I am 43 and my eyes are beginning to open. The older I get the more I realize LIFE is bigger than me. Sure I knew that as a teenager, through my 20's, into my 30's and now the early stages of my 40's. However, my heart is changing. The eyes of my heart are opening up. There area couple of reasons for this. First, my oldest son, Matt just recently got married. He is 21. Married. I shouldn't be old enough to have a son whose married, but I am. His marriage has brought me closer to the potential reality of grandkids. I think generations beyond me. It's getting real! Second, I made a major move from Texas to New England, following God's leading for my life. That move has done more to my heart, my faith and my relationships that I can communicate. Thus, as I pay attention to the feelings and thoughts in me, some surface immediately. Such as, the fear of the Lord, humility, intentionality, focus and faithfulness. At the same time, I live in a society (not just New England) where I am bombarded by a culture feeding on negativity. WE all love a story with a happy ending, but they are more rare than common. We are a culture that feeds at the trough of trauma and tragedy.
Therefore, I want to see a Culture of Promise emerge. There must be a counter-culture to the one we live in. For a Christ follower it's called the "Kingdom of God." In these days it's critical we live in a Culture of Promise because one can't turn on the TV, browse the web or listen to satellite radio without being body slammed by negativity, hopelessness. Thus, we hoard, get inclusive, selfish, greedy and/or apathetic. Why believe for change, afterall, the problem is bigger than one man or one movement to correct. That's why I believe in a Culture of Promise. A Culture of Promise recognizes that we live for generations that we will never see. What we do today MATTERS! It's critical that we lift our heads and get a vision beyond the horizon of our life, seeing into the 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation. When my descendants search ancestry-dot-com I want them to see someone who was faithful to God and served him wholeheartedly. I want them to see someone who didn't give up or give in, but stayed faithful to God and believed God for revival and reformation. Do such people exist? YES!
Joshua was one of them. He was a young disciple of Moses and a leader in the nation of Israel. When Moses passed away, the mantle of leadership was given to Joshua. He was the valiant Isareli leader for many years. The impact of his leadership can be seen in the book of Joshua 24:31. The bible records, "The people of Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua AND the elders who OUTLIVED him -- those who had PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED all that the Lord had done for Israel." (NLT) What a glorious and brilliant bible verse.
Joshua knew that he was living for a generation that he would never see. (Sound familiar?)
He was raised in a culture of negativity. (Sound familiar?)
It was the negativity of his people that caused them to wander the desert for 40 years. God was so upset by their lack of trust in Him that He delayed their journey into the Promised Land because he wanted the unbelieving generation to die in the wildnerness. However, two men stood out because they stood up, believing in God & His promises. Joshua and Caleb were these two men. Joshua cultivated a heart of faithfulness to God. He led with integrity and strength. How do we know? Because the bible tells us that throughout Joshua's life, those who lived beyond him and personally experienced God, SERVED THE LORD. I want that for our kids, grandkids, great grandkids and beyond. I want us to serve God so faithfully and wholeheartedly that the generations past us are covered by the shade of our commitment to God.
How can we be in Christ and be happy in a culture of powerlessness? We carry the presence of the resurrected Christ, therefore powerlessness is unacceptable. Weakness is fine. It's good. It's a moment to display the graceful strength of God. However, powerlessness? Not ok! I'm concerned that people have lowered the bar of success because life is hard. Instead of being overcomers and people overflowing with hope, we have decided to just keep our heads above water. You can't change the world if you are always treading for your life. Jesus did not die so we could just tread water for a few years, have some vacations, pay for college and enjoy a nice home and car. He died so that we would be gloriously transformed by the grace of God, and as such, partner with him for the transformation of other people's lives. He died so nations could be saved and rescued by the power of God. He died so that we could do more than tread water and survive, but so that we would fulfill our destiny; reach the other side of our purpose and calling. If you are drowning, getting your head above water is AWESOME! We celebrate that. But don't stop!
We need to be a people who stay encouraged. We are being trained by the Holy Spirit to speak and see amazing things. Matthew captured Jesus' articulation of this idea in Matthew 17:20. He said that if we have the faith of a small mustard seed we would SPEAK to mountains and WATCH them fall into the sea. They were being encouraged and trained to SPEAK and WATCH amazing things happen. If you listen to too much media it's easy to be convinced that the world is going to hell quickly.
Corruption. Terrorism. Bioterror. Ebola. Economic Depression. Global Insecurity. Nuclear Arms. Radical Islam. Porous Borders. Human Trafficking. Sex Slave Trade. Apathy. Liberalism. Conservatism. Politicians. Taxes. (I think you get the picture.)
Sure bad things are happening. Some very bad things are happening. Great injustices are happening at the hands of humanity. I do not deny that. I simply refuse to let the "dark and evil acts of people" determine my hope, my faith and my conviction that God is good. He is a good God who redeems and He can win with any hand. If we are going to believe something, and we will, why not believe for the best?
1. How is your heart affecting your conversation?
2. What about your heart needs to change so your conversation and language sounds more like Heaven?
3. How does love want to influence you so you can stay encouraged and hopeful while we broker Heaven to Earth?
4. What about your thinking needs to change?
5. What's a better thought you could have about a situation in your life?
6. What's keeping you from having that good thought?
7. What do you want to do with the answer to question 6?
8. Are you having a better thought yet?
More to come so until next time...stay encouraged my friends!