Earlier this year I released an album entitled “For All My Days.” That title came from the album’s last track, “God’s Love.” Yesterday my producer Dave Bechtel posted a video with his thoughts about it. Follow the link above to view it. Feel free to share it.
One of the first questions asked when I met up with our friends in Jordan was, “Can you speak tomorrow night?”
Twenty-four hours later I finished editing my notes on Acts 1:1-8 originally planned for Thursday night and headed to the service.
Right before the service started, I opened my iPad to take a final look at the notes. Somehow, somewhere between the house and the church my notes had disappeared. No notes. “You’re up in twenty minutes.” Not funny.
However, I had to laugh. The theme was God’s Plan and included statements like “we don’t have to see the big picture,” “we don’t need to understand,” and “we can rest because He knows more than we do.”
In between songs I put my notes back together as best I could. Then I shared with the congregation in my introduction my challenge and tried to practice what I was about to share.
God has a sense of humor. We’re better off laughing along.
In prepping for several upcoming talks, unexpectedly Acts 1:1-8 is one of the focuses. Credit for this focus is due to our Thursday morning growth group discussion recently. Thought I’d share this simple outline since the majority of you missed that discussion.
- God is always at work. And it may be something I don’t understand…yet. (verses 1-3)
- God sees the big picture. And I don’t have to. (verses 4-5)
- God knows more than I do. And that’s why I can rest. (verses 6-7)
- God’s plan involves everybody. And so should mine. (verse 8)
Let’s just get straight to it. The big question for whatever you’re dealing with that appears insurmountable, unsolvable, even potentially life-changing is this: What Are You Willing To Do?
- Are you willing to leave those benefits?
- Are you willing to downsize?
- Are you willing to stick your neck out?
- Are you willing to get messy?
- Are you willing to start all over?
- Are you willing to be completely honest?
- Are you willing to cut that check?
- Are you willing to give up that vacation?
- Are you willing to say, “I’m sorry”?
- Are you willing to admit, “That’s my fault”?
- Are you willing to drop all the excuses?
- Are you willing to ask for help?
- Are you willing to acknowledge your limitations?
- Are you willing to listen?
- Are you willing to answer, “Yes,” to God regardless of who else says you should say, “No”?
- Are you willing to follow?
- Are you willing to lead?
- Are you willing to give up control?
- Are you willing to be still?
- Are you willing to be alone?
- Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
- Are you willing to come out of seclusion?
- Are you willing to follow the plan?
- Are you willing to tear down that idol?
- Are you willing to say, “I need you, God”?
- Are you willing to admit you’re addicted?
- Are you willing to be loyal?
- Are you willing to take on the responsibility for your own healing?
- Are you willing to stop trying to save the world?
- Are you willing to stop telling the Holy Spirit, “Hang on a minute. Someone else is calling in”?
What is the big question for you?
What is it that you know you need to be willing to do?
(a follow up from last post)
When, not if, fear lies to us, we should be ready with a counterpunch. Our most powerful counters will be focused on God, not us. In the story from Exodus 3-4, Moses’ counters were all about himself. Suppose he had countered with these questions instead.
What is God doing?
- And I don’t mean, “Pretty cool trick. How is he doing that?” Rather, I’m talking big picture. Moses may have actually been asking himself this question for decades, but I’m guessing his viewpoint was too small.
Where does God want me to join his work?
- It’s pretty clear Moses gave up this thought long ago. His bully memories and self-excusing led him to accept, “This is all there is.” It wasn’t long before he found out otherwise.
How is God revealing himself?
- Like most of us, Moses was caught up in his own awe. His self-imposed blindness allowed him to offer only what he could see. His world changed when God removed his blinders.
Go ahead. Counter Fear. Give God his chance to remove your blinders to show you what He’s doing and how you can join him.
Fear steals your curiosity. 3:1-4
Fear steals your “yes.” 3:11,13; 4:1,10,13
Fear steals your awe of God. 3:5-6,14-15;4:11
Fear will tell you to bow to other gods. Vs. 1-6
Fear will tell you to give your allegiance to what you can see. Vs. 7-12
Fear will tell you to resist God’s plan. Vs. 13-18
Fear will tell you that God cannot be trusted. Vs. 19-30
This may be the best audio book I’ll ever hear. If there aren’t plans for it to become a movie, it’s just a matter of time. Someone alert Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese.
The quality of an audio book can be determined by the reader. Within minutes you understand why this reader, Stefan Rudnicki, has won Grammys.
Yet, even though the quality of the production is fantastic, the mesmerizing aspect of this book is the life story it covers. Mr. Greenfield’s story includes the horror of the holocaust, his transitioning to America, his providential start in the tailoring business, and his fortuitous connections to politicians and celebrities. Despite his success, he maintains the importance of loyalty to his family, his faith, and his workers. He gives all the credit to God for how his life illustrates the measure of a man.
Read this book if you…
- …like biographies.
- …enjoy history.
- …are an immigrant.
- …love America.
- …are inspired by other’s success.
- …believe God deserves all the credit.
Unless you’ve been an avid follower of his throughout his career, it’s likely you don’t know much about his upbringing in Panama, that a career in baseball wasn’t his childhood dream, and even crazier, that he wasn’t groomed as a pitcher (he loved the outfield).
He certainly gives the baseball nut much to ingest, but there’s something for any reader in this book. Like he married his childhood sweetheart. Oh, and that after baseball they renovated an abandoned Presbyterian church in New Rochelle, New York, to open a new church, Refuge of Hope.
An audio find in my local library, this was worth the listen. I had to get accustomed to the reader; but once I did, I was all in. Even shed a tear or two.
Baseball. God. Passion. Love. You’ll find that and more in The Closer. Add it to your next up list.
Monday I joined the 50 ranks. Whatever that’s supposed to feel like, I’m pretty sure I don’t. By age 50, you’d think I’d feel pretty sure about just about everything. One thing I am most assured of is I’m sure I don’t.
Yet in a reflective mode, I challenged myself to list what I’m most assured of about life after living 50 years. These five things topped the list:
- God is Right-He’s right about himself, and he’s certainly right about me. He’s right about good and evil, love and hate, holiness and pride, the present and the future, and power and humility. The depth of my submission to his “rightness” is the depth of my contentment and peace.
- There’s More Than This-Although there’s a lot to enjoy about God’s earth, life is more than what I can see, taste, hear, touch, and feel. An eternal perspective reveals the “more” and keeps the visible in its proper priority.
- Less is More-Specifically less noise, less doing, less collecting of stuff replaced by more listening, more being, and more margin.
- Giving and Receiving are both important-Yes, Paul mentions in Acts that givers are more blessed. I don’t disagree with that. My caveat is that I can’t just keep on giving and giving and resist receiving. I have to receive in order to give. Both are important.
- A godly life results in no regrets-“I want no regrets when the horses come for me.” -Margaret Becker
What are you most assured of?
(Third and final entry for this post)
The first two entries talked about two ways to let God out of your box: don’t give up and stop believing lies. Read Nick’s quote again to see the third way.
Too often we tell ourselves we aren’t smart enough or attractive enough or talented enough to pursue our dreams. We buy into what others say about us, or we put restrictions on ourselves. What’s worse is that when we consider ourselves unworthy, we are putting limits on how God can work through us! When you give up on your dreams, you put God in a box.
As a long-distance runner, I often hear people say something like this after they hear about some race I’ve done or I’m preparing for: “I could never do that. You’re amazing.” If I were to bluntly respond what I’m thinking when they say that, it would be something like this: “That’s ridiculous. Of course you could. And by the way, amazing I am not.” This is a simple example of what we often do to God as well. We tell him what’s possible…so in the box he goes. The third way to let him out of your box is to do the opposite.
Resist Putting Limits
Nick said we put limits on how God can work through us. And this can have tragic consequences. Case in point: the Israelite spies in Canaan (read Exodus 13-14). Twelve went in to check it out. Ten said, “No go.” Two said, “We should go.” Forty years later, the ten got want they wanted and so did the two. God showed up for the two who resisted putting limits on him. They experienced what God can do through those who allow him to work through them (read Joshua 6,14).
So how can we resist our human nature and give God all the freedom in our lives he deserves?
- Foster a mindset of submission to daily prompts from God-“Sure, I’d be happy to ask my neighbor how I can pray for them. What else?”
- Keep your finger on the “yes” trigger when God comes with a big ask-“Yes, I’ll take a vacation week to go on a mission trip. And I’ll stay open to even moving my family to live there permanently.”
- Seek counsel from those we believe live submitted lives-“Can we have coffee soon? I’m needing some guidance on something God has challenged me to do.”
- Surround yourself with other “resisters”-“God, who should be in my corner? Holy Spirit, surround me with fellow resisters.”
In what area(s) of your life is God in your limit box? What could God do through you if you’d resist putting limits on him? Tell God, “I’m sorry for not giving you my ‘yes’ more quickly. I desire to experience what it’s like to give you full access. Show me what it’s like to let you out of my box.”