Stop Feeling Your Age!

How we feel is the direct result of how we think, the relationships we become a part of, how we act, and the condition of our heart.

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This morning, while it was still dark, as I was walking about our yard, after my first cup of blessing (some call it coffee), something hit me. Actually it was the Holy Spirit because my walking about the yard is all about a spiritual discipline I have been doing–and that is connecting with the Holy Spirit. And here is what hit me: Stop Feeling Your Age. Here’s the backdrop.

Yesterday when we arrived back at home after a weekend wedding of our first granddaughter, the first one who called me Grampa (I spell it like she said it the first time and every time since) of which I was blessed and honored to preside over, I went to my hunting spot and planted a green field. Though it has been drier than a sermon on predestination, I operated out of faith. Needless to say I was exhausted and this morning, and I was reminded that 63 is different than 23.

And as I was walking about and tuning in to the Spirit, this thought hit me about not feeling my age. For a moment I thought that the Holy Spirit got it wrong–it should be Start Acting My Age; that I should not do things too hard for someone of my age. But you see, I don’t like being put in a box–and I was putting myself in a box. I hate boxes.

The Spirit reminded me, again, of the value and power of choices. Feeling my age isn’t something that just goes away. I must discipline my life through my choices in order to see a different me. And, as I have so often wrote and preached, life is much more than feelings. If I am not going to “feel” like a 63 year old man, I need to make the choices that go along with this quest.

God created us in a most incredible way. He didn’t create us like the animals and plants. We are created a most complex way. We have a body, which for people of my age thinks defines us. We are more than a body.

God created us with a mind that is only limited by us. We are able to experience and process life as it happens around us. Then, through the Gift of Free Will, decide what we will do and how we will respond. We human beings are created to be Thinking Beings. Unfortunately a lot of people in our culture are infected and infatuated with Stinking Thinking. My gift of snarky is saying right now, “Obviously there are a lot of people who have put their minds in neutral and have left their minds in some dusty corner of the utility room.” Nonetheless, in spite of so many who have chosen NOT to think for themselves, we remain a Thinking Being.

God also created us with the desire for community. I’m not talking about counties, parishes, or city limits. And I’m not talking about gated communities. God created us to experience life Together. We are Social Beings. Our true nature longs to experience life with other people. Some of those connections with other people are short, brief even. Others are a little longer. And yet others are lifetime connections. Since it was quite a distance between us and where our granddaughter lives, we chose to reserve a hotel room for 2 nights. While there, we met another person and her family, who were also there for a wedding (not the same one). We had many good conversations with her and her family.

God also created us with Emotions. Emotions are an essential part of who we are. Emotions become the expression of our choices in how we process life and life’s experiences. Some people, too many people, allow emotions to rule their life. What a sad and pathetic lot they are; but just because they misuse their emotions does not diminish the importance that we are created to be Emotional Beings.

God also created us with a physical part. We are Physical Beings. This is the part I’m having trouble with. Now, I’m not going all fundamentalist again smoking and drinking. What I am saying is that we have a choice of keeping our bodies in the best shape possible. Alas, here is where I have been lax. Since our Physical Being is a part of who we are, need to do the things that help us be in the best physical shape.

God also created us with a spiritual part; this is the most important part. We are Spiritual Beings. This is the part that we call the Heart. This is the part of us that longs for more than we can think, feel or see. Unfortunately, a lot of folks think the Spiritual Being is the result of how we feel, think and act–or sadly–that it doesn’t exist at all.

I’ve said all this to say this: How we feel is the direct result of how we think, the relationships we become a part of, how we act, and the condition of our heart. Back to my choice; here is how I framed my choice: Today I my choice is to Stop Feeling My Age By Making Decisions And The Follow-Up Actions To End This Feeling. To accomplish this I need to do some things, a lot of things, that I understand will change my Feeling about 63 years old.

I have to become more physically active. I have to bring friends in close who will hold be accountable. I have to read and study to keep the mind sharp. I must keep my focus on Jesus and live how HE says to live. I have to align my emotions with my goal. Through an active and aggressive series of choices, I am confident I will stop feeling 63 years old. Perhaps I fell victim to the thought that crushes the ways we are created: That I MUST act my age. To heck with that saying; I’m going to act the way I’ve been created. So, excuse me while I go to apply some “pain” ointment to my joints–and then choose to do it again today.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

Step 7—Live With Focus!

You And You Alone Choose Where You Will Focus.

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This is the very last message in this series about how to become a water-walker.  So, let’s look at that passage one more time.  

25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”  28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”  32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

Matthew 14:25-32 (NLT)

Let’s do our final review today.

  • Step 1—Get Out Of The Boat.  You will never walk with Jesus UNTIL you’re out of your boat.
  • Step 2—Have The Right Attitude.  There will be challenges —just remember Jesus is with you.
  • Step 3—Discover Your Gift.  This comes out of your giftedness and God gives all of us gifts.  Discover them.
  • Step 4—Use Leverage.  The leverage we use is our weaknesses against the Power of God.  
  • Step 5—Overcome The Fear.  The way to overcome fear is to Rehearse His presence.  Renew your mind.  And Refocus all your attention on Jesus.
  • Step 6—Know That It’s More Hazardous In The Boat Than It Is Risky On The Water.  Water-Walkers will not live in hazardous waste—but they will live in the Risks.

Now, we come to the last step in this series—Living With Focus.  And here is the one thing you need to remember:  You And You Alone Choose Where You Will Focus. It’s your choice.  Your Choice Has Implications Beyond Your Imaginations—Extending Even Into Eternity.

Now, we come to the last step in this series—Living With Focus.  And here is the one thing you need to remember:  You And You Alone Choose Where You Will Focus. It’s your choice.  Your Choice Has Implications Beyond Your Imaginations—Extending Even Into Eternity.

Now, we come to the last step in this series—Living With Focus.  And here is the one thing you need to remember:  You And You Alone Choose Where You Will Focus. It’s your choice.  Your Choice Has Implications Beyond Your Imaginations—Extending Even Into Eternity

Everybody has chosen a Focus—without exception.  Even those who you clearly see are living without a Focus.  Even those who admit their lives are not focused—They have chosen a Focus for their lives—it’s just in the wrong place.  Focus Plays Out Every Day, In Every Moment And Situation.

What happens when we Focus in the wrong place?  We see danger, trouble and problems.  And we open the door to uncontrolled, ferocious fear.  I’ve been saying all along, that water walking is risky business. 

But the only way we can grow in our faith is through taking risks, and risks always involve having the Right Focus because we’re stepping out of our comfort zones into new territory.

This is the way it was for Peter.  He’d been on this lake thousands of times.  But every time he was IN The Boat.  Now he is about to take a stroll ON the lake WITHOUT The Boat.  This is a new experience, a new adventure for Peter.  He has always been comfortable in the boat.  It was his livelihood.  So, Peter takes his leap of faith, and focuses on Jesus, who had just invited him to join him for a leisurely stroll on the water. 

And guess what, Peter actually walks on the water.  As long as Peter kept his Focus on Jesus, he didn’t sink.  But the moment his Focus changed—he immediately sank!

Unfortunately, some people choose to Focus only on the winds and the waves, and so they, like the others, stay in the boat.    Today, I want us to learn how to keep our Focus on Jesus, and thus continue the most exciting adventure ever; an adventure that fills the heart of God with indescribable joy. 

If you are one of those unfortunate people who have chosen to Focus on the negative that has saturated our culture and politics rather than the mission of God—Then Change Your Focus—And It Will Change The Way You See Your Life—And That Will Change Why You Live Your Life

To have be a Water-Walker, it takes the Right Focus.  When you are on the Water, Focus alone determines whether you walk or sink.  We know what happened when Peter’s Focus turned to the waves and the wind.  So let’s look at Peter’s Focus while he was Walking On The Water.  Let’s start with the easiest and most obvious:

1.  Focus On Jesus

When Peter accepted the Opportunity to Walk on Water, His Focus was on Jesus.  Water-Walkers Focus on Jesus.  Water Sinkers sink because they have Focused on the wind and waves—or they have chosen to Focus on the Jesus of their imagination and understanding.  To Focus On Jesus Requires Us To Focus On 3 Truths About Jesus:

Focus On His Nature—His nature is what always comes to the surface.  It’s the way He responds to us.  He responds to us out of and through His unmistakable love.

Focus On His Desires—His biggest desire is to see a different world filled with different people.  The way Jesus fills the world with different people is by Delivering captives—releasing prisoners—filling the hungry and empty with His Resurrection Presence.  Jesus intentionally redeems and restores His fallen image bearers.

Focus On His Character—His Character is that of A Warrior!  Gentle Jesus meek and mild doesn’t exist!  He was meek on the Cross—but He Is The Bold Warrior coming out of the Grave!  He’s not giving up or backing down.  The commitment He had on the Cross—the determination He had in that tomb—and the lengths He goes to get us to turn away from sin and the power of sin in us is His Character.  If we Focus On The True Character Of Jesus—then we will not stay in The Boat.  We will join Him on the Water.

2.  Focus On Your Purpose

Your Purpose Is To Be Involved With What Jesus Is Involved.  Jesus is involved in a lot of things—but it will always be found where people struggle—where people need encouragement.  Put it this way:  Jesus Is Involved With People.  Good people.  Bad people.  Ugly people.  Mean People.  Nice People.  Broken-Messed Up People.

True Water-Walkers accept, even at times with a bit of reluctance—that Real Disciples Of Jesus Are Focused On God’s Purpose For Their Lives.  Water-Walking Is Living In Confidence That Your Purpose Is Both Divinely Given And Worthwhile In Your Life.

God’s purpose for your life is important. Your role in the Kingdom of God is essential and significant.  Focus on Jesus and your life makes a difference in the world.  If You Don’t Believe That, Then You Are Not Focused On Your Purpose, Not Focused On Jesus And You’re Not Really Following Jesus.  When you say that you don’t have much if anything to offer—you’re saying God is lying.

3.  Focus On The Partnership

This is not something we do alone.  Remember what Peter said in the boat:  If it is you, Jesus, then invite me to join You.  It is impossible to sink when you partner with Jesus in your life.  Remember what we said about leverage:  God’s Strength Is Made Perfect Through AND In Our Weaknesses. 

The Partnership with God is simple—bring it all to Him and give to Him all of your weaknesses—all of your fear—all of your excuses about what you can’t do—then Accept From Him, His Strength.  This is what Partnership With God looks like.

The Story Of Every Person God Uses In The Bible Is The Story Of Focus.  Focus is what made Abraham leave his home.  Focus is what made Moses willing to challenge the Pharaoh.  Focus is what led Gideon into battle with only 300 soldiers against 10’s of thousands.  Focus is what drove the prophets to proclaim their message, even when it seemed no one was listening.  Focus is why Peter and the others stood up at the Feast of Pentecost to proclaim the Good News Of The Kingdom of God.  Focus is what led Paul into unknown territory—all the way to Rome.  Focus is what led people like Martin Luther, John Knox, John Wesley, Charles Finney, C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, A.W. Tozer to change their world.

If You Believe Or Even Think That This Culture We Live In Is Beyond Revival—Then You Are Not Focused On The Partnership.

The Bible often uses the term:  “losing heart.”  Losing Heart Is Just Another Way Of Saying Losing Your Focus.  It’s not what we’re capable of doing—it’s about what God wants to do through us. 

Whenever God calls you to get out of the boat, He gives you the power to walk on the water.  He never calls anyone to sink.  Water-Walking Is Not The Conviction That Something Will Turn Out Well, But The Certainty That Something Makes The Difference, Regardless Of How It Turns Out. 

Every person submits to some thing or some one who will be their source of authority.  That authority has control over your mind, heart and actions.  Authority defines your values and your ethics—that moral compass of what is right or wrong, good or bad. 

Who or what is the authority over your life?  Before you give the “I’m-in-church” answer, answer this question first:  “Where Is Your Focus?”  Focus Reveals Who Or What Gets Your Immediate And Primary Attention.

Focus Is About Your Definition Of Authority.  You Determine Who Or What Has Authority Over Your Life.  That source of authority demands your attention—and you will give your Focus to that Authority.  Authority is what influences your decisions.  Authority is where you look for answers and for guidance in the choices you make.  In The Boat, your Authority is the comfort of the familiar—playing it safe—choosing fear over adventure.

Focus defines and ultimately reveals your Primary Priority. Through Focus, we declare that God is real!  Through Focus, we remember that reality is more than what we can touch or see or hear.  It is about the God who is ALL power, ALL seeing, ALL knowing, ALL caring and loving.  Focus Is About Magnifying God—Enlarging Our Understanding Of Who He Is And How He Moves In And Through Our Lives. 

I’ve intentionally left Verse 33 in the reading each week.  The Spirit has been saving it for now.  Listen again to Verse 32 AND Verse 33—

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Matthew 14:32-33 (NLT)

There’s a word of tragedy in Verse 33—It’s The Word Of Missed Opportunity, Missed Moments, And Missing The Reason.  Figured out the word?  It’s the first word in that verse:  THEN!  Not during the moment—just THEN.

I’ve heard teachers, preachers and people say, “The rest of the disciples finally understand Jesus, praise God!”  Well…I’m going to burst some bubbles this morning.  They did NOT understand Jesus.  They did not acknowledge Jesus until He stopped the Wind.  Jesus isn’t just the one who controls the wind—He’s The One In Complete Control IN The Storm.

I always try to give you something to try each week.  That’s why I call them Your Next Steps.  I always try to find some Step that will help you put the Scriptures we looked at into some tangible act or decision on your part.

Today’s Next Step is more important than any other Next Step I’ve challenged you with.  How important?  I’m glad you asked.  Here’s how important this Next Step is—Your Future, The Future Of Your Families, The Future Of Your Friends, The Future Of This Place Will Begin To Change—For The Better If You Take It—Or It May Take A Change For The Worse If You Don’t.

It is never too late—and you are never too old to make choices that will become positive changes—in your family, with your friends, in the community—and especially in the Kingdom of God.

If you trust God, make your choice to do this Next Step to see the future change—for you and for others:

If you trust God, make your choice to do these Next Step to see the future change—for you and for others:

  1. You Can Choose To Focus In The Boat. 
  2. Or You Can Choose To Focus On Jesus.

Your choice–and as the Knight said in the movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, “Choose wisely.”

Today I Choose. . .Choices!

There is always a choice–even when you don’t make a choice–that is still a choice born out of cowardice–the choice to be less than you could have been.

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Today, I choose to make choices. Makes sense to me. I mean, this thread could go on and on, ad nauseam. Unless one completely void of basic common sense (and I hate to admit it, but it seems there are a lot who are void of basic common sense–sorry for the snarky–it’s one of my gifts)–every realizes that there are always choices. Every thing, every situation, every issue–they give us a choice.

I know there are some who disagree with me because they believe the lie. We live in a culture where there are a myriad of excuses that proclaim “We have choices!” Thus, people are put in shackles and chains forced to be prisoners. Some feel they are prisoners of their circumstances. Someone mistreated them. Another took advantage of them. Yet another was cruel. “He” got the promotion. “She” received the credit. “They” got the reward. OK, so they are things that happen beyond your control–things happened that we uninfluenced by you and your wishes. OK, I’ll say it: “Life Is Unfair!”

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Guess what, buttercup? (Oops, the gift of snarky comes out, again!) Life IS unfair. And recognition of this truth does not, I repeat, DOES NOT make you its prisoner. It simply recognizes the truth so that you can form your chosen response. And your response comes out of your Perspective! (Thanks again, Andy Andrews!) Your perspective will be either to surrender to fate or rise above your circumstances. And that perspective determines your Choice!

Some feel they have no choice because of their feelings. How they feel rules their life. It is true that our feelings do have an effect on us. The real issue is “Do those feelings control your life?” If feelings do control your life, then you resign to the lie that you are a prisoner to feelings. While they may NOT have a choice on how they “feel”–they do have a choice on what to do with those feelings. While the issue of “feelings” creates a cauldron of debate in the arena of sexuality, feelings go beyond who you want to have sex with or your gender. Feelings can also be about fear, worthlessness, despair, depression and the list goes on. Feelings is a cruel and harsh master, hell-bent on making you miserable. Feelings will make you miserable–if you make the choice to live by your feelings.

Life is a matter of choices–whether those choices are about personal preferences, how we react towards others, when things happen that our beyond our control–yes, even our feelings–there is always a choice. There is always a choice–because it involves a commitment to what we believe is true and best.

Choices are made from within our values–of right and wrong–of what honors God and dishonors God–of what reflects His glory and what contradicts His glory. You alone, have the choice to determine who or what has control of your life–and ultimately your destiny. YOU alone determine the values in your life. Blame the movies, blame the Democrats, blame the Republicans, blame your parents, blame Round-Up®, blame the hernia mesh repair company, blame the church, blame ____________ (fill in the blank with who you blame)–it is your choice to be their prisoner.

Jesus didn’t vacate Heaven and enter the womb of Mary as a fertilized egg just so you can feel justified about being a prisoner. He came to deliver and set you free from everything that is keeping you from charting your future to become the person God created. God offers you that Perspective that is different from–at odds with–the world around you.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

There is always a choice–even when you don’t make a choice–that is still a choice born out of cowardice–the choice to be less than you could have been. So Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

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I Choose To Be Calm

Pic from http://www.ohtobecalm.com

Well, this morning I was going to choose a different choice. But the Spirit reminded me that choice would require me to interact with a lot of people. I’m not because it’s Football Saturday. THE University of Alabama kickoff time is 11:00 a.m. and I must see them. So. . .since it’s Football Saturday at our home, the Spirit whispered, “Why not make the choice to be calm?”

Well, that would be a challenge for me today. You see, I get excited, I mean really excited watching Bama Football. If you are one of those unfortunate souls unfamiliar with the Battle Cry “Roll Tide Roll”, they are a really good team, I mean really good. However. . .when they don’t operate at perfect efficiency–meaning no mistakes–I tend to get a little upset. . .OK, I yell at the TV. There! Happy Now? So, today I choose to be calm.

More than a football game, calmness is essential for life on this circling orb called Earth. Yet the nature of this circling orb produces everything but calm. Global war on terrorism. Human violence. The Middle East. Disasters. The News Networks. The Politics of the Democrats AND Republicans–Oy! Oy! Oy! These alone are enough to make “calm” a rare commodity. But then add personal struggles to the mix. . .it’s that song from the old Hee-Haw show: “Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.”

If you ask the average Joe on the street, “Are you calm?”, they would probably look at you like you’re crazy, shake their head in disbelief that you would ask such a question, and walk on. But. . .today my choice is to be calm. And I will be calm–oh, it won’t be easy–but it will be possible.

It hit me this morning–why there is such an absence of calm in our culture. I’m surprised I haven’t noticed it before now–because it is so obvious. People based calmness on their physical circumstances–and that is a basis that will fail you. Without a deep relationship with God, calmness will be even more illusive than the winning Powerball lottery numbers.

There is nothing in this fallen orb that can produce lasting calm in our hearts and minds. There may be some things that provide a temporary relief–but lasting calm? Nope, nothing at all. As good as my Crimson Tide is, they are not perfect. Any given Saturday they are subject to defeat. Watch the world and expect to find calm and your heart and mild will scream, “Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!”

So is the idea of calm just another illusion, an empty pipe dream? Not at all. It comes down to a choice, THE choice to remain calm. Calmness is the result of your choice. Always had been. Always will. If this dysfunctional orb cannot provide calm, how can it be that we have a choice? I’m so glad you asked me that question. I know the answer.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

You’ve heard it said many times, “You cannot control your circumstances but you can control your response.” My choice today is to remember the HE is God, and I am not–thus, I will be calm. Panic, fear, despair and dread–all this and much more are the consequences of forgetting WE are NOT God–but HE is! This kind of calm doesn’t happen automatically. It is the fruit of living in THE Relationship God offers us in Jesus Christ. Calm is our way of saying to God, “I know what my physical eyes see and my natural mind wants me to panic. But, I also see You, Abba! Poppa! I know You are Faithful and Loving. You sent Jesus to die on the Cross for me. My choice must be to be Calm. I trust You in the moment and I rely on You for Your strength.” Calmness comes from our roots–not from the surface.

Calm isn’t the result of your physical nor your emotional circumstances. Calm IS the result of surrendering yourself completely to God. So. . .Love God with all your heart. Love others the way HE loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM! And a personal reminder for myself:

I Choose Persistence

I need to make this choice today (and every day after today) is because in our culture, Persistence is a rare commodity.

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Tuesday I made my choice to be joyful. Wednesday I chose to be joyful and hopeful. Yesterday my choice was to be joyful, hopeful and focused. Was I 100% true to my choices? Honestly? Not 100%. . .but I was close to 90% true. Maybe it was that steroid shot I got at the doctor’s office for this hacking cough and sore throat that got me to 90%. But I was focused–so I’ve got that going for me. And you can have that going for you, too. Situations and circumstances can change your choices. . .IF you allow them to do that. Choices are within your realm. Even if you don’t make a choice, THAT is your choice. Geez, I’m sound more like Andy Andrews every day. . .but that’s not a bad thing.

So, on this Friday. . .what some call T.G.I.F. . . .My choice is Persistence. Today I will be joyful, hopeful, focused and persistent. You could say I will be persistently joyful. . . persistently hopeful . . . persistently focused . . . and persistently Persistent.

Persistence is a much needed quality in my Walk with Jesus. Life is filled with interruptions, obstacles, difficulties and then throw in the frequent visits of Murphy’s Law. Those who say Walking With Jesus is Easy Peasy all the time–well. . .they haven’t been walking with the Real Jesus. Without Persistence I will never see and never know what it means to live in and be a part of the Epic Saga known as The Kingdom Of God. Another reason I need to make this choice today (and every day after today) is because in our culture, Persistence is a rare commodity.

Now, I can choose to complain, whine and b…., almost let a bad word slip, about the lack of Persistence OR I can choose to be an example of Persistence. Choices made, every Choice we make has an outcome that is given birth with the Choice. Consider the outcome of each choice. . .and the outcomes are really obvious.

If I choose to complain that rather than persist, our culture quits, whines, plays the victim card, and says they are being disenfranchised. . .what has changed? The only thing changed is NOTHING. The result is I become angry, frustrated and agitated. And know what? These generations of quitters, whiners, and overly sensitive souls will continue to be quitters, whiners and overly sensitive souls. And I become either an angry man or a despondent man. In my book, neither suits me. . . and I know it doesn’t please Abba, Poppa.

But if my choice is to be Persistent, two things will happen. One thing is that I will achieve my goal. . .I will succeed at finishing a task. . .I will not be defeated by any obstacle. The other thing? Maybe, just maybe someone in this aimless culture of consistent quitters will notice my Persistence. Maybe it will make them curious about me. If they are curious about me and my Persistence, there’s a good probability they will, at the very least, THINK about quitting being a quitter.

Who knows, maybe it will even open up a conversation about that strange thing called Persistence! Then things will begin to be different, not the same. If 2 of us are Persistent then we can reach maybe 2 more quitters who engage us in open conversation and they decide to be Persistent. Now we have 4 of us who are Persistent. And maybe the 4 of us becomes 8. . .then 16. . .then 32. . .get the point now?

So today my choice is Persistence. Seems like a good choice to add to the others. . .don’t you think? Oh. . .one other thing: Persistently love God with all your heart. Persistently love others the way Jesus loves you. And Persistently make sure all the glory goes to Him. . .Persist!

I Choose Focus

Even when “we” say we aren’t focused. . .reality is we are focused on NOT being focused.

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Tuesday I chose to be joyful. Yesterday I chose to be hopeful. Early this morning as God and I were talking, He reminded me that those 2 choices need to be made everyday, all day long. So at 4:45 a.m., reflecting on what I would write this morning, here is what I said. “Today I choose to be joyful. Today I choose to be hopeful.” Now, what do I add to these two? OK, here it is: “Today I choose to be focused.”

OK, OK, what’s the big deal? What’s the difference? People, that includes you and me, are focused every day. Even when “we” say we aren’t focused. . .reality is we are focused on NOT being focused. Not being focused IS a choice of focus. I’ll leave this thought for another blog.

Today, I will choose, carefully choose I might add, the objects of my focus. It is going to look something like this:

  1. I will focus on my relationship with Abba, Poppa.
  2. I will focus on maintaining a pure heart, for HIM.
  3. I will focus on Defining Moments that will take me deeper in Him.
  4. I will focus on on those Divinely Engineered Moments HE prepared so that I can have even a small part in the work HE is doing in the hearts and lives of others, even those who in the moment annoy me.
  5. I will focus on people who show kindness, and express to them my personal appreciation.
  6. In short: I choose today to Focus On The Kingdom Of God.

Deliberate, laser beam focus is the choice I make today. . .along with being joyful and hopeful, I choose to focus on The Kingdom Of God. This means I look for His Kingdom in the expected places. . .but most of all in those UNEXPECTED places. . .ESPECIALLY in those UNEXPECTED places. Whoever would have thought that God’s Kingdom, and His Glory would have been found on a Roman cross? Jesus did.

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 (by the way this is the definition of focus)—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

Hebrews 12:2 (The Message)

Today I choose to be joyful, hopeful, and focused. Will you join me in this? I pray so. And remember. . .Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him.

I Choose To Be Hopeful

Today I choose to be hopeful that in the darkness of our times, the glory of God’s Kingdom will break through…and it will.

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(Picture from doinggreatbaby.com)

Yesterday’s post got me to thinking this morning. Please, no comments from the peanut gallery about me thinking. I need to focus on my choices, so I will attempt to write something about my “Choice Of The Day”. I blame Andy Andrews for this. I’ve been going back through my Kindle and reading some of his books I read several years ago. And my mind is rumbling because….well….truthfully….OK, I haven’t given enough thought and reflection on this radical idea of “choices”.

Today my choice is to be HOPEFUL! I’ve chosen HOPEFUL today because if I listen to the skeptics (they are all around us and some of them operate news networks) I need to renew my passport and seek asylum in Australia or New Zealand. I’ve been “sick and tired and tired and sick” about the culture around me. Well, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. But that’s not the right choice. I need, and maybe YOU need, a different choice.

Today I choose to be hopeful–hopeful that the wisdom of eternity breaks in on the mindless chatter around me. Hopeful that world peace begins when I am at peace with people. Hopeful that a person’s moment, maybe even their life, will change because of something I do or say. Hopeful that I will act like Jesus in the circumstances that happen to me today, rather than reacting. Hopeful that amidst the toxic waste oozing throughout our culture, that oozing waste that smells something like a combination of raw sewage, paper mills, and chicken houses will begin to recede and go back to hell, where it came from.

Today I choose to be hopeful that in the darkness of our times, the glory of God’s Kingdom will break through…and it will. Not because of me. No mam! But because that’s what the Kingdom of God does–it breaks in, breaks down, breaks through the darkness around us. I choose to be hopeful today.

Remember what Paul said:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

Who knows, maybe this choice I make today will change the direction of our culture. I know it will change the direction of my life. And remember…Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the Glory goes to HIM! Oh…choose to be hopeful…

Misery Or Joy-Your Choice

Living in misery…or…living in joy…it is your choice. It is the choice you make BEFORE anything happens.

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Yesterday I had a lunch meeting with a brother and close friend. We were talking about a mission we are both passionate about: Disaster Response! We live a considerable distance apart, so I chose for us to meet in Russellville, about half way between us. I also chose to ride because…well you need to be a biker to understand.

There are few earthly things that compare to riding in the open air on a bike–the smell of fresh cut grass, the coolness of passing through a hollow (or hollar if you are from the South), in season smell of honeysuckles. But yesterday…well, it was 98 degrees plus and there was the occasional smell of road kill baking in the hot sun…and then the smell of commercial chicken houses. I could have (notice I said “could have”) complained–but I made a choice. I made this choice before I fired her up. I made the choice to enjoy the ride.

And do you know what? I had a blast! Sure, there were some unpleasant aromas wafting about. So what? I wasn’t seeing God’s beautiful creation from the inside of an air-conditioned car. Nope! I was in the middle of God’s beautiful creation–and the wind in my face reminded me that the wind of the Holy Spirit was all around me–and I was getting to breath it all in.

But…you knew there was going to be a “but”…I’m reflecting now on our current culture. One of the way too often seen characteristics of this culture is the ability to WHINE! I can think of a number of people I know who would have experienced that ride yesterday with much disdain. The wafting aroma of road kill and chicken houses…the heat…well at the end of the ride that would have been their closing remarks…and they would have been in misery.

Look, misery is a choice that YOU can make! But…so is Joy! In Luke 7, verses 31 through 35 Jesus described the culture around Him at that moment…and it is an on target description of today’s culture. He said they were like this bunch of kids trying to play. One side wanted to play
“wedding” but the others didn’t join in. They wanted to play “funeral”…so they whined and bickered AT each other.

Living in misery…or…living in joy…it is your choice. It is the choice you make BEFORE anything happens. Before the ride began, I chose joy and it was a joyful thing in me; even with the unpleasant aromas and searing heat. Because of my choice to be joyful, my heart looked for, leaned into, ALL the many reasons I have to be joyful. The unpleasantness of a few things were not able to dispel the joy! Why? Simply because I chose JOY!

Some who read this may think, “Look, it’s not all that simple!” My response comes from something I learned and am continuing to learn from writer and speaker Andy Andrews. It’s not all that complicated, either! I have a choice–to be miserable or to be joyful; it’s a choice to make BEFORE my day begins…and it’s the choice I make throughout the day. (For more on Andy Andrews, visit his website www.andyandrews.com)

You have a choice–at the beginning of each time–in every situation and circumstance–Misery…or…Joy! What’s your choice?

The Butterfly Effect

2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NLT)

3 Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did.  Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. 5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NLT)

Does anyone here know The Chaos Theory?  No, it’s not a way to describe what happens daily in Washington D.C. and Montgomery, though we could make a good argument for it.  Chaos Theory is the science of surprises, of the unusual and the unpredictable.  It Teaches Us To Expect The Unexpected.  

While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with things that are practically impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on.  

Chaos Theory maintains that a very small change will make a system behave completely differently.  Very small changes in the starting position of a system that is subject to chaos, make a big difference after a while.  Something happens at a certain point in time that will produce much bigger result than can be predicted.

Edward Norton Lorenz was an American mathematician, meteorologist, and a pioneer of The Chaos Theory.  It started out as a mathematic theory, but before long, it was being applied to every aspect of science, economics, human behavior, and social development.  He noticed it by rounding decimals—that even rounding a number up or down by 1 one-thousandths will create an entirely different outcome. 

He introduced and coined the term The Butterfly Effect to explain The Chaos Theory.  In an over-simplification, The Butterfly Effect states that if a butterfly in Africa flaps its wings at the right moment, the air it moves will lead to the formation of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.  Meaning, had the butterfly NOT flapped its wings, the hurricane would not have happened. 

Sounds insane, doesn’t it?  But there are scientists who insist it is true.

Let’s bring The Chaos Theory and The Butterfly Effect and apply it to nations.  Anyone here know the name Gavrilo Princip?  Well you should.  Gavrilo hated a certain man and his pregnant wife.  He went up to them, pulled out a gun and killed the man, his wife and their unborn baby.  Now do you know him?  His act of killing  Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Duchess Sophie, led to 37 million people either being killed or wounded.  It was called World War 1.  Butterfly Effect

Let’s bring The Butterfly Effect into another realm—the realm of people, society and culture.  Who here knows Philo Taylor Farnsworth?  He grew up in a home that did not have electricity until he was 14.  Yet he successfully demonstrated the first television signal transmission on September 7, 1927.  Who can deny the impact of TV?

Now let’s look at The Butterfly Effect within the spiritual context.  Remember the point of it:  “Small Causes Will Have Large Effects”And to bring this home, let me ask you a question:  What Are You Doing To Change The Lives Of People Around You?  Think long and hard on that question.

What Are Things You Are Doing, The Memories You Are Creating—That Will Change The Heart And Future Of Another Person?  Each and every one of you can be an instrument of God’s plans.  And if you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, this is it: 

Your Life Has The Potential To Change Another Life—And The Culture Around You.

You, yes you, can be a mover and a shaker in our community and culture.  You can be responsible for The Butterfly Effect in a person who needs it so much.

God has a purpose for your life—to bring Him Honor and Glory.   When you genuinely bring God Honor and Glory it will impact another life.  This Is How His Purpose For Your Life Works.  Remember that:  His Purpose Is HIS Purpose For HIM

It Is Not To Make Your Life Shine—But To Shine The Glory Of HIS Life Through You!  But you must be deliberate with your life.  These are serious times, my friends.  God has never been, nor will He ever be looking for a casual relationship with anyone.  God is looking for serious people who want more than an hour or 2 on Sunday morning. 

Think about Timothy’s grandmother and mother.  We don’t know a lot about them, but there were a lot of people who felt the impact of their lives.  Their impact continues to be felt today.  Their impact continues to be felt all around the world.  It’s here today, and it will be here the next day and the next—until the end of time. 

Here’s the thing about God’s Glory:  Anyone Can Reflect It, And When Someone Reflects That Glory, It Becomes The Butterfly Effect That Reaches Out And Changes Everything.  But it takes 3 key, let’s call them, “Immoveable Commitments” By You.  Here they are:

1.  Make An Immovable Commitment To Be Hungry For God’s Grace!

Live your ordinary daily life knowing that real life is found only as we live it in God’s Grace.   

  • Through your life show others that Grace is what overcomes the power of sin.
  • Through your life show others that Grace is what overcomes the damage of sin. 
  • Through your life show others that Grace is the place to go when you fail.
  • Through your life show others that Grace is what you need when life gets hard and difficult. 
  • Through your life show others that when the questions of life arise, Grace holds the answer—whether you find the answer here and now—or you reveal the confidence that one day God will make the answer clear. 

We equally need Grace, and if are going to see lives change and cultured transformed—we need to recognize our need for Grace.  We often say our world to change, it needs to know its need for God.  But I would say it this way:  For Our World To Change, The World Needs To See Our Need For God!  And when we recognize our need for Grace, it’s easier to then share that Grace. 

Grace Does Its Best Work When One Person Transformed By Grace, Shows Grace To Another Person.  Butterfly Effect

2.  Make An Immoveable Commitment To Live Into The Bigger Purpose

Live with the sense and expectation that you are part of something much bigger than anything else.  What Would Jesus Do is a phrase most of us are familiar with. 

It comes from Charles Sheldon’s book “In His Steps”, where he told stories of people facing a dilemma between choices, and he would ask the question:  “What Would Jesus Do?”  The answer to that question is our purpose.  And that purpose is to love God and honor Him by becoming the reflection of Jesus with our attitudes, words and actions. 

Our Purpose Is To Think In Ways, Act In Ways, Speak In Ways That Reflect The Real Jesus To The World.  To do this you need to Expand your capacity to enjoy God’s presence and reflect His Heart. 

Don’t ask, “What Would Jesus Do?”  Start Doing What Jesus IS Doing!  The Butterfly Effect

3.  Make An Immoveable Commitment To Be Get Involved With God’s Mission

See yourself as part of an unfolding story—an ongoing narrative.  And the narrative is about God reaching out into the world to redeem and restore the broken and fallen lives.  Too many are living out a story that is way too small. 

There’s a word being said frequently to churches wanting to grow.  The word is WIG!  Not hair!  WIG stands for Wildly Important Goal.  It’s so wild, it’s impossible for us to do—but it’s possible with God!  It comes from that sense of urgency that the Holy Spirit is working in our culture.  Without that W.I.G. here’s what we do:

  • We Dream Too Small. 
  • Our Vision Is Too Short Sighted. 
  • We Muzzle Our Imagination. 

It’s time to set our hearts and minds free because we are in the middle of God’s Story! We make a difference in our community and culture—By Our Need For Grace—Through Our Purpose—With Our Mission. 

Your Life Has The Potential To Change Another Life—And The Culture Around You.  The Butterfly Effect!

Stop selling yourself short.  Remember the Butterfly Effect—that if a butterfly flaps its wings at just the right time—everything changes in the future. Andy Andrews, author and great speaker wrote in his book The Butterfly Effect: 

“Every Single Thing You Do Matters.  You Have Been Created As One Of A Kind.  You Have Been Created In Order To Make A Difference.  You Have Within You The Power To Change The World.”

Andy Andrews, The Butterfly Effect

And we see this effect that 1 life can have at this Table of Holy Communion. The effect of Jesus’ death continues to transform and change human hearts and lives.

Next Step:  Come up with your own W.I.G.— Wildly Important Goal that reflects the truth, that God designed your life to make an impact on His creation.

BE LISTENING TO GOD!

Listening To God Leads To Learning And That Learning Leads To Holiness. Hearing God doesn’t accomplish that. Hearing only captures the sound. Listening Captures The Listener. We need to Listen to God for Kairos Time to invade this Chronos Time culture that surrounds us.

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This is Message #3 in my current Series

Quick review:  We have only 1 word for “time” but the Greek has these 2 words.  Here is the difference between the 2:

Chronos Time is Time measured by the ticking of the clock.  Kairos cannot be measured by the ticking of a clock, But By The Beating Of The HeartKairos Is When God Steps Into Our Time And Space And Does Something Incredible.  Chronos Is Measured by Quantity.  Kairos Is Measured By Quality.

We live in a Chronos World—but God offers us more than the ticking of the clock kind of life.  He offers us the Kairos Life, and it’s found when we recognize Kairos Moments.  So today we look at another way we can be in a place where the Kairos Time invades and overwhelms our Chronos Time.  Turn in your Bibles, tablets or phones to Hebrews 1:1-3 and I want to share it with you in The Passion Translation.  It spoke to my heart and I hope it speaks to your heart.

Here’s one of my personal observations:  Most People Tend To Be Listening Impaired Rather Than Hearing Impaired.  There is a difference between Hearing and ListeningHearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear.  Unless you are hearing impaired, Hearing just happens.  However, Listening is something you Intentionally choose to do.  Listening requires concentration so that your mind can process those sounds.

How we live each day is rooted in what we choose to listen to.  Hearing is simple enough: the ears register the sounds produced and the brain interprets them.  But in the act of Listening, we must be paying attention.  Sometimes we may be distracted by something we see, or we may be lost in our own thoughts and we are Hearing but not Listening.

Think about this worship service.  Do you Hear worship in Chronos Time or do you Listen to it in Kairos Time?  Here is an easy way to tell if you are Hearing or Listening.  If you are waiting for the service to end—then you are Hearing in Chronos Time and your worship happens As Chronos Time. 

But—if you wish the service wasn’t over because you have been captivated and caught up in this moment of Worship—then you are Listening In Kairos Time and your worship becomes a Kairos Moment

If you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, this is it:  Listening To God Leads To Learning And That Learning Leads To Holiness.  Hearing God doesn’t accomplish that.  Hearing only captures the soundListening Captures The Listener.  We need to Listen to God for Kairos Time to invade this Chronos Time culture that surrounds us.

To remember this, we need to intentionally cultivate some Holy Habits that will move us from Hearing God to Listening To God.  What I am about to share with you is not natural, nor is it easy.  But when we do them Intentionally it opens our hearts and minds to the invasion of Kairos Time.  To help you remember how to Intentionally develop this, the Spirit has reduced it to only 3 words:  Each word comes with its own example from the Bible.

1.  Be Alert

Become Aware Of Your Surroundings With A Sensitized Heart, Not A Desensitized Mind.  Do you understand the difference between being sensitized and being desensitized?  Sensitized means to quickly detect and respond to even the slightest changes in the moment.  It’s being tuned into your surroundings. Desensitized means we are emotionally insensitive or detached.  It numbs us so much that we fail to act for the sake of The Kingdom.  Be aware of what is ordinarily going on around you. 

When ordinary surroundings change, then it is likely to be a Kairos Moment.  Moses is a great example of this.  One day he was taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.  He would have been in that area many times, taking care of those sheep.    

He walked by that mountain so often that his mind could have become desensitized to any changes.  But on that day—Moses knew something was different.  A bush was burning, but not burning up.  He was alert and he went to investigate.  And because Moses was alert and went to investigate, here’s what God said in Exodus 3:5—“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.”

When we are alert to God’s presence, Ordinary Chronos Time becomes Extraordinary Kairos Time.  An Ordinary Place becomes Holy Ground.  Alert means to be on the lookout for what’s happening—and if in your ordinary day-to-day life, you do not expect to find Holy Moments and Holy Ground, guess what—you won’t find it.  But, if like Moses, you are alert to your surroundings, any moment will become the place that Kairos invades the Chronos.

2.  Be Sensitive. 

Love God So Deeply That Whatever Moves Him To Act, Causes Your Heart To Act.  One of the things Jesus manifested in His daily life was His sensitivity to the people around.  He was so sensitive that one day He knew when a woman touched the hem of His robe.  Jesus was sensitive to Zacchaeus, sensitive to the lepers, sensitive to the hungry crowds.  He’s sensitive because He knows the right time to move.  Samuel is a great example.  After King Saul had turned against God, God sent Samuel on a quest—to find the next king of Israel.  God led Samuel to the family of Jesse. 

And we read in 1 Samuel 16:3—“Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”  But God doesn’t tell Samuel which son.  Samuel is ready to pick the tallest, strongest, oldest and most handsome son to be the next king. 

But that wasn’t the one and God said in Verse 7—“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

God thinks, plans and operates on a different level than us.  He wants us to know and to see what HE knows and sees, so we need to be sensitive to God because He is aware of what lies within people—both their needs and their potential.  We need to be sensitive to God because He is on the move and working in the hearts and lives of the broken and fallen All The Time.

3.  Be Ready

When God Steps Into Our Time And Space He Is Ready To Act—And So Should We.  God steps into our space and time Intentionally.  Readiness on our part needs to be Intentional, too!  Being ready means that we seek and anticipate the movement of God—in the culture and in the lives of people. 

Isaiah is a great illustration on the importance of being ready.  In chapter 6 we find Isaiah grieving the death of King Uzziah.  Naturally he goes to the Temple to grieve.  And in that moment of grief, Isaiah sees God—but he thinks his goose is cooked—that he is about to die.  Isaiah admits his condition—that he’s a sinner surrounded by sinners.  But God redeems and purifies Isaiah, and then He asks this question in Isa. 6:8—“Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”  I said, “Here I am.  Send me.” 

Isaiah was ready to go!  And here’s the thing you need to really pay close attention to in Isaiah’s response: 

  • He didn’t know where he would be sent,
  • didn’t know what he would have to do,
  • and he didn’t know what that message would be. 
  • But he was still ready to go! 

If he was only Hearing God I don’t believe he would have been excited nor even wanted to go.  But because he was Listening to God, Intentionally processing that Kairos Moment, he was ready to go implement that plan of God.  God is looking for people to implement His plan without their corrections or additions.  God doesn’t need us to improve his plans. We need to respond like Isaiah:

  • We must be ready to go not knowing where it might be 
  • Ready to do not knowing exactly what we will be doing
  • Ready to speak not knowing exactly what He wants us to say
  • Just be ready.

God is always looking for ordinary lives through which HE can do extraordinary things.  I mean, if it takes being extraordinary to do what God wants—then how would the world know that it’s God doing it?  They would think it’s the result of extraordinary people.

Sometimes things you may not even want to do can open the door for the Lord to use you to impact the life of another!  Let me tell you the story of John Egglen.  John had never preached a sermon in his life—until that morning.  In January 1850, snow buried his town of Colchester, England.  He thought about staying home. Who would go to church that day?  But he reconsidered.  He was, after all, one of the leaders and if leaders didn’t go, who would?  

He put on his boots, hat, and coat and walked the six miles to the Methodist Church.  Only thirteen people were present: 12 members and 1 guest.  Even the pastor was snowed in.  Someone suggested they go home.  John would hear none of that.  They’d come this far; they would have a service.  Besides, they had a guest; a thirteen-year-old boy.  But who would preach?  John was the only leader there, so it fell to him.  His sermon lasted only ten minutes.

It didn’t make a lot of sense, he struggled to make any point at all.  But at the end, a Kairos Moment stirred him, and He looked straight at the boy who was that guest and said:  “Young man, look to Jesus. Look! Look! Look!” 

Did the challenge make a difference?  This boy grew into a man and when he told this story he said, “I did look, and then and there the cloud on my heart lifted, the darkness rolled away, and at that moment I saw the sun.”  The boy’s name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon—England’s prince of preachers. 

Tens of thousands of people came into a relationship with Jesus, and even more deepened their commitment to Jesus through the life and preaching of C.H. Spurgeon.  It would not have happened, except that John Egglen recognized his own Kairos Moment.  And If You Don’t Have This Hope And Belief That You Can Make A Difference, Then Chronos Time Has Devoured You.

John Egglen was Listening to God.  Could it be, that somewhere around here, is the next C. H. Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, E. Stanley Jones, C. S. Lewis, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley?  

Who knows what impact 1 person will make down the line, when we are Listening to God!

Here Are Your Next Steps:

  1. Are you hearing God or Listening to God?  Make an intentional decision to Listen.  This is a decision you need to make each day and several times during the day.
  2. Partner with someone with whom you can deepen each other’s spiritual life.  Have 2, 3, 4 no more than 5 who will love you enough to tell you the truth about yourself, and who will allow you to do the same.
  3. Look around here to see what needs to be done, and volunteer.  There’s always something to do, something that needs to be done.  These are Kairos Moments waiting for you.
  4. Allow your complaint to become your job description.  Look around this community to see what needs to be done and do something to help out.  Whatever is wrong, work to make it right!

THRIVING IN THE KAIROS LIFE IN CHRONOS TIME!

When We Are Controlled By Chronos Time, It Limits, Even Eliminates, Our Ability To See God’s Time Of Kairos.

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(This is the second in my current Message Series, “Kairos Living In A Chronos Life!” You can find the first message here)

Remember from last week that Chronos Is Measured by Quantity.  Kairos Is Measured By Quality.  Kairos Time reveals and expresses quality moments that First Changes Us, and then Changes Our Surroundings

Our passage today is taken from Habakkuk 2:1-3.  Here’s the background you need to understand before we read it.  Habakkuk was a prophet just before the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem.  He senses doom is just ahead, and he does a very human thing:  He complains.  First he complains about his culture and why God doesn’t do something to change it.  God answers his complaint with the truth. 

Because they have been unfaithful, just as Habakkuk complained, He’s about to send Babylon to bring judgment.  Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s answer, so he complains again—complains about HOW God is addressing the problem.  All of this is chapter 1.  Now let’s look at the heart of God’s reply to Habakkuk’s complaining in Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT)

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post.  There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint.   Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
    for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed.”

This passage talks about the impending judgment on Jerusalem.  But it also says something about God’s Time and Timing, especially that last sentence:  “It will not be delayed.”

Now here’s the one thing you need to remember today:  When We Are Controlled By Chronos Time, It Limits, Even Eliminates, Our Ability To See God’s Time Of Kairos.

The life that God offers us is The Kairos Life—moments full of God’s Kairos Time.  And as I said last week, we live IN a Chronos World.  We are surrounded by Chronos.  Until we die or unless Jesus comes back there’s no escaping Chronos Time.  And there are demands that Chronos puts on us.  To deny this truth is to live in a fantasy land.  It’s unrealistic and untrue. 

And as God’s messenger, I’m not going to deceive you into thinking that Chronos Time is no longer real once we become a disciple of Jesus.  There’s no way around it; but we do not have to be controlled nor limited by Chronos Time, because God has another Time and it’s the Life called The Kairos Life.  So, how can we thrive in a Chronos World with a Kairos heart? 

If give our heart to Jesus and throw our life into the Kingdom of God, Chronos Time remains for now.  But we do not have to live in Chronos Time the same way.  It’s all a matter of the mind and heart—and where we hitch our hearts and minds. 

At every given moment, our minds and hearts are attached—tethered to either Chronos or Kairos time.  Chronos remains dull, boring, and a difficult thing to endure without being connected deeply and strongly with Kairos Time.  But, When we are tethered to—fastened to The Kairos Life, it changes how we live in the Chronos Time.

Kairos changes our perception to see beyond times and appointments and duties.  Kairos opens us up to the true power of the Kingdom of God that redeems and transforms anything and anyone—that brings God’s glory into everything and everyone.  You just have to be in that place to see Kairos Time.  To make sure you can thrive in The Kairos Life in Chronos Time, allow me to share some steps you can take so you will Thrive In The Kairos Life:

1.  First, Check To See If What You Are Doing Really Matters To God & The Kingdom

Luke 17:21—“You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

When your focus is on what you are doing it’s hard to focus on what God is doing. (Allow me to repeat this: When your focus is on what you are doing it’s hard to focus on what God is doing.)  Our focus tends to be on the external trappings of what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch with our hands.  It’s not that way with the Kingdom of God.  And what matters to God and His Kingdom?

Your salvation!  Your spiritual maturity!  Speaking to each other rather than about each other!  Helping others!  Getting to know people, their hurts and their hopes.  Caring about others more than yourself!  How much more time do I have?  Well, obviously not enough.  Let me put it this way—God cares more this community than He does about this building.  And if you want to live in Kairos Time, then you need to do the same.

2.  Second, Kairos Is Planned By God’s Time And Not Us

Ecclesiastes 3:11—Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Kairos is that Moment where God is making a move—in the hearts of people and at the center of communities.  It is all about trusting in God’s timing.  I have moments where I have issues with that timing.  But God sees farther ahead than we do.

This requires us to make a mental shift.  Instead of looking at our time as grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, we view our time as opportunities that God has been planning.  Trying to control as much as possible is living in Chronos time.  We need to live into time by seeing it as Kairos time, God’s time.  Instead of viewing our time as seconds ticking by, we can see God’s grace at work.

3.  Third, Kairos Time Is Big Picture Time

Isaiah 55:8-9—8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

In Chronos Time we get locked in our stuff—our abilities, our limitations.  Human reasoning and human logic are under both the influence and the control of Chronos Time. 

Kairos Time Is Under The Influence And Control Of God.  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts.”  God’s thoughts are rooted in His Power and His heart, not our abilities nor our desires.  God knows what He can do while we think about what we can’t do.

And look at that other part:  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  As wild as my imagination can be at times, it’s nothing compared with God’s imagination! Our perspective is always limited by time and space—so we imagine in ways that are limited by Chronos Time.  So we use time selfishly—what we want and desire.

God’s perspective is unlimited because there are no boundaries to eternity.  Kairos Time reveals that unlimited perspective and unlimited opportunity that God sees because of Eternity.  When you lock God into Chronos Time, you deny yourself Kairos Time!  Last, but by no means least—

4.  Kairos Is An Invitation Time

Matthew 28:19-20—“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Some moments are more valuable than other moments.  The five minutes that I have to share the gospel with an unsaved stranger is more valuable than the five minutes of listening to people complain.  I must take advantage of my opportunities—and so must you.

Kairos Time is when we accept God’s Invitation to be involved with Him, rather than us asking Him to be involved with what we are doing.  (I need to say that again)  Chronos Time is doing what we want.  Kairos Time is living in what God wants.  Chronos Time is killing the church.  But Kairos is bringing the Kingdom that will never die! 

God is looking for those of us who are sick and tired of living with a Chronos Heart—and who long to live with The Kairos Heart–to lean in and step into what God is doing, unlike what King Asa did. The story is in 2 Chronicles 16. King Asa saw his Chronos as what Chronos ends up being: HOPELESS! So he made a treaty with his enemy. But the prophet Hanani calls Asa on this and gives us hope:

2 Chronicles 16:9 (The Message) – God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him.

Asa saw his future as Chronos time but Hanani saw it as Kairos Time. Your current situations are the direct result of your past decisions.  Your future situations depend on your current decisions.  It comes in the moment of opportunity. 

The perfect moment is perfect because God has been planning it and now invites you into a moment that can never be measured.  When you realize the Kairos moment, take a breath and pause before you exhale.  If you do this your life will be changed.  We only have such a brief opportunity to shepherd our kids and grandkids when they’re still young children. When a friend is experiencing pain, we have a brief window of time in which to reach out to them.  You never know when the Chronos Time you spend with any person is in reality—a Kairos Time for both of you.

Next Steps

  1. Each day this week invest some of your Chronos Time in prayer.  Specifically in 3 areas: 
    1. Someone who has been on your heart
    1. The upcoming General Conference
    1. Our future as a church
  2. Get involved in our new Bible Study Group that begins Feb. 27 on the Book of Acts

What Are You Gonna Do Now?

He Doesn’t Just Come To Visit Us—He Doesn’t Come TO Us—Mystery Of All Mysteries—He Comes, Now Listen: He Comes FOR US!

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(My message this week….)

Isaiah 9:6-7  (NLT)

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  His government and its peace will never end.  He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.  The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

One of the things I enjoy doing is riding my bike.  And while planned routes and organized rides are fun, sometimes I simply enjoy heading out one direction then making several turns before coming home on a different route.  I will head north for a while, then east for a while before turning south and then to the west.  I know that somewhere along the way I will find a familiar road that will take me home.  Several years ago my wife Debbie joined me on such an adventure.  We headed north on Highway 43 past Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, then I turned east, and then north again, and then east again.  We came to a 4 way stop and I asked her, “Do you know where we are?”  She said, “No, where are we?”  And I said, “I haven’t a clue.”  She replied, “No, really, where are we?”  And I said, “Really, I don’t know.  But if we go in that direction, we should find our way back home.”  I don’t think she was real happy with me, or even believed me. I didn’t know where we were, but I knew a different way would get us home.

Driving to work or going shopping—we tend to always travel the same way, seldom if ever, considering a different route.  Now that Christmas Day has passed and all the refunds and exchanges are complete, and all the After-Christmas Sales have been seen, many people think it is time to go back to the dull routines of everyday life.  We have come face to face with the truth of Messiah—that God is with us. 

But now many think it’s time to get back into our normal routines—Routines That Often Leave Us Feeling Tired, Frustrated, Unhappy, Unsatisfied; And If We Will Be Honest With Ourselves, It Leaves Us Feeling Empty.  More often than not, the word we hear after Christmas is, “I’m glad it’s over!”  And in January, the depression sets in with all those credit card bills.

In the season of Christmas we are brought face to face with God—we have had multiple encounters with the wonder of His grace—a variety of signs and symbols with one single message:  The God of All Eternity has completely revealed Himself by becoming one of us.  Every bit of God’s being and heart has been revealed in the most extraordinary act ever best described by Isaiah:  For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us.  These words are the words of the Mystery Of Incarnation.  In a precise moment of time The Child Is Born—This Is The Humanity Of Jesus.  Rather than assuming we know that He understands us, God shows us He understands us by becoming us! 

And at the same moment The Son Is Given To Us—Jesus Is Also Divine.  The two natures, human & Divine, are forged together in the womb of Mary and breaks into our world that night in a stable near Bethlehem.  The Child—He’s human; The Son—He’s Divine.  The Child speaks about the life of Jesus and The Son speaks about the death of Jesus. 

And this is the mystery that we are called to accept and embrace—God fully reveals His Awesome Love for in a single moment of time by becoming both The Child and The Son!  The Mystery is that God loves us so much that He enters the stench and the filth not just of that stable, but into the stench and filth of our broken, sinful, dirty lives.

If you can remember only 1 thing today, this is it:  He Doesn’t Just Come To Visit Us—He Doesn’t Come TO Us—Mystery Of All Mysteries—He Comes, Now Listen:  He Comes FOR US!  God doesn’t just wave to us as He passes by like Miss America or the Pope or all those New Year’s Day Parade Queens.  God doesn’t just glance over at us, nod His head at us and then goes on.  He doesn’t come to us as He did when Moses saw only the backside of God’s glory.  God comes to us face to face and heart to heart.

And the government will rest on His shoulders.  Our sin excludes us from the Kingdom of God—so to bring us into the Kingdom, it all depends on Jesus.  There was more than the weight of the Cross on Jesus’ shoulders—it was the weight of God’s predetermined plan to bring to us rebels into His Rule by putting to rest once and for all time the sins of all peoples in all ages. 

Ever felt like the weight of the family was on your shoulders?  Ever felt like the weight of a project at work was on your shoulders?  But try to imagine that the plan, rule and dominion of God’s eternal Kingdom resting on your shoulders.  God’s eternal purpose is carried on the shoulders of Jesus.  God has no plan “B”!

And in the filth and stench of that stable, in the filth and stench of our lives, we encounter the mystery of grace.  Isaiah says, “He will be called” and the Hebrew word comes from another word that means To Encounter. 

  • We Have This Indescribable Encounter With The One Who IS Wonderful!  It really is an incredible moment to come face to face with Grace! 
  • We Encounter The Counselor!  The timeless wisdom and knowledge of God is placed right smack dab in the middle of our broken world. 
  • We Encounter The Mighty God!  We come face to face with Him who holds all power in His hand and unleashes that power in the form of Love! 
  • We Encounter The Everlasting Father!  We encounter the only one who will never ever give up on us!  Love, grace and mercy that is Never Ending! 
  • We Encounter The Prince Of Peace!  He gives us peace not because of what we have done, but because of everything that He has done for us.

There are other ways He has made Himself known to us. He’s been making Himself known through all our activities this Season.

  • In the exchanging of gifts God has been offering to exchange our guilt and powerlessness for the gift of forgiveness and new life. 
  • God has made himself known to us through the poor and hungry with the reminder that when we do it unto the least of these we do it unto Him. 
  • In the bright Christmas lights He has made Himself known as the Light that Shines in the Darkness. 
  • In the parties and family dinners God as made Himself known as the One who will one day bring us to the Great Banquet Feast. 
  • In the beautiful decorations that adorn homes God has made Himself known as the only One who is able to adorn our lives with the beauty of holiness.  
  • Even in cleaning up the torn paper and boxes, God has made Himself known as the One who takes out the trash of our lives to make room for what really matters.

This is our encounter with God—God who has come FOR us.  Now, you have a choice.  You can go back the way you came into this encounter, back to your ordinary life—back to the deadlines and pressures—back to all that stuff that really never completely satisfies us.  Or, you can go back into the real world, a different way. 

Think about those Wise Men.  In Matthew 2:11-12 (NLT)They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

The only way we can go back a different way is to become a different person.  When the Wise Men arrived back home, what do you suppose they talked about?  The sand storms they faced?  The beautiful oases that would surprise them in their journey?  The beautiful palace of Herod?  That spectacular Temple in Jerusalem?  The wonderful eating places they found?  Or the eating places you don’t want to stop at?

We don’t know exactly what they talked about, but I can’t help but think and believe that they talked about their encounter with God through The Child that was given, and The Son that they saw in person.  And it should be the same for us.  This morning you are faced with a choice.  Go back to the old life, the usual things, the ordinary things. 

Or you can go back to your daily life a different way by choosing to become a different person.  Come to the manger, then walk with Jesus and listen as He teaches and watch Him as He works.  Then spend some time at the Cross. 

Focus on the wounds and bruises of Jesus.  Focus on the nails.  Focus on the crown of thorns that pierced His head.  Then focus—focus on that face—watch His lips move and listen as He says “Father, forgive them.”  Now, how can you be the same person who walked in that door this morning?

This Child, This Son who is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince Of Peace—this is the one that the Wise Men came to see—and this is the One they encountered.  And when they encountered Him they went home a different way.  It was more than just the threats of Herod; it was that They Were Now Different People

Different people can’t travel the same road home—they go a different way.  The mystery of Incarnation, God in the flesh, changed Mary, changed Joseph, changed the Shepherds, changed the Wise Men, changed the whole world!  And It Ought To Change Us!  Throughout this Advent and Christmas season, God has made Himself known to us.   

They went home a different way because they were different people.  The different way is for people who are now different, changed by embracing the Mystery:  He is The Child and The Son who comes FOR us.  This Different Way changes everything.  3 things should change in our lives:

1.  It Changes How We Think About Life!

Life is now more than calendars, appointments and time clocks.  Life is meant to be about relationship—with God first and then in relationships with others.  Because of The Child, because of The Son, life isn’t about us and what we want.  It’s all about Him and what He desires for us and the world.

2.  It Changes How We See Life!

See your life in light of what God can do, not what you can accomplish.  Start looking at situations and problems the way God sees them—as opportunities for growth.  Start seeing people the way God sees them—people in need of His Mercy, Grace and Love.  Stop Seeing Life As A Sentence To Be Endured But Rather An Adventure To Be Discovered.

3.  It Changes How We Live Life!

Make your life an offering to God.  Make every thought, form every word, make every choice as an offering to God.  Listen to how The Message puts it in Rom. 12:1-2: 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. (emphasis mine)

Robert Frost wrote a poem entitled:  The Road Not Taken.  He talks about walking along a path in the woods when he encounters a fork in the path.  Two paths are in front of him—one obviously traveled frequently and the other was less traveled.  In the last verse he writes these famous words:  “I shall be telling this with a sigh.  Somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”  You are about to go home, back into the world, your world.  Which way will you go?

Your Next Step

Decide if you will go back to life the same way, or a different way because seeing God with you has made you a different person.