A few years ago, one of Cyndi’s friends gave her a devotional – Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young. This gift was given in a time of extreme dispair on our end. I had just lost my job, didn’t know what to do next, daughter beginning senior year at FSU and son beginning senior year in high school. That summer was perhaps the most intimate season we’ve had with Jesus and I credit a lot of it to this book.
Here is one of the entries for this week:
“Worship Me in the beauty of holiness. All true beauty reflects soem of who I am. I am working My ways in you: the divine Artist creating loveliness within your being. My main work is to clear out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit to take full possession. Collaborate with Me in this effort by being willing to let go of anything I choose to take away. I know what you need, and I have promised to provide all of that – abundantly!
Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way. I am training you to depend on Me alone, finding fulfillment in My Presence. This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment. Instead of grasping and controlling, your are learning to release and receive. Cultivate this receptive stance by trusting Me in every situation.”
Some great words to let sink in. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
I have a confession.
I had begun to feel sorry for myself the last few weeks. This unemployment thing was beginning to get to me. Nine months without a paycheck was starting to affect my self esteem. I was questioning a lot of different things – not the least of which was my judgement! Afterall I am a husband and a father and I still have financial responsibilities in this life!
About the same time as I began this self pity party, God provided some areas for Cyndi and I to take a huge leadership role in. Our church is faced with some good issues – ones that come with rapid growth. Our experience and knowledge are going to prove valuable in these areas.
The first area God has shown me we can lead is in finances. Finances? I know I just admitted to being unemployed for more than nine months! But God is bigger than employment! Cyndi and I have had the opportunities over the past two weeks to share our faith in God to provide, to be bigger than any financial issue and to encourage others to give – yes, to give. To give obediently, to give gladly, to give without regret, to view giving as not only a responsibility but an opportunity – an opportunity to worship!
Everything I have, everthing I have ever had and everything I may have in the future is His. He has entrusted me with a lot of resources. What I do with them is a test. One I hope to pass!
God doesn’t need our money. It’s his to begin with.
As Cyndi and I share the responsibility and blessing of giving, it’s our hope that others will begin to grow and understand that God wants to use our resources as we give them back to him – as we surrender ourselves to Him.
We often think that giving is a financial issue – and to some who have become slaves to debt, it appears to be a financial issue. But giving is really a heart issue – it’s a measure of our relationship with God. Not that if we give a larger $$ amount than anyone else we have a better relationship with God – not that at all. But our love for God and our relationship with Him should be evident in all areas of our lives – the things we treasure show our true love.
God used the past two weeks to show me He has some great things in store for us. I really am excited to see what it will be!
Tonight, I skyped (was this even a word 10 years ago?) with our friend Alex who lives in Cartagena, Colombia. We met Alex on our trip to Cartagena this summer. Alex speaks fluent English as well as his native Spanish.
After conversing for a while we both realized the same thing at the same time: People are people, wherever they are. We all have the same dreams, we have the same fears, we have the same passions. People tend to want the same things – recognition, respect, fame and fortune.
Alex and I both have a burning desire to do that what God has called us to do. Sometimes it seems that others don’t really understand what we are trying to do. And in that not understanding, actions and words can get in the way or even become a barrier to our goals. Sometimes it hurts and we take it personal. Often that not understanding is rooted in fear. Fear that your passion or your dream is bigger than theirs.
God is bigger than any of that! We know His plans for us are good and that He has plans for us to prosper and succeed! I believe God allows others to act in ways that cause us to rely on our faith and our trust in Him.
All of us are passionate about something. Whether your passion and vision is big or small, I encourage you to pursue your passion. But along the way, understand that your passion is not the same as the one you’re explaining it to! The other person is not going to care about it as much as you do. And they may even try to disuade you from pursuing it. Don’t let them. Follow your passion. Not only will you be glad you did but you may change the lives of generations by what you do.
Each Monday night, Cyndi and I lead a small group discussion group – a Community Group that delves deeper into the weekly message from Dean Inserra at City Church. As a group we honestly address issues that we face in our daily lives. Issues about faith, forgiveness, holiness, salvation, redemption, sharing our faith, living out our faith and generally what it means to be a real Christ follower.
Last night was another good time with some people who are really committed to Christ. One couple brought a friend – Michele. Michele will leave next week for a two year long mission to Hungary with the International Mission Board. I tend to ask a lot of questions and Michele intrigued me – so you can guess the rest!
Michele will spend her time building relationships with college students and members of the community she will live in. Her goals will be to disciple believers and lead them to a point of facilitating comm;unity groups when she leaves in a few years.
Although Michele will be paid to do this, aren’t each of us as Christ followers charged to dod the exact same thing? Isn’t our primary goal as a follower of Christ to share his love and glory with others? Doesn’t Jesus Christ himself leave us with a charge to go throughout all nations and teach others about Him?
I’m excited for Michele! She is embrking on an adventure that is beyond cool to me! I challenged our group to pray for Michele. I know I will.
As we closed our time together, Michele’s friends asked me to share a little of our story with Michele. While I look at our life and our actions as doing what God has called us to do, others seem to look at it with a different view. When I quit my job and began commuting 200 miles one way each week to facilitate this group and to offer my skill sets and knowledge to City Church, I did what I heard God telling me to do. He was in fact answering a prayer I’ve prayed for a very long time. I’ve begged God to let me be a part of a big movement of His. He is answering that right now! God is working through City Church in Tallahassee in a remarkable way! And I get to be a small part of it!
God has blessed us in so many ways. Last night I was reminded of the people He has surrounded us with and that may be the biggest blessing of all!
Some days are just better than others!
It has been a long time since I’ve held a paying job. While God is beyond good to us, there are times when my faith wavers and I’ve got to admit I become concerned about things.
We are in the process of distributing/selling some furniture left to me by my mom. Part of the estate contained several chests/trunks that were filled with letters and such from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Imagine my shock today as I opened those chests/trunks only to find the items gone and replaced with letters that I cared nothing about! My immediate thoughts were not good ones. I got mad and angry that the only things that my children wanted from their grandmother weren’t there. I have a good idea what happened to them since only one other person had access to the items.
God continually puts me in positions to be faced with offering forgiveness. It is easier now. I have to be reminded the example of forgiveness He provides is so much bigger than any I could offer. Forgiveness doesn’t always come easy for me. I’ve got to admit, I would like to be resentful and bitter at times. But I know that I can’t be the Christ follower I want to be if I let those emotions get the best of me.
If it wasn’t for the grace and mercy and love that God provides, it would be hard to face days when things don’t go my way. I thank God that Cyndi is the best partner in life anyone could have. She helps me remember and realize that God has a bigger plan than any we could ever imagine. His ways are not my ways. His time is not my time.
But my future is His future and it’s going to be amazing – I just don’t know what it is yet! I wonder what God really wants me to be when I grow up?