This morning it’s raining–during our vacation. A few hours after I took this picture, the fog and rain mist has blocked the view to just a few yards. A lot of people would be upset, even mad, if rain and fog invaded their vacation plans. But us? We are continuing to enjoy this vacay! I’ll admit it, there was a time when if anything interrupted my plans–I would have something like a combination hissy-fit, meltdown, conniption, and tempter tantrum. And I have come to realize that it revealed a lack of maturity on my part.
But today, it’s all good for me and Debbie. OK, there’s been rain, fog, and clouds that obscured our view. But! We still have this cabin, at least for a few more days. There’s food in the pantry and fridge. We have books and our Kindle app. Wood for the fire place. A central heating system to keep us warm. Plenty of hot water for showers. There’s an indoor Jacuzzi and an outdoor hot tub. We come here to relax, enjoy some scenery, and maybe go out one day, which we did yesterday. Our Expedition stays parked the rest of the time. And even though our view is nonexistent, we know everything we love about this area is still there. Do you understand: It’s All Still There!
What’s my point? My point is more than about vacations and mountains. In life we make a lot of plans–but something, or someone, gets in the way. It may happen at work, at school, in the family, or even at church. How you respond speaks volumes about your faith or your lack of faith. Your word for right now is Contentment. Look at what Paul said about contentment:
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
Philippians 4:11 (NLT)
Contentment doesn’t come from having everything you want. If you are discontented at work, at home, in church, and yes, even with election results, it is all because you haven’t learned how to be content. You are in an exercise of futility if you think certain things and certain people will give you contentment. This attitude is fruitless when it comes to contentment. It’s like I’m teaching in my current message series. Life isn’t perfect, and it’s not always easy. Nonetheless, It Is A Wonderful Life–when you know the keys.
Contentment is found, or lost, in our purpose. Our purpose this week is to relax and enjoy our time. Weather doesn’t change our purpose for this week because this week’s purpose is guided by our True Purpose. Our True Purpose is to honor God and bring Him glory through living the life HE has given us. God is neither glorified nor honored when I had hissy-fit, meltdown, conniption, tempter tantrum. Or when anyone has one of these.
So keep your focus on your True Purpose, not the interruptions. These days call for teachers on Contentment. If you are whinny or grumbling, then how can you teach all those who need contentment? You can’t! So get your act together! Calm down! Steady yourself! Cool it! Get a grip! Pull in your horns! Get your stuff together! I still can’t see the higher mountains–but I know they are still there. And God is still in control, even when you’re not. This means the HE wins at the end!
This is the second and last of the series Getting The Word In Our Feet. We need, more than anything else in these times of chaos and fear is Direction. Not just any direction; but a New And Different Direction. Choosing a direction is not enough. Choices without action are worthless.
Last week we learned that Any Choice That Doesn’t Come With Action Is Just Wishing And Useless. That’s what the Old Testament illustration of the Hebrews at the edge of the Promised Land teaches us. All those over 20, except Caleb and Joshua, never got to live within God’s promise. Their direction was cemeteries scattered throughout the wilderness. Now we look at a New Testament story about a single cemetery that illustrates the need for Both Direction And Action. Turn to John 20:1-9 (N.L.T.)
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside.He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.
Decades ago, before radar and computer flying, an airplane was somewhere over the Rockies in a fog that went from the ground to way above the clouds. The pilot came over P.A. and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good new and some bad news. First, the bad news: we’re lost! But the good news is, we’re 2 hours ahead of schedule.” This describes the culture we live it; it describes people all around us—2 hours ahead of schedule but lost.
When times seem to be the darkest, people struggle to find the right direction and the subsequent actions that will bring them out of the darkness. And here is the One Thing you need to remember today and it’s a principle that will always work: Actions, Not Intentions, Produce The Right Outcomes. The Good News Of God’s Kingdom isn’t about changing our intentions—it is about changing our actions. It’s not all that complicated. Intentions cannot produce faith. Cannot manufacture hope nor deliver us from our fear and despair.
I can intend to do something all day long and will accomplish nothing. If you don’t believe this, just trust me on this because I’ve done it enough to be an expert. Just suppose Debbie asks me to do something before the day is done, I’ll say, “OK, dear, I’ll do it.” Well, I intend to get that done. But come the evening, if I haven’t done that, she’s going to get upset at me.
But why? I mean I intended to do what she asked. I intended to do it better than she thought I could do it. Why is she so upset? I intended to do it. It’s just unbelievable that she would get upset that I didn’t do that—even when I intended to do it. Are you starting to get the picture here?
Let’s bring this down to this principle and the passage behind it. Easter Morning. I don’t know what went through your minds then I read the text. Maybe you thought that Easter’s not here yet. Lent doesn’t even start until Wednesday. I still have a couple of days of indulgence left.
When I read this, I focused on what was happening to the people. Mary Magdalene RAN to tell the disciples. The disciples RAN to the tomb. These folks were RUNNING! There was motion and movement by these people. The Resurrection got the disciples involved with direction, motion and movement. They no longer stood still! Christians are people who Run! The question for us here and every church is this: How Can We Get The Word In Our Feet So That We Can Get Motion And Movement On Our Part Into God’s Promises?
Well you have to understand that there are Sitters and there are Runners. One of the ways you can sort out people in church is to say they come in 2 types: Sitters and Runners. OK, let’s look at each.
1. First, Let’s Look At The Sitters.
The best way to describe sitters is to image them in a rocking chair, rocking and watching the world go by. Sitters Are Those Who Are Content With Motion Without Movement And Momentum. They Have Been Deceived Into Thinking Motion Is Movement When It’s Clearly Not Producing Momentum.
Well, here, let me show you with this rocking chair. There’s motion, but nothing is really changing. If you’re not prone to motion sickness, rocking really is relaxing—if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s activity and motion, but look—this rocking chair is still here. Am I right? I’m moving; I’m just not going anywhere. If I turn the rocking chair around, nothing’s really changed—I’m just looking in a different direction. OK, I’ve changed direction, but I still in the same place. The only thing that has changed is my view. I’m not in a different place—I’m in the same place, just a different view. And nothing has really changed.
Sitters Are Those Who Are Deceived Into Believing That Because They Are Rocking—There’s Motion—That This Motion Is Enough. While rocking in a chair may be relaxing and enjoyable it is not accomplishing anything—other than make us feel better about ourselves.
2. Now, Let’s Look At Runners.
Runners are different! They don’t stay in the same place. And their view is always changing. Runners have direction and motion—just like the sitters—but runners add the all important element of forward movement. It Is Movement Not Motion That Always Creates Momentum. Movement and momentum described what was happening in that cemetery just outside of Jerusalem. Transformation began when they started running. Running Produced Movement And That Movement Starting Producing Momentum.
Churches Are Dying Today. It’s Not Because Of A Lack Of Direction. Everyone is pointed in some direction. It’s Not Because Of A Lack Of Motion. Ever heard the phrase “Going through the motions”? It’s Because They Have Lost Movement And Without Movement There Is No Momentum. Remember the rocking chair. There is always motion—but no real movement or momentum.
There was a runner by the name of Saul of Tarsus, running as hard as anyone against Jesus. But God grabbed him on the Damascus Road, turned him around, and he kept right on running, this time as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles! Give me a church full of runners every time; even if like Saul, they are running in the wrong direction.
Because when you get runners going in the right direction, things happen! Communities change for the better. Families become stronger. People quit complaining and whining so much. People meet and follow the real Jesus. And The Very Foundations Of Hell Tremble And Shake In Fear! God Wants Runners!
We need to get the Word in our feet and start running! How? Well, the Nike commercial says it best: Just Do It! Don’t talk about it, plunge in with both feet. The problem with a lot of congregations is that they want a pastor to be successful for them—to do the praying, serving, witnessing and get more members. But this is not what God has called the pastor to do.
The pastor is one called out of the life of the church, trained and approved to help you, the lay people do your ministry. The pastor is not to be a busy body, his job is to get the body busy! Now, I can back this up with scripture, Eph. 4:11-12—“These were his gifts: some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers for the building up of the body of Christ!”
Who is the body of Christ? Those outside waiting to be saved? NO! You are! How do we become Runners rather than Sitters? Allow me to give you a few principles:
Begin By Being Still. We can’t be running in just any and every direction. We need focus. Being still before God gives us the direction to begin running. Think about Elijah in that cave at Mt. Horeb. He was running in the wrong direction. But when he stood still before God, and listened, he found that new direction—and that new direction created Movement And Momentum.
Don’t Question Or Think About The Direction, Just Run. Try to do a cost or risk analysis on the direction—and Satan will convince you it won’t work. Think about that day Jesus told the disciples to find something to feed that crowd. They found a boy’s small sack lunch. They should have been ready to run—but they did the cost/risk analysis and concluded it wasn’t enough. If Jesus sends you to do something, then He knows what’s out there and He knows it will be more than enough.
Build Upon Even Small Successes. Your running doesn’t have to produce things worthy of a page in Guide Posts. Think about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. After discussing buckets and wells, Jesus led her to thinking about the Messiah. In the world’s economy it was a small success. When He had her thinking about the Messiah He was able to get her thinking about herself. And when He got her thinking about herself and The Messiah, she went and told her whole village about Jesus.
Sustain Momentum. Keep on praying. Keep on studying The Word. Keep up the pace. Keep on living this Life In Grace. Don’t ever settle in one place of success. Think about those Disciples after Pentecost. About 3,000 people were saved. Hey, that’s a lot. Time to rest, right? Wrong! They kept it up—sharing life together in meals, Holy Communion, praying and growing in maturity.
And since you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:
Decide Right Now If You Are Going To Be A Sitter Or A Runner!
Years ago, someone gave me this poem, called “Sitting By The Fire” and it’s on the back of your sermon notes page:
Sitting By The Fire
He wasn’t much for moving about, it wasn’t his desire, No matter how hard the others work, HE WAS SITTING BY THE FIRE! This went on from day to day, he never seemed to tire, when others were working so hard in the church, HE WAS SITTING BY THE FIRE! He died one day as all must do, and some say he went up higher, but if he’s doing what he’s always done, HE IS SITTING BY THE FIRE
Today’s Saturday Story is about a dog who can teach us a lot about knowing what really matters.
The Nose Knows!
It was somewhere around 2005 as best I can recall. My son Matthew and another buddy were deployed back to Iraq, along with their dogs. Their dogs were trained to sniff out and detect materials used for the making of those dreaded IEDs. Matthew’s dog was name Kitchee (I think this was how it was spelled). I wouldn’t make fun of that name; he was a big German Shepherd who knew not only how to smell explosive materials, but trained to violently attack anyone when given the command.
Each time Matthew would be deployed we would send him those famous care packages. We would send him whatever he needed and always something sweet and good to eat. We also sent something for Kitchee–a bag of rawhide chews. That dog was protecting Matthew so I made sure to always include a big bag of chews. Both soldiers, Matthew and Kitchee, always looked forward to that care package. I called Kitchee a soldier because he was–he had a rank and it was one grade higher than his handler. If Matthew had received a promotion, Kitchee did as well.
Back to the story. We had sent them a care package that arrived on their base while they were out on a mission. When they arrived back to the base Matthew picked up the package and he and Kitchee went to their room. Matthew told me he just put the package on his cot, released Kitchee from his leash, closed the door and went to the chow hall for something to eat. When he returned to their room that care package had been ripped open by Kitchee. All the contents were scattered on that cot except for that package of rawhide chews. And he was having a ball with those chews.
Kitchee bypassed homemade cookies and candy–his only interest was those chews. The box was sealed and those chews were still in a sealed factory package. But he could still smell them. He wasn’t interested in the other stuff–only what mattered the most to him–and what he knew belonged to him! The nose always knows!
Moral Of The Story
Kitchee wasn’t distracted from his mission. He bypassed all the things that weren’t meant for him. But how many times do we get distracted from our mission of becoming more and more like Jesus? God has things for each and every one of us that HE designed to help us become more like Jesus–and He sends them as a “Care Package” waiting to be opened for us to discover that special gift. It’s know as Every Day Life. Unfortunately we get distracted by the things not meant for us. But Kitchee? He teaches us that the Nose Knows! Don’t get distracted from what God has for you!
This Saturday’s story goes back to 1996. I remember it because of 2 unforgettable things happened. For the first time in his 18 years of life, my son said, “Daddy you were right.” I had been trying to help him understand you could work hard or you could work smart. I was right; he said it and even if he doesn’t remember that moment, I always will. The other thing that happened that led to that utterance of Matthew was when he graduated Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Here’s the story.
KEEPING WITH THE CADENCE
When my son Matthew graduated from the Army’s Basic Training, I made the trip to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri to see his great accomplishment. One of the many images that was engraved on my mind was the way they walked as a unit. Each member, each soldier was in step with the other. Their lines were sharp and crisp because only ONE was calling the cadence. Their Drill Sergeant was the only voice heard. Their ears were in tune with only their Drill Sergeant.
I don’t remember the exact cadences they used. I remember some of them were…well it was 1996 before political correctness was fully operational…some couldn’t be repeated. But I do remember part of one of those cadences. It was something like this: “My buddy’s in a foxhole, a bullet in his head. The medic says he is wounded, but I know that he is dead.”
Then their Drill Sargent would start a new cadence call; and they never missed a step. And not far away you could hear other Drill Sergeants calling cadence, but their platoon did not heed the other voices, only the voice of one kept their focus and attention. They were not distracted by any other voices. It was impressive, to say the least. Many cadences, many voices–but he and his platoon were in tune to only one voice. And they moved as if they were one person.
MORAL OF THE STORY
We need someone to call cadence for us. But not just anyone–The ONE who is been given that responsibility–for us as individuals and us collectively as the Body of Christ. That’s Jesus. And He does give us the cadence call through the Holy Spirit. It’s like Paul wrote in Galatians 5:26–
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
In real life, there are a lot of things that demand our attention: family, jobs, appointments, and activities. It is easy to find ourselves frustrated or disappointed at the end of the day because of the busyness with which we are seemingly perpetually engaged in. And this is where the stress comes in and often overwhelms us.
I’m glad Jesus taught us to pray saying “Our Father” rather than “Our Drill Sergeant.” So, if you find yourself out of step and full of stress, remember my lesson. Let God lead the parade called life. Listen to His voice as He calls out the cadence. Life flows much better when we cooperate with God, much like that platoon that followed only one Drill Sergeant’s cadence.
Last night I completed yet another course in another advanced degree from The School Of Experience! I decided to go pick up a few things at Sam’s Club. More context: The nearest Sam’s Club is about 45 miles away. I thought (my first mistake), “Well, it’s late Sunday afternoon, surely all the Black Friday shoppers are at home admiring their latest conquests.” So, I get ready and head out. This was my second mistake.
My first stop, though, was to stop by at the local nursing home for a party. One of those given to me in my care grandmother resides there. They were having a birthday party–she will be 100 years old on Wednesday. After enjoying the time there and talking with her, I headed out to Tuscaloosa. It was an uneventful trip; that is, until I got to the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and Skyland Boulevard.
Sam’s closes at 6:00 p.m. I arrived at that intersection at 5:04. I wasn’t worried because I wouldn’t be in there that long. After several cycles of changing lights, at 5:15 p.m. I got through the intersection. No problem. Still have time. I found a parking place; got out of my car; locked the doors and headed to the entrance. As is my habit, as I walked I reached into my pocket to get my Sam’s Card out. . .
Here’s why I completed another course for another advanced degree from The School Of Experience. Imagine my frustration when my hand discovered I forgot one thing: The Billfold. I had my keys, put on a cap, holstered the Ruger (I have a concealed carry permit), grabbed my sunglasses, and put on a jacket. Only one detail I forgot; and it was the most important one.
There was a time, not all that long ago, I would have allowed my frustration to take over my feelings. But I didn’t; that was the Holy Spirit working in me. I called my wife, Debbie, and when she answered I said, “Call me an idiot!” She asked me why and I told her just call me an idiot–with which she complied! Then I told her what had just happened and we got a big laugh out of it.
On the way home I was thankful–thankful I had enough gas in the tank to get home because gas is about 15-20 cents cheaper and I always fill up when leaving Tuscaloosa. After talking to Debbie, I pulled up the Andy Andrew podcasts and enjoyed a better learning experience.
And if you have not figured out the lesson I learned from this latest course in The School Of Experience, here it is: PAY ATTENTION TO ALL THE DETAILS! And the most important thing is to seek out the most important detail of all. No, not the billfold. If you just thought that, then you failed the course, and will have to take it again.
The most important detail is seeking and inviting God to be with you wherever you go and whatever you do. Talk with Him. Listen to Him. Who knows, maybe the 4 of you (remember that God is Father, Son, AND Holy Spirit) will have a good laugh together like we did in the parking lot of Sam’s Club. I leave you with these thoughts:
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6 (ESV)
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him! Now, please excuse me. I need to shopping this morning. . .and yes. . .I will have my billfold with me.
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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-WalkingIs 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
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.
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
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:
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:
I will focus on my relationship with Abba, Poppa.
I will focus on maintaining a pure heart, for HIM.
I will focus on Defining Moments that will take me deeper in Him.
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.
I will focus on people who show kindness, and express to them my personal appreciation.
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.
When my daughter Leslie was a teenager, there was a word she would say that drove me insane. I know that’s only a short trip for me, but still… It wanted me to shake the teeth out of her mouth, but then there would be that dental bill. So I restrained myself. “What was that word?”, you ask? WHATEVER. I was boring her.
It was more than the word, it was the way she said….and her tone of voice. It would usually come at the end of a discussion about getting her to do something, or not do something. Honestly, I believe she said that word because she knew what it did to me. What does this have to do with Kingdom Life? I’m glad you asked.
Yesterday I was returning from making a hospital visit in Columbus, Mississippi and it was lunch time, but I also needed to get back home. So I decided to stop at a certain fast food chain and get something to go. I needed to make a pit stop, so I went inside to get my order to go. Remember, I needed to be somewhere else.
I walk up to the counter to get some “fast food” and be on my way. And…nothing. The employee who was covering the counter was looking away…looking bore. I looked at the other employees, even the shift manager….there it was–the Look of Boredom. Even after she finally saw me there that look on her face said, “Whatever.” That entire shift looked like prisoners to boredom…to “whatever”.
This time I didn’t lose my cool. I am finally discovering that with age, comes wisdom. Not always, mind you…I can show you many examples from a lot of people where age comes alone. I wasn’t impatient or demanding. Honestly, it surprised me that I wasn’t. Patience isn’t one of my strong suits. Instead of being impatient, my heart was breaking for that shift of workers.
And this morning I realized one of the reasons why my knack for impatience didn’t kick in at that “fast” food restaurant. It’s a disease that has infected and affected so many in my culture–the disease of boredom. Boredom is the result of feeling empty…yet longing for a life that has purpose, more purpose than is found in the 9-to-5 life.
It’s even in churches. Some may want to blame the music or the preacher for making it boring. Granted, some preaching and some music is boring. But boredom? That’s a carrot of a different color. Boredom, as I understand it, is the result of how one thinks–that “whatever” attitude comes from that deep well of emptiness.
Our desire for a life with meaning and purpose comes from our Creator. He put His image in us, and trust me on this, there’s nothing boring about God! And honestly, it is hard to be excited about asking, “Would you like a pie with this order?” But it’s more than what job we have or what we do in our ordinary days. It is about living with that razor-sharp focus–like Jesus did when The Creator walked among the creation as one He created.
There are many who think that boredom will disappear if they had a different job, a different person in their life, a different house, a different car, lived in a different place. Spoiler alert! If you do get that different job, person, house, car or “whatever”–your boredom will follow you…and patiently wait for that opportune moment to make you bored again. Then it becomes an endless cycle of “whatever”. So how does one break free of this cycle? Glad you asked!
It comes down to our thoughts–specifically–what we think about. Paul gives some wise advice on this in Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Eugene Peterson and his crew renders it this way in The Message: “I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” In case you are still confused about how to break free from boredom, allow me to break the code.
Focus on where God is at work. And where is God at work in our culture? Think back to the pattern He revealed when Jesus was in our flesh. Where was Jesus at work? Jesus was drawn towards both the best and worst places. A wedding in Canaan, a leper, a tax collector, a fishing village, the metropolis of the day known as Jerusalem. In short, wherever there were people, people broken and hurting and wounded–where people were joyful and full of praise–there we find Jesus.
He’s all around you. He’s got so much for you to discover–even at the counter of a fast food joint…even in dull music and even more dull preaching… But you will not find it until you surrender–your dreams, your will, your vision, your own interpretation of what will make you truly happy–to the one who “did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
I know, you think it would be easier to be bored with 10 gazillion dollars in the bank–but it won’t be easier. Happiness will not overcome boredom. The Enemy will make sure of that. But Joy–Joy that flows from what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, will smash boredom like smashing that mosquito that has just come out of its winter hibernation. Don’t like the “Whatever Life”–live the Life Jesus revealed in His Life, His Death and best of all, His Resurrection.
And remember, Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him. It may be tough sometimes, but it is never BORING!
We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements
Jesus Ever Made. We are looking at some
of those times when Jesus said: “I
am.” Last week we looked at the Story of
the Woman at the Well. But remember that
Jesus never said “I Am” because He didn’t speak English. He would have spoken Hebrew and the word he
would have used was Yahweh.
Yahweh is the name God revealed to Moses.
It is God’s eternal name, His name for all
generations to remember. It was illegal
to use that word in public, yet Jesus used that Name when He revealed himself
to that woman. Claiming to be Yahweh, He backs up that claim with another
moment when Jesus uses His Eternal Name.
It’s found in John 6:32-51 (The
32-33 Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that
Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you
bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and
is giving life to the world.”
34 They jumped at that: “Master,
give us this bread, now and forever!” 35-38 Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more
and thirsts no more, ever. I have told
you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t
really believe me. Every person the
Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and
don’t let go. I came down from heaven
not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
39-40 “This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the
Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I
have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he
is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life.
My part is to put them on their feet
alive and whole at the completion of time.”
41-42 At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,”
the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t
this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know
his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of
heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
43-46 Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way
you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my
work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they
wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really
listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it
with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it
firsthand from the Father. No one has
seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you
can see me.
47-51 “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal
Am The Bread Of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert
and died. But now here is Bread that
truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone
eating this Bread will not die, ever. I Am The Bread—Living Bread!—who came
down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this
Bread will live—and forever! The Bread
that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this
Have you ever thought about how images of bread are
used in our ordinary day to day life?
“That’s the best thing since sliced bread. He’s rolling in the dough. Hey Dad, I need some bread, (meaning money). Their bread isn’t buttered on both sides
(meaning they lack common sense). Man, he’s
toast.” In Middle Eastern culture, and
Mediterranean culture, eating bread together is a sign of friendship and
connection. Bread is a symbol for life.
When it comes to people’s spiritual lives, they
will be living eitherthe
Manna Life or the Living Bread Life.
There is a sharp distinction between the two. There is no confusion about which life we are
choosing the live. And make no mistake
about it; it is our choice whether we live the Manna Life or the Living Bread Life.
Let’s find something we can
all agree on: We have no control over some
things that come our way in life. There
are some things that happen to us that are absolutely beyond our control. Does everyone agree with this? I didn’t say we liked it; just that it
happens. Now, my next point is something
that you may dislike even more, but it’s the truth: We Do Have Control Over How We React To Those
Times. How We Live Each Day And Our Reactions
To Life As It Happens Come Out Of The Life That Is In Each Of Us. If
you can remember only one thing today, then remember this:
Your Heart, Life, And Mind Is Being Fed By Either
The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life.
One life never satisfies and the other will always satisfy
and see us through anything that life throws our way. Let’s see the difference by setting up
today’s passage. The day before Jesus
had fed a large group of people with a young boy’s sack lunch of 5 barley
loaves of bread and 2 fish. Now Jesus
and the 12 are on the other side of the lake, and the people have come to Jesus
again. This time they are seeking a
sign. They wanted a sign from Jesus
before they would accept Him as Messiah.
They pointed out the Moses had given them Manna as a sign that God was
with them. Now they want Jesus to give a
sign that God was with Him.
OK, excuse me, but He has
turned dirty water into the most extraordinary wine, healed every disease put
before Him, cast out demons, opened eyes and ears, and gave voice to those who
could not talk. And added to all that,
He taught the Kingdom principles with authority, like no one else ever
had. And NOW, they want a sign? Jesus doesn’t waste His time or their
time. More than a sign, Jesus talks
about life through the images ofManna Life and Living Bread Life. Think about the differences.
Does The Manna Life Look Like?
What does this life feel like? Well go back to the time when God gave them
Manna. It appeared every morning on the
ground. Each family could pick up enough
for just 1 day, and no more—except on Friday.
Then they could pick up enough for 2 days. It never lasted longer than that. Any thing left over would be ruined the next
morning, so they would have to go out and pick up more.
Every meal was the same. The husband or kids never asked “What’s for
supper?” It would be manna casserole,
manna pot pie, manna sandwiches, manna stew, manna soup—and for dessert it was
always manna cake. I mean, there was not
a whole lot of variety to their meals. And
they had to do nothing to do to get it.
They didn’t have to trade or buy or barter for it. Every morning, day after day after day, there
it was. And every morning, whatever was
left in the jar was ruined. And here was
where the problems started. It produces
the same problems today:
They Believed They Were Entitled To It. They did not have to buy it
and it was always there every morning. They
begin to feel like they were entitled to it.
Few things are worse than living every day with a sense of
entitlement—that life owes you something simply because you are breathing and
alive. Living With That Evil Spirit Of
Entitlement Will Remove From Your Heart Any Sense Of Gratitude. Oh, for sure, at first they were
grateful. But after only a few weeks of
it, things changed. First, they always
expected it to be there,
They Got Tired of it. But can you blame them? The same meal day after day after day is
enough to make them want something else.
This is what the Manna Life is like. It’s waking up every morning to the same
There Is No Sense Of
Excitement In The Manna Life.
There Are No Adventures To
Explore in the Manna Life.
There Is No Anticipation For Anything Different To Happen in the Manna
It’s The Dull Life. Nothing to inspire the mind or stir up the heart.
It’s The Life That Is Afraid To Get Out Of That
Comfort Zone. Comfort is more important than Purpose.
It’s The Life That Is Unwilling To Take The
Risk. Playing it safe is the key to survival for
It’s The Life Spent In Waiting And Then
Wondering Why They Never Experience The Great Victories In Life. Now mind you, they haven’t sought great
victories, they’ve never engaged in the battle—but they expect great victories
and are disappointed.
And For Church People, It’s
The Life Sitting In The Pew Sunday After Sunday, Who At Best Think It Is
Enough, And At Worst Think This Is All There Is To It. They never get to experience the surprises of
God’s presence, God’s grace, and God’s activities. And sadly, they never experience the joyful
surprise of being used by God to touch another life and watch God change that
routine life, and nothing is more boring, nothing is more unfulfilling, and few
things make a life more ungrateful, than the Manna Life. These people around Jesus thought they wanted
the Manna Life. But Jesus did not come
to bring the Manna Life, but something so much better. He came to bring them and us the Living
Bread Life. Jesus is much
more than a free lunch—more than a vending machine dispensing what we want.
Exactly Is The Living Bread Life?
What does it feel like? Look like?
Allow me to sum it up for you.
It Is The Life That Is Deeply And Intimately
Connected To Our Heavenly Father Through Christ Living In Us. It is living your life with the assurance and
confidence that Jesus actually lives in your heart—lives in you so that you can
grow to become all God sees in you!
It’s A Life That Is Abundant In Power, Love And
Grace. There is more than enough of Jesus living in
the heart of every believer to accomplish anything that God wants. It’s not just enough for today. It’s enough for tomorrow, and the next day
and the next, all the way to eternity.
There is enough grace, enough mercy, and enough love to lead us right up
to the very throne of God.
It’s The Life Of Adventure. When the Hebrews would wake up each morning
in the wilderness, they didn’t have to look far to find the manna—just go
outside and pick it up. But Living Bread
Life calls us into an adventure where we trust in Him to provide what we Cannot
See Or Even Imagine. God
wants to take you on an adventure in life where nothing is bland or dull. It’s the life of excitement knowing that
Jesus lives in you, and that He is going to use you in ways you never
It’s The Life Of Exploration. It’s going down different paths, trying new
ways. The only thing we know about the
future of this life in grace is that one day, we will end in His eternal
presence. So every day offers us the
opportunity to find that God is always doing something new. It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants
done. God is anything but predictable
when it comes to how He works in this world.
It Is The Life Of Contentment. Let me tell you something about real
life. There will be times of abundance
in our life. And there will be times of
scarcity. There will be times when all
of our ducks are in a perfect row and all marching to the same beat. And there will be times when the ducks will
scatter in all directions. There will be
times when the sailing is smooth as silk.
And there will be times when it will feel like we are on a monster
roller coaster. But the one thing about
Bread Life is that in every condition and situation, we will learn
to be content—that we are at peace with God, self and the world.
The only source of life for all of this—comes
through the only thing—rather the only ONE—who will be present in both extremes
and every point between them. I’m
talking about Jesus living in your heart.
You know He is the one who blesses us far more than we deserve. And you know He is the ONLY one who will
stand with us to strengthen us and guide through the rough waters and over the
We can choose to accept the Manna Life with all its
hollowness. Or we can choose to accept The
Living Bread Life with all its Hallowedness—by inviting Jesus, The
Living Bread, into our hearts.
For someone here today, this may be the very first time for you to
invite Jesus into your heart. For the
rest of us, it’s our time to renew our decision by inviting Jesus to go deeper
into our hearts. Just bread on the table
will leave us hungry again. But the ONE
who dares to call Himself Yahweh! Living
Bread, can and will satisfy our deepest hunger and
Come Up With An Idea Of A Way We, As A Church, Can Get To Know People Around Us.
Come Up With An Idea Of How We Can Connect Other Churches Around Us In Order To Do More For The Kingdom Of God!
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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. 9 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 logicare 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
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.
Each day this week invest some of your Chronos Time in
prayer. Specifically in 3 areas:
Someone who has been on your heart
The upcoming General Conference
Our future as a church
Get involved in our new Bible Study Group that begins
Feb. 27 on the Book of Acts
In one person’s hands it brings hope and in another person’s hands it
It can crawl or it can fly, but it has no hands, legs or wings.
Think you know the answer? It’s Time! Let’s take a look at today’s passage found in
Ephesians 5:16-17 (NLT):
Today we begin a new series called Kairos Living In A Chronos World. The 1 thing you need to remember from today’s message is a question: What Are You More Interested In–Counting Your Days, Or Making Your Days Count? Let this question roam freely in your mind this week. In fact, I will beg you NOT to answer this question until you have spent a lot of time thinking about it.
Have you ever slowed down enough to do serious
reflection on time? When it comes to
“time”—what thoughts do you have? What
effect does that word “time” have on your emotions? Are you overwhelmed? Frustrated?
Fulfilled? Stressed? Fearful?
Anxious? Happy? Joyful?
Depressed? Discouraged? How do your emotions respond to “time”?
Think about how often we use that word
“time”: What time is it? What time is the next doctor’s
appointment? I can make it on time. There’s not enough time in a day to get
everything done. What time is
practice? What time does the movie
start? It’s time to move on. It’s time to give up. And, my favorite, TIME OUT!
Our word “time” covers a variety of settings,
each with its own unique “ambiance”.
Verse 16 says, “Make the most of
every opportunity in these evil days.”
Some of you may be more familiar with the KJV: “Redeeming
the time, because the days are evil.”
While our language has only 1 word for “time”, the classical Greek has 2
words—words that have different meanings:
Chronos and Kairos. Both words are accurately translated as “time”—but they are diametrically opposite in meaning. So, let’s spend the first Sunday in this series looking and exploring at those 2 words. Bonus information, the word in this text is Kairos:
Here is definition for Chronos: Chronos is a duration that can be measured. It has a certain set of values. Seconds, minutes, days, weeks, month, years, decades, centuries, millenniums, is how we measure Chronos. Chronos Is Quantitative Time. A second here has the same quantity as a second at the Beach or in the Mountains. It just seems longer here. The duration of a second in the U.S.A. is the same duration in every other country.
Chronos Time is the ticking of the clock. Chronos is where we get our
word chronological. To keep up with
Chronos we wear these things on our wrists called a watch. Do you know why it’s called a watch? It’s so we can watch Chronos go by.
Time Is Found In Our Agendas, Calendars And Bulletin Announcements. Chronos gives
identifying labels to those measured durations.
The labels are not just the units of measurement, but about the power that
Chronos Time has to drain and debilitate those held captive by Chronos Time. Chronos is driven by very human-centered sets
Each day contains 86,400 seconds of time—which
represent 1,440 minutes—which equal twenty-four hours each day. It never fluctuates or varies. And truth is we live in a Chronos
World. You have appointments,
places to go, bills to pay, TV shows to watch, church to attend, practices,
games and recitals to attend. And all of
this happens in that measured duration of Chronos. Now let’s look at that other word:
Kairos cannot be measured by the ticking of a clock, but
by the beating of the heart. Here is the definition for Kairos: Kairos is when God steps into time and space
and does something incredible. Kairos are the moments that are Right, Ripe
and Rich with meaning. Think about each of these:
Kairos are the moments that are RIGHT. They fit into the rhythms of life as The
Creator intends. Debbie and Sandy love
to work jigsaw puzzles. And there’s the
truth about jigsaw puzzles: Each piece
will only fit where it is made for. Kairos
never contradicts God’s Design and Purposes—It fits perfectly.
Kairos are the moments that are RIPE. They are moments designed and prepared by God
for His Image Bearers. Have you ever
read something or had someone call you and it was words that you were needing
in that moment? This is what Ripe means.
Ripe means it is the perfect moment. The Time was Ripe when He called
Abraham. Ripe when He called Moses. Ripe when He anointed David to be King. Ripe when Jesus was born in that Manger. Ripe when He died on that Cross. And Ripe when He conquered death!
Kairos are the moments that are RICH with
meaning. These are the Epiphany Moments, when the
Light Bulb comes on and clarity happens for us.
Epiphany Moments—Discovery Moments that define and redefine us—that
shape and reshape us—that form and transform us—only happen in Kairos Time.
Kairos are the moments provided by God to know Him
more deeply. Kairos is about
seizing the opportunity God provides in that moment. Chronos drains life and hope out of
us but Kairos
enriches our lives with hope, love and grace.
Understanding these differences, what you need to decide is this: Will You Live ON Chronos Time Or IN Kairos Time?Where Chronos Is Quantitative Time, Kairos Is Qualitative Time. Chronos Time measures seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years. Kairos Time reveals and expresses quality moments that first changes us, and then changes our surroundings. It is easy to think that our time is the most important time. It is easy to be controlled and consumed by Chronos Time. But What Are You More Interested In–Counting Your Days, Or Making Your Days Count?
Every one of you will face multiple defining moments
in your lifetime. Defining MomentsAre The
Moments That Will Shape And Determine Your Character, Your Attitude, Your
Altitude And Your Future.
changes your future course by changing how you see your life. Defining Moments happen in both Chronos Time
and Kairos Time. But Defining Moments
that will transform your life into that life marked by holiness are never found
in the Chronos Time of schedules and calendars, but only in Kairos Time of
following Jesus. The reason why your
life will remain empty and dead in Chronos Time is that Kairos can’t be
planned, and it certainly can’t be forced.
Kairos Time does not wait for you to fit it into your schedule. It simply happens, and if you miss one—it’s gone and won’t come back. This doesn’t mean that there will be no more Kairos Moments. More Kairos moments will indeed come, but they are new and different ones. Kairos Moments happen one at a time. Unlike network TV there will not be any reruns of what you missed. This is what makes them priceless.
The “Kairos” Opportunities we face in 2019 speak into
what is God calling this church to be!
And with this in mind, it’s important to ask—are we a community of people who
simply gather each Sunday with good memories to celebrate—or
Are We A Community Of People Who Are Willing To Listen To The
Stirring Of The Spirit, Who Are Ready To Explore New Ideas And Who Are Prepared
To Embrace Where Change Needs To Happen And To Be The Church In New, Creative
And Even Uncomfortable Ways?
The decision you make today about time—is a decision only you can make. Your Next Steps will be your answer to this question.
“Where Do I Need To Change So
That I Will Experience More Kairos Time And Less Chronos Time And Am I Willing
To Do It?”
answer is as unique as you are. Perhaps
it’s spending more time in the Bible.
Maybe it’s having that dedicated time to pray. Maybe even change HOW you pray. Maybe it’s getting to know your neighbor better. Maybe it’s in stopping your voice of fear
about our future. Will you live BY Chronos
Time, or will you live IN Kairos Time?
we step into this moment of Holy Communion—it can be for you a Chronos
Moment—where you step in and do something.
can be for you a Kairos Moment where God steps in and He does something. It all depends on that 1 Thing You Need To
Are You More Interested In Counting Your Days, Or Making Your Days Count?
Jesus walked this earth as one of us, He was more interested in making His days
count. And we see it here on This Table.
I started to title this “What The Church Can Learn From Bikers”, but I realized that should is the word that fits. Now, a bit of explanation of my terminology. When I say “biker”, I mean BIKER! Not those people who wear spandex peddling those steel or some alloy tubes on skinny wheels. Those are called bicycles, not bikes. Cyclists are NOT bikers.
Bikers wear leather, not spandex. I know, because I am one. In 2003, after my divorce ended 29 years of a marriage, I set out to “redefine” myself. Decades ago I had a dirt bike and then a smaller street bike; but that was decades ago. I found myself drawn into a local dealer and started looking. Then I even went out price shopping at other dealers. Then I bit the bullet, and picked one out.
Being a preacher, it had to be black and it must have lots of chrome. I love chrome! I thought at the time I was redefining myself from the rubble of my life. It turns out, though, that God was taking me on a journey to DEFINE my life, the person HE created. For over 4 decades I allowed others to define me; that’s my fault. I needed God to define me, and He did. Not that I always got it right, but I kept coming back. And HE kept accepting me back. That’s how I became a biker. Now, back to what I’ve been learning. One thing I’ve learned is that many churches look nothing like the Body of Christ, but Bikers….they get it! And here are 6 things the church today needs, urgently needs to learn from bikers.
1. We Love What We Do!
We take great joy in what we do. There are few things more exhilarating than finding a winding road with the wind in your face. I never have heard a biker complain about going for a ride. However, I have heard bikers lament when they had to hang up their leathers. Now that’s a sadness that words cannot describe. No whining. No complaining. Just loving what we do at the end of the day and wishing for more time and planning the next ride. You will never hear a biker say, “You know, this morning I just don’t feel like riding today.” If you do, immediately dial 911 and get her or him to a level 1 trauma center. One of my Biker friends had this pillow on his book-case that said: “You never see a bike parked in front of a psychiatrist’s office.”
But church? Whining? You bet! Complaining? You can take it to the bank. Missing church? There is an unending list of really good sounding excuses. And when at church? Not much joy, except that it’s over for another week. Like Bikers, we should love what we do, but….here’s another lesson for church today.
2. We Are A Diverse Group
White collar, blue-collar, dog collar….a model of diversity. I’ve met factory workers, farmers, retirees, a federal judge, dentist, lawyer, small business owner….and yes, other preachers. But in leather, we are held in a common bond. Our backgrounds do not matter. There is a brotherhood and sisterhood that is not formed by how we are alike–but by our differences held together by a common passion. Whatever you do the rest of the week doesn’t matter when you fire it up, put on the leather and ride. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what your politics are or where you live. The diversity adds beauty and strength to this ‘Hood of Bikers.
And church? Martin Luther King, Jr. was right then, and still right today when he said, “Sunday morning at 11:00 is the most segregated hour every week.” And today, segregation still happens. In some churches it’s race. For others, it’s political views, traditions, economic status, where you work, where you live. The church for decades has tried to be a cookie cutter factory, where we all look and sound alike. I don’t think those 12 guys Jesus hand-picked for the first disciples looked alike, talked alike and acted alike. I love seeing a congregation that’s gathered, reflecting the diversity of the community around it. But it’s rare to see it. Conformity rules the group. But like Bikers…we should be a diverse group. Another lesson we should learn from Bikers.
3. We Are Friendly
Bikers who do not know each other, never met before, meet at the gas pump , we talk to each other. In a meat and 3 diner, we talk to each other. If a biker is having trouble with their bike, we do more than just talk, we help each other. There’s a lot of people who act afraid of bikers. I don’t know why. They are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Ever noticed how Bikers acknowledge each other on the road? Usually with 2 fingers down. It mainly means “keep 2 wheels down”; that’s important on a bike because you don’t want them on their side, because you will be, too. The bike, the leather, the road–is a culture of friendliness.
I know that churches like to say they are friendly. And they are friendly–if you talk like them, act like them, believe like them. They are friendly, as long as you don’t sit in their pew or try to change something in their church. Then it’s Katie bar the door. Friendliness stops. Bikers are friendly because they don’t focus on the surface things. They focus on what matters the most to them. But we Bikers are more than friendly–we are friends–even if we don’t know each others names. It’s unconditional friendliness, a lesson the church should learn. Another lesson we should learn from bikers is:
4. We Are Loyal To Each Other
Bikers have each other’s back. They stand up and support one another. Even among the “One Percenters” (that’s outlaw biker clubs for the uninformed) there is a loyalty for those in their club. If someone gets hurt and can’t work? Forget Aflac, they hold a Rally, a Poker Run, or simply pass the helmet to help the one who’s hurt and their family. Bikers stand with and by each other, through good times and hard times. They even help others. There are Rides to benefit St. Jude’s, March of Dimes, Toys For Tots, and the list goes on.
And the church’s track record on loyalty? As long as everyone behaves themselves, and does what they are told to do, yeah. they’re loyal. But when one falls, when one is hurting, when one is struggling–many churches either kick them out, or even worse–they simply ignore the fallen and the hurting. Speaking as one wounded (more than twice) by the church, I didn’t see a lot of loyalty. Honestly, I didn’t expect it because their track record had already been establish–and it wasn’t good. But there should be a strong sense of loyalty to each other in the church.
5. We Don’t Worry About What Others Think About Us
We accept that some people will never accept us because, well, we are different. We look different, act different, talk different. Though I’m a preacher, truthfully when I have 3 days growth of beard and in all my leathers on my loud bike, I can see why some good honest church folks who don’t know me might think not so nice things about me. One Saturday I went riding with some friends, all of us with at least 2 days worth of beard, full leathers and we stopped at a little diner for lunch. As we walked in I noticed people staring at us, and not in a good way. Know what? I’m OK with that. I’m not out trying to win the approval of others. There’s only One whose approval I need. We don’t care about external stuff, well maybe except for our bikes. We are comfortable in our own skin and do not need validation through the approval of others.
And in the church? Nearly, if not everything is about appearances and outward stuff. Emphasis is on the external, the very thing that angered Jesus about the Pharisees. Being a Christian becomes more about what one does NOT do than what one actually does; more about how they look more so than who they are deep inside; more about certain beliefs than Kingdom Living. When it’s all about appearances, we lack the substance of the Kingdom Life. Bikers teach us not to worry about appearances and what others think. Here’s another thing that Bikers can teach the church.
6. We Know The Risks And Ride Anyway
We realize the being a Biker isn’t for everyone. It is risky. There’s a motto often seen in our community. “Live To Ride. Ride To Live.” There are inherent dangers. In my part of the world one of the dangers is deer. You’ve seen the damage they inflict on a car, think about a bike. Then there’s the dangers of car drivers. Road conditions. And when we are inattentive to those dangers. Honestly, there are tons of reasons not be to a biker. Yet, each day we gear up and ride. Are we oblivious to the dangers? Absolutely not. But we believe that the rewards most definitely outweigh the risks. Do I pray before I ride? While I ride? Is the Pope Catholic? We respect these machines but we don’t allow the fear to keep us from riding. When fear does override the joy, they sell those bikes and buy a convertible. What should the church learn from this?
A malady that has inflicted the 21st Century Church is the unwillingness to take risks for Jesus and the Kingdom. They want to play it safe. They want to know the outcome before venturing out, and that the outcome is worth it; meaning, the church will get new members. If you can’t get new members then it’s not worth the risk. The Devil knows he can’t defeat The Kingdom; he’s already tried and failed. Remember that empty tomb? Instead of attacking The Kingdom, he has filled many local churches with the need for playing it safe, and avoiding the risks. He won’t win the final victory, but he takes great delight in the impotency of churches unwilling to risk it all for Jesus. People risk eternity for the sake of time. Why not risk Time for the sake of Eternity?
Well, that just 6 of the lessons many churches should learn from Bikers. It’s 5 lessons the church MUST learn if it is ever to escape the current “survival mode” and once again THRIVE!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!
Now, if you will excuse me, I think there’s a curvy road calling out to me….