The Path into 2019

Here we are January 1, 2019.  Today starts a new day, a new year, a new vision into what lies ahead.  I know we all put a lot into the new on this day.  We all have a since of hope and that maybe – just maybe – this may be the best year yet.  For some of us, when we look back over our lives we sure hope this is the best year yet.

I was reading in Isaiah 43 this morning.  Kind of a random place to pick up the Scripture.  But then again, maybe not so random.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand new.  It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?  There it is!  I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, The Message)

I don’t know what your path is looking like as you begin this New Year.  I know the path

Walking in the presence of God

I have been on for a little while now has been caught up in the fog with limited visibility.  Today, God is telling me to forget all that is weighing me down from the past.  Too often, when we look back, our minds go back to the “bad” stuff.  Why don’t we go for the good stuff in our memories.  Maybe that’s just me.

In Isaiah 43:1, God says, “Do not be afraid, I have redeemed you.”  In verse 5, He says, “Do don’t be afraid:  I’m with you.”

Walking with God is not as clear as we would like for it to be.  But then, maybe, we shouldn’t desire for it to be clear.  Walking with God is about trusting him wherever He may lead us.  Walking with God is allowing the Holy Spirit total freedom to lead and empower as he desires.

God speaks with us in so many ways.  As I’m writing, I decided to grab another translation off of the shelf.  It’s a specific Bible that I don’t use very often.  It was given to me by FBC, Aztec, NM after my ordination. I opened it up and found a letter from a sweet friend from Harvest Church, Rio Rancho, NM – dated June 2001.  It was a beautiful reminder of something God didn’t want me to forget.  It was an opportunity to look back by going straight to the good stuff.

I can’t help but think that this reminder is key to the future.  (…making a road through the desert.)  This reminder is a Sacred Echo of what a few others have been telling me over the past few years.  For each, I am very thankful.  God is good.  Whatever it is that God may be speaking to you on this first day of 2019, remember to be present and stay alert….

“Do not be afraid: I’m with you.” – God

 

 

 

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Bright Lights

My son is learning to drive with his learners permit in his pocket.  A piece of plastic that gives him the right to drive on the road with an adult in the car with him.  I have always believed that permit was to learn to drive.  Now I’m seeing that it is there for his protection by forcing an adult to be in the car with him to teach him how to deal with impatient adults on the road.  (He is now the 4th child I’ve ridden with.  I don’t recall seeing so many impatient adults with the previous 3 children).

What have we become as a society?  It’s hurry here and there.  It’s hurry, hurry, hurry!  But, you know, mistakes occur when we hurry.  When you think of a hurried time in your life what comes to mind?

  • A scheduled appointment you are late for?
  • Impatient about finding a job?
  • Someone breathing down your neck to get something done… a deadline?
  • Finding that perfect relationship you will spend the rest of your life with?

We get in a hurry over a lot of things.  These four points are just from observations in life. (I could have written more…. but I’m in a hurry. Ha!… Sorry!) At some time in life we have all been in a hurry for one of those reasons or something else.  I can just about bet you that when life-decisions get hurried mistakes are made and accidents happen.

While riding down the road with my son, there was this car with bright lights on his tail.  He was going just over the speed limit.  He kept referring to the lights in his mirror and getting frustrated.  I encouraged him to focus on the road ahead and let the person deal with whatever they have going on by themselves.  We can’t control what they have going on. We can only focus on what we can see ahead of us.

Sometimes when others are in a hurry it can affect our own performance.

This conversation lead to more talk about the past.  We can’t do anything about the past in our lives.  Just like those bright lights, if we focus on the bright lights of the past we will be blinded and lose sight of what is up ahead.  Sometimes you have to reposition yourself, while in the driver seat, so that those things behind you don’t interfere with your future.

Who is sitting in your drivers seat?  Are you letting the guy behind you push you into a hurried state?  Are you getting your eyes off of the road in front of you all because you are focused on what’s behind you?

In Hebrews 12 we read,

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed- that exhilarating finish in and with God- he could put up with anything along the way:  Cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. (The Message).

If you are wanting to look back, then look back to the life of Jesus.  See how he dealt with life.  The encouragement for the day is to look to Jesus… keep your eyes on him.  As we approach the final days leading up the celebration of his birth, look back over his story.  See how his story from the past can lead you on into a great future.

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.

Walking into the presence of God

Walking in the presence of God

Walking in the presence of God

Walking with God is not always as clear as we would like for it to be.  But then, maybe we shouldn’t desire for it to be clear.  Walking with God is about trusting Him… trusting his Son, Jesus, to be who he has destined to be in our lives. And allowing the Holy Spirit to have total freedom to lead and empower as He desires.

Today, I went for a hike on a rainy day up Pine Mountain.  As I walked up the mountain, I thought of Moses and wondered what it was like for him to walk up to spend time with God in such an intimate way.  I’m no Moses but as I approached the clouds I asked God to surround me and let me walk with Him up there.  I didn’t descend the mountain with stone tablets or a specific word to share with His people, but rather an assurance He is with me.

GOD said to Moses, “Get ready. I’m about to come to you in a thick cloud so that the people can listen in and trust you completely when I speak to you.”  (Exodus 19:9, The Message).

Even though our lives don’t seem to make sense at times – or the outcomes aren’t as we planned – or the answer to prayer didn’t come in a way we wanted it to – He is with us.  I captured the moment in this picture.  I thought about how much this path represents life… my life.  As I reflect upon this afternoon,

Walking into the future is much like this path. I’m asking God to fall on me and my path as the clouds did today on the mountain. Totally enveloped by His presence.

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.

Where’s my mind?

It’s somewhere north of here!

There are a few songs I really like to listen to when I drive… especially when I am going through a contemplative season.  It’s that season again.  “Somewhere North” by Derek Webb is one of those songs. 

It’s a muggy night in Houston
And all the intersections are like full service stations
I’m on my way to a familiar place
It’s cold in Kansas City
And you can no more hear me than I can see your face
How I wish it was just you and me

We wouldn’t have to talk above the crowd
We wouldn’t have to talk so loud

Chorus
I give you my life and all 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

I don’t miss the driving
Seems like forever
And I’m always driving in my mind
And wearing out the road that gets me there

And I’m driving till my eyes just can’t see straight
But I suppose that it’s getting late

Chorus

I may never find the sleep
I’ve lost all feeling in my hands and
Feet may touch the ground but
My mind’s somewhere north of here

I saw Derek Webb perform at Berry College with Joel and Jason last winter.  Webb was awesome!  I don’t recall if he sang this or not… I assume this song is about a relationship with a girl.  I have another take on it for my life and will write about it in Part Two.

A time of waiting…

I can’t state it any better than Oswald Chambers.  My words I have tried to put together are worthless to go with this quote.  So, I’ll just let Chambers do the talking. 

There are times when you can’t understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings a time of waiting, and appears to be unresponsive, don’t fill it with busyness, just wait. The time of waiting may come to teach you the meaning of sanctification— to be set apart from sin and made holy— or it may come after the process of sanctification has begun to teach you what service means. Never run before God gives you His direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt— wait.

At first you may see clearly what God’s will is— the severance of a friendship, the breaking off of a business relationship, or something else you feel is distinctly God’s will for you to do. But never act on the impulse of that feeling. If you do, you will cause difficult situations to arise which will take years to untangle. Wait for God’s timing and He will do it without any heartache or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move. (My Utmost for His Highest, January4).