Growing up my dad and I took time each summer to backpack. I look back on those times very fondly and hope that I will begin backpacking with my kids as they get older. Almost all of my backpacking took place in the Adirondack Mountains
in New York State. Some times we would hike 15 to 20 miles in a day so that we could ascend to the top of one of the 46 high peaks
. The views were always so wonderful once you got to the top.
As a young kid much of what I stopped to enjoy was the views from the peak. I always thought my dad was goofy for taking pictures of flowers and spider webs. As I would rush up the trails to get to the destination and then fly down the mountains to get back to camp my dad would always try to get me to slow down and enjoy the views along the way. I remember times when he would stop and have me come back to him so I could look out over a cliff and see a beautiful view. For me it was always about the destination and never about the journey. I couldn’t wait to get to the top to say that I had completed the journey and tackled another of the 46 high peaks.
I have found that it is so hard to stop and enjoy the journey! I want to get things done and play when the task is completed. This causes me to be driven to get things done. At times this can be quite valuable but I find that it also means that I get to miss the enjoyment of the process. I miss the joy of the people along the way because I push hard to get things done. This push relegates people to tools to get things done. Parenting is another things that I often want to see accomplished rather than enjoying the journey with my kids. By God’s grace I have been given a view of what I would like to see our kids be like as they grow older. I work towards that view understanding that the view can change. Understanding the importance of each moment, of the journey means that I will also maximize the enjoyment of life for both myself and my kids. God is also helping me realize this and to slow down. To enjoy the journey leads to us getting the most out of everything that is accomplished. When we complete the task without the joy of the journey we not only miss out on many teachable moments but we also miss out on the opportunity to grow with others. As my dad (of course the statement isn’t original to him) would always tell me:
Stop and take time to smell the roses!
In my next post we are going to explore further this idea of smelling the roses but next time we are going to explore why this idea is not complete.
Today I met with a friend and had a great conversation learning about where he was at and where he saw himself plugging into the church. I would have never known where he was at or what he wanted to do except for our conversation today. His desire has been there but no one has taken the time to find out or ask him to get involved. Way to often we miss out on getting people involved because we don’t take the time to sit down with them and ask.
Many times in the church we feel as though we struggle to find people to get involved and help out. We even get frustrated and think very judgmental thoughts about brothers and sisters. Now as I reflect on my conversation with my friend I realize that often we get frustrated and get no help because we mistake announcements for asking.
The process may go like this. I can’t believe that no one wants to help. Then someone says, “Have you asked people?” We respond, “Well yeah, we have announced it the last three weeks and no one has volunteered.” In our minds we have asked people and they have not responded. The thing is when we take time to personally ask people they often are excited to get involved and help out. The personal connection helps them feel valued and know that they are truly needed. With a general announcement it is too easy to think that someone else will come forward and help. We easily rationalize away our responsibility to help out.
If you are struggling to get people to help out and find yourself getting frustrated then take time to stop and think, “who should I take the time to go to and personally ask to help?” You will be encouraged and they will feel valued! Then you can truly say that you have asked people and not simply announced it!
Over the last few months God has allowed us to be on a crazy journey as we have sought His will for our lives. I always use to think that God’s will was supposed to be revealed in some magnificent way so that we could be sure that we were in the center of it. Then I came to realize that it was not the case but practically I still lived that way. As we would come to new junctures in life I kept waiting for God to speak but always in the end He never spoke that clearly.
The pattern that I have seen in my life has been a continuous battle to remain patient as I wait for God’s will to unfold. When I am in those waiting stages I find that anything sounds like it would be a lot of fun and as long as God is included I begin to think that it might be His will for me. Therefore I begin to pursue different things with passion that overwhelms me and possesses me until I find the answer. In those times when things don’t work out I am reminded that those pursuits became my idol. Once they began to possess me I should have realized that it probably wasn’t what God wanted, but rather what I wanted as I sought for significance and meaning. After those times of waiting where I allowed myself to be possessed, God then steps in and moves us to what he had originally planed. Then when I look back with 20/20 vision I see how God’s sovereign hand has been involved and that because I could not be patient I missed out on enjoying Him and His peace.
Recently we hit a new intersection in life and had some major decisions to make but by God’s grace I handled it much differently. God calls us to be faithful and because of that I knew that I needed to proceed with caution. I also knew that I longed to be used by God and didn’t want to wait any longer to pour my heart and life into people. Instead of pursuing a position I simply realized that the best thing to do was to be faithful where God had placed us because I knew there was much to be done.
As a result we have been led to a place where we have been desperate for God to provide. We have been in a place that does not give us luxury or opportunity for advancement but rather it has been a place where I am continually humbled. The place my family and I found is one that is seeking first the kingdom of God in our most imperfect ways. I find myself daily looking at the promises of God and asking do I really believe this. At least a few times a week I find that I want to jump ship and pursue something that has more earthly benefits. In those times God gently rebukes me and pulls me closer to Him.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). This summer as we have sought the kingdom, God has been sanctifying us. In times when I felt like I needed encouragement from God, I found Him revealing in greater ways the depth of my sin and how it repels people from Him. In those times by revealing my sin, He also revealed how amazing His grace is and that apart from it I am hopeless. In this process He has been sanctifying me. I pray that the lessons that God has been teaching me this summer will stay deeply planted within my heart.
God has also taught me much about trusting His promises. He has taught me that often times the hardest thing about trusting God’s promises is dying to my own desires. Jesus taught that, the first must become last in His kingdom and so when He teaches us those lessons it is painful because we have to die to our desires. The thing is that often times our wants can sound very godly, so when we are asked to die to them it seems wrong. I know I have found myself saying to God, “I want this so I can serve you more or so I can give more to you.” The truth is in those things there is a hint of selfishness that is repulsive to God and also makes it so difficult to die to those things. The great thing is that God keeps showing me that the results from trusting His promises are so much greater than what my desires would have produced.
God’s provision has been amazing as we have surrendered to Him and sought to do His will by seeking first the kingdom of God. Yes it has been hard and I have often found myself in a panic and moping around waiting for God to respond. Then He rebukes me through the Scriptures, my amazing wife, a life situation of a friend or a close friend and I come back to reality that my purpose in life is to know Jesus and to lead others to know and experience Him. That is my mission. I am convinced more than ever that I do not need a position or title to ever fulfill the mission that God has clearly called me to.
May I encourage you be faithful to what God calls us to in the scriptures and He will reveal His will to you only when it is necessary. Pray over the scriptures for what God is calling you to do as His disciple and start doing it. Don’t wait, do it now. When you do this it will not be easy and at times it will be scary but you will come alive and experience life more fully than ever.
The last couple of days I have been reading through the book of Titus and this morning I was amazed at the emphasis of good works in the book. As a follower of Christ for many years now, I know that good works are to be a part of the Christian life but today the importance of them hit me more than ever. I would like to leave you with a few initial observations that are swirling in my head.
As followers of Christ as we grow in the truth and follow sound doctrine we will grow in our good works. Essentially sound doctrine results in good works. In chapter one the author points out that false teachers are unfit for good works. The teaching that they proclaim does not lead to good works nor is their life fit for good works. This makes me ask myself, when I teach are believers compelled to do good works. Also would the mark of a healthy church be that it is full of God’s children doing good works. Is the church impacting the culture and community through service?
In chapters two and three Paul tells Titus that believers are to be zealous for good works and devoted to good works. This does not mean that every once in a while we do something good but rather one of the marks defining the Christian is that they are all about good works. Paul uses the same word “zealous” of himself in Galatians 1:14 when he was talking of his following the traditions of the Jews. It says he was more zealous than his fathers. Paul was so zealous that it led him to persecute the church in order to protect Judaism. My son Noah is a great picture of being zealous for something. He loves apple juice and when he wants it nothing will get in the way of him attaining it. He will ask Amy and I over and over again until he gets it. No answer is sufficient unless it is that we are going right that second to get it. That is how we as believers should be towards good works. They should consume us, we should be defined as ones who do good works. Is this how you or your church are defined? I think of the body we are a part of right now and what would happen if all 200 people were devoted to good works. How would Centerville be changed? How would your community be changed if everyone in the church were zealous for good works.
The last thought that I would like to leave you with is some thoughts about the gospel impact of being zealous for good works. I was intrigued because Paul did not say that they would be zealous for sharing the gospel or to be devoted to sharing the gospel but instead he focused on the end result of God’s grace in our life is being zealous for good works. Why is that? I mean if they don’t hear the gospel how can they be saved? It is my conviction that every follower of Christ should be proclaiming the gospel but in this book why is there no emphasis on this. As I ponder this I realize that could it not be because as we are selflessly invovled in good works doors for the gospel will begin to open up. If we are zealous for good works and we begin to interact with people will they not begin to ask why we do such things. In the end when the church gets outside of its walls and gets active they will begin to find many opportunities to share the gospel with people around their community and the world!
Am I zealous for good works? Are you? If not lets begin to pray that God would refine our heart to be devoted to good works. Also go out and look for opportunites to do good in the church and outside the church! I bet each of us will be blown away by what God does!
Today in Sunday school we talked about Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit! What an exciting time for the disciples as they finally received the promised gift, that was to give them power to go proclaim the gospel. The Spirit came with such a bang that it could not be denied that it had come. Then you have Peter who went from denying Jesus to being beaten for proclaiming Jesus and eventually would die a martyrs death. Wow how could you deny that the Spirit had come and radically empowered people!
This makes me ask would I know if the Spirit were not in my life? Would you know, if you are follower of Christ, if the Spirit were gone one day?
This morning I started to ponder how easily I back down in fear and run with my tail between my legs. This made me wonder how often or what percentage of my life is really led by the Spirit. I long to live as Peter and to overcome my fears tbrpught the Spirit.
Then you have to ask how much of the church would know if the Spirit were at work? If the majority of the church were led by the power of the Spirit would we not see the church advancing in America?
So the challenge to myself and to you if you like is to go spend some time with the Lord and evaluate your life as to the Spirit’s work in your life? Spend time to see if there Are things in your life that is an obstacle to the Spirit working. Pray for the strength to die to the flesh and to live in the Spirit. Finally, start asking God to overwhelm you with the Spirit that you may become a beleiver who is led by the Spirit day by day! Then we will see the great power of the Spirit! Then we would begin understand how desperately we need the Spirit as a follower of Christ!
This morning I am sitting in our packed up apartment getting ready to load up and leave! In this moment the emotions of leaving Louisville and this excerpt of life is starting to catch up with me! God has taught us so much here and not just through seminary but through the experience! I can not thank God enough for all he has taught us! He has sustained and provided so much! As we leave this place we leave a larger family full of more love for each other and for others and also we leave wiser than we came! Thank you Jesus!
The last week our house has been being packed up as we plan to move to ohio on Tuesday. I have found it interesting to watch yfzbxhdhdd.
our kids through this process! As you can see by the picture Emma loves being able to explore things a lot more! Noah has been a bit confused and has asked a million times why things are gone and in boxes. Seems to struggle with understanding the concept of moving or else he is trying to be funny! Alexa is just excited because she will have her own room and get to decorate it! What little girl would not be excited! Overall we all are looking forward to the future in Centerville and the plans God has for us! Oh and the kids will have a swing set!
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