life in rocky soil…

Here is the video from today

https://zoom.us/rec/share/wO9JcYnU3XJJTdaOtFucVpIDEL7mX6a8hiYdr6UJxEjUnlJeL0_gM7uxea6V8QBe

passcode needed —- 1M!44L.7

I’ll give you 3 thoughts today.

What do you want?

Storms come.  They are an inevitable part of life in a fallen world.  Jesus told us we’d face hard times.  Paul talked about being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and being struck down.  Times of difficulty are a given.  God works through them.  We went through a very significant storm in our family’s life 4-5 years ago.  It wasn’t a brief storm – it was 3-4 years in length.  God worked through that storm and used it to change me in some profound ways.  There were some things God needed to knock off me through that storm.  That storm forged me in fire.

In my career, I’ve been through 3-4 significant times of shaking.  One of the benefits of time is experience.  When this current crisis hit, I could draw upon my experience from the past.  This wasn’t new to me.  I’d been through them before and I grew through each one of them and had learned how to navigate them.  The storms shape us and make us stronger for the next one.

This storm we are in is shaping all of us.  God will use this storm to knock some things off you and to redirect your life in some areas … if … you are willing to allow Him.

Although, I must say, I think most of us just want this to be over and for life to go back to normal.

This one may be the beginning of the end.  We are seeing parts and pieces of things that could collapse the global economic system, usher in a global currency, a global government and other things that could be forerunners to Jesus’ return.

Or … this one might pass, and things might return to “normal” but let me ask you, where is it all heading in the end?  The end of the age is coming.  It may be soon, or it may come after we are all gone but eventually, the end of the age is coming, and Jesus is returning.

As mortals, we all know the end of our story is coming.  Our days are numbered.  Do you just want this storm to pass so you can have life back the way you had it?

So you won’t have to worry about this virus?  So your retirement account can go back to its all-time high value?  So you can just be comfortable again?  Is that the meaning of life for the believer?

What do we want in this?

What is it you most crave now?  Normalcy?  No fear?  A nice, comfortable life again?

This is a good question for you to ask in your time of reflection.  David in Psalm 139 cried out to God – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns, see if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.”

I’m finding myself more and more asking “what is it I want?  And, if that is what I want, why?  Why am I valuing that more than what it is God has for me in this storm?”

Rocky soil

Beth Moore was in Tuscany a while back and it was September and harvest season.  The workers were all in the fields harvesting crops, clipping fruit off the trees.  The driver said to her, “the grapes just love the rocky soil”.  She studied that and found him to be right.  The only time the vine produces the rich grapes is when it thinks it is threatened and not going to make it, so it reproduces.  The rocky soil doesn’t hold water, so the vine’s roots have to dig deep to find it.  It makes the vine stronger.  Otherwise, if the vine is an easy environment, it just produces tons and tons of leaves – all the outward, showy stuff and its roots run shallow.  But when it is stressed, when it thinks it isn’t going to make it, it digs deep, and it reproduces and it produces the rich grapes that make the best wine.

In the difficulty and the hard, hard stuff, when you get to that place of saying, “Oh Lord, if I don’t trust you through this, I’m not going to make it” … that is the time you will experience powerful growth.

This is where we find ourselves today.  The cushy soil we used to lay in that produced all those showy leaves but very little good fruit, is gone.  We’re now in the rocky soil.  We’re starved of nutrients.  If we want growth, we’ve got to go and dig for it.  Our roots must dig deep to find the water that will bring us life and that will produce in us rich fruit.

Creating margin for the habitat of your soul

Morgan Snyder talked last week about the spirit of this age.  Things we have been talking about – the busyness, the hurried, the technology, the insane pace of life, etc.  That we live in an age of more, more, more and faster and faster.  That the speed of travel, of information and computing power is growing exponentially.  Progress is devouring our margin.

Margin is the capacity between the load I carry and my limits.

If you have more load than your limit you get exhausted, distressed and you will breakdown.

The needs of your soul and the capacity of your soul has never changed.  The soul is what it is.  It runs at its ordained pace.  But this progress that is running faster and faster is consuming our margin.

And margin is the primary place where we cultivate our intimacy with God.  The place where we can give Him our attention and affection.  The urgency of this age takes our attention and divides our affection.  We have little time for God in the mania of trying to keep up with pace of the world … a pace our soul was not designed for.

So the question is – what are you doing to cultivate a habitat where your soul can thrive Said another way – what are you doing to slow down your pace so you can focus on creating an environment that is good for your soul?

We walk around carrying stress on our face.  We are always “on”.  Some of us run at 130% capacity.  It is a surefire way to burn out.  It is a surefire way to lose all joy in our life.

It is a process towards restoration.  One step at a time.  One thing you will give up or change about your life.  Find 3-4 things you’re going to change.  Choices you will make that will prioritize the time and how you spend it.  We gathered our family outside this weekend to run and play and shoot guns and ride a 4-wheeler, throw a football and watch a baby girl learn to walk.  It was holy time for me.  No agenda.  No time limits.  Beautiful day.  Just a time to play.

harper

I need to make more choices than that one.  Things I will give up.  Things I will let go.  Success I will forgo because the cost to me is too high.  Pressures I need to release.  Duty and obligations that I need to release.  Freedoms I need to enjoy.  Mercies I need to accept.

Why?  So, I can dial my 130% down to 115%.  Just a few steps, a few agreements I need to let go, a few kindnesses I will accept so my soul can have some space to breathe.

And there is more.  115% isn’t good enough.  That’s still no margin.  It needs to get to 80% or 70% so there will be ample margin.  If you spend 130% of your income, you’re eventually going to go broke.  Same with 115%.  The pressure is huge.  But what if you spent only 70% of your income or 60%?  What if you had that much margin in your finances?  Imagine the freedom.  Imagine the lightness you’d feel.  It is the exact same way with what we’re talking about here today.

There is more work to do to get to that place where the habitat I’ve created has the room for my soul to thrive once again.  So that I can possess a lightness and a freedom to be who God created me to be — not the slave I am to this world.

It is back to that original question today – what is it you want right now?  For things to go back to normal, for work to come back, to be busy again, to get your comfort back?  Really?  That is what matters?  That’s why God is shaking the world so we can crave getting our comforts back?  Or, is there more?

Power over the present…

here is the video from today’s talk if you missed it.  Fast forward to about 9 mins in (the first 9 mins was just guys joining).  You will need a password to access it.  It is…  8J&.BRxq

https://zoom.us/rec/share/-OVlD43P1W9LZpHL7EvCce07FKXIaaa82ylL_6YExR43ruJOSeNz-aK2BP9d2gBu?startTime=1587572796000

We will do this again next week.  I’ll post the details later.

It was SO GOOD to see our Tribe again.  We can’t wait until we can do this again in person.

Man was not meant to do life alone and yet, here we are … forced into isolation.  The emotional toll on our nation is going to be far worse than the virus.  The average American is streaming 8 hours a day. 8 hours!  That cannot be good for your soul.

We’ve talked about this – this connection to our devices, the surge of iPhone usage and the advent of social media and now, Netflix, has warred against our souls.  With this virus, this problem is way worse than ever. 8 hours a day.  Amazing and sad.

Let me tell you a few things I’ve been doing as I’ve processed this. First, I’m not watching those daily press conferences.  I’m still going to work every day and when I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit down and watch two hours of the press and Trump battling it out.  I’m walking and listening to podcasts or I’m sitting outside on our porch.  Secondly, I am walking laps at my office 3-4 times a day.  5 minutes outside walking laps around our office complex does wonders for my soul during the workday.  Listening to the birds sing and staring at the bright green trees and a clear blue sky is restorative to me.

Teddy Roosevelt used to go outside at night and stare at the stars and he’d remember just how big the universe is and he would say to himself, “And now we know that we are small, and we can go to bed.”  Perspective helps.  It does help to realize just how small we are -especially when we think it is up to us to fix all the problems.  The more I’m outside and the more I focus on the bigness of creation, the better off I am.

 And that’s the point of why I’m going outside during my workday – it is to forcibly remind me that I’m not in control of the chaos in the economy.  It reminds me that God is way bigger than any of this.  He’s in control of all of it.  My daily work walks are an act of surrendering control and they have been a real rescue for me.

I also am playing the one-minute pause app on my walks, usually once or twice a day – the 5 minute version to hear John say over and over, “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you Lord.”

A wise older man told me in the worst of this crisis a quote he relied on many times in his life,

“If you don’t have any hope in the future, you can have no power over the present”.

We must – as believers – keep our hope in the future.  Our future is totally secure. 100%. Resting in the absolute assuredness of my hope in Jesus and eternity gives me the power I need to navigate the present.  This virus may kill me.  This economic collapse might wipe me out and take away everything I own.  It doesn’t matter.  In the end, I win.  My hope isn’t in preserving my life.  None of us will do that.  Every one of us will die.  My hope also isn’t in the things of this world.  None of us will take anything with us.  Our hope is in eternity and it rests solely and confidently in Jesus walking out of that grave.

One day at a time

Two reminders from our past sessions – God’s mercies are new every morning and each day has enough trouble of its own.

Where we stand today, it is very wise for us to remember the mercies God has bestowed upon us.  They come every day.  We have to look for them.  It would be good idea for you to keep a gratitude journal – write down the blessings of each day.  They can be small.  But write them down.  A beautiful blue sky and 75-degree weather.  That our homes were spared in the storms.  That we remain healthy.  That our children are safe. That we all haven’t lost our jobs – though some of us on this call today have.  That we got a compliment today.  That we can get outside today after work and enjoy creation.  That the sun will come up tomorrow and His mercies will come again tomorrow.  Focus on the daily bread He gives you.  It will help you deal with the panic.

Secondly, we must stay in the present.  Today has enough trouble of its own.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”  In other words, there are days and times when God says, “stop”.  He says just take this day and deal with it.  Lay down in that green pasture and rest.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  This is such a time as that.  We’ve all been told to “stop”.  All we need to do now is just rest in the present.  We need to stop playing out the worse-case scenarios of the future.  This current crisis has all sorts of ways it may play out.  Most of those scenarios will not come to pass.  That’s in the future. We cannot control the future.  One day at a time.  Tomorrow will take care of itself – if you rush out ahead of this and try to control the possible outcomes of tomorrow, you will get taken out.  It does your soul no good to worry over tomorrow.

I want to recommend two resources for you …

Ransomed Heart podcast from Monday April 20 – “Don’t miss this moment”.

https://www.ransomedheart.com/rhplay/podcast/dont-miss-moment

Louie Giglio’s sermon from Sunday entitled “It’s OK to freak out”.

Both will be very helpful to you.

PASS OVER

This whole thing is completely surreal.  It’s like a movie playing out right before our eyes.  I’ll write more on that soon but for now, I want to call our Tribe to a prayer.

The Ten Commandments was on the other night.  I am always struck watching those plagues fall down on Egypt.  Can you imagine what that was like to live through?  Plague after plague fell down upon Egypt as Pharaoh tightened his grip, hardened his heart and refused to back down to Moses and God.

As you know the story, God sent the angel of death down to claim the first born son of Egypt.  Israel was instructed to sacrifice a lamb and spread his blood over their door ways so the angel would pass over their homes.  A foreshadowing of Jesus.

So, here we find ourselves this week – this Passover, this Easter week – with our government declaring it will be the week of greatest pain for Americans as we work towards an eventual death toll of 100,000-200,000 Americans.

 

What if?

What if a mighty work of God is about to happen these next two weeks across America? What if all the believers in America stood together, united in one common declaration that we will not accept this fate.  That God Almighty will move in a mighty way and PASS OVER America at this juncture.  That when this is all said and done, the scientists and experts will be at a complete loss to explain why the numbers came in FAR BELOW their estimates of 100-200,000 deaths.

And, that through this, an awakening can begin in America.  God is shaking our nation. He’s using this virus to get our attention.  For many non-believers, this may be one of their last remaining chances to turn away from their idols and to turn towards God as their one and only hope.

There will come a day when something like this starts and there will be no second chances.  Jesus will be returning.

So, let’s pray.  Let us PROCLAIM … this will not stand.  This will not happen in America.  A miracle is coming.  A salvation.  A restoration.  A PASS OVER.  Easter.  Resurrection.  Hope!