Monthly Archives: January 2014

Settler or Explorer!

imagesFaith is far more than trusting in God for your eternal salvation. Faith is the currency of the kingdom of God, the key asset for living a supernatural lifestyle. Which, after all, is the only lifestyle Jesus called us to live.

God is forming for himself a people of faith who are comfortable living more in the unseen world than in the tangible world. The unseen is just as real as the tangible, but without faith we cannot believe it, much less conceive it and walk in it. If we have to see it first with our eyes we will never reach the levels God has destined us to walk in. The paradox of the supernatural life: believing is seeing!

Most Christians are unbelieving believers. They are saved by grace but refuse to buy into the supernatural job description of what it means to be a Christian (a little Christ). Oh, we say we believe God can do what he says he will do (his promises) but we are terrified of stepping out into the unseen and proving it. We are not shy in talking about our faith. The problem arises when we are forced to demonstrate that level of faith. If we are unwilling to demonstrate what we say we believe, we really don’t believe what we say we believe.

Instead of pressing into God and pushing the boundaries of our beliefs to the extremes in our pursuit of fully realizing his promises, most have settled for far less than God guaranteed. We have become settlers. Settlers move into an area and occupy it. They build towns and live out their lives in fortified, secure settlements. They refuse to venture too far past the boundaries of what is considered safe, acceptable, and orthodox. They settle for what is rather than what might be or what God says is.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things no seen.” These things that are hoped for are the fulfillment of God’s promises not our own selfish hopes and dreams. In other words, faith is the title deed (the assurance) and the proof (the conviction) that his promises are ours even though we have not seen its fulfillment. Faith is making the journey to establish ownership and the process of exploring what you have been given—what is already yours.

Settlers don’t explore—settlers settle. God is seeking a people who will become explorers—men and women that will push the boundaries of what is known or deemed safe and acceptable. Explorers always believe there is more around the next turn or beyond the next hill. They have an insatiable hunger for more. They believe God has more, and thus they refuse to settle for less. Explorers exert their faith by taking one more step into the frontier—into the unknown—when everyone else decides to stop…and settle.

Faith grows as we hear and act on Christ’s words. Explorers act and pursue what they’ve heard, while settlers build monuments, museums, shrines, and stick brass plaques on what they’ve heard. Settlers never taste the supernatural lifestyle, but the supernatural becomes the natural life experience of an explorer.

Which one will you choose to be—an explorer or a settler?

Faith?

Faith is a word often talked about but rarely lived out. We listen to endless sermons, attend occasional conferences, and read countless books on this necessary element of living the Christ life, but are these things creating and building faith in God’s people? Has faith taken root in your life and are those roots growing deeper?

Faith is believing that God is who he says he is, that he will do what he says he will do, and then acting on those beliefs by stepping out and pursuing them with abandon. Faith is not some sort of ethereal, mystical concept we ponder deep within our minds. Faith is an active move of our collective spirit, soul, and body on the promise(s) of God. Faith acts!

Many of us claim to believe a host of things. We say we have faith in ______ (you fill in the blank). But we act on what we truly believe. Without an action, a dream does not become a deed, and a belief never turns into reality. James, the half-brother of Jesus, reminds us that faith without works—without action—is dead. If something is dead it no longer exists. It is gone—extinct—not there! We act on what we believe and all the rest is cheap talk.

Faith is not the result of perseverance or tenacity. None of us can work up faith—not even one iota. No, faith is a gift from God and has its genesis—its beginning—through a simple act of listening. The apostle Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 NASB). We listen to the word of God—the power and the faithfulness of God’s activity in the past and the power of his promises for our past, present, and future, and we step out in faith believing God will fulfill his promises. Faith is not the result of just hearing the word, faith is produced when we become doers of the word we heard.

Lack of faith is far more than wondering if God will come through in a specific situation. Ultimately it is a disbelief or unbelief in who God says he is. We don’t act in faith because we really don’t believe God is who he claims to be or that he can do everything he claims he can do. If we did—getting started would not be an issue. The problem would be holding us back!

Out of the Ashes

Out of the ashes of apparent failure success often arises. All of us fail from time to time. It is a necessary part of success. Thomas Edison failed a thousand of times before he discovered a scorched cotton thread made the best filament for an incandescent bulb and today we enjoy light at the flip of a switch. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He eventually went bankrupt five times before he built Disneyland, whose idea was rejected by the city of Anaheim because the city fathers felt it would do nothing but attract riffraff. Imagine that! One of Beethoven’s early music teachers called him “hopeless as a composer,” and yet he composed five of his greatest symphonies after going deaf. Failure is far more common than success.

Failure is where we learn the ropes, pay the price, and determine whether or not something is worth doing. Failure separates the genuine from the “wanna be’s.” Failure is the galvanized foundation that success builds on. There is no such thing as an instant or overnight success. Elvis Presley was fired from the Grand Ole Opry in 1954 after only one performance and told, “You ain’t going nowhere son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.” Although Van Gogh painted over 800 pictures during his life time, he only sold one to a family member for about fifty bucks. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

Failure is not a title we sow on our uniforms as we play out the game of life. Failure is the grass stains on our game jerseys from having been knocked down only to rise again. If you get up every time you will never be a failure. Jesus spent 3 ½ years pouring his life into twelve men and what happened? One sold him out for thirty pieces of silver, one denied him three times, and the other ten ran away and hid like cowards. The Roman government condemned him and executed him as an enemy of the state. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. At the end of that day, I’ll bet most everyone who knew him or knew of him thought, “What a failure!” But—three days later, out of the ashes of apparent failure Jesus arose, the ultimate success story and victor through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What about you? “Well, I’m not Jesus,” you might be thinking, but you’re still breathing! You’re not dead yet! Don’t give up your dreams! The same power that raised Jesus up from the dead lives in you and you belong to Jesus. Perhaps your nose is bloodied and your arms and legs are weak—get up anyway! Perhaps you are ready to give up. Don’t! Get up! Those ashes of what should of, would of, or could of been may just be the launching pad for a rising star. You will never know—unless you dust them off and stand up.

Determining Direction

2013 was a tough year. Not many things turned out like I thought they would. Doors closed, opportunities were missed, squandered, or lost, and what I thought or wished might happen—didn’t! At times it was discouraging and disheartening, but such is life. I choose not to live life looking in the rearview mirror worrying about what is done and past, rather I prefer anticipating the next opportunity quickly approaching—what is and what will be.

I have learned on this journey that things rarely turn out like I think they should. Perhaps my optimistic outlook is far too romantic, unrealistic, or just plain naïve. Reality and fantasy are often separated by the breadth of a hair. What may be a fantasy for you may be a reality for me and vice versa. It all depends on the moment, the person, and God’s sovereignty.

As I trek life’s pathway, I am learning to trust God. What I want and what he wants are sometimes diametrically opposed. At other times they are carbon copies with an alternate route I would not have chosen. God knows exactly what I need and is committed to making sure I receive those things. I, on the other hand, think I know what I want. Want and need are often two totally different things.

Many people spend their whole lives chasing what they want rather than experiencing the satisfaction and fulfillment of what they need. Many complain about what they missed rather than rejoicing in what they received. Therefore, I choose not to complain, but to contemplate. Where those things I missed really mine? If so, what could I have done differently? If not, thank you God for not allowing me to settle for less than your best.

2014 is unfolding just over the next hill and around the next curve. Lord, help me to embrace that which you have given me and allow  what you have put before me not to fade into the distance as I speed past it. Gain and loss are a part of life. The key is learning what to do with each.

God’s promise is that he works all things for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). That’s a promise not a proposal—a fixed truth not a fickle proverb. If one chooses to walk by faith rather than sight then those missed opportunities might have easily been head-on collisions we avoided rather than the big breaks we missed. Perhaps what disappointed and discouraged me in 2013 were really blessings in disguise—the grace-filled hand of God shielding me from disaster and turning something bad eventually into something good. Only time will tell!

The time has come to wipe the dust of 2013 off my glasses and gaze intently into the distant mist of 2014. I do have a choice—I can be expectant with anticipation for what the future holds or I can dread the unknown with fear and trepidation. That simple choice will ultimately determine whether I get what I need or miss what I want.