Heirs According to Promise, Part 2!

My previous post, “Heirs According to Promise (Part 1),” brought significant feedback to my inbox. I was not attempting to make the post open ended and leave people questioning if we (Mitri and our family) would be moving away from the town in which we were born and raised but it was purposed to cause introspective thought about how our comfort level affects our calling.

In most westernized culture retirement is the reward for hard work. We work 40, 50, 60 years to reach retirement which puts the choice of “what to do” in our own hands. We have seen those who are passive, decide to do nothing, stay home, pull the blinds shut and catch up on 40 years of missed TV episodes just because they have earned the honor of retirement. Then there are others who are active in another career, maybe going back to college, philanthropic or altruistic, focusing on using their life experience to benefit the younger and less fortunate. We will laugh at this analogy and say “I will be the active retiree,” but allow me this one question, are you already a passive retiree?

The following are questions that I asked myself about a year ago due to the challenge of one of my very close friends and mentor.

  • Have you resigned yourself to your current job being the top of your career?
  • Is your current ministry your calling or your comfort?
  • Have you lost your youthful vision due to the price, time and/or commitment to complete the task?

Are there conditions in your life that you just live with because they are easier than pressing on to your destiny and calling?

If your heart is fluttering, these questions cause your feathers to fluff, or you just know that the answer to one of these questions is “yes” then you may be the retiree with the blinds closed catching up on TV.

When Abram left his father’s land he was moving out of comfort into his vision and calling. He was blessed by God as he made his move out of comfort in the same way God wants to bless us when we step into the vision and calling on our lives. This does not always come in the form of a physical change of address but a decided change of heart that brings us to a place where we must search for answers we do not have.

If you are an executive in a successful business and have a calling as a missionary, take steps into your calling. Begin training your replacement.

If you are a mechanic with a calling from an early age to become a pastor, start taking college classes.

If you are a teacher looking to be a stay at home mom, begin budgeting in that direction.

If you have a failed career path return to the calling and vision you had at a young age.

The promise given to Abram was due to his faithfulness in moving out of comfort where he had most of the answers and into his calling where he had few answers which resulted in a blessed and prolific life.

A ship must set sail in order to steer and navigate, movement is key in navigation.

Where is your calling? Where is your vision that connects you to your calling? How is your current comfort affecting you?

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Heirs according to promise

Even though Abram (Abraham) was good and successful God promised him the unthinkable, “I will make you a great nation.” This promise is coupled with leaving his father’s house, leaving his place of provision, leaving a place that he was familiar with, leaving the place where he knew each and every Starbucks location, even leaving some favorable connections behind.
In Galatians Paul couples us to the same promise through divine inheritance.

This is one of the primary reasons Mitri and I ask God what He wants to do with us even when times are favorable.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NASB)

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29 NASB)

Without love our hands are empty and our words are hollow

I am not so short sighted to believe I have found THE keys to healing, the miraculous, or signs and wonders. What I do know and believe is that I have a relationship with my Father who wants me to learn His trades and pursue the gifts and desires He has planted in me. This relationship is based on trust and love so why should I try to have any relationships based on anything other than trust and love?

How quickly we are found out if someone senses our relationship is solely for personal gain.

 

In certain corporate settings when a check over a set amount ($1,000 – $5,000) is cut to pay for goods or services there is a requirement that the check be signed by two corporate officers. This helps eliminate the possibility of fraud. In a multi-billion dollar company the CEO can write a check for $10,000,000 and the funds are readily available but the disbursement check must have two signatures or else it is worthless.

Healing, miraculous, signs and wonders have the same requirement as a two signature check. For overwhelming miraculous results there must be more than a gifting, faith, word of knowledge, or prophetic word, there must be a  “second signature” to see the fruit. The second signature is always LOVE.

 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Cor 13:1-3

God intentionally put the chapter on love between two chapters on spiritual gifts to keep our focus on the two greatest commandments. LOVE God with all of your heart, soul and mind. LOVE your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:36-40) Without love even the best of intentions will bear little fruit at best. God wants us engaged with His heart of love FIRST then signs and wonders will follow. God is always attracted to compassion, we see Him working miraculously through Jesus’ compassion and compassion can not come without love.

 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. (Matt 14:14)

(continued from above) He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Matt 14:19b-21)

32 And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”… 36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. 38 And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Matt 15:32, 36-38)

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him. (Matt 20:34)

40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (Mark 1:40-42)

When I enter any situation in life my heart must be turned on by love, not being right, not making God look big, not what I can receive out of a situation but only LOVE. Without love our hands are empty and our words are hollow.

Am I still qualified? I sinned, I ________!

This is a very straight forward non-eloquent post. Maybe I will expand upon this at a later date…

It was one of those days I decided to be a hypocrite…The day before I had been talking about our relationship to God and how our response to his whispers dictate our walk with Him. The discussion was “How do we increase our recognition of God’s voice?” A simple explanation would be that we try to respond to everything we feel He is speaking to us (within the confines of Scripture). So the next day I am paying for my food at a sandwich shop and the lady behind the counter gets teary-eyed, obviously the Father was moving on her. The holy man that I am, I gave her an extra big tip and a smile since I was in a big hurry. As I walked out of the shop and climbed back in my truck the conversation with God went something like this, “You know I’m in a hurry, You know I barely have enough hours in my log book to finish the day, You know I’m tired…” I think you get the picture. Seven minutes later I was sorry, feeling regret and my conversation changed, “I’m sorry Father, I promise I love your Kids, I’m sorry I have failed, please give me another chance.” I know He forgives but I had a hard time shaking the missed God encounter.

Remember in the Old Testament when King David decided to stay home from his calling as a warrior then he invited Bathsheba up and slept with her. (2 Samuel 11) Between verses 4 and 5 there is about a two and a half month space, from conception to Bathsheba knowing for sure King David impregnated her. Then David confirmed his PHD in S.T.U.P.I.D and scared, he had her husband murdered in order to try and cover his tracks. When you try to cover sin with sin it just gets worse. 2 Samuel 11:27b “But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.” In 2 Samuel 12 God sends Nathan to open David’s eyes to his own sin…over a year after all this went down!!! David’s final response was repentance.

David grieved The Lord again in 1 Chronicles 21 when he takes a census to number the people. God afflicts Israel and David again repents.

My point in using these two Bible histories, King David was and is one of the most studied figures in the Bible due to his favor with God. We often overlook God’s grace upon him in the above circumstances. He was immoral, lied, and murdered yet had a repentant heart before God so God still used him. David went against many centuries of standards in Israel’s history when he numbered the people. When God confronted him, David repented and turned from his ways. God continued to bless King David because he was repentant.

If you repent, you change your mind and change your direction. Your mind changes about the sin you have been walking in and the joy of the sin becomes sorrow.  Your direction in life changes and you go from walking in opposition to walking in God’s blessing.

The next day after my busyness overcame my godliness I had another chance. A guard at an auction said he had hurt his back a few days before. He could only sit for about 20 mins and the pain became excruciating. I asked if I could pray for him. The guard being “born catholic”, not attending church or mass, said “yes, that would be cool.” As I prayed, God touched him with heat and healed his back to 80%. Over the next week he reported that he was 100% better.

“Nothing can Separate, Even when I run away…Your love never fails” (2010 Bethel Music)

Lust, immorality, murder, lying, and pride did not disqualify David due to his repentant heart. It had its ill effects. God restores the repentant.

I want to have a continually repentant heart.

All Creation

When most people complete a project they stand back and look at it observing and judging their success. When the finished product is beautiful, complete or functional there is a great sense of well-deserved pride and satisfaction. The problem comes when our art is defaced, our cake is toppled, our CD is tossed in the trash, the mechanism gets bent, etc. Our pride and satisfaction turn to sorrow. The disappointment sets in, we realize that there were people who did not value our creation.

Genesis 1: 31  God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

Do you value creation? Do you see the beauty in all creation? We have the God-given position to manage the earth and all that is within it; are we doing a good, great, or poor job? How am I maintaining my body, what am I feeding it? Some good, some bad. How am I raising my children? With a lot of thought and prayer. How am I stewarding my property? Oooh, not too good. How am I treating other people? Good, sometimes, when I feel like it :-/ Am I recycling? Not enough. Am I picking up trash from time to time when I’m out and about? I could do better. Have I trained my children to take care of their toys? Not really. Do I read and value the Bible? Yes. Have I trained my children to value the bible? Yes, but I could do a much better job. Am I active in environmental issues? Not nearly enough. Am I being intentional with my money? Now I am after being unintentional for a season. I could go on and on; we are supposed to be salt and light.

Matt 5: 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Am I adding good flavor to the world? What am I doing in my community that makes God look good and desirable? I have plenty of room for improvement but I will start with more recycling and cutting weeds on my property.

Setting Sail or Tied up at the Dock?

“You can’t steer a ship if it has not set sail”

“Tension builds strength”                               

As of late, both of these statements have been on my mind often coming in the form of “Do I pursue this new venture or do I continue with what is working now?”  Given there can be a combination of both, continuing with what works and pursuing a new venture. The question remains, are you invested deeply enough in your new venture to set sail with it? This is the tension that builds mental and spiritual strength. Are you setting sail in what you know is your calling or sitting happily in your comfortable current condition?

Some of Jesus’ disciples were good fishermen which meant they understood the ways of the sea, boat handling, and weather forecasting. They were not mumbling, bumbling idiots. These facts interest me since it is noted in scripture that they set sail and their boats and twice were nearly scuttled by the weather and waves. (Matt 14:22-33, Mark 4:45-41) In both instances they were sailing to their next calling, their next ministry destination, the next group of people they were assigned. They were going, setting sail, not sitting tied up at the docks. There was also work involved as well as fear that arose when the storms came and they were not near shore. Think about it, in those days there was no coast guard, no radios, probably no great flotation devices aboard. They were risking everything for the advancement of their calling, putting their money where their mouth was.

It was during these times they experienced the power of the miraculous with Jesus. Would they have seen Jesus walk on water had they not set sail and encountered a life threatening storm? (Matt 14) Would Peter have walked to Jesus on the water? Note that he did walk on water IN the storm when he kept his eyes on Jesus but when he looked at the surrounding circumstances he began to sink. Or what happened when Jesus was sleeping through the storm in Mark 4? Had they not set sail they would have never observed Jesus’ calm in the storm, his lack of worry to the point of sleeping and His rebuking of the storm when they woke Him up which brought calm waters.

In both scenarios the disciples set sail to their new callings. Both times they encountered trials, storms at sea far from rescue. And each time they encountered the storms they encountered the miraculous power of the Father through Jesus. Had they not pursued their calling and sailed away from comfort, they never would have seen the miraculous!

This begs the question, what have I avoided due to the cost and risk? What miraculous revelation have I missed not pursuing my next calling?

A Question About Wine

        A few weeks ago we were finishing dinner and as I poured the last drop of wine into my wife’s glass, our 5 year old son asked, “Why don’t you just turn our glasses of water into wine like Jesus did? You always say we want to do what Jesus did, so why don’t you turn water into wine?” Unfortunately I did not have a great answer; I explained how we continue to grow closer to God in order to know His ways and learn to hear his voice. The closer we get to God, the better we can hear Him, then we will do as He does.

      My son’s simple question caused me to dig into the Scriptures. It is interesting how John makes it clear that Jesus’ first miracle was changing water to good wine at the wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-11) What is even more interesting is that Jesus uses wine to signify his blood being shed for the new covenant. (Luke 22:20)  Jesus took spiritless water and made it spirit-filled wine at Cana. The wine first served at the wedding was made through the traditional manner and the physical work of men. The second wine was made through instant transformation, the water became spirit-filled and the wine was better than the first.

      In the Old Testament, animal sacrifice was the only way to remit sins. Priests had to be cleansed, blood had to be shed, sacrifice burnt, then there had to be a proper disposal of the remains. This was a necessary practice to forgive sins but it was temporary; the next sin meant another sacrifice must be made. Through all of this work, ONLY the priests who entered the Holy of Holies experienced the Spirit of God. All of the sacrifice was work through the hands of men.

So, when Jesus turned water into wine, he took what was used to cleanse the hands of priests in preparation for an offering and made it spirit-filled to be consumed, ingested. Jesus revealed a new covenant by taking the spiritless water and made spirit-filled wine. He ushered in the new covenant at the last supper when he took the spirit-filled wine and said “this is My blood.”  His Blood, the permanent forgiveness of sins, is the New Covenant which brings the Holy Spirit.

 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. –Matthew 26:27-28

Suddenly people had a chance to “walk with God” and to hear from God for themselves, just like Adam had in the garden. What was lost with the first sin in the Garden of Eden, the first sacrifice, the first blood shed, the first death that literally covered their naked sin, was regained upon the cross through God’s second sacrifice, His Son. First God sacrificed His beautiful creation to cover two people’s sin and last He sacrificed His Son to cover ALL sin.

The separation was over, the blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side and brought together the spiritless cleansing water, the spiritless blood, and God’s sacrifice to internalize the forgiveness of sins. No longer a covering or sprinkling, no longer a ritual, but now like Eden, an exchange and a relationship. In the same way Jesus internalized and personalized the 10 Commandments (Matt 5:21-23), God personalized the forgiveness of sin.The first covenant brought a covering of sin through animal sacrifice that was good but, the second covenant brought complete and permanent forgiveness that was better. In the wedding at Cana the first wine was processed by the hands of men and it was good but, the second wine at the wedding was better, it was miraculously and instantaneously transformed into spirit-filled water.

When Jesus instructed us to “do as I have done and expect to do more through the Holy Spirit,” (Jn 14:12-14) he was not teasing. Even though I may not turn water to wine, I expect Him to work through me in healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons, bringing hope practically and prophetically (and I’ll change water to wine if God so desires :^). These gifts are just as miraculous and transformational as changing water to wine. God’s love operating through us is as miraculously transformational as Jesus’ first miracle changing water into wine.

Blessing a Thousand Generations

Is this a week where you can’t wait for Friday to come? You need to do what it takes to get out of the office and get it done! Or, are you calculating what you need to accomplish so you have an easy Monday? Have you planned your vacation for the season? What job will you have in five years? Where will you retire? How are you preparing for retirement? Oooohhhhh long term…..!!! What are you setting up for your children, or your children’s children? That takes some planning! The question I am leading to is this, what are you doing that will influence your family and society for the next 500 or 1000years? We have been programmed to look at our end of life planning as long term planning. The really visionary people have an inheritance set up for their children. How many people have you met that consider the future in terms of millennia?

In the early 1500’s Pope Leo X was looking to raise funds for the renovation of Saint Peter’s Basillica in Rome. Albert, the Archbishop of Mainz in Germany, allowed Priest Johan Tetzel to sell indulgences throughout the German land. Archbishop Albert had gone deeply into debt to buy his position in the church, so he agreed to allow the sale of indulgences in his land  as long as a portion of the sales went to pay off the Archbishop’s debt. Sound like corruption?

Indulgences were much like carbon credits, if you purchased indulgences you were allowed to go sin at will. The larger the purchase price of the indulgence, the larger the sin forgiven!

Now enter Martin Luther and the 95 theses. His blood probably boiled at the thought of Johan Tetzel’s jingle, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory (into heaven) springs.” So Luther wrote 95 theses; one of which stated that only God could remit sins and guilt, not the Pope or any purchased indulgence. On October 31, 1517, he nailed the theses to the door of the The Castle Church in Wittenberg. (He also sent them out to a few bishops and friends.) By 1518 the theses had been translated and published which brought pressure upon Luther; he explained that he only wanted to address a problem and did not intend to “unhinge the papacy with the theses.” In the following years people were attracted to the “Lutheran” theology with it’s direct forgiveness of sin from the Father. They realized they no longer had to “go to confession” with a priest or buy indulgences for sin. This led to the Protestant Reformation.

Why did I go to this length to give you this snap shot in history? 500 years later we are still effected by Luther’s convictions and actions. Does your conviction drive you to action with a view that looks far, far into the future? If it does not, you may want to reconsider your views, beliefs, convictions, and future planning.

The 95 Theses

 [ http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/history/95theses.htm ]

Through the Gate

I knew I was right, my oldest brother had been heavily involved in offroad racing and I knew I had better information than Jesse (true name withheld). It was the early 90’s and I had been to a few races but I lived vicariously through my two eldest brothers’ experiences in off road endeavors. I felt like I had “inside knowledge” and more information than any of my friends. Jesse was an acquaintance, 2 years younger, in my metal shop class and his older brother raced offroad as well. He always spoke of his brother getting offers to drive with large race teams, the amazing opportunities to drive $500k vehicles, and offers of sponsorship through large vendors. I always argued these facts as being impossible due to his brother’s age yet, I tried to maintain the friendship at arm’s length just in case there was some truth to the tales. Two years later Jesse’s brother signed a one season contract to drive for a successful team and a big name sponsor. Two years after that he entered the ranks of NASCAR drivers. Wow, the tales were true.

Since I constantly argued my position with Jesse, figuring he was in err, and held him at arm’s length, a friendship never developed, only an acquaintance. I tried to build a friendship with him by reasoning, convincing his mind. This approach didn’t work too well for me.

Now 20 years down the road I realize the error in my ways, friendship is only entered through the heart with time and love.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. (John 10:1, 2 NASB)

I now realize that I will never win a true friend by “going over the gate”, reasoning and mental wrangling. I will never win a true friend by “sneaking through a window,” showing them what I have. I will never win a true friend by “tunneling under a wall,” telling them what they want to hear. The only way to experience true friendship is through building a voice in their life, through loving them where they are and as God sees them. They will learn to “know your voice” because you sit and listen, you have more concern for the relationship than being right. Then you can “go through the gate” to their heart.

The Jumping Off Point

Remember as a child when you jumped down your first set of stairs? Not just one step but you soared over two or three steps? I remember not having 100% success on the first try and 90% never cut it; 90% was always catching my heel on the edge of the last step and either face planting or tearing up my palms pretty good. My “jumping off of things” career did not begin here, I probably got a thrill as a child stepping off of a door sill. After that I most likely jumped off of a book. Then on from that I slid off of a couch, then my parents high bed which, prepared me for the task of jumping off of my first step. I could hear the music from “Chariots of Fire” and the crowd roared . . . . maybe the dogs wagged and my brother’s boom box was playing Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Either way it was an epic moment and an epic feat I was about to attempt. I soon made my first jump into the record book of 3 year olds. It was common sport, yet unpopular with the old people, to jump off the platform after church. The stairs at the entrance were equally exhilarating and, I think, equally annoying to the aging crowd.

I never moved on to jumping off of houses into pools until I was in my 30’s and my kids were expecting Dad to be just as brave as other men. I never continued into extreme sports and BASE jumping, life took over and pain didn’t seem as rewarding as it once had. I guess I was getting older. Once again I am at a place of jumping off the proverbial door sill . . . . blogging. The reason I am blogging is that about 8 months ago I jumped off a step that previously seemed too large to surmount. I had stuck with jumping off of the safe curb of ministry, leading a home group and praying for a few people. It was a comfortable jump, I knew it well, it was hard to get hurt and low risk. Little did I know this was all about to change.

I invited an itinerant minister to speak to our ministry team as well as help them recognize their giftings. He was one who functioned highly in the prophetic, healing, and teaching. After this meeting, something inspired me to ask this man if I could accompany him and see what was going on outside of Southern California. He said ‘Yes’ and I booked a trip to Dallas, Texas. Uh oh, I had stepped up onto a step that had some risk attached. With some butterflies in my stomach and feeling very inadequate, I made the trip to Texas. I jumped off . . . . and it was very rewarding. I found a new part of the calling God had on my life which made me seek the next step to jump off. I will spare you the details but now I am in a place where I feel as if I have jumped off a few single story buildings ready to face plant but, somehow, landed on my feet.

Just like the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:13-30, I want to be the one who invests and risks for a reward. Or to relate it to David when he took on Goliath, in 1 Samuel 17:36, David declares he has killed a bear and a lion, why should he fear this giant? I’m sure David started by killing rabbits for dinner then snakes, coyotes, wolves and so on, I doubt he just up and killed the bear with no skills.

You have been given a skill set and a gifting, you must invest it. Jump off the next step and see what is in store for your skills and giftings, they will grow to fight larger giants and reap larger rewards.