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.

Why do you believe what you believe?

I recently read an article posted on Facebook.  I was shocked at what I read concerning a “leader in the church.”  I thought that can’t be true.  Yet before I investigated the truth of what I read – I sent the link to a couple of my friends.  Later in the evening, I was discussing this article with someone else.  Based on that discussion, I decided to actually do some research on it.  I discovered that the original article was an “internet hoax.”  I came to this understanding as I sought out multiple resources.  Even with a closer examination of the original article, it even stated on the website that what was posted was “satirical”.  (I over-looked that).

That’s why it is important for us to make informed decisions about our lives and the faith we so often proudly proclaim. Or the faith we so proudly try to disclaim.  Not only are our lives weighing in the balance but the lives of those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

This experience led me to question, “Why do I believe what I believe?”

I had never heard of the source of the original article.  So when I first read it I was skeptical.  Yet there were some interesting quotes that made me think, “Well, I guess that could be true.”  By the time I finished reading the article I was ready to send it on to a couple of friends with the subject, “Wow!”  And that is exactly what I did.

As a result of this experience I asked myself, “Why do I believe what I believe?” I want to pose the same question to you, “Why do you believe what you believe?” Why do you believe in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit?  Why do you not believe? Why do you believe in some other god or religion? Why believe there is no such being greater than our current existence?  I’m wanting you to consider this in order to draw you into a deeper relationship with God or to bring you into a real search for truth.

Did each of us come to our place of belief because we personally sought truth? Or did we stumble into our belief (or disbelief) in God based on our parents, family, friend(s), or culture?

I write here with the presupposition that those who read are already Christians.  I do so not to negate or over-look those who are not Christians or those seeking the meaning for life.  So, please know If you aren’t a Christian, I think of you as well when I write and pray you come to a place where you are brought to God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life because you have sought to know Truth.

If you are a Christian, I hope you will take the time to reignite your faith but answering the question about why you believe.  I hope that asking yourself will lead you into a deeper relationship and a greater walk of faith in obedience to the love of Jesus for his people.  If you are not a Christian and are still searching, I hope you will not give up in your search for truth.  Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness…” Matthew 6:33.  If all of us will live seeking His kingdom before anything else – we will not be disappointed!

  

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.

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).

How’s your voice?

Have you ever lost your voice?  If not, I’m sure you have heard someone who has.  It’s an unusual experience and a bit painful.  You are the same person you were the day before – you just can’t communicate the way you are accustomed.

I love music.  There is no telling how much money I have spent over the years on cassettes, CDs, and now digital downloads.  I’m not a musician.  Although I own a guitar.  I only played when I didn’t have anyone else to lead worship while I was a youth pastor.  I still had to have someone else sing and be the voice to lead us where I desired for us to go.  The only time I play now is when God uses a song to speak to me.  I sit down to learn the song (if the chords are not too complicated) as I meditate on what He has been teaching me through it.

I was watching a live performance last night by The Choir.  It was a beautiful moment to watch and listen as these four men play their music.  (You can watch it here) They have literally been one of the best soundtracks of lyric and sound for my life than anyone else.  There are other bands who have had their place in my life that have really moved me and lead me to deep moments in Christ but The Choir has been there pretty much the entire time.  They are in the midst of embarking on their 15th studio album!  I’m excited for them as well as for me… I’m looking forward to hearing what nugget God has in store for my life through their voice.

Steve Hindalong (writer, drummer) talked about how blessed he is to have a voice like Derri Daugherty (vocalist, guitarist) to communicate the lyric Steve writes.  To hear Steve communicate that last night was touching.  I have been thinking about that very thing this week…. “My voice.”

If you think about it, we all have a voice that God intends for us to use for his purposes.  It could be on our job, in the church, at the grocery store, your blog, your small group, you name it…. where is it your voice is heard the most?  We live in a very noisy society.  Our ears tune in to certain sounds and messages that are appealing.  Just as our ears tune in to what we like… an important element in our life we can’t forsake is our own voices.  Just as I look forward to the next album by The Choir – there are people out there who need to hear your voice (my voice).  We all have a message to bring to this world.  God desires for us to surrender our wills – our hearts – to His Message and be His voice.

I don’t want to lose my voice.  I know that there are many things in life that have been crowding in to rob me of my voice.  I want to surrender and ask God to let me rise above the noisy crowd and be who He wants me to be.  No more running!  No more fear!  No more hiding!  No more being quiet!

It’s one thing to preach a sermon someone else has written.  It’s another thing to write the message from your own heart.  It’s one thing to cover someone else’s song.  It’s another thing to write it.  I guess that’s why I had much rather listen to the original artist recording over someone else performing it.  Kind of like listening to Journey without Steve Perry… why would you want to do that?

Don’t lose your voice!  There are people out there who need to hear it.  Their ears are tuned in to what you have to say.  Stay true to your heart and the Message the Holy Spirit has given you… now be His voice and deliver it however He has gifted you!

It’s His vision… delight yourself in Him.

polaroidDo you recall using one of these cameras?  This camera would give you a developed picture in a minute or so.  The picture would literally develop right before your eyes.

I recall going to Washington, DC in eighth grade with one of these cameras.  I was standing in front of Abe Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial.  I remember being nervous with excitement as I took that photo.  The picture came out a bit blurry as a result. Over the years the picture has faded and became darker…. much more difficult to see.

Has God given you a vision for your life, family, church, community, or job?  Can you see what it is He wants you to become or do?  I think we become frustrated (at least I know I do) when we can see what He wants yet we are having to wait for the picture to develop.

We live in a world where everything is instant.  We take our phones and other digital gadgets and snap the picture and immediately look to see how well it turned out and immediately show others how great the shot is then immediately post it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the world to see.

I see “vision” kind of like the development of a Polaroid picture.  I look through the lens and see the future and press the red button to capture the vision.  The film comes out and over time the vision becomes reality.  It slowly develops into the vision I saw before I committed to it.  If you have ever owned one of these cameras you know that after some time the quality of the photo losses its luster… especially if it is not protected.  Just like with any vision we must protect what God has given.

One of the well-known promises in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV).

It’s God’s vision.  Often-times we go through life and forget He has it all planned.  He has given us the Bible to help guide us in this life.  To encourage us when things are dark and without hope.  He gives us the Bible to build us up to encourage others who are in need.  Whatever the vision God has given you protect it, cultivate it, and share it with others.  Keep it before God… after-all it is His vision.  And when the days are long and you seem to think the vision will never come to pass, remember to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and He will give you these things.  (Matthew 6:33).

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4, NIV)