Sequels are part of Hollywood. One the things studios try to do is to create a franchise where further adventures of their characters can be told. Marvel, of course, has mastered this where each movie is a sequel, of sorts, of each movie that came before it.
Today’s post is a sequel. I reread yesterday’s post about Moses and realized that I left one point out. This was rather fortunate, guided perhaps by the Hand of Providence, as it really didn’t fit with what was discussed.
Just to recap, if you didn’t read yesterday, Moses ran into an issue where he was wearing himself out. Jethro, his father-in-law, helped him out and gave him a plan. This benefited Moses and Israel as they moved forward.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read that story, but I have missed something that had been staring at me each time. I just happened to get it this time.
We’re used to God speaking to Moses in a burning bush. We are amazed that God delivered the Law to Moses on top of Mount Sinai. God would meet and speak to Moses in such a way that he had to wear a veil on his face.
Did you notice what happened here though?
Moses faced this problem and God didn’t give him the solution. At least He didn’t speak to Moses directly.
Instead, Jethro gave Moses a plan, a system and direction. The Lord didn’t seem to have anything to do with it.
Or did He?
We sometimes wait for the Lord expecting a bolt of lightning or pictures in the sky or something. We seem to think that the Hand of God will appear and write out what we should do step by step. It just doesn’t really work that way.
So, how do we hear from God? Let me list out a few ways that we might hear from God today.
The Bible. Seems like an obvious one, doesn’t it? Yet too many of us seek Him every which way but loose instead of turning to His preserved word. I’m not saying that strep by step direction for every decision in life will come from the Bible, but we would be amazed at how many steps of life could be found if we just took the time to read.
The Church. I don’t mean simply by going to church, though that’s not a bad thing. I mean the you might hear from the Lord through His Church. I hope we all agree that the Church is Christ’s Body. We probably agree if we read the Bible (see above). Doesn’t it make sense that He might communicate to us through said Body?
Circumstances. God may try to get your attention through what goes on around you or, sometimes, to you. All of us would want these events to be happy and joyful, but that’s simply not what happens every time. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. Or around good people. Awareness of what’s happening may clue us in to what God is trying to say to us.
How about prayer? Let’s get one thing straight about prayer. It isn’t simply creating a grocery list of wants to present to God. Prayer is a time of worship, where we can adore God, thank Him, listen to Him and, yes, make requests of Him.
Remember what I said yesterday about taking an audit of our lives? Seeking out specific guidance is sometimes necessary. And yes, I believe that God can speak through the guides in our lives.
The last thing I will say about any of these is to be cautious. Sometimes w can hear God’s voice tell us something because we want to hear it. We want God to give us the direction we want to go. Before I decided for sure that God was speaking to me, I would test each of these ways for signs that God is speaking.
Are we going to hear God speak in an audible voice? Not based on my experience. Will every time we think we hear God be His voice? I don’t think so. But this is one thing I know. The more I hear Him speak, the more I recognize His voice and know when He speaks to me.
How do you hear God speak to you?
You know Moses.
Baby saved by Pharaoh’s daughter. Prince of Egypt. Murderer. Shepherd. Leader of Israel.
He was just going along doing his thing. He was leading a couple of million people toward the Promised Land.
His father-in-law, Jethro, showed up to check things out. He saw that Moses was having to settle every dispute coming and going with that bunch of people.
So, he pulled Moses aside and told him that it wasn’t working. Moses was wearing himself out. He was working hard, but he wasn’t working smart.
Jethro gave Moses some advice. Pick some guys to help him out. Divide the work out. Delegate. Spread the wealth.
And it worked. It was a success and Moses was able to focus on more important tasks such as listening to God for direction for the journey.
Notice what happened here. Moses had a problem. Jethro had a plan and a system. Moses heeded his father-in-law’s advice and life got better.
Great story, right? What does that have to do with us?
More than likely you need a plan like Moses. I do. It may not have anything to do with judging the affairs of a nation, but it is still just as important to you as this event was to Moses.
What needs to take place?
First, you need to evaluate you life. Where do you need work? Is it your family? Marriage? Health, career, personal growth? There could be any number of areas. Take some time. Audit your life. I bet if you do that, just like when I do this, you will find areas that need to be strengthened.
Second, you probably need some help. You need some outside eyes to take a look at things. Believe it or not, you have some blindspots. There are things you don’t see about yourself or your life. A friend of mine told me some time back that I had gained weight. I knew that, but I needed someone to tell me. You may need a coach, a mentor, a counselor, someone to take a look at you and point you in the right direction.
Finally, you need to take action. Knowing what to do is not the same as doing it. It does no good to look at your life, have a plan and then do nothing about it. It won’t be comfortable. It won’t feel right. It may hurt for a bit. Change always does.
There’s one more piece of advice I have to give. Be humble. Don’t think you know it all. Someone always knows something you don’t that will help you. Someone will always see an area of your life that you need help with. Set aside your ego for your betterment.
Do you have an area of life you need some help with?
On July 14, 1965, Bob Dylan took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival. It was like many other Dylan performances before it except for one thing: Dylan was backed by an electric rock band. Prior to this event, Dylan had always played acoustic. He was promptly booed and the 60’s were changed forever.
Looking back, this may seem like a quaint story that draws a few chuckles from us. However, Dylan fans and folk music fans were truly upset by the events. It was just one of the many changes that Dylan would make over the years, metamorphosing from folk to rock to country, back to rock to gospel and who knows what in between.
Looking back we know, but through each change we might have wondered if Dylan knew what he was doing. We might question whether he knew what his voice was. He seemed to be constantly changing his style and sound. Now, we look back at a body of work that can best be described simply as Dylan.
He knew what his voice was. It was there no matter what the style of music he played.
This is where we find ourselves in our life. We must find our voice, our message, no matter what we do in life. We might be a blogger, a speaker or preacher. We need to find our voice and message through it all.
We need to know who our message is for. Who are we writing to and for? Who is our audience, our customer?
There is a problem or situation our audience is facing. They need someone to help them. Whether they are reading your blog or listening to your music, they are facing an issue.
That’s where we come in. It’s where Dylan came in with his music. They need a guide, someone to show them the way.
The audience needs a plan. They need to be shown a direction, where or how to find love or what steps to take on the journey. The singer, the writer, or the speaker gives them a plan.
What happens then? The audience has to be called to action. They must make a choice of whether or not to follow the plan or not. Whichever they choose, something happens.
There are results. The results are either success or failure. Rarely is there anything in-between.
Now, here’s the thing. If you write, if you sing, if you speak, the temptation is to model yourself after someone else. Rare is it for someone to be original from the get go. A folk singer may learn to do Dylan note for note. This is all well and good, but that does not make them Dylan.
I have tried to imitate my fair share of people. I tried to learn to play mandolin and sought famous players to imitate. I tried my best to find famous bloggers to pattern myself after. I have tried to preach like, well, all my favorite preachers.
I just have to be me. I have to be who I am.
So do you. You might be facing the temptation to pattern your life after someone else. I just have one more piece of advice to give.
If you’re going to imitate anyone, imitate Jesus. Look at what He is like in the Bible. He will be the best guide you will ever have. He can give you plan for your life. He will call you to action. The result will be success or failure. And finding your true voice.
I encourage to seek after Him.
Lots of people read the Bible. Most of them are Christian, but they are limited to belonging to my faith. I hope you are someone who reads the Bible as I believe it is the best source of faith one can find in the world.
There is a problem, though, as many of us pick up the Bible to read it. No matter who you are, if you read the Bible you will run into this problem at one point or another.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what the Bible is really all about.
I just finished preaching through Paul’s letter to Titus and it struck me what the Bible is really all about. It’s been there all along and I have heard said before in different ways. However, what I finally saw was the simplest way of describing the story of the Bible that I had ever seen. I’m going to let you in on what I came to know over the last few days.
The Bible is all about finding a right relationship with God and a right relationship with people. That’s it. It’s that simple.
We use a lot of church terms, terms that I love and terms found in the Bible. The most prevalent one is the Gospel or the Good News. Paul gives us a detailed description of that in 1 Corinthians 15 and that should be our model for declaring the particulars of God’s good news.
However, if you want to give a simple statement about what is going on with the Gospel or in the Bible, from beginning to end, it is what I have already said. It’s about people finding a right relationship with God and a right relationship with people.
What happens if we are able to communicate this? At worst, people understand our message. They would know what we are all about.
At best? They may come to believe what we profess. God may use us to reach others. People may come into a right relationship with God and seek that with other people as well.
So many of us fail in our ability to spread the Good News to others in the world. We need a simple way to tell others what our faith in all about and what the message of the book we base our faith on is.
How about taking that message to the world?
What do you think the Bible is all about? What would you add or subtract?
Yesterday was the end of my “summer” ministry that I am involved in each year. For those who are not aware, I lead a short worship service at a local campground in my area. I just completed my fourteenth year of doing this.
This was another great year, but it is bittersweet that it is over. This is one of my main areas of ministry, so I suddenly have a void when it comes to ministry. However, I’ve just completed right at six consecutive months of ministry, so a break will be nice.
So what’s next?
For some reason the Lord has been impressing upon me to study the Minor Prophets. I’m going to focus my attention for the next few weeks on reading through these books of the Bible for the next few weeks.
How about next year at the campground? For the past few years I’ve been preaching through books of the Bible. I began with John’s Gospel. From there I moved on to Galatians, Phillipians, Philemon, Ephesians and Titus. Next year I’m going to focus on Jesus. I’m going to take up Mark’s Gospel.
I also want to be a bit more creative. I would like to be able to communicate and stay in touch with the people who attend the campground services when they aren’t there, something along the lines of an email list.
Beyond that, I plan to refocus my energies here on the Deuceology blog. This will be my main line of ministry for the next few months.
Thanks for hanging in here with me. I love you all who take time to visit with me here.
Deep and wide. Deep and wide. There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.
I couldn’t help but think about this old children’s church, VBS song as I listened to a podcast yesterday. It was a show called 5 Leadership Questions with a couple of gentlemen, one whose name escapes me and the other, Barnabas Piper.
I listened to the first episode and they interviewed John Piper, who happens to be Barnabas’ dad. He also happens to be my favorite pastor/author and I listen to almost all of his own podcasts. That doesn’t mean I think you must have that same affection for Piper. In fact, that’s about all I’ll say about him after one little tidbit.
One thing he said was that the one piece of advice he would give his twenty year old self would be to go deep and wide in pursuit of his relationship with God. This made me pause and think about that very thing in my own life.
I would love to say that I go deep and wide daily in my walk with God. I would also say that I would love to not lie if I said that.
I think that everything about God is about everything. So what if I (or you if you’re like me) we went deep and wide in our daily walk with God in everything we do?
What would a deep and wide marriage look like? I know that too often my own marriage is plenty wide, but much too shallow to qualify as the kind of marriage that I would classify as godly. What if we went deep with our marriages? Would God make our marriages as wide as He wanted them?
What about our church lives? Too often we want a job. A big job that everyone will recognize. What if, instead, we took the lowest job available to us and went deep with it. What if that was to simply anonymously clean the bathrooms? Imagine doing that for God’s glory as deeply as possible. What might God do with someone like that? How wide might He take that person?
How about our work? Too often we look to the top jobs in a company and will only be satisfied with that. What if we looked at each position as what God had given us? What if we did the absolute best work we could? What if we went as deep as possible? Might God make our career wide in the process?
There are no guarantees in this. I can’t promise that we will enjoy greater success if you do these things. What I can promise is that God will be glorified we did this. His name would be magnified in the heavens far beyond what we could ever do on our own.
All simply by seeking to go deep before wide.
I don’t know of any famous 47’s in the sports world. Perhaps there is one, but nothing comes to mind.
So it is with birthdays. 45 is a biggie. 50 surely is. Even 49 is a big deal, the one before you turn a half-century.
What is nice about 47 is that it is another day to live. I’ve lived just over 17,000 of them. It’s another day for me to consider Paul writing “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
This time next year I will be halfway to 18,000 days. It’s exciting time of life. I can’t wait to see what it brings.