Life Interrupted

I love it when a plan comes together!  You know the feeling.  When you pour your time, energy, resources, heart and soul into something hoping it all comes together. And when it finally does it is such a good feeling.  You had a hunch at the beginning of it all but when the end comes you realize it was all worth it.

Then, there is the other feeling.  When someone or something interrupts your plans.  A circumstance out of your control, something you didn’t plan for or, even worse is when someone deliberately messes with your idea of how things should be.  Sometimes they can be big plans sometime they can be small.  Either way it can be extremely frustrating.  Why?  Why do we get so bothered by life.

I had just sat down in the plane.  I was heading to Texas to speak at a training for young missionaries.  Our church was going through the Community Bible Experience.  It was really cool, but I was behind.  As one of the pastors at the church, I was feeling pretty guilty for being behind.  This was my opportunity to catch up.  A two-hour plane flight down, and some free time while I was down there.  This was going to be a perfect time for me to get caught up and relieve myself of my guilt.

Then it happened.  A young man sat down next to me.  He was a bit of a talker.  I had just gotten the Community Bible Experience Bible out and was just about to put my headphones in.  He was really excited but he had just had one of the best skiing times in his life.  I didn’t want to be rude and listened to him and shared with him in his joy.  I even shared my own times of riding a snowboard in fresh deep powder to show I really knew where he was coming from.  Then the question came.  “So, What do you do?”

“I’m a youth pastor,” I said.

“Wow, didn’t see that coming,” he said.

I actually chuckled and asked,  “Well, what do you think I would do?”  I was interested to find out his response.

“I don’t know he said, but I didn’t see that coming,” he said.  “That’s cool though.”

I wasn’t sure if I was glad I didn’t fit the mold of a pastor or if I should’ve been bothered.  Anyway, our conversation took a bit of a turn over the next two hour flight, as he talked about who he used to go to church and how his mom and him had talked about going back.  He also shared how he had read parts of the Bible before but found it confusing.  He had a desire to start again but didn’t know where to start.

Then that nudge came.  That quiet little voice inside my head.  The one that I know I wouldn’t think this up myself.  “Give him the Bible.”  Ohhhhh, you have got to be kidding me!  I am behind!  I am one of the pastors!  I need to catch up!  How am I supposed to be a good leader if I am behind!

As those thoughts quickly raced through my head I realized there was no point in fight that battle.  I would eventually loose as I always do.

So, I told this young man, “Look I have this Bible that is really cool.  They organized the entire new testament in chronological order so it reads more like a story.  It would be a really great place to start. and you can understand more easily the story that God has written.”

“Wow, that is pretty cool!” he said.

“So here is the deal,” I said, “I’m going to give you my copy, but you need to promise me you read it.”

“Deal!” he said, “I will read it.”

I love it when HIS plan comes together.  I’ve realized I don’t mind so much when my life gets interrupted.  God has a way of making it a whole lot more interesting than I would have ever planned. Yes, sometimes things get really hard and I don’t like it initially.  But, I need to ask myself, “Do I trust in HIS sovereignty or do I trust in my self?”

After all, “ In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)


What’s Your Defining Moment?

There are moments in life that cause us to search our hearts and rethink what we do. We call them defining moments. I’m sure you have had them as I have. They come around not too often, but when they do we pay closer attention to what is deep in our hearts. We walk away from these moments knowing something will change even if we can’t see it yet. It could be just a small tweak in the way we think or a complete shift in what we do.

Last September, I watched a sea of students mourn the loss of two friends who just died in a tragic car accident. My heart broke for them. So many of them are lost, without hope, and far from God. This world is full of young people like them. I shared with Julie the question that raced through my mind at that moment… How can we reach more students for Jesus? Although this was a question I had wrestled with for years, it hit me so much harder. Standing there seeing the hopelessness and asking that question was no doubt a defining moment for us. Little did we know God was preparing us for something far greater than we could imagine.

As I thumbed through the pages of my journal there was a theme that kept coming back: may I have the courage to follow God wherever He leads me and to do it in such a way that I will leave a legacy for my children and for generations to come. God has made it clear that we are to establish the PAIS Project in Brisbane, Australia where I will be the Pioneering Director! We are stepping out in faith with that courage to train missionaries to make missionaries. Instead of a sea of helpless and hopeless students, we want to see a sea of students respond to Jesus’ life-changing invitation to turn their tears of mourning into songs of joy.

What is your defining moment?  How has God used difficult moments in your life to shape you and prepare you for all he has for you?  What has been burning in your heart for years and how will you respond to what God is asking?  What holds you back?  Is it the “What if’s” of life?  My wife reminded me that instead of our “what if’s” being thoughts driven from fear, why can’t our “what if’s” be thoughts filled with thoughts of hope for so much more. What if God can use you and me to increase the number of souls that enter into his Kingdom exponentially!

May these words from Isaiah 61 be an encouragement to you as they have been to us.  “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” 

As the full-time PAIS Pioneering Director, like many missionaries, we are responsible to build a team who will support us financially and in prayer. We need finances for launching the ministry, for moving expenses, as well as ongoing monthly support. Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us in this ministry to see a greater impact for the Kingdom of God? You can give online:  All gifts are tax deductible. The PAIS Movement is making an impact in 10 nations across 6 continents.  Be a part of the movement!

What do you want me to do for you?

“What do you want me to do for you?”

In Luke 18 those are the words Jesus asked a blind beggar who was shouting, “Jesus, son of David have mercy on me!”

I never had thought about that question before. I always just read this passage and saw a miracle happen and a guy now follow Jesus.  But, what if Jesus asked me that question.  What if he asked you that question.  Maybe he has already asked us all that question.  What would our response be?

To be free?  To see?  To hear?  Help me with my unbelief?  Would we ask for riches or mercy?  Fame or to see his Glory?  For power or to be humble?  Would we ask for influence or the opportunity to serve?  For our dreams or his will?  Would we ask to see what he has for us or to hear his voice?  Would we ask for help or the ability to trust him fully?  Blessings or to be a blessing?  We would ask for our lives to bear fruit, knowing that it requires pruning and dry spells so that our roots go deep into His love?  Would we ask for the courage to follow?

I wonder if this man realized the question he was just asked.  The co-creator of the universe, the very one who formed it all, The king of kings and lord of lords just asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Maybe Jesus was just testing this man.  We don’t know.  But it seems Jesus was giving this guy a shot at anything he could have. ANYTHING!

Maybe our response depends on our circumstances.  It seems it did for David as we read the Psalms.  There were times he asked for justice for his enemies, other times he asked for mercy, still other times he begged for forgiveness from his sins and that God’s Holy Spirit would not leave him.  There are times for me that my circumstances change.  I’ve ask God for help, for courage, for wisdom, for discernment, for his will, to see His Glory.  I’ve asked to have a hunger for his word, to see, to hear, to know him more deeply than I ever have before.  I’ve asked for His provision, for guidance, for faithfulness, for strength, for joy, for hope.  I imagine you have asked God for many, or all, of these as well.  I’m sure we can add to the list too.  After all we have not because we ask not.  What have I not asked him for that I need?

But what if the question Jesus is asking comes down to one simple answer?  I’m not saying this is the case for sure but humor me for a moment.  Maybe daily he whispers in our ears, “My son, my daughter, what do you want me to do for you today?”  Maybe each day it is a test.  Maybe he is asking you and me if we are ready to join Him today in the work He is doing?

So what could our simple answer be?

Jesus, Son of David, I want to see, but don’t stop there.  Take all of me.  Take every part of me and heal me that I might follow you wholeheartedly.

It is in that heart of full surrender that then and only then we can see more clearly.  We can hear his voice more clearly.  We can have the courage to follow and trust completely.  We discover joy and contentment.  We learn from His wisdom and have the discernment from the Holy Spirit.  We seek first His Kingdom and realize all these things will be given to us as well.