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Archive for the tag “Finding the Path”

One Decision

Experts say there are around seven major life events in every person’s life. Life events are forks in the road, major turning points that alter a person’s life. Not just our immediate plans, but the whole of our lives are different because of that one decision. From that point on, our future is different because of that one decision. And experts say there are seven of them.

Usually those life events have a cost. Sometimes the events are not of our own making; sometimes it’s someone else’s decision which alters our own lives. It could be someone makes a decision to get behind the wheel of a car after having one too many drinks and it cost us something when the drunk hits us. Or like when my parents made the decision to move me from my hometown to the mountains when I was twelve years old.

That decision was my first major life event. It affected me profoundly. I told my sister recently that I thought the move even changed my personality. Maybe I think of the younger me differently than I was, I don’t know. I just know my parent’s decision was huge in my life. It’s made me into the person I am today – good or bad personality traits aside.

Thinking of life events, I realize there is one decision that should be on everyone’s life event chart. It’s the decision to follow Jesus. It should alter our course – not just for now – but for eternity. I heard someone say recently he wanted everyone to have the same relationship with Jesus he had; to know Jesus as Savior. I have been contemplating the statement since I heard it.

Just a couple of years before my parents moved us to the mountains I made the decision to follow Jesus. If you noticed in the writing above, I said my first life event was the move. I did make the decision to receive Jesus as my Savior before we moved, but it didn’t alter my life right then. I do believe I had Jesus right then, but He didn’t have all of me. It took a few years before another life event would change my relationship to not only Jesus as my Savior but Jesus as my Lord.

My ultimate turning point with Jesus was because of another friend’s tragic end. I written about it in the past – my friend died – and it changed me. Maybe some would say I didn’t really belong to Jesus from the age of twelve – it’s not biblical. But I look at the disciples Jesus chose. They were asked to follow Him before they ever believed He was the Messiah. It took them three years and Jesus’ death before they truly believed. It just took me longer than three years to understand who Jesus is.

Peter declared Jesus was the Messiah before Jesus died, but that declaration wasn’t the catalyst for Peter’s transformation. His life event was when he saw Jesus in the upper room after Jesus rose from the grave. Peter’s life was altered in that moment. Peter’s path was totally different from that life event. He went from a fisherman to preacher man.

Everything should change when we receive Jesus as Lord. Savior and Lord – the man speaking should have said Lord, but he didn’t. Did it mean Jesus wasn’t Lord of his life? The speaker is the only one who can answer. However, we need to answer it as well. Is Jesus Lord of our lives? Has the decision to follow Jesus changed our trajectory as it did for Peter? I don’t mean we all give up our professions to become preachers, but Jesus wants to direct our steps just as He directed Peter’s.

Jesus met Peter on the beach one morning after His resurrection. Peter and the guys had been out fishing all night. Peter was at a fork in the road. He could have gone back to the life he knew – fishing – but Jesus intervened. Jesus had other plans for Peter – a plan to begin the church age on Peter’s profession – Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus asked Peter to feed Jesus’ sheep – His followers. It’s not a literal meaning but a spiritual meaning. Peter had lived with Jesus for three years. Peter heard Him speak, watched the miracles being performed; even saw Jesus transformed on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. Peter was in Jesus’ inner circle and knew Him. Jesus picked Peter to do greater things with his life. Peter left the nets behind and followed Jesus wholeheartedly. There was no turning back. Peter’s decision to follow Jesus changed history. The church age moved forward with Peter’s willingness to go where Jesus led him and make disciples wherever he went.

I don’t think my life events have done the same – they haven’t changed history – or maybe they did. Mine certainly was changed. My decision to follow Jesus today, changes how I live each day. The people I meet each day are affected by my relationship with Jesus because I am a different person with Jesus than without Him.

Each day we are given a choice – live for Jesus; let Him be Lord today or live like the rest of the world and ignore the promptings of our Lord and follow our own path. Our relationship with Jesus makes us different. Other religions follow rules – we are set apart because it’s not rules we follow but Jesus. All roads do not lead to the same place. There is only one life event that leads to an eternal home with Jesus. I know. Jesus said it’s a narrow door and only a few find it, but it’s open to all who want to come in. Jesus and only Jesus can open that door. Savior and Lord. Know Him and follow Him and alter others lives for Jesus!

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:15-18

World Changer

Seven years ago this weekend, I had a major decision to make. I was given the opportunity to move into another area at work or leave my full-time job. It was a hard decision, but I chose to walk out in faith to do something new. I believed God had something else in mind. It had seemed over the last couple years of employment that circumstances made me more uncomfortable in that place. I felt God had positioned me to leave. Was it right or wrong, I second guess it every now and then. But during these last seven years, I think God did do something new – in me.

It’s not easy stepping out of full-time employment. Yes, I have had freedom to do what I wanted to do. However, with no real money coming in, resources are very limited as to what can be done. I made the comment a couple of years before I left my job that I just wanted to quit my job and write. Guess what? That’s the opportunity I was given when I quit – I started writing. I wrote two books within the first five years. I started this blog during that time as well. The last two years, I picked up part-time jobs to help pay the bills. Yet, I still feel like there is something waiting in the future that I just don’t see. After seven years, I really thought I would have the revelation by now. Here I sit still waiting.

One of the things God has been doing over these last seven years is work on me. He has changed my heart and changed my perspective on a few things. He has given me a greater thirst for Him and His Word. I have had a great opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him. I haven’t been perfect in my attendance or in my attention. However, He has been faithful to teach me right where I am. There have been many opportunities to grow closer to Him. I desire to be closer still. I need more of Him and less of me – I need to be emptied of my selfish desires. However, I struggle with it.

I just finished two books by the same author on Seven Great Men and Seven Great Women and the secrets of their greatness. Eric Metaxas picked men and women throughout modern history to reflect on what they did to change events in history. The men and women weren’t great because of who they were but what they did when they surrendered everything to Jesus. They emptied themselves of their selfish desires and totally surrendered their future to God.

Joan of Arc was the first woman the author introduced us to. I had read her story a couple of years ago – a peasant girl who changed France single-handedly led by the Spirit of God (her “voices”). George Washington was the first man and how he could have become king of this nation – it was his right to do so, but through providence he chose to begin something new. William Wilberforce changed his nation and the world by two significant choices – he chose to end slavery through legislation in Great Britain and he taught the world how to be kind again – it’s an interesting story and it changed the western world in both regards. Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks were two small women who changed their worlds. Jackie Robinson did the same when he broke the color barrier in sports.

We look back at how these men and women changed their worlds and wonder if it could be done again. These men and women didn’t set out to change their worlds. They just surrendered to Jesus and look what He did through them. They gave up their comfort to endure the storms and the battles that were waged spiritually in order to change the world. It seems impossible to believe that one person could do all that; and it was. There were many behind the scenes that didn’t get the notice, but supported the efforts and championed the cause. It’s not done alone. No one can withstand the storms or battles alone. We need each other. If there is a cause, it takes one person to notice; but it takes many to engage in the battle.

The last couple of weeks of December, I had this word before me. I don’t know what this word means for me or for my circumstances. Maybe it’s really not for me but what God is going to do and I can be a part of it. The word is multiply. What’s God going to do? How will God do it? Those are the million dollar questions, right?

I don’t know what 2018 will bring. But I do know that we all need each other to engage in the battle that God places before us. We may not get noticed by the world as world changers, but God knows what He has determined for us to join together to make a difference. Multiply. Maybe it’s the people He will bring together to change the world as we know it.

You know what it takes to do it? Surrender. That’s what these great men and women did. That’s what we are called to do for our generation. We have to finish what has been started and we need to finish well. This world is waiting for someone to step into the gap. Are you the one? Am I? How about we do it together?

As I began my journey years ago, God gave me this verse and it’s the verse I leave with you today. Let it encourage you for this year.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen
you and help you;
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Learning Lessons

When I was in high school, I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated. I knew I would go to college, but that was the extent of my grand ideas for the future. I had no idea what I really liked to do since I really hadn’t pursued anything other than sports. I took an accounting class my senior year. I was in horticulture for two years. I actually really loved working with plants. I liked to see things grow.

When I got to college, I still hadn’t a clue as to what I should pursue as a career. I took the advice of my Dad who said to go into business – “you could never go wrong in business.” So I did. And for twenty-five years, I struggled to find contentment in that field. At one point early on, I contemplated other avenues but nothing stood out to me. Also, it would mean I might have to go back to school to learn another trade, and I just didn’t know if I could do it. You see, I hate to study. So, year after year, I stayed in something that I was good at but felt drained day after day.

God provided through the jobs, so it was not all bad. I met some really good people in those places. I enjoyed life outside of work. I did what I had to do in order to live. God provided the opportunities each and every time. I would get restless and start looking for the next place. God would provide the next place. I figured out in hindsight, it was never about the job. God had lessons in each place where He placed me.

God used the circumstance to train me up; to become more spiritually mature. I am still a work in progress. I am still learning and hopefully growing. I wrote a few weeks ago, that I really didn’t see much growth over the past year. Maybe it was there, but it wasn’t significant for me to see. There were subtle shifts in my thinking. Some of my struggle is over financial concerns. God has been at work in this season of my life.

When I begin to be anxious about the future, God sends me a reminder that my future is in His hands. I saw this just yesterday. I have been praying for direction on what I should do next. Sell my house or stay? Look for another job? Where do I go, what do I do? I asked God to take my hand and lead me to the next place.

I opened one of the books I have been reading on a daily basis called The Seeking Heart by Fenelon. On this day, I just happen to read the chapter “Depend on God.” Okay; not a coincidence. The first sentence read “The best place to be is where God puts you.” And more statements about the future: “Do not think too much about the future. Worrying about things that haven’t happened yet is unhealthy for you. God Himself will help you, day by day.”

I was reminded of Elijah while he was by the brook during the drought. God sent ravens to feed him until the brook dried up; then God sent him to a widow lady in Sidon. God provided for Elijah through this woman’s meager supplies. The supplies never ran out as long as the drought persisted.

Elijah believed God would provide. He didn’t seem to have any trust issues like I do. I have always been self-sufficient. I have lived independently – or so I thought at the time. It was God who provided through the job opportunities. Before I left my last job, I would not have imagined the future of living without a fixed income. God has provided for the last six years. It’s all come from God. The ravens may have not been instructed to feed me, but others have come along at just the right time.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, except to trust God more and me less. I want to be where God wants me, doing what He wants me to do for the Kingdom. I still like to see things grow, but today it’s more than plants. As part of the Body of Christ, we are all meant to grow. We all struggle in different areas of our lives. Mine is financial, yours maybe something completely different. God will put us in a place where we can learn best the lessons He wants to teach us. I will sit by the brook, until I am instructed to go to the next place – all in God’s time, not mine. Let’s be faithful where He plants us and grow to be the men and women of God He wants us to be.

But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalms 1:2-3 (NLT)

When Confidence Fails

Can I just tell you? This week, I am just frustrated. One message has been hammering me for the longest time. And every first of the year, it seems to come back around. Find my purpose. I thought I found it when I discovered the health coach training. I thought this was my purpose – to help others get healthy. I spent many hours learning about coaching and about healthy ideas for living well in this toxic world. I thought God had a plan that involved this new training, but it has not come to fruition as I expected.

However, one thing I did discover in that time of training was that I had a voice that God could use. I began to write because of it. The writing has never been my thing. You can probably tell, I was not an English major. I am a bit challenged in the grammar and punctuation departments. However, I think God opened this door at the right time for me and for His purpose. (And maybe I inherited a little of my maternal grandmother’s writing ability.) Yet, I doubt. My confidence has hit a snag with this writing gig.

My thing was sports; I loved sports. I believe I was pretty good at most sports in those early years. I had and still have good eye to hand coordination. I can catch most anything – drop a spoon and I’ll catch it on the way down. I learned to be careful in my “catching” abilities when I caught a glass that had fallen; but as I caught it, it broke. The lesson learned through a trip to the doctor and four stitches to repair the damage.

When I was in college, I became the manager for the women’s basketball team. When I asked the coach if I could do something for the team, she asked me first if I could play. If that question had come up seven years before that time, I would have said yes. After all, I did play junior high ball. The year after that, we moved from my hometown to a city; and in that move, everything changed. I lost all my confidence in my abilities when I saw the new kids playing at what I conceived a much tougher level. In my freshman year of high school, the women’s basketball coach told me to go out for the team; but at that point the mental games had already begun.

Christine Caine said in a recent message “do not throw away your confidence” – wish I had heard that message forty years ago! But as I listened over the last week to different speakers pretty much saying the same thing, it becomes more frustrating to me. It’s not about learning these things anymore; I just need revelation of why I’m here! Henry Cloud reminded his listeners at a recent conference, we need to discover our end games. We are not to just drift along, but set a sail and go in the right direction (his message was to regularly prune our lives in order to make our lives what we want them to be).

Andy Andrews said in a podcast recently that God doesn’t teach us to swim only to let us drown. If God has given a vision, then He will not change His mind about it. Believe that He will bring it to completion. So the clarity comes through a vision of what God has in mind for each of us. To be useful, yes. To be faithful, yes. To be available, yes. And sometimes it means getting out of the house so that we can be useful in the right place at the right time. Finding purpose is about developing into the man or woman God has designed us to be. We have to discover that vision God has for us and set the sails toward that direction. I get it.

I was comforted in my time with the Streams in the Desert devotional on January 10. In it, this stood out to me: “Beloved, whenever you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one.” Again I gained confidence in this: “In the meanwhile, continue along the path which you have already been treading. Abide in the calling in which you are called, unless you are clearly told to do something else.”

Sometimes God interrupts our plans to take us on another path. But in the meantime, I will continue to write until I am told that season is over. As for the future, I know I need an end game. He has a purpose in mind for me and for you. We should trust God’s plan to get us there. Every small step is part of the path. As Christine Caine said in her message, “do not despise small beginnings.” We got to start somewhere; might as well be faithful to the here and now until the next step is revealed.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

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