You’ve probably heard the expression, “red herring.” Fans of mystery know what I’m talking about. It’s used to describe something that misleads or distracts you from the actual thing. Red herrings want to send you to the wrong conclusion.
The origin of “red herring” is debatable. People say it came from the training of hunting dogs. Once the dogs were familiar with the right scent, their trainers would drag a fish across their path. Initially, the dogs would be diverted by the new scent. They had to be trained to ignore that scent and stay focused on the original scent.
There are so many spiritual red herrings in our lives. Countless things mislead us or distract us. There are far too many things that can get us off the right scent and following the wrong trail. Next thing we know, we are lost.
Note that the dogs had to be trained. It wasn’t something that came naturally. Obviously, the scent of a tasty fish would throw them off! It was enticing! Things that get us off the trail are things that are attractive. Only with training could the dogs recognize the wrong scent and ignore it. It takes discipline and instruction.
We are pursuing Jesus. Our goal is Christ. Anything that is dragged across our trail to distract us, entice us, or mislead us MUST be ignored! We must recognize or (church word alert!) discern that it is not the right scent and discard it! Only through constant prayer, study, and communion with the Holy Spirit is any of this possible. Praise God for the Holy Spirit, am I right? Without which, we would be like lost hunting dogs chasing after the wrong prey.
We love a good twist, don’t we? Don’t you hate it when someone tells you the ending first? “Ahhhh! Don’t tell me! I want to find out for myself!”
I’m big on keeping the lid on spoilers. So, I cannot with a clear conscience allow you to read on without the following disclaimer: The next sentences are classic twist endings… of REALLY OLD MOVIES.
There, I feel better. Proceed…
It’s a cookbook. Rosebud’s a sled. Ape City is actually Earth. Bruce Willis was dead. Verbal Kint is… ah, I can’t do that one.
I’m going to go ahead and give you the SPOILER OF ALL SPOILERS. I’m going to give you THE END. The for real END. The end of it all. The end of the end. Ready? Here goes: God wins. The enemy is defeated.
There are no surprises. The devil doesn’t pull a fast-one on God at the last second. Jesus reigns supreme. This old world bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Sorry to ruin it for you, if you didn’t already know.
We are so lucky. And by lucky, I mean fortunate. We are so fortunate to have, as Paul Harvey would say: “the rest of the story.” When all the prophets were around, they didn’t know what we know today. They’ll be like: “What was it like to live knowing all the answers? You had all the mysteries right there at your fingertips? I mean, they were collected, printed neatly, and pocket-sized?! You knew the beginning, middle, and end: how cool was that? You had the Holy Spirit? Wow, man. You were so lucky!”
With this knowledge, fear should melt away. With this knowledge worry should disappear. We know the ending. There are only two sides: God’s and Not God’s. There can be only one winner. We know which side wins! Are you on the winning side or the losing side?
Sometimes I think I should’ve become an Astronomer. I love to look at the sky. I love the clouds in the day. I love the stars at night. God’s vast creation never ceases to move me.
I also love to look at the moon. Sometimes the moon can be so bright that it lights up the whole night. Especially a full moon… which (fun fact) in November is called the Beaver Moon.* You might even think, “Wow! The moon is bright tonight!”
But the moon is not creating that light by itself. It is reflecting the light of the sun. On it’s own, the moon could never produce any light… ever. On it’s own, the moon is just a cold rock floating aimlessly in space. In fact, the only way we can even SEE the moon is because of the sun.
In 2 Cor 3:18, Paul addresses the modern Christian. “We all who contemplate the Lord’s glory are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory…” We are to reflect Christ “as in a mirror.”
Close your eyes and think about that for a minute: We are to reflect Christ. (Seriously. Stop. Close your eyes. Think about that for a minute.)
Just as the moon reflects the sun, we are to reflect the Son! When people look at you, they are supposed to see Christ. We transform and radiant God’s warmth, love and compassion. When Moses saw God, he glowed. His face shone so much that he was forced to shroud himself so he wouldn’t scare people. And Moses only saw a glimpse of God’s back! (Exd. 34:29-35).
That is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. (Eph. 5:14)
Not to sound too corny, but: Wake up and Shine! BE THE MOON!
When Peter announced to the first believers that they needed to fill Judas’s empty position*, he used a phrase that always glares at me. I feel it piercing my heart every time I read it. It’s almost as if those words growl and claw. He prays “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go WHERE HE BELONGS” [emp. added].
To go where he belongs. Ouch. I think we all know where that is.
“To go where he belongs” is the NIV translation. The KJ and NAS say, “to go to his own place” and the MSG says, “to go his own way.”
We all belong somewhere. There is a place where we are going to go. You and I cannot be in two places at once. It is either going to be here or it is going to be there. Only God can be in multiple places. Not even the enemy can do that.
There is no spiritual fence-riding. If you think you are straddling that fence, think again. As Peter prayed, God knows EVERYONE’S heart. He knows which side your heart is really on. We fool others and we may even fool ourselves, but there is no fooling God.
Going where you belong can be a comforting thought or a frightening one.
For a Child of the King, where you belong is in the house of your Father. Where you belong is a place you have longingly envisioned a million times and it will be a million times more magnificent that you ever could dream.
For a child of the world, where you belong is in the house of your father. Where you belong is a place you never ever thought of and it will be a million times more horrifying than you could have ever envisioned.
When I returned from walking our dog last night, there was a moment when she was off her leash. In that couple of seconds she could’ve took off. She’s done it before. There’s a spark of realization: I’m Free!
I was struck with two thoughts during that panic: Please don’t! and Why would she want to?
Why would she want to leave my side and the sanctity of our house? I promise shelter, warmth, food, and love. I want her there.
By my side, I can guarantee her safety. Away from my side, she would have to fend for herself. The night was cold and dark. She would have to find her own food. She would have to find her own shelter. Worse of all, she would be alone.
It’s almost like, “Why in the world, would you ever leave my side, you silly dog? Is that “freedom” worth it? I only tether you because I love you. If I didn’t care, I would just open the door and let you have it.”
It would hurt me deeply if she ran off. But you know what? If she did run off, I wouldn’t be like, “Oh, she left. She’s gone.” No, I would go searching for her. I wouldn’t stop until I knew she was ok.
But last night when that moment came, Annie didn’t take off. Actually she was as eager to get inside as I was. “Good girl,” I said and gave her a treat.
I don’t have any money. But what I do have, I’ll give to you.*
Peter said this to the lame beggar at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The man had been handicap since birth. Every morning he was carried and set down at the gate where he would beg. This was his life.
One morning, He saw Peter and John pass by and asked to recieve alms. Peter stared him down, “Look at us!” The beggar got excited. He thought he was going to get some money! “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – WALK!” In an instant his legs were strengthened and with a LEAP, the lame man walked. I imagine he probably did more than walk too. I don’t have any scripture to back this up, but I figure he most likely moonwalked.
Sometimes we ask God for something and He gives us something else. If God gives you something else, you can bank on that something else being much much better.
Sure, some extra money would’ve helped this man. No doubt about it. But God, through Peter, gave the lame man something far greater than he could have ever imagined: a new life! God is in the business of making things new and better.
One last thought: Could any other name have healed that man? In the name of Moses! No. In the name of Abraham! Nothing. In the name of Caesar! Give me a break. Only the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God has power. Just the name, folks! No other name EVER could done one little thing to help that man.
Be on the look out. If you ask God for something. He may surprise you with something… else. Something Beautiful.
A.W. Tozer said Faith and Prayer are two sides of the same coin. They are inseparable!* A faithful Christian prays. A prayful Christian has faith. I guess you can pray without faith and you can have faith and not pray, but that’s not the most effective way to deflect the enemies arrows.
James tells us if we don’t have something, it’s because we haven’t asked for it (4:3). We are also told to pray without stopping (1 Thes. 5:17). Brittany’s Mom made a good point on this very subject the other day: the question isn’t “Are you praying?” It is “Why have you stopped praying?”
According to Tozer, it doesn’t take much wisdom to know our next move: Pray, pray, and pray!
Anyone ever ask you to pray for them? Sounds… almost… peaceful, doesn’t it? In reality they are asking you to engage in warfare. Intercession is throwing yourself into the spiritual battle raging all around us (Eph. 6:12).
How do I pray for someone? Charles Stanley mentioned this once and it always stuck with me: Pray Eph. 1:17-19. This scripture is the perfect intercessory prayer to get you started.
Take comfort that you are not alone in this fight. As you intercede, Jesus intercedes for you (Heb. 7:25). As sons and daughters of God, we have a direct line to go boldly to the Throne (Heb. 4:16).
So, the next time someone asks you to pray for them, roll up your sleeves, arm yourself with Eph. 1 and get ready to fight! God bless!