On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses. Numbers 9:15-23 NLT
As we come into the new year it may seem as though everyone around us has such clarity of what this next year will look like. While you’re in a fog. The new year always brings some sense of hope, even to the most hopeless. A chance to start fresh. A resolve to make things right this time around. While at the same there can be a sense of uncertainty. But uncertainty does not have to be hopeless. We are able to go into the unknown without fear. Maybe you haven’t set your goals for the year or made a list of resolutions. Perhaps you’re at a crossroads, and you’ve been there a while. This entire season may be the culmination of your frustrations; waiting on a word from God to move one way or the other. He’s been telling you many other wonderful things…accept the direction you need to go. In this season the work in you is of greater importance than the work through you. If He hasn’t told you to move, maybe He wants you to dwell. The children of Israel did not move until first, the cloud moved. And when the cloud stayed, they continued their work or duty. Continue to be faithful in the work He has put in your hands. His silence is not His disappointment. He has not moved you into your desire because He is restructuring your desire. Your waiting on Him is an act of obedience. It says that you don’t want to be in a place that He is not. In this time are you waiting well; are you settling deep into His presence? Even though you want it to be a transition, are you allowing it to be a transformation? Until the fog lifts stay. Resolve to allow Him to change the way you think. Become the person He wants to move into great things. Be before you do.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 NLT
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT
I was on the road home from the shop talking to God about my business. The stresses of paperwork and accounting mostly. To some that may be a piece of cake, but for me it takes tremendous effort. “Father can I just give it up? Take a tent into the woods and be a hermit for the rest of my life. To permanently assume the fetal position.” To which He responded with a no and the quintessential affirmation that I am His son. It was in that moment I realized that I had been under spiritual attack. And I was allowing myself to lose. Anytime I have desired to assume the fetal position I have heard God say rise and walk. Most would say when you feel that way you should crawl into the Father’s arms and be loved by Him. Yet we are told to enter boldly into His presence. When we feel this way is when God goes into “tough love” mode. When He pours out identity on you, and you are forced to believe it or drown with what you’re holding onto. The Father’s arms are a place for comfort and rest, but He loves you too much to coddle you through life. He will not keep you from growth. These are also the times when the enemy is most prevalent in pouring out lies. Like “God is not with you through this.” I was reminded of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and my eyes were opened to the greater application than just a children’s story.
Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius!We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel 6:3-7 NLT
Even though he did he everything right and had incredible character traits, his enemies found reason to hate him. And perverted the law to kill him. There will soon be, if not already, laws like the ones that these administrators and high officials made. Designed solely to find you at fault for your faith. This will not be a time where we need to be coddled in the Father arms, but a time to stand in confidence of who you are. Remember this, Daniel did not search for a way around the law of the land. He continued in the discipline of his relationship with God. Seeking His guidance, while not hiding to appease the law.
But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT
Why did God not honor Daniel’s faithfulness and not allow him to go to the lions den? We often highlight the end of the story of Daniel surviving the lions den. But we forget that Daniel still was put in a lions den. We believe God will save us from the lions den, yet when we get in it we get devoured. Forgetting the faith we had to be saved from it to get through it. We try to bend God’s will to our circumstance, rather than our circumstance to God’s will. We want to be saved from the very thing that will strengthen our trust in God. A hypothetical faith that has not been tested cannot be proven. A faith that says you will be saved from every storm is no faith at all. But a faith that says that God has complete control through the storm is mighty.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT
God is not the author of bad things. The administrators and high officers authored the law that put Daniel in the lion’s den. You see Daniel’s purpose was greater than his circumstance. This is how we must face every lion’s den, with the purpose God has set for our lives. You wonder why you keep getting devoured in the den. When you let the den define who you are then the den determines the outcome. But when you let your purpose define who you are then the den has no power. God used Daniel’s den to expedite the purpose He had for him.
Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people;he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 NLT
So often we are unwilling to walk through the den to the miracle. As I titled this, there is no bench in this life. You can either walk in such a way that you avoid the lions dens of this world and see very little miracles, or you can charge forward into the dark places and see miracles illuminate your path?
I read this passage first in the NLT and it hit me. Patience takes courage. My steps toward the promise are no more powerful than my waiting on the promise. I am believing for a promise right now. I have taken what I thought would be smart moves toward it, but have yet to make any significant headway. Have the steps hindered progress, I doubt it. Here’s why, my belief is not in a promise being kept, but in the keeper of the promise. He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. If the outcome is not what I perceived it to be, it is not because I screwed it up. For if I could screw it up, I would be able to make it right. So if things are not turning out the way I believe they should be, there are two possibilities. The promise I’m believing for is a pose from the enemy, like when satan tempted Jesus with the nations. Or I am not yet prepared for the promise. Believe in a big God, not just for big promises. When we put Our faith in God and not the promise, we give the enemy less room to work with. We put our faith in the promise and the enemy comes in with options of fulfillment. “Surely you won’t die, God is keeping this from you.” But when we put our faith in God the enemy has one option. “God is not God.” If your faith is in God then there is no power in this phrase. Sadly this does work on many people. Maybe not the same words. It could be “God is not listening” or “God doesn’t care”. Which are all lies. We need to find the agreements we have made to allow us to believe those lies. God is God, and He cares, He listens, He sees, and He moves on our behalf. Trust in Him, He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. In writing this I read the passage again in the NKJV, He said to me I strengthen the heart of those that wait. Again I say it is our weakness that brings Him glory. I must admit that in my waiting I have not been strong, and Holy Spirit gently reminds me. “I am strengthening you to hold the promise you are waiting for. My promises are unbreakable, but they can break those that aren’t ready to hold the fruit. The purpose of my promise is to build you up and for you to stand on. Stand on my promises and you will see the fruit that you are believing for.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
Stop writing open letters to your future spouse. You marry the person so you can share things that you can’t share with the rest of the world. If you’re willing to share these thoughts intended for your future spouse with the world, what else are you willing to share? As we wait on the gift of being able to share here’s is how I would aim to be single. There are two types of single people. Single and loving it or single and hating it. If you’re single and loving it, then I write to you in hopes that you’re loving it for the right reasons. If you’re single and hating it, then I write to give you hope. You are single for a reason. Learn that reason and have a happier life. There is selfishness in our life that we tend to ignore. We don’t want to let those parts of our flesh die. What I’ve learned from being in relationships (dating, post-dating, friendship and family) is that they will draw those things out of us. In a healthy relationship, those things get called out of and you have help in the battle. Your selfishness will kill your relationships. This is especially true with marriage and children. Now my point is not to make your goal in life to be “marriage material”, but to live up to who God has called you to be. Yes, singleness is a gift, but it’s not an excuse. If your friends have seen your worst and not called you higher, then you need better friends. They are not being friends, but being tolerant. If you feel called to be single, be willing to make people jealous of your singleness. Be a great example to others of how to love well. Jesus was single, but He was also desirable. He is the greatest example of who a husband should be. Clearly He knew how to navigate thirsty people without hurting them. There are wells inside each of us that need to be filled. There is one that thirst for eternity and Jesus is the living water that satisfies its thirst. But there are other wells for relationship and purpose. The well of purpose is only filled by you doing what you’re designed to do. The well of relationship is filled with friendship and family. And a well especially to be filled by your spouse. The depth of these wells are up to you, and being single is your chance dig deep the well of your marriage’s beginning. As unmarried christians we tend view singleness as the season of finding the right person. A wise man told me that dating without intent is practice for divorce. Without intent you get together until the benefits run out then you go your separate ways. I would add that dating with too much intent is practicing for divorce as well. I was ready to marry every girl I was interested in. I thought I was being honorable in doing so. Honorable to the girl, maybe so. Honorable to God and the call He placed on my life, not so much. I was fully committed to girls that I was not supposed to be committed to. The gift of singleness is not happiness up until you find a date or marriage, but to fully engage with what God has placed before you. It is being able to go to coffee without planning the wedding. It is being able to lead and serve without expectation. It’s being able to genuinely tell the opposite sex that you love them without them thinking it’s weird or you want something. Where the motives of your actions come from love and not manipulation. You don’t need to impress someone for them to really love you. Dating should be an invitation to join with you in what God is already doing. Willingness to risk rejection to make the invite can only come from the security of sonship. Don’t wait until you’re married to stop being selfish. Who you are before marriage will be who you bring into it. The truest gift of singleness is preparation for marriage, whether on this side of eternity of the next. The gift of singleness is not a ticket out of marriage. Don’t miss your opportunity to get yourself together before you multiply or step into eternity. The gift of singleness is something you offer your spouse at the altar. What have you saved and prepared to offer them, and ultimately Jesus. Thus the gift of singleness is the sacrifice of marriage without the benefits. Do you still accept this gift? What we need to be asking ourselves daily is, how can I be a living sacrifice today? Blameless and holy, worthy to present myself at the altar. We will all present ourselves to Christ, but some will also present themselves at the altar to a spouse. I know what I offer will never measure up to what I receive, but all the more I will cherish the gift. For I aim to offer my very best. The best I have is all of me, seeking to become more like Christ.
1 John 4:10
1 Corinthians 7:7
Today I harvested olives for the first time in my life. On a hillside in Marcellina, Italy. Some might romanticize the idea of picking olives in Italy. There was nothing romantic about the experience, it was hard work. Let me first say that an experience doesn’t need to be romantic to be fun. This was not a light day of picking olives, but a harvest. And I am going to do it again tomorrow, because it beats walking around looking at monuments in Rome. While I was harvesting today these thoughts came to my mind. As christians we tend to separate our lives into terms of seasons. “I’m in a planting season right now.” or “This is my season of pruning.” (which is actually during or after harvest BTW) But as we all know when we say those things, we are longing to be in our harvest season. To which we think will be our season of rest and receiving. We fail to realize that that harvest season is one of the busiest times. And a good harvest requires hard work, even sometimes specialized equipment. In my work the passage in Matthew 9 came to mind.
Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.”
Matt 9:35-38 NLT
I thought to myself, why would someone not want to be a part of this great harvest? The reality is we don’t want to be a part of the harvest, but we do want the fruit from it. We want to sit back drink our cappuccino and post cool photos with the perfect scripture. All in hopes that someone’s life will be changed from it. Let me be clear that I am not saying to neglect your social media influence for the cause. What I am saying is, that’s not enough. Jesus said we will do greater works than He had done. If Jesus had social media, first of all He’d have so many followers that Socality would manage his account. Secondly, His ministry would not depend solely on it. Why then would yours? You can’t plant seeds, expect them to bear fruit and expect the fruit to simply appear in your hands one day. When fruit falls off the tree on its own, it has ripened beyond its peak flavor. Social media is a great seed planter, but a bad harvester. You know when a post is planting a seed or sharing bad fruit. A harvest requires workers. All the testimonies I have seen and been a part of from social media went far beyond the reach of post. The harvest of the seed can only be reached face to face. Be the worker that answers the prayer that Jesus prayed in this passage. Go into the fields announce the Good News, heal the sick, teach the confused and helpless. These are His fields and knows which fruit is ready for harvest. Will Jesus be your foreman?
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:6-8 NLT
Here is a phrase that will go against the grain of cultural Christianity. One of the greatest ways you can honor your leader is to allow yourself to be served by them. The only way you will gain a sense of belonging is to be served. Until you belong you’re not serving, but striving. If you want those you are leading to be servants, then you need to serve them. Service upward is easily turned to brown nosing. While service to the least of these will never turn to that. Until you can receive without obligation, you will not be able to give without it. As a leader my greatest desire is not that those under me serve me, but they serve those under them. If we are only in leadership to receive from those under us, then we are not leading. Serve to create a place of belonging, belonging creates ownership, and ownership breeds a servants heart. We all know that servants make the greatest leaders. Great leaders have nothing to gain, but to benefit those they are leading. Serve your leaders in this way, by serving those below you.
So you want to go out and change the world? Have you changed the place you’re leaving? We want to go on great adventures and make an impact on the people we come in contact with. We want to give prophetic words and heal people. But have you loved? Can those you’re in touch with now say they’ve been loved by you? We think healing and prophesy is hard when it’s not. When you love, those come easy. It’s loving that is hard. To love someone is to give yourself to that person. To love God is to give your life up to Him, and to love another is to give what He has given you. We love only because He first loved us. We expect there to be a change when we leave one place for another. But unless we are first changed we are never really leave a place. And places where you experienced change never really leave you. Two things that travel with you, your pain and your love. The key is to choose what to do with them. We have to carry one and face the other. The one we face causes us to carry the other. What you carry is what you offer. Until we carry Love we cannot face the pain of others. Are you offering them pain or Love? When we face our pain, Love is placed upon us. When we carry our pain, Love gets in our face. Love will not let you carry your pain, for Love desires to be carried. Every place you go, Love wants to go with you. Until you come face to face with your pain, no matter where you go you will experience it there. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love goes with you where you carry your pain. Staring you in the face not with shame or guilt, but with the desire to see your pain healed. Love wants to see your pain, and turn it into compassion. Where you’ve experienced healing, take it to the hurting. Dive into the adventure that is Love. Adventure is all around, not just around the globe. Don’t miss out on the adventure of who is in front of you. The where of adventure will always be there, but the who of adventure may not be. See the sights, but neglect to give sight to the blind. Desire to prophesy, but first love. Change the world one heart at a time.