Wednesday
May212014

Maximum Impact

Maximum impact.

We want to know that what we do makes a difference, leaves a mark, really counts:

- words of our children; will they see and "get it" or live like it never happened?

- actions in the work world; the sales meeting, the store, the classroom, or the boardroom; will we be part of building something that matters or just getting a check?

- the community and the world we live in; will we leave it a little different or are we just filling a slot?

- the church where we attend: are we changing lives and destinies or giving a thumbs up/down on things like the music, the sermon, the temperature in the room?

I believe in our better moments, the moments when we are alone, thinking, reflective, aware of God's call on our lives, what we REALLY want is to have "maximum impact.”

Joshua was called to make an impact upon a wall, a city, a nation, and a legacy of faith. He was determined not to waste his people's time or energy. Listen to his instructions in Joshua 6:10.

You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, "Shout!" Then you shall shout!

The army of the Hebrews was up against a foe too formidable for them. (So are we.) Joshua's people needed help, (So do we.) BIG help. The LORD God had led them to this place. The LORD God had given them a promise. Now the LORD God was revealing a plan. "Be quiet till its time to speak. Then speak with ALL that is in you!”

The situation was slightly different, but the path is pretty similar for us today.

Restraint. Restraint. Restraint.

Then, and ONLY then . . . MAXIMUM IMPACT.

I wonder . . .

Where is it that you are being called to use self-control?

- pray instead of complaining. Talk to God instead of going to others.

- be faithful with what seems like no results until God is ready to give BIG results.

- put in time as a friend BEFORE earning the request to share your opinion or your faith.

God is NO LESS interested in making an impact with YOU in your needs than he did with Joshua in his.

"Oh God, show me what it looks like today to live so you might have maximum impact in me, through me, and around me.”

Grace & peace

Tuesday
May202014

What Kind of Plan IS This?!

"It's one of those social media posters that's made the rounds. On one side is a little stick figure, on a bike, headed up a steep mountain. It's labeled, 'Your plans for success.' On the other side is a stick figure on a bike weather storms, valleys, turns, gaps, etc. It's labeled, '(God's plan for success).'" (Ramona Richards)

Joshua had an experience that reminds me of that.

He has been promised a win, "I have given Jericho into your hand." (Joshua 6:2 NASB)

But as he comes to the city it is "tightly shut." (6:1)

So what's the plan? God's got a plan, right? Yes.

The first people God mentions are not warriors but priests. Priests? Priests.

The first item God mentions are not swords or spears but trumpets. Trumpets? Trumpets.

The first action God mentions is not fighting but marching and going home. Really? Really.

And if I were Joshua, sitting next to a walled city with a promise that we were going to rout this mighty enemy, I would want to ask God, "What kind of a plan IS this??!" or "Did I hear wrong?”

But Joshua doesn't do that. He's a soldier. He gets his orders. He obeys. He succeeds. God comes through BIG.

I wonder . . .

Do you feel like your path is more of a circle than a straight line?

Do you feel like the resources in your life are NOT really the ones you need?

Remember, God OFTEN selects a tiny, overmatched person to be His partner. Think David with 5 smooth stones. Or a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000 people.

Remember, God OFTEN asks his overmatched people to do something unexpected before God delivers. Think Gideon being told to send some warriors HOME before a fight starts. Think Moses who was told to pick up the snake . . . by the tail.

So be faithful, like Joshua. When you seem the most overwhelmed, when God gives you the strangest instruction, obey, THAT'S when It's about to get interesting.

Grace & peace

Thursday
May152014

Will You Take the Ark Challenge?

Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people. (Joshua 3;6 NASB)

It was a BIG moment in the life of the whole country. They were getting ready to possess the land God promised them. They had heard their parents and their grandparents talk about Moses, the land, the Promise, the Covenant . . . and NOW it was going to happen. THEY were the ones who were about to see its fulfillment!

So what was the big deal about the ark? It was a reminder of God's presence and power among them.

"By this you shall know that the living God is among you." (3:10)

"When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God . . . then you shall set out front your place and go after it." (3:3)

I wonder . . .

What has God put in YOUR life to remind you God is present and powerful?

To whom does God want YOU to serve as a reminder of God's power and presence?

I CHALLENGE YOU to take time, ponder those questions, and ask the Spirit to begin to answer them today.

Grace & peace

Wednesday
May142014

They Need a Safe House

We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father's household. (Joshua 2:17-18 NASB)

Hebrew spies were scoping out the town of Jericho. God was getting ready to give them the land. God had already given them an unlikely ally: a prostitute named Rahab.

In exchange for hiding them, they would protect her and her family. But SHE had to do something: She had to GATHER her family into the safehouse. Their lives were depending upon her and they may not have even known it.

I wonder . . .

Who is depending upon YOU?

Whose life depends upon YOUR faithfulness?

They may NOT even KNOW it!

My prayer for you today is that this burden drives you to your knees;

that you become determined to get a hold of God in prayer;

that you refuse to let go of God until God promises to bless, protect, and save those for whom you are pleading.

Grace & peace Jeff

Tuesday
May132014

What Happened?

Almost twenty-three years ago Tammi and I had our first baby. We did the things parents do with babies: changed diapers, provided her with food, rocked her to sleep, picked her up when she cried. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

It was easy to get lost in that moment, whichever task it was. Diapers stink. Crying is sometimes urgent. Who had time to think about the future when the moment demanded action?

But we also had heard this great secret from older parents: babies grow up and go away.

So we tried to prepare for the days that would come later. We prayed for her future. We saved for college (thought it is NEVER enough). We asked God to be preparing her future husband.

It was STILL easy to get lost in the moment: teams to coach, concerts to attend, lessons to learn, discipline to provide,

Then . . . one day . . . she gets married and that chapter of life is done. We're not finished being parents but the relationship has changed. She has a husband. She has a different address. She has a new last name.

I find myself asking, "What happened?" What we had been moving toward for so long, that day that seemed so far away in the distance, the thing that seemed like it might not ever actually happen . . . did. It came. It went. It is over. What happened?

Joshua and the children of Israel might have been having some of those same thoughts. God says to the new leader, " . . . arise, cross this (river) Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them . . . " (Joshua 1:1 NASB)

The people had heard for years that this land had been promised to them. But Moses couldn't get them there. The last four decades had been years of wandering; probably feeling like the day would never come . . . and then it did.

I wonder . . .

Do you have a goal in your head of something that WILL one day happen?

Do you ever feel like it is hard to keep moving forward, keep being faithful?

Let me give you a word today: it WILL happen.

This moment of obedience to God's leading is NOT a waste or a fool's errand.

Be faithful. Keep moving ahead, even if the step is more of a stumble than a run.

Because one day IT will be here and you'll look around and wonder how it was over so quickly.

Grace & Peace