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A Matter of Perspective

sw2004_2_06aEvery so often, I feel a little out of place or disjointed. I wonder if I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to do. At first, scrolling through the articles of my fellow partners didn’t help. There are several articles concerning leadership. While those are helpful to an employer, a pastor or even a deacon, what about the rest of us? You can find articles, news, seminars, self-help books or even take classes on how to lead. But what about how to follow? More importantly, what about how to follow non-Christian leaders?

In order to provide for our families, we work more hours or more jobs. We spend more time at work or looking for work knowing good and well our family needs the husband and father around more. But something occurred to me a while ago; the large company I work for doesn’t want me working more. In fact, the company doesn’t want me at all. If they could automate my job today and let me go – they would. I have worked there for seventeen years and they see me as a liability, not an asset.

Now I know the general biblical response to such feelings or situations; we treat those around us the way we would like to be treated. We respect the authority set over us. We try to be a light in the workplace so those non-Christians will hopefully see Christ in us. But that brought me to another problem. I read and/or study my Bible or meditate on a scripture daily in order to help me lead my family. From Genesis on, there is an amazing theme happening through the Bible – God is sovereign. He cannot be stopped. His plans cannot be thwarted. Even when the fathers of Israel didn’t have enough faith, enough courage, or enough brains, God still achieved His eternal plan. That made me realize something else entirely; God doesn’t need me. If He worked around the saints of old, then His will is still going to be done today, with or without me.

I stewed on these thoughts for a few days and then posed a question to a dear friend: If you spend the majority of your day working and reading/studying the Bible so you can provide for and lead your family, what are you left with when you realize you work for a company that doesn’t want you and serve a God that doesn’t need you?

Remember when I said God can’t be thwarted?

Through my friend, God gently twisted my perspective. The truth of the matter is – I was right. God doesn’t need me at all. In the grand scheme of His plan and the universe He created, I am a grain of sand. He will reclaim what is His. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and there will be a new Heaven and new Earth. And God doesn’t need me for one bit of it. But He wants me to be there to see it! You see, this grain of sand means something to its Creator. In the vastness of all the stars, moons, and planets of the universe, God named a grain of sand. In Jeremiah 29:11, He says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. He doesn’t need me – – He wants me! The thought of being separated from His Creation, even the sand, bothered Him. So much so, that He sent His Son to pay our ransom for sin and bring us home. He wants every last one of us.

As for the company I work for, I was right about that too. They don’t want me at all. But they need me. For seventeen years, I have honed my skills to do the best job I can. They are working as we speak at automating my job, and they will…eventually. But God has this grain of sand right where He wants me. 1Corinthians 15:58 says, Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Out of love, I was created. By faith in Jesus Christ, I was saved. By grace, I am wanted by the King of Kings.

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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What’s in a Boat Anyway?

Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing.  They say unto him, we also go with thee.  They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.  But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat?  They answered him, no.  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye will find.  They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord.  Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.  And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.  John 21:3-8

ontheshoreHave you ever done something as a pure reaction? With little or no thought, you simply react.  This is the third time we find Simon Peter in a boat.  In Luke 5: 4 and 5, there was no reaction, just the obedience, “Nevertheless at thy word,” before he is called to follow Christ.  In Matthew 14: 24-31, we witness Simon Peter’s moment of unbelievable faith with, “Lord if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water,” that allowed him to walk on water toward Jesus.  Now in chapter 21 of John, Jesus has been crucified and resurrected.  He has appeared to the disciples twice so they know he is alive.  There would have been no surprise.  So what would make Peter react in such a way?  When John said it was the Lord, there was little to no thought.  He forgot the fish in the net.  He paid no attention to what the others were doing.  He grabbed his coat, jumped out of the boat and swam the hundred yards to shore.  Why?

I think it had something to do with his journey.  We often talk about people who are too focused on something as having blinders on.  They can see nothing but their target, whether it’s good or bad.  Peter obeyed and followed a teacher.  He later realized Jesus was the Son of God.  Now Christ had been crucified, buried and resurrected.  And there, I believe, lies one point of this Scripture; after everything Simon Peter had experienced, witnessed and heard since becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, what else could stir him to the point of pure reaction except the glory of the risen Lord?

Too often throughout our day, our focus is on everything except Christ.  Our days are so filled at times it can almost seem to minimize our risen Lord.  So I will pose the question – What are you focused on?  What would merit such a reaction and cause you to jump out of your boat?

Article by C.S. Depew

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Greater Things

metamorphosis-monarch-butterflyChange is uncomfortable.  Transitions aren’t usually enjoyable – but they are absolutely necessary … if we intend on growing.  Passing the baton, moving from one stage to another, rising to another level, turning the page into a new chapter.  These are all metaphors we use to describe transitions.

Certain seasons are more wondrous than others… but the season of transition isn’t generally one of them.  As many of you know, I’ve been in transition mode for the last few months (read more).  My family-life looks very different, we have changed addresses, we travel different paths, and we work different jobs.  A lot has changed in the last few months which is probably why Phillip Phillips’ Home (listen here) resonated with me the first time I heard it:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Not only is the Lord using this transition to grow Joy and I – but he is also using this to help others through us as He teaches us the principles of transition… (from Numbers 27:18-23). We are learning of “Greater Things” that Christ referred to in John 14.

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Greater Things begin with the Word of God

You can call it what you want: a prompting, a calling, a gut-feeling, a burden, a ‘spirit’ – just be sure that your move begins with God’s will and not your own.  God is sovereign and His choices should and must supersede yours.  Affirm that your decision to move – or that the transition that you’re in – is based upon truth – because it’s only the truth that truly transforms (Romans 12:1-2).

Faith is taking the first step – the next step –
without knowing where the rests of the steps will take you.

Duncan Campbell’s account of the Lewis Awakening has always challenged me to be a better listener of God’s still, small voice.  In recent years, Mark Batterson’s Wild Goose Chase has done much the same to stir my heart to the grand adventure of truly trusting Christ with audacious faith.

Greater Things come when we follow a Biblical process

We can’t circumvent the system. There are no shortcuts to following God.  For example, Jesus was clear about discipleship: Take up your cross, deny yourself, forsake this world, and follow Him.  Even though I’m way out of my routine and habits, I can’t neglect those spiritual disciplines that brought me this far: Scripture reading and meditation, prayer, faithful worship in church, being a good steward, sharing my faith with others… It does no good to try to cheat the transition [waiting] process.  It takes time – that’s part of it. In fact, that’s not just part of it – that’s it… Slow down and allow your heart to connect more fully to His.  So be patient and stick it out.  Right now, I’m preaching to myself.  I’m still up in the air, literally, in a holding pattern.  We’ve lifted off by faith and left our comfortable place of 14 years.  It’s a daily process of crying out to the Lord to take care of us and not let us fall flat on our faces.  And in the midst of this painful process, I’m still amazed at how easily I’m distracted from my spiritual quests.

Greater Things happen in the Presence of God

As the great general, Joshua, was about to nervously lead Israel into victory (although he didn’t know the end of the story yet), God gave him the greatest promise a leader could have:

Be strong and of a good courage;
be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the Lord thy God is with thee…  Joshua 1:9

Joshua would have the courage and zeal that Moses never had.  He would experience opportunities Moses was never afforded, because He trusted in the presence of God like Moses never could.  I need the presence of the Lord in order to have this kind of courage.  I know better than to trust in my self (been there, done that).  Christ’s presence in us – as believers – makes it possible for us to see and experience Greater Things.  He planted the seed, and now we get to see it blossom and bear fruit.  He hid the yeast in the dough, and now we get to see it rise… In this difficult transition, yet with great expectation, I look ahead, confident that He which began the good work in me will keep completing it until the day He calls me home!  [Phil. 1:6]

Article by Patrick Nix

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The Valley

depression_by_thirsty5As I have been sitting these past few weeks thinking about the next verse my heart has struggled with how God would want this post to go. I know what my trips through the valley have been like. Each individual faces a different darkness in the valley. Let me begin by saying that the valley is a test. A test that covers a lifetime of lessons that the Shepherd has taught us. Lessons learned on the green pastures, and along still waters. Lessons taught while our soul was restored, and as we learned the right path to take. It is the ultimate test of our faith. Depending on what the Shepherd is preparing your life to accomplish you may be tested with the valley more than once.

God has never seemed so close than in the valley.

As we look at the verse there are some important things to notice. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” First of all it is the Shepherds will that you walk through the valley if His path leads through it. This means that avoiding the valley will take you out of the Will of God. We need not fear the valleys, and our Shepherd is so wise that He anticipated our fear. “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.“ Psalms 23:4 It is important to know that the valley contains evil. I am reminded of when Satan went to God over Job. What the Shepherd wants us to understand is that we need not to fear the evil. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 His love for us allows us to understand the Shepherd is there even if we do not see Him. Although in the valley, God may seem distant, this is a test of our faith. The same rod and staff He used to guide us in the storms on the pastures, and alongside still waters is there to comfort us. How much comfort we receive is directly connected to how well we learned the lessons of the pasture and waters.

There are some amazing blessings to be found in the valley. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.“ Psalms 23:5 The first blessing is a table set before the enemy. Understand that we are at our most relaxed and vulnerable while we are sitting at a table. Soldiers do not pack a table in their backpack. We however in the valley have a table of blessings prepared for us. It is not the Will of the Shepherd to test you, and then leave you vulnerable to the enemy. So while the enemy watches the Shepherd feeds us. That is the power of the Shepherd; He can stop the trial at any time. Notice also in this valley our heads are anointed with oil. This is done to refresh us from the trial we have experienced.

Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing.

Then we have my favorite part. Our cups are filled till running over. One of the things I have found in the valley is our cups seem to get drained. Not only of the blessings of the Shepherd, but also from the unclean things we have put into it. The valley tends to clean out my cup. Into this empty cup He fills Himself till it is overflowing. What would you rather that the Shepherd pour his blessings on top of your cup filled with yourself, or that He fills your empty cup up with Himself.

Notice here that with no valley there is no table, no oil, and no cup. The refining fire of trials makes room for all of these things. It is sad however that so many sheep enter the valley, but do not continue through it. It is the Shepherd’s will that you go all the way through the valley. Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing. They faint before the blessings. They take an event the Shepherd intended to make them stronger, and walk out of the fold.

It is true that the valley hurts. It is lonely. It is tiring. It can seem never ending. Let me say however from personal experience: the table of blessing is worth it, the refreshing oil is worth it, and the cup overflowing is worth it. God has never seemed so close than in the valley. There are a lot of things I may never do again on this Earth. I will however continue to walk on green pastures and along still waters down paths of righteousness that lead through valleys to blessings.

Article by David Wagner

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Do We Need a Bigger Boat?

 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  Matthew 14:24-31

Isn’t it amazing how far God will lead us if we are willing?!  In my previous post, we can imagine Peter launching out into the deep almost as a kind gesture.  “Okay, I’ll do it, but I’m telling you we’re not going to catch anything.”  He was not only willing to fail, but probably expecting it just to appease Jesus’ request and prove he knew what he was talking about.  It was the obedience we discussed earlier with little faith to speak of.

Now we see a very different Peter who is still willing to fail, but this time he is willing to fail with a faith few have ever possessed. 

In both cases he found himself in the midst of the sea.  In both cases there were people watching.  But now it didn’t matter.  He was willing to do something no one had done before; something that couldn’t be done just to be where Jesus was.  We don’t know how far Peter got.  To be honest, it doesn’t matter.  If only for a moment, Peter proved to everyone on that boat at God’s command, if we keep our eyes on Him, He will do things through us and with us that can’t be done.  But we have to be willing to get out of the boat.

I could tell you that I have spent most of my life on the boat, but that would be a lie.  Most of my life has been spent on the dock watching the boat go by.  Getting past what people thought just to get on the boat was a big step.  But I have seen God’s power.  At times I have felt His love and Spirit consume me.  I have wept at the thought of what He has done for me.  And now it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or says; I don’t care if I fail.

I want to get off the boat and be where Jesus is.  How ‘bout you?

Article by C.S. Depew

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Stuck?

I recently had the opportunity to attend a 1-day conference in Middle Tennessee at GVBC called ‘Stuck.’  This was not their first rodeo and you could tell.  They knew how to encourage pastors and church ministry leaders.  It was well-worth the 400 miles!  Kudos to Pastor Locke, the staff, worship team, and the church ladies who took care of the eats!  I feel compelled to pass on what I got out of the keynote session called

Top Reasons Churches Get
-[& Stay]- STUCK:

1. The lead pastor is not growing.  He is a catalyst for growth.  Everything rises and falls on -you guessed it- leadership! (-Lee Roberson)

“I’m not dying without trying.” (-GL)

2. No clearly-defined DNA.  If you can’t write down your church’s mission / vision on your palm – it’s too bulky and people will never remember it.  Not even your best people!  The church needs to know who you are and why you exist.

3. An aversion to technology and cultural advancement.  The website is the new front door of your church (more).  The hot-word today is contextualization.  Preach like they did in the past – but apply it to the days of the present!

4. An unwillingness to ask people to leave.  Some people are not part of the team.  They are not on board with your DNA and never will be.  Trying to keep them involved only deepens the problem (and your discouragement as a leader).  It’s not worth it!

New converts are never the ones who complain about the paint, the drum, etc.  It’s always the ‘transfers’ who are the most petty!

5. It’s structured for control rather than growth.  BR Lakin said: Beware of the church with two last names.  Some churches are run by a select few (a key family, the deacon board) and will never grow beyond those who dictate it.  It’s possible to have too many voices speaking into the vision of the church.  If you can’t trust your leadership, then you’ve got the wrong team!

6. Operating totally out of context.  Know your demographic.  You have an era – serve your “generation.”  You have an area – serve your “nation.”  Has your ‘target‘ audience been identified?  Do you really mean it when you say: Everyone Welcome!?  Really?  What about addicts, the homeless, hookers, the deaf, the bi-polar?  Are you ready to help them?

People want to hear your heart, but they are tired of hearing your head.

7. A lack of faith to operate out of the box – but by the book.  Zeal is the forgotten virtue, replaced by knowledge.  Look at the Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah, Hosea, etc.).  They totally destroyed the box of ‘How-to-Do-Ministry.’

8. An understanding of the gospel is merely assumed (especially in the Bible-belt / South).  Lost people are filling churches and, with their votes, controlling them.  Jesus gave no concessions for people claiming Christ who are not involved in church.

In Addition, Pastor Locke Gave 5 Pieces of Advice of Getting Unstuck…

1. Don’t pastor from a bitter heart or with a point to prove (spite and anger are terrible motivators).
2. Don’t allow the church to become to dependent on your personality as pastor – build a team of leaders.
3. Don’t build the church your critics want – build the church your community needs!
4. Don’t allow angry church people to make you an angry family man (leave that junk in the office).
5. Don’t read the Bible for material – develop the discipline of personal, private meditation for your own soul.

Article by Patrick Nix

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If I Were God

Ever have the thought cross your mind “If I were God…”? Did you think “Here’s what I would do…”? I’ll do it because it should be done! You know what I speak of. Some person does some despicable thing and his life seems undisturbed. Someone else having done comparatively little or nothing seems to have a truck load of trouble dump on them.

Why do those who legalize abortion get away with it? Why do those who abuse or molest children get to go on their merry little way? And on and on we go.

The Bible addresses this subject on a few occasions, but this just recently jumped off the page at me. 1 Timothy 5:23-24 says:

Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

There’s a great explanation for us. The Lord tells us to expect that some men’s sin blow up in their faces almost immediately while others may never in their lives face many obvious results. They do experience consequences, just not those dramatic, out-in-the-open ones that we so love to see. I mean some Nazi tormentors were brought to justice in 1945 while others are dying of old age with new identities in beautiful locales around the globe. How haunted they have lived, however, or how much time they spend jumping at every shadow, we have no clue.

Some of us have our sins knock us over before we leave the scene of the crime while others spend their lives being chased by their sins. The lesson is the same: sin is devastating and we must run to Jesus Christ.

You may be glad to have Christ’s forgiveness, but have something stuck in your craw about some who are “getting away with it.” What we are really questioning is the justice of God. Does He hand out unfair judgments in His world? In our more sane moments we know our God is just and even explains that He will not “be mocked” (Galatians 6:7).

So our two issues really are:

1. Appearances—The Lord is not making the judgment as apparent as we would like.

2. Timing—The Lord is not acting as quickly as we would like.

Besides the issue of it just being all about our likes and dislikes, we forget that the Lord lives in eternity while we live in time. Yes, my life is passing, but His is not. I may have occasion to get in a hurry as I may run out of time, but He never has reason to get in a rush. The problem is that I view the finish line as my time here while He has time until His Kingdom is brought to completion.

Verse 25 tells me more. The positive side is true as well. Some have their good honored here while others die unsung. Remember no martyr ever gets to read the glowing accounts of his or her sacrifice. Sometimes in life little recognition comes while others receive multiple accolades.

The Lord will catch all of that up, too. Remember He has eternity to work in. All accounts will be settled and not one shred of injustice will survive eternity.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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Believe It or Not!

I recently had an opportunity to share the Gospel with a co-worker.  When I asked if he was a Christian, his response was, “No.”  As we continued talking he shared that he did not believe in God, Heaven or Hell.  The cliff-notes version of what he said was evolution explained our presence here, though no one knows how evolution started (meaning no one can answer how the first organism came into existence.)  When we die, he simply believes nothing happens…we die and that is it.  I did not attack his beliefs, but rather sat and listened trying to understand his point of view.  That only seemed fair since I was hoping he would do the same when I voiced my beliefs.

Although I was praying fervently throughout our trip, few answers came to me.  In sharing the Gospel and using Scripture as support, he commented that he believed many Bible stories to be historically true, but by no means believed all of it.  He viewed it as he would any other piece of literature.

I felt completely inadequate because, without the Bible,
I had nothing to stand on. 

Later that evening, as I pondered our discussion, I realized the true difference between a believer and non-believer; Faith and hope.  Perhaps the truest statement I made to him was that I did not have enough faith to believe in evolution.  To believe this world just came to be from an explosion or some other event with no order whatsoever takes a big leap of faith.  Then to believe a single-celled organism somehow appeared and evolved into everything around us is…well, as I said, I don’t have that much faith.  My faith is rooted in the Word of God.  The only thing I accepted from the start is the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  It is true, it is real, and it is without error…that’s it.  From that one belief, everything else is explained.  I can show you when the earth was created and in who’s image we are created.  I can explain the relationship between a man and woman.  I can even tell you why there is great evil in the world today and who we have to thank for our constructive nature, tools and music.  Those are just in the first four chapters of the first Book in the Bible.

What He Was Missing…

It sounds funny doesn’t it; a Christian not having much faith?  But there is something at the core of what I believe that I think my co-worker is missing – HOPE.  I find hope in the fact that there is a God and He is the creator of everything.  I find peace in the fact that God gave His creation free will to sin or rebel against Him only to provide a way to overcome that sin through His son Jesus Christ.  And most importantly, I have hope in the fact that this if not the end.  I do not have to endure the horrors in this world just to have it end when I die.  I can look forward to spending eternity with my Creator and Savior.  It makes the time I spend on this rock a little more bearable.  (All of that is in the Bible too.)  But then there is the question of how can I believe the Bible is true?  It may have started with a small amount of faith, but believing God’s word gives us true, eternal, awe inspiring hope.  God showed me so.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 Peter 3:15

Article by C.S. Depew

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The Shepherd Knows the Way

If we are not careful, one of the most frustrating things about being a Christian is trying to know what God’s will is for our lives. We know in times past He spoke to Israel with moving clouds, called Samuel by name, made Gideon’s fleece wet, and sent His angles to talk. We may sometimes wish for direction just as clear as that, and not realize that we have something better.

First of all we must understand that the Shepherd does have a plan for His sheep. Continuing with Psalms 23:3, “ …he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” From the green pastures through the dark valleys He has promised never to leave or forsake us. In discussing restoration from the first part of the verse we know that sometimes He leads us though places that are a real test of faith.

A step forward in the will of God is always a step of faith.

Sometimes the problem is not that we do not understand where the Shepherd wants us to go, as much as it is that we do not want to go there. In truth, a step forward in the will of God is always a faith-step. Too many sheep walk haltingly, fearful of what the next step will bring. Our walk for God should be just as confident as our walk down the street. Take each step of faith, understanding that all the other steps in God’s will just bring us closer to Him.

A Righteous Path

Consider the path that the Psalms has laid out before us… There is no need to fear in the will of God. We must trust that His leading will always take us down the correct path. The path He leads us in is a righteous path. We know that there is no righteousness in us, but that does not stop us from walking down the righteous path. We must walk confidently knowing that whatever the path might bring, it is a righteous path we walk. The reason is even greater: we walk, “for his names sake.” Stop and think about this, would you? The Shepherd leads us along a righteous path for HIM. As Christians, we have the opportunity to walk for His name.

Here I am just a dirty little sheep. My Shepherd chose me and bought me with His blood. I no longer have to worry about where I am headed because He leads me. You get that? He leads me personally. The path I take for Him will always be a righteous path. I am a little ambassador for my Shepherd. I walk for His name’s sake. He chose me and He directs my path.

The Nuts and Bolts

When the Shepherd directs you down a righteous path, do not leave the path unless you are sure that the Shepherd is changing your path. What was God’s will, will continue to be God’s will, until He changes it. If the Shepherd wants you to change paths He will make sure that you know just what to do.

The Shepherd will never take you down an unrighteous path. Satan will tempt you to leave a path for greener pastures. He may use various methods to try to get you off the path that the Shepherd wants you on. If he can move you of the righteous path then you will not be as effective for God.

The Shepherd will always move you to be more effective “for his names sake.” If a path seems to take you from service for God, be careful. The Shepherd will train and raise you, and may even move you to be more effective for Him. We however must take our will out of the situation, and move only on His will.

For me, leaving the Pastorate was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I had pastored for the same place for seven years. I learned a lot in those seven years, and I had a blast being a pastor. God moved me before the health issues were too much trouble. They were interfering, but I could function. We moved to another Church in another state where God gave me a secular job and a home within two days. I served God in that Church as a layman until my health made that impossible. From a pastor to a homebound Christian may seem, to some, to be a downward path. The Shepherd has taken twenty-two years of service to Him to put me were I am today. I would not ever have chosen this path for myself. However, I would not trade anything for His leading me down this path for His name’s sake. That is the will of God.

Today may not seem right, but a lifetime of daily steps of faith will show you that your path is right.

So how do you find the right path for yourself? Spend time with the Shepherd. Work hard were you are. Take the steps of faith as they come. The best thing I can give you as encouragement is Psalms 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God:” My son recently asked me why he does not hear from God. I told him that he must learn to be still, and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. By the way, he has heard from God since.

Article by David Wagner

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Launch Out into the Deep

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.  And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Luke 5:4-5

“Launch out into the deep…”  I’m sure many a sermon has been preached on those five words in chapter five, and deservedly so.  Those five words address a faith many are inspired by but few experience.  Launching out so far that God is the only possible rescue and the only possible explanation for success.  Reading from our desks or easy chairs gives us a false sense of detachment when we think about faith of this magnitude.  The mere thought of that kind of blind obedience brings with it exhilaration, excitement, fear, anticipation, anxiety, doubt and of course rational thought.  That’s why it is the kind of faith that only 300 men in Gideon’s 32,000 man army possessed.

“Nevertheless at thy word…”  Simon Peter along with James and John had just cleaned their nets.  Being up all night they surely had not sat in one place.  They had moved back and forth across the water, looking for any sign of fish.  They were tired and ready to go home.  Maybe tomorrow would be better.  (It certainly couldn’t get worse.)  There was no earthly reason to go back out and drop those nets again.

But something caused Simon Peter to do it.  Maybe it was the literal thought that it couldn’t get any worse.  Maybe it was to demonstrate that he knew what he was talking about.  Maybe it was just to appease this man and get him off the boat.  Whatever the reason, I doubt it had much to do with strong, unwavering faith.  That came later. Notice that Jesus told him to let down his nets; plural, and Simon agreed to let down the net; singular.

No, the faith and belief that sustained Simon the rest of his life began with obedience. 

God is God.  He will test our faith, reward our faith, and grow our faith to a degree we can’t imagine.  Want He wants from us is not huge, undying faith – that will come.  The Almighty God of the Universe, our Lord and Creator wanted one thing from the Israelites and He wants one thing from you and me – obedience.  What minuscule amount of faith it takes to obey is sufficient.  

Think of all the rational objections you can.  Reason how what you feel led to do makes no sense and you don’t even believe half this stuff.  Tell yourself how crazy this will look to everyone around you.  And then remember the four words of obedience that changed Peter’s life and eternity – Nevertheless at thy word.

Article by C.S. Depew

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