Influencers Weekly Devotional
Thursday, May 31, 2012
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
There’s not a person reading this who wouldn’t agree that they could get so many more things done to their liking if they didn’t have interruptions. It is the same at work, at home, playing golf or fishing, and even with spiritual matters. If we could just do “our thing,” and not be distracted by people or unforeseen, random interruptions, we could achieve our objectives and be so much happier, wouldn’t we? But in some way, or somehow, the interruptions pursue us like a hound after a coon. Why does this happen so much to us guys? Is there anything good that can come from these interruptions?
For instance, I went fly fishing Memorial Day. I needed a day of recreation, and had looked forward to it. After unloading my kayak and getting my rod rigged out, I paddled to a place that should be full of fish. Before I could make a few casts, the wind picked up pushing my kayak out of the fishing spot. After I worked back to the spot and repositioned the boat, the wind changed direction and my kayak turned around and headed the other way. My delicate fly was whisked from one landing spot to another because of the circular motion of the un-forecasted wind. After a while of this I had enough, and gave up trying to fight with it. I paddled back to the edge of the water and loaded my kayak in the truck while thinking, “Another great idea spoiled by an interruption. Give me a break!”
Then there was the time I went to play golf, and the ball on the first drive off of hole one was followed by the head of my golf club when it broke off the shaft. My game was in the pits after that start on my round. Game changer! How about my long planned and anticipated ski retreat that was spoiled by a virus that ran through our group like the plague, and had us fighting each other to get to the bathroom? Our plans to ski and fellowship on the mountain that weekend literally went down the toilet along with some other things, including the bible study and fellowship we had hoped for. The best thing that happened that weekend was when we gave up our plans to ski, and drove home to see a doctor. Oh, I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve had my plans changed, and exclaimed my famous words, “Give me a break!” These interruptions come from nowhere, and it drives a guy to say things he will regret, as he lashes out with frustration and angry words to the messenger who is unfortunate enough to be giving him the bad news. So, what can we do about it? Well, it has a lot to do with what our perspective is, and if we are willing to get a heavenly view of things. How so?
To begin with, we need to understand that in this world mankind operates under Murphy’s Law, which says that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. Murphy would explain our disruptions through his perspective, and if you believe that Murphy is the way and truth, then there is no good news for you and your interruptions. However, if you aren’t willing to give in to this way of thinking, I have good news for you. It starts with understanding God’s Operating Procedures. God operates under a Heavenly Law instead of Murphy’s Law, which says that with Him all things are possible. He is a law unto Himself, and when it comes to this aspect of His Being, there is nothing His will cannot trump. So this is the first thing we need to nail down, which is to accept the truth that God is sovereign over all things, including all things in our life. This means His will is sovereign over all things in our life, including those disruptions which we detest. The question is, will we willingly and joyfully go along with His plans over ours? If we will, then a disruption in our life can become a redirection for our life, and we can find joy rather than disappointment. Are you interested? Then read on.
In the passage above, we see an interesting use of words. I looked at several translations and saw only one that used mind instead of heart. Most translations agree with the ESV use of “the heart” for making plans, rather than “the mind”. Although it might seem to be an insignificant difference, I believe it could be a big one, if we seek to make plans that fall in step with God’s sovereign plans for our life. Why? I think the mind of man is limited to his intelligence, his education, his experience, and risk management when making his plans. Where is God in this method of planning? Doesn’t an atheist plan in the same way? Couldn’t anyone, with his survival instincts leading him, formulate a plan for his day, no matter how routine or basic it might be? Murphy would say that no matter how hard you intellectually try to keep disruptions away from your plans, his law would eventually get you. But, have you ever thought to consult God with your plans before you make them, so that God’s rules override Murphy’s? Have you sought God’s direction and inspiration in your planning? If you did, and you found His direction, it was because you connected your heart with His, and you planned with your heart, not just your head. Now understand, heart planning with God doesn’t exclude our intellectual planning. Rather it drives it. It enables it. It empowers it. Our plans with God also give to us steps that will lead us with how to secure those plans made with Him. Those steps will include strategic interruptions that will redirect us, or even be part of His original plan. But, the interruptions are not random or haphazard. They are like I said, strategic, and play a critical role for God’s plan to be accomplished.
Now you might think I’m trying to sell you on a magical formula that removes all disappointments and interruptions from your life, by telling you to plan with God rather than planning without His counsel? You would be wrong. I am not giving you a way to stop the interruptions. They will happen, and that part of Murphy’s Law is right. What I am saying though, is that by planning with God, we are also promised His involvement with the steps for carrying out those plans He inspires. We can never know the details of how God’s plans come together, nor how they connect other people and other needs. Sometimes we play only a limited role and others a major role in God’s plans. Sometimes we are the star and they the supporting cast. But, what does it matter? Does it really matter that we must get what we seek to give us our purpose and joy, or that God gives it to us another way? Isn’t it the purpose and joy we are seeking, and our plan was only the way we thought needed to be used to gain it? Can there be no other way to secure our hope than that which we can conceive, comprehend or gain by our intellectual planning? Absolutely yes! There is another way.
But what about the disappointments? I know a godly couple who did their planning with their hearts and God, and have still been disappointed by how the plans aren’t working out. Was God not in their planning? Are they somehow to blame that the plan is not fulfilled? The Apostle Paul would answer this question by saying, “I planted and Apollos watered.” What was he really saying? He was saying He played his part. He followed the Spirit, and God redirected Paul’s life to another place of service, even away from the place he had planned to go. With my friends I would say that you were faithful to plant, now trust God to send someone else to water. Can you really know how important your role is, and as well another person’s role in the same plan, except in trusting that God is sovereign over the plans He inspired with you? This is the time to seize the joy that comes from a rooted belief that God rules your life, not Satan, not evil, not circumstances, not even Murphy. Place your plans before God, as Abraham placed his Isaac on the altar and allowed God to give Isaac back to him in His own way, and with His own provision. Give this to God and watch where He takes it. You have done your part, and He will do His.
To you men who might be going through some major disappointment, or who are exasperated and frustrated because of the disruptions to your plans, I say, “Get your heart in it men!” It is time to turn this thing around. Start doing your planning with your heart and God, instead of just with your mind. Sure, like my friends, there will be some of those plans that will take a different direction from what you had planned. But, you can rest assured that even with those disruptions, God has His plan, and He will establish your next steps for His plan. After all, isn’t that really the best plan when it comes down to it?
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, May 25, 2012
A Sincere Effort
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” 1 Peter 1:22
It is true that people generally think of themselves as right most of the time, and others wrong. Think about it. Don't we often compare other people's behaviors, actions or choices with what we would chose? It seems so simple to take a hard stand against something that another person struggles with, for we can see things so clearly that he doesn't, or at least we think we can. Trouble is, we don't have a complete perspective and it is so easy to point of the faults of another person. Question: Where is sincere brotherly love in this perspective?
Another example is our personal preference over others, and the righteous indignation we have against people who don't share this preference. I am amazed at how judgmental some Christians can be of other Christians when it comes to styles of worship, styles of dress when going to church, material possessions, voting preference, denominational preference, etc. When I see these strong opinions being openly expressed, I cannot help but also observe the “I'm right and they are wrong” attitude I am seeing. Can this attitude ever be thought or expressed without our own failure with spiritual pride? When will we ever learn that this pride that causes us to judge others as wrong is a far more grievous fault with God than wearing flip-flops to church, or someone having a different style of worship than we prefer? God, by His grace, has given to Christians a tremendous amount of freedom to worship and live life with Him that we might not understand, and we could be convinced “the jail” we live in is the right way. Pardon my enthusiasm on the subject, but I must ask who has given any person the right to be judge, juror and executioner of another Christian? It is not the Father who has done it. In fact, He is very clear to point out in scripture that we do not have the right, and if we follow this path, we will be at odds with Him. Look at what Jesus said:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5
Why is this judging and condemning of others so offensive to God? It is because in doing so we assume a divine perspective and prerogative which is reserved only for God. Only He can know all the facts of what is truly right and wrong, and know what to do with them. If we think our denomination or preference or insight or our take on things or way of doing things is the way and the truth, we are wrong from the get-go and are in fact guilty of a heinous action against the God we think we are speaking for. If we think our preference or insight is all seeing and all knowing then we are declaring ourselves equal with God, and this is a big, big problem. I cannot think of anything that we could do that would be as offensive to God as this.
The Apostle Peter, in the passage above, says that obedience to the truth purifies our souls. He also connects this truth and our obedience to it to a sincere brotherly love. He then expounds on it by saying that this brotherly love should be given from a pure heart. These simple truths are like a domino effect that by following them we will be blessed, as well our relationships. They also point out how factious and tainted our view of another person can be when we would presume to make ourselves equal to God with our limited insight of a person or the way things should be done. Now I'm not talking about clear and blatant sin that we have observed in another person. God's word points these sins out, and there is no judgement required on our part. What I am speaking of are those things that are not clear in God's word, and are only a personal preference on our part. This is where our pride can take over our perspective, and why we must be careful with how we view another person or a freedom that he has, but we do not personally have.
Remembering how limited perspective is could also help us with how to respond to a broken relationship with another person. Because I've made some judgment mistakes in processing an offense against me by another person, I've learned to slow down my emotions and seek God's perspective first. Maybe these guidelines will help you:
Ask God to open my eyes: Remember, our tendency is to think ourselves righteous and the other person wrong. The first thing I feel I need to do to be sincere is ask God to reveal any blind spots in my perspective about the person. I must seek God's answer as to whether there is any pride in my perspective, or something I'm not seeing about the situation.
If I have offended, ask for forgiveness: It takes a lot of courage, but a sincere desire to see things as Christ does requires us to humble ourself and initiate reconciliation. If there is no question in my mind as to whether I've offended another person, then I must own it and repair it. This is a sincere expression of brotherly love, and one God delights in.
If I have been offended, forgive: In this quid pro quo(this for that) world that we live in,it is the exception to not demand our rights and justice for our self. We think that an offense against us should give us the right to offend in return. However, Jesus gave us a different perspective. He said to forgive, for this is the divine perspective He wants us to adopt for ourselves. He said to love our enemy and serve those who abuse us, for in doing so we show ourselves to be His disciple, and being His disciple requires that we adopt His perspective. To not react the way the world has taught us but rather the way Christ has taught us is a divine perspective that pleases God. And, to follow this course of action when offended by a bother is a sincere expression of brotherly love. We can see it as a competitive race that we must choose to run, and if we want to win it, we will have to see things God's way.
Some would ask, “How can I forgive someone who doesn't know or care that he has offended me, and doesn't care to reconcile?” There's a simple solution to this dilemma. It is to worship God by granting forgiveness to this person without his knowledge or action, and to pray for him. This is a divine perspective that keeps our hearts pure before God, and allows Him to grant us insight while we wait on His work in the other person's life. Reconciliation requires two people to see the relationship God's way, and God asks each of us to do only our part. If there is ignorance of an offense or defiance by our offender against admitting it, we can only do our part to reconcile. Remember: When we forgive another person his sin against us, we are giving this forgiveness as an act of worship to God. When we are blessed to be reconciled with a brother, it is God's gift to us. We must simply but sincerely do our part with a sincere effort, and allow God to bring back that which was lost when the time is right.
At the heart of all this is that we make a sincere effort to see things God's way. Let Him be your guide, not your pride, and you will fulfill the truth of having sincere, brotherly love.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Thursday, May 17, 2012
A Storm Called Persevere
Looking back over the seascape of my life I can see the ways my Captain has trained my hand for the tiller of this boat called “life.” There have been different conditions of the sea that have challenged what he has taught me…conditions that have both frightened and delighted me. Each of these challenges represented a choice that I was required to make as to whether I would allow established rules of the sea to guide me, or the wisdom of my Captain. Early on, I yielded to that which seemed to come easiest for me, which was to follow those established rules that had been formed by sailors who had plowed the waters of life before me. These rules are known as “Instincts for Survival, for Gratification, and for Success.” The trouble is, I have seen the results of these man made rules of the sea take a sailor down, for in following these rules, many men have crashed their ships on the reefs of uncharted waters that they had never sailed before. I have come to understand that these rules of the sea or of life, only vaguely see what lies ahead, and can never predict the changing weather that will challenge a calm water sailor. Sure, as long as there is an easy wind at our back and currents that do not fight against us, sailing our boat through life is predictable and safe. But, throw a storm at us, and especially one that goes on for a long time, and we can only hunker down and hope to survive it. Many sailors do not. Learning to sail through these storms, and even delight in their challenges will not be found in a sailing book that a mere sailor has written. No, there is only One Captain to learn this from, and that is the One Who writes His own nautical manual for the storms of life. This manual is called, The Mariner's Bible.
I'll never forget how His wisdom guided me through a terrible storm called, “Persevere.” I had been on the sea for years, and had learned to seek my Captain's wisdom even in the small things of sailing my boat. I was starting to understand how to sail it the way He instructed me, for He was in the cockpit with me in the early years, and it was easy to hear His voice. I've heard many mariners who decided to trust His wisdom for sailing their boat tell me that in the early days of their relationship with The Captain theyalsohad smooth seas to sail. Like these men, I had experienced the fair weather conditions early on, but I started to sense that The Captain had purposely steered me around the rough waters until I had time to learn from His Mariner's Bible. Something told me to expect a change in the weather patterns, for life's oceans never stay static. It would be unreasonable to think that life on the ocean would not have its storms, and especially if I followed a course my Captain charted for me.
When my Captain and I sailed the calm waters, we had especially close times with each other, and it allowed me to hear His troubled heart. He shared with me His concern for the many desperate people in the deepest part of the sea who were hanging on to ship wreck rubble in order to survive, but only for a while. These people had been born in this condition and would eventually die because of it. When they died, they would sink to the deep Abyss below them, and would never be heard of again unless they were rescued. I could not help but ask, “My Captain, You have been training me to go after these people and bring them into my boat and back to You haven't You?” He looked deeply into my eyes and nodded yes. He then went on to say:
“You will never be taken to the Abyss below. Never fear this. But, you will have the challenges of the sea that you will always have to contend with. I have trained you to face the worst storms that will ever come your way. Therefore, I will not exempt you from these challenges, for you must face them as all people do. However, I have trained your hands for the tiller, and to follow the tack you should take when you are in your storms. When your conditions are hard to read, I have also given to you the Mariner's Bible so you can refer back to my instructions I am giving you now. When in doubt, always go to these words, and you will be given nautical instructions for every storm you will face in life. In addition, My Spirit will always be with you to comfort you, to remind you of my instructions, and to propel you along as He fills your sails. Learn to listen to Him, and maneuver your boat to catch and follow His prevailing winds. He will direct you this way. Although you will not see Him, He will always be with you. So, learn to sense His presence, and your confidence while facing every storm and condition will grow. My son, I have trained you not for your mere survival in the storms. Rather, I have blessed you with that which will give you a sheer delight in running your boat through these challenges. Learn to delight in the storms, for you and My Spirit will be about My work, for you have been prepared for times such as these.”
I listened to my Captain's last orders before He vanished from my boat when I sailed to the open ocean He had instructed me to go to. At first I seemed so alone, and I felt all of the duties of sailing the boat were now on my shoulders. It didn't take me long to revert back to my old instincts to get busy, organized, and methodical. These are my old natural sailing instincts I learned before my Captain's instructions. Slowly, my old fears began to creep into me as well. There's nothing like a sailor trying to predetermine his course ahead, and then attempting to think through all the details for controlling every contingency, to reveal to him just how out of control he is with a changing sea. This out of control feeling drives fear into our soul. It was in this condition that I went to the Mariner's Bible my Captain had given to me, to remind me what to do in this situation. I scanned it and sure enough there was guidance for the conflict I was feeling. I read:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
When I read the words from the Mariner's Bible, I was reminded to go back to what my Captain had taught me rather than use the instincts I had learned before His instructions. I had forgotten that He had instructed me to get my eyes off of my boat and look around to get a better perspective of what was going on around me. I should look at the sky, the sea and the conditions. The ocean is ever changing, and I will never be able to predetermine how it will be. I can only take what comes, and face it with the new skill, wisdom and insight my Captain has given me. I have been assured that I will have His insight given to me when I seek it, and it is my constant appraisal of the conditions around me that make me sensitive to what I need to ask His help on. I'm glad I remembered this before I sailed into that dreadful storm called Persevere.
The storm calledPersevere was as deadly and challenging as its name implies. It was not a short-lived storm that rolled in one day and out the next like most of them. I had been given a test with those kind of storms for training me, and once I knew that they would be short-lived storms, I even had fun with the crashing waves and the wind that blew the tops of the waves into my face. However, the storm, Persevere, pounded me unmercifully day in and day out for a long time. I could not conquer it in my own strength and experience. This forced me to consider every instruction my Captain had given me during the rehearsals for this storm. I read the Mariner's Bible from cover to cover and sought my Captain's Spirit to make sense of it for me. I sought the comfort of His Spirit by remembering that though I did not see Him, He was in the boat with me none-the-less. When I felt my boat would be swamped by the giant oncoming waves, He filled my sails so that I could power through them. I was in a long fight that required patience and long suffering, but we prevailed. We made it through, and it was afterwards that I saw what was treading water to survive, and why I had been brought through the Storm Persevere. I looked around me and saw thousands of people who were hanging onto rubble, trying desperately to keep their heads above the water.
As I looked at the pathetic people who had been in this condition for so long that they had just about given up hope that there was any other way, I remembered the concern on my Captain's face. I now felt His heart for these people as never before, and I knew the purpose of the training my Captain had put me through. I had been trained to face the storms that these shipwrecked lives had to face, and to sail my boat into their waters to help survivors come to know my Captain as I do. That is why my Captain doesn't keep me in the calm waters of life. No rescue effort is needed there, and as a result we will never know our purpose by staying in a safe cove. Instead, we are trained for the open sea, and the storms that all people must face. The Captain’s mariners are shown how to meet these challenges, and in doing so, come to understand how to disciple other people with The Captain's way of doing things.
The darkest of all the storms that challenge mariners like myself is one such as the storm,Persevere. It is the greatest challenge, for it seems to last so long, as it goes on and on with one pounding wave after another. But, it is also the storm that most people of the sea face everyday, and is the one we must sail into if we will fulfill our purpose as theCaptain’s mariners. We must face it, for the lost people of the sea face it … all their life.
Even though this kind of storm seems to never end, it will. And when it does, The Captain's mariners are better equipped for the next one, and survivors are plucked from the sea to be sailed back to the calm waters of The Captain’s Cove. It is there the process is repeated, as The Captain trains another survivor to be His mariner. I've been sailing as my Captain’s mariner for many years now, and I will tell you without reservation that there is no place I would rather be than to be sailing my boat of life with the purpose my Captain has both trained me for, and led me to. There have been many storms that I've faced, and as long as I remain on this sea, there will be others to challenge me. But, The Captain of this boat has prepared me for them, and I do not fear what is out there.
Where do I go from here? With one hand on the tiller, the other on the Mariner's Bible and my Captain's Spirit filling my sails, I sail to Only God Knows Where. But, that is what I want. I want to sail to “Only God Knows Where,” for that is the best place for the Captain's mariner to be. So, why don't you come and go with us? We need moreMariners who have been trained by the Captain to join His fleet, for there are people in the ocean of life who need to be plucked from the abyss, and to be brought back to the Captain’s Cove. When you join Him in this purpose, you will find what you've been created for, and your life will never be the same. Believe me. My life has not been the same since joining The Captain and His purpose for my life, and I can tell you it will be the same for you.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, May 11, 2012
The Joy of Brokenness
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;?a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise.”
I’ve been a follower of Christ for over 60 years. But, I’ve likely been a disciple of Christ for only about the last 20 years. There is a difference in being a follower and a disciple. The key difference I have observed in the two is brokenness.
I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about brokenness. For instance, there are some followers of Christ who live with a great deal of pride, and brokenness escapes them. These followers would likely say they would prefer it that way, for their idea of brokenness would require them to live a defeated life. They would say that brokenness is a result of some kind of humiliating failure, and they want to avoid this at all costs. Not understanding what true brokenness is, causes them to clinch down on their effort to control their life to avoid the pain of failure. This in turn creates an idol of self-sufficiency. When this happens, they are at odds with the God Who said there must be no idols before Him, and this often leads to a shattered life, which is what they had hoped to avoid. I will repeat: When we have idols in our life we are moving down a path that will lead to a shattered life. What’s the difference between a shattered life and living with brokenness? It is two very important things --- healing and joy. Brokenness is a result of coming out of a shattered life, and within the perspective of brokenness and the countenance it produces, a man who God greatly delights in emerges. Brokenness is a blessing and is something we should seek, even if it requires that our life be challenged with a perceived failure. These failures are often God's way of redirecting our life through the tearing down of those idols I speak of, and it will lead to an unspeakable joy that God wants us to have, and a life that honors Him and fulfills us.
There is another example of a misunderstanding about brokenness, and it is the idea that brokenness requires that we live with a downtrodden spirit. Those who have this perspective are being mislead and are misleading others. They may be living with the pain of a shattered life. But God wants them to move beyond this place and not stay there. If they think remaining in this shattered state is what God wants for them, they do not know their good Shepherd's heart. He wants them beyond this place. So, do not be misinformed. This is not brokenness you are seeing in this person. It is a shattered person who has not found the healing that brokenness can bring. Until they move to brokenness, they will never find the joy that could permeate their life, and their shattered life will never heal.
How do we find this brokenness, and why does God value it even greater than a sacrifice? To be clear, this sacrifice He was speaking of includes all the good things that we give to God such as, our tithe, our service, our faithful church work, you name it and it includes it. So, it must be something of great value to God, wouldn’t you think? To understand why it is so important to God, we need to understand first what brokenness produces:
Why would God want brokenness in our life? Consider if you will that a delicate porcelain pot is generally fragile. Therefore, it must be handled with care or it might get broken. Should it be broken, there is a choice by the owner to either glue it back together or to discard it. When it is glued back together it generally turns out looking like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and it loses its beauty. Because the pot was shattered and will never return to the beautiful form it once had, someone who valued it because of its external beauty alone often discards it. However, every now and then an owner will take the time to put the pieces together. Sure the pot is not attractive as it once was, but it is still functional, and in some ways it is stronger than it was before it was shattered. Another thing happens, and this thought connects to what is of great value to God. Because it has lost its external attractiveness, the pot no longer draws attention to its external beauty, but rather its contents. People don’t declare how beautiful the pot is, but rather how wonderful the tea that’s in it is. In the same way, when God puts a shattered life back together, there is greater external strength and internal beauty. But, best of all the brokenness in this person draws attention not to his wound or his struggle, but rather to his King, and the victory and healing to his shattered life that God has given to him. The pieces of this shattered life have been reformed by his Master Potter into a new life, a better life, a life that better honors the Potter, for the glue the Potter uses to mend our breaks oozes joy through the cracks. People no longer see the flaws and pieces of a shattered life. They see a humble, credible, reformed life. The uniqueness created from a once shattered life can be a beautiful thing, for when the King puts our pieces back together, people understand that God can also mend their shattered lives. This is a big reason why God desires for us the blessing of brokenness. It is a powerful witness, and it helps others.
I don’t know if you’ve looked around you to see the number of shattered lives that exist, but I will tell you there are more than ever before. Rarely is a family exempted from this pain with a loved one or friend. We go into prisons to minister to men with shattered lives. In the business world, we are seeing people losing their jobs, their homes and their ability to make a living. As a result, their comfortable life is shattered. We see it with pastors, with professionals, with political leaders, with celebrities, and with all kinds of people. Shattered lives are all around us, and it is a man who has found the joy of brokenness who will be able to comfort and lead these shattered lives to the Master Potter who can put lives back together better than before. Consider the brokenness of Israel and how God put this nation back together as an example:
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Leviteswho were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothingprepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joyof the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9-10
In Nehemiah 8 we read and see the process of a shattered nation being put back together into one nation under God. This illustration also parallels a life that has been shattered and healed by God. The people were weeping. They were broken. They recognized that they were once a mighty nation, with the identity of being God’s people, and they had lost it. They realized that even though they had been warned, their forefathers had bowed to their idols and as a result God gave them over to their enemy. They were killed, captured, and imprisoned. They were taken to foreign lands to be slaves, and the nation was shattered. This was only a remnant of that mighty nation that was now standing before Nehemiah and Ezra weeping as they heard the Law read. They understood that they were the only ones left to represent the nation. They wept for they knew these things their forefathers did were offensive to God, and Israel had played the harlot to their Husband God. They wept with repentance. They wept with brokenness. They were committed to turn back to God, and God’s response was to turn their tears into a celebration. Can’t you see it? God wanted those tears to turn to joy, for just like the “Prodigal Son,” they had come home to their Father. What did God want for His repentant, broken nation? He wanted healing, completeness, and joy for them. That is what brokenness produces. It produces healing, completeness, and joy. This is another reason God values brokenness.
Men, if you will come to understand how brokenness can bless you, you will also come to ask God to break you. I know it is a scary thought to do this. It will require courage to ask for it, and you will be tested when He applies the pressure. But, I will assure you that laying down your idols volitionally rather than having them stripped from you and having to go through a shattered life in the process, is a far more gentle way to move to brokenness. A lot of misery can be avoided if you will run to the place God wants you to dwell, and brokenness is the path to this sacred place. Will you ask for it?
If you are presently living a shattered life, you can find the healing you are looking for. But, it will not come by getting back whatever you lost. It will happen by finding that which you have never found. It is to find brokenness. Let your healing begin by asking God to take you to this place. It is there that He can put the pieces of your shattered life back together. Sure you will have some cracks in your porcelain. But an internal beauty that you never imagined will replace what you’ve lost. You will be like that old tea pot that was broken and put back together … cracked and flawed on the outside, but oh so wonderful on the inside. That’s the kind of man God delights in, and that is why He values brokenness in a man.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
The Bakersfield Secret
Friday, May 04, 2012
The Bakersfield Secret
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Maybe some of you Influencers brothers have not yet heard about it, but there is a mighty move of God going on in Bakersfield, Ca! We drove to a cattle ranch about 25 minutes North of Bakersfield to see with our own eyes. We felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, but as we maneuvered our rental car through the winding dirt road and over the ridge, there emerged an amazing sight. Hundreds of cars and RV’s surrounded a gathering area where we saw circus tents, huge lights on generators, a rock climbing wall and LOTS of men. Over 600 men attended The Bridge Bible Church’s M24 Event. M24 is a group of men seeking to be Men of God through an event that takes place over a 24-hour period. I have been to Promise Keepers and seen thousands of men gather, but this is the first time I had seen so many Journey brothers gather in one place. I was truly amazed!
About 4 years ago, one man, Les Pearsey, decided to take on the problem that his church, like most churches I know, faced: what do we do to help our men? Les didn’t really have the answers, but through prayer, he decided to start by finding a few “hungry” men. And he felt like these men should be the “splinter Christians”, the ones who had splinters from sitting in the pews too long. He didn’t want to seek out the “usual suspects”, they guys who were already in leadership or serving somewhere. Interesting, isn’t it? They found 40 men who would be willing to go away to a retreat to consider how to start becoming “Men of God”. Les Pearsey invited his long-time friend and mentor, Pete McKenzie, to help these men find their way. Over a 24 hour period, God truly showed up in the life of these men, and they vowed to start new lives as “Men of God.” Three months later, these men each invited 3 more hungry men and over 120 men became committed. This spilled over into a monthly gathering of men where they could gather the men at a dinner and invite their friends. They would “proclaim the good news” of all that God was doing in the lives of the men. It wasn’t long before these committed men were being delivered from all sorts of bondage from addictions, materialism, pornography, adultery, depression, etc.
Fast forward to this weekend where saw 600 men gather. The ones who had already been set free and were growing in Christ were serving and inviting their friends. It is amazing to see how so many men, who, just a few years ago, were living for themselves, are now on fire for God. They are committed to meeting every Friday at 6:00 a.m. to go through The Journey. They have found a place of service within their group. They are giving freely of their resources to fund all of these events. For this event, Les divided all of the responsibilities up and put a price on each item (i.e. buying 600 T-Shirts, buying 600 Hats, Dinner for 600 Friday night, Breakfast for 600 Saturday morning, etc.- you can imagine all that goes into an event for 600 people.) He then asked each Journey Group to take ownership of one of the items and “take care of it.” The men stepped up, and we saw the result.
Rocky gave an inspiring message Friday night, and Pete gave his “Man of God” message on Saturday, followed by the commissioning of hundreds of men as “Men of God.” However, one of the most impactful points of the weekend was on Saturday morning, as we all gathered on a hill by a large cross. They have a tradition where they “refresh” each other. Men took turns taking the microphone and speaking affirming words to someone who had touched their life in the crowd. As a symbol of the refreshment, they throw an orange to the man. It was awe-inspiring to see these men loving and affirming one another, telling another man how he had helped him on his journey. This went on for 2 hours and it could have gone on all day. I was merely taking all of this in as an observer. However, I felt lead by the Lord to take a few oranges and refresh the men with whom I had traveled. I could feel the enemy’s resistance to doing this, but I pressed through and realized how this simple act could remove the scales from my own heart and allowed the Holy Spirit to break through. I can attest to the scripture above- as I refreshed others, I was truly refreshed. I’m going to post a picture of an orange on my desk to remind me to daily refresh others.
So, as an Influencers leader and as a men’s ministry leader at my own church and in my own city, I naturally pondered how we could replicate the fire in Bakersfield back home. I tried to get my mind around the “Bakersfield Secret.” It’s not just Les Pearsey, although he is a talented, passionate leader of men. We all know you must have a “champion.” However, as I thought more about this, I believe the secret to this move of God is this: Faith, Hope and Love.
Faith: These men have tremendous faith in God’s ability to do the unimaginable. They don’t let fear or finances or inconvience keep them from moving forward. They pray continually, believing God hears their prayers. They dream big, and they think outside of the box.
Hope: They are giving these men hope. They constantly bear witness to how God can repair and restore lives. They affirm these men as “Men of God”, while they are yet sinners. They make men feel like they count, giving them responsibilities right away. They don’t just go after the men who seem to have it all together- remember, in the beginning, they intentionally went for those who were sitting in the shadows. Hope is powerful!
Love: These men let God’s love flow through them. I’ve been at 2 events by these guys now, and at each event, they showed the men love from the moment they arrived. They are not judgmental or self-righteous- they see each man as God sees him. Love is very contagious and attractive. We all want to be loved.
I was SO blessed to be a part of this retreat and witness this great move of God. I pray God will raise up more men like Les Pearsey who want to help men. I pray thousands upon thousands of men will find faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ. I pray they will be able to go through The Journey so they can learn how to walk intimately with Him the rest of their lives. I pray they will be a source of refreshment to other men in their sphere of influence. But we must not forget this: Just like our Lord Jesus’ ministry when He was on earth, it all started with just a few hungry men.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Links & Resources
Influencers- Bakersfield, CA
Influencers-Bayside Church, Northern California
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"
Tulsa Men of Christ
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