Grow Like a Tree in 2018

    Happy New Year! It’s 2018, and I am so excited to see what the Lord will do in and through His body this year. It is my fervent hope and prayer that He will use me and this blog to bring glory to His name, to call His people back to Him, and to bring many to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    In 2017, we experienced such a shaking in the United States, both inside and outside the church. So much that had been hidden in our country for decades has been revealed. Harassment and abuses; slavery, oppression, and suppression; addiction, greed, and selfishness, and a whole lot more ugliness. Things that were kept in darkness are being brought into the light.

    My pastor, Ryan Alsheimer, challenged our congregation to read the Bible through entirely this year. As I took the challenge with my family and friends, I was reminded that it is the Word of God, the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, that shines a light in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it! (John 1:5) And as our congregation and others in the body of Christ commit to study and meditation of the Word of God, the promises to us personally and to our communities and nations through us are numerous. Psalm 1 says it like this:

1 Blessed is the one
   who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (NIV)

     I have felt the Lord leading me to do an in-depth study in His Word for some time now. And every time I sit down to pray and study, I feel a prompting to examine the life of Elijah. He was a call-it-like-it-is kind of a guy. He spent time with the Lord, and then acted when the Holy Spirit led him. He was a selfless man with strong faith - the kind of man we could use in America today.

    Perhaps I am drawn to the prophet Elijah because the he seems larger-than-life, on par with some of the superheroes whose movies my kids love to watch. Elijah is one of only two men in history who did not die. Enoch walked so closely with God that he was here one minute and with God the next. But Elijah’s departure from earth was dramatic and exciting as God sent a chariot of fire in a whirlwind to pick him up and take the prophet to heaven. He is also one of the two men, the other was Moses, chosen to meet with Jesus during the Transfiguration. 

    Or maybe what draws me to examine his story are the many miracles that he performed during his ministry. Calling down fire from heaven, raising the dead, stopping the rain for three and a half years, causing a poor widow’s coffers to never run dry…it’s all so mind-blowing to think about!

    Still perhaps the most intriguing aspect of his life is that James 5:17 tells us that he was a human being, just like you and me. What a thought! In fact, the King James Version says that he was “subject to like passions as we are.” And it’s true! He was bold and courageous one minute, and running like a scared rabbit the next. He had a sense of humor one minute, and was in the depths of depression the next. At times he gave in to pride and exaggerated his importance to God, and other times he was hungry and tired and frustrated. Yea, I really get this guy.

    The truth is that I can relate closely to his humanity, having seen and experienced many of these “passions,” but I have never seen the incredible miracles, seemingly superhuman capabilities, and dramatic happenings that Elijah carried out. And I wonder why… 

    Maybe this is why I am drawn to examine his story. There is so much about him that I understand, but way more that is still a mystery. Over the next several weeks I intend to diligently search the Word of God for answers to these mysteries, and humbly ask the Lord to reveal to me the lessons and character qualities that He would have me learn from the life of the prophet Elijah. If you stick with me, I promise it will not be boring, but we will grow together and in God! I don’t know about you, but I want to grow to be the tree, not the chaff!