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So, What Do You Have?

Every one of us can be caught in a shortfall mentality. When we have undisciplined thoughts, we can free-wheel into the squalor of despair. 

The ancient story of Moses, his beginning and bargaining with God, speaks directly to, and parallels, our wallowing. In particular, the passage captured in the writings of Exodus 4:1-5 is my focus.

With a lifetime of coming up short, Moses has an encounter with God. He is eighty years old by this time. All he has left in the world is a shepherd’s staff, and God asks for that. The very last thing that Moses could lean on is asked for, “What is that in your hand?” (Vs. 2)

What captured my thoughts are not all the things that Moses didn’t have. Moses’ life had been virtually stripped bare. But, the question addressed the one thing he did have left, his shepherd’s staff.

We can commiserate all day over the things that we don’t have, the opportunities we should have received, how we came up short, the unfair, the slanted away-from-us world.  

But God asked Moses, ‘what do you have?”

This encounter with God kept Moses, who wanted to go down the ‘woe is me’ trail, focused on what he had, not what he didn’t.

Author, songwriter, performer, and completely blind Ken Madema captured this moment in a stellar 8:46 sec performance. (Link below)

The story of Moses, in its entirety, is a fantastic account of how God involved himself with the Jewish nation. So much so that some want to disregard it with regards to historical accuracy.

The Jewish nation, however, was meticulous with regards to their writings. The fabrication factor just isn’t there. It was written and preserved just as it happened. The Jewish nation regarded Moses as their greatest prophet. They had good reason.

Back to the point, the greatest prophet before he entered the palace to stand before the Pharaoh had to be there entirely in the strength that God provided.

So today, right at this moment, “What do you have in your hands?” What is the last thing you are leaning on for your identity, your worth, and your significance?

I wonder what miracle would happen if you were to give it to God?

https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=crmas&ei=UTF-8&p=ken+madema+moses#id=1&vid=ed7ddb39fd5a7e8a84fd55e74631721f&action=click

ASDP

I went to bed last night feeling like a jerk. 

I had made a broad-sweeping comment to my wife that wasn’t fair or even true. I just said it. After too long of silence, I did apologize, it was sincere, but I was left to go to sleep with my thoughts. 

The thought swirl began to do its work. Slowly, the thoughts started to compile, and I tried to out-sleep them. Eventually, they subsided, but they disturbed my sleep all night. 

Fortunately, as I woke, my thoughts had changed and were God-ward. Somehow my subconscious managed to get involved and began moving me in the right direction. It could be due to the years of practice of running to God, or it could be just grace. Or, maybe a combination of the two, I’m not sure. 

All of that being said, this scripture began to flow through my thoughts:

            “…To give them beauty for ashes,

            The oil of joy for mourning,

            The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

            That they may be called trees of righteousness,

            The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, NKJV)

The two-bolded parts particularly were catching my drift. “Beauty for ashes, thank you, God.” Garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, yes please.” 

Heaviness is precisely what had settled in my thoughts last night. The Bible identifies it as an actual spirit. 

There is a spirit of heaviness. This was not the first time I had encountered it, but this may have been the first time I quickly identified it and responded accordingly.

Without a whelming feeling, without any music, and without any other cues, I began to sing (out loud, but quietly, it was 3:00am) praise, what I know to be true about God, to him. 

You see, Isaiah identifies praise as a garment that you put on. 

There is nobody that hasn’t dressed appropriately for one occasion or another. It’s how we roll. Going out for dinner? We simply assess what is needed and dress appropriately. If we need shorts and a t-shirt, we put them on. If we need a coat, on it goes. Feeling chilled? A blanket will suffice. 

We don’t battle emotionally when it comes to getting dressed, well mostly, we don’t. We simply assess, select, and don. No big deal. 

So, when you encounter, and you will, a spirit of heaviness? Assess, Select, and Don Praise. 

Praise doesn’t need music, mood, or some other support structure. Praise just needs you. It just needs us to supply the truth about God’s goodness, from the scriptures, from our experience and vocalize it back to him.

Isn’t it time we got appropriately dressed? 

Do You Hear What I Hear?

My wife and I had the exciting privilege in July of 2015 to visit the House of the Virgin Mary in Izmir, better known to us as ancient Ephesus, Turkey.

Folklore has this house as the place where the Apostle John, following Jesus’ last words on the cross, took Jesus’ mother Mary to escape persecution. Legend places Mary there where she with John lived out their final days.

Outside the house, on the path back to the parking lot, was this wall with a place to place your prayer slip of paper. Many hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions over the years, took this opportunity to leave a request in hopes of receiving an answer, a blessing to their innermost prayer.

A couple of thousand years earlier, when Jesus was teaching, in one of his controversial moments, a woman called out of the crowd, “Your mom is so blessed to have you!” (Loosely paraphrased) In the cadence of the moment, Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28 NLT)

I think we’ve all had them, you know, the idea in our head that we can almost hear. It may have come in the voice of our parents, a teacher, a loved mentor. You may have caught yourself saying, “It was almost audible.”

What if God wants to use that medium to bless you?

Do you hear what I hear?

“But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

House of the Virgin Mary in Izmir, Turkey
Looking for Answered Prayer

The next 24 – Trajectory

“The next 24 hours is going to happen.”

I sat down to reflect and enter into my journal (I use Mel Robbins, 5-Second Journal as my template), and the thought dawned on me.

I am not sovereign, I can only control a few of the details coming my way, but I can decide how to face these next moments. I make my plans, but in reality, they are often subject to the flow of my day.

Trajectory, however, is in my control.

The trajectory is the point of the triangle, the ‘how’ I will look forward, the piece of the pie that I will consider, the attitude that I will choose, the angle of vision that I will allow myself to entertain.

The next 24 hours will happen. I get to decide the how.

Trajectory
You choose how you see

He Came For You

IMG_5845 2

God didn’t create this world or come to this world so that you could be part of an organization.

He came, ‘Immanuel-God with us,’ so that you could be part of him and his purpose for your life.

Organizations will come and go, but his life in you is what he died and rose again for; Easter.

He looked forward, with joy, to the cross, the most heinous of deaths, for one reason; you. You are the prize that he couldn’t wait to attain. It is you that he deeply wants to have in his proximity and relationship. It is your attention that he wants.

It is yours and my selfishness, stubborn, and prideful autonomy that put him in that ‘compromised’ position in the first place. He came to reconcile that. He paid that price. It cost him everything so that you and I could have unprecedented access to his very presence, to him.

It’s a big deal! It is called worship.

Then, when you meet someone else who has the same passion, focus and desire, its called fellowship, intimate bonding and relating; church. It is so beautiful, so meaningful and precious. It is the fellowship of ‘God with us.’

Don’t waste it on a structure, a system, a method, a building or denomination. He didn’t come for that.

He came for you!

Legacy

“Leave a legacy…Make an Impact…Change the World…” These are all power statements of this generation’s leadership.

Jesus captured these sentiments in the word that he used “fruitfulness.” You want to be fruitful, (Leave a legacy…Make an Impact…Change the World…”?) Here’s how. Through the pen of his good friend John, a first-hand, intimately close observer, Jesus’ words were recorded.

John recorded the benefits, but with a critical caveat, ‘you can’t do this on your own.’ In fact, ‘without this connectivity to Jesus, this direct personal connectivity, you can do nothing.’

John’s metaphor was that of a grapevine’s branch. The branch is just the conduit, the conductor, and a transfer-err of the source’s urge. The branch is not the life source; it only carries the source to the end result, the fruit.

My upbringing, my world-view, was to go and make an impact. Go where? Well, anywhere, but here. This view carried with it a sense of urgent, of purposeful, of grandiose and significant activity. It was always ‘over there,’ it always had a large, ‘one day’ component. Many people that I know did this. Some were successful. But, this mindset also carried with it the sense of ‘someone more skillful, more trained, more…anything more than myself should do this.’

John says, “No, no, no. You don’t get it. If you want to be fruitful, (Leave a legacy…Make an Impact…Change the World) get intimately connected, get properly adjusted, pruned, and let the life source, the love, flow through.”

This is everyone’s personal and private challenge. This is everyone’s call, responsibility and possibility.

What is the life source? Love, love from God. ‘Just the way you have been loved, love others.’

The result? MUCH fruit, (Leave a legacy…Make an Impact…Change the World) fruit that lasts, fruit that changes people and circumstances.

How do we know these words are true? John was there and gave first-hand written testimony; perhaps the closest account that we could have?

You don’t have to ‘wait for,’ ‘one day,’ ‘maybe.’ You can do this now. You can start today.

John recorded that Jesus said so. (John 15:1-17)

The Encounter. It’s My Fault!

“It’s me. Sir, it’s my fault. There is no one else to blame. I did it. Did you hear me, sir? It’s my fault!” 

These words pushed out of my mouth as I was being berated, at a very large volume, at a very close proximity, with coffee still on his breath, with many colourful words, on a very busy Vancouver street corner, with a whole lot of people looking on. He went up one side of me and down the other. I knew with ample awareness and bountiful description that we, I, had created a mess. 

I had committed the unpardonable sin by not delivering, on time, an entire job site’s paycheques on payday morning. This was long before Direct Deposit; in fact, this one occurrence may well be the reason for Direct Deposit. You’re welcome. 

Yah, I would have been mad at me too!

It was a simple mistake. No, it really was. I was supposed to deliver 711’s paycheques to their new location just under construction. The complicator? The job site was directly across the main intersection from the 711 store that was already there. I had delivered similar packages many times before. When I went to the store to give it to the person who’s name was on the parcel, the store attendant knew nothing of it and wouldn’t sign for it. 

The simple solution was to deliver it to the correct address right across the street. But, who needs an address when you have the name like 711 directly on the package? So the next best solution was to take it back to the depot and let it be reprocessed from there. Had it been for something of lesser importance, that might have been the correct procedure, but not for this, and not for this day. 

Then, to make matters worse, I finished my deliveries early, so I went for a leisurely lunch. My boss, who was almost unglued, rudely interrupted my solace when I got back to my truck. He required that I end my leisure immediately and deliver this package to the rightful owner, who would have had plenty of time to practice his communication skills. This was all done over the 2-way radio (before personal cell phones) with all my colleagues to hear. 

So, 2.5 hours past the intended delivery time, the encounter. 

Before this encounter, I had recently learned that when you make a mess, you have to own it. I didn’t realize then that I would be part of a practical exercise in this skill. 

It absolutely worked. When the construction boss finally heard me, he immediately calmed and then lamely apologized for his overreaction. We were good, my company was saved, and I learned a LIFE Lesson with far-reaching applications. 

When you screw-up, you have to own your stuff. 

“So, the first step to getting free from conflict and staying free is for us to come out of denial and correctly process our lives. We need to live transparent lives by owning our stuff, our actions.” (Sovdi, Philip. Path Out: Eliminate the Swirl (Page 12). Kindle Edition.)https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/

It’s Coming And It’s Going To Be Great!

Merry Christmas.

Too soon?

Not really, you’ve already been marketed to and possibly even brainwashed with brands and plans.

I think it was early August when I first witnessed that date locked and loaded. The crosshairs had you clearly in their sights. It was probably January 2nd when backroom, final plans were being made. The marketing machine has been ramping up ever since.

Before you even had a chance to pay off your last indulgence, they wanted more of your ‘interest’ and ‘investment.’ They always want more!

So, stop!

Do not give them one more year of indebtedness.

Make a choice to have a great Christmas without, (you can do this) the money you don’t have right now. They only want you to feel like you have a gun to your head. It isn’t actually there.

Make the change. Stop spending your tomorrow by living outside your means; the only way for you to get ahead.

Start modelling gratefulness and gratitude. Any package that opens, having been wrapped, brings surprise and wonder.

Have fun and wonder.

Your kids will love it and have fun when you lead the way.

Love your kids with what you have. Really. Stop trying to love them with what you don’t have.

Forget all the sayings, “Go big or go home. If you don’t get it now, you will miss out. There will never be another sale like this again.” Myriads of words have conditioned you, but they don’t have to any longer.

You can win this Christmas.

It is coming, and it is going to be great because you chose it to be so.

Incognito

I just put down the book, caught by a sidebar comment that I’m not sure the authour even intended to land. The authour, Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book, The Real You, talked about a conversation he had with his daughter, that she initiated when she was a young teenager. She caught herself gossiping about her friends with some regularity, and she came and talked to her father about it.

What caught my attention was the very fact that this daughter would have that conversation with her parents in the first place. The very fact she felt free to come and talk and expose her inner self, exposed my deceit. 

Conversely, I’ve learned to invite God. I’ve learned to invite, acknowledge Him in all my ways. I’ve learned to invite Him into my ‘good’ ways, that, I’ve always done. But, I’ve also learned to invite Him into my ‘struggling’ ways as well. I’ve even learned to invite Him into my ‘dark’ ways and my ways that have totally missed the mark. I’ve learned to be open, vulnerable with Him.

Maybe you are different, she was. But where I came from, that would have been covered and concealed. I would have dealt with that privately because real Christians don’t have those kinds of problems. Real Christians overcome. ‘Real Christians,’ I’ve discovered, often aren’t real Christians. I know I wasn’t. 

Like the authour’s daughter, I have open, honest conversation with my Father in Heaven. 

He knows anyway.

He is just waiting for us to uncover. 

The Joseph Document

The Joseph Document is a compilation of twenty blogs that I did in 2017 on the life and surrounding story of the historic Joseph found in Genesis, starting in chapter 37.

Other than the story of Jesus, there may not be a more impacting and compelling Bible story in my adult life than the story of Joseph.

The story is full of innocent naivety, family dysfunction, and betrayal, brutal and cruel captivity. It shows life’s underside and how even that works for a bigger plan when God is involved, and by the way, God is always involved if we dare to look.

So, take the time. Use this tool to lift you and inspire the drama in your life for good. I guarantee that Joseph will speak from the ancient pages of history and will return the hope that you thought was gone for good.

Without modern communication, social media, church attendance, and face-to-face friends, Joseph was able to preserve his faith and equilibrium.

You can too.

The Joseph Document