Kingdoms are Colliding but You Have to Pick a Side

stars-collision-planets-astronautics-nasaI have a post on Facebook that has been converted into a boosted post which is, in effect, an advertisement. It pushes the message of the post out further than the immediate circle of friends that are connected to me. The topic of that post is simply a link with a short description of my new book.

To be honest, I am figuring out the best way to make the book and other things that I do available in the spirit of good stewardship without becoming a self-promoter. It’s not comfortable yet. From that discomfort, the reality is that this boosted post pushing my book proclaiming freedom in Christ is now “out there” for thousands of strangers to come across.

The other morning, there was a comment added to the post. The comment was a photograph and the photograph was depraved.  I deleted it and was reminded immediately that there is an enemy that comes against the Good News of the Kingdom of God. I was reminded that there is light and there is darkness, but there are no shades of gray.

The reminder that this kind of opposition persists was a good reminder. It was good to realize with fresh experience that Jesus won and we do through Him. My reaction to the photograph, other than deleting it, was to worship. I was in my car and I began to pray and sing. There were some great worship songs that came on over the radio and over the next 20 or 30 minutes I celebrated Jesus.

Yesterday morning Richard Henderson was reminded and shared with us that following Jesus is not balanced. There is no balance in a life given over to Him and His Kingdom. It’s unreasonable, unbalanced and uncommon. The weight of that reminder and the stirring of that weight resulted in a clearer vision of the clash of kingdoms. Light and darkness collide and you don’t want to be standing in the intersection of a collision. Pick a side and gain momentum.

“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)

He already won. We win in and through Him. We can know the fullness of abundant life and the glory of God when we die with Christ to live in Him. We’ll face opposition but that threat is a head fake. Nothing can undo what Jesus has done.

Turning Insecurities into Security

freeIf you are interested in whether or not you are insecure, allow for new circumstances in your life. Where there is a new environment or new challenges, there are new insecurities that get exposed. These new circumstances can be as mundane as a new team member or a change in plans from what was expected or routine. In those changes, the questions arise which lay dormant until stirred up.

  • What if they don’t like me?
  • Do they notice me?
  • What is my place?
  • Why does that person get to do that instead of me?
  • How can I get promoted?
  • What if I fail?
  • Am I going to lose stuff I value?

The realization that things are out of our control is a gift that leads us to the end of us. When we get a glimpse at our limitations, we begin to realize our potential. We are, in fact, designed for great and glorious things but it’s not our responsibility to make those things happen. We simply agree. Insecurity offers the opportunity to become secure.

Walking out a life of faith is walking out a life of relationship. The relationship is with the Father and the Father doesn’t want us to run ahead and do stuff “for” Him or even to “be used” by Him. He invites us to receive and be included. When we rest in that reality, we know the peace of security.

Even when we “get it,” that realization is limited by the prodigals of our soul which haven’t returned to the Father’s love and supply. There are parts of us the think we can make better decisions and produce better outcomes. Until those parts of us decide to head home to the love and rest of the Father’s estate, we strive and toil from an insecure place.

He’ll invite us into new things and those new things are for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom. The fact that we are invited and included affirms our place in Him but those invitations also reveal the places within us that have not yet submitted to Him. If we will live the life of challenge and adventure that comes with a faith filled calling, we will enjoy the transformative process of redemption which turns our insecurities into security in Him.

 

Belief Isn’t Belief Until It is Evident In Our Choices

192_192_5Belief isn’t just understanding, it’s trusting the thing you think you understand enough to actually act on it. Belief is recognized by activity, not debate. Intellectual understanding is the beginning of belief but not the culmination of belief.

In John 6, Jesus is teaching some paradigm shifting stuff and people who were following Him are changing their mind. When He gets into the nuts and bolts of this new Kingdom He is unfolding, the shift is too much for some people to believe to the point that they give their life to it. As they are leaving, He looks at the 12 that are walking closest with Him and asks them if they are going to leave, too? They tell Him they aren’t, as they have no place to go, and that they “have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (v. 69)

They tell Him that they have come to “believe” and to “know” but those words aren’t restating the same thing as they have slightly different meanings. The word “believe” actually contains two ideas within its definition. One of the ideas to describe the meaning behind that word include the idea of intellectual faith and another is the idea of saving faith by trusting in Jesus. Trust is different from agreement.

The intersection of faith is within the word “believe.” We don’t believe until we trust. When we step off the cliff into a life given over to the Father as our protector, provider and promoter, then we believe. For as long as we do it ourselves, even in His name, then we only agree.

The word “know” is derived from the idea of intimate experience including feelings and perceptions. It’s an experiential learning where the ideas that you might agree with are actually experienced. Where we trust the Truth to be True for us and act in faith in reliance on that Truth, we’ll actually believe and where we actually believe we’ll know because we experience. Where we offer our faith, God offers His faithfulness and our faith is strengthened by the experience with Him. Where we sacrifice,  He resurrects and multiplies.

That’s why, in part, James 1:22 says to be “doers” and not just “hearers.” It won’t get “in” us until we trust it enough to move beyond studying for a quiz and make it a jump off of the cliff. We won’t trust it if we don’t trust Him and we won’t trust Him unless we die to us. Are you going to leave, too?

Do What You Do And Let it Multiply in Others

ttps-3dI wrote a book and have another one turned into the editor. This one is “Transforming the Prodigal Soul,” and the next one has a working title of “The Benefits of Grace,” probably out this summer. I’ve written a book before without an editor but it really wasn’t very good and I think I’ll re-write that one with help sometime in the next year or two.

Somebody asked me why I write and I write because it’s in me. I assume it’s like a painter wanting to paint. Most painters don’t believe they are Picasso, Monet or Michelangelo but they paint anyway. I wonder, for that matter, when those guys started knowing they were those guys. Before they were known they were unknown and they painted anyway.

I don’t need to be known and struggle with the right rhythm of how and when to make the book available and known. Constant chirping about it on social media will get old. No discussion at all will be a waste of the time and money that was put into it. I think there is value to what God gave me to put into words but I don’t want to presume that value or the audience that the Lord has in mind.

A friend of mine was a youth pastor years ago and they started a Saturday night service at his church. He didn’t want to have Saturday night services because he didn’t think High School kids were going to want to go to church on Saturday nights. He was right; only one kid showed up the first night they rolled out the new youth program during the new adult services.

There they were, the two of them, and my friend said to the kid, “let’s go get a steak.” So they went and had a steak dinner for youth group meeting, the two of them. They talked and ate and it was good, but it wasn’t preaching to the multitudes like my friend had been trained to do and aspired to do.

Years later, that kid was an adult and he got in touch with my friend. The kid that had become a man also had become a youth pastor and he was investing in others. He told my friend that he still remembers that steak dinner and it impacts how he interacts with others. The multiplication of the steak dinner was one life invested in another and that other invested in another and on and on.

What do you do? Write? Paint? Sing? Buy somebody dinner? Do what you do with the intention of sharing what is in you and leave the results and multiplication up to the One that put your “it” in you in the first place.

Legacy is Created by Personal Investment

chuckI learned through Facebook that a soccer coach and mentor of mine from middle school died last week. Although we had not been in touch for decades, I grieved when I heard of his death, which was described as “unexpected.” It caught me off guard that the news impacted me like it did.

When I texted my sister of his death, she texted back, “That so sad; he was a great man.” I agreed with her and wondered further about how we both concluded that despite our disconnection from him for such a long time. I concluded that our disconnection actually affirmed his greatness as the connection that was present decades ago had that kind of lasting impact.

Chuck Blische not only coached soccer, he invested in people. He connected on a personal level and gave himself away. At least that’s what he did for me. He gave me what he had; he gave me himself.

I also remember spending extensive time with him as he prepared me, trained me and worked with me as a soccer referee. I started to realize that the lessons he delivered via soccer have carried over into many other areas of my life.

I was a 14-year-old kid learning how to officiate soccer games on a small army post in Germany. Chuck taught me more than the rules, he taught me leadership. He taught me that the referee has to be in control of the game but the game can’t be about him. He taught me that authority did not equate to arrogance and respect for others would bring greater results than the whistle and a red card. He not only told me these things, but he modeled them and he released me to exercise and grow in them.

Greatness is determined by what we do with people. We will be remembered, or not, by the people we invested in or didn’t. No matter who or what you invested in three decades ago, there is somebody in your life today that needs what you have. Don’t just tell them; show them. Take time with them and let them try. When they try, cheer them on and when they are ready, release them to do without you. You aren’t only investing in them, you are investing in your legacy. Just like Chuck did.

Thanks, Chuck. I miss you more now than I did for the past three decades and I realize now more than ever what you have done for me.

3 Ways to Examine Whether You are Resting or Striving

5883_5883_5Towards the end of last year, I was tired. It had been a very good year, and it had undoubtedly been the busiest year of my life. While there was satisfaction in much of what was done, I was dissatisfied with how I had run out of steam in December. No shame in it, just an indication that too much was being drained from me so that meant too often the source was me.

We were afforded the opportunity to take some time as a couple and as a family and travel. During that incredible time of restoration and connection, I had some time of connection with the Lord which was for just me. It wasn’t sermon prep or mining for teaching points, it was just me and Him. From that time, He took me to this verse to reflect on last year and meditate on during the coming year:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The two words that jumped out were “nothing” and “abide.” We can do things that amount to nothing when we are the source of those things. Where Jesus is not the source as the Vine, we are our own little vines. The fruit of us is temporal and illusory; it is nothing. Only He will produce eternal, true and lasting somethings.

With that sobering realization, the idea of abiding took on new weight. Can you abide by declaring and trying to abide? Is there some way to ensure that you are abiding? More quiet times? More Bible reading? How do I know when I am abiding?

Looking at the definition of the word, I found indicators for how to take an inventory of my methods, attitudes, and focus to determine if I was, in fact, abiding. From the definition, I saw that abiding was in three forms. We can abide (or not):

  • In reference to place: remaining continually present as sojourners on a temporary stop in a longer journey without departing to the next thing/place. When I recognize that my time on earth is only the beginning of eternity and not the conclusion of my destiny, I can abide in Jesus.
  • In reference to time: in reference to the eternity of the souls of people. When I am present with people, recognizing the value of their souls as designed to spend eternity with Him, I can abide in Jesus.
  • In reference to state or condition: as who I am, not who I want to be or who I mistakenly think I might be. When I remember that I am adopted by Jesus as a son of God, righteous by His sacrifice and accepted by His invitation, I can abide in Jesus.

Abiding is a minute to minute proposition some days. There are other times, hours or days, that I “get it” for more extended periods. As for right now, right this moment, I choose to abide as I consider my eternal destiny, the people who I am with and who I am in Him over the distractions that would cause me to be my own little vine. How about you?