Category: <span>thoughts by Randy Ehle</span>

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God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2, (HCSB)

These words from David convict me. My prayer is far more often, “I eagerly seek from You. …I thirst for what You can give me.” I wonder if I will ever be satisfied with God rather than constantly longing for what God offers.

I wonder, too, how David went from the wilderness of the first verse to the sanctuary of the second. This may be poetry, but the dry and desolate land is no mere metaphor for David; he was in an actual wilderness, most likely running from a blood-thirsty King Saul—and yet it is not water he craves, but God. He needs water; he thirsts for God. He needs food; he faints for God. I, on the other hand, need God; but I long for a job. I need God, but I crave security, stability, income.

So…  A simple word that suggests the answer to a problem, the satisfaction of a need.  David is thirsty, fainting for God, so he “gazes on God in the sanctuary.” But wait—David was in the wilderness, not the temple; he was in a cave, not a house of worship. Was the sanctuary a metaphor?  Maybe both yes and no. David seems to have cultivated a life of worship, much of which was likely experienced in the temple (actually, probably the tabernacle at this point—sort of a mobile, portable tent-temple). So as a poet, David could probably simply close his eyes and imagine himself there, worshipping God in the company of the people and the presence of the priests.

But as a shepherd he had also spent countless hours and days outside, bearing the sun’s blazing heat, the bitter cold of wilderness nights, the bone-drenching winter rains. He had worshipped God there, too, alone in the company of his flocks, coming alone to his God without the benefit of a priest; looking up to God not through the cloth and skin ceiling of the tabernacle, but in the canopy of space and stars and clouds.

Here, alone again and fainting from thirst in the wilderness, David again looks to the sanctuary of space and finds God’s strength and glory. And he worships. And he is satisfied. And…

3 My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life. 4 So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands. 5 You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. 6 When I think of You as I lie on my bed, I meditate on You during the night watches 7 because You are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of Your wings. 8 I follow close to You; Your right hand holds on to me.”

By Randy Ehle
Used by Permission

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Thoughts on Worship

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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Randy Ehle

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A friend shared with me something she’d read from Ann Voskamp: “God already sees you as perfect in him.” Based on my own ongoing and painfully slow transformation, I jokingly asked my friend if she ever wondered if God might need glasses. Then I was reminded of a conversation Moses had with God….

When God called Moses to go back to Egypt to lead the people of Israel out of slavery, Moses didn’t exactly jump at the chance. He questioned himself, God, and the people, and when God answered all those questions, Moses came back to himself: I’m never been a good speaker. I think his unspoken accusation was, God, you made me this way.

We live in an era in which imperfection—so-called birth defects, disabilities, learning differences, etc.—are often viewed as reasons to devalue life, even to end it before birth. Or we shake our fists at God in accusation: You made me this way! It’s your fault … I’m your fault.

When Moses said, “I can’t speak, and it’s because of you,” God replied, “you’re right, I gave you your mouth. And I gave the blind man his eyes and the deaf girl her ears. Yes, I made you just the way you are.”

And then he repeats his invitation to Moses to lead: Go, and I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.

What if, when we realize our limitations, instead of accusing God of creating something imperfect, we asked him, how will you help me in this weakness? How will you fill the gap in my abilities, my learning, my experience?

Know this: God made you just as you are. He has a plan and a purpose for you … but he doesn’t expect you to do it on your own. In fact, he made you so that you have to rely on him. And when you do, incredible things will happen.

Want to study this idea in the Bible? Read the story of Moses’ call in Exodus 3-4,or the blind man in John 9, or Paul’s weakness in 2 Corinthians 12.

By Randy Ehle
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Originally posted http://randehle.com/2019/05/20/corrective-lenses/


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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Randy Ehle

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You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing.*

God Knows. The great challenge of faith is that we live and move in uncertainty. I chuckle to myself whenever I hear people lay out life plans: we’re going to finish college before we get married; we’ll wait a few years and get settled into jobs, then start a family. Or, We’re going to move to a cheaper area and work for a while so we can save money, then we’ll move back and be able to buy a house.

The encourager in me cheers on the young couple; the realist wants to start asking, “But what if…?”; the arrogant Bible student in me (yes, he’s there) wants to quote

James 4:13-17
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

God didn’t tell Abram where to go, he just told him to go; I wonder how Sarai felt about that. Jonah was told exactly where to go, and he went the other direction; God compelled a smelly, messy U-turn. Saul (the future evangelist, not the king) was following his plan when God interrupted with a blinding flash; he ended up finishing that journey, but with a very different purpose.

Plans are good and necessary; they help us make decisions today that would be more difficult without some idea of what we wanted to do tomorrow. But for those who want to follow God, our plans need to be held loosely. And when they don’t work out, we must lean on the One who is always certain.

God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you who He is.*

Know God. No matter how well planned, the future is always uncertain. Even when plans are going just as we … well, planned, life can change in an instant: Cancer. Car accident. Market crash. Layoff. Miscarriage. Or, as with a student teacher I met recently, someone else’s innocent mistake years back has rippled forward and disrupted everything, potentially laying to waste all the work and schooling and training she has done.

When plans are interrupted, life can spiral out of control. Emotions spin, hearts drain, motivation dies. We go from living to existing, and that in the cold, persistent grey of a Seattle winter. Questions drip from the dark clouds, slowly building in intensity until all life is a storm and spiritual vertigo blinds us to any sense of direction.

And it is there amid the tempest that God meets us. There we—like the Psalmist—find in God a refuge. He becomes shield and shepherd, guide and guardian. In the cancer, he is Comforter. After the layoff, he is Provider. In the waiting, he is Emmanuel, God With Us. In the injustice, Merciful.

God is not always who we want him to be, when we want him to be it. In the hospital, we want Healer more than Comforter. In the courthouse we want Judge, not Mercy (unless I am the one on trial). After the layoff, I want a job, not charity.

God rarely meets our expectations—and always exceeds them.

In the midst of the storms of his life, Job had endless questions for God; none was answered. In the end, he only had a new glimpse of the Almighty, and that was sufficient. Saul, too, received new spiritual eyes (though, ironically, he is believed to have had very poor physical eyesight). The blind man’s prayer, “I want to see,” should be our cry when life’s circumstances blind us. The vision we need is not to see the road, but to see God, to know him in ways we have not yet perceived.

Jesus said, “This is eternal life: that they may know you….”

When only God knows, may we know God.

*Quotes are from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.

By Randy Ehle



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devotional on response to evil

Suicide bombings in Beirut kill 43, wound 239. Terrorist attacks in Paris kill 130, wound 368. Ten dead at an Oregon college, fourteen in San Bernardino. And on and on.

Gun control. Prayer shaming. Closing borders. Fear.

These are the responses to the evil and violence that seem to be growing in intensity and frequency not only in our nation, but around the world. Politicians on one side call for gun control; on the other side, for border walls. The news media calls for solutions while reveling in the business; fear—like sex—sells.

Christians divide: some call for war, some for peace, all for prayer. Some want to reject Muslim refugees, some want to eradicate Islam altogether. Others want to win Muslims through love and service, a la the Good Samaritan in one of Jesus’ more well-known parables.

This morning I read these familiar words in a new light:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:3-6, ESV)

It is a passage often quoted by Christians, offering hope and encouragement through trust in a good and faithful God. What struck me this morning, though, was the broader context in which these verses lie. Far from being a simple call to faith in the midst of the normal challenges of everyday life, the backdrop to Psalm 37 is a time of great strife, enmity, and threats from surrounding nations. The aging David’s reign over Israel has been marked by war and bloodshed; his victories on the battlefield have left behind jealous, hate-filled enemies. Even before ascending the throne, David’s life since youth was spent running from his own king, fearing for his own life.

This warrior-king’s call is to place faith over fear; to trust in God even in the face of threats and imminent danger. When David uses words like evil and wicked and wrongdoers, he is not talking primarily about swindlers or cheaters, but about bloodthirsty adversaries bent on killing. If he were writing today, perhaps he would use the word “terrorists.

And how does David say we should live in the face of this great evil? Not in fear or hatred, which “tends only to evil” (v. 8), but in goodness and trust, in worship and faithfulness, in righteousness and justice.

We should live with great trust in the Lord who “laughs at the wicked, for He sees that his day his coming” (v.13).

Today, will you live in fear or—worse—in hatred? Or will you trust in the God who sees…and who will one day act to end all violence and fear and hatred? …the God who laughs in the face of evil.

By Randy Ehle

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Originally posted at   http://randehle.com/2015/12/10/in-the-face-of-evil/
Dec. 10, 2015
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I, the LORD, will make a New Covenant, not like the one I made before. I will write my instruction on their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people. They will all know me, and I will forgive and forget their sins. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

I’ve been reflecting lately on the New Covenant. As a pastor, it has been important to me because each time I have led my church in communion (aka the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist), I’ve read Jesus’ words: “this cup is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20). There is something powerful, something significant there, but as a 21st century Gentile, the ancient Jewish history is easily lost on me.

The part of that new covenant that is grabbing me right now are the words in the middle:
I will be their God and they shall be my people.

I’m taking each word in turn and reflecting on its significance in the context and for me personally.

I will be their God — I, the Creator of heaven and earth, life giver and life sustainer. I, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I, Yahweh, the LORD; I AM THAT I AM. I, the I AM who appeared and revealed Myself to Moses in the wilderness. I, gracious and compassionate, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. I, both the Judge and the Forgiver of Sins. I, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah/Christ. I—and no other—will be their God.

I will be their God — I am not yet their God, as much as I want to be; they haven’t let me be their God. But I will be; one day in the future, I will be; they will let me, want me, long for me. Not yet, but one day….

I will be their God — Specifically, I will be the God of the House of Israel and the House of Jacob. In that future day when I will be their God, “they” will include Gentiles grafted into that house like a wild olive shoot grafted into an olive tree (Romans 11:11-24). I will be the God of all those who believe in me, who worship the Christ Redeemer, who reject all other gods. I will be their God.

And they — those same ones who believe in Me—shall be My people.

And they shall be My people — they’re not yet; remember, they haven’t accepted Me yet. They’ve fought me and left me and rejected me and pretended to be me. But one day, they shall be my people.

And they shall be My people — I will claim them and adopt them and love them as my own. I will nourish them, nurture them, teach them. I will lavish my extravagant love upon them. They shall be mine, my very own, and no one else’s.

And they shall be My people — not my peoples, distinct and numerous different groups; but people…one people, one family, one body, one Church…one. Each one unique and special and a treasured possession, but still one people. My people, my children, my dearly loved ones.

They shall be My people.

To one who has never known family, never known the passionate, fault-forgiving, undying love of a mother or father, these words are almost impossible to explain. It is difficult to fully grasp the hope that is laced into the words, “I will be their God and they shall be My people.” It’s a bit like trying to explain to a 20-year-old how they will know when they have met “the right one”: you will just know it.

When Jeremiah wrote God’s words the New Covenant, “I will be their God and they shall be My people,” it was still future; it was not yet.

When Jesus Christ brought the New Covenant into reality, it became now and not yet.
One day—when the time is come and The Day is upon us and Christ comes again—the New Covenant will simply be now.

And the LORD will say, “I am their God, and they are My people.” Welcome home.

By Randy Ehle
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Originally posted at http://randehle.com/2016/01/25/i-will-be-their-god/  on Jan. 25, 2016. Used by permission

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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Randy Ehle