Calling, recalled, promotion, chosen, destiny

God calls and God chooses.

Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

-1 Corinthians 1:26-27

God’s economy is different than ours.

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

-Matthew 19:29-30

God can recall people who were rejected or fumbled (Joseph, Moses, Jephthah, Peter).

So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated all his terms in the presence of the Lord at Mizpah.

-Judges 11:11

God’s ways are different than human promotion and advancement.

The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you will only move upward and never downward if you listen to the Lord your God’s commands I am giving you today and are careful to follow them.

-Deuteronomy 28:13

Kingdom promotion is based on God’s call, servanthood, and faithfulness.

“‘Well done, good servant!’ he told him. ‘Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, have authority over ten towns.’

-Luke 19:17

Servanthood and friendship both are part of the calling. He chooses our assignment, our gifts, and calling.

I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

-John 15:15-16

God calls, but we must lay hold of it and respond to God.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

-Matthew 22:14

The ministry is power through weakness.

Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

-2 Corinthians 12:8

A calling from God works out under illogical, impossible, inconceivable circumstances.

This is what the Lord says—
who makes a way in the sea,
and a path through raging water,
who brings out the chariot and horse,
the army and the mighty one together
(they lie down, they do not rise again;
they are extinguished, put out like a wick)—
“Do not remember the past events;
pay no attention to things of old.
Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert.

-Isaiah 43:16-19

Called ones must give up everything for the calling.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.

-Matthew 13:44-46

Ruth- The Book for 2018

But Ruth replied:

Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

-Ruth 1:16
Is Ruth the book of the Bible for 2018?  Let’s see.  What is the book of Ruth about?  What’s the message?

Ruth is about salvation history. 

We have the book of Judges, that is a wild west, tumultuous time.  In the midst of that time, Ruth traces the family line of king David.

It is the backstory to the story of david.  We see in Ruth, God working among people to save them, individually and collectively.  God works in lives for lives.  Our stories of salvation are connected, in and by God.

Mother, grandmother, widow, field, gate, harvest, inheritance, covenant, promotion, and new beginnings; are some of the topics in Ruth.

The key lesson of Ruth is that God blesses faithfulness. 

Ruth means friendship, comfort, and refreshment.

Kindness, honor, safekeeping, and redemption are also themes of Ruth.

Ruth demonstrates that during the darkest times, we can make the choice to live in God’s story.

A remarkable and unexpected lesson from Ruth is God’s guidance: God working ‘behind the scenes’, to bless covenant keepers for His ultimate glory.  The characters in the story make choices, based on covenant, and kindness; which God orchestrates into a plan for His purpose, blessing, and glory.
Ruth illustrates redemption and reveals God’s providence. 

Ruth is a story of God’s faithfulness of people who were themselves faithful in an unfaithful culture.

Ruth is a book of ‘full circles’:
  • Leadership vacuum to David’s grandpa.
  • Childless to child.
  • Famine to harvest.
  • Bitter to pleasant.
  • Leaving to arriving.
  • Exiting one gate and entering a new gate.
  • Loss in motherhood to new life in grandmotherhood.
  • Blessing given and blessing received.
  • Redemption requested and redemption received.
Ruth is a story of hope and a way out, for dark times.  Ruth teaches that there is always hope and a way out.

Redemption is always possible, because of God.

Ruth is a story about transformed or renewed identity. 

Two widows become a bride and a grandmother.  The grief stricken person becomes joyful through new life, new friends and new family. 

Ruth happens during the time of the Judges.  Some scholars think that it was around the time of Gideon.  Famine is the backdrop and the characters begin in Moab.  The husbands are dead and the ladies are left destitute.

Ruth, chapter 1.

During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the fields of Moab and settled there. Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband.

Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, may have been unfaithful to God, moving from Bethlehem to Moab.  But he may also have thought there was no other choice, seeing life there; because of the famine in Israel.

She and her daughters-in-law set out to return from the territory of Moab, because she had heard in Moab that the Lord had paid attention to his people’s need by providing them food. She left the place where she had been living, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, and traveled along the road leading back to the land of Judah.

Whatever the case, he died and his two sons died as well, leaving three women.  Naomi had losses and was far from home.  She decided to go home and Ruth decided to follow her.


Naomi said to them, “Each of you go back to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown to the dead and to me. May the Lord grant each of you rest in the house of a new husband.” She kissed them, and they wept loudly.

They said to her, “We insist on returning with you to your people.”

Naomi tried to talk Ruth out of following her, but Ruth decided her destiny was with her mother-in-law.

Her tie to her was more important to her than her homeland.  Her home was with Naomi, wherever she was.

But Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands?Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me.” Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Follow your sister-in-law.”

Ruth is faithful.  She committed her future onto and into life with Naomi. 


But Ruth replied:

Don’t plead with me to abandon you
or to return and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.

Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May the Lord punish me,
and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.

When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped talking to her.

Everything began to change for both ladies, when they got back to Israel.  They changed locations and then their lives began to change.  They were encouraged and became inspired with plans.


The two of them traveled until they came to Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, the whole town was excited about their arrival and the local women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

“Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

So Naomi came back from the territory of Moab with her daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabitess. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

With everything that the two ladies went through, the author tells us that “they arrived at Bethlehem, at the beginning of the barley harvest.”  Bethlehem, means ‘house of bread’ and became David’s city.  You can see the timing is right and that the macro theme of the whole story is David, then Jesus.

They decided to try certain things and exercise faith in honest risk taking.  These two widows found Boaz, who took Ruth as his wife after the first in line guy passed, and Ruth had a baby, who finished the renewal of joy for Naomi.  And that baby, with faithful Moabites Ruth as his mom, became the exponential great grandfather of Jesus.

This lady who was not of Israel by birth, through life’s circumstances that no one could predict, became an Israelite.  Why and how?  Because of her faithfulness to a person and to the God of that person who became her God.
What kind of evangelism would you call Naomi’s towards Ruth?  Did Ruth find out about God through her first husband or her first father-in-law?  We don’t know.  What we do know is that Ruth expressed covenant faithfulness and kindness, mercy towards a widow who was her mom-in-law.
Ruth’s conversion was when she left her homeland to follow Naomi to hers.  Due to Ruth’s faithfulness and covenant love, gracious blessings came into her life.  Naomi was inspired to be kind and helpful back to Ruth, by guiding her to Boaz.
In turn, Boaz was kind to Ruth and the end result was blessing flowing back to Naomi of a new and renewed family life.  And this all happened during the ‘wild west’, dark period in Israel, between Joshua and Samuel.

Ruth is a book about new beginnings.

 This is 2018.  Eight is the number of new beginnings and Ruth is the eighth book of the Bible.

Ruth is a story of salvation. 

It illustrates how God saves us in our story.  Our story becomes God’s story as we become saved.

Ruth is a story about immigration.

 Some preachers might say that it was a big mistake for Elimelech to take his family to live in an enemy country.  They might reason that only bad can happen there, pointing to the man’s death, the death of his two sons, and the lack of grandchildren.

But Ruth, born a Moabitess, decides to immigrate to Israel with her mother-in-law.  What do we have here?  Tender loving care.  Ruth says in a sense, “My story is with your story now.  I will go where you go.  Your people are my people.  And your God will be my God.”

This is the foundation of everything that happens.  The lesson might be something like this:  Good things happen when we decide to follow with the one we love.

Ruth was a good person, kind and faithful, caring and unselfish.  But, her story only takes off when she completely hitches her destiny to Naomi’s.  In other words, her faith was fully acted upon.

It would have been nice if she hugged Naomi goodbye and wept.  It would have been caring if she tried to talk her out of leaving and permanently kept Naomi with her in Moab.

But, when Naomi became convicted that it was time now to go back to her homeland, and reconnect with her roots, and by faith, look for a place to live and finish her life that she was filled with sorrow about; Ruth let her caring of and love for this lady, take her into uncharted territory of faith.

Blessings were released into Ruth’s life because she hitched her destiny to Naomi and her God.  And this is how life has been for many of us.  We love someone and we step into their story, including their walk with God.

I have been like Ruth and had several Naomi’s in my life.  I loved them and they loved me and I made a decision to follow them and their faith in God, together.  And very good things happened, from God.  An adventure I would never have had, if I did not commit myself to each one of those persons, in seasons of my life.

The normal approach was the one taken by Ruth’s sister-in-law, Orpah.  She stayed in Moab and sought her own destiny there.  The normal method of life is that we go it alone and hitch ourselves to others (join them and work with them) only out of self-interest.

Ruth lived her life for the sake of someone else.  She took who she was, a kind person, and offered it to the most important person in her life.  This took her on a path of redemption, new identity, and profound destiny.

____________________________________
Bibliography and for further study:

Winn Griffin, God’s Epic Adventure; pp. 103-104
John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology, Volume One: Israel’s Gospel; p. 601
LaSor, et al.; Old Testament Survey; p. 820
Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Ruth, NET Bible on-line

Jodi Hooper, Ruth, Bible.org on-line
Younger and Philips (cited), Book of Ruth Bible Survey (article, notes) at gotquestions.org
Thomas B. Clarke, What is a Chiasm?
Robert L. Hubbard, The Book of Ruth (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament)
Tim Hughes, For whom the Baby Ruth candy bar was named

Disillusionment: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them. But they were prevented from recognizing him.Then he asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

-Luke 24:13-17

My favorite movie, growing up, was The Wizard of Oz.  And I was also a big fan of Elton John.

Elton John’s song, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, is about disillusionment.  That’s what The Wizard of Oz is about too.

We think that we need to go on a fantastic journey to find something.  But we find out that we we already have it, right at home.  We go on a journey, and get over our illusions.

In The Wizard of Oz, the key phrase is, “There’s no place like home.”  Dorothy had a dream about finding the answers outside her surroundings.  But, everything she needed, was right at home.

I get the idea that I need to be this to be happy.  And it does not do that.  That’s disillusionment.

We also get into a fantasy about how things are when they aren’t that way and that is an illusion.

People who have ‘stars in their eyes’, are people who are overly optimistic and idealistic and naive about set-backs, suffering, human depravity, perseverance, and real love that is sacrificial.  These folks are in for a rude awakening and disillusionment, when reality set in on them.

When disillusionment comes, it is an opportunity the get in touch with reality and grow in authenticity towards yourself, God and others.

We are supposed to dream.  Dreaming is natural.  We are supposed to have passion and follow it.  We do need to find our destiny.

But this is all natural with the supernatural.  Illusion is not natural or supernatural.  Illusion is not real.

Who I am, what God has made me to be, and where God is taking me is real.  My destiny in God is real.  And my inheritance in God is real.  God’s design for me is real.

Same thing with the church.  God’s design for the church is real and authentic, Jesus shaped you could say.

We get into illusions when we use our imaginations outside of God.  When we think about ourselves, the church, or God; outside of interaction with the living God, we might get into illusions.  Illusions are things that are not real and are not true.  They may be well-intentioned, but not real.

The two guys who were walking on the road to Emmaus were disillusioned.  Things did not turn out, they way they had imagined.  They were discouraged.

Jesus asked them why they were discouraged.  Then he was direct with them, calling them foolish and slow.  He taught them through the Old Testament, about how the Messiah had to suffer before his glorification.

Then he asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

The one named Cleopas answered him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked them.

So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people,and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. But we were hoping that he was the one who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third daysince these things happened. Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, and when they didn’t find his body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see him.”

He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

-Luke 24:17-27
Their illusion was that Jesus would redeem one way, but the reality was that he redeemed Israel another way.  We have a good goal in mind and think we will get there through a certain way, that becomes an illusion.  But there is another way that is the authentic way, without illusion.
An illusion is when we see something that is not there.  We say, “He fooled himself into thinking…”  That’s an illusion.
We fool ourselves into thinking something about someone that is not true.  We think they are good when they are actually bad.  When we find out the truth, we become disillusioned.
We enter into to a relationship.  Maybe a friendship, maybe a romance, maybe a business relationship.  We assume things are all good, but then something not good happens, maybe even a betrayal.  Then we get disillusioned.
This can happen with church.  We have high hopes and together we are engaged in a very nobel purpose.  Then bad things happen and we get disillusioned and don’t want to play anymore.
I was just thinking about all the pastors out there, who suffer failure, and go into disillusionment with the church.
Disillusionment is painful, but it is actually a good thing.  We need to not be illusioned.  We need to be in touch with reality.
Suffering is reality.  Betrayal is reality.  Love and forgiveness is reality.  Broken people is reality.

God has no illusions about us, so he never gets disillusioned about us. We walk with God without illusions.

There is a paradox in that the path is where we find ourselves, but it is at home where we are our authentic selves.

All of life is a journey towards our ultimate home in and with God.  Life is not a time of just waiting for the event, but becoming the person.  Life is about knowing God and knowing who you are.

To think that we are going on a journey to becoming famous or powerful is a misconception and illusion.

Being the person God created you to be and being loved by God and then loving other people, is the simple calling for everyone.  God can choose to elevate us or not, for a short time or for a long time.

Jesus would not allow himself to be lifted up into the illusions that some people had for him.  Think about it.  Jesus lived in the tension that each of us are called to, to be ourselves and to let God elevate us.

Negative disillusionment goes into cynicism and bitter criticism, that has its root in a distrust of self and a feeling of alienation.

Sometimes a rude awakening precedes a breakthrough into authenticity.  It requires humility.  Humility sometimes only comes through humiliation.

Much of the pain of disillusionment is self-inflicted.  We ran with something that really was a lie, it was not true; and we built our reality around it.

People constantly suffered from disillusionment towards Jesus.  He never caused it, but they did it to themselves.  We have Judas and we have the other eleven misunderstanding him.  We have the fact that at the very end of the gospel account, it says that some people, who had seen and heard him, still did not believe.  And then there is the fact that only a portion of the people that saw him, after the resurrection, made it to the room where the day of pentecost happened.

We can be disillusion with the church.  Jesus has no illusions or fantasies about ideal church life, and neither should we.  If we are idealists, we need to let that go, be disillusioned, and be realists, with Jesus; based on love.

Many of us are disillusioned, disappointed, and distrusting of the church right now.  A great dissatisfaction is out there, among people who are unhappy in church, done with church, or have no regular meeting of the church to call home today.

The danger, which is toxic and poisonous is for us to be overly idealistic, perfectionist, and under an illusion that is elitist about what church has to be like.  I think we have to take people where they are and stand between them and our living God.

The bare bones, simple, and foundation of church life is, Christ, you, and I.  One way or another, we will end up eating and talking together, and then praying together, then being grateful together, and serving each other and then spilling out to serve the world around us and welcome them the table, where Christ is among us.

These are some notes and quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his book about Christian community called Life Together.  Bonhoeffer says that God actually hates our idealist illusions about what church life should be.  These are my thoughts mixed in with what Dietrich wrote.

  • A ‘wishful image’ of church life will shatter Christian community, if that is the basis on which it is lived.  Idealism.
    • Serious Christians bring with them their ideas of what Christian community should be, when they enter into it, and are anxious for it to be realized.  One person says, we need to take communion, another says we must worship together, another says we must pray either laying on hands or interceding, and still another says that we should be evangelizing.
      • I have been in several groups where one member came on very strong about how, in order to be an authentic Christian community, we should be engaged in evangelism.  The majority of the community was not interested in that.  There was a tension around this and it would have been better if the group reached a consensus, but instead, the evangelists felt rejected and ‘vetoed’, instead of enfolded and loved.
  • The grace of God is at odds with our dreams often.  Our dreams often are not God’s dreams, not from God.  God is more concerned with our ‘one another’s’ than our success.  
    • Many church planters have started with a dream, encouraged, supported, and cheered on by others.  When things don’t work, when people resist, they have a lot of frustration.  In their disillusionment, they might get angry at the people, and even bitter with themselves and with God.
      • All through this, God is after something bigger and deeper, in grace.  God wants us to really know him and know his love and to know each other and know each other’s love.
  • God’s desire is for us to be disillusioned.  That means to let go of illusions and walk in the real.
    • Disillusionment is good, if it is riding us of our idealism.  Disillusionment is unpleasant and even appears evil, but it is the pathway to authenticity, reality, and durable community.
    • Every idealism is a hindrance to genuine community and must be broken up.
  • “Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.”
  • God hates our wishful dreams, that are really idealistic illusions, because they breed pride and pretense.  
    • Idealists carry a delusional sense of entitlement towards God and fellow Christians, demanding that they get on board with their vision.
      • Their ideal replaces the living Christ as the center of community, with themselves as ‘god’.
        • My vision.
        • My way.
        • I am the builder of it, the creator.
    • When things do not work, they accuse others, God, and themselves.
  • Disillusionment with our brothers or sisters should always drive us the Christ, from whom is the only way that we can live and function together.

(From Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, Bonhoeffer; pp. 34-36)

Imposing your control on others, supposedly as a function of leadership, is the essence of spiritual abuse.  I thought of controlling leaders, as I read Bonhoeffer.  When your leadership goes to controlling, you have moved into the dark side.

I am an idealist.  I have gone through disillusionment over and over.  A number of times in my life, I thought that if I believed the word and prayed hard, I would get results.

No dice.  Disillusionment.  Back to reality and authenticity.  Suffering, cross bearing, death, burial, and resurrection.  Living with the risen Christ.

One of the most painful disillusionments for me was my parents divorce.  My ideal for them was shattered and the hurtful brokenness of that was all I could see or feel.  The only way I could see was escape.

I was praying for God to make the pain go away.  And then I got ministry from a beautiful group of  prayer warriors, who ministered Paul’s word from Jesus to me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

I never really comprehended that verse before that.

Jesus has proven to me, over and over that in my disillusionment, he has grace for me to experience and be transformed by.  And to receive it, I must go low.  “Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong.  Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.”

When we try to make the case for our ideal, in the midst of shattering brokenness, that is pride, bitterness, and cynicism.  We blame, complain, and judge; having no grace for others, ourselves, or God.  No gratefulness, no forgiveness, and no happiness.  Just anger, control, and narcissism.

Shattered illusions that do not give way to grace, which is had by humility, becomes cynicism.  Cynical people believe that all of us are only motivated by self-interest.  Cynical people project their own brokenness onto the whole world.

The back-story of a cynical person is a broken heart that did not heal right.  They became deceived, they began to believe a lie.  They made a choice to go on the wrong path, in the wrong direction.

And the only way to get back on the right path is to go back to where you made the wrong turn.

The man who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, was not always like that.  He may have once been a faithful shepherd, or a sheepdog.  But he got his heart broken and it did not heal right.

That is how a wolf is born that ends up hurting and destroying sheep in the church.  Disillusionment that did not give way to grace through humility, but stayed proud and went to cynicism.

Judas is an example of bad disillusionment.  Intimate with Jesus, but had a different ideal or ideal of who Jesus should be.  And in his cynicism, he betrayed Jesus.

When he realized his mistake, he again did not find grace, but judged himself and executed himself.  He made these decisions, for which he has responsibility.  Satan was involved with him, looked for and found a road into his life, from which he could tempt Judas to do wrong.

Every disciple is tempted to sin and betray Christ.  In our disillusionment, we can turn to the dark side or just give up.  That way of Christ is the receive grace, in humility.

God knows that we will be tempted to go for fame, fortune, success; or just finding ourselves or our destiny.  Maybe we just want to go to school, find a job, find a spouse, and have kids.  Maybe we just want to pay the bills and have a decent grocery store to go to.

Along the path of life, we need to stay grounded in reality, under no illusions about ourselves.

What happened next, in the story of the two men and Jesus, on the road to Emmaus?

They came near the village where they were going, and he gave the impression that he was going farther.  But they urged him, “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

 It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight.

-Luke 24:28-31

There is something profound here, in when Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them, that at that moment, their eyes were opened.  He is the bread of life and his body was broken for our life.  When we receive his life, broken and raised from the dead, for us; we can see him and become disillusioned.

His life and he as the truth, is our reality.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, sung by Casey Crescenzo:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/RN87sNbMoIc?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0

Give Me This Mountain

Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day.

-Joshua 14:12a (NKJV)
Have you asked God to give you your mountain?  Have you considered that God has a mountain with your name on it?  Do you have a big dream that God has put in your heart that you are waiting to be fulfilled?
Joshua, chapter fourteen, tells the story of Caleb asking for and being given his inheritance.  That’s the mountain.  He is saying here, to Joshua, that he wants that particular mountain; and that it is what God promised to him, long ago:

Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim).

Then the land had rest from war.

-Joshua 14:6-15 (NKJV)
It was not rude for Caleb to ask, it was assertive.  Being assertive is a good thing. 

Jesus always responded to people who asked for things and teaches us to ask God.

Caleb was asking for something he wanted and that God had promised him.  Somehow at some point, long ago, Caleb saw that mountain and maybe God said something to him, in his heart, that was like, “that’s yours”.

Stop and think about it.  God wants to give cities, companies, blocks, buildings, and spheres of influence to his people.  What God has for us is so much more than huddling in church and having a great relationship with Him in private.

It is notable that Caleb was 85 years old, and that he was not born into one of the tribes of Israel, but was a proselyte.  Caleb was a descendent of Edom, who were descendants of Esau.  Caleb was a Gentile, adopted into Israel, into the tribe of Judah.

Caleb is part of the list of heroes in the Old Testament times, who were not born Jewish.  Two other renown people, who end up in Jesus family line are Rahab the prostitute, who was an Amorite, and Ruth the Moabitess, who gets her own story of redemption written up in the book of Ruth.

You might be concerned that you don’t have the right pedigree to be used by God, because your life’s resume is unconventional.  But the truth is that God’s story in your life is what qualifies you, and not your resume or connections.

Today, there are people over 40 who think they are too old, when the complete opposite is true.  Every age has advantages.  There is a reason why the government does not draft people to be in the armed forces, during times of war, who are over a certain age.  Young adults do have the most energy.

But, as you get older, you gain a lot of other things.  Life experience and wisdom are gained over time.  Every person should have older people, a generation ahead; who are in their lives for guidance, mentoring, and counsel.

Your older friends should be your most valuable relationships.  If you are in your twenties, look for people in their forties or fifties.  If you are in your thirties, look for people in their fifties and sixties.

When we visited and became a part of a church 7 or 8 years ago, I went straight to the oldest person in the room and sat with her and became her friend.  I usually do that at any gathering.  My oldest friend is 93.

I didn’t come up with this idea, but have been prompted by God and just said yes.  The oldest people are the ones with the most gold in terms of wisdom and life experience.

Caleb’s story excites me, because I believe there are many, many people, who are over 40; mostly in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s; with a few in their 80’s and 90’s, who have yet to receive their inheritance of destiny and ministry on earth; whom are about to receive it. 

Many of us, who are over 40; with probably the highest concentration of people in their low 60’s, received a call or got a vision of their destiny or inheritance, from God, years and decades ago, that has not really come forth yet.

A bunch of us are like Caleb.  Like him, we have waited and been faithful to God.  Many, most, or all of our friends or kin, that we started with are gone, but we are still here, before God.

Now, the time finally comes to claim our promised inheritance, from God.  That season is upon us.  I don’t know how it will happen or exactly when it will happen, but I believe that this is what is going to happen.

I am encouraged and want you to be encouraged, especially if you are over 40 and have lived with the feeling that maybe you missed it and your inheritance is lost.  Whether you just turned 40 and are saying “now what?”, or you just turned 90 and gave up long ago; God is faithful.

Caleb is not the story of an extraordinary man.  It is the story, like many others, of God’s faithfulness.  God was faithful to Abraham, Moses, Caleb, David; and you and I.  That is His story. 

The story here is that Caleb saw something, a piece of land.  And he had an experience with God, where God said, “that’s yours”.  Then, a bunch of time went by.
Finally, the time came when everyone in Israel was going in to take the promised land.  Various tribes were being assigned portions of land.  In that context, Caleb spoke up.
Here is the application that this has for us.  We may have had an experience with God, a dream, a vision, God’s voice, a prophetic word, or a strong ‘knowing’ that has been refined over time and is still strong.  That experience was when we heard or saw, from God, our mountain.
Your experience, long ago was perhaps not super clear or maybe is was clear, about your mountain.  And then time went by, years or decades.  It was forty-five years for Caleb.
These long periods of time for the Bible characters teach us that it is never too late or that we are not alone, if it has been many years and even decades for us.
The time for the fulfillment of the promise does finally come.  In those forty-five years, it is very possible that Caleb forgot about his promise or was not sure about it, based on all of the negative things that happened over that time.  But he was faithful to God over that time.

Faith does not mean you understand.  It means you trust.

It was never up to Caleb to fulfill the promise or make it happen.  Only when the time finally came, was it up to him to step up and say, “I want what God promised me, long ago”.
We can be encouraged that the time is coming, when we are finished with our waiting period in the wilderness.  The promise has always been for a time, in the future.  And the future will finally come into the present.
One week, one year, or tens of years after hearing God’s promise; Caleb may have prayed, cried out to God, “Give me my mountain!”  And nothing changed.  He was stuck with his obstinate people, for over forty years.
But, over that time, a whole new generation was born and grew up.  They heard about the past, about Egypt, but they were born in the wilderness and that is the only life they knew.  And maybe they heard about the promises of God, about the land of promise.
The time finally came, when all the people were called by God, to enter into the promised land.  That is when Caleb claimed his promise.  When the time finally comes, we can claim our promise too.
The mountain (some translations say ‘hill country’, or ‘mountain region’) is your assignment, your place of work, your place of opportunity, or your area of service.  There is a mountain with your name on it, yet unclaimed.
Your mountain is your assignment.  Your mountain is where God has designed you for and destined you to be.  Your mountain is your ministry, your calling, and your sphere of influence.  Your mountain is your inheritance.
Like Caleb, we must ask for and claim our promise.  There is a continuous discernment process and refinement of what our mountain is.  And we must ask for it.
God give us gifts that are complete surprises, that are like a package sent to us.  We receive it and open it and enjoy it and are thankful for it.  But, with promises, we often have pursue God and go after it.
Babies get total care.  Children get lots of care and begin to take responsibility and be held accountable.  And adults still get a lot of free gifts, but mostly have to work and totally be responsible for their lives and well being.
Inheriting our destinies takes some work on our part.  That work is not legalism or works righteousness.  It is endurance, faithfulness, courage, and bravery.  This might be what, “many are called, but few are chosen”, means.

What I am saying is that there is a paradox, in that we do have to work to inherit the promises; but we do not inherit them through works.  Faith is never passive.  Real faith is an action.  Real faith is tested in refining trials.

It’s all grace, but with courageous perseverance.  That is the faith.

God has unlimited resources, but we limit ourselves in what we ask or what we believe for.  The problem is not on God’s end.  But there is not some lever that we get to pull, and what we ask for appears.

Faith is made real through faithfulness, which is faith acted upon, based on the belief in the faithfulness of God.  Faith is not faith unless it is faithful.  And faithfulness involves living out your faith

If we do not pursue God or pursue his promises, we probably won’t get much extra, beyond the baseline.  But if we go after the promises and pursue God, something may happen.  I personally believe that something always happens, when we pursue God, but it might be invisible to us our outside of our knowing.
God sees and hears every prayer and all our pursuits of him.  Exercises of faith are noted and have effect.  And if you pray for the wrong reasons, God deals with that.  James says that we have not because we ask not and that sometimes when we do ask, we don’t receive, because we ask with the wrong motives. (James 4:2-3)
Here are some points to pray about your mountain:
  • Give me my mountain.
  • Let me see my mountain.
  • Bring me to my mountain.
  • Bring my mountain to me.
  • Let me ascend my mountain.
  • Give me the place you have chosen for me on that mountain.
  • Give me a home on my mountain.
  • Let me receive a living on my mountain
  • Let me stand on my mountain.
  • Give me sherpas, guides, or angels; to help me climb my mountain.
  • Let me breathe the air on my mountain.
  • Let me be on that mountain.
  • Give me the ministry on that mountain that you have desired for me.

Finding The One

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,  and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

-Acts 11:25-6 (NIV)
Back when I was single, I was concerned about finding ‘the one’ that I would marry.  I have also been concerned about finding ‘the one’ job and ‘the one’ place to live.  Right now, I have been researching cars, looking for ‘the one’ car.
I remember when I bought a cassette tape, almost 30 years ago, about finding a spouse.  The Bible has a lot of practical advice, but not really the idea of finding ‘the one’.  In a sense, who you select becomes ‘the one’ and the two of you become one.

The Bible does not point us to personality tests or compatibility questionnaires.  It basically says, “walk with the Lord”, and “marry a believer”.

What about the other ‘the one’s’ in our lives: the one job, the one house and the one car to choose?

Are we guided by God and is there a plan?  Yes.  But there is a dance, where we make mistakes and encounter opposition and God re-guides us.

Apostle Paul is an example of a man that God had a plan for.  And that man did good and did bad.  Sometimes God guided and he did not follow.  Many times, he was opposed and kept walking with God and rediscovering the plan.

He walked with God through disappointment, broken hearted failure and just being wrung out.  But he became for us perhaps the number one theologian about Jesus and God’s plan of salvation.  His life’s message might boil down to ‘a man in Christ’.  That’s a pretty good epitaph.

What about the the one, perfect job?  Did you know that a high percentage of people hate their jobs?  Even many pastors say that they would do something else if they could, but they don’t see anything else they could do.
The scripture from Acts 11 is about Barnabas finding Paul and taking him to Antioch.  Paul was ‘the one’ who was going to be a prolific Apostle and was going to write a bunch of letters that would be inspired by God and make it into the canon of scripture.
Of course Paul was an amazing person and his life had massive impact.  But behind Paul and beside Paul, was this special man named Barnabas.  That was actually his nickname.  His real name is the very good name, Joseph.
Barnabas was such an encouraging person that he got the nickname ‘son of encouragement’ which is what Barnabas means.  He was Paul’s friend, mentor, liaison, voucher and reference.
Paul had about three years of a rocky, wild ride in his ministry, before being ‘benched’ by going back to Tarsus for nine years.  At the end of those nine years, Barnabas went to recall Paul and bring him to Antioch.  After about a year, Paul went on his first ministry trip, with Barnabas.
Barnabas was a gifted disciple, but he never exhibited a ‘me first’ or ‘I am the one’ attitude.  He was simply at the service of Jesus and allowed himself to be empowered and assigned ministry jobs including teacher, prophet and apostle.  He neither bossed Paul nor introduced him as ‘the new boss’.
 Paul made mistakes and was in sharp conflict with a couple of his apostolic associates later.  That did not disqualify Paul or make him ‘not the one’ to write New Testament letters.
Most of us have to choose a car, a job and a location to live.  A majority of people choose a spouse.  I know many people who have been married twice and a few who are like C.S. Lewis and past mid-life and are still unmarried.  
You can be fat and happy or unmarried and content.  You can be thin and unhappy or married and  discontented.  A word for the younger people: money, success, power or popularity do not make you happy.  Believe it or not, having a lot of any one of these actually makes you less happy.
Only God can give you happiness.  Remember the word, “Blessed are the poor”?  That does not mean you must have no money to be happy in God.  It does mean that money does not bring happiness.
You actually are positioned better to enter the kingdom if you are not wealthy.  Money is not the root of all evil.  The love of money is the root of all evil.
When I was graduating high school and had to choose a car, I did not know much.  Maybe I got lucky or maybe I got blessed and maybe my dad, knew something, and guided me.  I selected a Toyota.
It was outrageously reliable compared to all the cars I had seen in my family.  I had that car for about ten years.  I sold it with a quarter of a million miles on it for five hundred dollars.
Then, I tried to find the car that would be ‘the one’.  I thought I was wise in not choosing a German sports car, but ended up choosing a more sporty Japanese car.  I ended up having two of these, back to back, that both needed new engines ($$$) after only 50k to 75k miles of ownership.
After those, I actually considered a third try, but then opted for something more reliable, while still being somewhat sporty.  And that anonymous car is now over 200k and that is why I am looking for ‘the one’ again.
My two sports cars were so much fun to drive and I miss that, but I don’t miss the cost.  Life is a balance of enjoyable thrills within your budget.  I have an advice book where the author says you should own a convertible at least once in your life and I can think of three older men I look up to who have owned and ridden Harley Davidsons motorcycles.  Did you ever see the picture on the Chuck Swindoll book, where he is on a motorcycle, with his wife?
I did find the one person to marry and to have a family with.  And I am confident about the car thing.  I know that if I am careful, I can own a car for a year and then resell it with no trouble.  The job, career, calling, ministry, vocation thing is more complicated.
In a sense, I am doing my dream job.  When I was a kid, I had my own audio equipment: tape decks, microphones, radio transmitters and receivers.

And I also had a movie camera and learned to shoot and edit film.  I made a music film to a Toto song in high school and another film to a Tears For Fears song in college.  I also made a short film about the end of the world.

From the end of high school through all my college years, I had many opportunities that knocked to work in making commercials, television or film.  But I had no vocational mentor or coach.  I just had a couple of conservative, electrical engineering career path guys, who supported me in whatever I was going to choose.
And what or who I chose is what or who chose me and that is God.  Out of my life that was in chaos, confusion, fear and a longing for meaning mixed with broken hearted unhappiness came a hunger for God.
In my strategic time of the end of high school through the end of college, with all the dreaming and deciding on what to do, as I made the transition into adulthood; God intervened in my life and drew me to himself.
There are many other details I can’t go into now, on how I came to live where I live and work where I work and about the church I joined for about 14 years, and what I learned and inherited and what was developed in me that I posses today.
And after getting settled into my life with God and having a place to call home and a job, I did want to find the one to marry and a better job or a job that was a ministry job where I could do something more kingdom oriented.
I actually tried out two other careers or jobs and did them at the semi-pro level.  That happened before I got married.  I could not push the river.  I did not find her and even though the chorus said, “just pick one”, I felt like I had not found the person that I had been looking for and that God was going to send me.
God actually gave me a word, a prophecy; a promise verse that was about Janine.  That verse kind of says that all women are not equal in how they live or choose to live their lives and God will give that woman to the man who receives her from him.  I also had an additional prophecy, promise or word about my future that I wrote about, called ‘two-ten in the afternoon‘.
The clue or lesson I have learned in my search for ‘the one’ is my life is God.  The search for ‘the one’ comes out of and goes through and back to how God is ‘the one’.  God, worshipping God and serving God is ‘the one thing’.  God has always and will always be the one for me.  
I have discovered that God has a destiny, calling and inheritance for me that is developing and coming.  I chose that scripture about Paul and Barnabas because God calls and recalls and uses encouraging people in his calling and recalling.

What was Paul thinking and feeling when he went back to Tarsus for those nine years?

I think that whatever happened to Paul in those nine years was very important and had to do with his internal spiritual formation.  I believe he shared his faith and evangelized.  I don’t know if he taught people or had disciples.
Being a Barnabas and finding the Paul’s is an awesome ministry and so important.
The last thing I will say is that all of life is an in-between time and we are often in transition.  You can ruin the time you are in now by sentimentally looking back or discontentedly looking forward.  Remember that, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”.
Not recognizing transition is when ‘good’ becomes the enemy of ‘best’.  The old order gets in the way of the new order.  It is the wineskin that Jesus talked about.  God has new things, new assignments, opportunities, relationships and responsibilities to give us that require new structure.  The new structure has God’s design for that new assignment, in you and for you to serve him.
God has our best for us and we have to let go of the good, to receive it.  Paul had those three rocky years and then went to the sidelines for nine and then was called back up.  God never forgot him and Barnabas got to be God’s representative to get Paul back into what was going to happen.
Imagine the ridiculousness of if Paul never left Tarsus and just stayed there.  He instead was open to change and reforming his call.  That is a good example to follow.

Are we guided by God and God has a plan.  But there is a dance, where we make mistakes and encounter opposition.  Then God re-guides us, renews us and recalls us.  We will have opposition, but we keep walking with God and rediscovering the plan.

The path to the one is in and through The One.  That is the overarching, chief plan of radical union with Christ.

Happy Days Are Here, Again

Happy days are here, again.  We are in a new season.  A road is opening up.

We are in a time of God’s favor.  We do not have to wait any longer for the new time.  It is here.    

God is doing turnarounds in the lives of people.  What people have been waiting for, saying, “how long oh Lord?”, is happening.  Authentic desires, requests and dreams that have seemed impossible are happening right now.

Optimism is overcoming pessimism.  Belief, trust and hope will drown out cynicism.  Mourning will give way to dancing.

Dreams are coming true.  There is an open invitation being given, for a happier life.

From 2 Corinthians and Isaiah 49:

Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive God’s grace in vain.” For He says:

I heard you in an acceptable time,
and I helped you in the day of salvation.
Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.

This is what the Lord says:

I will answer you in a time of favor,
and I will help you in the day of salvation.
I will keep you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land,
to make them possess the desolate inheritances,
saying to the prisoners: Come out,
and to those who are in darkness: Show yourselves.
They will feed along the pathways,
and their pastures will be on all the barren heights.
They will not hunger or thirst,
the scorching heat or sun will not strike them;
for their compassionate One will guide them,
and lead them to springs of water.
I will make all My mountains into a road,
and My highways will be raised up.
See, these will come from far away,
from the north and from the west,
and from the land of Sinim.

Shout for joy, you heavens!
Earth, rejoice!
Mountains break into joyful shouts!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.
-2 Corinthians 6:2, Isaiah 49:8-13

We are in a time of favor.  But some of us, and that may even be the vast majority of us, have not recognized this.  We are still shaking off the old season.

It does not work to act like it is winter when it is spring, nor summer when it is fall.  We are going to be like bear cubs, who were born during hibernation, who are awakening to a whole new life.

Some us are afraid of the new time, because we are so full of disappointment, from the old season, that we are afraid of being permanently passed over.

God is saying to us, “I have never forgotten you.  I have never stopped loving you.  I have been with you through all the suffering.  Your sorrow has been befor me all along.  Do not worry.  Continue to grow in trust.”

Take a look at the next three verses, in Isaiah 49:

Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me;
The Lord has forgotten me!”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or lack compassion for the child of her womb?
Even if these forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are continually before Me.
-Isaiah 49:14-16

We are realizing that God has been with us in unhappiness.  He never turned away.  This process or realization is like a catapult.

The more I know that God has been good to me, the more that I can enjoy Him and what He has for me in times going forward.  If I do not know that God has been with me in the desert, I will not know how to walk and receive and lay hold of the life God has for me in the land of promises fulfilled.

Happy days are here, again.  A time of favor is here, again.

Be consoled.  Your dreams are not cancelled.  Your prize or reward has always been God’s love.

See your life in God’s hands.  What will God do?

The Brilliant Dance of Your Life

The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters.

-Romans 8:19 (CEB)
I believe that our life, as believers, is meant to be a brilliant dance.  It is a dance of the soul and our partner, who dances with us in brilliance, is the Spirit of God.
We sparkle and we shine.  We whirl and are vivacious.  Those watching us often will say, “How did they do that?”
The brilliant dance is when you do something remarkable.  You are a person who comes out of obscurity and brings leadership to a situation.  You are a person who knows what is to be done and says it out loud.
That is the brilliance of you and the dance of your life.  It is a dance of your soul and your partner is God.
The whirling and twirling of you life: “How did they do that?”, onlookers will say; is because of the dynamism of God inside your life.
You seemed to come out of nowhere.  They will say, “Where did you go to school”, or, “Where did you learn to do that?”; when you shine.
You shine, you sparkle and you do and say brilliant things; because of God.
Every single one of God’s children are meant to be brilliant.  Each one.  God’s plan has never been for only a few believers to be brilliant and for the rest of us to passively look on.
Every single believer is a jewel.  Each of us are precious to God and to each other.  We all sparkle and shine.  Every single one of us is destined for brilliance.
Every child of God is engaged to God in the brilliant dance of our souls.  Each one of us is destined for something spectacular.  Sounds too good to be true, because it is God’s brilliant idea.
Each one of us are God’s brilliant idea.  There is not one child of God that is not destined to be brilliant: to shine, to sparkle and to have a light that gives glory to God.
If you did not know this or if you gave up or if you are somehow or some way out of commission, get ready to be recommissioned by the Spirit of God.  Get ready to be called out to the dance floor that is your life and your soul with the real living God, the Spirit of God who is the helper, the counselor and the comforter.
Get ready for God to make you shine, sparkle and be brilliant.  Get ready to hear onlookers in your life notice you and have their mouths open and all gasp as they see what God does with you.

Auld Lang Syne

Source/Artist unknown

Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

And you don’t put wine in old, cracked bottles; you get strong, clean bottles for your fresh vintage wine. And no one who has ever tasted fine aged wine prefers unaged wine.

-Isaiah 43:18-19, Matthew 6:34 and Luke 5:38-9 (The Message)
We are three and a half weeks into the new year.  The big change happened in November and was made official this past weekend.  America said goodbye to one president and said welcome to the new president.
Many more changes are in the air and are coming, as they always are.  God is doing something in the earth.  Trump’s ascendency, like it or not, is emblematic of what God is doing.
Jesus has been building his church.  God is ready to pour out new wine.  And new wine always requires new wineskins.
The wineskin is the structure that holds the wine.  The new wine is the brand-new thing that God is doing.  The old structure will not be able to hold, manage or give leadership to the new thing that God is doing.
After taking in the inauguration weekend, I was musing about that song, “Auld Lang Syne”.  President Trump’s swearing in and his address where the final events of this election season.  But just as important, were the goodbyes and farewells to president Obama.
There has been grace to end a season and begin a new season.  Endings and beginnings are not always this way.  For example, the transition from Saul to David was pretty rocky.

I love this quote:

“The hardest changes are from God’s order to God’s new order.”
Rich Marshall

“Auld Lang Syne”, is a song that is traditionally sang at midnight on new year’s eve, bidding farewell to the old year.  It is also sung as a farewell or ending, to other occasions.  These words are in Scots, and could be loosely translated into English as, “For (the sake of) old times”.
This brings me to the scripture from Isaiah 43.  These verses basically say that if you dwell on the past, you will miss what is presently about to happen.

“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.”

Imagine a person who is still talking and thinking about their ex, when they are in a new relationship and you get the picture.

When we have our eyes on what is behind, we do not see what is beside us or ahead of us.  We need to learn to live in the present with God, not dwelling on the past, nor fear-filled or worried about the future.

I love how The Passion Translation puts Matthew 6:33-34:

     “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him.  Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.  Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

My Inheritance of Abiding With God

May he sit enthroned before God forever; appoint faithful love and truth to guard him.

-Psalm 61:7
Abiding with God, being guarded by faithful love and trueness is my inheritance.  Sitting enthroned before God is all about God’s love and not about me.  God has dealt kindly and truly with me.
God has appointed or assigned to me his faithful love and his true blue faithfulness.  God is forever loving and true to me.  And my inheritance is to abide with God forever.
The desire to abide with, before and in God is not a hope for the distant future, but a declaration of what I want now and forever.  Abiding with God is living in and before God.  Abiding is hiding, but in plain sight.
I abide in God as I live, as I go and as I live my life.  When I cry out, “Take me away, so I can be with You”, this is not an expression of a desire for escapism or isolation, but rather a desire to have intimate fellowship with God as I face everything in my life.

I do desire and I do long for and I do look forward to every chance I get to be alone with God and focus all my senses and all my energy on Him.  And I face life, having been in and remaining in God’s presence.  The only way to live the life is to abide in Him, remain in Him and face God as I face living my life.

My inheritance is not like a mountain cabin, that I want to get away to.  My inheritance is what He has given me to live in today and into all of the future.  It is what he has given me in my heart.

God’s gift is portable and helps me through everything in my life.  Abiding in God is amplified gloriously when I am alone with Him, but the awesomeness or versatility of my possession is that it is mine to take with me wherever I go.

Everywhere I go and in every situation I am a part of, God is there.  God is big, almighty, to be revered and His love for me is steadfast and He is true.  God is ‘true blue’, truy always and deals with always truly.
God appoints or assigns His steadfast, faithful lovingkindness and His true faithfulness to guard, watch over and protect me.  As I endeavor to abide in God through my life, God appoints His steadfast love and faithful truth as the legs that hold my life up.  God’s faithful love and truthfulness are the walls that protect my desire to abide, sit or dwell in His presence.

Pilgrimage, Journey, Story and The Ultimate Goal

They go from strength to strength; each appears before God in Zion.

-Psalm 84:7
All of life is a journey, a story and a pilgrimage.  We are sojourners and pilgrims.  We are pilgrims making progress and we are pilgrims who are pioneer explorers, on our way somewhere.
The life of the believer is not static.  If we do not move, we will be moved, backwards.  We are always being called to move forward, upward and onward: from strength to strength.
We are always gaining new skills as we go further along in the journey.  The skills are things like humility, graciousness and deeper and wider love.  
As believers, we are growing up and the fruit of the Spirit that grows in our lives is deeper in flavor and in the exquisiteness of its refreshment.  As we are built and strengthened, we are growing up before we grow old.
The further on that we go, from strength to strength, we have better discernment and we are more patient with others.  We talk less and listen more.
The further along we go, the better that we are able to love in agape, sacrificial, unselfish Christ-like love.  A sign or example of someone who has been on the strength to strength journey with God, is that they handle challenging people with more grace, love and forgiveness.
There is a saying that, “Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto”.  Going solo in your whole life is a no no.  
Have you ever looked at the V formation of birds, particularly migratory birds, in flight.  Birds, designed by God, often practice shared leadership, in flocks.  Migratory birds would not be able to make their long journey without shared leadership.
We need the support and shared leadership of others, for our journey.  God did not design us to “go it” or be alone.  Sin is bad and destructive.  But a human condition that is deemed “not good” is being alone.  We need a companion, we need a friend; and the best way to find a companion or a friend is to be one to a variety of people and some of these will stick (around).  There is a proverb that says to find a friend, be friendly.
We are plural as friends, family, church and community; but we are each, singularly on a journey to God.  And God, Elohim, is plural.  God is three in one and the God who appears in different ways, but is still the God, God, the only true God.
We are on a journey together, but as individuals.  Each one of us has our own relationship with God.  Some or much of it is secret and intimate, although we share with others about our relationship.  I am ultimately seeking God in an “I Thou” relationship or encounter.
Even though I am one of Jesus’ disciples, in the larger group, he says to me as an individual, “follow me”.  If I ask him about someone else and their walk with him, he will usually tell me to love that person, and follow Him.  His dealings with others are sometimes instructive, but I am ultimately responsible for myself and what he has called me to do and be.  And my quest is to follow him and obey him and become who he is making me to be and do what he has for me to do.
We together are sojourners, on a journey together, with those we live with or have partnered, aligned or been made family with through Christ in the church.  Our whole groups depend on our leaders who spearhead our journey together and make choices when there are a number of options on the path.  And sometimes there is a disagreement and we reason together and prefer one another while sharing wisdom and passionate desires in what or how we think God is guiding us, and we seek for a consensus.
We all have the ultimate goal of seeing God face to face and hearing God say words to us individually.  We all have the goal of resting in God now and forever.  The goal of life for believers is to be with God and that is what animates and gives fuel, inspiration and endurance for the whole journey of our life stories.

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