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Chris Solaas
Discovering Life, Love, Laughter, and Faith in an ADHD madhouse
Discovering Life, Love, Laughter, and Faith in an ADHD madhouse

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365 Names of God
Day 319 - Spirit of Grace

Shock. That moment when you realize you were wrong. All your effort, all your best intentions, wasted.

On October 24, 1964, Minnesota Viking no. 70, Jim Marshall, snatched up a fumbled ball dropped by sacked 49ers QB Bill Kilmer. Twisting and weaving through a mine field of 49ers offensive linemen, he carried the ball in an amazing 66 yard return to the end zone. Elated, he threw the football into the stands with a victory shout.

One of the 49ers who had been chasing him came up and patted him on the shoulder. “Nice play, Jim!”

That was the moment when he realized that, rather than scoring a touchdown for his team, he’d carried the ball the wrong way, and scored a safety AGAINST his team in his own end zone.

To give the Vikings credit, they didn’t bench him. They continued to play Marshall until his retirement from the Vikings in 1979, when he held the record in the NFL for the most consecutive starts (270) and games played (282).

Yet the thing he will most be remembered for was that fateful ‘wrong way run’. And his unbroken record for the most yardage LOST on a recovered fumble (66).

What the Vikings offered Marshall was grace. Despite the mistake, the Vikings went on to win that game 27-22, with the winning score contributed to by Marshall, when he sacked Bill Kilmer, who again fumbled the ball.

Football aside, the truth is that we have ALL been guilty of going the wrong way, of getting twisted up and turned around, confused and misled. The ‘god’ of this world, the devil, has deluded all of us into thinking that God in heaven will look at our good works, our piety, our shiny halos, and just ‘let us in.’

But if that were the case, then Jesus would have had no reason to come. Worse, He would have had no reason to die. The message of the Law had already been given. The rule book was already laid out, the statutes and judgements were all there in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

But God knew we could not keep the whole Law. That our sinful nature would not stand the scrutiny of a holy God.

No, the message of GRACE needed to be given, the offering of Grace had to be made, and the Spirit of Grace had to be spread abroad, to indwell God’s people, to guide us.

There is coming that AHA moment, for Israel, when they will all, from the oldest to the youngest, finally realize that they were wrong. That, far worse than the loss of 66 yards and a score against your own team, they were guilty of putting to death their own Messiah, of slaying the Lord of Glory.

But before you stand in judgement against God’s chosen people, you must understand that YOU also are guilty of the death of Christ. For, like it or not, it was your sin that nailed Him there. And it is only by grace, God’s grace, that you can be saved from His righteous wrath.

There is coming a day when Israel, like us, will look on Him who they, and we, have pierced, and MOURN for Him, as one mourns for the loss of an only son.

And in THAT day, God will finally, FINALLY, have what He has most desired, the hearts of His children.

Oh, Jesus, it was my sin that put you there on the cross. Yet you did that willingly, to die in my place, because you loved me. Help me, Lord, to live for you today, and not get turned around and running the wrong way.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)

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365 Names of God
Day 318 - Spirit of God

Creativity. It flows out of some of us like water. Some, it seems to only drip. But all of us, no matter how talented or untalented, have the desire to create.

Some of us create beautiful songs, others amazing carvings. Some, like my 13 year old feel compelled to use the computer to create pictures, fan art or originals, of whatever interests you.

There are those who express their creativity in baking, succulent dishes and desserts that excite the palate. Others sew banners or costumes, quilts, embroidery or cross-stitch, tapestries and knit sweaters, socks, and gloves.

And there are those who feel they have none at all. But whether you find yourself doodling on a napkin, whistling an old tune, or making sand castles, we all, to some degree, CREATE, for we were made in the image of God, who is a Creator.

Hanging over my front door is a plaque with our family name, carved by a good friend. It’s not a Rembrandt, but it is priceless, to me. Because it was made with care by someone who cared. On my desk is a masterpiece of cross-stitch, made with love by someone who once claimed she had no talent. It is priceless to me.

Back in 2005, I was sitting in a church service only half listening to a message on Matthew 25, the parable of the talents. The pastor had just gotten to the part where the wicked servant admitted he had buried the talent he was given.

The pastor then said, “That talent did not have to be gold, or silver. It could represent anything God has gifted you with, that you buried away. That you aren’t investing in His kingdom.”

At that moment, I sat bolt upright, as God gripped my heart. “That’s YOU,” God seemed to say. “YOU are that wicked servant. What have you done with the talent I gave YOU?”

He was right, of course. God had heaped a generous helping of that creativity on me, but I’d buried it away, as marriage, and kids, and life, interrupted. But over the years, I had done nothing, NOTHING, with that talent.

So I did what any believer should, I agreed with Him, and decided to surrender that talent to invest in Kingdom work.

And God’s been allowing me in some small measure to create. Songs, stories, and stuff like this devotional, to the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

So, what about YOU? God has filled YOU, yes, YOU, with the Spirit of God, to invest what talent He has given you in the furtherance of His kingdom.

Whether you are a flowing brook or a drip, whether you write novels or notes to invite folks to church, whether you paint gorgeous landscapes or baste a turkey, whether you compose a song or weed a garden, create a quilt or a God-honoring home, can I just ask you,

What on earth are you doing, for heaven’s sake?

Here’s a song I wrote about this subject.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)
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365 Names of God
Day 317 - Spirit of Your Father

Fear choked the tall man as he made his way to the hastily erected grandstand and slowly climbed the steps. With head bowed, he turned to face the weary men standing in front of him.

He glanced down in embarrassment at the hastily written words scrawled on the back of an envelope. He cleared his throat, and a powerful feeling of purpose surrounded him, giving him the strength to utter the few words written there.

“Four score and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...”

The date was Nov 19, 1863, at the dedication in Gettysburg Pennsylvania of a new soldier’s cemetery.

Abraham Lincoln was a speaker who suffered from stage fright. So much so that while an Illinois statesman, after delivering a rousing speech on the need to control the spread of slavery, when called on to deliver a speech in New Jersey, he made an excuse equivalent to ‘I think I hear my mother calling.’

This malady is far from uncommon. Deep down most of us have an innate fear of speaking in public.

In fact, almost all public speakers today read their speeches from a TelePrompTer, so that they do not have to worry about remembering what they should say.

It is understandable that one might fear the reaction of the crowd, especially when called on to defend your faith, perhaps even to a hostile audience.

Jesus however tells us not to fear. That when we are delivered up, we should not worry about how to make a defense. Because the Spirit of your Father will be with you, and guide you in what to say.

We experience this best when we are impassioned about a just cause, when we are defending the defenseless, protecting the weak.

Abraham Lincoln might have had stage fright, but when expounding on the evils of slavery, he became so infused with Power that it rocketed him to the presidency. Perhaps it was the will of the people. More likely it was the will of God, and the hearts of the masses were turned to this just cause, by Him.

So, when called on to speak before the crowd, to give a ready answer for the hope that lies within us, let’s remember that the Spirit of Our Father is there to assist us in what to say.

Like a spiritual TelePrompTer, God provides us with the words to say. And that should give us the confidence we need to defend our faith.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)
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365 Names of God
Day 316 - Spirit of Counsel and Might

My father-in-law was a brilliant man, a sculptor, an artist, an eccentric, and spent many years searching for God, for truth, and spiritual understanding. Unfortunately, bitterness drove him away from the one true source of truth.

He explored and studied all of the major world religions. He began that journey as a devout Catholic, who was being groomed by his mother to be a priest. When his father died, the Catholic Church, or at least their priest, hesitated to give him a Christian burial, because he had been divorced. It was likely just an off handed comment, some root of bitterness in the priest passed on.

This drove him away from the Christian faith altogether, and he never came back, at least that we know of. I spent multiple sessions witnessing to him, but those visits always escalated into anger, and ended up with my wife extricating us before I managed to alienate him completely.

There are many sources of counsel one could choose from. The Quran, the writings of I Ching, the twisted thoughts penned in Mein Kampf, Darwin’s Origin of the Species, or the writings of Neitche, Lenin, or a host of others.

But all of it is vanity, and chasing after the wind. At best, these sources are impotent in providing eternal truth and a stairway to heaven. At worst, they will twist your mind, obscure and deny that truth, and lead you into the basest of pursuits, and final destruction.

If you are looking to find out about God, if you are searching for counsel, truth, knowledge, and enlightenment, read the writings of the author who is the Source of Counsel and Might. His collected works are found in the Bible.

Don’t let bitterness keep you from a saving faith and a loving God. Priests, pastors, deacons, elders, and lay people, are just... people. None of us are perfect.

And if you have a root of bitterness in you, take a lesson from my father-in-law’s story. Passing that bitterness on can make an eternal and tragic difference for the person you smear it on, and God will not hold you guiltless. It’s so much better to bring that bitterness to Him, there at the cross.

Lord Jesus, you have the Spirit of Counsel and Might. I pray that my father-in-Law found the truth he was searching for, there at the last, and that he is in a better place. For me, today, help me bring any bitterness I have to you, and exchange it for your wonderful counsel.

Here is a song I wrote for him, at his funeral several years ago.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)
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365 Names of God
Day 315 - Spirit of Adoption

One of the brightest girls I ever had in my Awana program stopped coming, and I asked around why. I was told she was acting as Little Orphan Annie in the play.

She was talented, brilliant, outspoken, confident. The person talking to me said, “She was also adopted.”

It didn’t seem relevant, and I was wondering if an adopted kid had a third eye, or a better brain. Of course, the person was mentioning it because Little Orphan Annie was adopted too.

Neither of my friend’s daughters showed any outward signs of being adopted. For their part, it was likely the kids were treated the same, loved the same, will inherit the same, as any naturally born daughter could be.

And, frankly, that’s the way it should be. The department of Health and Human Services tries very hard to ensure this is true.

According to the latest statistics they’ve released, some 50,000 kids were adopted in the US last year. About 80 percent of these were special needs kids, and about 40% were related to the adoptive parent before the adoption. A grandparent, an aunt and uncle. And orphaned kids here in the states need adoption. It is wonderful that family steps in to fill that desperate need.

But UNICEF reports that currently there are 153 million orphans worldwide today, most of whom go underfed, without proper health care and education. Most of them will die without hope of adoption in any country, without the security of a stable family. Rejected and forgotten by the world.

As a Christian, we should be able to relate to that. Without Christ, we were rejected and forgotten by this dog-eat-dog world. Without hope and without a future.

But God liberally pours out His Spirit of Adoption into us. And we can call him Abba, or Daddy. And God provides well for His kids. His word is available in almost every language, and radio broadcasts and internet sites make it readily available anywhere.

We may not show any outward signs that we were adopted. That means we look like Jesus, and that’s a good thing. We might look like the world. And that’s a bad thing.

But regardless, if we are a Christian, we are adopted into His family, and will be treated no differently than the Lord Jesus. That means we inherit eternity, houses and lands, thrones and eternal life.

It also means we might be asked to go to a cross. To sacrifice our comfort and security for a mission position, to give of ourselves, suffer ridicule for our faith.

Perhaps we might even be asked to adopt. There are millions of kids with a winning smile and hope filled eyes longing for a home like yours. Is God calling you to open your home to them, and share the love of God with them?

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)

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365 Names of God
Day 314 - Sovereign

Today Israel covers roughly 8000 square miles, about the size of New Jersey. But in the time of the original conquest it was much larger. And the original promised size of this land was far greater than Israel ever took the time or effort to conquer.

Yet God commanded that, three times a year, every able-bodied male in the country was to gather in Jerusalem for a feast.

Every country that wishes to remain a country, has a working army, who patrol the borders to prevent invasion. It just isn’t smart to order your army, every last man, to gather together. You need to keep them deployed.

That is, unless you are Sovereign. God is in control of everything. He is Sovereign over the Jew and the Gentile. He reigns over the believer and the unbeliever. Whether the atheist realizes it or not, God is even in control of him, his decisions, his purposes and plans.

So Israel could gather on those days without a care, because the invader would just decide not to invade, THAT day.

If God orders you to do something, the safest place is in his will. The enemy won’t attack on that day.

Trust God to order your days, and let Him handle the little details. Let Him ensure you are safe.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)
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365 Names of God
Day 313 - Source

When a kid first gets their training wheels off their bike, they get the idea they are riding pretty well on their own, not realizing that Dad still has his hand on the bike.

For years, I was like that kid. Thinking I had it all together. Thinking I was doing fine on my own, on my own righteousness. Until God let go of the bike and let me take a few tumbles.

I was saved at 16, and I’ve had a lot of scraped knees since then. There are many Christians who may live their whole lives sheltered from the temptations and struggles outside the doors of the church, who would look at the scars and bandaids on me and ask, so, when did you ACTUALLY get saved?

Um, way back there at 16. It was a real conversion, I’ve had a real faith since then, but there are two natures in every Child of God, and if you feed the bad guy, if you let your flesh sit on the throne, it makes you look an awful lot like the world.

I was one of those sheltered guys, wondering how anyone would struggle with sin, whispering about others who were, calling them ‘tares’ and dead branches. Not realizing that those whispers were sins too.

I am warning you. If you think you are a shiny Christian, that you are doing all right and don’t need God’s help to walk this path, God will likely take you down a peg, just by taking His hands off the bike.

Because HE is the Source of any righteousness and strength in you. HE is the reason you don’t fall. HE is the hand that holds you upright, that provides for your needs, including that breath you just took.

After that terrible period where God let me run my own life, and go my own way, I had to eat a lot of crow, I mean, a LOT, before I came to the end of myself in the pigpen and realized just how stupid a man can be.

All that self-righteous attitude was stripped away. You don’t look very shiny in a pigpen. You don’t smell very clean in a pigpen. And you don’t get out of that kind of quicksand on your own.

I would love to claim that I came to faith then, but I cannot. I can’t claim that all those past mistakes were before I became a believer. And it’s a good thing, too. Because otherwise I’d be back into that self-righteous attitude inside of a year.

I know now, that unlike the kid who eventually learns to ride the bike without Dad holding him up, I NEED God holding me up, holding my hand, guiding me every single day, or I will be back in a pigpen wondering how I got there. All because I forgot who is the Source of my righteousness and strength.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)

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365 Names of God
Day 312 - Song

One of the names you rarely read about in scripture is Amram. You likely have no idea who this no-name guy was. But he had one of the most important jobs in the Old Testament.

You see, Amram was the father of Moses.

It’s true that when Moses was only a few months old, he was put in a basket and sent down the Nile to the home of Pharaoh, and likely never saw his father again.

Jochebed, his mother, ended up nursemaid to him, and had an opportunity, at least until he was weaned, say at three, to teach him something of his God, and heritage. Doubtless she taught him the stories of Creation, and the Flood. Of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But Amram was the spiritual leader in his home. He brought up Moses’ older siblings to fear and believe in God, so much so that Miriam followed that basket down the river, and even as a little slave girl, had no fear of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Aaron was ordered into the wilderness by God, to go and meet Moses, 40 years after he left. The man would have had a lot of faith to head into the desert alone, following after a brother who had walked into it 40 years earlier.

Their faith showed in how they helped lead Israel into that same wilderness. And when they crossed through the Sea on dry land, when God poured the waters onto Pharaoh’s chariots, they sang a song to that God.

But they didn’t call Him the God of their mother. They called Him their father’s God. The importance of a father in the life of every child cannot be overstated. As a Dad, we must be there for our kids. Not just to attend their little league games. Not just to share a good videogame or toss a ball with them. Not just to make sure they are provided for.

We are called to be a spiritual leader in our homes. To teach them the gospel. To read God’s Word with them. To live out the truth of your faith before them. To take them to church. To insist God has first place in your home. To filter everything that enters your home, everything your kids are allowed to experience, and you too, through the light of Christ. To lead our kids in worship.

The Bible tells us that the Lord inhabits the praises of his people. And He has become our Song. It doesn’t matter if you are a Tenor, a Bass, or a grinding boulder, God commands that we make a joyful noise to Him.

Sing praises to Him. Sing praises! Every evening and morning and noon, lift your voice and praise Him, for who He is, and how He is redeeming who YOU were. And as you live out this reality before your kids, they will catch the fire, and YOUR God... will become THEIR God.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)
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365 Names of God
Day 311 - Son of Righteousness

As we discussed a few days ago, angels are not to be worshipped. But many believe Old Testament references to the ‘Angel of the Lord’ refer to Christ.

Does this mean Jesus is an angel?

We dance a dangerous knife’s edge here. Semantics can trip us up, so let’s unpack some terminology. The phrase ‘Angel of the Lord’ appears in the Old Testament about 40 times, and in Gen 16:10, this entity proclaims, “I will multiply your seed exceedingly”. This first person statement makes it clear that the person speaking is God.

The most common word for angel is Elohim. The word can mean judge, or godly.

But the term ‘Angel’ used here is ‘malak’, which means emissary, ambassador, or messenger. In the Old Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Angel of the Lord, but He is not an angel. He took on the task of Messenger, occasionally.

The idea of Jesus as angel is not new. The Jehovahs Witnesses believe he was the Archangel Michael and spirit brother of Lucifer.

But the JW didn’t invent that heresy either. It is certainly as old as the New Testament.

Paul has to deal with this in his letter to the Hebrews, and he comes out of the gate with this issue, in chapter 1.

He is exceptionally clear. Jesus is God, not an angel. An angel is a created being. But Jesus is the Creator. According to Jude, Michael couldn’t even rebuke Satan, but declared, “The Lord rebuke you!”

That is a far cry from how Jesus treated him.

Jesus did not have wings. He was not just some messenger. He was and is the Son of Righteousness, the only one counted worthy to open the scrolls at the end of time.

So accept Righteousness from him. And don’t try to follow some heresy that attempts to make Him less than He is.

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)
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365 Names of God
Day 310 - Son of Man

As I drive across the mid-south and the Greater Memphis Area, it seems that the most common sign out front of the corner church is not the one that says ‘Services at 10:00’, but the one that says ‘For Sale.’

I know that many churches, as they expand, move to a larger building, much like a hermit crab, and the old ‘shell’ sits vacant unless a smaller church can come snap it up.

The saddest situation, though, is when a church dies. Seeing a For Sale sign, and knowing that the church folded, because of division, or heresy, it just saddens me.

If we don’t love our brothers and sisters in Christ, how can we say we love God? If heresy is shared from the pulpit, how can we expect Jesus to show up and listen to it?

If there is one thing you could say about Jesus’ brief 3-year ministry, it’s that he covered a lot of ground. He didn’t stay in any one place long. In fact, since the time he turned 13, there is no mention of a home at all. He slept in whatever home was available, and then moved on the next day.

In Matthew 8, He stops in Capernaum, and stays at the Apostle Peter’s house, where he heals his mother-in-Law, and a great many people. But when the masses gathered, He decided to cross the Sea of Galilee.

Then a man stopped Him and said He’d follow Him anywhere. Jesus responded that The Son of Man didn’t even have a place to lay his head.

For Jesus’ entire earthly ministry, He only had a place to stay when someone would open the door. And this is no less true today. While churches are where we gather to worship Him, the place where God desires to dwell, is in the hearts of His children.

Is your heart a welcoming place for the Son of Man? Or is it a dark dungeon, where you torture yourself over your past mistakes and the hurts others caused you? Is it a home with wide windows to let in the light of God’s love, or a shuttered dark fortress, where you cower in fear of failure or the rejection of others?

Is it a holy temple, filled with the Word of God, the love of God, and the Spirit of God? Or is it filled with entertainment, worry, or pride?

The good news is, dear Christian, that you can transform your heart, through the power of God, into a welcoming, light filled, love filled Home for This Son of Man. It’s as easy, and as hard, as getting on your knees and humbling yourself, letting His Spirit do His work in you.

So, who is going to hold the deed to your heart? Will it be the Son of Man, or will you just stick out a For Sale sign and see who’s buying?

(List of Names courtesy of Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter (c)1991)

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