Archive for October 2008

Find What You Do To Change The World

We all have relatives in our extended families – uncles, grandparents, maybe even parents – that have lived out entire lives of boring sameness. These are people who have died long ago but they forgot to announce their demise. Perhaps because of the high levels of food preservatives we consume, the stench of decay has been kept to a minimum. Announcements of the real burial are anticipated. Stay tuned for exciting details boys and girls.

This pattern of work has been churning on since the Industrial Revolution. For too long we have been living out what is realistically a pattern of demise. It is time for a wholesale switch for many of us – to move from making a living and transcend that to making a life at the same time.

First Listen

Life has been speaking to you for a long time about these things. It’s difficult to not pay attention to such things as this after a while. Your health begins to wear down a bit. Sleep begins to suffer. Not even Ambien helps when there are things of the heart that are grinding away. Been there, tried that one.

Slowdown and listen. God is broadcasting to you continually. He is in the communication business. Some that are reading this are communicators but you are different. You need to take a rest. He has been working on this from the beginning and he never takes a rest. God is pretty good at it.

Lean back. Tune in. Listen up.

He has some things to say that are worthwhile. Go figure Francis.

Fall in Love With Your Future

There is nothing but pure love that God is offering you in his plan to walk out. Your experience may not be purely easy. Ease has never been part of the equation from God’s perspective.  Word on the streets is that God is willing to endure pain and assumes his followers have the same attitude.

The future of God for you and me is so bright words expire quickly in the describing of it.

Forget adjectives that describe the bright future. It comes down to one profound noun: eternity with him. Between now and then we are in practice mode experiencing his presence in ever increasing volume. Funny thing – I’ve never been as much pain as I am now physically, though in other ways of my cup for containing him is greater now than it’s ever been. What a trade-off.

Respond To The Invitation of God

Jesus is afoot in your life in multiple ways and multiple levels.

I’ve had it with multilevel marketing schemed folks approaching me. The next time someone invites me to dinner tell me about something “very important” in their lives I think I’m going to have a litter of kittens on the spot. However, in a manner of speaking God is the ultimate multilevel marketer. By that I mean he is continually afoot to work things together for good in our lives. I would probably never speak this boldly in a verbalized message to a group of believers because some wild-hair knucklehead lacking social skills would take the message wrongly and begin to work a scheme in the midst of a local church then think they were sanctioned by leadership. As they say in Norwegian, “Oh my cod, what next!”

God is always up to something PERIOD! (Please say that to someone nearby right now to reinforce that point!) He is continually afoot in our lives with something more. He is the universal ecologist. Nothing goes to waste in the economy of God. He redeems all. The older I get the more I see this to be a 110% absolute truth. Be encouraged.  Be invited forward and say “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to what Jesus up to with you right now.

Set Sail

All that is left is to unfurl the sails of our ship and go forward by his power. He is the one in charge of forward progress. Ours is to say yes and stop resisting his oncoming power.

Are You In Outflow Mode?

“Outflow” is the word I used in a recent book to describe the attitude we live in when we are noticing our way into the lives of others. All who have been created in the image of God (that’s all of us reading this!) have been molded with the notion of “Normal” being us noticing others all the time. Put another way, it feels right to notice the need in others before the needs in us are noticed. That is a vital distinction to point out. We live in a time when nearly all wait until their needs are met before any energy is spent even considering moving out toward those around us.

Keep our nose outward.

We have a nose that can be directed just one way at a time in life. Our noses direct us and repel from pursuing directions. How yours directs you is up to you to a measure. Your heart’s desire is something that affects your nose. You can wait for the attention of others to be sent your way before you begin to move forward, or you can simply begin to move forward in a vote toward health.

Let’s forget about ourselves.

There is a worship song that has this line in it. It continues, “And magnify the Lord and worship him.” That’s great biblical and human truth. We cannot keep our minds set on more than one profound truth at a time. We are capable of focusing upon one strong emotional matter at a time. We tend to be persuaded by something that clogs our mental capacities. The rest falls to the wayside. We are not capable of thinking of two large emotional matters at once.

Keep track others on a regular routine.

When we keep to routines it is far easier to stay honest with outwardness. Without a routine to stick with we are hopelessly incapable of staying in sync with outsiders. Far from, uh, routine, they are mightily helpful in directing us to think in terms of the connectivity of the “Us and Them” factor. Without that gift you and I will be doomed to be stuck in short-termed-itis. To grow forward into a regular routine here are some hints that will direct you into the lives of others:

Shop at the same stores, so you will get to know the same people who work there

Learn the names of people who work there

Use their names when frequenting those stores (you’ll be surprised how easy the name thing comes to you when you ask God for a little bit of help in this department – word on the streets is that God is love and part of that equation is he gives power to those who are interested in showing his love!)

As is earthly possible show extreme kindness to the workers at those stores – buy them a bottle of water to drink. If they feign the water, leave it for “Someone to drink later” – they know you bought it there so they will certainly drink it later in their shift. The only reason they will initially resist your kindness is they are taken back by your kindness. Hey, it’s not everyday someone like you comes into the store! You may be a spy from corporate who is checking in on them to see how they deal with the public! Better to be stern than nice, they figure! I’ve been through this many hundreds of times!

Learn from God the ways of kindness. You will grow in the discipline of servanthood and the kindness of God will show up in huge ways. He will do what only he can do. He will move in your situations as only the strength and presence of God can accomplish.

The Emotional Deep End of Economics

There’s an inextricable connection between finances and human emotion.  Studies show recently that 80% of the American public is connected with a downward spiral emotionally due to recent economic downturns in America. In light of the connectivity above, this ought not to be surprising to any of us.

The quest at hand now is for us to weather through to the end simple question: “how does one not just survive but thrive in the midst of a economic catastrophe such as the one that we are going through?”

How to thrive in the desert:

A.   Reconfigure your ideal circumstance.
“What quality is my life filled with now?” “What is the flow of my life like now?” We will pester ourselves to death if we hound ourselves too much with the dogged questions that cannot be answered.

We may never see what we previously thought of as ideal again. Let’s face it: we were living in a self-manufactured dream for some years. All of that has all come to an end. It’s time to get over it, to move away from the table of make-believe and move on with life.

B.   Embrace your circumstance now.
Toward circumstance and “circumspect” are almost identical. That means, “the ability to see our situations objectively.”

C. Let’s start loving the unideal.
There are numbers of aspects of my life right now that I am finding less than warm and fuzzy. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to love as many circumstances by faith.  Sometimes even people are easier to love than circumstances. People are at least entertaining. You can tease them. When they are somewhat emotionally healthy they can take a good ribbing and will tease back in good taste. Circumstances are just a bunch of statistics staring back at us.

Thank God for people. The gift of people are the silver lining we receive in all of this today.

What In The World Is God Up To?

Jesus,

What’s up with the harvest?

Signed,

Steve (and friends)

PS. This routine of not seeing much is getting tiring…

Like all elementary school teachers. I intercepted my share of notes passed during class times.

Here is a question worth pondering:
If you could slip Jesus a one-line note what would yours read? Mine would be something like the one above.

Sometimes I forget he has already answered this question.

Jesus said,

“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
John 4:35

Those words were not limited in scope to Jesus’ time and place—they have a broad-spectrum application.

Momentum Isn’t Always Easy To Spot

Even in his present day, his words may have seemed nonsensical to some. It wasn’t long after he made that bold statement, that it seemed all of his momentum was slipping away. Soon the once jubilant crowds would either vanish or turn against him. Even his closest followers would scatter. The man he trusted most would deny him. At first glance, it would be hard to spot any momentum. In fact, it would be easy to start talking about failure. Then God’s presence showed up and the tide turned. When Peter stood up on Pentecost, suddenly the power of God’s Spirit manifested so boldly that no one could deny what was going on. Anyone who had eyes to see what was afoot no longer questioned Jesus proclamation about the harvest. Peter’s role was mainly to point out, ‘This is that’ which Joel spoke of when he promised the coming of God’s Spirit.  The crowds came back in droves.

Where Is Your Harvest Now?

There is always a harvest at hand. That harvest is always right around you.

You have perhaps heard this notion, but have you ever really opened your mind to the ripeness that surrounds you? If you are like me, you may have squinted, catching a glimpse of it, and then scratched your head and began to wonder, “Just how big is this field I am standing in?

The harvest is among people who are hungry.  They may not even know what they are hungry for, yet.  Our job is to look for the hungry ones. They are all around us. (If you are inundated by the non-hungry learn to smile, nod and walk on down the chow line to where the hungry are standing – they will gratefully receive the life of God we have to offer – life is short, time is of the essence folks unless you have a couple of more decades on you the rest of us don’t have access to!)

His ‘Fields’ Are Perpetually Approaching ‘Harvestability’

The fields have been ready for harvest since the day Jesus spoke those words. This is assuring wisdom for us. Ours is not to create an opportunity. Ours is to spot the current opportunity. There is fruit ready for us to pick, today and probably within arm’s reach. All we have to do is look. If we open our eyes and have the courage to walk through the door God designed just for us, we will experience the lifestyle of a successful farmer. We need to rethink our notions of the harvest before this can happen.

Adjustment #1: The Harvest is Always Happening

Any farmer worth his grain understands there is more to farming than just driving a combine over wind-scattered crops. Farmers plant, water, and cultivate their produce. They must rotate crops and adapt to conditions. There are different jobs to do as each season changes, but the end result is that everything leads to the harvest. Likewise, everything we do in the kingdom is about the harvest.

Adjustment #2: Each Of Us Has A Unique Role In The Harvest

Jesus pointed out the truth – the Father is always up to something on his own nearly apart from anything we do.  We are wise to join with what he is up to.  Through the pain of life, the trauma of sheer living, people around us have had their lives ‘Rattled’ to the point they are willing to pick up on what God has to say. They are already looking for God. That’s where we can play a role – possibly. He has designed each of us to play a specific role in the harvest. We bring divine talents and skills to the field that he has already embedded in us. The key is working together by his design.

Adjustment #3: Each of Our Best Harvest Days Are Yet To Come!

Wordsmith Henry James once said, ‘The best is yet to come.’ Based on his biography I suspect Mr. James had no idea how many layers of truth he was uttering in that statement. For all Jesus followers, that truth is constant. As our lives grow ever better in every measurable way, till our moment of going to be with the Lord, our capacity to speak truth will continue to improve.  As we mature in our relationship with God we gain wisdom and discernment which leads to more opportunity. We learn to replace sophistry with simplicity as we bring God’s love to others.

‘To be with the Lord is far better…’ Paul says. As we grow older we come to the understanding that there is no blank to fill in. We get better at conveying that simple message to others.

Adjustment #4: Stop looking at your watch and calendar when trying to get in sync with the harvest.

NOW-IS-THE-TIME!

There is a futility in describing non temporal concepts with temporal words. Not to drift into a discussion of quantum mechanics and the Newtonian concept of time, but we need to see beyond our current perspective. God exists outside of time – He created it! It is difficult for our minds to grasp, since we exist inside this dimension of time, but for God, time and everything that happened in it is like a picture on the wall. He can look at it and see all of it or focus in on one specific segment of it.

God is always. Some day we will fully understand this. The Book of Revelation indicates that in the presence of God in Heaven we will experience continual fruitfulness at a level we can only dream of in this life. His unfiltered favor will rest upon all present. We read the ‘Trees’ will continuously bear fruit and be ready to be plucked. What an amazing change from what we have been used to thinking of in this life compared to the next one.  God is going to change the way all cycles work from this time frame to that time frame. The notion of how we must wait for something to occur in order to see fruit for our efforts will be upended.  For now, apparent ‘Fruit’ comes to us in spotty ways only. At best we can hope for a decent harvest, now and then, if all the factors line up. When there are no insects, famine, good rains, favorable sunshine we may see something.

When Jesus refers to the fields being ripe for harvest now, he is saying that the ‘what will be’ is encroaching into the ‘what is now’ aspect of time.

We have heard the plea that it is good to give peace a chance. What if we gave God a chance – an opportunity to do what only he can do in hearts. Think of the possibilities of his power. The key is for us to strive to see what he sees – to see how he sees. Just imagine the power of seeing others as he already sees them. They are either ready or well on their way to being ready. Regardless, he is up to something in every single life around us right now. Go to the store. Walk by dozens or hundreds. EVERY ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE is sacred geography that God is profoundly moving upon.

Guaranteed.

How can we know that for sure he is up to something big in their lives? They are alive!

That is, the continual bearing of fruit. There, fruit is either in full bloom or about to bear fruit continually.

Fruitful Is Dah Best!

When Jesus spoke of the fields being ripe unto harvest he spoke in the present continual tense. That is, the fields are ripe and they will continue to be ripe for harvest.

Jesus was speaking in reference to the age we call our lifetimes. We live in the time God has declared as both ‘Open Season’ and ‘Fruitful.’ We are fruitful because of his presence that rests upon us in an unimaginably strong, intimate way.

As a song sung by captives goes, ‘If it had not been for the Lord on our side, where would we be?’ This should be our constant meditation. We might finally realize we are people of insight and clarity only as we walk in His presence.

Only then we will stop making excuses—cease all our stabs at explaining fruitlessness being linked to God’s timing. The harvest is always around us, if we open our eyes and see it.