I think I’m patient, I really do. Most of the time. Though, I seem to be more impatient when I am driving, or waiting in line when in a hurry…and no matter what I am doing when late for an appointment. Then my patience is tested, challenged, and revealed to me for what it truly is – impatience is selfishness. None of us like to wait, whether you are eight or eighty years old, the challenge is the same.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
When I was a kid, whenever December rolled around, time seemed to slow to a crawl. The anticipation of what was to come with Christmas, presents, a break from school, and time for fun, food, and family seemed to take forever to get here.
But when it arrived, it was worth it! As responsibilities increase with adulthood, these times seem less frequent, but they are there if we just stop to notice and appreciate them. The pace of our culture encourages us to run at full speed with the help of technology and people around us who do the same. But when we take time to enjoy the in between times – the down time between instances of running full steam ahead, then we might just be able to hear a little better what God has for us in those moments.
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4
I look at stories in scripture and am reminded of how often people had to wait, often not knowing what was ahead of them outside of a promise. Abraham waiting on his promised son that would make his descendants uncountable may have seemed a distant hope for years at a time. What was Joseph thinking while sitting in prison for years after he was sold into slavery and falsely accused when he sought to do the right thing? What about Jesus when he was waiting for the right time to begin his ministry, or praying in the garden of Gethsemane – what was He expecting?
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4
What is it you are waiting on? Maybe it is and advancement in your job for which you are overdue. Waiting on a child that may never come, or the child you have to live up to your dreams. Are you hoping for a spiritual breakthrough in the form of an emotion or feeling that will last forever? Maybe you are waiting for your spouse to change to be everything you want when you don’t even share your desires with them or with God. There are so many things we hope for, that we pray for, that we would like that may never come to be. Does this mean that God is still God whether or not we see a sign, hear his voice from heaven, or get what we want? Yes. Maybe the waiting helps us remember that God is God and we are not.
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
So, next time you feel impatience and anger creeping in – just stop, listen to your own breathing, listen for what God is speaking to you in the midst of your frustration. There is something to be learned in every situation we encounter. Be willing to wait when the time is not right and be willing to go when He calls you to move.
May you find joy as you wait on the Lord and as you go with Him!
Remember family road trips growing up? You played slug bug long enough to get in trouble, eye spy, and took the resemblance of a nap. About 15 minutes have gone by, and the question comes to your mind. It is the same question as a parent you dread hearing as a parent. I knew we were not there but in my mind, I had done all that I knew how to do and felt as though we should be there by now.
Jesus had two stories in the book of Mark where the disciples were in a storm fighting for their lives. The first one he is asleep in the boat. Have you ever felt like Jesus was asleep in your boat? The scriptures note in 5:1 “Then they go to the other side…” The second story Jesus was walking on the water and would have walked right by them had they not noticed Him. Then it says in 6:53 “When they got to the other side…” The question is, when is then and when?
Have you ever felt like asking God the question, “Are we there yet?” It may be concerning a marriage you have been fighting for, child you are praying comes to Jesus, business you are believing to take off, or healing to come to your body. Like the road trip of your childhood, you have done all that you know to do, and you feel like you are rowing into the wind and feeling like this storm will be your last.
This is how the disciples felt. What we try to do is create a mathematical equation to figure out how to achieve our desired results. We try to tie up all the loose ends and fix the problem. We think that if we can do Principles A + Time B x Consistency C = Results. The problem is that any time we try to make God a mathematical equation, He guarantees that it won’t work. He doesn’t want to be treated like a vending machine, but the Guide in your boat.
What do you do when you are not where you thought you would be, think you should be, or not where God said you would be? What do you do in the meantime? History does not record the meantime, yet most of our lives fit in that category. In a highlight oriented culture, we struggle to know what to do in the meantime.
Over time we grow tired of fighting the storm. We look back at the beach, see the party going, and consider going back. We look ahead and we see winds raging and waves building. Yet when I look at the disciples in Jesus’ boat, they did not crack the code, find the secret, or deserve to get to the other side. I have searched the original language, compared commentaries, and read many translations, and here is what I have found… THEY STAYED IN THE BOAT! They did not try to get to the other side on their own. They did not get there because they were great fishermen and seamen. They just simply stayed in the boat! It was by the GRACE OF GOD, AND THE GRACE OF GOD ALONE!
Back to road trips… My kids begin the day with great anticipation and excitement. Like many of you when you first got married, had a child, started the business, prayed for healing, you thought you would get to the other side quickly. Nobody told you it could take years and even decades. Eventually my kids would get tired, strength would leave them, and they would fall asleep. Then strangest thing happens… They wake up the next morning, and they are THERE! There are mountains out the window and their cousins in the bed next to them. They wonder, “How did I get here?” While they were asleep, dad took them to where they needed to be.
Jesus wants you to rest in him, trusting Him in the storm. Staying in the boat, He will be the faithful one. He will be the righteous one. He is your beginning and your end and everything in between. When you are too tired, all strength has left you, and you finally fall asleep, the Father will pick you up and take you where you needed to be.
Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus
When I was in Cadets (the church version of Boy Scouts) I was enamored with acquiring badges. I wanted them all. The more you had, the “higher rank” you held among the boys–kind of like the military.
I went to great lengths to get these badges. I got the piano badge after playing the Cadet theme song in front of my club (and after numerous disputes with my mother on how my staccatos weren’t emphasized properly), stitched on the community service badge after beating old ladies in 5-point-Pitch for a month, and even got the knot-tying badge after I finally mastered the Sheepshank.
But there was one badge I really struggled to get, mainly because it involved work I wasn’t prepared for–the gardening badge. My mom grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time dazzling her flowers in the yard, so I thought this would be a an easy badge to sew on the shirt.
After tearing up a piece of the yard with a till and plotting the garden according to Cadet standards, I threw in the seeds and…that’s about where my gardening badge ended. Unlike other badges, this one took all summer and into fall. My knees never touched the dirt, my hands never plucked a weed, and my mom never helped.
Come September when Cadets started again, I had nothing to show for the badge. I remember my leader asking me what happened and I retorted, “It was too much work, and it took too long.”
Unfortunately, I hear that a lot about ministry today. Unfortunately, I have thought that about Vital Ministries.
Because there is so much good to be done, so much work that already has been done; but it is hard work and takes lots of time, and sometimes you feel like you don’t see any results.
As Jesus passed through crowds of people, describing them as sheep both saved and lost, he told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).
What I want to know today is if you’re willing to be a worker in the harvest. But here’s the kicker, there is lots of work to be done.
Churches, ministries, organizations, and people have prepared the way for many, but there is more work to be done in the field. There are too many that want to show up when it is time to harvest and too few that want to put in the work to prepare the field for the harvest time. Where are you at in the process?
Vital Ministries is always looking for people willing to be workers. Not just attend kick-off nights or small group nights, but to do work behind the scenes, to shepherd others, to prepare the field for harvest. Churches and organizations are looking for these people too, not just us!
There are many of you men who have the tools and the spirit to be one of those workers, and I’m challenging you today to step up and take your role. Why? Because the harvest is coming, there are endless men to reach and to love, and if we only have a few workers, we can only do so much.
That’s the thing about the harvest–Jesus says it will be plentiful, even with only a few workers! So what happens if we increase our workers, if people step up and take a new role? The harvest is multiplied–and that’s glorious!
Let’s work together to make the kingdom of Christ ripe for harvest. Let’s break out of our comfort zone and take a role in God’s kingdom that is prepping for the harvest. Let’s do something about what we believe in today.
Vital Men Challenge: I’m serious about the challenge and if you’re willing to take it today, call me at 641.780.2709, we’ll find the right spot for you.
Matthew 7:24, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”
Today we are looking at the very concept of our foundation. What is the base of everything of which you believe? What are our foundational beliefs? Will they hold on solid ground, or is my foundation on sinking sand?
The idea of a foundation is what speaks to the very core of our understanding of the truth in our lives. Do we actually have true understanding when our faith is tested, and to what do we hold on to?
Some will say my true foundation is the Bible itself. The Pharisees back in the time of Christ confronted him many times on biblical foundation. Jesus responded back to them in Matthew 21:42 saying, “Didn’t you ever read the Scriptures? The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.
The Pharisees and Jewish leaders believed that they only knew the true word of God. They were the builders, but the problem was in their rejection of who the cornerstone was–which was Christ.
The Bible is the place for spiritual truth. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Reading it is crucial to our lives and faith. Scripture reveals the sin in our lives and the darkness that enters our lives and points us to the foundation of truth which is Jesus Christ.
It says in Matthew 14:6, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life; No one comes to the Father but through me.”
In better understanding this verse, let’s look at each of the three points Jesus is making. The way is not a system but a relationship. In prayer it’s not a monologue, it’s a dialogue. We choose to listen and hear the voice that Jesus is speaking to each of us. We walk with him in our day. He becomes our friend.
The second point is truth. The truth just isn’t about facts, but the truth is in my soul and having Jesus live through me. His truth gives us direction. His truth is the true north in our lives. It creates balance.
The third foundational point of Jesus is that he is still alive and lives in us. He is my energy in my life and so is his abiding presence. When people see us, do they see Jesus?
It is that foundation that holds us as we read further in Matthew 7:24-29 when the storms of life come. Because when they come, it is with a mighty crash. Remember that our character reveals the fruit of the Holy Spirit, but our true faith is revealed by the storms in our lives.
Jesus is the only true foundation, solid rock in our lives. Edward Mote was a man who was a cabinet maker back in the late 1800s. While on his way to work he felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to write hymns. One of the songs he wrote was, “The Solid Rock.” He says in his first stanza, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”
Men, how is your foundation? Is it on solid ground? Is it built on a solid rock in Jesus Christ? My prayer today is that you will search your hearts as I’ve searched mine in seeking out the One who gives life and keeps me focused during the storms of life. Live a Vital Life in Him. Stay the course, and secure your foundation on solid ground.
Strength and Courage,
The flight was scheduled to depart at 6:15am. Encouraged to arrive nearly an hour or more ahead of time, the ETD out of Pella was 4:00. To ensure everything was packed and ample time was allowed for any last minute “I almost forgot my…” the alarm went off at 3am. With a full pot of coffee brewing, a bowl of cereal in the belly, and a nice, hot shower, I actually felt more awake than what I thought I’d be coming off five hours of sleep. The hour and a half plane ride from Des Moines to Denver brought arrival time at 6:45 MT. Bags claimed, car rented, and a short drive to Boulder left the clock sitting at 8:30. Normally, just two hours into my morning any other day, by 9am on Friday, I was already exhausted.
Routines in our daily lives flow like clockwork. We get up at the same time of the day each week. We arise, we shower, eat breakfast, consume our daily intake of coffee to get the gears oiled, and off we go. There are always small exceptions to the rule but, taking away any major hiccups, life drifts along like normal as long as we stay in the groove. Yet, there are those days where the exceptions become more than just ‘little hiccups’. Major alterations to the routine send us careening off the tracks, bewildered and wondering, “what just happened?” These moments can be draining, sucking the energy right out of us when the concluding day resolves when our heads will hit the pillow, and it can’t come soon enough.
Although we can acknowledge that life certainly is a lot more interesting when we fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, having rituals and routines in place can keep our hectic lives in enough of a balance to where it seems not just manageable but conquerable. However, when we rely so much on it all going the way we assume it should, we find that when it doesn’t is often when we experience the most stress.
Barry Alvarez, current athletic director and former football coach for the University of Wisconsin, tells a story of preparing his team to play a bowl game on the west coast with a 7:30pm kick-off. In an attempt to acclimate his players to this change from their normal Saturday-afternoon-CST routine, he implemented a plan in which for the entire month leading up to the game, practices would only be held at 9:30pm (7:30pm PT). He even asked his players to stay up two hours later, sleep in two hours later, and even where dark sun glasses all afternoon. His theory was that if their internal clocks were reset to where this night game would be the new norm, they would be prepared to play the game as well as any other physically.
Luke 21:36 [NLT]
36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.
In our spiritual journeys, routines are important and even necessary in maintaining a healthy faith life. However, it’s also important that we recognize that maintaining a spiritual rhythm doesn’t make us immune from challenges and changes to the pace. Being prepared for the obstacles we’ll face minimizes the depth and impact theses snags can have. I knew that I had to be up early. I knew it would be a long day of physically draining travel. I didn’t prepare the way I should have to take on this alteration from my normal routine.
Men, preparation is our key to success. An anticipation for what’s to come will allow us persevere.
Set a Fire Down in Your Soul,