Meeting God at the Crossroads

“Destiny is a decision–a difficult decision, a daring decision, a counterintuitive decision.  You fulfill your destiny one opportunity at a time.  Of course, those opportunities often come disguised as five hundred pound problems.”  Mark Batterson

There comes a time (or multiple times) in everyone’s life where we find ourselves at a pivotal crossroads.  Many times I believe this happens without us either knowing it or comprehending the weightiness of our decision (and the heart or true intentions behind the decision).  How we choose to apply ourselves in school, where we go to college, what we study, the friends we surround ourselves with, who we choose to marry, how we respect our parents and elders, whether we remain teachable, where we choose to work and how we decide to spend our most precious investment….our time, treasure and talents.

Each of these decisions shapes our journey and ultimately our destiny.

Life comes at us quickly and many can testify that as you get older, time seems to speed up.  In fact, I’m utterly amazed at how quickly my 12 year old son is growing up yet somehow, I stay the same!  😉  James 4:14 says, “What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  Country artists “Little Big Town” have a song I  love called “Vapor”.  Here is a sampling of the lyrics:

“When I lay my head down at the end of another day; Did I keep it all to myself or did I give my love away; Did I hold who should have been held, so they remember just how I felt; Did I say what should be said; will I wake with no regrets….I wanna live.  I wanna love; like one more day is never too much, never enough….Life is a vapor; fire and paper; gonna make the most of it before it’s gone.”

Life is a vapor.  That’s a given.  The question really is, what are we going to do with this life we’ve been given and why.

I’ve recently been at a crossroads myself.  I’ve worked at a company for 18+ years and about a year and a half ago, a serious stirring began in my heart.  Like the storm clouds rolling in ahead of a tornado….  In fact, if we’re Facebook buddies, you’ve probably seen me reach out a couple of times to straight up ask for prayer because I knew I wouldn’t escape some of these trials without God’s covering and intervention.   I had no crutches left to rely on….only Him.  I prayed out loud through many of the Psalms and found that when the time came, God continually closed the mouths of the lions around me.

During this season, I put my resume together and began looking for other opportunities, looking for an out.  I also had some friends ask me, seemingly in passing, “Have you thought about taking your side business full time?”  I would usually dismiss that idea and continued to think inside the “safe” box that I had made (granted I didn’t think or realize I was doing this).

I would send resumes out and pray.  Reach out to my immediate network in the field I am in and see if there was anything out there that I could easily transition into.  Either my timing was bad, they couldn’t afford me full time or seemingly good interviews went dark.  Time after time.  “Why am I still here?” I would often wonder.  Then the thought came to mind, “Maybe there is one more person you need to be there for or get to know.”  Ah, God’s plans.  ‘Okay, Lord.  If that is the case, I’ll do it….but help me find something better once Your purpose is fulfilled.’

Rather than look to run, I looked expectantly as to what I was supposed to do next (although I still kept my “feelers” out there).

More time passed and I began to think about ways I could get creative and maybe, just maybe, ramp up my business into a full-time gig.  I approached a few companies about doing some business development for them on a part time basis to help with cash flow.  One of the three gave me an immediate “yes” within 10 minutes.  One was a “no” after a day or two and one was a wildcard.  A “I’d like to do it but we can’t right now….”

At the same time another company had flown me out to Charlotte, NC for a day of follow up interviews.  During the interview, the gentleman that would be my boss and I started talking about our faith and walks with God.  “This is awesome!”, I thought.  Maybe God is answering my prayer about working for a Christian boss!  A couple of days after those interviews, the job offer came.  It was a step above where I was currently at salary-wise and I got along great with the boss and the team members that I met….but….you guessed it….I didn’t have peace about it.

I wrestled and prayed through the decision.  I made “pro and con” lists and prayed some more.  When I asked the company for more time to decide, they graciously gave me another week to process everything.  They knew it was a big move for me and for them and wanted to be sure that I was 100% on board.  I was at a crucial crossroads.  Then these thoughts entered my mind….

‘I am giving you two choices.  I will bless either one you choose….but the level of blessing will depend on your level of faith and which way you decide to go.  You can take the ‘safe” path if you like, make more than you have been making and work for the kind of boss you would have prayed about….or…..you can take a step of faith.  You can start up your own full time business.  It will be an adventure with Me and you will have no ceiling on your potential level of success.  It’s up to you.’

So I decided to “go big or go home”!  I turned down the job offer and decided to take the path of adventure with Him.  When I have doubts that begin to creep in, He upholds me and encourages me constantly as I get closer to my kick off.  This happens to be the first week of July….”Independence Day” week!  Don’t think I missed that little nuance from God.  🙂  God leads me to things that I read at just the perfect time, people say things at just the right time, unexpected blessings come from unexpected places and people.  I’ve asked God to help things go better than I ever expected.  One of the companies made me a part-time offer which I accepted….and then they upped the offer….which I accepted…. and then upped it again…without me ever even asking them to.  I can only attribute that to God and His faithfulness and provision.

I have big “God sized” dreams for this.  I want to make more so I can give more and do more.  Yes for my family but also for the Kingdom and God’s purposes.  That is my heart.  I’ve already told Him that He is my CEO (or DEO “Deity Executive Officer”) because after all, I couldn’t have a more “Christian” boss than that!

What God does with all of this is ultimately up to Him.  Let His will be done.  But I’m pumped and ready….Let’s gooooooo!

“Burn sinful bridges.  Blaze new trails.  Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands.  Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God.  Dare to fail.  Dare to be different. Quit holding out.  Quit holding back.  Quit running away.  Chase the lion.”  Mark Batterson

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A Father’s Day Reflection

“‘Father’ is the noblest title a man can be given.  It is more than a biological role.  It signifies a patriarch, a leader, an exemplar, a confidant, a teacher, a hero, a friend.”  Robert L. Backman

I’m already looking forward to Father’s Day tomorrow.  My alarm is set for 4:15 a.m. and the very first thing I get to do is get on “What’s App” at 5 a.m. and through a pastor and friend, meet 82 orphans in Pakistan that we’ve had the privilege of helping to support.  As I think about this, I think about how even though they have no earthly parents, their Heavenly Father loves them deeply and provides for their needs.  I can’t wait to meet them!

Afterwards, I’ll head out for an early morning run and talk to God for a bit.  Then I head to church and get to share an encouraging word with the dads there.  Not a bad way to start the day! #pumped

As I think about Father’s Day and what it means to me, I’d like to encourage you and maybe put a new twist on it.  Instead of expecting our wives and kids to wait on us, I’d challenge you to do something different in the spirit of Ephesians 5:25….

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her….”

Instead of just lounging around waiting for breakfast in bed, give some thought to how you can express your gratitude for and to your wife.  After all, if it wasn’t for her you wouldn’t have your kids, right?  Consider getting up early to go out and grab some flowers and/or a card for her and have them waiting on the kitchen table when she gets up.  Let her know how much you appreciate all she does for you, which in turn allows you to be a solid Dad for your kids.  Make sure and let your kiddos know what a tremendous blessing they are to you.  If you’re more of a stoic type in this regard, man up and verbalize it today.  They’ll never forget those words and it will bear fruit in their lives as they continue down their own path.

I believe that the role of a father holds much more weight than our modern culture will give us credit for.  If you really think about it, you’re playing a vital role in raising a lineage of sons and daughters that come after your own kids.  Your words and more importantly, your actions and example, will shape lives for generations.  Whether you’re encouraging, supportive, sacrificial, loving and strong or rageful, neglectful, self serving, disrespectful and bitter….these are the seeds you are planting in the hearts of your sons and daughters and their sons and daughters and so on down the road.  Your leadership in your household is a high calling and God treats it as such….

“If anyone causes one of these little ones-those who believe in me- to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6

God doesn’t mince words.

Take some time to reflect on your walk as a father and look at everything….and I mean everything  Pay particular attention to potential “generational curses/spirits” that come through various addictions, marital unfaithfulness, a compulsion towards pornography, etc.  If you’re caught up in this, ask God to forgive you and heal you.  Pray against this type of mindset/behavior and that it would stop with your generation.  Pray for future generations of your family to be free of that spiritual bondage.  This is part of your role as the God appointed leader of your home.  Don’t shrink away from this responsibility or make light of it.  Men, you will give an account to God so take it seriously.

As I write this I have the movie “300” playing in the background.  One of my favorite “dude” flicks of all time.  While Leonidas is definitely my hero in the film, the other is absolutely Queen Gorgo!  With that being said, I’d also like to address the ladies that might be reading this.  You also play a tremendously important role in all of this.  For your husband to reach his full potential as a father, husband and man, your strength, encouragement, love and support are his lifeblood.  In the film, before Leonidas and his band of Spartans push-kick the Persian messengers down the well, he looks to his queen for her approval.  With a simple nod showing that she is in agreement, he attacks and down they go…. While you wouldn’t want your kids in the room during their love scene, it’s a powerful example of how she embraces his role, builds him up and validates him.  Ladies, speak strength to your husband.  Pray for him.  Let him know that you’re trusting him to lead and guide the family and don’t neglect the connection he needs with you physically.   You play such a critical part and I can’t emphasize that enough.  We men are easily built up or broken down by our wives.

Dads, grandads, uncles and mentors….may your day be blessed in unexpected ways and may your relationship with your Heavenly Father continue to grow.  Cherish and embrace the blessing of your family with great joy and enjoy this season of life….it won’t last forever.

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” Marcus Decimus Meridius

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  Frederick Douglas

Rise Above

“My strength will be refreshed within me, and my bow will be renewed in my hand.”  Job 29:20

People will let us down.  Family, friends, colleagues, bosses, pastors.  Give someone enough time and it will happen.  Misunderstandings arise around what is said and sometimes just as importantly, what is left unsaid.  Expectations are not met in a manner that we thought they would be.  Gossip rages throughout churches and youth sports leagues that our kids are just trying to enjoy.  Compassion gives way to cynicism.  Hard hearts often prevail in others….as well as ourselves….we fall on our faces before the cross seeking forgiveness, yet how often do we withhold that same forgiveness from others because well,”they just don’t deserve it”?

I believe it was Ice Cube who once waxed poetic, “So come on and chickity check yo self before you wreck yo self….”

How do we respond when faced with this type of situation in our lives?  When we call a friend multiple times and the phone call is never returned?  When someone near to us all of a sudden begins to avoid us?  When we sense the whispers behind our backs?  I’ll tell you how….

We give it to God and trust Him to handle it for us.

Hurt people hurt people.  So our angle in any situation should first and foremost be compassion.  We don’t need to pretend that we’re not hurt.  In fact, I never want you to invalidate how you feel, even and especially in your own mind.  Keep that “self talk” real.  However, what we do let go of immediately is any grudge we may want to carry, before it has a chance to take root.  Pause and remind yourself of all of the grace that you continue to need in your own life and live through that lens….not the “self-righteous” perspective that the devil will want to sell us, especially in those moments.  Be quick to forgive.  We need to turn our gaze upward toward Heaven and ask God to forgive those that have wronged us.  If we happen to ask Him for a rebuke in someone’s life, it should always be from a root of compassion and with the end goal to be constructive in their own heart and life.    This doesn’t mean you have to be their BFF, but it does mean that the compassion of Christ takes over.  If you’re not there yet?  Get there.  Ask God to help you get there.  I can’t emphasize enough that forgiveness is absolutely HUGE to God.  So much so that he says, if you don’t forgive others, you won’t be forgiven…. (see Matthew 6:15).  How serious is that!  Will you allow bitterness and unforgiveness to keep you outside the gates of Heaven?  Here’s a question for you….Is an unforgiving heart in us actually just evidence of our own potentially unredeemed soul?  After all, the Bible clearly states that “you’ll know a tree by it’s fruit”. (see Matthew 7:16-20)  So, ‘let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven’. (Matthew 5:16)

Even from a clinical distance (a term that I throw around quite a bit), we can and should operate from a place of compassion.  This is how we rise above bitterness, thoughts of “getting even” and our own potential hard heartedness.  We strive instead to keep our hearts soft and malleable in God’s hands….within healthy boundaries that we set for ourselves, in each unique situation.  Have a battle plan in place and follow it when these opportunities come up.  If you and a friend find yourselves at a perceived impasse, you be the first to extend the olive branch.  Leave the door open for a healthy conversation (healthy is the key word here).  You be the bigger man and take the high road.  Even if you perceive yourself walking it alone, God will be alongside you reminding you, “this is the way, walk in it.” (see Isaiah 30:21).

Stay in tune with your mindset and align it with Jesus.  When it’s a struggle, simply ask Him to help you.  He is faithful and will honor that prayer.  These are the moments in our “spiritual workouts” that we need to dig deep and embrace the grind!  These are those moments!  Keep moving forward in love.  Our world might tell us otherwise but don’t become trapped with the masses who take the easy road of cynicism and bitterness.  Don’t drink that poison, friends.  Love one another as He has loved you.  Practice this…day in and day out….repetition, repetition, repetition.  Do this and you will soon find that you are “more than conquerors, through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Continue to push forward and fight the GOOD fight!  Until next time….