Three Words

the_end“I am done.”

Three words that cut through the air like a crack of lighting ripping through a Mid-western summer sky. The weight those words hold is nothing short of immense, yet in the same moment, they seem as light as air.

It has been a little over a month since I first uttered those three words, which forever changed the course of my history. I have started many times to try and put words to the reality of which I’m now living, and time after time I’ve come up empty with exactly what to say. You see, it was with great peace and confidence that I was being led; dare I say called to quit my job. A job that provided a great deal of comfort and security for me and my family.

I have been, for the past thirteen years, a youth pastor, loyal to a single church, called not to a job, but to a life of service to teenagers. That is until the call no longer came in one winter day. That morning I woke up as usual, but in an instant, the length of time it took me to silence my alarm, I knew I would be quitting my job. It wasn’t quite as sudden as it may sound. The truth is God had been applying great amounts of molding pressure to my heart for quite some time. And the more I sought his will, his plan, his purpose… the more I realized this day would eventually come and I’d be released from my present calling, only to be ready to receive the new call for my life.

The quirky tidbit in the storyline is that while God in fact did remove one call on my life, he hasn’t yet replaced it with a new one. That’s not to say that I don’t fully believe he will; he simply hasn’t yet.

As word of my resignation spread, the inevitable questions about what’s next began to surface. Each time, I honestly had to say that I wasn’t sure; God hadn’t yet revealed his next steps. Interestingly, through the whole of this process, my wife and I have been both on the same page (that’s important), and oddly at peace (also important). The reality of the situation we’re in is that what we are doing doesn’t honestly make sense; outside of God’s economy. No one willfully quits their job, the job that is the primary financial means for their family, without having a back up plan locked in place. And by back up plan, we all know it’s supposed to be something bigger and better. Why else quit if it’s not?

Yet here we are, without any sort of back up plan. No bright white Dave Ramsey envelope tucked safely in the center desk drawer. Rather I feel very much like what it may have felt like for those who experienced the scene that took place in Joshua 3. I feel as though we’re at the edge of the Jordan River and we’ve just been told that once we step foot in the water, God will stop up the current and we’ll cross on dry land. It’s a great promise to be sure, but difficult to believe fully when looking out at the water rushing by. None the less, the priests caring the Ark had faith enough in the word of the Lord and followed through with what they were told. The result?

17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

God made good! It’s right there in black and white. While I don’t yet know what God has in store for us; what the next chapter of our story is to be. I do know that he’s faithful and true and will provide for us the space to live out whatever the next chapter is. I can’t explain, except for the grace and wonder of God, how we are at such peace in the midst of such uncertainty, but we are. I don’t know what will happen a month from now if nothing’s changed and I’ve drawn my final pay check. But this much I know. I’m a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords and while I call him Father, he calls me his own. The care he displays for me is greater than the care he shows over the lilies of the field and look how they flourish. I trust that as he knew me intimately well in my mother’s womb, he knows what’s next and he is the God who goes before me. I trust him because I have nothing else strong enough to trust. I hold tight to him because he’s the only thing which is unmovable. I cry out to him for he’s the only one who can interpret and understand the groans of my soul.

With everything that is in me, I completely believe that this is not the end, no it isn’t.

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Pray for the Nations (day 36)

Father God, I pray that the peoples of this country stop turning to quick and easy religion, but rather come to discover what it means to fully and truly be in daily relationship with you. The Creator. The Lover of our souls. The Abba. The Healer. The Peace-bringer. God, continue to strengthen your Church in this land, so that your Kingdom may come in it’s fullness.

Today’s prayer country is Nicaragua:

Population: 5,822,265

Largest religion: Christian

Percent Evangelical: 29.8%

For prayer information on Nicaragua, visit the Operation World website and remember to:

Pray for the specific country needs: Poverty is a deep-seated issue that is both the cause and the result… READ MORE

Click on the ‘unreached peoples’ of that country and pray

Watch and engage with the prayer video

Find even more fuel for prayer for Nicaragua on page 634 of the Operation World Book, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or eBook

As Mark 11:17 says: ‘Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? Let’s continue to make the global house of God a house of prayer for all nations.

The “Good News” for All, Really?

Tonight, I received from a dear friend, what I believe will become quite an invaluable gift. My friend placed into my hands Operation World the Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation.

Just in skimming the first few pages I was struck by the static that states of the 6,909 spoken languages in the world, only 457 have an adequate Bible translation in their language.

Regrettably, I had no idea the margin was this great. But the thought that gripped my attention was how many different Scripture translations I have sitting on my office selves; which I so nonchalantly justify because I’m a pastor. Really?

Does the English speaking Church need another Bible translation? Could some translation effort and resource be redirected to one of the untouched languages out there still waiting on the Word to jump off the page in their native tongue? I would surely hope it could. And if it could, why isn’t it?

Why isn’t it…

Too Good Not To Share!

I received the following email today, regarding the NIV Bible… Trust me, it’s worth the read.

2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. To celebrate this milestone of making God’s Word available in the common language of the people, all throughout this year, YouVersion will be highlighting several special events and opportunities that will make it easier than ever to access, engage and share the Bible.

The first event we’re excited to tell you about is a special 400-hour promotion made possible through a partnership with Biblica and Zondervan. Exclusively through the Bible App™ you’ll be able to download the New International Version (NIV) using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android device…absolutely free. Downloading the NIV means you’ll be able to read it anytime, anywhere—even when you can’t connect to your service provider or the Internet, and after the 400 hour promotion is over. This special offer only lasts for a limited time, starting THIS SATURDAY, February 12, at 8:00 PM U.S. Eastern Time (GMT-5) and ending at 12:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 1, marking the first availability of the NIV update in print. For more details about the availability of the NIV offline on your mobile device, follow http://blog.youversion.com.

And even if you don’t have an iPhone or Android device to take advantage of this first offer, we have something for you, too. We continue adding new reading plans to help you connect with God’s Word, with more than 60 available now! One seasonal example is the 5-day “Love and Marriage” plan. If you and your special someone start reading it together now, you can wrap it up just in time for Valentine’s Day! You’ll find it under “Topical” in the Bible App’s Plans, or at  http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/love-and-marriage.

YouVersion would like to thank Biblica and Zondervan for making the NIV available offline. You can learn more about both of these organizations at their web addresses below.

God has already done so much in 2011. We’re looking forward to seeing where He takes us as we continue to celebrate and share His Word.

Sincerely,
Your Friends at YouVersion

Facebook: http://facebook.com/YouVersion
Twitter: http://twitter.com/YouVersion
Donate: http://www.youversion.com/donate
Support: http://youversion.com/support

Biblica: http://www.biblica.com/
Zondervan: http://www.zondervan.com/

Neither Do I

2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst4 they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.10 Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?11 She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more [emphasis added].     -John 8:2-11 (ESV)

I found myself in John this morning, and read this familiar passage yet again. What caught my attention however was Jesus’ words at the end of the story. Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more. My guess is we all have that sin or sins that cause us our greatest amount of shame. Where or how we started to rank order our sins by degree of sinfulness, I’ll never know; for in the eyes of God, sin is sin is sin. Yet, each of us have those sins that once committed cause us to cringe more deeply than the rest and we allow our thoughts to turn to the old familiar feeling that God can’t or won’t forgive us this time.

So I like Christ’s words here to the woman who has been found in “that” sin of hers, that he don’t condemn her. I too realize this can be a very fine, mental line. Thinking that if Christ doesn’t condemn then I’m free to sin as often as I like. But that would be a wrong way of thinking. While Christ doesn’t condemn he also doesn’t permit the woman (or us) to continue living in the grip of our sin. He tells her to go and stop sinning.

It seems that the enemy would have us believe that once we fall to sin we are beyond redemption, so why bother asking for forgiveness, why even bother trying to avoid sin the next time it comes around. Simply give up and give in. Yet, when we look at the interchange between Jesus and this woman, what I see is freedom from not only our sin, but from the guilt that often times accompanies it.

Sinning is inevitable. We are sinful people, with a sin nature about ourselves. However, we need to position ourselves rightly, realizing that we are not condemned in our sin, but that we also must turn from our sin and live a life that is free from sin’s trappings. The enemy of our soul wants death for us, the lover of our soul wants life. May you choose life today as you strive to go and sin no more.