God has a plan for each one of us. One way to discern our distinctive life is from the perspective of discovering our “sealed orders” from Him. Sealed orders, historically, referred to specific written instructions given, for example, to the captain of a ship regarding his destination or mission. They were not to be opened until a specified time or place is reached. They were then opened and followed. God has given each one of us sealed orders for our lives. He invites us to open them by paying attention to the little everyday things that give us life. God comes to us in so many ways when we are still before Him. A key way for me has been to pay attention to God coming through my body as I pray. Author Sheila Linn simply and profoundly describes this process: “When I am in touch with the special purpose of my life in. Read more.
“But they soon forgot what he had done, and did not wait for his counsel.” (Ps. 106:13). In other words, they did not wait for “God’s activity in and around them to unfold” (literal translation of the Hebrew). They were in too much of a hurry. They allowed mistrust and impatience to blind them. This may be our most difficult task. Like my friends in 12 steps groups for alcohol and drugs, I remain in recovery as an “impatient leader” who will wrestle till I die with the slow, unfolding plans of God. God is shaping the work we do for Him as an expert potter. There is no way we can understand what He is doing from our limited perspective as clay. We must do our due diligence in strategic planning, thinking, and setting goals. At the same time, we must pray with an open hand and wait. God’s plans always take time. Read more.
I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. (Ps. 69:1) I remember John Milton’s Paradise Lost as I looked at the pictures of the twenty 6-7 year old children who were killed last Friday. He compares the evil of history to a compost pile – a mixture of decaying substances such as animal excrement, vegetable and fruit peels, potato skins, egg shells, dead leaves, and banana peels. If you cover it with dirt, after some time it smells wonderful. The soil has become a rich, natural fertilizer and is tremendous for growing fruit and vegetables – but you have to be willing to wait, in some cases, many years. Milton’s point is that the worst events of human history that we cannot understand, even hell itself, are only compost in God’s wonderful eternal plan. Out of the greatest evil, the. Read more.
I preached yesterday on Abraham and Sarah’s impatient decision to move ahead of God as they waited for His promise of Issac (Gen. 16:1-4). It is hard to pass judgment on them since I have birthed many an “Ishmael” in my life. Sarah skillfully develops a plan that had worked well for other “ministries” of their day. The only problem is that it was not God’s plan for them! Strategic planning, goal setting, determining our priorities and our “to do” lists are all essential leadership skills. Yet I am also aware how easy it is to use my goals and plans to eliminate the mystery and mess that come with following our living, “wild” God. So I developed this little “Ishmael Test” out of my pondering that I shared with our church family yesterday: 1. Am I afraid to ask God what His will is in this situation? 2. Am I uncomfortable exploring my hidden. Read more.