Jesus Christ, or for going back as a deserter.

— Oswald Chambers, Called of God

Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. Acts 26:19 (NKJV)