Do you struggle with trying to determine the future, so you can make all the right choices? I do too. I know what it’s like to want to know the outcome before the beginning. I imagine some of you feel stuck when you can’t tell what’s right ahead. God calls us to trust Him more than trust our own instinct. There’s a reason Jesus calls disciples to follow him. He knows where he’s going, and better yet, he knows where to lead us where we are going. You’re going to want to listen to this one twice. Sometimes we need to heed God’s wisdom in the direction of our life, rather than make all of our own decisions.
Category Archives: Transition
We get ourselves into a trap of pleasing others, which eventually makes us compromise our integrity, or sell out, or miss the goals we want to achieve. It’s easy to become a people pleaser if we remain obsessed with what people think about us. But when we embrace the identity that God gives us in Christ, we can live into the beloved child of God that He created. You choose. Keep people pleasing and feel empty, or be a God-pleaser and feel complete.
Like King Herod, at the birth of Jesus, we resist the Kingdom of God breaking into our world. Sometimes people forget that God doesn’t come into our world like a tyrant and terrorist, but rather God comes near as a offering of peace, like a little child. God’s Kingdom is breaking into this dark world to take over your kingdom of selfishness and pride. Is it possible that we act like King Herod in our resistance to God’s Kingdom also? We need to be like the wisemen who came seeking proximity to Jesus, bringing gifts of worship to the Savior. We all, like King Herod, have gone astray, but God has come for us like only the Missionary God can.
What does it take to make your marriage count for the long haul? How do you commit to one another for a healthy marriage that will reap a harvest? We look into the context of Galatians 6, reaping and sowing for your marriage, and discover together the gift of faithfulness that will last. Join us for this refreshing look into covenant fidelity.
I resonate with that thought, for sure… but at the end of the year, it’s good to evaluate just a little.
Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
This was written about the people of God in the Old Testament, but let’s break this into pieces for us:
Remember… One the most powerful words in the Old Testament of the Bible is “remember”. Why? Because we so easily forget. We move forward so quickly, so often, moving to the next thing in life w/o evaluating our learning experiences. God calls us to remember, so that our current situation might be more full of life and meaning.
… how the Lord your God led you all the way… Wait! The Lord continues to lead us, not just a little ways, but “all the way”. We can’t help but think of Romans 8:38-39, where nothing can separate us from the love of God. So, God leads us through everything, good & bad, for His good. We don’t see that bad things can lead us to God’s good for us, but it’s true, and leads us to the next idea…
… in the wilderness… God leads us through the wilderness of life, but remains with us in the valley. Like Psalms 23 where the Lord leads the Psalmist through the valley of the shadow of death, thank God that He doesn’t leave us there, but leads us through it. How could something so painful in my life turn out to be anything good for me? God only knows how these kinds of things work out because he sees it all and understands the outcome.
Why did God take them through the wilderness? … to humble and test them, in order to know what was in their heart… Let’s be honest, doesn’t that sound mean of God to humble us and test us? It only sounds mean from our perspective, but not from God’s. He wants to evaluate what is in our heart. He has every right to want to know how committed we are to following Him and to know how much we are in love with Him.
If you’re a parent, don’t you desire to know what your kids are thinking, or feeling? Doesn’t it warm your heart to know they love you? Some of the hardest times of parenting are when your kid is apathetic or lethargic. So, wouldn’t it be God’s desire to know what’s in the heart of the people who call Him Father?
… to know whether or not you would keep his commands… ouch!!! I don’t think there’s much to say about this portion. Not one of us has kept the commands of God this year, though we so desire it in our heart. God’s infinite wisdom comes into play here where His own Son was the sacrifice for our sin in this regard. Since no one can keep the commands of God, Jesus is the only way to establish perfect relationship with God the Father again.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Not just believe in him, even the demons believe in Jesus… but do you know him personally?
I don’t know how you evaluate your 2012, but I know this, God the Father loves you with an inescapable love, and your 2013 depends on knowing Jesus.
Whether or not you like to evaluate your past, there’s something to evaluate at the end of this year, with just a few hours left of it.
Ask yourself these questions:
– Did I think to remember God leading me through the wilderness(es) of my year?
– Did I trust that God was leading me for His good purposes?
– Could the events in my past 12 months do anything to lead me closer to God?
– Am I going to honor God with the possible “wilderness” events that are coming in 2013?
– How can I remember God in all the ways He leads me from now on through the coming year?
Happy, or not so “happy” New Year?
May we always remember how God leads us for His good, to know what’s in our heart and draw us closer to Him.
I once preached a message to high school students at Covenant Point Bible Camp and said, “Change is hard, but change is good.” The youth group students at that camp continued to message me on FB for months after that reminding me about the difficulties of changes in their lives, while remaining optimistic about the blessings of change that God revealed to them.
Shortly after that time of speaking at camp, I would face significant change in my life personally because the church where I was serving in a 7-year call as Pastor of Student Ministries decided to “let me go” due to financial constraints and budget cuts. That was Mother’s Day 2011, just before the falsely predicted apocalyptic “end of the world” was supposed to take place on May 21, 2011. I was secretly hoping that the doom’s day predictors were right this time.
I was turning 42 years old, and after serving in youth ministry for 22 years, I didn’t want to start over again. I was ready to “hang ’em up” and find some kind of “other” calling for a while, but God must have had other plans for us. I was asked to preach a final sermon at the church I was exiting. I was reluctant to preach about God walking with you in the circumstances of your life, but He gave me strength to publicly forgive the leaders who just 2 weeks prior had altered the course of my life… again. I preached on Mark 6 where Jesus walks on the water. No matter the storms in your life, Jesus is always with you.
Our family of 4 traveled to the FEAST in Estes Park, Colorado for a week of fantastic connections and spiritual refreshment. We departed from Estes Park, drove East through Greeley, Colorado to take a look at a young church plant that we heard may be looking for a new lead pastor. It smelled like cows in Greeley, so we all wrinkled our noses and sort of shrugged our shoulders at what God might be doing next in our lives.
We flew to Panama City, Panama for a 2 month sabbatical rest as a family. We did all the sight seeing and exploring that our little rental car could muster, attempted to learn some Caribbean-Spanish, made balloon animals for nationals, zip-lined and taught our 13 & 11 year old kids how to drive a stick shift car too. We learned to relax and take in the pace of rest while God spoke to our hearts through 1st & 2nd Samuel all summer. At the end of the summer I went to Zion National Park, Utah with 14 college buddies and hiked the Narrows and learned to push my body physically beyond what I thought was capable for a week. We laughed and reminisced with one another before praying for our future ministries and blessing each other.
Just one week later, I received a phone call from Crossroads Greeley church in Colorado asking for a conversation about becoming their next lead pastor. My wife and I prayed like we had learned to pray in transition, asking for God’s best to come through… even past what we think is best. One conversation with Crossroads Greeley led to another and another. We were asked to visit them for a weekend just prior to November 1, 2011 when my severance pay would run out. We were overwhelmed with the Spirit of God leading us and giving us peace as we remained incognito during the weekend visit.
We were asked to candidate for the lead pastor position on November 13th, so we brought our kids with us and I preached my heart out. They voted for us that night, and I was called to be their next lead pastor. We remember flying back to Seattle with tears of joy in our eyes for how God has been so faithful to His calling over the years. We know that change is hard, but change is good and we know that a story of redemption like this doesn’t happen to everyone. We had to begin to process what it would mean to sell our house, move our kids out of 8th and 6th grades and uproot friendships to move once again.
Crossroads was gracious to let me have a start date of January 2012, so I packed up my little car with as much as it would hold and made the trek across country alone on January 3rd. I preached my first sermon on January 8th and have been living with a family from the church for the past nearly 5 months. My wife and kids have been trying to sell the house so they can move out to Greeley and join me in this adventure. We just secured the sale of the home, so I’m flying to Seattle tomorrow to pick them up, pack the truck and drive them to Colorado for this ministry calling.
I’ve learned some lessons about the past year of transition. God is always on the move. He is always looking for us to remain humble in whatever setting He has chosen for us and we must walk in faith to hear His voice. I’ve learned so much about intimacy with God through this transition and I’ve drawn strength in knowing that God draws near to the broken hearted and makes His intimate relationship known when we draw near to Him. I don’t have it all figured out, but I sense that God wants me to hold life loosely and trust His lead, no matter the storms in my life. I’ve also learned that what appears to be “the end of the world” for me, is really just a fork in the road of God’s journey… and He knows where He wants me to serve, more than I may know myself.