Where He Leads?

A beautifully constructed stone retainer wall, roughly four feet tall, kept the higher ground in place. Sets of wide steps built periodically into the bulwark provided passage to the park above where grand old oak trees and well-manicured flower gardens invited people to take some time from their busy schedule to relax and absorb the captivating view of the lake that lay further down at the base of the incline.

Living in the rolling hills of Clermont and Minneola, seeing the park on higher ground with an ornate retainer wall wasn’t in any way foreign to me, nor was the concrete pad poured at its base which served as a level walkway and bike path. There sat I.

Why on earth I chose to sit on concrete leaned up against a stone wall I have no idea. In the natural, that would not have been my seat of choice when soft green grass and picnic benches were plentiful just a few steps above me. But this was not the natural. Again, God chose to teach me something through supernatural vision.

I sat to enjoy the view and the warm sunshine. Birds chirped and playful dogs barked. The air offered the smell of gardenias from nearby blooms. I never cease to be amazed by God’s creative handiwork, and always feel closer to Him outdoors than in.

My peripheral vision soon picked up on someone approaching me from the grassy area above my head. I turned, looking slightly upward, and saw from about the knees down who I instantly knew was Jesus. The white robe and sandaled feet assured me this was no ordinary person on an ordinary stroll in the park. Stopping on my left where but one more step would have been the four foot drop to my level, He knelt and extended His hand outward for me to take hold.

“You want to go with me?”
Quickly I turned, looked up and stretched my hand to reach His as I rose to my feet. “Sure, I do! I want to go with You!” Excitement overtook me as I asked Him, “Where are we going?”

His response another question, “Does it matter?”

Immediately I was back in the here and now. I had envisioned the scene, but with stark imagery that has not left me over these many years. The entire episode lasted probably less than a minute, yet has had life-long impact.

Too many times we sing songs like, “Where He leads me I will follow” or “I’m going with Jesus all the way” only to protest once we realize that might actually mean going or into a career or ministry we didn’t plan for. If it means leaving our home town, family and friends behind, we say, “No, thank you,” and rely on God’s grace to bless us right where we are. (Thank God for mercy and grace.) When the path gets a little rocky or the road too long, we are quick to take a new route. Sometimes we turn completely around and go back to the place He led us away from. Whether that be a location, ministry, career, or lifestyle – simply because we don’t like where He is taking us.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

This reaction is not only one of self-centeredness, it also reflects our lack of trust in God’s love for us. He has only good plans in mind for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Psalm 91:16 tells us He will satisfy us with long life – not depress or torment us with it.

We may not like every task or every stop along the way. Sometimes to get to our desired destination means driving through a rough area of town. We might have to travel a desolate highway where, if we let it, fear of what lurks on either side will override the peace of a quiet country drive.

And sometimes following God is the same way. But if we truly surrender our lives to the Lord, He will plant a desire in our hearts for the very place and the very people He leads us to. He will bring us to love it and our joy can be full even in times of sacrifice and difficulty.

God has taken me places that – quite frankly – I did not want to go. But once I got there, I knew it was where I was to be. It just felt (and still feels) right. More often than that, I have looked back several times to realize that a painful experience was what propelled me to a good place in life.

Very recently God has shown me other ventures I am to pursue that I know beyond knowing I did not come up with on my own. They will require long hours and carry, according to human knowledge, high risk of failure. Plus, they are things I just really have never had interest in and know little about.

Yet, the more I envision them, the more excited I become. I am now looking forward to this new journey as a great adventure. As to the risk? The safest place to be is in the will of God. If I follow Him, He will get me there. The only risk is when I set out on my own.

Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV

But even all that aside, the real question is how much do we really want to be with Jesus and to please Him? Do we love Him to the moon and back? Would we follow Him to the ends of the earth? When He invites to walk with Him every day, does our answer depend upon where He plans to take us? Does it matter?

Think before you answer, because I heard He’s going to church Sunday.

I’ll stand for thee, dear Jesus, though death my come my way
I’ll spread the gospel to the fallen here. But if it be thy will, Lord, to go across the sea,
Lord help me to be willing to say yes.
from Jesus Use Me written by Jack and Billy Campbell.

Till next time,
June

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 1

 

The bare block walls rose up around us as though to offer security in an insecure time. The gaps where one day glass panes would be installed this night allowed the cool spring breeze and the sweet smell of Orange Blossoms to grace us with their presence. A bright orange cord strung from Pastor’s house next door and elevated by a pole held the single, bare light bulb. Orange crates served as pews, dirt as the floor, and the starry sky overhead as the most beautiful of ceilings for a worship service.

We were few in number and low in finances. But God instructed Pastor to build, and build she did. Piece by piece, task by task, day by day, God provided. Almost four years later we dedicated our completed, fully furnished, church to its rightful owner—Jesus Christ. He alone had taken a woman and a handful of people in a then tiny community, and built a church to completion without a penny owing.

Dreams do come true.  DSC00185

We serve the Almighty Dream Giver. And when God instills a dream in our heart, He has every intention of that dream becoming in a reality in our life. He doesn’t give us dreams just to watch them be shattered.

But here’s the deal, it takes effort on our part.

As much as I truly adore the story of Cinderella because of its overwhelming message that all things are possible, I am also well aware that God is not going to send the Fairy Godmother to wave her wand and instantaneously change my pumpkin into a golden carriage.

We have to do our part if we want to see our dreams come true.

The good news is that throughout God’s word He tells us over and again just what we need to do to see every dream He instills in our heart become a reality in this life.

There are so many dynamic Scriptures on this subject I cannot include them all, but if you will prayerfully grab hold of the ones here and apply them, there is nothing that can be held back from you.

Because I have not yet mastered the concept that BLOG posts and magazine articles are not to be the length of an entire book, I have broken this particular writing into a series. Even in so doing I cannot say everything I would like to say, but there will be enough to get you well on your way to seeing your dreams come true.

Throughout the series I am going to address seven principles from the word of God that we must apply if we want to fulfill our dreams. Some posts, this one for example, will cover but one. Other posts will cover more than that dependent upon length.

If you take them to heart and apply them properly, your life is going to change.

Dream

Okay, that should be obvious.

Yet, there are multitudes of Christians who just live day to day taking things as they come, never imagining more or different for their lives. The first thing we need to do is open ourselves up to God’s love and His plans for us, let Him plant a desire in our heart.

Far too many people are just content with things as they are. Because this is to many a strong mindset, we are going to spend a little time here.

Some don’t dream from sheer laziness or unconcern (certainly that’s not you). Others because they have actually been convinced it’s a sin, citing New Testament Scriptures that remind us we are to be content.

And Scripture does tell us to do just that. 1 Timothy 6:8, And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. Hebrews 13:5, …and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

The most favored among those satisfied with the status quo seems to be Philippians 4:11, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

But this admonition to be content is not a commandment not to desire and dream for more. It is a reminder that while we are where we are, we are to remain grateful to God. And that is so very important, because one of the initial steps in walking away from the Lord is becoming ungrateful or unthankful (Romans 1:21).

Murmuring and complaining cost the Israelites forty years of their lives and kept many of them from entering into the promised land. We should always be thankful for what God has blessed us with and be content with what we have — while we are pursuing more.

We were thankful for the tiny frame building. We started out in a living room. From there we went to a tent. Then God made a way for a building to be moved from Orlando onto the property.

Though I was far too young to remember most of those very early days, I know my parents and the congregation were grateful to God for preparing a meeting place.

But their dream was to do more for God, to reach more people and see lives changed through His word. That dream led to the dream for a larger, more stable building. There was not complaint and ungratefulness about the existing building. It was a gift of God while the vision of a new one was being brought to pass.

Paul and Silas praised God in prison because they truly loved Him and were grateful for every blessing and opportunity afforded them. They were content because they had God and He was caring for them. Still, they didn’t want to stay there. There were other places to go, other people to be ministered to. They had a dream.

As a matter of fact, if you are one who is just okay with everything as is – especially if things are not positive or are hindering you from moving forward – and you are there based on Scripture that tells us to be content, then I ask you this question:

Are you content with your wages? Do you think you make enough money for the work you are doing? (Come on now, be honest.)

Because you see, when asked by some soldiers what they needed to do in repentance, John the Baptist instructed them to not be violent to people or accuse them falsely, and to be content with their wages.

Does that word mean we are never to dream of being promoted or given a raise in pay or growing a business to a higher level? Of course not. What that does mean is that we are to be thankful we have an income and not complain about how much it is or what we have to do to earn it while we are pursuing better.

But if you’re using the contentment card to excuse complacency or if the devil is using it against you by making you feel guilty if you desire more, then you have to also never desire to receive more from your employment or business. We can’t pick and choose when and where we apply the word of God.

Another reason people don’t dream is that they have achieved their goals.

Maybe you are successful in the career of your choice. Maybe you are comfortably retired and not at a place in your life where you want to pursue anything new. You have no desire to go back to school to earn a degree or learn a new skill. Maybe all is well at home.

You have arrived. Your life is fulfilled. There is nothing you care to dream about.

There is always a star in the sky; always something to aim for.

What about a dream to have more time or ability to dedicate to a worthy cause? Wouldn’t it be nice to have more money to give into ministries and to the needy?

What about a dream to walk in perfect health? Are you happy with the constant pain and frequent doctor’s visits? Do you cringe when the pharmacist takes even more of your money? Do you really enjoy having to divide your pills into three sets just to swallow them all?

Jesus bore all that sickness and by His stripes we were healed. But you will never experience physical health until you first envision yourself being well. It begins with hope and a dream.

Maybe you’ve said something like this, “I would just love to wake up one day and not have to fight the urge to smoke (or drink or whatever).”

Or it could have been, “I just want my marriage and my family restored. I want us to love each other and live in peace like a family should.”

See, you do have a dream.

And here’s one for you. A dream of leading at least 100 people to the Lord in your lifetime – 500, 1,000! Maybe you can start with a dream to lead just one person to salvation and see that dream come true first. Then you’ll be encouraged to dream bigger.

The main point I’m trying to make is this,

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 28:18

You need a dream, a dream instilled by God and backed by His word. Regardless as to whether it’s career based, family based, ministry based — whatever — if you don’t realize God loves you enough to want more for you and through you – then the only way to say this is to say it: You’re killing yourself.

You have no purpose and we are created with purpose.

Why do you suppose so many people (especially those who don’t know the Lord) die within a year of retirement? And those who retire early have a 39% higher risk of dying early than those who don’t?

These are statistics I don’t have space or time to go into, but you can search them out. You will find the number one reason given for this phenomena is that these people have nothing to drive them, no purpose.

They have no vision! No dreams to pursue.

So dream!

Ask God to instill in your heart His desire for you and dream big. Dream about those things we know by His word are His will such as outreach, soul winning, walking in perfect health and being prosperous.

And when one dream comes true, dream another.

Never stop dreaming.

That’s your starting point.  Your dream can’t come true if you don’t have one.  Don’t miss the next part next week.  Send me your email address and I’ll send you a reminder.

Till then…

Scripture marked NKJV taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Hello World!

Hello everybody!  Since this is my very first of what I plan to be many BLOG posts, I’d like to tell you a little about me and what you can expect from them.  Hopefully we will become good friends.

I tried to choose just a few words to describe my intent and plans for this BLOG.  Because it is difficult for me to answer a yes/no question in less than 500 words, that was not an easy task.  So then I simply asked myself this question, “Why are you writing?”

That answer was easier.

The reason I have so much to say and the reason I choose to write is to help change people’s lives for the better.

I can only do that if I write about the one thing and person that has done that for me – Jesus Christ and the Word of God; and then only if I do so effectively.

And just how I will do that highly depends on a lot of factors:

  • What’s on my mind today.
  • What Scripture spoke to me in a special way.
  • Questions or comments from others.
  • Something that happened in my life – whether it be an embarrassing moment or a long term struggle.
  • How God used creation to illustrate His word to me.
  • Something caught my attention for a specific reason.

You see, I am a person with a huge array of interests and methods.  I have way too many favorite animals, favorite colors, favorite foods, favorite everything – especially Scriptures.   My writings are not about the same thing or presented in the same way every time.  I am not real brandable, I guess, except to say that I just try to keep it real.

Sometimes I tell stories (I have included one at the end of this post, so keep reading), sometimes I speak and write in a more studious and methodical way.  Sometimes my message is wrapped around a laugh-out-loud memory, other times a heartwarming display, and at times even around difficulties.  And there are those times when a simple observation sets my sharing gears in motion.

So, I won’t tell you that you will find a laugh-a-day here, though I hope you find many.  I won’t tell you that you will always be challenged by this BLOG, though at times you will.  I won’t promise you by any means that I have all the answers, but I can promise you this – I know the One who does.

I have known Jesus for a long time and I have spent many, many hours in His presence and His Word.  My hope is to share the awesomeness of our loving and supernatural God with you that you may be inspired and encouraged and grow closer to and stronger in Him every day.

Over  the years I have learned far too much through poor choices and failures.  That is not God’s preferred way for His children to learn.  I didn’t set out to be a problem child, but He never stopped loving me or working with me when I turned into one.   If through my own experiences I can help someone else avoid them, then all those mistakes can be put to good use.

And if I can help open your understanding to God’s word and help you develop a deeper personal relationship with Him, then my work will not be in vain.

Now, for the story I told you I was going to share.  It’s the story about why I call my site JYB Inspired, and about one of my favorite Scriptures.

Not too awful long ago I was finishing a very taxing and studious work on the Book of Revelation. I had fallen seriously behind my completion goal. The finished project was awaited by a Christian school in the Philippines where it was to be added to their curriculum.

I was at last nearing the final chapters when it happened: I couldn’t get a clear and set belief in my heart over a topic. Although one of the attributes of the work is that it presents different viewpoints on interpretation of the prophecy, I was always able to prayerfully study to draw from Scripture and from the Holy Spirit and know what I believed, or at least how to present the subject at hand in such a way that it could be understood.

But not this time. I studied. I paced. I prayed. I paced. I knelt. I paced. I reasoned. Then, I paced.

Confusion the only result.

Now this particular issue is not by any means a matter of salvation. It dealt with some of the attributes of eternity in heaven – not anything that would stop someone from entering in. In essence, it is interesting, but not vital to our eternal souls.

Still, I wanted to present it accurately from both angles.  I just could not seem to gain enough insight to  do that without confusion to the reader because I was confused.

When I could stand it no more, I got down on my knees and almost in desperation, I cried out for help – which I rarely, if ever, do without my Bible in hand or at my side.

Turn to the book of Job.

The voice in my heart was too profound and seemingly too off the wall for me to question that it was the Lord, but I did question what He said.

“Job?” I asked, “What on earth does Job have to do with this?”

Of course, when hearing “Job”, my mind went to the account of his tragic plight of losing everyone and everything, his patience and refusal to discard His faith in God, and his ultimate double restoration.

I wasn’t experiencing any of that, I just needed some understanding.

Turn to the book of Job.

So I did. I flipped the pages to the book and then let them fall open. I didn’t know where I was going so I didn’t worry that I wasn’t at the beginning of Job, just that I was there somewhere.

“Okay, I’m in Job. Now where?”

Right there.

“Right there?  Right where?”

Right there, look.

With that, my eyes fell onto the page and there, illuminated before me was this verse:

But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Job 32:8

Immediately, I was at peace. I just needed to relax and let God be God in me. He would help me understand and then He would inspire me to write it in an understandable way.

I was so thrilled that I took just a minute before going back to work to read this verse in another translation. I am so glad I did because – wow! That’s all I could say at the moment, “Wow!”

Listen to this:

But there is [a vital force] a spirit [of intelligence] in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives men understanding. (Job 32:8, The Amplified Bible)

The breath of the Almighty! He breathes on us and gives us understanding. Incredible.

And the thing is, we have it even better than Job had it, because now the Spirit of Understanding lives inside of us. If you are a born-again believer, He dwells in you to help you, to teach you, to inspire you.

The Holy Spirit will teach us and lead us into all truth. All we have to do is relax and listen. We just need to stop fighting against Him in our own understanding, and let Him enlighten us with His.

I very soon finished that work and knew it had been done just the way God wanted me to do it. And this verse became my ministry “motto” if you will.

God has called me to impart His word, and I want to do that only as inspired by Him because only then will I be able to share His life changing word in a  life changing way.

And even though I know His inspiration now comes from within me where the Spirit dwells, I just like the idea of Almighty inspiration that comes from Him breathing on me.

So while my heart is saying, “Holy Spirit, enlighten me and inspire me today. I want the Spirit of Revelation within to quicken me and help me in every decision I have to make, in understanding your Word and Your will for my life, and effectively getting it across to others…”

While my heart is saying that, my mouth is saying simply, “Breathe on me, Almighty God. Inspire me. Give me understanding.”

And sometimes I wonder if I’m imagining it when I feel that faint wisp of air on the back of my neck.

Visit me at jybinspired.com to read more.