Only time will tell…

It has been a long six-plus months. I have so missed researching, writing, sending words out into the web-world to shine a light on Jesus. Instead, He’s been shining His light in my own home.

A car accident in January has me still dealing with residual injury, including vertigo that has my brain so tired by the end of the day, early bedtimes are commonplace.

I cannot do what I would normally do…and I hope this is temporary. But in the meantime, He has shown Himself so faithful. Prayer warriors have raised up this challenge time and again. And family with keys to the house have washed more dishes for me, mowed my lawn, painted many a square foot, and driven me about. Admitting what I cannot do has allowed others to help in ways I would have previously, stubbornly refused. Yet, the dishes needed doing. The lawn needed mowing. And they did it for me, out of love, knowing it would bother me that they weren’t done, and even more that I couldn’t do it.

Sometimes as a teacher, seeking to show how Jesus loves us in our every day, we are put in situations where we must receive that which we hope to send out to others.

I can’t write much. I haven’t been able to read for any length of time for months on end as the side-to-side eye motion increased the vertigo. I haven’t been able to do or be many of things for which I had purposed my life. I believe those things will return. Only time will tell.

For years, I have longed to write about Sabbath. And bits of thoughts have appeared on this blog. Yet I wonder if a more powerful story of Sabbath can be written after this, having experienced a forced, months-long rest of a different sort. Only time will tell.

Whatever you’re facing, know you are not alone. He is with you. And what will come of your current situation…only time will tell.

Make a declaration…

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“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may about more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” –Philippians 1:2-11, ESV

Make a declaration. With your life, with your love. With your peace, bring calm. With your fire, bring a flame.

Make a declaration. Choose a scripture, a verse or a chapter or a testament. Write it on your heart. Proclaim it in your soul, in your home, from the hilltops.

Make a declaration.

“…choose this day whom you will serve…” –Joshua 24:15, ESV

As Joshua declared to the people, declare to your very soul.

Make a declaration.

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God…” –Deuteronomy 30:19-20, ESV

God called the people to choose. He declared two sides: blessing or cursing. And He declared that they should choose life.

Receive Jesus’ very declaration:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” –John 15:16-17, ESV

Make a declaration. Make a choice. Because you have already been chosen.

Lay the Shock Aside…

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Something happened in January that sidelined me. And still recovering from that incident, I am emerging with some realizations about life. A long email sent to a friend in response to: “how’s life” revealed much.

But what I realize in this moment is this: I have wasted a ton of time and energy being shocked by life. Shocked people would be mean. Shocked people would go out of their way to be nice. Shocked that things worked out. Shocked that things didn’t work out. Shocked at what “should” be. Shocked that anything turns out in an ideal world.

I get tired even writing those sentences. In a constant state of shock is a rough way to live.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” –Luke 19:10, ESV

He didn’t come to seek and shock. He came to save us. Save us from our selves, our sin, our wretched being. Drenched in stink, He came to die in our place that we could be clean, that we could come into the presence of the One Holy God. We can’t get there on our own–only the death and resurrection of Jesus, and our accepting Him as His rightful place: Savior–then we can be clean. Then we can know God in a way we couldn’t before.

And He gave us the Bible that we could live in peace. He didn’t come to shock us–He came to bring wisdom, peace, and assurance that this is not our final world.

If you’re living in shock, trust me: there is another life. A life that has peace following the ebb and flow. Not shocked, but not naive either. Just living the life before us that we can eventually live the eternal life with Him.

Bold steps not always seen…

Boldness

Leadership requires taking steps. Sometimes the steps are forward, sometimes to the side, and sometimes backward. The classic biblical example of taking bold steps is, of course, Peter stepping out onto the water after asking Christ to call him. But not every bold step is outwardly bold.

Bringing a team forward and enacting culture change in an organization blends outwardly bold steps with inwardly bold steps. The organization needs to understand that change is coming or is already in process. Those are the outwardly bold steps.

But the inwardly bold steps are more critical to success. The choice to bring a neutral response to a tumultuous situation shows your people that calm gets the job done better than panic. The choice to show understanding even while correcting behavior proves both that everyone makes mistakes and mistakes cannot continue as a standard practice. And let’s face it: sometimes the choice to walk out the door is the boldest decision you can make.

But with Peter’s water-walking so prominent in our memories, we sometimes need a reminder that the more private bold steps make a world of difference.

  • Hannah, while praying boldly before God in 1 Samuel about her desire for a child, took the bold step of revealing her heartache to the priest who thought she was drunk. That boldness, not described in scripture as something she shared with anyone else, led to the blessing that led to her son who would become a priest for the people Israel.
  • Stephen, in Acts, took the bold step of accepting the task from the disciples to feed the widows. The people’s needs were met while allowing the disciples to continue with their work.
  • David prayed with all his might that his son with Bathsheba would be spared the illness. But when the child passed away, David changed his clothes and continued with his work. The time for supplication over the matter was complete. He didn’t love his son any less, but he boldly chose to continue living.

As we lead others, remember that the seemingly small, quiet steps lay the bricks of the organization you seek to build. Boldness is not merely outward; boldness emerges from the quiet decisions made when nobody else is looking.

Why remember…

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A cousin doing some cleaning, sending old family photos. From junior high makeovers circa early 90s to the “line up” shown above, we laughed through different family eras.

And something else happened when the photo hit Facebook. Reminiscing extended beyond the traditional “how were we ever that small?!”

One of the age gaps in our nearly-30-cousins generation showed its presence, as the middle group of cousins remembered a particular game played in the back yard with the uncles. The older group hadn’t heard of the game. Remembering isn’t always about sharing the same memory–many times it is about sharing different experiences from the same time.

We wondered, guessing, on where the cousins were who had to have been in the world, but maybe were infants at the time. Remembering isn’t always about who was there–sometimes it is also about who was to come.

An employee of my older brother commented, enjoying seeing him at such a young age. Remembering publicly draws others in–those who weren’t in the picture 30 years ago get to live vicariously through our family memories.

One subset of cousins remembers putting on plays in the basement while another remembers tap dancing on a wood cutting board so grandma could see the results of dance classes. Another builds on the memory, reminiscing that her father had the new video camera running 24/7–there must be video of the tap dancing somewhere. Another chimes in that he has witnessed said video, and it is in his mom’s basement. Remembering often branches–one memory stirs another. And another family member draws out more evidence.

In all the differences and branches and gaps and the joining of others in the remembering, we all remember the yard, the house, and the grandparents who lived there.

It strikes me how often God instructs us to remember. Throughout the Old Testament, He tells His people to build an altar so that they can remember for generations to come. The New Testament brings communion–and the command that whenever the family partakes, they remember.

Remembering God’s work is about more than remembering His deeds. The family reminiscing above included declarations of a need for a reunion. Remembering brings the family of God together. Remembering both bridges the age gaps while sharing and learning from the different experiences of each group. It is remembering the One Who always was and Who also is to come. It is about drawing others into our memories, into our remembrances of God. And it is about bringing out branches of memories–from one story to evidence of the story.

Remembering God’s hand, His actions, His love does so much  more than remind us of His faithfulness. It just may be that in remembering, He is drawing us closer together as family.