Sometimes the Lord leads me to pray some very strange prayers. I don’t fully understand the “why” behind it, but without a doubt, it’s there and I feel the need to comply. So when studying for a sermon on John 1, I felt the Lord impressing on me to pray that the church body would feel empty.
I get the privilege of meeting so many people. It’s become such a treasure to me to connect with people and learn some of their story and how the Lord is revealing himself to them. I’ve learned that when someone comes up to me in public and introduces themselves to just roll with it. I may not have met them yet, but they have met me through Grand Point. Every time it takes place I immediately go the same place you would–Stretch out my hand and say, my name is Kevin. Who are you?
You wouldn’t think that a question of just three words would produce such a difficult issue, but there it is. As it stands staring you in the face, you have to immediately come to a place where you can effectively articulate the depth of just who you are.
Typically, the answer that comes back is something predictable- I’m Kevin and I the Pastor at Grand Point Ship.
Do you see what I did?
And do you make the same fatal flaw?
You see, I’ve just tied who I am to what I do?
Why do we do that?
I wonder if it’s because we are still yet unsure of exactly who we are.
Think of it, of the last time you answered that question. The answer to who you are becomes your name and, without even having to be asked, we can launch into hours of what we do.
But what happens when what you do can no longer be done?
It rarely happens by your choice but nonetheless.
A simple accident, and the very trajectory of your life has changed because what you do can no longer be done and has become what you did.
You begin to find yourself living in the past and everything seems to be falling apart in your world because all you can think about is who you were.
In John 1, John captures the story and events around John the Baptist. He’s not rushed onto the scene, but has been working his angle for probably years up to this point. He’s gained a large following and because the climate, the culture is charged with the thought and anticipation of the pending Messiah’s arrival.
Here’s what the Author John captures about those moments:
“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’John 1:19-23 NKJV
When it comes to the discovery of who you are, it’s really important, also, to know exactly who are you are not.
In response to their questions JTB first mentions, “I am not the Messiah.”
Can I just relieve you today from the areas where you feel you need to be the Savior!?
You don’t need to be the Savior. He’s One of a Kind and irreplaceable.
He doesn’t need your help at His saving and in fact, is there a chance that you’re just making the Saving more complicated?
When it comes to your marriage that in trouble- Let Him be the Messiah.
About that really troubled relationship you are in panic about- Let Him do the saving.
After preaching through this concept, a man came up to me and let me know that he heard the message and connected it to his troubled marriage. He left with a sense of victory now realizing that he didn’t have to be the Savior of his marriage- it was the Lord’s job to do the saving.
Who are you?
Are you mom?
Are you dad?
Are you son?
Well, what you’re not is Messiah.
You’re more than employed. You’re worth so much more than just a job you do, a role you fill and a position you occupy.
Somebody testify to this truth!
UGH. The pain of the alarm clock in the morning is something other worldly.
I look at my clock as it blasts in my ear. 4:57 it says.
Who in their right mind does this evil?
It’s time to get serious. Up to this point I’ve been rather quiet on the political sphere but I must be honest, the trajectory I see in our country is extremely frightening and we are remiss if we think that it’s just going to right itself.
How do we end this year!?
With a lot of anticipation I should think! Never have I ever felt such an excitement about finishing one year and moving on to the next.
Have you ever received a gift that you wanted to just give right back?
We’re just a few weeks until Christmas and I imagine you have so many gifts that you have purchased for people you love. You are so excited and eager to be able to give those gifts and see the response and reaction on their faces as they open their new treasure that you worked so hard to figure out! And then, when that moment arrives, and they just don’t have the response you are looking for! Oh what pain!
One of the most powerful stories in all the bible somehow falls at the feet of someone so insignificant he doesn’t even deserve the credit of our knowing his name!
1 Samuel 17- the infamous David and Goliath. It’s a story that every little boy has reenacted at some point in their childhood and why the slingshot became so popular.
I remember the days when I was so young. We lived out in the country where our nearest neighbor was a horse pasture away, through a forest and across a valley. My brothers and I could get lost for days in the woods that surrounded our double-wide mobile home. It was probably the worst house we ever lived in, but man, we were in heaven with all that we were surrounded with. It was a boys dream!
Almost daily, we would don our camis and disappear into the woods for hours on end, creeping along somewhere building lean to’s and makeshift forts in our wilderness. We fought battles so fierce in those woods, the world has never heard the likes of the foes we fought in the mountains outside of Albuquerque, NM. One of those battles had to have been with the Philistine Army and the fated Goliath that must have stood 20 feet tall…ministerially speaking.
We would take our sling shots and marbles or bb’s or rocks or whatever projectile we could find and become that hero so young.
We all glamor in the honor of the hero. Everyone of us has, at one point or the other, stood in the shoes, sandals, or stilettos, of that hero and envisioned ourselves taking their place for that magical moment. But none of us have ever envisioned becoming the nameless sidekick that made it possible.
You know the story, even if you haven’t been in church, you could tell it well. The army of Israel, under the leadership of Saul, is camped out with the opposing army of the Philistines camped on an opposing mountain top. Each occupying the prominent position high up so that each has the upper hand in hopes that the other will make the first move.
For days this goes on but with the caveat that the Philistines have this gruesome warrior in their arsenal moving out daily to taunt that army, just sort of testing them, poking at them, hoping to anger them into making a dumb decision.
David has three bothers in the mix. He’s the youngest of 8 and therefore, by default, he wins the lucrative job of loving the sheep. It’s must be like taking out the trash at our house. Which is funny because it’s the easiest of jobs. Not so for shepherding! That would have been the worst and most difficult.
I’m sure with David in the family, he’d love nothing more than to be occupying that front line stance along with the rest of the ferocious army that was really good at taking naps during this part of their story. No one had the courage to line up and face this mighty foe.
Daily, David was out in his field focused on the sheep. Caring for them. Fighting on their behalf, when the need arose. These sheep were not just part of their livelyhood, I’m sure in some strange way, they had become part of the family.
Two years ago, my wife took it into her own hands after demanding for years that we get a puppy. She found her little love, called it a therapy dog and raised some cash to buy a Tea Cup Yorkie. Hardly a dog, but now after almost two years, I can attest, that dog is part of our family. There’s just something about an animal that can occupy a place in your life that you didn’t think possible.
For David, I think, somehow those few sheep had gotten into that place of care.
So when Jesse, David’s father, comes to him and says, Son, I want you to head out to the battlefield, take some cheese sticks and juice boxes to your brothers. Find out how things are going on the front lines and just make sure your brothers are okay. David’s first thought goes to his flock and who is going to care for them while I’m away on this mission?!
As we continue through this story, we come across this line that you’ve read a time or two before, David obeyed his father. He got up early the next morning and left someone else in charge of the sheep. 1 Samuel 17:20 CEV.
With that line, my mind races to questions like,
what if there was not someone else?
Who might have been this nameless assistant?
Do you understand the ramifications of this nameless partner?
What I see in this story is that if there had not been someone else there would have been no David and Goliath!
The entire course of biblical history could have/would have looked vastly different all because there was no one to watch the flock freeing David to face the giant on a the valley of a battle field.
This simple story teaching me a super valuable lesson.
There always needs to be someone else!
What I gather from this story was that it was a no brainer. David didn’t have to think twice about who this person needed to be. It was a given. It was his back up for when he needed relief or just a shower. There was a backup. A second string. A trained confidant who could step in freeing David to focus on something else.
No matter what position you occupy in life, there should be a someone else just beyond your peripheral. For some jobs this looks totally different than others.
For me, in the church world, I see opportunity everywhere and all I need to do is find the someone else that I can pour into preparing them for the moment when the Lord calls me to something else. Maybe not for a permanent place but for a moment.
I don’t want to spell this out for you in too much detail and so minimize how the Lord could be at work in your season, situation or opportunity, so I pray that in this moment, it becomes painfully apparent how this might work for you.
I believe that the Lord has some form of greatness planned for each person. Clearly not king level greatness as he had for David, but something that results in life change for people. He is a God who constantly points toward life change. That takes people and lots of them. People who are devout and devoted to understanding their mission and opportunity to help as many as possible learn to love the Savior and his sacrifice.
Jesus himself said, The harvest is huge and ripe! But there are not enough harvesters to bring it all in. As you go, plead with the Owners of the Harvest to thrust out many more reapers to harvest his grain! – Matthew 9:37-38 TPT.
It’s time to get creative. Where could you be working in someone else? There are things you look at and loathe while someone else would be honored at the opportunity just to be involved.
Today we made a huge step toward a dream we have been wanting to accomplish for some time.
Real estate has always been in our blood. For years now Crystal and I have worked and worked and planned and adapted our setting and surrounding to what we dreamt of and where we felt the Lord was leading next. It hasn’t always been this way. In my mind when we bought our first home, we bought our forever home and I treated it that way.
I need to make you a caution, especially if you’re a first time home buyer. NEVER believe the home you live in is your forever home.
Your first home should be your first leverage home. I’ll teach you through what I mean by that at another time.
It was 1998 and as hot as ever. There is something microscopic about living under the midsummer sun on the plains of Kansas. It was hot and we loved it. Every day we were met with a new something to get into to get in trouble with.
At the time I was working at a Landscape startup with friends of mine. We were all 16-17 years old and were having the time of our lives and getting paid to do it. We had these lofty dreams of being able to drive tractors and haul big loads of whatever to wherever, but it never came. Probably because we were 16-17 year olds and shouldn’t have been trusted with anything!
The nursery where we worked was stocked with thousands of plants and trees that all needed water every day. Because of the very hot summer we were in, they all needed water multiple times every day.
Every day I hoped for something new.
It never came.
Every day was the same. Arrive at 7AM and water the plants.
Start over again.
That’s all we did.
Water the plants.
It was so very minimal, it became excruciating.
That is until one day the boss called and said, hey load up a bucket load of whatever and take it along with a something to this address and get it planted.
Never in all my dreams did I ever get so excited about a job with responsibility. I had to drive a company truck and he wanted me to load dirt with Bobcat. I had no idea how to drive a Bobcat, but I was never going to tell anyone that. I’d figure it out one way or the other because suddenly, the minimal I had mastered was paying off and I was trusted with greater responsibility.
From that point on, something began to change. I’d stay faithful with this job for several years before moving on to something else and at one point, the boss left me in charge of his operation while he was away a few days.
It leads me to the story of David and Goliath. Such an amazing Bible story and one so full of childhood aspirations. Every boy wants to be that hero even just for a moment, but before we see David launching stones at Giant’s foreheads, we see a boy who has mastered the minimal in his world–shepherding.
For every day he spent leading those few sheep along the hillside in search for more food, he was probably so tired of these seemingly meaningless moments. He had to entertain himself with whatever he could. Mastering he sling shot, playing a harp, writing, killing things, he did it all while he was alone watching sheep.
Eventually he became very apparent about the importance of mastering the minimal. For when he is finally confronted with this enormous beast, he’s got something big to fall back on.
You see, this isn’t his first enormous beast.
The writer of his story reminds us that when a lion or a bear would attack the flock, he would rip it apart. Clearly this happened multiple times and, for the life of him, David can’t just quite remember how many beasts and of which kind have attacked his precious flock.
Greatness comes in our lives. Sometimes larger than we ever would imagine but rarely when we plan for it to come. It comes through our willingness to master the minimal first and being faithful with the few so eventually we can be confident with the few more.
I am all for being aggressive and manhandling what I want to squeeze out of life. I don’t believe we are products by chance of our surrounding circumstance. I very much believe that there are times in life when we need to grab the bear by the throat and control life, but before that happens you must be willing to humbly master the minimal.
What’s your minimal story? How did you come to master it and where has it taken you since then?