• Barkings From Your German Shepherd - 02/20/2014

  • Barkings From Your German Shepherd - 02/13/2014

  • Barkings From Your German Shepherd - 02/06/2014

  • Barkings From Your German Shepherd - 01/30/2014

  • God Speaks Through the Storm

    “… How great is God – beyond our understanding… Who can understand how He spreads out the clouds, how He thunders from His pavilion?  See how He scatters His lightning about Him… Listen to this, Job:  stop and consider God’s wonders.  Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?  … Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm…”                       Job 36:26, 29-30; 37:14-15; 38:1

     Oklahoma Storms.  Will Rogers once said, that if you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, just wait a minute.  How true this is!  During the past month, we have experienced radical weather changes: cool temperatures, hot and humid ones, then back to cool.  It has been very dry, then very wet.  We have experienced some intense storms, which have harassed our area with hail, high winds, and power outages.  I finally saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears golf ball and baseball size hail as it pummeled my house!  However, as a native Oklahoman, I must confess that no matter how intense the storm may be, I love watching storm clouds build and move in.  It is an awesome display of God’s power in nature.      

     Job’s Storms.  Job was a stalwart man of God.  His righteousness had him connected as a fruit-bearing branch to what Jesus would call much later in John 15:1 – a connection to the true Vine.  But Jesus also pointed out in that same chapter that every fruit-bearing branch is pruned by God the Gardener in order for it to bear more fruit.  Job was experiencing more pruning that any one of us could bear!  So much so that it seemed to his friends that God had cut him off from the true Vine.  Job had experienced intense spiritual storms in his life.  He had lost his family, his wealth, and even his health.  How would God enable him to bear fruit, any fruit, as a result of such circumstances in life.  As the storms of Job’s life seemed to intensify there comes what I consider to be a comforting word,”Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm…” 

    Our Storms.  We too experience storms in our life.  It comes with living on this side of eternity in a sin-infected world, a world that is still paying the price of Adam’s legacy to us:  pain, sorrow, and death.  Those storms may build slowly so we can watch the formation, see the lightning, and hear the thunder. It may be the storm of the aging process which slowly drains the energy of a once energetic life and places a growing burden on family.  It may be the storm of a bad medical diagnosis leading to long-term medical treatment.  In both of these stormy scenarios people are given time to make some preparations for living through such storms.  However, sometimes storms in life come upon us quickly and unexpectedly giving no time to prepare and bringing violent surprises with them.  These storms may be an accident or an act of violence.  Does the Lord speak to us out of such stormy situations?

    God-tuned Ears.   As Job experienced his storms in life, it could have tuned out God.   After all, why listen to a God who did not protect your family from harm and death, or preserve your wealth and lifestyle, or spare you from sickness and physical distress?  And yet, Job stayed attuned to God.  He did not understand the “pruning” that he was experiencing, but he steadfastly trusted His God.  He had questions about all that was happening, but God does not mind our questions when they are asked in faith.  Too often we question God as we are blaming him for our storms. Job questioned God with the desire to understand the divine wisdom behind his storms.  ”Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm…”   Job trusted in the same way that Saint Paul trusted when he wrote:  “All things work together for the good to those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28).   We, too, should learn from the example of Job.  In the midst of our life’s storms, listen for the voice of God.  He will not speak to you through a crack of thunder, but He does promise to speak to you as you crack open the Bible and read His Word.  As one of His “branches” prayerfully seek to understand the pruning process that is taking place through your storm.  And trust God’s wisdom in it and never doubt His great love for you.  After all, His love for you is so great that He gave His only Son to die for you so that you will be able to live a storm-free eternity with Him.  We know the rest of Job’s story:  God blessed his faithfulness and restored to him family, wealth and health.  Trusting His Word of promise, God will speak to you out of your storms enabling you to see what good blessings He has in store for you. And He does!

     

  • Barkings June 2012

    Barkings From Your German Shepherd ....

    My gritted teeth gave me a headache…  as I stood in the sand lot looking at a few of my tools weathering in the Wisconsin elements! A shovel, a hammer, a crowbar, a hoe… left outside by my young son and the neighbor boys… left for the wooden handles to bleach in the sun and the metal parts to rust in the rain.  “Wait until I get my hands on him…” I growled through gritted teeth!  I gathered the tools and carried them to the garage.  It was not a long distance to walk but it turned out to be a very insightful walk.  You see, while carrying the imple- ments, I noticed the price tags still attached to the handles of the shovel and the hammer.  My anger subsided… now turning to musing.  I had purchased those items several years before at a hardware store in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.  Several years, indeed… like about seven!  And I hadn’t even used them enough to wear off the price tags!  My son and his cohorts were using those tools far more than me just by making a fort in the sand. I put the tools away in their proper places.  But I had to act like a father and not like a master!  So I decided to shake my finger at him with stern words about the proper stewardship of tools… especially MY TOOLS!  He and his buddies would be allowed to use them, if they would put the tools back in the garage.  For some reason, that approach sounded to me more father-like… more God-like!

    God is our Father. Have you ever wondered why God chose to pattern Himself after the earthly example of a father?  He did okay when He likened Himself to a shepherd tending the sheep, or an eagle lifting us above life’s problems, or a hen protecting us under the cover of her wing.  But a father?!?!?!?   That’s too close to home! And yet, that is exactly where Jesus directs us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Pray like this,” He said, “Our Father Who art in heaven…”  Father?!? Does that mean God spends most of His time at work, instead of at home? Or does it mean that He is never satisfied with what we do, and grits His teeth or growls at us much of the time?  Or could it mean that when we need His help or counsel, He responds to us with a stern glare and an irritable word? Or does it mean that He makes a lot of promises, but never keeps them because bigger and more important things arise?  A teacher at a Lutheran elementary school in a tough inner city area of Chicago told of a little girl in his class who refused to pray The Lord’s Prayer.  After much patient inquiry he was told by the student that if God, the heavenly Father, was anything like her father, she wanted nothing to do with Him!

    Our Father in Heaven is not like us.  Thank God, our Father, He is not like us!  God does not pattern Him- self after earthly fathers. Instead, He wants earthly fathers to pattern themselves after Him!   Our heavenly Father loves us more than we can comprehend.  He demonstrated this so fully by sending His only-begotten Son, Jesus, to save us from sin and everlasting death. Our heavenly Father hears us.  Every prayer from our heart is heard and answered by Him, without exception.  Our heavenly Father yearns for us.  When we wander away, He watches for us, and runs to meet us with His loving embrace of grace.  Our heavenly Father protects us.  He invites us to cast our cares on Him, for He lovingly cares for us and shelters us from all enemies, especially the devil and the evil he brings to infect and affect our life.

    Father’s Day is June 17th. With Father’s Day quickly approaching, let us take some time to consider how God chooses to work even through frail and sinful earthly fathers to accomplish His purposes. My father was not per- fect, nor am I as a father. But God does not command fathers… or mothers… to be perfect – perfection is His terri- tory! He calls us to be faithful to Him and His Word, so that through our example of faithfulness and love, our chil- dren will see and learn of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness and love in Christ.

    With Joy in Jesus,  Pastor Barrie Henke

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