suit up

Ever heard a voice in your head tell you you’re not good enough? You’re not alone. And it isn’t just a voice – it is an enemy…our enemy.

“I am not just speaking metaphorically when I refer to the enemy accusing you. It may just feel like you’re speaking to yourself in your head. But this is the enemy’s deception: “I am not here. It’s just your struggles.” This feels so defeating. And indeed, deep in your heart, the shame and self-contempt you feel are like the attack of a roaring lion. You hide the lion’s roar because the enemy has convinced you that it is just you.” — Restoration Year, John Eldredge 

To understand the truth, we have to recognize we’re not hearing our own negative voice, but our greatest foe prowling around like a lion looking to devour us.This battle requires a daily commitment to fight back.

Invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth to you. In Romans 8:14-16, Paul affirms the Spirit will remind us whose we are. When our adversary suggests we aren’t good enough to belong to the Lord, it is a lie. If not, our enemy wouldn’t disguise himself as our own thoughts.

We need to know our pessimistic meditations are actually accusations offered from the Accuser (Revelation 12:10). Jesus refers to him as the father of lies…a liar (John 8:44).

So how do we combat such persistent, subtle attacks? We suit up!

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“Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” -- Ephesians 6:13-18

We are in a eternal struggle for the souls of men, women and children. Be clear about our opposition. The devil is clear about who he is and his objectives. We should deal with him by:

-       Putting on truth. Remember these accusations are from an enemy looking to destroy you. Find verses that remind you of the truth about who you are and who Your Heavenly Father is. Romans 5:2 indicates the penalty for our sins has been paid and we now can enter into the presence of the Lord.

-       Next putting on body armor of righteousness. Romans 5:1 tells us we have been made right with God; the enemy is powerless to change what God has done for us.

-       Wearing Peace as shoes; we walk in peace because of what Christ has done for us, we have peace with our Father, and in every situation.

-       Grabbing the shield of faith. Arrows of accusation will come, and your faith will protect you from every fiery arrow. 

-       Taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The more we know of His Word, the more clearly we see the truth which sets us free and we will see the devil’s lies for what they are.

-       Praying for our brothers and sisters, who are also under attack, and in need of our prayers.

When the doubts, fears and lies flood into your mind, remember we’re in a battle. Take heart! We will prevail because our Savior has overcome this world, death and our enemy. And until the day we see the final victory, suit up!

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little things

We’ve spent the last two weeks with this cute, mischievous, adorable, feisty and silly puppy. She’s not ours, but we’re taking care of her until Celia’s school auctions her to her new home. Some family is going to be so happy, and in way over their heads. And I’ll be heartbroken.

 Pippa has been a constant reminder to pay attention to little things. You know, little things like keeping a door to a carpeted area shut, if you pick up a faint, bad smell – search for it, there’s something there and watching your fingers when you reach out to pet her (sharp little teeth).

She has also given us great little things like puppy breath, wild & crazy energy, lots of laughs watching her explore with her little legs and big paws. When I think I can’t take anymore of her feistiness, the little one crashes and sleeps in my arms. 

Pippa has me thinking about little things. When we chase big things, we’re prone to miss the joy and life in little things.

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It’s easy to be consumed with big things; big impact, big reputations, big promises, big funds, big changes and big results. We’re told bigger is better; more stores – more money — more success. Big Mac, Home of the Whopper, Biggest Inventory in Central Texas, Best Payload, Whatasize and a million more – in fact, McDonald’s claims – over a billion served!  

Into this mindset of ours, we read the words of Jesus and our mind starts racing; multiplying for the sake of effectiveness.  

““I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” — John 14:12 NLT 

Yet, when we look at the life of Christ we see little things matter big. He went to the outcast woman at the well in Sychar. Not only was she a Samaritan, but she had a bad reputation. He dined with despised tax collectors rather than the religious elite. He walked into the lives of the sick, those cast aside in His day, touching and healing them.

Jesus fed over 10,000 with 5 loaves, and 2 fish, then He gathered all the leftovers, so nothing was wasted. He walked on water and brought dead people back to life. To top it all off, He was crucified, resurrected and appeared to as many as 500 of His followers.  After all of this, only 120 followed His instructions and waited for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. 

Can you imagine? Wouldn’t we determine that these results were a failure? At least we would think that this poor response needed a more effective strategy.

But, as Jesus promised, through the power of the Holy Spirit alive in those 120, the world has been and is being changed! The wonder of following Him is His Spirit directs us. He sees a much bigger picture than we do.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” — Ephesians 3:20 NLT

Haven’t you seen the big impact of little actions in your own life? 

In sales, it was attention to little things that often won or lost large deals. I recall missing a small measurement causing a big problem. I also remember selling something insignificant as the first step to cracking a competitive account.   

In ministry, I have seen the benefit of saying yes to little things. I’ve had great opportunities to care for those in our community by volunteering in our middle school office, filing tardy slips into student files. 

It takes the pressure off of us to not worry about results, but just do the next little thing the Lord places before us. With the Holy Spirit in us is we don’t have to know all the answers, we can just be obedient.

Saying yes to something small might just land a puppy in your house, too! I know this, little things bring big joy, peace, and life. 

““If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” — ‭‭Luke‬ ‭16:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN – an 11 week study

Here we go again! Many of you participated in our study in the fall, and we are launching our spring study this Sunday. I would like for you to consider making this a part of your daily routine, for the next 11 weeks.

My desire in writing this study is simple. I want to see us, as a church, come to know more of Jesus Christ. I believe this happens best when we spend time with Him, in His Word, and discussing what we have read together, working out how we can apply it to our lives.

We identify as Christians, and this means all kinds of things in our culture. Being called a Christian may indicate to some the type of life you lead, how you vote, and to others it will mean you think you’re better than them or you hold to a strict set of values they don’t share.

However, the pure meaning of Christian is simply one who follows Christ. And if we say we follow Him, it is important for us to know all about Him, understanding what He did and said when He was here on earth. Much of this study will be spent reading stories about Jesus, considering what He did and who He is.

John is the fourth of the Gospels. The others (Matthew, Mark & Luke) are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels. They follow a similar format, describing the life of Jesus, focusing on what Jesus did. John’s focus is different; he wants us to know who Jesus is. His purpose is described well in John 20:31 — “But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.”

So let me invite you on this adventure. If you believe in Christ already, you know time spent in His Word will increase your understanding and love of our Savior. And if you’re not sure about Jesus, this study will help you gain a better understanding of how much He loves you, and the lengths to which He has gone to have a relationship with you.

Each day, I will provide a verse or quote, to help us focus on the reality of heaven, and allow the Lord to begin to speak to us. It will be followed by the Scripture reading for the day, and questions to help process what we’re reading. Let me encourage you to spend this time, seeking not just to learn more about Christ, but to know Him.

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We will hand out these studies at church each week, beginning Sunday, January 20th, and our groups will start meeting to discuss them the week of January 27th. If you’re not a part of a group, I’d love for you to join one. If you’re not at church, you can download a study, or follow along online. Resources for finding a group or downloading the study can be found at this link (www.acfnorthwest.org/john).

My hope and prayer is that you will not only learn more about Jesus in the next 11 weeks, but you will meet with Him. I’m confident He is waiting to meet with you, as you spend time in His Word!

Victory

This Christmas break I watched Miracle again, about the incredible 1980 US Olympic hockey team. I remembered how thrilling it was at the time, when Russia, our common enemy, was finally defeated. This victory that stirs my heart, pales in comparison to the victory ahead of us.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore…” — ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭20:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Do you see how easy this will be? The one who has deceived, killed and destroyed us all through the ages, will just be seized, bound and locked into a bottomless pit. Over & done.

A few days ago, I finally finished my plan for 2018, to read through the New Testament. Two thoughts continued to persist, as I slowly read through Revelation over the last couple of weeks.

- Jesus is coming back. It will happen!

- The thing I can’t wait to see, our world without evil and without the presence of an enemy, will happen in a moment.

When he is finally thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10), we will see a new heaven and a new earth descend. And we will be with the Lord forever.

He will make all things new. All things.

Our bodies, lives, minds previously taken apart by sin, disease, addictions, fears and worries will all be made new. Relationships destroyed by tragic deaths, divorce, and every other evil force will be restored. Victory!

His word declares no more pain, no more goodbyes and no more tears.

We will see the Lord. We will not need the sun, because His presence will illuminate everything. If you haven’t read Revelation, read it! If you don’t want to read the whole book, read chapters 19-22. The news isn’t just good – it is the most incredible victory to the most epic battle.

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As I rewatched Miracle, my heart soared  and my eyes filled with tears. Well,  maybe they were only a little watery as I listened to Herb Brooks speech (performed by Kurt Russell – how the heck did he not get an Oscar for this?). Before they skate against the Russians, on the way to a gold medal, he tells his team,

“You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. Their time is over. It’s done.”

Friends, we were made to live in victory, in the presence of our Lord. Life started in a garden, but because of the grace of our Lord our final destination is His new city, where we will live in more blessing than we will ever be able to fully exhaust or absorb, for ever and ever and ever.

Doesn’t it give you an overwhelming hope to know this will happen? Jesus is coming for us, and He will defeat our enemy.

What about right now? Well, you should know that the One who will make all these things happen lives in us.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.”— Romans‬ ‭8:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬

We will rejoice in the great victory coming, but we can have victory right now, too!

Remember our enemy who seems so formidable, will just be seized and thrown into a bottomless pit, and then a fiery lake, to be no more. When we face trials and temptations, let’s not forget the One who will conquer our enemy, is alive in us.

And like the guys on that team were born to play hockey, you were born for victory. Every one of you. This is your time.

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trust the process

An unlikely invite opened the door for me to spend this season with the Anderson Trojan football team. Coach Daniel Hunter asked me to serve as team chaplain. He wanted the team to see a man in their community invest time with them, without any expectation in return.

So, I attended practices, led a devotional each week, and was on the sideline for the games. If you know me, you know I loved this season with Coach Hunter, his staff and the team. 

 All of these great pictures provided by Philip Swann.

All of these great pictures provided by Philip Swann.

The Trojans were coming off a 1-9 record in 2017, and the seniors had seen their school post an 8-23 record, since they’ve been at Anderson. This was Daniel’s first year as head coach. He and his staff were focused on the mission of starting a new culture. 

My role allowed me to just be with the team, to encourage them, laugh with them and cheer them on week after week. My goal was simple. I wanted to be sure they knew how God feels about each one of us. It was a crazy, great opportunity to share these simple truths with them: 

-      There is a God, and He isn’t out to get us 

-      In fact, He is for us!

-      He cares about us & all the details of our lives

-      He will come to us, in the midst of our mess, just as we are

-      God loves each & every one of us 

I had a front row seat to see a coaching staff turn a group of young men into a team. This 2018 Trojan team, with the help of their coaches, started a new culture. They competed in every game this season. They won 5 and lost 5, but they learned way more than can be measured in wins and losses.  

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Several times this season I heard Coach Hunter tell the team to “trust the process.” So many things are happening at once in a football game. It’s easy to be confused or overwhelmed. Over and over again, the coaches told the boys to simply “do your job.” 

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The team quit worrying about how they were going to beat teams they hadn’t beat before and they focused on blocking or tackling the one person in front of them. The game got smaller, and it wasn’t so overwhelming.

The same is true for us! We know God’s ways and thoughts are greater than our own, but we’re still prone to be anxious and worry about how all the details will come together. The good news is we can trust our Heavenly Father with our lives, our circumstances, and those we hold dear.

 Like this team, we can trust the process:

-      God is at work, in us and in our circumstances; “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” – Philippians 2:13 

-      We each have a significant role to play; “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7

-      He takes our little role and orchestrates something with greater purpose; “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10

-      Trust requires faith, and faith requires believing to see; “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” – Hebrews 11:6

Like this team trusted Coach Hunter and his staff, we can trust our Heavenly Father. Our focus can become small as we love the person He brings before us. We don’t have to change the world, we only have to be faithful to the nudge the Lord gives us today. 

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Your circumstances may seem overwhelming. I saw this staff and team start a new culture. God can do new things in each one of our lives, however unlikely, if we will just trust Him and His process.

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Holy Ground at 14,000 Feet

I was blessed this summer to successfully summit four 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado.  Not a bad effort for having had a full knee replacement in March.  I’ve been chasing the goal of climbing all 58 Colorado 14ers since 2005, and I got my 50th this summer.  I hope to finish in the next two years.

I reached my last summit of the summer in late August.  I was outside of Telluride on a mountain called Sneffels. Mt. Sneffels is a wonderful mountain that’s part of the gorgeous San Juan range.  Its short hiking distance and proximity to Telluride make it a popular trek for climbers of all skill levels.  Sneffels packs just enough punch to make it interesting, but not so much as to chase off first-timers.

I camped alone just below timberline and was planning to start at 4 A.M.  Around 3 A.M. a thunderstorm rolled through which delayed my start.  It also left a thick layer of clouds on the mountain.

I got going about 4:30 A.M. and I could immediately tell it was going to be an interesting day.  I’m used to hiking under a starlit sky, but not today.  All I had was a gusty cold wind and a dark, thick cloud cover.  As dawn approached I could tell that the cathedral of towering peaks above me were all shrouded in clouds.  The higher I got, the thicker the clouds became.

When I reached the summit, I couldn’t see anything below me.  While my summit perch was clear, a thick layer of clouds below and around me blocked any potential view of the valley below and the other surrounding peaks.

I was surveying my surroundings and the disappointing lack of view when I saw it: below me on a cloud was the shadow of the mountain I was on.  There, just a few hundred feet or so below me, was the imposing black shadow of Mt. Sneffels, not on the ground, but on a cloud.

The sun was above and behind me and was projecting the mountain’s shadow onto the clouds below.

Mt. Sneffels’ summit is very pointy, and thus I could see on the cloudy shadow below exactly where I was standing on the summit.  I waved my arms and sure enough, I could see my own shadow on the tip-top of the mountain’s shadow below me.

That was a weird moment.  When was the last time you saw your shadow on a cloud?  Crazy, right?

But here’s the clincher: My reflection on the cloud below me was surrounded by a rainbow.  It was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever had on a mountain summit.  There I was, all alone on a cold and windswept mountain summit, staring at my rainbow-protected shadow on the clouds below me.

That’s not something you see every day!

I quickly grabbed my phone and snapped the picture below.  You can clearly see the dark, pointy shadow of Mt. Sneffels in the lower part of the pic.  The bright spot on the top is the reflection of where I was standing.  There is nothing solid or material in the photo at all.  It’s just all clouds, shadow and light.

I’ve shared this story and the photo multiple times with friends and fellow climbers.  All agree that what I saw and experienced was highly unusual and very, very cool.  Others take a more spiritual tone.  I’ve heard many comments like:

  • Wow, what a gift God gave you
  • You clearly weren’t alone up there
  • You were obviously standing on holy ground
  • And…It’s proof God is always looking out for your sorry @$$

My takeaway? God is totally, bad-to-the-bone awesome.

I welcome your insights.

stagger not

“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God…” – Romans 4:20 KJV 

On April 11th, 1970 the Apollo 13 mission took off from the Kennedy Space Center. Two days later, after one of the engineers in the Houston control room noticed a low-pressure signal, Jack Swigert executed a “cryo stir” designed to stir the tanks, in hopes of resolving the poor pressure reading. 

Immediately, the oxygen tanks in the command module caught fire and the spacecraft began to shake. Jack Swigert made his famous comment, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Gene Kranz, the flight director for Apollo 13, pulled engineers and astronauts together to solve several insurmountable problems which should have led to NASA losing 3 astronauts. 

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Kranz’s belief challenged those on the ground to do whatever was necessary to get the astronauts home. Ed Harris played Gene Kranz, in motion picture “Apollo 13.” The film portrayed a scene where one engineer speaking to another lists the problems they’re facing: suspect parachute system, questionable heat shield, poor angle of trajectory and to top it all off, a potential typhoon in the landing zone. 

As he relays this bad news to the other engineer, the other engineer agrees this could be the worst disaster in the history of NASA. Gene Kranz overhears them, and says, “With all due respect sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.” 

It was his belief that drove the mission control team to succeed.

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Stanford recently completed a study which suggests negative thoughts and complaining raises our level of cortisol, causing higher blood pressure and stress, which adversely affect our body. Conversely, gratitude is noted to reduce the level of cortisol, and lower our blood pressure, along with several other health benefits. 

It does not surprise me that God made our bodies to function better when we believe. Well, what can we positively believe in that will hold up to the crushing pressure of our times? 

Abram, who God renamed Abraham, is the spiritual father of those who have faith. God promised He would make Abram the father of many nations. Abram was 75 with a wife just as old and no child, when God made this promise. He asked Abram to leave his family home and go to a land He would show him. Abram and Sarai went.

He trusted the Lord to deliver on all He had promised. Abram did not look to his circumstances, but to the One who promised. Abram made mistakes. Eleven years later, he and Sarai wondered if God had forgotten His promise to them, since she had not had a child. She suggested Abram sleep with her servant Hagar, so they could have a child, and he did.  

While Ishmael was not God’s plan to fulfill His promise, God still remained faithful to Abram. The Lord again confirmed His covenant. When Abram was 100, God provided Isaac, 25 years after He made His promise. Through Isaac, the Lord began to deliver on His promise.

Isn’t it incredible that though Abram made mistakes, Romans 4:20 (NLT) describes him as man who “never wavered in believing God’s promise?” He and Sarai were not perfect, but they followed God; they were obedient, and continued to trust God to do what they could not see. And God took Abram’s faith and made him the father of all who believe (Romans 4:16).

“But his unstaggering faith arose from his great thoughts of Him who had promised. He kept saying to himself, He is able, He is able. …For every look at your difficulties, take ten at what thy God is.” – F. B. Meyer 

So, in our super busy world, against overwhelming circumstances, we can always look to our Heavenly Father, and believe He will deliver on all of His promises. Here are a few of those promises: 

-      His Presence – Psalm 16:8 & Matthew 28:20

-      His Peace – Philippians 4:6-7 & John 14:27

-      His Provision – Psalm 23:1 & Matthew 6:33

-      Our Right Standing with Him – 2 Corinthians 5:21

-      Our Future with Him: - John 14:3  

Do you believe? He is able; stagger not.

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How You Can KNOW You’re Going to Heaven

Susie and I had dinner with some long-time friends last week. As we neared the end of the evening one of them commented, “This is so good. Just think how great Heaven will be (If I get there).”

We all quickly countered our friend’s comment by assuring her she’d be in Heaven. She wrote off her comment to her “Catholic guilt.”

Guilt notwithstanding, I found her comment a little troubling. I wasn’t troubled so much for my friend, as she is a godly woman and a decades-long follower of Jesus. She knows her eternity is secure. But it troubled me for many other Christ-followers who still struggle with the question of their eternal destiny.

The Bible pulls no punches on this topic. As God’s children, we are supposed to rest assured in the fact that Heaven is our home and that Jesus is coming to get us. 1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So, let’s talk about it. Let me list ten things (I could list dozens more) that are true about you if you’re a Christian:

  • You’ve been born again (or born from above). Jesus also called this second birth being “born of the Spirit,” John 3:1-8. It’s a gift of God, and it’s irreversible.
  • You’ve been sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit, Eph 1:13-14. He basically seals you as his property, his prized possession.
  • You’ve been adopted as God’s son or daughter, Rom 8:15. Paul based his theology of adoption on Roman culture. It was a permanent act that gave full benefits and rights of the family to the adoptee.
  • Your spirit has been made eternally alive, Eph 2:1-5. Your eternal life begins the moment the eternal Holy Spirit takes possession of you.
  • You’ve been saved by God’s grace, which means you didn’t earn it. It’s a free gift, Eph 2:8-9. Do the math, if you can’t earn it you can’t lose it.
  • You’re seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms, Eph 2:6. You’ve got a seat at his table, and he won’t give it away.
  • You’ve been forgiven of all your sins, Col 2:13. God’s forgiveness makes you holy, and thus qualified for Heaven.
  • You’ve been washed and made holy by Jesus’ blood, 1 Cor 6:11. What God declares holy, no man can make unholy.
  • Jesus is preparing a place (house) for you in Heaven, John 14:1-3. And, he’ll come and get you when it’s ready.
  • You’re a completely new creation, 2 Cor 5:17. A new creation with a new identity and a citizenship in Heaven.

With all of this going for us, how can we ever doubt that our eternity is secure?

Friend, get used to the biblical truth that your salvation is based on the eternal love and work of Jesus and not on any merits of your own. Once you cross the line of feeling like you need to earn God’s love and favor, accepting it for free (and the Heaven that comes with it) will be much easier for you.

Does that help? I’ll say more about this in future entries.

Living in the Land of Ambiguity

There stood Abram. He was established, rich, settled and very comfortable in his homeland of Ur. God stepped into all that comfort and wealth and basically said, “Let’s go.”

More specifically, he said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you,” (Gen 12:1).

That’s not really a lot to go on. Imagine Abram trying to sell that to Sarah:

Abe: Honey, how do you feel about us moving?

Sarah: I’m not sure. To where?

Abe: I’m not sure, but God promised it’ll be really good.

Sarah: Wait. What?

Welcome to the adventure of following God. 

God’s interaction with Abraham isn’t unusual. The Bible has multiple accounts of God’s people being invited to follow him without having all the information. Think about the countless times in forty years the cloud over the Tabernacle moved and the Israelites picked up and followed it. Not once did God say where they were going, when they would arrive or how long they would be there.

When God called Susie and me to return to our hometown of Austin and start ACF, we didn’t get a lot of details. We felt the divine call of God, we sensed God’s promise of provision, but that was about it. We made a major life-altering and career-changing decision based on the little information we had from God.

It was a complete step of faith, and that’s exactly how God wanted it. 

If you’re walking with Jesus, you have to be prepared to live in the land of ambiguity. There’s no getting around it. Walking by faith, by its very nature, involves living with the vague.

God isn’t being mean or mischievous by withholding some of the details. Rather, there are Kingdom purposes in his methods. Here are just a few things God uses ambiguity to accomplish:

  1. It makes faith relational. God leads us through relationship. When you’re seeking your next steps in something, you have to press into him. You have to seek him. God told Israel to march around a city only one time–at Jericho. Every other city they took required a different strategy. And that required relationship.
  2. It keeps us from running ahead. Were God to give us the full download up front, we’d be tempted to skip some steps and run to the end. But in following Jesus, how you get somewhere is as important as getting there. The methods matter. God allows the ambiguous sometimes, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves, or him.
  3. It allows for God’s power. When we have to wait on God, we’re much more positioned to receive his miraculous provision. God waited to give Abraham and Sarah the son he had promised until it was humanly possible for them. That way his power would be obvious and he would get all the credit. Don’t fear when God’s plan appears to be ambiguous. Ambiguity is the breeding ground for the miraculous.

Sometimes following the Lord is like ordering from a restaurant menu that simply says “Food”. You know you’re getting something, you’re just not sure what. Don’t fret in the process and don’t panic when you don’t have all the details and can’t answer all the questions.

You don’t have to know everything.  Just trust that the one who does is good.

The Role of Faith in Knowing God

If you struggle with faith, this may encourage you.

People having to walk by faith was not part of God’s original plan. Adam and Eve, the original humans, had full access to God. They could see him, talk to him, walk with him. Their relationship was based on loving obedience to him.

Because they could see him, they didn’t need faith. The very nature of faith is believing in what you cannot see, in what you cannot prove. The original humans didn’t need a belief system–they had sight instead.

Genesis 3 changed all that. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost that wonderful and innocent access to God they had so taken for granted. Because they became sin-stained, they couldn’t be in God’s unfiltered presence.

Compare the scene in Exodus 19, when the Israelites were terrified of God’s flaming and thundering presence on the mountain, to the “walking with God in the cool of the day” access that Adam and Eve had known. The difference? Sin.

In a sight-based environment, faith isn’t required. Just obedience. That’s how God’s followers who could see and know him demonstrated their love–they did what he said.

But in a sin-based environment, one where God cannot be seen and access to him has been lost, faith is the most critical ingredient. Faith even precedes obedience in importance, because we don’t even know that we need to obey God until we believe in him.

Thus, in the Genesis 3 world, the world where everything is contaminated by sin, faith is the most powerful tool a person can have. Faith bridges the gap between the perfect worlds of Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22. Faith wasn’t necessary in the pre-sin world and it won’t be necessary in the post-sin world either. We won’t need faith in Heaven. Yea God.

But today, in the sin-filled world where access to God is by grace only, faith is everything. That’s why the writer of Hebrews told us that without faith it’s impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). We may not be able to see or prove God, but he still expects us to believe.

Pray for your faith level. Pray for God to deepen your understanding of him and his holy, mysterious ways. Pray for the courage to walk by faith. Read God’s Word so you can learn more about him.

And then, do whatever God tells you to do. Obedience is still the best way to grow your faith and to show your love for God.