Notes For 2018

Here are my notes on what is going to happen in 2018.  Four points.  Not comprehensive.  
Do you know the story of when Jesus left his family at about age 30?  This year might be like that.  Do you know about the time when boys become men, when they leave their mom and join the men?  This year might be like that.
Do you remember when you left home to go to college?  Do you remember when you stopped being single and got married?  Do you remember when you became a parent?  Do you remember when you were called up to go somewhere, if you have ever served in the military?  Do you remember when you were tapped for or fell into a leadership role?  Do you remember when you lost your job and had to find another one: things changed but you survived and made it?  This year is going to be like that.
Do you remember meeting your spouse?  Do you remember your first day on campus?  Do you remember the day your marriage ended or someone died?  Do you remember the birth of your child?  And do you remember the day you met that boy or girl that you adopted?  Do you remember when you found out you were pregnant?  This year is going to be like that.
This is going to be a liminal year.  I mentioned all those life events, to bring to your mind what liminality is like.  There is liminality every day and every year: sunrise & sunsets every day and births and deaths every year, seasons changing and new jobs, and all the changes that we face in life.
But there are particular years when liminality is bigger, at large, corporately, society large.  And that is what 2018 is going to be.  You and I are like swimmers in the ocean.  The wave is coming, and we can ride the wave joyfully or have it crash over us.
No matter what, that wave is coming, and we will be disoriented from our bobbing up and down in the swells.  You can resist it, jump up like a cork and let it pass you, or ride the wave.  I imagine that people will do all three.  Three people might be standing before the wave and each one responds differently. 
The wave is coming and how to respond to it will be up to each one of us.  We aren’t robots.  Here comes the move and now we must choose.
Pretty much every revival in the history of the church was embraced by some and rejected by others.  God moves and we have to choose.  Ironically, members of past revival movements often reject new revival movements, that are both from God, but are different.
When Jesus moved out of, departed, or took leave from his family, his hometown, and the business he headed up; he was not exactly given a nice send off and wished well, especially when they discovered his new endeavor.  His change was right and good, but some didn’t get it, and were even opposed to the move.  There is a time to shift and change, move from and into, to walk through a door of  destiny when you must depart in order to arrive.
  • 2018 will be a year of departures and arrivals.  We will move on and take leave.  We will say goodbye and say hello.  This means big change.  We can not stay and be at the new place.  We will depart and arrive. The old can not hold the new and must be bid adieu.  After the Hebrew year of 5778 began, last fall, some people in our lives announced their departure plans and today they are already living in their new destinations.  They are first first-fruits people.  I don’t think everyone is going to move, but we are going to make moves, designed by God, in our lives, this year.  This is the year to move into your destiny by moving through change, from one place to another place.  This year is a year where there is a door that is open to be walked through.  We will all move this year, from one place to another place.  
    • 2018 will be a year of moving from something and into something: departures and arrivals.

      I think that this is a year to move, to depart one thing and go into another thing.  We have to depart in order to arrive.  We will not get into the new place unless we leave the old place.

      It’s time.  We are now ready.  A window of time is here to walk through a door into something new.

      There is a time to stay, but 2018 will be the time to go, to depart.  If we stay, if we do not move out, move on, and move to; it will be a missed opportunity.  There is favor and permission to move this year.

      “Your move.”

      It will not happen if you do not act, if you do not make your move.  There is a path set before us, that we can only see the entryway to.  We have to move into that way, to get into that path, to go down that road; or it won’t happen.

      We can not go into the new thing, the new level, or the new and better dimension, unless we also leave the old.  To go there, we must depart here.  We can not arrive unless we depart.

      To stay where you are, but bring in that new thing, is not what God is doing.  That would be like staying with your parents, but still getting married: something not recommended (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5, Eph. 5:31 ).  And that would also be like how Jesus said new wine will burst the old wineskins (Matt. 9:17, Mk. 2:22, Lk. 5:37-8).

      We are going to move from something and into something.  We are going to have to depart in order to arrive.  God has been preparing us to depart, so that we can arrive, preparing us to move from, so that we can move into.

      Did you notice the change in 2017, where you have already begun to reconfigure things?  When we walk with God, he changes us, for the better.  And changed people live differently.

      God has a better life for us, but we have to be changed to enter into it; and that is what has been happening.  People who refuse to be transformed, to change, will suffer unhappiness and needless pain.  They will miss out.  We have to walk in Christ to inherit the promises.  It’s not automatic.  God is placing a door in front of us, but we have to walk through that door.

  • 2018 is going to be a year of justice for, in, and through governmental leadership.  There will be justice where there has been injustice.  There have been great injustices at the highest levels of government, particularly but not limited to President Trump and his team, that will be exposed and dealt with for all to see.  There will be exoneration for some and consequences for others.  President Trump will gain and regain his reputation as a champion of justice.  There is a move of God going on, in government; national, state, and local; to expose corruption and injustice.  President Trump and his team happen to be the ones in place while God is doing this.  He and his team may want things cleared out and cleaned up, but this was God’s idea and God is now answering prayers that have been prayed for decades.

  • In 2018, people who have been looking for the authentic church, built by God in Christ, are going to find it.  We are going to be surprised to find other people, who are already there.  We are going to be surprised that we don’t have to build the church, but it is already built and being built.  We just did not see it or could not find it, but that is going to change in 2018.  Pioneers are going to find their homes.  Jesus’ church, that he has been building, will become more visible in 2018.  The church at large, especially the church that has Jesus as it’s head, will begin to regain it’s lost reputation this year.  The church that allows Jesus to be it’s head and builder, will be renovated and restored to it’s original design.  It will stand up and stand out as a city on a hill and the light of the world again.  A place of peace and rest.  A gateway and bridge to God and heaven.
  • In 2018, Christians will repent.  Repentance will come alive in the body of Christ, corporately.  Together, as a people and a family, we will repent of our sins and the sins of our fathers and mothers.  We will get in touch with our shame, so that we can be healed.  Instead of being shameless, we will repent and get in touch with our ugly, frightening shame; and let Jesus heal us and cleanse us.  We will get in touch with how out of step we have been with Jesus and with heaven.  We will get in touch with how and where the church has just become something in the world, run by worldly values, and not by Christ and by words that come from heaven.  The church will get in touch with it’s own captivity, of being Christians in name only.  It will be more obvious what ‘churches’ have nothing to do with the living God and His Christ and the Spirit of God, but are counterfeits, from the world and by the world, that is at odds with Christ.  False churches that bear the name of Christ or people and tribes who authentically represented and followed Christ in the past, will have the opportunity to repent and change.  Just the fact that some parts of the church do not bear a resemblance to Jesus and heaven, but are from the world, that has not been to the cross and bowed to the Lordship of the living Christ, will become more evident or exposed in 2018.  

Happy New Year!

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.

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

There is a proverb that says, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.  It means that it is better to act on or deal with problems immediately, because if you wait and deal with them later, things will get worse and the problems will take longer to deal with.  That is what the Cambridge Dictionary says.

Here are some other phrases that describe what ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ means:

  • Sort out problems that arise immediately and it will save you a lot of extra work later.
  • Sew one stitch now, so you won’t have to sew nine stitches later.
  • A little effort expended sooner to fix a small problem prevents it from becoming a larger problem requiring more effort to fix later. 
  • A little preparation can eliminate the need for repairs later.
  • If you sort out a problem immediately it may save extra work later.
  • It is better to deal with problems immediately rather than later as things will worsen and take longer to amend.
  • If you fix a small problem right away, it will not become a bigger problem later. Let’s patch the roof before that hole gets bigger.
What did Jesus say and what does the Bible say on this topic?
Jesus said,

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:34

Jesus was saying to deal with what is happening in the present.

The Biblical issue or topic that the proverb, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, addresses is diligence:
  • The diligent hand will rule, but laziness will lead to forced labor. (Prov. 12:24)
  • The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing. (Prov. 20:4)
  • A slacker’s craving will kill him because his hands refuse to work. He is filled with craving all day long, but the righteous give and don’t hold back.(Prov. 21:25-26)
  • I went by the field of a slacker and by the vineyard of a man lacking sense. Thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground, and the stone wall was ruined. I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit. (Prov. 24:30-34)
The Bible is pro-work.  There is no retirement in the Bible.  All of life is work.  Work should be enjoyable is also what the Bible says.

The richest years of your life are meant to be your grey hair years.  That is when you get to spend your most valuable time working for others, helping others and mentoring others.

The proverb, ‘a stitch in time save nine’, is about not procrastinating.  Many little things add up to a great life.  Those who don’t do the little things never do the big things.

Millionaires or Billionaires are people who have done the small things well, usually.

Here are a few quotes on time:

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.“

— Stephen Covey

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.“

— Mike Murdock

“The best thing to spend on your children is your time.“

— Louise Hart

“How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.“

— David Norris

“Time invested in improving ourselves cuts down on time wasted in disapproving of others.“

– Unknown

“Time spent in getting even would be better spent in getting ahead.“

– Unknown

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”

— Thomas Edison

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.“

— Laertius Diogenes

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.“

— Carl Sandburg

“The supply of time is a daily miracle. You wake up in the morning and lo! Your purse is magnificently filled with 24 hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of life. It is yours! The most precious of your possessions.“

— Arnold Bennet

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Are You Going To Carry That Weight?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

-Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Are you burned out on religion?  That is the exquisite way that Eugene Peterson translated Matthew 11:28.  Religion means working, getting tired from working and telling others to get to work.  Jesus view and style is that what we do comes out of and through rest.  Resting is not about unplugging from work, but plugging into the one who loves you.
We are ‘saved unto good works’, but we don’t work to be saved.  The work we do was God’s idea and it flows out of our relationship, in Christ:

“Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”
-Ephesians 2:8-10 (MSG)

There is an old song called , “He is our peace”.  Besides the title, I always remember the key line, “Cast all your cares on Him, for he cares for you.”  That comes from 1 Peter 5:7, where Peter quotes or echoes Psalm 55:22, that says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (HCSB)
It is also notable that believers do stumble and fall, but God has our hand and helps us get back up.  The falling is like tripping, misstepping or losing or way or our ballance.  Some translations say, “Though he may stumble, he will not fall”, while others have, “Though he fall, he is not overwhelmed” (Ps. 37:24, NIV, HCSB).
We all have dreams, from God and challenges, God allows.  We want to and rightly so need to take responsibility for how we unpack and navigate these, as stewards.  But we don’t carry the whole weight of it.

With the vision and with the obstacles, comes gifts of grace, gifts from God.  It is not just about seeing and then doing the vision or encountering and overcoming the obstacles.  It is about unpacking the treasure that God endowed you with to participate in and be a developer of that vision.  And as each obstacle comes into play, you will discover gifts or grace from God to counter the obstacles. 

We partner with God because we are a covenant people.  We are not people who are under a contract, where each side is bound to do this or that.  In our covenant with God, we give ourselves to God and God gives himself to us.

More from Ephesians 2, from The Message:

“But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.” (Eph. 2:11-13)

Inside the covenant, there is no selfishness.  Each party gives for the mutual benefit.  We are new covenant people.
God has made a covenant to save us through Christ.  And we get to give ourselves to God and live in the covenant, in Christ.  God does all the heavy lifting and we get to participate as junior partners or king’s kids.

The new covenant (Matt. 26:26-9, Mark 14:23-4, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:23-6, Heb 7:20-2, 8:6-13, 9:11-17, 12:22-13-21) supersedes the old one and Christians are now a part of Zion, which has always been believers out of all the nations (Psalm 87).

When we stress or worry, struggle and strive; we might be carrying the weight that is God’s to carry.  We live in the paradox of receiving promises and permission from God, in love; but we don’t have the power or the wherewithal to make it happen.

Please forgive me, for cherry picking verses (versitous), but here are some verses:

  • His yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
  • His grace is sufficient for you: strength is made perfect in weakness (1 Cor. 12:9).
  • God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
  • I will be with you (Judges 6:16).
Are you going to carry that weight?  Time to get low and get the yoke of Christ on.  Time to cast your cares on Him.
God does give us responsibility.  We are stewards of what he gives us.  And we need to be good at stewardship, because that is faith and faithfulness, which God wants from us and it is only natural to be faithful to the person who is faithful to us and to whom we put our faith in.
This question of, “Are you going to carry that weight”, cuts two ways.  We need to not strive or worry and take on what is not ours to carry.  And we need to take responsibility to pick up and carry what is ours.
We also must bear the responsibility for our own development.  Jesus is still asking crippled people if they would like to be made well.  He is still handing out talents and watching to see what we do with them.
So, as I consider the weight, I think about his yoke that is easy and his burden that is light and the resting in him from which my life is supposed to flow, by his design.  And I also think about the responsibility of stewarding what he gives me.
The weight I want to carry is the weight of the yoke of Christ, that is easy, compared to other yokes, and light.  I want to live from rest.  I want to rest in Christ and let him live through 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.

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.”

Things Are Going According To The Plan

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.

The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.

Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin.

By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil.

When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.

Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.
-Proverbs 16:1-9; Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

Even though at times, we feel like failures, or think that things are not turning out right; things are going accord to the plan.  Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, it seems like nothing works and frustration and disappointment mark our lives; but things are going according to the plan.  And then, when we do succeed: when there is affirmation and applause, and when we feel all lit up and feel like we are floating; but then it all wears off, fades out, and we come down and feel empty again; because things are going according to the plan.
No matter what we choose, things go according to the plan; most of the time, but not always.  An untimely death, a tragic accident, or evil deeds are not part of the plan.  War, famine and human indifference are also not part of the plan.
Things go according to the plan in our lives, as we walk before God and as God watches over us.  The plan is a life walked with and before God, where God transforms us through our fellowship with God.  
The plan is for God to bless us and it is first about our hearts and God’s love.  The choices we make are our choices, and no matter what we choose, God’s plan for us works.  God does not choose for us, whether is is a good or a bad choice, a righteous or an unrighteous choice or, a loving or an unloving choice.  We choose and God decides.
We can make all sorts of plans, but God has the last word.

We might feel good or feel bad about how our plans are shaping up and turning out, but God is concerned about our hearts.

Whatever your plans are, if you roll with God, you will get there.  Roll with God, do not expect God to roll with you.

The Lord has a response or answer to everything, including evil, that He gives at the time He chooses.

Pride is one thing God hates.  The sin of pride is when we live like we are God.  And God will not tolerate that and teaches us that he resists the proud.

Living in God’s love and in being true to God covers us from sinfulness and shields us from evil.

The Lord takes pleasure in our way of living, and His favor resting upon us gives us peace between us and our would-be enemies.

The life walked with God is a life where we are content with less and live by never doing what is not right, for our personal gain.

We calculate our life’s plans, but God establishes our lives.

The Lord establishes the journey of the person that He is charmed, dazzled, thrilled, tickled pink or bowled over by.  And that person is the child who loves their papa and rolls with Him.

That is the plan and things are going according to the plan no matter what choices we make.  This is because God does have a plan, God is Lord and He loves us.

You Are a God Who Acts on Behalf of Those Who Wait on Him

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

-Isaiah 64:4 (NIV)
I am curious, and I anticipate what you will do.  
I have to intentionally bring to mind and come to the realization again that you do things.  
You are a God who acts on behalf of those who wait on him.
I have waited on you and I have seen you act on my behalf.  
You are doing it again right now and I believe you will continue to do so.  
And I will continue to trust you, wait on you, and put my faith in you.
My life is a testimony of your goodness, your acts, your blessings, comfort, and nurture.  
I rest and am activated in your grace.  
I productively live my life, waiting for and anticipating your actions.
My life is filled with awe and wonder at you.  
I marvel at your wisdom, love, and power.  
The only possible response to knowing you is worship.
I praise you, long for you, and weep before you.  
All my heart belongs to you.  
I live in thankfulness for all you have given me today, while anticipating what you will do tomorrow.
Today is beautiful.  
Each day is filled with the fruit of your work in my life and in the lives of my dear ones.  
I wait on you to act on my behalf, as I enjoy the life you have already given me.
I live in curiosity, and anticipation.  
I have brought to mind and realized again that you do things, for me.  
You are a God who acts on behalf of those who wait on him.

My Life is Written on The Palms of Your Hands

Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.

Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You.

-Isaiah 49:16, Psalm 139:16-18
Do you know that God has you?  God is very cognizant as to what you are going through.  God knows all about you and your life.
Do you know that God cares about you?  God cares about us as individuals.  God knows about the trial or trouble, the joy or jubilation that you are living in right now.
God knows if you are bored, frustrated, depressed, or suicidal.  God is intimately acquainted with each one of our lives and each one of us as unique individuals that he has created.  God knows and God cares.
The Bible reminds us of this fact, and I am glad it does, because I think that we tend to forget.  We forget that God knows and God cares.  He is all-knowing and forever caring.
My life is written on the palms of Your hands.
Yes, God knows and cares.  I need to be reminded of this.  I need to remember.
Everything that I experience, God experiences with me.  I am with God, even when I don’t remember that God is with me.  God intimately knows my life.
When I experience disappointment, regret, emptiness, or frustration about my life; God is there with me.  “You were here and I did not know it”, or, “There you are, with me… Oh, you are here.”  Now that I realize you are here, I can live differently, by your love.
God believes in me.  Will I believe in God?  Yes I will.
Whatever challenge we face, God is with us.  Don’t forget to realize that God is with you in what ever you are going through.  God is the essential ingredient in our lives.
We at not left alone or just known from a distance.  But God is with us in our lives.  God counsels us, advocates for us, comforts us, empowers us, teaches us, and encourages us; all of the time.
Like the psalmist says, when you wake up, there God is, with you.  We always want to be awakened to the awareness that God is with us.  This is such good news, and we need to get it, to know it, and to live in it.
The only life I can live is the life lived by the faithfulness of God.  If things are dreary, look for God’s faithfulness towards you.  God is faithful, so I need to find it, count it, and walk in it.
He knows.  Since I know he knows and sees and is with me, I want to be with him.  I will lean into God in my life.
I will lean into God’s grace, God’s presence; knowing He knows and He cares.  He has good gifts and plans for me, and the greatest good thing or gift is knowing Father’s love.
Yep, it is enough and the rest is all gravy, as they say.

Declarations and Admonitions

Never give up on God, others, or yourself.

Know that God always can make a way no matter what.

There is always room for faith, hope, and love.

Rest daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly; because lack of rest creates disease in body, mind, and spirit.

Feeling hopeless, depressed, angry, or confused might mean you need rest.

Doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing.

When you move, you can be steered; so get a move on and look for guidance.

Picture: Pixabay

Ask questions when you don’t know the answer.

Say you hurt when you hurt, so you can find comfort or get insight on how you are hurting yourself.

Always be willing to forgive, when you have been wronged.

Always offer love, which is primarily presence and attention.

See how you can do more with less.

Cultivate a generous life-style, where you let others go first and give away free smiles.

Sharing is a central hub of the Christian life, so share food, stories, and time together.

Practice talking less and listening more.

Learn the value of silence.

Live in the triangle of unity, holiness, and generosity; with love at the center.

Do thankfulness first, before you recite the negative.

Make space in your life, in your heart and how you live, where you look for God’s move.

Cultivate a life of love, being loved, loving others, and loving your self; so that the signature of your life and thread that ties everything together is the love of God.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑