Faith… Day 189

Day 189 of the year 2016.  Most of this was written on Day 1 of this year… Yep, I never posted it – just like the other 60 posts that have never made it out of the draft file.  So, I will raise the question, how are you doing with all that you pondered, contemplated, and wanted to change back on Day 1?

Day one of a new year.  I think I began this year with a new tradition for December 31… go to bed REAL early! I slept just over 11 hours that night and woke up feeling great!! Well, with the exception of the mild sore throat and slight cough.

Just as I have with with New Years resolutions, I have wanted to avoid the sensationalism of the “WORD for the YEAR.”  However, I must confess, I have had a word for my life for years.  (Way before before it became the thing to do).  Just like everything else in the Christian life there are many books, blogs, and apps to help you discover your word for the year.  I get it. It’s a New Year and with everything being new it’s time to focus on something new.

But what if the old is still not resolved?  Do you move on?  Or do you dig down deeper?  Do you fight for that which you haven’t attained or learned?

FAITHOver the years,”my word” has been more like a “theme for the season.”  Typically the word coincides with the season of my life more so than for the year.  That season can start and end at any time throughout the year.  It is what God is wanting to build down deep in my heart.

In late Summer, 2014, “joy” became a focus for my life.  I had hoped to unpack all that God wanted for me in joy during 2015.  But as I approached the Fall of 2015 I was still wondering, searching, and reading about it.  What do I lack that is missing in my life that keeps me from experiencing real joy?

It was on my journey to New Mexico in August 2015 that allowed me get a glimpse of what is holding me back.  I got a glimpse of what is missing but I’m unclear as to where the bridge is to get me from here to there.

So, in the midst of my journey of re-discovering Joy, another theme began to arise within the past month or so.  And yes, that leads me to a “WORD for the YEAR.”  FAITH.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith and not by sight.” I re-discovered in 2015 that joy is best experienced in obedience to the will of God.  It was confirmed again this summer (2016) through obedience to go on a mission trip.

As this life of joy continues to grow through obedience by faith, I will leave you with one more verse that is impacting my life right now from another book in the Bible written by Paul,

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)

So, if you started off Day 1 without a word for the year or some kind of focus you can always start on Day 189.  Don’t be discouraged.  Even though it’s not New Year’s Day, God is not done with you or me.  It may be Day 189 but it can be the start of something new and grand in your life today.

The above picture is from my journal.  It was inspired while I was taking notes from a sermon by Rick Warren sometime in 2015.

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Crossroads

Are you familiar with the ending to the movie “Cast Away”?  Tom Hanks is standing there in the middle of this intersection in the middle of Nowhere, TX.  As far as he can see in all directions is nothing – yet he has been given the gift of life to be lived another day.  If you had been him, how would you have chosen where to go?    IMG_2822

We all find ourselves at places in life where we are at an intersection and we aren’t sure which way to go.  In the movie, he isn’t sure where he is going to go.  He pauses and gets out of the Jeep with his map and ponders for a moment or two.  During this moment of contemplation is when the person he was looking for drives up.

I wonder how many times in life we come to a crossroad and ignore it and just keep driving our lives right on through.  Or – how often do we get there – and recognize it… and then we get stuck there afraid to move at all.  Maybe there has been a bad decision in the past and fearful of getting burned again.

No matter the reason or how you would respond to the situation it is still a decision that must be faced and made.  No decision is still a decision.  How do you make the decision?  What steps do you take?  Do you get the Road Map out?  In my life, the Road Map has become God’s Word found in the Bible.  No, it doesn’t tell me to turn right or left and any specifics like that at all.  I can say the Holy Spirit gives insight I can’t explain.  Which is often followed by a peace I can’t explain.

Jesus tells us in John 14:25-27,

I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (The Message).

I’ve personally been at a crossroad for a long time now.  I have ventured in a couple of directions already to find that the peace, fulfillment, and contentment were not in the directions I have tried thus far.  I am still hungry to know God more so I keep going back to the Cross and asking for direction.  I am asking for wisdom… wisdom to be used for His glory, for the leadership of my family, and the community in which I live (wherever that would take me).

The Holy Spirit will teach us all things.  He will give all that we have need of.  He cares intimately about the details of our lives.  He will not leave us lonely in the dark.  Jesus instructed his disciples:

“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks! (John 16:23-24).

I know He uses me through my job… even though I can’t directly communicate His Word… I live it.  I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to influence others in all aspects of my life.  I want to continue to do so full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, and grace.

Finish the race

When you step back to take a look at your life, what do you see? How do you evaluate your place or position?  What tool do you use to measure in order to see if you are where you need to be or want to be in life?

There are many voices and tools “out there” to give us the help and guidance in life to get us from where are to where we really want to be… or more importantly, to where God wants us to be.  For me, the greatest tool is reading the Bible.  I find direction, strength, hope, and encouragement in the words I read there.  Reading the Bible is a discipline that I must not neglect and must be a part of daily living.Run the Race

I was recently challenged to think about what my ideal life looks like.  As I began to think about my response, I thought back to the 4th grade.  I was sitting in a room in my house and I recall thinking, “I’m not going to be like that.” I can recall the voice of my dad saying he wish he had made other choices about his career.  I can recall the career path he would have preferred over the one he was on at the time.  In my pursuit of God and living in obedience, I struggle with keeping of my stride since it has been broken.

“How you see your future is more important than what has happened in your past.”  Zig Ziglar

I’m involved in quite a few really “good” things.  I visited one of those recently.  I walked out of that meeting and overwhelmed at the need in our community and the task that is set before them.  The thought kept rising in my mind that they are Jesus in their corner of our county.  They are literally being his hands and his feet.  Reaching out to those who can’t feed themselves.  I was unsure about what my experience would be as I drove onto the property.  I drove away challenged.

I once was a competitive long distance runner.  I recall the feeling of having someone break my stride because they cut me off.  It was a breaking of my stride physically and mentally.  I could get my physical stride back pretty easily but, at times, it was the mental portion of it I would have difficulty over coming.  I can recall dwelling on what had just happened and that becoming my focus over the race being run.

You are never a failure until you quit. Resist discouragement and finish the race God has set before you. -Rick Warren, Uncommon Courage Devotional.

I mentioned earlier there are a lot of tools to help us on our journey in life.  God’s Word is the greatest of those… His word is truth.  At times, each of us have moments when someone or something breaks into our lane and breaks our stride.  Keeping our eyes intently focused in the Word of God will help us to keep our focus.  The Holy Spirit will use those words to lead us where God wants us.

If you are in a place in life where someone has cut you off and broken your stride, now is the time to bring life back into focus.  Looking toward the goal that has been set within your heart.  “You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7, NIV).  Don’t let the distractions of this world, the words of others, or the actions of others break your stride.  Keep running.

Walk Steadily on the Road

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. (Psalm 119:1, The Message).

Has God revealed something to you?  Is there something God has spoken to you that hasn’t come into being?  Do you have a desire in your heart that you can’t seem to explain to others?  Yet, you know God understands! What’s keeping you from pursuing that desire with all your heart?  Maybe you have given up on God, thinking, “That’s not what He really said for me to do.”  The Psalmist says here you are blessed if you stay the course.

Maybe there is something God called you to and circumstances blocked your path.  Where are you now?  Are you still on the road? Maybe you are still on the road but have settled for selling lemonade instead of walking steadily.  After-all, you heard once when life throws you lemons you should make lemonade.  Or have you given up altogether and decided to cut your own path?

I was listening to Steven Furtick’s message, “Don’t Stop on 6.”  It’s a message on Joshua and the people of Israel as they were headed for the Promised Land.  On the road, they encountered many obstacles and problems.  Jericho was one of those problems in their path.  God told Joshua to lead the people around Jericho.  Literally, they marched in circles around Jericho.  For 6 days they made one lap each day around the city.  What if they had given up on day 6?  What if they had given up on lap 6 of day 7?

It doesn’t matter where you are in life.  If you are a college student struggling to understand God’s plan, or if you are in your 40’s/50’s wishing you had made other choices. Blessed are those who stay the course! Don’t give up.  Don’t quit. Has God given you a dream – a passion – something you can’t let go of… yet you haven’t arrived? Don’t stop here!  Keep pressing on.  Let Him take you deeper in His Word.  Deeper with those He has put in and around your life.  God’s purposes are much greater on the road He reveals over the path either one of us could carve out on our own.

In Matthew 7:14, Jesus said, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (NIV).

Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He behaved well before God. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to the left or right. (2 Chronicles 34:1, The Message).

Our lives aren’t meant to be a sprint to the finish line but rather a long distance endurance race.  Don’t allow the mountain in front of you to keep you from finishing the race strong!  Take it one step at a time.  Keep your focus on your footing and keep on walking steadily.

I picked up a journal recently I was writing in 2009.  The interesting thing for me is that I am still praying about the same thing today that I was then.  I’m even praying over the same passage of Scripture.  My initial reaction was, “Wow, I can’t believe that!”  I thought for a moment why continue… but that thought process quickly changed.  What if Israel had stopped on 6.  I’m not stopping either.

Day 7 is on it’s way if we keep walking steadily!

Living with Real Joy

In Luke 10:17-20, Jesus cautions his disciples not to get caught up in what great service they have done, “The seventy-two returned with joy,”  Jesus knew how easy it is for us to get caught up in what we accomplish and for our personal accomplishments to sway our feelings of “joy.”  Jesus received what they had to report and quickly turned their attention away from what they accomplished to himself saying, “Do not rejoice that the evil spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20, NIV).

Real joy does not come from what we do but rather in the One in whom we seek, find, and live.  Our real joy comes from knowing Jesus and walking faithfully in his leading.  The point of our following Jesus is wrapped up in him more so than in what we do… there is where joy is truly found.

Paul lived with great joy.  He was full of the Holy Spirit and was confident in Jesus.  He was introduced to Jesus on the Road to Damascus.  But he came to know Jesus as he walked with him the rest of his life.

I’ve got a friend who played professional baseball.  He played for many years at the top of the Triple A League.  He would get called up to the Big Leagues from time-to-time when someone was hurt then go back down.  His desire was to play in the Major Leagues full-time but that opportunity always seemed to escape his grasp.

In my opinion, he was living his dream.  He lived with joy.  He knew his “call” was the minor leagues.  He is a guy with great character, integrity, and faith.  Much like the Apostle Paul.  Paul found great joy in his sufferings for the sake of Christ.  My friend knew his greater impact in the lives of others was the Minor Leagues.

I read an article recently that spoke of Paul’s desire to serve in Spain.  Bet he never got there.  I thought of my desires in serving the Lord…. There is a deep growing in the process.  The ultimate goal of the Lord’s is not that I obtain that goal but rather a deeper relationship with him.

The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God, and realizing that his one and only purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 27).

  • Do I know the Lord?
  • Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit?
  • Am I wise enough in God’s sight, but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world, to trust in what Jesus has said?
  • Am I abandoning the great supernatural position of limitless confidence in Christ Jesus, which is really God’s only call for a missionary?

I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 10).

Don’t ever be satisfied…

At the beginning of the year, I set for myself a goal to ride 2-3 Centuries (100 miles) on my trusty Centurion.  Many upgrades to my bike over the past year have me set in a good position to continue to ride.  Well, the first two rides have come and gone.  The first Ididn’t get to ride in.  As for the second,  I only completed the Half Century (50 miles).  I hadn’t put the miles in  needed leading up to this second opportunity.  The icing on the cake was the 100+ degree temperatures we were having on June 30.  Although the bike is ready… I haven’t been.  I’m real proud of a couple of my riding partners who did complete the 100 mile ride in 100+ degree temperatures. (Great job Dean and Jeff!!)

I had the vision to do these rides yet I didn’t have all the makings to see the vision through.  The vision to complete a Century is still there and I will make that attempt in September.  In the meantime, I have signed on to the Le Tour Challenge at MapMyRide.  To complete 544 miles during the 23 days of the Tour de France.  So far, I am on target.  The weather has cooperated and all of the schedules I have to keep up with have all worked in my favor thus far.  This is one way for me to keep getting those much needed miles on my legs in order to obtain my goal.

I’ve had visions, dreams, and goals in life… I say, “had,” but really I still have them.  Now I keep them tucked away – hidden and out of sight.  The only time I seem to let them out is in my frustration.  I’ve even told one friend I’ve just about gotten to the place where I was ready to give up on them… and my ability to see them through.

It’s a funny thing how God works.  It never fails when I reach the low moments of frustration God sends someone to me with an encouraging word,call, text message, or email.  It’s really bazaar how that happens with the words that are used to encourage.  As I read Oswald Chambers this morning I have thought about several individuals who have played important roles in my life.  Those people who have believed in me for years – who have seen me as a success when I couldn’t see it.

What is it in life you are working on?  What sort of goals do you have that you have not attained? Have you had a vision from God that hasn’t come into being?  Don’t settle for second best.  Don’t seek out Plan B, C, or even D.  Let the words from today’s My Utmost for His Highest encourage you for another day of dreaming.

Allow the Potter to put you on His wheel and whirl you around as He desires. Then as surely as God is God, and you are you, you will turn out as an exact likeness of the vision. But don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it. (July 6)

I give you my life…

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I give you my life and all that I am  – But what have I to give  – So I hand you a candid photograph of this little boy  – ’cause I have nothing to my name  – But I can give you that. (Derek Webb, “Somewhere North”).  Photo taken while I was in Seminary (1994).

I began this post several days ago in “Where’s my Mind?”  While praying that day my thoughts went back to those days while in seminary.  It was a tremendous time of growth and testing.  (I’m not just talking about all the tests I had to take either).  God allowed quite a few tests in my life outside of the classroom.

So I hand You a candid photograph of this little boy  – ’cause I have nothing to my name…

If you spend anytime around me at all, you will know I talk alot about the past… probably too much.  The past that I think about is full of dreams serving the Lord.  Those dreams aren’t gone.  But God has me living in a new day. I choose to give Him my life.  To stand firm and to not let life steal what He purposed to give.  I choose to grow where He plants. 

If you do not read Oswald Chambers devotional My Utmost for His Highest, I highly recommend making it a part of your daily life along with reading your Bible.  These are a couple of quotes from today’s devotional,

“Consider the lilies of the field . . .” (Matthew 6:28). They grow where they are planted. Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us. Therefore, we don’t take root anywhere. Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things…

…Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life?. (January 26).

But I can give you that.