What Are You Looking At?

I was on a mission.  I knew what I was looking for and I was intently focused on the object of my attention.

To be more specific I was searching for the object of my affection.

Mounted upon my trusty steed I was moving at a speed in keeping with my exploratory expedition.  Knowing I was nearing the habitation of that for which I was searching, I endeavored to ensure my gaze was intent upon the discovery I was hoping for.

Unbeknownst to me, an unforeseen foe was lurking outside the parameters of my rapt attention.  To my utter and complete surprise I would soon discover the limitation and danger involved with being negligent in my willingness to be aware of the potential dangers that surrounded me.

My journey would end in complete failure.  I managed to escape with no lasting injuries.  The only real damage was done to my fragile ego – wounded, but not broken.

So what was my quest?  What was that for which I was searching?

Well, it was 1970.  I was 8 years of age, and I was on the lookout for someone very special to me at the time – Peggy Bailey.  She lived down the street from me.  She was in my class at school and she had caught my eye, and my heart.

My plan?

Well, I would ride down the street to her house on my 3-speed banana seat bike.  Then, when at the point where she could see me passing by on the street I would impress her beyond belief by riding with no hands.  That would surely catch her attention and secure a special place for me in her heart.

My plan was proceeding perfectly.  Everything was going just as I had envisioned… except for the parked car.  I was so intently focused on Peggy’s house that I neglected to look at the path I was on.  Sadly, and painfully for me, my path would lead me directly into the bumper of a rock solid, heavily chromed, late 60’s “boat” of a vehicle.

Just as I took my hands off the handle bars to execute the last component of my plan, I slammed into the car.  I flew off my bike onto the hood, then rolled off onto the street.  I didn’t bother to look back and see if Peggy had indeed been watching me out her window.  I grabbed my bike, hopped on and rode home to lick my wounds.

Even though this is a silly childhood story I think it contains a lesson for all of us.

We can choose what we focus on.  We can choose that which receives our time and attention.

I was on a prayer walk with a good friend of mine recently and we were talking about how easy it is to focus on the things of this world and miss that which is really important.  We are meant to be in this world, but not of it.  Our minds are meant to be set on things above – on eternal things.

When we focus on the things of this world we will hit obstacles that keep us from getting hold of all that Jesus has for us.  We will miss the Kingdom of God in us and through us if we don’t chose to partner with the Lord in His will in our lives.  We’ve got to realize that the tide set against us is a propensity to desire the things of this world.

We must ardently seek God’s heart for us and for others through us.  So how do we do that?  Time, time time: time with Him, time with His word, time with His people, time serving others.

Our focus needs to be on God’s Kingdom, His will, His heart, His government on earth as it is in heaven.  When we focus on Him and His Truth we avoid the pitfalls of the enemy – those parked cars that stop our forward progress.

So what are you focusing on?  What are you looking at?

Let’s ask the Lord to help us focus on that which is unseen – that which is eternal.  Let’s  ensure we’re looking at Him.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

John 12:25

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Give What You’ve Been Given

“God sent you thousands of miles to minister hope and encouragement to me.  Thank you!”, she tearfully exclaimed to our son Benjamin.

Benjamin was taken aback by the impact of what he had done.  He had no idea what God could do when he simply gave away what he’d been given…

We were on a family holiday in Hawaii.  Benjamin had wanted to buy a Ukulele with a pick-up in it.  So, we shopped a couple of music stores and settled on one where he found the instrument he wanted at a price that was right.

When he was paying for the purchase the woman handling the transaction engaged us in conversation.  It soon became evident she was a Jesus follower.  In fact, her husband was the pastor of a local church.  She enthusiastically invited us to visit their church the following Sunday.

We agreed.

Then, with increased enthusiasm, she encouraged Benjamin to share a song with the congregation.  She was the worship leader and would fit Benjamin in at the end of the set.  She succeeded in convincing Benjamin to bring his new Ukulele and do a special song for the church.

That weekend we showed up at their church service with about 50-75 other people who had arrived before us.  It took us longer to find their building than we thought so we were a little later than we had hoped.  Our new friend effusively welcomed us and quickly ushered Benjamin up to do a sound check.  Once Benjamin sat down with us she started worship.

At the end of her set her husband got up to welcome everyone, but she interrupted him and said she had a special song from a visitor – he sat back down.  Benjamin was warmly welcomed to the stage by the congregation.  He plugged in his new Ukulele and began sing “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective.  The church didn’t know the song, but they clapped along and then ended up joining in on the last few choruses.

When Benjamin finished, they erupted in grateful applause.

At the end of the service a number of people, mainly young ladies and teenage girls, came up to tell Benjamin what a great job he did.  Two women waited patiently for their turn to thank Benjamin.  One of the women with tears in her eyes emotionally told Benjamin how God has used the song to encourage her…

She and her friend are flight attendants.  Whenever they get a flight to Kauai they come to this church – which is not necessarily that frequent.  She was in a particularly difficult time in her life due to the fact that her brother was battling cancer.  She had been struggling to keep her hope in the Lord and to find encouragement in Him.

There had been one thing the Lord had been speaking to her that gave her hope and encouraged her heart.  She had been listening to Rend Collective and God had powerfully and profoundly touched her through the song, “My Lighthouse”.  It seemed whenever she was feeling particularly down the Lord would encourage her that He is her lighthouse…

“Your great love will lead me through.  You are the peace in my troubled sea. My lighthouse…  Shining in the darkness. I will follow You…I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore…God’s love will lead me through…”

And now, here was Benjamin thousands of miles away from home, singing the Lord’s words of encouragement to her once again.  She was overwhelmed by God’s gracious love for her.  We all felt the emotion of that moment.

And all Benjamin did was give away what he had to give – God took it from there and multiplied the impact.

So what do you have to give?  What talent, time or treasure do you have to give away?  Whatever you’ve got, give it away.  You will be amazed at how the Lord will multiply it.  Whatever gifts you have are meant to be given away.  Don’t let your fear keep you in the closet.

Give what you’ve got, what you’ve been given.  Then watch what the Lord does with it to encourage others…

1 Peter 4:10

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Matthew 10:7, 8

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

Luke 6:38

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Matthew 25:21

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

Our One Job

Have you ever felt a little disillusioned with life?  You know that feeling when you aren’t as passionate as you once were?  The fire in your belly may have been reduced to a smoldering ember?  Or worse, perhaps your fire feels extinguished all together?

These emotions are all too familiar to many of us – if not all of us.  I have no doubt that may be the case with you, because life this side of heaven will never be perfect.  We will all battle to maintain our passion, our enthusiasm, our vision, our engagement and our hope.

Our mission is not unopposed.

I must confess, I have recently felt like the fire in my belly has been reduced.  My vision isn’t as clear and strong as I would like it to be, and my zeal is lessened as well.

It was in this state I had the opportunity to speak with the leader of a global mission organization.  This organization is doing phenomenal work to grow the Kingdom of God around the world.  Their work is changing the lives of thousands of people in over 40 countries.  They are leading people to Christ all over the globe.

Whenever I have the opportunity to work with this leader, he seems to always be on mission and full of vision and passion.  So, I asked him, “How long have you been on this mission?”  “Thirty-four years.”, was his reply.

“How do you stay so engaged, so envisioned, so passionate for your work?”, I inquired.

He shared how he certainly, like anyone, has to fight to stay engaged.  But then he said something that so riveted my attention.  I had to pause the conversation to write it down…

“My one job is to maintain a vital, unbroken communication with the Holy Spirit every day.”

He emphasized the phrase “my one job”.  To maintain a vital, unbroken communication with the Holy Spirit is his objective and his commitment every day.

He went on to explain that as long as he is truly communing with the Holy Spirit – listening, interacting, sensing, following, obeying, partnering, discerning, being ministered to – he is encouraged, envisioned, engaged and enthused.  In light of that he makes it his commitment to begin every day by focussing on the Holy Spirit.

When he wakes up in the morning the first thing he does is get down on his knees beside his bed to offer his heart afresh to the Lord.  He gives his day to the Lord and asks the Holy Spirit to fill him up.  As best he knows he surrenders himself fully to the work and will of the Lord, and confesses his utter dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit.

He then gets up and spends the first hour of his day with the Lord.  He feeds himself with Truth by studying and meditating on the Word of God.  He prays, he listens, he worships – he gets filled up with the Spirit of God.  Then, he spends the rest of his day, to the best of his ability, maintaining this vital communication with the Holy Spirit.

This means he listens and obeys.  It means he avoids sin and does all he can not to grieve the Spirit.  This also means he ensures he focuses on the Truth and takes captive any thoughts that are in opposition to the Truth.  And, this means he hangs around with others who are on mission with him.

What a great example for us to follow.

We are all on mission to partner with our Lord in the work He has given us.  We are all on mission to be ambassadors of the Government of God on earth.  Jesus called all of us to give Him our whole life – not part of it.  We are all full-time ministers.

We cannot do this without the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  We must do life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like my friend, we have one job: to maintain a vital, unbroken communication with the Holy Spirit every day, so that we can effectively partner with Jesus in the will of our Father in the lives of those around us.

John 14:26

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Luke 11:13

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

2 Timothy 1:14

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

The Miracle of New Life

Have you ever witnessed a birth?  It is miraculous to say the least.

Have you ever actually participated in a birthing?  That takes the experience to a whole new level.  And to think that some people get to participate in the miracle of new life on a regular basis – what a privilege!

I was present at the birth of both of our sons, which was life altering to say the least.  I’ve never been the same.  I’m sure you share my sentiments about your experience with the birth of your children.

Recently I had the privilege of participating a different kind of birth – the new birth of a new friend of mine.  His story is miraculous…

My friend moved to Kelowna from a different city.  He’s a successful business owner; married with a young family.  Their life in another province was enviable in many, many ways.  However, he felt compelled to make a move and lead his family to Kelowna.

We connected through a business associate of mine.  My associate suggested this out of town entrepreneur needed to meet me.  We met and had a great connection.  We began a business relationship where I was engaged to provide some executive coaching.

In all of my business endeavors I ask the Lord to give me the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so that I might know Jesus more, and know His heart for the people with whom I will be working.  I ask the Lord to help me to provide wisdom to my clients and hear anything the Lord may want to say to them.

We began our session with digging into my friend’s definition of success.  He began to tell me his story.  It became very evident to me that the Lord had been speaking to this man, but he was totally unaware that it was actually God speaking to him.  So, I took a risk.  I said to my client,

“I’m going to say something to you that could take our relationship to the next level, or end it right here.”

I then began to point out that what was compelling him to move, and what he was hearing, was actually God speaking to him.  I suggested that the Lord was leading him to Kelowna to invite him into new life with Him.  As I shared this perspective, tears began to well up in his eyes and stream down his cheeks.

I knew the Holy Spirit was up to something.

He shared more of his story and I suggested, “I believe Jesus is inviting you to give Him your life so He can give you His life.”

My new friend simply responded with, “How do I do that?”

We talked further about the invitation Jesus is giving him to leave the family of darkness led by the father of lies, and be born again into the family of God as a beloved son of our Heavenly Father – the Father of Lights.

He said he wanted to do that.

So, we prayed together and he exchanged his life for Jesus’ new life in him.  Wow!  When we finished he said it felt like a massive weight had been lifted off his shoulders.  He said he felt like he was breathing in life with every new breath he was taking.

What a miracle!  What a privilege to participate in his new birth!  And we now continue our journey into this new life together…

I learned through this amazing encounter that we need to have our hearts open to see with different eyes what the Lord may be up to.  Then by the leading of the Spirit to simply point out what we’re seeing.  And then be prepared to share the hope we’ve discovered in Jesus.

We don’t know where we are in that person’s journey: their first encounter with a Jesus follower, someone sowing seeds of truth along their journey, or someone who gets the privilege of introducing them to Jesus.  We must simply be willing to partner with Jesus and give away what He has given us to give.

When we do, we will sometime, somewhere, get to experience the miracle of new life – and it is awesome!

Ephesians 1:17

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

1 Timothy 4:1-2  (The Message)

“I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.”