Prepping for the Promise

prepping

When I was in college down at Florida Atlantic University I was horrible at studying. By horrible I mean I never did it. Actual studying consists of consuming and reviewing new knowledge over increments of time. Who has time for that?! I was incredible at cramming everything in the night before and sometimes even the day of. I would try to figure out the most important ideas, grab better notes from someone else in the library, and ultimately fake my way through it. If passing college classes is what I had to do to prepare for my future, I was amazingly bad at it.

For most of us preparation equals stress. In all areas of our lives we need to prepare; work, school, parenthood, leadership, ministry, coaching, marriage, etc. In all those areas stress can get added to our preparation. We are uncertain of the outcome and some of us force ourselves to cram in every nugget of information  [insert the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book here] while others get so overwhelmed that they throw their hands up and cash out.

I’ve been reading my way through the She Reads Truth reading plan for the Bible in a Year, which means I’ve spent a lot of time lately in Old Testament books like Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc. [For the non-Bible readers, these are the books with all of the commands and instructions, and pretty much no one jumps there for a good daily inspirational reading.] In these books we see the Israelite people get constant instruction from God regarding how they are to worship Him, celebrate, cleanse themselves, basically live, etc. In the same books, over and over again we see the Israelites mess up, breaking God’s commands.

The people of Israel were so stuck in their current situation (wandering around the wilderness) they couldn’t see that in the midst of it, God was preparing them for the promise. The promise in this case was land, a special place for the people to call their own. In these books God doesn’t say “If you make it to the land do this….”, He says “When you get there….” God knew the plan and promise He had for His people. He also knew they weren’t ready yet to receive it and would need some prepping along the way.

Is He prepping you along the way right now?

Sooner than later I will be taking the biggest and riskiest step in faith I have ever taken; leaving my established home church and helping launch a church plant in Toms River, NJ where I will be leading worship. Terrifying. Exciting. Unqualified. Sufficient. The mix of emotions is intense and real. My pattern of “cramming for exams” will not work in this situation. However, I have been given a promise. It is written that those who take delight (follow, love, trust, walk with) in the Lord will be given the desires of their hearts. That’s a promise. Never in a million years when I walked around aimlessly with the promise out of sight did I think God was preparing me for such a role. I can rest in the assurance that if God has promised it, He will be in it, and He will help to prepare me for the promise He has given.

The desires of our hearts vary, as do our life circumstances, but can you take a moment to look back and see how God has been shaping you for your future? The shaping is not easy, it can be painful and messy. It can be extremely long (think 40 years in the wilderness long).  It is through both the victories and trials that God prepares us for His plan, His promises, His Kingdom building work [all night coffee cram session not needed].

 

139

139

I am always busy. Too busy for friends. Too busy to play with my kids. Too busy to cook a real dinner. Too busy to read. Too busy to think a real thought. And way too busy to talk to God.  “I can’t right now, I’m too busy.” should be the name of the fourth child I will never have. In a world where we can be reached via text, email, call, Facebook, Skype, twitter, all at once on one device, we are left with little time to sit quietly and chat with the One who made us.

 Today was different. I am blessed to be working at Bayside Chapel. Today the second half of our day was scheduled to be a half day of prayer. Intentional time to remove ourselves from our “busyness” and privately chat with our Father.

 It was in this time that I realized my conversations with Him, while limited have also been one-way, leaving Him no room to speak. I found that I tend to speak with Him about the needs of others and never mention myself or my heart. Does anyone else tend to do this?

 A true conversation happens when we are open and honest, both to the person we are talking to and ourselves. After praying for a little while I could almost feel that awkward moment. The moment when you’re done speaking but the person you’re talking to is clearly expecting more from you but you don’t know what to say. It was as if God was saying, “….Uh…Is that REALLY all you’ve got?…What’s going on with YOU?….” So Psalm 139 is where I began, because honestly I didn’t know where to begin and I saw Psalm 139 written down on a piece of paper near me, so I thought, “Sure, why not?” The whole Psalm is awesome, but the part that hit me, that broke me, was

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

When was the last time I prayed this? When was the last time I asked God to really search me? My response became an open conversation. One where both parties were heard. One where I was able to speak like me, because really, who else should I be speaking like? Our Father loves us each, individually and personally. He made us unique, with different callings, and different voices. Why in the world should I be keeping myself from Him? As if to what, hide my true self from Him….as if He doesn’t already know? I read this Psalm, I prayed this Psalm, and then on my stereo a song began to play by Gateway Worship titled 139. Guess what? It’s based on Psalm 139…how did I not get that before? Oh right, I was too busy.

I long to know my Father as intimately as He already knows me. I asked God today to be the desire of my heart, above all others. I pray that as God answers me, I can continue to be real with Him. I encourage all of us to take time with God today, talk to Him about the important things, about the silly things, about the things hidden in your heart, and leave some free air space for Him to speak too.

Filet O Fish

While many people are spending the month of January thinking about their diets and budgets, I’ve personally committed to New Thru 30, a YouVersion New Testament reading plan created by Elevation church. So you read through the New Testament in 30 days, New Thru 30, get it? So it’s January 23rd and I’m on day 7. I’ve read through Matthew, Mark, and am now reading through Luke. While reading the same two stories, for the second time, I noticed something (that’s right, it took me two times).filet o fish

In Mark 6, starting around verse 30 a familiar story begins. Jesus is hanging out with his disciples and a huge crowd of people, 5,000+, teaching them about the kingdom of heaven. The day wears on and his disciples go to Jesus and basically say, “Ummm, the people will need to eat. There’s no food here. Maybe you should send them out to McDonald’s or something so they have dinner?” Jesus looks at them and says “You feed them.” Uh…with what? The disciples knew they didn’t have enough food for all of these people, and they surely didn’t have the money to go out and buy 5,000+ people dinner. Jesus finds out from the disciples that in their possession they have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.

We know the story right? Jesus blesses the small amount of food, breaks it into pieces, and gives it to the disciples for them to pass out to all of the people. The disciples handed out enough food that evening to feed everyone and walk away with 12 doggy bags (that’s a lot of leftovers). Amazing right? How cool for the disciples to be able to witness and participate in an awesome miracle?! I figure when people witness God’s miracles they must automatically have unfailing faith……and then we turn to Mark 8.

Seriously, just turn your bible a page or two and you will find something pretty funny in Mark 8. At this point Jesus has been hanging out with his disciples and another large crowd for three days. Jesus this time goes up to his disciples and says “So they’re all out of food. I can’t just send them away, they’ll probably faint from hunger on their way home.” His disciples reply with “What are we suppose to do about it?”. OK, maybe not exactly like that, but close enough. I imagine Jesus starts off the next line with a shake of his head and a sigh, “How much bread do we have?” Almost like, “Really guys? I just did this, not long ago, 5,000 people, remember? We had leftovers? We all ate until we were full? Remember?”

Didn’t the disciples remember what Jesus did? Shouldn’t they have had faith to say “Jesus we know you can feed them, can we do that bread and fish thing again?” Do I remember the times that God has so obviously been working in my life? Do I have strong enough faith to say “OK God, I know you got this.” While reading the beginning of Mark 8 makes me laugh at the disciples, I also had to laugh at myself. My ability to  forget God’s blessings is remarkable and my dependence on myself is laughable.

I would like to think that after witnessing God at work in such a remarkable way that my faith would be strong. That I would never doubt. That I would never again depend solely on myself. The truth is that I have seen God at work, I have been blessed by Him, and many times I remain to lean on my own understanding. I pray that my dependence would be on Him, and not of myself. I pray that not only do I remember the blessings God has shed upon me, but that I remember his faithfulness through all things. His faithfulness to never leave me, to love me always, and to forever be a Father who provides for his child.