Archives For Opportunity

bookcoverkindled2c

There will be times that God causes you to notice people, and at other times He will simply lead someone right to you directly. I have had both of these happen in my life, almost on a daily basis.

Once, I was in a local store in California shopping with my family. My son Noah had to use the restroom. After we finished, we were on our way back to meet my wife and daughter, when I noticed a woman visibly upset. God touched my spirit and caused me to stop. I asked her, “What’s troubling you?” “Nothing,” she replied. I then said, “Are you sure?”

She responded by letting me know I would not want to hear it. I assured her, I would not have stopped if I didn’t want to hear it. She smiled and began to pour her heart out. She spoke to me for about five minutes about all that was going wrong for her. Her troubles were pressing in on her, and she felt alone and helpless. She was frustrated, angry and bitter about life.

I listened to every word she said, and I never broke eye contact. My son watching was just an added bonus because I knew he would ask me later why we stopped for a total stranger, and I would have the opportunity to pour into him compassion ministry. When the lady was finished speaking, I said, “You know, I bet the rest of your day is going to be just fine.”

She laughed and said, “I think you’re right. Thanks for taking the time to listen.” “You’re welcome,” I said and my son and I departed. I know it sounded effortless and not much like a miracle, but for her it meant everything. It was the miracle she needed for the day.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 48-49).  . Kindle Edition.

Choose Image_0

I’m not good with emptiness, but God is great with emptiness. Emptiness often becomes God’s greatest creative place in your life and mine.

Joseph was found in an empty well in Genesis 37:24 because of the envy of his brothers; yet eventually through the sovereign determination of God is made prime minister, second in the land of Egypt.

Emptiness doesn’t have to be a negative situation or a negative emotion when you know God is truly sovereign in your life. In fact, the greatest place to see the true message of what God can do with “empty” things is to ponder the empty tomb of Christ. The empty tomb is not a message of defeat and hopelessness. The empty tomb speaks to all of us, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18

Maybe today you are feeling empty. Maybe today the future doesn’t seem so hopeful for you. Maybe today you can’t see past the moment of pain at all. Instead, You find yourself  hearing the negative and defeating voice of emptiness, and not the life giving voice emptiness has under the command of God.

You need to choose which voice you are going to listen to. Choose the negative and defeating voice and you will reap what that path leads to. Choose the life giving voice of emptiness and you will reap what that path leads to. If you are jobless today, if you are broken today by stress that is almost unbearable, if you are in the middle of family drama that is endless, there is hope for you. Your emptiness is a gift if you listen to the right voice.

Emptiness is a crisis, but in every crisis there is an opportunity for God to show off for His own glory. If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you must believe that God has a plan and purpose in and through your emptiness. You can’t ever forget that God always shows up to demonstrate His glory in His perfect timing. God can work wonders beyond your dreams!

Which voice will you choose? Will you choose the negative and defeating voice, or the life giving voice of God? I think we both know which is correct. Now choose wisely.

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

words

I want you to think of the power of your words today. I not only want you to think about them, but I want you to take an inventory of them today. I ask you to pay close attention throughout the day to the words you use toward others and even yourself.

When I was young I worked in my fathers business. He owed a heating and air condition business and also did metal fabrication. We had a supply room, and from time to time he would make me do inventory of all our products. I would spend days counting big items all the way down to small items. For 8 hours a day for several days I would count.

It was a tedious job, but it was a necessary job also. Once I had the inventory completed, I had an accurate count and assessment of everything we owned.  I could now order or add to what was lacking, and I could now even throw away anything that wasn’t needed or was broken. Inventory clears things up and makes it easier to see exactly where you are. It clears the path forward.

There are times in life you need to take an inventory of things. Today I want you to start taking an inventory of your words. Have you ever stopped to think about the power of the words you use? The words you say to yourself, others, enemies, friends, co-workers, your family, spouse and your children?

Your words affect your life. Your words affect the lives of others. Most importantly, your words reveal what is in your heart. Words show what you have in your inventory. Many miscalculate the power of their words. They say to themselves, “It’s not all that important, they are just words.” That’s not true through. Words are powerful. Words can build or tear down. They can destroy or create. Words set the tone of every conversation.

With words, you can make someone’s day or shatter someone’s day. You can inspire someone or discourage someone. You can build someone up or tear someone down. Your words can move some to do their best work, or to work against you. Words are either life affirming or destructive. For all these reasons,  we should take an inventory or our words often, and choose our words carefully.

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so allow me to give you a picture. This picture is found in the book of Luke.

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJV)

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Emphases added)

The picture stand on its own. Words come from the heart. They are either good or bad. Inventory is tied to our hearts. We are challenged to clear up our words, thereby clearing up our hearts. When our hearts are clear of destructive words, we can then speak into the lives of others words of life and creation.

You see, frequently, though not always, what people criticize in others is what they are afraid of in their own lives.  Jesus also pointed out that a persons words would eventually tell what kind of person he or she is. Therefore, it’s imperative that we take an inventory of junk words still floating around in our hearts. It’s important to do so. It’s life changing to do so. In fact, God himself will one day take inventory of our heart.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NKJV)

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We as Christ followers have a great task at hand, which is taking an inventory of our words for the sake of His glory. I challenge you today to look closely at your conversations and at the carelessness we often use in our speech. You might just be surprised at the junk that is still in your heart.

My prayer: Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Problems-of-Faith

Acts 5:40-42 ESV

And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

 

It has been said, “God doesn’t simply want us to feel good. He wants us to be good. And very often the road to being good involves not feeling good.”

Suffering can be embraced as a wind of advancement OR Suffering can be embraced as a wind of retreat

In Acts 5, Peter and the apostles suffering pressed them forward and not backwards

  • They were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore
  • They Rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name
  • They daily taught in the temple and from house to house, preaching Jesus

They could live through suffering because they had a view that looked higher than the suffering right in front of them.

Suffering becomes beautiful when you look up, down and around and realize you are following Jesus.

Do You Notice?

February 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

noticeme

One of the greatest comforts the Bible demonstrates is that Jesus takes pleasure in breaking away from the crowd to take care of the individual. It is simply impossible to be lost from Him in a crowd. In Mark 5: 24-34, we read the story of a woman in the crowd.

We are told that she had suffered for many years. In fact, she had been suffering for twelve years. Her condition was growing worse daily, and she was out of money. We are told that she touched the cloak of Jesus and immediately she was healed. Jesus felt power issuing from Himself. Jesus then turns to look for who touched him. Once she is identified, by falling at his feet, the real miracle takes place. She is validated in front of everyone.

As soon as Jesus was face to face with this woman the crowd faded into the background; the crowd was forgotten and there seem to be no one there but Jesus and her. She had His full attention. Now that is the true miracle simply because she had captured the full consideration of God. You see, the world is still full of people lost in the crowd, and they are searching for their healing. They are waiting for someone to give them the same attention God gave this woman in Mark 5.

We are called to notice people. We must stop walking by the suffering because we are afraid to emerge from our schedules. Someone in your path today needs to be noticed, and God wants to use you to meet them. Think about it. Life is short, and each day must count.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 47-48).  . Kindle Edition.

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keep-on-dreaming

That day in the future, you know the one I’m talking about. That dream of becoming a (Insert dream) will only be accomplished when you do the work today that needs to be done in order to get there. Dreams rarely just fall into your lap. Therefore, hard consistent effort must be you daily exercise.

When you apply faith to daily hard work, your dream will take one step closer to you. If you believe in your dream, and have the passion to see it come to pass, your dream will happen in God’s timing. Dreams are not accomplished through haste. Dreams require time to develop and grow.

All great dreams take time to be accomplished. Don’t let impatience steal your dream by causing you to give up before you cross the finish line.  You have the dedication it takes! There is no mountain you can’t climb with God help.

Nature often teaches us about patience if we will only notice. I spend a lot of time in the woods hunting and observing nature up close. For instance, I’ve seen birds building a nests as I’ve set for hours in a tree stand. I’ve watched them over hours and hours fly back, and fourth finding sticks and straw to build their nest.

At times, while the bird was away finding more material, the wind would blow away the previous work, but it didn’t deter the bird once it returned. The bird would simply replace what the wind blew away and continue building. The dream of a nest must move forward.

Pursuing your dream will not always be easy. You will have times that you feel like giving up and walking away. Hang in there! Don’t throw in the towel! God is with you and will give you the grace to take daily steps if you will just trust Him and keep moving and working.

Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from dreaming your dream and pursuing it. Don’t allow stumbling blocks and bad days to be the strongest voice in your life telling you to stop. Don’t settle for average, but instead, set your sights high and land among the stars.

John Maxwell describes a dream as “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”

Allow me to give you a few tips on achieving the dream God has put inside of you.

1. Know what the dream is. (Write a book, Become a painter, Become…)

2. Plan the path and pray the path. (You need action steps empowered by prayer)

3. Bring others into your dream. (Find people who will keep you accountable)

4. Overcome fear. (Never allow fear to master you) 5. Stop waiting. (Today is the day you start and not tomorrow)

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your dreams be built in a day. Now get going.

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Exodus 8:8-10

8 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said,  “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.

Pharaoh said to Moses, “Tomorrow.” That is just crazy. Pharaoh was covered up with frogs, and the man of God offered to take them away and Pharaoh responded by saying, “Tomorrow.”

As Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Today and not tomorrow is the best time to let God take the frogs out of your life. Now I know that Pharaoh was an enemy of the people of God, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two from him.

If there is something in your life that needs to be removed, and God wants to remove it, then today is the day…not tomorrow. When God offers to deliver you, take it and be free.

Are there any frogs in your life?

bookcoverkindled2c

That so many Christians are satisfied with only a vertical relationship with God and feel no pull to the horizontal mission field they live in daily astonishes me. Ministry happens only in their lives by accident instead of on purpose. The problem is, God is not satisfied with that kind of life because He has created good works for them to be part of every day, if they would only look on the harvest field Jesus spoke of. We must remember God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. He is watchful and waiting on you to enter the field.

When I was a young man, my father bought some land and had a vision to farm it. We cleared several acres over several summers, and we had it stocked with many animals. The highlight of the acreage was our field of sweet potatoes – three acres of sweet potatoes! For those of you who love math, that is 14,520 sq yards of blood, sweat and tears. My father had a rightful expectation that the field would produce. After all, that is what a field that has been planted should do when it is looked after with care. I can remember working hard in the field alongside my father. I can still see his face now and the joy he got from the expected future.

When he would leave to run into town or some other errand, he would always say to my brother and me, “Work hard boys, I’ll be back.” We knew exactly what my father meant. He would be returning, and we were expected to continue working the field as though he was right beside of us. My brother and I would always try to work harder while he was gone so that when our father returned he would be well pleased. What brought him joy brought us joy. Why did my father work so hard? Why did my brother and I work so hard? There was a purpose; there was a future harvest. We simply wanted to see the greatest harvest possible. I know God the Father wants the same from us. He wants to seek the lost through us. That is what God desires to do through every believer. All He needs from you is the promise that He can interrupt you anytime and anywhere. When He gets you to that place, you will become a page being written under His mighty hand, and when the chapter is completed, all of Heaven will celebrate. What are you waiting on? The fields are white for harvest … get going. He is waiting on you.

 

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 68-69).  . Kindle Edition.

You can purchase a copy of The Descent to Compassion on Amazon. Click Here

Called To The Gap

December 6, 2012 — 2 Comments

bridge-the-gap
As Christ followers, we follow Christ. That being said, never forget that Jesus is also found walking in mission fields beyond North America and we must follow there also.

You may not be able to travel to mission fields far away, but you can give to them. When your giving is done with God’s love it becomes a demonstration of His grace, mercy to the world beyond your shorelines.

God has called each of us to fill the gap between North America and the rest of the world. As I mentioned a moment ago, you may not be able to travel abroad, but you can give to them. Your money can travel.

God has His missionaries placed throughout the world. They are His servants that live the message of His love out every day in some of the poorest places on earth. They need your help to stay there. Deep in your heart you know they are out there and deep in your heart you can feel the commitment calling you to give more.

2 Corinthians 9:7
tells us, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”

I give to missions. I’ve been on the mission field many times. Yes, there are works to be done at our own doorstep, but our doorstep also opens to the entire world. We have in North America the funding to completely change the world if each of us would do just a little.

I’m sure you have a desire to give, but maybe there is something standing in the way of your giving. You have a life to live. You have bills to pay. You have dreams to accomplish. All of those are fine, but missions should be part of that plan.

When you invest in missions, I’m convinced that God smiles. We must remember that God has called us to the world that is beyond our local world also.

I end with the following quote from David Livingstone who said, “God had an only Son and He made Him a missionary”

Will you follow? Will you go? Will you give? I know you will because all of us are called to the gap in some way or another.