Three Important Lessons from Philippians 1

philippians_titleFor to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)

  1. Death isn’t scary

Paul tells the church of Philippi that to die is far better than to live. Why would this be so? Because to die means to be with Christ. For a Christian, to be absent from the body means you are present with God (2 Corinthians 5:8).

There are (supposed to be) two kinds of people in the world: those who are afraid of death, and those who aren’t. Those who are afraid are afraid because they don’t know where they are going. The others aren’t afraid because they know exactly where they are going.

If you belong to Christ, then death has absolutely no hold on you. Death has no sting, no victory, no power (1 Corinthians 15:55, Romans 8:2).

Now as we shall see, we shouldn’t morbidly welcome death at every moment. But we also shouldn’t fear the day when we will finally go home many, many years from now.

  1. You choose when you die

Paul makes a statement that would probably be declared blasphemy if uttered by a Christian nowadays: “What I shall choose I cannot tell.”

Choose?

Paul got to choose whether he’d die or not?

This stands in the face of today’s common belief that God might take your life at any moment (a view espoused in Francis Chan’s Crazy Love in Chapter 2, titled “You Might Not Finish This Chapter”). But the bible makes it clear that the man or woman of God gets a say about when they go.

Paul was told at the time of his conversion that he’d die a martyr (Acts 9:16). And yet through faith, he was repeatedly delivered from death. From his own lips he testified that he got to choose when he’d die. And when he finally did die, it was after he had told God he was ready to go (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

And Paul wasn’t the only one who had a say in the matter. Think back to Hezekiah. He was told by the prophet Isaiah to get his life in order, because he’d be dying soon. Hezekiah didn’t like that much, so he prayed a simple 27-word prayer, and God immediately healed him and extended his life.

Moses told the Israelites during his farewell address that God has “set before you death and life.” He then told them that the choice what theirs: “Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Solomon confirmed this, teaching that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Now obviously we can’t choose to live forever. Anyone who would want to live forever clearly doesn’t have a grasp on point one (“it’s far better to be with Christ”) and it motivated by fear. It would be unscriptural to desire to live away from heaven forever. But based on the entirety of scripture, we must conclude that long life is promised for God’s children. And any young person who has died prematurely has ultimately died because they didn’t choose life.

  1. You should choose to help others

Paul, talking about his impending choice, doesn’t say he is making his choice based on how much more money he can earn for himself. He doesn’t base it on his desire to see Avengers 2, or in hopes of being around when Firefly inevitably makes its return.

So how did Paul make the choice?

To remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

He based his choice on the needs of the world around him. His life was poured out to bring the message of a saving Christ to a dark and dying world.

This should be a primary motivation for everything we’ve discussed.

Does God want you healthy? Yes. And as a healthy child of God, you are to go lay hands on the sick and see them recover (Mark 16:17). Does God meet all of your needs? Yes. And because you have freely received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). Did Jesus tell you to cast your cares on Him? Yes. Now bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

When talking about how abundantly God has blessed you, we often forget the third promise God made to Abraham:

  1. I will bless you.
  2. I will make your name great.
  3. You will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)

But a primary reason God has promised to bless us is so we can bless those around us.

And when talking about choosing to live a long life here on earth, the question you should be asking is:

“Do I have more to give to those around me?”

Once the answer is no, then it’s probably time to pack your bags and head on home to glory.


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MYTHBUSTERS #1: I can’t stop sinning

mythbusters sinningThe Claim: Christians are sinners, and will never be able to overcome their sinful nature. Every one of us sins hundreds of times a day, and there is absolutely no way to stop.

What the bible says:

Stand in awe, and sin not. (Psalm 4:4)

“Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! (Romans 6:1-2)

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6, NLT)

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Ephesians 4:1)

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. (1 Corinthians 15:34)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

“Therefore, if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

The Verdict: BUSTED!

The born again believer has been given all authority over the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19), and has been made free from not only the consequences of sin, but the power of sin itself (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Now this doesn’t mean that if you sin, you are going straight to hell. John tells us we don’t have to sin, but if* we do there is forgiveness:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may sin not. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

People tend to make mistakes. Proverbs doesn’t say “a righteous man never falls”; it says “a righteous man may* fall seven times, but rises again” (Proverbs 24:16). If you slip up, just confess your sin as John instructed and start living right (1 John 1:9).

But the fact remains: sin has no power over you. So, just as Jesus told the adulterous woman, “GO AND SIN NO MORE.”


Note: Notice how the bible uses phrases like “may sin” and “if you sin” as opposed to “will sin” and “when you sin.” According to God, sin is a choice, not a destiny.


My new book UNFAIR ADVANTAGE talks about overcoming sin and living life worthy of God’s calling. Check it out on Amazon.

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A Few Lessons My Son Taught Me from Proverbs 1

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Yesterday was the first of the month, and as my custom is, I read Proverbs 1 to my four-month old son. As I read the chapter out loud, several important themes began to emerge, things that are reinforced throughout the rest of Proverbs, throughout the Old Testament, and throughout the entire bible.

Here are seven things I learned from the first seven verses of Proverbs.

  1. We can all be wise

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline.”

Sure, there are some people that seem to be endowed with a greater intellect in life, but wisdom and intelligence aren’t synonymous. I’m sure we all know a handful of people who aced the SAT and excelled in AP Calc, but are dumber than a brick.

Fortunately, God said He’s give wisdom to anyone who asked in faith. And He’s not stingy with wisdom, either. According to James, God gives wisdom like a democrat gives out free cell phones during an election year.

True biblical wisdom comes from continually seeking God’s Word, and the benefits of godly wisdom (versus book smarts) are unparalleled.

 

  1. We can all be successful

Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives.”

Contrary to popular belief, nowhere in the bible does God command anyone to be poor. God is constantly dishing out advice throughout the bible on how to financially prosper, so the church has the resources to reach the lost.

Case in point: Joshua 1:8, where God tells us precisely how to succeed and prosper in life. And if that’s not convincing enough, the entire book of Proverbs is a monthly devotional written by the smartest guy in the world who turned one of the smallest, weakest nations into a thriving empire whose people continue to dominate the financial market to this day.

 

  1. We can all live the right way

Their purpose is… to help them do what is right, just, and fair.”

Did you know it’s possible to live the rest of your life and never sin again?

Jesus taught us to pray for that in the Lord’s Prayer. Furthermore, Jude exalts God as “Him who is able to keep you from falling.”

If you want to read more about this, check out this post.

 

  1. Even the “simple” and young can live this way

These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.”

Wisdom, success, and righteous isn’t only reserved for those with IQs calling above the 150 threshold. Anyone, from the professor at Harvard to the kid struggling with sixth grade vocab, can enjoy the blessings of God.

Proverbs 8:12 says God gives us wisdom to find out “knowledge of witty inventions.” That means he’ll give brilliantly simple ideas to just about anyone seeking after wisdom.

A great example? The guy who decided to flip ketchup bottles over made $13 million. Pretty simple idea, huh? Imagine what you could accomplish if you followed the leading of God and looked at things from a slightly different (or upside down) angle.

 

  1. You need to seek God’s Word

“… by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables.”

Every blessing from God is the result of seeking His Word. Joshua 1:8 states that one must be constantly speaking God’s Word, thinking about God’s Word, and doing God’s Word. And James admonishes the church to not simply hear the Word, but actively participate in accomplishing the Word of God.

 

  1. You need the fear of the Lord

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.”

It all comes down to the Lord. And if the fear of the Lord is the foundation, that means that ultimately any schooling, be it elementary school, high school, college, or even Sunday school is a waste of time without God.

Notice, too, that it doesn’t say “The Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.” It’s a fearful reverence and admiration of God that leads to biblical wisdom and knowledge. (Prov. 9:10, Psalm 111:10)

 

  1. Fools deny these simple truths

But fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

This teaching is supposed to be simple. “God is good… He wants good for you… He’ll take care of you and teach you to be a successful adult… just stick with Him.”

Unfortunately, many Christians deny what the bible teaches. They believe that God is out to get them, that makes His kids poor, unhappy, unsuccessful, and sick, that He makes it impossible for them to live right and them punishes them when they fall short, and that ultimately He might just kill you.

The bible has a name for that. “Foolishness.”

These are lessons that God taught David during those years in the pastures and the wilderness and the palace. David in turn instilled them in his son Solomon, who recorded them for God’s people. And I intend to follow in David’s footsteps and teach them to my son.

“Follow God, and He will make you wise beyond your years. He will raise you up into a successful and prosperous man of God, and He will teach you to walk perfectly before Him.”

PROVERBS ONE

(1) These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

 

(2) Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,

To help them understand the insights of the wise.

(3) Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives

To help them do what is right, just, and fair.

(4) These proverbs will give insight to the simple,

Knowledge and discernment to the young.

 

(5) Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.

Let those with understanding receive guidance

(6) By exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables

The words of the wise and their riddles.

 

(7) Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

But fools despise wisdom and discipline.


 

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Anthropomorphizing God

wilson-cast-awayThere are many dangerous things Christians like to do. One of them is to anthropomorphize God.

Anthropomorphize: (verb) to attribute human form or personality to things not human

And so often, in our quest to understand God’s nature and character, we compare him to us, even though the bible says very clearly in Numbers 23:19 that “God is not a man.”

Case in point: “God is your heavenly Father.” And the way we explain this is by saying things like, “So God is kind of like your dad” (or worse, “So God is kind of like you”).

Now, to be fair, we do say that God is better than our human dads. But still, we often start with ourselves. We tell people to look at their human parents, and then move the goodness bar a little higher, and eventually you’ll get to God.

But we have things entirely backwards. We were never supposed to anthropomorphize God. To say “He’s like us, only better” is to grossly understate how good and infinite and perfect He actually is.

We should never anthropomorphize God; rather, we should dei-pomorphize us.

Dei-pomorphize: (verb) to attribute Godly form or personality to things not God

When it comes to fatherhood, we shouldn’t say,

“Well, you’re a father, and you love your kids and provide for them and try your darndest to be fair and teach them how to live. Sure, you make mistakes, but all in all you’re pretty good. But God is better.”

We should say,

“God is perfect. He is holy. He never lies. He leads flawlessly. He always knows what to do. No weapon formed against His kids prospers. He supplies all of their needs. He teaches us all things. And He does all things well. He’s also your Heavenly Father. Therefore, earthly fathers, be more like the perfect Father.” (By the way, Matthew 5:48 says you can be perfect like the Father, so this isn’t an entirely ridiculous expectation.)

I mean, I am just a father. He is The Father. That means He’s the measuring rod, not me. When we anthropomorphize God, we allow ourselves to stay in the same place while bringing Him down to our level. But when we dei-pomorphize ourselves, we elevate God to the highest place while striving to get closer and closer to him.

And this works across the board. We are told tolove our wives as Christ loved the church.” When we use the love of Jesus as the standard in our marriage, we have no choice but to work harder, get better, and love greater.

We are told to live the characteristics of the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” These aren’t merely human qualities; they are attributes that God Himself possesses, and that can only be lived by the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.

So fathers: be like God. After all, He is THE Father. Raise your kids like God would raise them.

Husbands: love your wives like Christ loves you. I know, I know. That’s a tall order, but hey, God told you to do it, which means it’s possible.

And Christians: every single day, let every single characteristic of God, be it love, patience, or peace, shine brightly and obviously through your life for the whole world to see.

That’s how we’ll change the world.

“…the Love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given for us.” (Romans 5:5)


 

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What’s Under Your Cushion? (or, White-Washed Couches)

under your cushionSeven months ago, I was up in Big Bear for our youth group’s annual Winter Camp. I woke up at around six and headed down to the main lodge, hoping to curl up on the couch with a bowl of cereal and warm up next to the fireplace. With a bowl of Cap’n Crunch in one hand and a book of matches in the other, I headed over to the fireplace… and was greeted with a cushionless couch.

Apparently, some of the boys had taken them in the night to build forts, shields, and a giant “mega-bed.” They also spent at least an hour playing the “lava” game. Epic, I know, but not what I was hoping to find at 6:12 am. You see, for those of you who own couches (most of my post-college audience, I assume), you know that I didn’t find just a cushionless couch. Concealed for what must’ve been decades beneath those tacky plaid cushions was a hodgepodge of delightful treats.

Where should I start? There was the candy: three and a half gummy worms, about two dozen nerds which had probably started off orange but had since faded to an unappetizingly chalky white, about three-eighths of a jawbreaker, and what I sure hope was the remnants of a Milky Way bar.

There was also what I assume started off as a single Oreo, a six-sided die, a monopoly house, an almost-empty travel-sized tube of toothpaste and some used dental floss, a “MASH” scorecard (spoiler alert: they all died alone), a used iTunes gift card, and a mysterious sticky substance that was purple in color and salty in taste.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I did manage to find one dime, three nickels, six pennies, and an unidentified silver coin bearing the image of an elderly woman among the other remains.

Jesus once compared the Pharisees and Sadducees to “white-washed sepulchers” (Matthew 23:27). They worked hard to look good on the outside, while on the inside they were dead. They were lost, confused, and filled with sin.

If that exchange took place today, I think He may have called them sofa couches. “You look all clean and vacuumed on the outside, but just look beneath the cushions,” He might’ve said. “For underneath your well-swept cushions are moldy old sandwiches, sticky M&Ms, and the remains of various beverages you have spilt over the years.”

Christians love, love, love to put on a show. We love to look like we have it all together. But ask yourself today, what’s under your cushion? Is everything on the inside nice and clean, presentable for the King of kings? Or do you have a mess on your hands? There’s nothing wrong with getting a little gunk stuck in there every now and then. Just don’t try to hide it. Jesus can’t clean up your couch if you won’t let Him see what’s under the cushions. Deal with it now. Let God clean up the mess so you can walk perfectly before Him today.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)


CHALLENGE: And hey, just for fun, email me pictures of your filthy couches. I need the encouragement to know I’m not the only one!


 

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Name It and Claim It

name it and claim itThere are Christians who believe that God answers prayers asked in faith, be it for salvation, healing, provision, or anything else.

I happen to be one of them.

This usually leads to my being labeled as a “name it and claim it” Christian (or “blab it and grab it”).

I’m not really sure how I should feel about this label. After all, it is meant pejoratively. And the bible never uses the phrase, “name it and claim it.”

But there are a number of phrases the bible does use, and I prefer to identify myself by those.

Here they are.

Some Guy: “Are you a ‘name it and claim it’ Christian?

My epic response: “No, I am a…

  1. You shall have whatsoever you say’ Christian (also known as a ‘Mark 11:23’ Christian)
  2. These signs shall follow them that believe’ Christian (also known as a ‘Mark 16:17’ Christian)
  3. Ask and you shall receive’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 7:7’ Christian)
  4. Promises of God are Yes and Amen’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Corinthians 1:20’ Christian)
  5. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask according to the power in me’ Christian (also known as an ‘Ephesians 3:20’ Christian)
  6. God shall do as I have spoken’ Christian (also known as a ‘Numbers 14:28’ Christian)
  7. I have been redeemed from the curse’ Christian (also known as a ‘Galatians 3:13’ Christian)
  8. The Lord is my healer’ Christian (also known as a ‘Exodus 15:26’ Christian)
  9. He sent His Word and healed my disease’ Christian (also known as a ‘Psalm 107:20’ Christian)
  10. He has freely given us all things’ Christian (also known as a ‘Romans 8:32’ Christian)
  11. The prayer of faith shall save the sick’ Christian (also known as a ‘James 5:15’ Christian)
  12. God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are’ Christian (also known as a ‘Romans 4:17’ Christian)
  13. He has given us exceedingly great and precious promises’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Peter 1:4’ Christian)
  14. I am a partaker of the divine nature’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Peter 1:4’ Christian)
  15. Life and death are in the power of the tongue’ Christian (also known as a ‘Proverbs 18:21’ Christian)
  16. God shall supply all my need’ Christian (also known as a ‘Philippians 4:19’ Christian)
  17. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 10:8’ or ‘Luke 10:9’ Christian)
  18. No weapon formed against me shall prosper’ Christian (also known as an ‘Isaiah 54:17’ Christian)
  19. Go in peace, thy faith has healed you’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 9:22’ or ‘Mark 5:34’ or ‘Mark 10:52’ Christian)
  20. Nothing shall be impossible for you’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 17:20’ Christian)

So there you have it. If you are tired of the stigma attached with ‘name it and claim it’ or ‘blab it and grab it,’ here are twenty alternatives you might prefer, straight from over twenty verses from the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles.

Then after you’ve established that your stance is based on scripture, you could ask them if they are one of the following (not that I condone name-calling, but these seem apt to describe them):

  • Disbelieve it and don’t receive it’ Christian (Mark 6:5-6)
  • I am the Lord, but guess what? I’ve changed’ Christian (Malachi 3:6)
  • Jesus is the same yesterday, today, but definitely not tomorrow’ Christian (Hebrews 13:8)
  • Oh ye of little faith’ Christian (Matthew 8:26)
  • Jesus has come to steal, kill, and destroy you’ Christian (John 10:10)
  • Jesus healed most but not all, and certainly not you’ Christian (Matthew 8:16 and Acts 10:38)

Okay, okay, those latter six names probably won’t be helpful to the conversation. But regardless, it’s plain to see that “name it and claim it” isn’t nearly as far-fetched as some would make it sound.


 

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One Verse that Proves God’s Stance on Healing

One Verse That Proves God's Stance on HealingWhen the subject of healing gets brought up, lots of questions start to swirl around in peoples’ minds: “Why am I sick?” “Is healing for everyone?” “Does God make people sick?”

Fortunately for us, God answers these questions repeatedly throughout the bible. As I’ve mentioned before, there are over 170 distinct passages in the bible that address God’s attitude towards healing. But there is a single verse that reveals to us God’s stance on healing.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

There are several lessons we can glean from this one scripture.

Healing is Good

We are told that during His ministry, Jesus Christ went about “doing good.” But in what ways did He do good? According to Luke, by healing.

We see throughout the bible that Jesus is committed to doing good. The seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel tells us that God always gives good things to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). Furthermore, James 1:17 says that good things always come from God, and that there isn’t even an inkling that this will ever change.

Now it may seem obvious that healing is good, but there are many Christians who aren’t so sure. Being confident that healing is always good, we can rest assured knowing that the biblical promises of God’s unfathomable goodness includes physical healing.

Sickness comes from the Devil

Again, you might take this for granted, but much of the Christian community thinks sickness comes from God. Take Job, for instance. The common understanding of Job is that God caused terrible things to happen in Job’s life to test his faithfulness. But according to Job 2:7, it was Satan (not God) who smote Job with painful boils. Far from “God giving and taking away,” the text makes it clear that Satan caused this infirmity.

Jesus confirms this is John 10:10, where He claims:

The thief (Satan) comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

From the mouth of Jesus Himself, anything that steals, kills, or destroys comes from Satan, and not God. Every sickness known to man fits that description, and to attribute any ailment, disease, or injury to God is to reject the biblical text. God only has good things for His kids, and offers life in the place of sickness, pain, and death.

Jesus Heals All

According to Acts 10:38, Jesus heals ALL. That includes you.

We see this confirmed over and over and over again throughout the bible. Luke 9:11 tells us that Jesus healed all who had need of physical healing; Matthew 8:16 says that Jesus healed all who were sick; and John 6:37 says that Jesus doesn’t turn anyone away.

In fact, there isn’t a single biblical example of God refusing to heal someone in need, and the only time in the entire bible we see Jesus not heal is when He was prevented by the unbelief of those in need. A lack of faith in God’s power and willingness to heal is the only thing that has ever prevented Him from healing the sick.

Summary

When I talk to people who have questions about healing, I often bring them to this verse. After reading through it, I usually ask them a series of obvious questions.

Me: “According to this passage, is healing bad or good?”

Them: “Good.”

Me: “Where does sickness come from?”
Them: “The devil.”

Me: “How many people did Jesus heal?”

Them: “All of them.”

Then I ask them a few more questions.

Is God with you, too?” Isaiah 41:10 and Matthew 28:20 say He is. And both Hebrews 13:5 and John 14:16 say He will always be with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Have you been anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power?” Luke 24:49 answer that question with a definitive and resounding YES. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 attests to this truth by saying that we have been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. And Ephesians 3:20 says that the infinite power of God dwells in us. His people.

No bible-believing Christian can deny that physical healing is good, that sickness comes from the enemy, and that God is ever willing to heal anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith. But more than that, we see that this miraculous healing power, this authority, this goodness has been placed in us by none other than God Himself.

So let’s live in obedience to the commands of Jesus, and go out into a world of lost and desperate sinners, preaching the gospel and healing the sick (Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:18). This is good in the sight of the Lord.

List of Scriptures Used

Acts 10:38 John 10:10 Isaiah 41:10 Luke 24:49
Matthew 7:11 Luke 9:11 Matthew 28:20 2 Cor. 1:21-22
James 1:17 Matthew 8:16 Hebrews 13:5 Ephesians 3:20
Job 2:7 John 6:37 John 14:16 Matthew 10:8
Mark 16:18

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(There is much more to say about biblical healing, the raw power of God that dwells in us, and the commission that has been given to Christ’s church. For more, check out my new book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, available for kindle or paperback. It will change your life.)

The UCLA Flood, and God

flood1

(Warning: Math to follow)

Last Tuesday at around 3:30 pm, a 93-year old water main under Sunset Boulevard ruptured, spewing as much as 75,000 gallons of water PER MINUTE into the air. The millions of gallons have flooded the surrounding areas, including UCLA and their newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. Video footage of the event is spectacular, with the geyser of water skyrocketed over thirty feet into the air and capsizing the street into an ever-growing sinkhole.

And surprise, surprise, hearing about this made me think of God and the bible.

“’Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus 17:6)

“Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” (Numbers 20:11)

In both of these episodes, the children of Israel are wandering the desert and complaining (an apt description of most of the Old Testament), so God graciously and miraculously provides water for them from a nearby boulder. We typically imagine a gentle stream softly flowing towards the people, as if it were a calm summer day and we were in the latest Nicholas Sparks flick.

But how much water was actually flowing?

Most estimates place the population of Israel at this point between 2 million to 7 million men, women, and children. We are also told that they took all of their flocks and herds when they left (Exodus 12:30-32). Furthermore, Psalm 105:37 says that the Israelites left rich with silver and gold, them and their cattle in good shape. We don’t know how much cattle they had, but it doesn’t seem to be a small amount.

And God provided water for this entire crew, from a single rock.

Current estimates on daily water use around the world are as follows:

Germany = 33 gallons/day/person

France = 29 gallons/day/person

Denmark = 21 gallons/day/person

Britain = 40 gallons/day/person

United States = (I didn’t include, because I don’t want to make the hippies angry)

Applying the lowest of these numbers to the 5,000,000 person population of desert-wandering Israel, there would be 72,912 gallons of water per minute flowing from that rock. It’d be a sight comparable to the Sunset Boulevard geyser.

Of course, we don’t use water like they used to. We waste water on frivolous things like dishes and gardening. Surely the Israelites didn’t require as much as we do. Can we get a more accurate number?

The average person needs three liters of drinking water a day, or about 0.8 gallons a day. For 5,000,000 people, that’d be 3,961,500 gallons a day, or 2,751 gallons a minute.

While today we use about 25 gallons of water per shower, the lowest estimates I was able to find for necessary bathing water was 3 gallons per shower (it’s called a Navy shower, and I think it’s applicable; after all, soldiers in the desert probably use as little water as possible). And whereas we shower daily, I read on some hippy website that the healthiest way to bathe is to bathe only once a week. Assuming that’s true, 5,000,000 people bathing only once a week with no more than 3 gallons of water per scrub would be 2,142,857 gallons per day, or 1,488 gallons per minute.

Now what about the animals?

First, how many animals were there? The text doesn’t tell us. However, using some creative reasoning, we can make an educated guess for the number of animals they needed to water.

Job 1:3 tells us that Job has 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke (or pairs) of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, for a total of 11,500 animals. Proportionally, his animals consisted of 61% sheep, 26% camels, 8.7% oxen, and 4.3% donkeys. Sheep require 2 gallons of drinking water a day, while camels need 30 gallons, oxen need 40 gallons, and donkeys need 10 gallons. That means the average Israelite animal needed about 13 gallons of fresh water a day.

We know that the Israelites left richly with not only their own possessions but with many possessions given to them by the fearful and defeated Egyptians. The biblically rich had animals numbering in the thousands, but to be extremely conservative, let’s assume the average family of four had four animals. That’d be five million animals roaming around the wilderness with them, each needing an average of 13 gallons of water per day. (If you think this is an overestimate, I assumed 9 cows for every 100 Israelites; in the US, there are 12 cows for every 100 Americans. Seems like a fair estimate). That would amount to a staggering 65 million gallons a day, or 45,139 gallons per minute.

Finally, it’s worthy mentioning that the Israelites wouldn’t’ve used every single drop of water that erupted from that rock. How could they? It was flowing through the desert sands like a river. Much of the water would be too dirty to drink. In fact, estimates on the efficiency of a modern drinking fountain are pitifully low. Chances are that at least half of the water provided remained unused.

All things considered, we are looking at about 98,756 gallons of water per minute flowing from the rock to the thirsty Israelites. That is a conservative estimate, and it doesn’t include any water the Israelites would’ve collected for later use.

No wonder Moses described the waters as flowing out “abundantly,” no wonder the psalmist later wrote that the waters “gushed” forth! In fact, the Hebrew word for “gushed” in Psalm 105:41, when transliterated into Greek, is quite similar to the New Testament word used to describe violent torrential floods which threatened to flood houses along the river.

My whole point is we should consider how silly it is to think that God isn’t big enough to meet our needs or answer our prayers. Whatever you need, God invented it! He described Himself as El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough!

This busted water main is making national headlines. A bunch of water is flowing out of water pipes in one of America’s most prestigious and well-manicured college campuses. Compare that to God, who had the power to make an even greatest amount of water flow out of a giant stone wall in one of the driest and dustiest corners of the planet. And He did it multiple times.

I think God’s big enough to put dinner on your plate tonight.

(Buy my newest book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, on Amazon!)

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE is for sale!

UnfairBookCoverI’m very happy to announce that my book, “UNFAIR ADVANTAGE,” is now available for your Kindle on Amazon.com.

This book will teach Christians who God made them to be, so they can do everything God has called them to do. And spoiler alert, God made you incredibly awesome. You truly are greater than you realize.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. God told me to start writing in January 2013, and the last 17 months have been quite the adventure. So many of you supported me, gave me advice, helped proofread, told me not to use the word “crap” in a Christian book, and took amazing cover photos. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

When you go to buy it from Amazon, do me a favor and purchase it through “Amazon Smile,” selecting “MountainChild.org” as your charity of choice. If you do this, Amazon will donate 4 cents of your purchase to MountainChild, helping to save the lives of starving children in the Himalayan Mountains. 4 cents may not be much, but when I sell 100,000 copies of my book, it will quickly add up and save countless lives.

And for those of you purists out there, the paperback will be available in the next two weeks. So stay tuned!

Thanks again, and enjoy!

Garrett Milovich 

#unfairadvantagebook

http://www.amazon.com/Unfair-Advantage-Greater-Than-Realize-ebook/dp/B00L1T54P0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403794434&sr=8-1&keywords=garrett+milovich