Don’t Quit Your God-Given Vision Before It’s Time

There is a sobering story in Numbers 32:1-5

The tribe of Reuben wanted to bail on the rest of the Israelites.  Read the story for yourself.

  • They wanted to take the easy way out…
  • They wanted to rest on their current success…
  • The journey ahead seemed too much for them…

Perhaps that’s your story today.  The journey has gotten much harder than you expected and the days ahead seem unbearable.  Some days you would just rather quit trying.

  • Are you tired of pushing forward?
  • Are you burned out…satisfied…comfortable…afraid…confused?
  • Are you ready to quit?

If you know the job you’ve been called to do isn’t finished yet…

Don’t quit…

Find the courage, recharge your batteries, raise up some other leaders…

…But whatever it takes…move forward…

Is that your story?  Are you tempted to give up? Leave a comment and others and I will pray for you…

Saturday’s Dream Stretch: What Job Would You Have?


 
If you follow my blog regularly, then you know that I’m trying to spur people to dream bigger dreams. Not only do I believe dreaming is a healthy practice, I believe we need your dreams. Obviously we cannot live in dream world all the time, and I spend far more energy on this blog writing about accomplishing dreams than dreaming dreams, but I believe the world needs some more dreamers. I believe God encourages this process. Read my first post on this issue HERE.

Therefore, since it’s Saturday again, I hope you will play along and share in another dream stretch.

Today’s dream stretch is:

If you could have any career position, what would it be? If you could do anything and earn a living doing it, what would you do?

(Remember, there are no restrictions in our dreams. Dream big. Also, rather than answering on Facebook or Twitter, if that’s how you came to this post, please answer here as a comment, so everyone can be encouraged by your dreams.)

10 Life Principles I Have Learned From Experience

The older I get (and that’s happening faster it seems that it once did) the more I’m beginning to assess my life and what the experiences of life have taught me. On my laptop I keep a file where I simply type principles/ideas/nuggets of wisdom as they occur to me. Sometimes these originate as a Twitter post, sometimes they are a line from a Sunday message, but often they just go in this file. I figure when there are 10 of them, it is time for another blog post… (I have written similar posts before, such as HERE)

So, with that explanation, here are 10 life principles I have learned from experience:

  • Having wisdom doesn’t mean you made all the right choices…it just means you learned from the choices you made…
  • Just because your momma laughs, doesn’t mean it’s funny…
  • Never waste an idea…always have something nearby to write it down…
  • You can’t ignore one life principle trying to live another…
  • This sweater may be old and ugly now, but one day everyone will want one just like it…
  • Often one’s perception is determined by his or her experiences…good or bad…
  • You can have tons of “friends” until there is trouble in your life…then you’ll have some real friends…
  • Big dreams rarely make it past our mind unless someone risks the chance that they could fail…
  • The little things we do often have more value than the big things.
  • Character is shaped by how we respond to life’s difficulties and life’s victories.

Do any of these apply to your life?

Have you learned any of these principles from experience?

Which of these do you need to learn?

The Two Shall Become One Flesh

I’m not good with art, but if you were sitting in my office, however, I would attempt to draw this diagram on my dry erase board.  I hope you can get past the crude drawing to get to the intended meaning, because it really is important to understand in shaping a marriage.

Taken from Ephesians 5:21-33, I believe this is the model of a healthy marriage that God is attempting to build. It is by design that two unique and imperfect people are called to become one. To accomplish that task, two things must occur.

First, as indicated with the upper left and right triangles, each spouse must get rid of the “baggage” he or she brings into the marriage. While most of us come with lots of baggage, in simple terms, this is anything that will not help the couple become one.  If for example, one spouse is selfish, while that may be allowed in some relationships, it will not work in making one flesh.  Discovering what parts of each spouse will not work in building one flesh becomes one goal in building a strong marriage. This could even be natural bents or personalities, but they must be considered as to whether they make the marriage stronger or weaker.

The middle two triangles, with the words “One Flesh”, illustrate the process of taking the best of each spouse, that part that helps completes the other spouse, and using it to build God’s design for the marriage.  As an example, my wife is the compassionate one in our relationship. (You could have guessed that most likely.)  In our life together, she helps me be more compassionate.   At the same time, Cheryl would enable others to take advantage of her if I were not around. Many times, I provide the strength that makes us strong as a couple and protects our family life.

So what do you do with this information?  Well, first working together (if you can’t do this together in love you have other issues to work through first), begin to make lists of those things that could keep it from becoming one flesh (your baggage).  Over the course of time (don’t rush this process), each spouse begins to work on his or her baggage.

Second, make an opposite list of those qualities in each spouse that add to the strength of the marriage bond. Obviously, this is a more pleasant list to put together, but it’s most helpful if each spouse share the strengths of the other spouse. Once this list is in place, over time, begin to yield the marriage to the each of these strengths.

The seemingly impossible goal of becoming one flesh is not only challenging, but it is a lifetime process. Learning to communicate strengths and weaknesses each spouse brings to the marriage can help build the marriage God intended for you to have.

What strengths or weaknesses do you and/or your spouse bring to the marriage? Feel free to share a few here.

Mentoring: Who Are You Investing In These Days?



This is Josh and his son Luke. Josh and his wife Shana are in our community group. I love these pictures. (Pay special attention to the one of Luke…he’s busy!) Cheryl at first said I couldn’t post it on the Internet, but I couldn’t resist breaking a rule. I think the two pictures are hilarious. Like father like son…

I love investing in young fathers…

Our community group is full of great ones…

Recently Josh had a career decision to make. He wanted to wrestle through it with me. He actually took my advice. He honored me greatly, not by taking my advice, but with a text he sent me later, which said, “You are my new mentor!” He probably was joking, but he doesn’t know how much that comment resonates with me.

Years ago I solicited a mentor. He agreed to mentor me on one condition; that I would in turn mentor others. I’ve been attempting to obey that commitment I made to my mentor ever since. I cannot tell you how those times have blessed my life!

Do you have a mentor?

Who are you investing in? Who is investing in you?

What have you learned from the process of mentoring?

What To Do When Questioning Your Abilities


 
Next time you question your abilities to pursue your God-given vision , consider the story of Moses:

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Exodus 4:10-13

Moses was used of God to do incredible things for God’s glory, yet Moses, more than many leaders I know, questioned his own abilities. He lacked confidence and would have probably never volunteered for the job. His reasons might have been:

  • Past failure
  • Fear
  • The task was overwhelming
  • He was intimidated by the Asker
  • He felt unqualified

What’s your excuse for not obeying the vision God has placed in your heart? Is it really a valid reason?
Perhaps you need to do as Moses did…walk by faith, not by sight.

The problem with desiring normal…

I talk with people consistently that are looking for some sense of normality in their life. Often they express that sentiment by saying something such as, “I just wish life could be normal for me sometime.” Have you ever said that statement?

What I have come to understand from experience is that life never rests long before some new highs or lows appear. The problem with desiring normal is that normal seldom looks like we expect normal to look. I’m wondering if normal may be more our reaction to life, than the circumstances we experience in life.

Perhaps the better goal is to learn to balance our lives amidst difficulties, good and bad times, triumph and tragedy, and the feast or famine the world in which we live tends to experience. In fact, I wonder if learning how to balance our emotions between the extremes isn’t the normality we are seeking, rather than periods where everything is calm. When we learn to live in the joy of every moment, normal may seem more attainable.  (Consider what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13)

What has your experience taught you? How would you define the “normal” life?  Is your life “normal”?

Setting Ground Rules for Your Marriage

One concept I have been an advocate for is setting ground rules for your marriage. Let me illustrate what I mean with a personal example.

It didn’t take long for Cheryl and I to realize that one of us avoids conflict and one of us actually enjoys it. If you read my blog at all you can possibly guess which one of the two I am. As a result, of this in our personalities, if Cheryl and I had a disagreement, she would quickly disappear to the bedroom. She always went to be early on days we had an argument. (Yes, pastors have those also.)

Since I believe in obeying Scripture in my home, and knowing I’m commanded not to “let the sun go down” on my anger, Cheryl and I decided that we need a rule in our marriage that we will handle disagreements before either of us go to sleep. Sometimes that means I have to “break the ice” by offering forgiveness, sometimes she does, but if we are going to obey the rule, we have to at least agree to drop any anger we have towards each other. We may settle the issue later, but we try not to go to bed angry. We have a rule!

I have often been asked how these are enforceable. Honestly, they probably aren’t. If the need to enforce them is your issue, your marriage may have bigger issues. The idea here is a mutual submission to each other (read more about that idea HERE), where both spouses agree that obeying these rules will make the marriage work better. It’s a shared agreement to behave in a certain way for the good of the marriage.

Please understand, I am a grace guy. I usually rebel against a bunch of rules for the sake of rules. The goal of our marriage, however, is for “the two to become one flesh”. We are trying to build a marriage that honors and glorifies God, but because we are two imperfect beings, we had to agree to comply with some basic understandings (rules) to help make that happen.

Do you need to set some ground rules for your marriage?

What rules would you need to have in your marriage to keep your marriage heading in the right direction?

What are some ground rules you think would be good ones for a marriage?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Has Your Direction Stolen Your Identity?

We are in a series called Identity Theft at Grace Community Church. There are some things in life that have stolen from us the people we thought we would be. Last Sunday I spoke about how the direction of our life, or lack thereof, can be the culprit in stealing our identity. Have you lost your way? Watch this message to help you get back on the right path.

For more thoughts on having a life plan, click HERE.

4 Principles for Getting Back in the Game of Life


 

I meet so many people that have been injured by failure, hurt or disappointment, to the point that they refuse to take a chance again. Jesus used parables to teach life applications. Recently one of Jesus’ parables reminded me of some important principles regarding life’s difficulties and the process we go through seeing our dreams come true. I realize Scripture has only one meaning, but for me this parable has a new application.

The parable is Mark 4:26-29

Here is the encouragement I received:

Plant – One important step after a failure is to get started with life again. You have to at least plant something. Many times people never get started again pursuing their dreams. It’s impossible to harvest a crop you never planted.

Plant the right seeds – Remember, you will reap what you sow. If you have made mistakes, learn from them and plant new seeds. Head your life in the direction you want it to go.

Understand You Can’t Control Circumstances – The farmer can’t control the weather. You and I cannot control other people. Once we plant, we can’t control all the circumstances. You may have to take a risk again, even though there are few guarantees.

Harvest – Trust the harvest will come. If you head your life in the right direction, and wait on God to work His will, eventually you will experience success. Don’t let impatience keep you from waiting on God’s perfect timing.

Have you been holding back because of fear or worry? Maybe now is the time to get back to farming!