Tag Archives: safety

Is God Safe?

By Michael Gallup

Every Sunday night I meet with a bunch of losers and rejects and it is beautiful. Each week I hear stories of alcoholic fathers, failed marriages, premature family deaths, depression, suicide, abandonment, and so on. Each of us has deep wounds and have grown tired of easy answers to our tough questions. But in our woundedness we have found a safe place to land, to crash together and in this safety a desire to let others find safety amongst us has taken seed. So we wonder together what it means to be a “safe” place.

At the heart of this question lies a hunger inside everyone of us for safety and security. Yet this hunger is often malnourished by the fast food of safety. We run from our problems, insulating ourselves from the world’s brokenness and especially our own. We take control into our own hands and believe ourselves capable of protecting ourselves. We move to the suburbs, get life insurance, and create a systemized theology that tames our God and puts him into a nice, neat box that we can control. Yet even when we have mastered our lives, we still deep-down lack a true feeling of safety.

But what does it really mean to be safe? If we are to be safe, mustn’t we be safe like God is safe? The bible speaks of God as our fortress, our shepherd. Jesus promised his follows peace and joy, telling them his burden was light. But the scriptures also teach us that the fear of God is the first step in wisdom, that we should be terrified at the thought of falling into his hands. Jesus teaches his followers that if they want to be his disciples they must pick up their cross, in other words, they will die if they follow him. And God tells Moses, his friend, that no one can see Him and live. Can we truly find refuge, safety in the presence of a God who will kill us? I think so.

The safety of God is something all together different from what our American Dream teach us. If we truly seek refuge in him, than we will find safety from our greatest foe: ourselves. It is only in the death of ourselves that we can truly be safe and truly live. It is only when God defeats us that we can have any victory. Safety is not the avoidance of trouble, pain, and death but the facing of it. Safety is the facing of it with the God who is scarier than all our fears. It is in the dying that we come to life. In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the kids are asking about Aslan, the Christ-like lion who rules the land of Narnia. Rightfully so, they are a bit worried about fraternizing with a lion and ask if he is safe. To which Mr. Beaver replies, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

And so we find ourselves seeking safety in a very unsafe God. If we fall into his hands, we will surely die but by God, that’s the very thing we need. Following God, truly embracing His Kingdom call to walk in his resurrection life, means that success, happiness, and confidence will no longer nurse our infantile understandings of life. It is only in God’s defeat of us that we realize that blessing is not something we can grasp or win by talent, force or will but is only available through a gift. It is only in helplessness, when we let go of control, that we will find ourselves in the secure arms of the Father and know that they are good. He is the King, I tell you.


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I once considered pasting the bumper sticker on my car that reads, “Question Authority,” except I questioned where they got off telling me who to question. I must admit I’m not the greatest follower. In that I am not alone.

Though rare, we can often name great leaders. Not so, great followers. Today’s readings testify to that. Even Jesus’ disciples are famous for how often they failed to follow. And how tired poor Samuel sounds after leading stiff necked Israel from his “youth until this day.”

“Here I stand,” he challenges. “Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed.”

There seem to be a slew of poor followers. What makes for a good follower?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Samuel 12:1-13:22

John 7:1-29

Psalm 108:1-13

Proverbs 15:4


1 Samuel 12:1-13:22: Samuel says farewell using the familiar formula of other leaders from Israel’s past. He retells of God’s faithfulness and the people’s unfaithfulness. Only the names and times seem to change. Israel now moves into living under its fourth system of government: from slaves of Pharaoh to nomads under Moses and a loose system of priests and tribal leaders to freedom under tribal leaders and judges to a flawed kingship.

John 7:1-29: Jesus didn’t seem to want people to follow him, even his brothers, for what he could do for them, miracles for example. Rather he seems to be seeking followers interested in an authentic relationship with him. He wants us to “know him,” verse 28. This is more than knowledge about, but rather an intimacy of heart and mind.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.


One of the highest values of our modern world is to be an independent thinker, to question authority. Poet Robert Frost intones, “take the road less travelled by.” To be sure there is value in avoiding group think and mindlessly believing every crazy email that pops up in your inbox. But believing you alone have found the road not taken and dutifully trooping off into Robert Frost’s woods is equally mindless.

In “The Way of the Wild Heart” John Eldredge tells of a swampy, dangerous section of wilderness in Alaska that has a scanty trail wending through it. To go off the trail is to drown in a muddy morass. It’s “an ancient and fearful path through a wild and untamed place” that was blazed by generations of grizzly bears that live in the area. Eldredge says the young bears find their way through by placing their young feet in the prints of those who have gone before. They are good followers.

This, of course is a metaphor for how we humans too can find our way through “wild and untamed” places by becoming good followers. Good followers think for themselves but they also listen to those God has placed in relational authority around them. Jesus calls us to know him and then follow him. Above all they listen to and obey God. They look up and around to other followers of God in times of need. Unlike Israel in Samuel’s time and Jesus’ brothers’ in Jesus time and too many of us modern-minded Western types today, good followers do not believe they are self-made or independent islands. Good followers are comfortable stepping in the footprints God has left in the form of other God-followers. They connect with a faith community, not mindlessly, but engaged heart, mind and soul. Good followers are God-followers. And good followers are then the best leaders.

I still like breaking my own trail. If you don’t believe me, just look at my bruises and scars. But even in the wilderness I keep finding the marks and footprints of the One with the deepest scars, the One who went before, the One I can follow: Jesus.

  1. Has there been a time you followed someone to a place God was leading?
  2. Have you ever refused to follow and gotten lost in the woods?
  3. Who is the best leader you can think of?
  4. Is that person a good follower too?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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April 28, 2010

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

My kindergarten age daughter paid scant attention to the TV as the reporter and a safety expert gleefully searched several playgrounds for implements of childhood torture. It was National Playground Safety Day and the reporter rattled off alarming statistics about playground injuries. At each playground, however, much to their chagrin, the safety team found no violations.

Standing in the kitchen devouring my unsafe sugary cereal, I chortled and made derogatory comments about the news media manufacturing news. My wife, an elementary school teacher, disagreed and chastised me for being so cynical.

Meanwhile the reporter finally found a safety violation.

“Eureka!” I shouted.

Horrors, they had found the ground at the bottom of the slide too hard.

I laughed out loud. My wife gave me “the look” and I stifled further commentary, bundled up my daughter, and delivered her to school.

By 10A.M. I had forgotten all about National Playground Safety Day. Until my phone rang.

“Mr. Scott?”


“This is the nurse from your daughter’s school,” said the kind woman. “Don’t worry. She’s not hurt. We are just required to tell you that she fell off the swing on the playground and hit her head.”


Judges 8:18-9:21

Luke 23:44-24:12

Psalm 99:1-9

Proverbs 14:9-10


Judges 8:18-9:21. Notice how easily Gideon and the people fall back into fear and false worship practices. How we live out our ideas and theology makes a difference in what our lives look like. They are following the practices of the nations around them in raising up the sons of the previous leader/king despite that God does not approve nor is the person always worthy.

Luke 23:44-24:12 . Luke’s recounting of the crucifixion is very spare but each detail counts. Luke is now considered one of the finest ancient historians because of his historical accuracy and detail.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.


If you had to choose between freedom and safety, which direction would you lean? In my corner of the world it seems we’re listing toward safety and away from freedom. Just watch the news, as I mention above. Rules to keep us safe are all the rage.

But this heedless pursuit of safety is downright dangerous. It has driven us seek lives that brook no upsets and to form families, churches, and governments whose primary calling is protect us rather than challenge us and give us a scary freedom that may help us grow and become–not safe–but holy.

Further this so-called protected lifestyle has left us more vulnerable to the dangers we fear. For example, studies show using too much antibacterial soap is actually making us weaker and bacteria stronger.

Seeking too much safety may also subtly lead us to seek a safe (and unreal) God. God is anything but safe, says Mark Buchanan in his book Your God is Too Safe.  “God isn’t nice. God isn’t safe. God is a consuming fire,” he writes.

Before us seeking safety led the Israelites to a fatal misunderstanding of God. In an obvious bid for safety they beg Gideon, “Rule over us.” On the surface this is understandable. They live in a dangerous, war-torn world and, as we see later in the story, will do almost anything to have someone, anyone, other than the uncontrollable, fiery, invisible God of Moses and Joshua, walk with them in it.

Instead they choose corruptible human leadership and return to worshiping their safe, self-made, wooden god’s that exact no real demands nor deliver any real help. But they feel safe.

No matter whether we would choose safety over freedom, God often seems to choose freedom for us. It seems to me this is because, though dangerous, freedom births life while safety puts us to sleep, at best.

  1. When do you feel most safe?
  2. Are there any links between these four readings?
  3. When do you feel most free?
  4. When have you grown most in your faith?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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