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?

2 thoughts on “life in rocky soil…

  1. Hello Richard,
    I was glad to see guys again.
    I wanted to say a quick hello, but wasn’t sure how to work the zoom, I didn’t want to lose the connection.
    I hope under the circumstances, you and your family are doing well these days.
    Last time I watched a video with the whole tribe, you showed us John Piper, “Paul’s therefore”, and I just happened to read a short book from him, titled “Coronavirus and Christ”, and this morning you asked what this storm means to us, and I have to agree with this short reading that God sends this global event to stop us on our tracks and as you said to search for something deeper. In his book Piper talks about people needing to repent. Earlier I was reading Deuteronomy 31:18, and talks about God hiding his face from us, because we are chasing other idols, but he is still present next to us, still, in his wisdom, he “ protects” us, even on top of this historic pandemic.

    For now, I‘ve been called to be near to my two kids, and help them whatever way I can. I followed your advise, and I stayed away from social media for Lent. I never looked back, although I feel bad that I don’t get to follow any of my church friends, or communicate with them.
    Priorities my brother.
    Blessings to you and the tribe!

    • Oscar – so VERY good to hear from you my friend. Thank you for checking in with us. You can watch the zoom video of the call yesterday since you weren’t able to dial in. The link and the password is in the post. I’ve read about 1/2 of Piper’s book and agree for the call to repent and the chasing of other idols. Thanks for the reminder and word. Watch the video – it’ll do you good to see some of your brothers on there. Take good care.

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