Finish Well at the Well

Finish Well at the Well:

This season, I have relaxed to watch a little football. Dallas and OU. What a mix. This is not my norm. Usually, I watch finals and bowl games but nothing in the season. The last two OU games are football at the finest. The favored team gets behind and pulls the game out in the last two minutes. Whew… That is like the old days of Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys.

In the last quarter, the announcers kept commenting how the OU offense had been on the field so long they might lose strength. They forgot the courageous Baylor defense had been on the field all that time also with no rest. Eventually, I believe the conditioning and sheer force of will to win in OU prevailed. It was a monumental struggle. It is a game for the history books and a quarter to be watched over and over. It speaks to us. No one lost that game, the clock just ran out.

And it is an analogy we all need. This morning I pray for those who are in the last minutes of a down and out situation. You have been favored before. You have seen success. It has all worked for you and now it seems to all be crashing. Or you have never seen the success you wish and here you are against the wall again.

Questions rake your mind and heart.

Where is the God of my prior success?

Why is this happening to me?

Is there any reason to persist?

Why not just give in and lose the game?

Haven’t I done enough in life?

I encourage you to finish well. Finish well. Dig into the well of reserved strength. A life of prayer and persistence has given you a resource of the Holy Spirit that will get you through this.

Jeremiah pointed out that we abandon the source of our strength too quickly and look for other solutions. The Lord is the source of our strength and our portion forever.

When I was a child visiting my dad’s relatives, my two aunts Willy and Helen lived out on a remote farm. The well water was not good. The neighbor down the road, George, had sweet well water. He would hitch a mule to a sled and bring large bottles of this sweet water to them. I remember the hot Summer riding that sled down the dirt road to his house and dipping into the water fresh at the well. It was cold and sweet and refreshing. Even today over 50 years later, I can smell the heat and the dirt and the mule and the sweet water and hear him, “Heeyah”, to the mule.

That is like the Lord’s fountain of life. When you are pressed to the max and turn to His well, you will never forget. You will go back. Go back to the well.

“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭36:9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/114/psa.36.9.nkjv

““For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/114/jer.2.13.nkjv

Turtle on a Post

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.
Proverbs 12:25 HCSB

Ever felt like a turtle on a post? No way to get your footing? Stranded without a friend?

That feeling is insane. It drives heart and mind into a dither. Life can be like that.

That is when you need a friend. Someone who cares enough to take you out for a good steak dinner and laugh with you is a Godsend. A friend who meets you all the way at your doorstep instead of halfway to theirs is precious.

Be a friend to a stranded turtle. Don’t judge, correct, confront or constrain. Express kindness and companionship. They will find their footing. They need a friend.

Selah.

Pastor Phil

Change Psalm 30 #8

Change can bring you to your knees.

Psalm 30

I called to you, Lord;
    I begged for your help:

There is nothing wrong with begging, when you have been brought to your knees following God.  All moments in following God are not fun.  You may experience deep contrition and even despondency.  Elijah despaired and wanted to die.  Jonah become morose.  Jeremiah cried out in anguish.  Moses struggled.  Jesus sweated drops of blood.  God will take you to your breaking point.

Some teach that peace is the indicator of God’s will.  Really?  Have you read a Bible.  Men and women went through great anguish when following the voice of God.  He means to change us and change can rattle our souls.

It makes me laugh, when I think of the times God has completely thrown me into an unwinnable situation with my strength but a miraculous solution on my knees.

A major shift in which I am going today leaves me nowhere to go but my knees.  Every attempt I have made to advance the cause of Christ and move the vision forward failed miserably.  I don’t mean a little bit, I mean with embarrassment, misery, pain, consternation, frustration, lost dollars, pitiful results, humiliation, and humbling.  The humbling is God.  The rest is my human flesh mess.

It is hilarious.  He has brought me through all my attempts and all my understanding to a point of total dependence on Him.  I cannot do anything right. He will not let me fail.

He has intervened miraculously on every front of my life, where my efforts have failed.

This is not new.  This is deep training.  He and I have walked through other situations like this, where He intervenes and teaches me to trust and obey when all seems lost and flawed.

Go ahead and beg.  Get on your knees and cry out to God.  Give up all you know and let Him intervene.

Change Psalm 30 #6

The process of change requires humility mixed with courage and defiance.

“When I was secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:6‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

What drives us to change?

Each of us must examine our changes in light of motivation.  When we are comfortable and secure and feel accomplished, we believe nothing can defeat us.  Change requires us to lay down our comfort and take up the uncomfortable.  That process of change moves us into fearful moments as we lose our footing and regain under new learning.

The Change Curve

Every change takes us from our present place of productivity into a dive of struggling.  Doubt, adapting to new tools, acquiring stronger beliefs in our progress and the progress of others, a desire to run back into the old ways, and an aversion to the unknown assail us.  Immediately after the change, we desire escape.  Read more here https://wp.me/p2BVbp-av Change is Never Straight 

Humility will allow us to be processed in the change curve into a higher level of impact and influence.

SOLUM is going through a tough curve right now as an organization. As the director, it affects me greatly.  The church plant has been merged into a congregation that can give it what it needs in pastoral availability and a base congregation.  The vibrancy of our team comes into the stability of others.  The community education is being purposefully handed to another to do the training and is being taken to online interactive to all other counties to be a part.  Anger Resolution is being developed to a more effective level with increased understanding of CBT and Biblical guidelines. Expansion nationally in partnership with the National Center for Fathering and National Association for Grandparenting means learning new means and modes of financial undergirds.  All of this is good and all of this is stressful.

It is a good time to remember the faithfulness of God in the times of prosperity but not to be overconfident and lose sight that He is the builder of witty inventions and makes our hands to prosper.  It is not us, but Him.

Seasons of Change Psalm 30 #4

Change is best handled with singing.  Singing is best handled with praise.

This series is more musings than exposition.  I hope you walk along with it and think about changes in your life.  Mine is under massive movement right now.  All good.  All God.  But massive.  And massive change induces massive stress.

Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the Lord,
    all his faithful people!
Remember what the Holy One has done,
    and give him thanks!

It is easy to dwell on the hard and the negative and the distractions.  I’ve drafted an announcement five different ways concerning expanded directions in my life.  They are not new directions, but expansion and revelation of what has been going on under the view of people.  People see what they want to see.  They focus on what is in life for them.  That causes us to miss important streams of change as they happen and they seem sudden, when they are not sudden at all, but progressive.  That announcement on first three drafts took too much time on the problems needing addressing instead of the solutions on the table.  So I took all the problem words out and just went for the solution.  People will create problems where they don’t exist, no need to give them more than they can handle.

The shift in focus in my contemplation and prayer opened insight on how to address certain goals.  I had come to point of giving up on them.  That is not what God is doing and that is not what I am doing.  The negativity and weight of the issues had bore me down.  Looking up and throwing out the destructive and doubt allowed me to see clear paths.

There is a practice of positive psychology that assists.  Biblical directives tell us what to do, but sometimes they don’t give the simple practical tool.  As humans, we are called upon to use our mental and emotional and social senses to come up with practical application to Biblical imperatives.  The practice of What Went Well Why is one of the most powerful applications of being sober minded and thankful and submitting yourself to God’s action in your life.  So I do it frequently.  It just means considering three things every day that went well (What Went Well) and identifying the Why?  Why did it go well?

What went well in your life today?  

Contemplating change impacts brings up both negative and positive and neutral outcomes.  Really they are all neutral.  It is all about how you view them and how you process them.  Right now, I am undergoing massive change of my own choosing and then from the responses of others to my choices and to God’s wonderful intervention and then the old enemy of my soul’s distractions.  All of this interacts and impacts.  I can choose to dwell on the stuff that goes away from the goal and is disturbing or I can dwell on what went well and why.

What went well is different than gratitude.  I am looking for what moved in the right direction.

  1. Friends are calling and wanting immediate time with me.  They know I am not going to be coming to this town weekly anymore.  So they are panicking and looking for prayer and breakthrough. We take time on the phone. There is no way I can handle this many deferred emergencies.  This could be seen as negative like, “Good grief, I’ve been available for six years and they chose now to work on changes?  Wuzzup with that?”  This could be seen as positive, “Well, I am impressed that they broke through fear barriers and took the first step to a more positive life.  Wish it was earlier so I would have more time to work with them, but hey progress is progress.”  What went well?  People are taking steps  Why?  They are afraid they are going to lose access to someone they trust.
  2. Social media and phone calls are lit up with spreading the news I am leaving.  Negative interpretation: “Gossip is a pain.  The story will be mishandled and turn into negatives.”  Positive interpretation: “Saves me stamps. Glad people like what we have been doing enough to make it time for conversation. ” What went well:  The sequence of events made sure the right people were informed in right order before the gossip blew out.  Good information is given and we have a solid plan to continue serving though in a different way.  Why?  Many months of prayer and attempts at building a solid local team before the sequence of events forced the timing of leaving.

These are just a few examples of working on identifying what went well in a major life change.  This next one is important.  Really important.  Too often, when working with Christians, we over-spiritual the why.  We say things like, “Well, God made it go well.”  That may be true and you need to find the ones that it is true and be accurate with your praise.  Don’t be flippant.  Drill it down.  How did God make it go well.  Here is one

3. A meeting with fellow ministers was emotional and supportive.  We are making plans for a Thanksgiving celebration, which will be my last weekly trip to Gainesville.  Why?  We have been in prayer and Godly fellowship with each other.  He has knit our hearts with concern and support for each other and the congregations we support in the area.  God has certainly done good things among us.  The county prayer event was powerful and we stayed in prayer for six hours as a group that day.  God enabled us to maintain fellowship.

Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the Lord,
    all his faithful people!
Remember what the Holy One has done,
    and give him thanks!

Now, number 3 is an item of praise.  Identifying the goodness of God in our lives today.  All three of the items identified something that went well and why and number 3 identified God’s hand.

Get to singing.  I don’t know any songs that go with number 3.  Maybe Good, Good, Father is appropriate.  Maybe 10,0000 reasons.  But the next time I hear a good praise song identifying God’s goodness, I will be thinking about number 3 and thanking Him.

 

 

 

 

Times of Change Psalm 30 #3

Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead);
You have kept me alive, so that I would not go down to the pit (grave). Psalm 30:3

Change is well change.  It is messy and hard and punishing and exciting and invigorating. Change can feel like hell, the place of the dead.  It can feel like dying and leaving all that resembles comfort and calm. In change, God is faithful.

Rules of Change

  1. Have a faith focus.  Faith grabs the undone and pulls it into the done.  It needs a focus.  Our faith focus in this change is a value for fathering and families.  It is an awakening of grandparents to take action and develop a clear base of belief in the value of family.
  2. Have a means of faith.  Our means of faith is sponsors and benefits that bring dollars to the doorway of destiny.  Our means of faith is increasing the benefits proposition and partnerships to expand influence and action.
  3. Create a positive proposition. Ephesians tells us that the shield of faith quenches the fiery darts of evil.  The evil or normal wants you to quit before you reach the destination.  Doubt, discouragement, disappointment and more fight against your direction and attempt to pull you into the pit. A positive proposition of faith in God’s destiny is a big weapon against dying before realizing your goal.
    1. The position:  The Lord is for family.  He is the Father of All Comfort and committed to family.  Our nation is coming into a season of value in family.  Our team is called and equipped of the Lord to lead the way with education and encouragement and engagement of all generations alongside other like minded organizations. We are the harbingers of family. We are able. We are sent. We are victorious.
  4. Stand. The fight for any worthy vision takes full equipment.  The helmet of salvation guards our mind and thoughts. Our courage is contained with the breastplate of righteousness.  Our strength is maintained with the preparation of the gospel of peace.  Our stand is stabilized with the belt of truth.  Our clarity and direction are set with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Above all we pray and see God intervene.

Take change in faith that He is faithful to take you to the next step. Avoid the fear of failing and falling into an unwinnable position.  He will sustain and keep you from crashing.  The road can be rough, but it should continue to grow and prosper.  He withholds no good thing from those that serve Him.

In 1986, the company for which I worked sold.  In those days, I prayed and received confidence that if I would stand, I would be able to stay in the area and raise my family.  It took faith to believe against belief.  Yet, in standing in faith, provision was made for us and we have remained for decades standing on His promises. Sometimes, I open those notes and stand again and again and again.

In this time of great change, the leap of faith seems greater than ever, yet, it is a sure win.  Why?  Because we have walked the path of faith before and He is faithful in all His ways and never changing.  When we grow in Him, we find the right path.

Keep reading for the next exposition on change and Psalm 30

 

Times of Change Psalm 30 #2

Psalm 30.2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

Nothing is Normal

How do you process change?  How do you depend on the Lord and Him alone in your moments of despair?  Last night as I went to bed, it seemed that nothing was real.  Ever been there?  It seemed that life had been a dream for the last few years and nothing was really real.  Life is so completely different than what I was living six years ago.

Our family has grown from one to six grandchildren.  They represent multiple backgrounds and have come to us in many ways from birth to foster care to adoption.  They are multicultural and beautiful as only God would do in our family.  It seems surreal.

For six years, I have traveled every week 130 miles one way to minister and reach out to struggling families.  Over 500 have come through workshops and thousands have come through ministry times in Texas and Mexico.  Miracles have been abundant.  Healing and salvation are commonplace.

In that same time, I have been trained and retrained through experience and coursework into a different man.  I am not the same person.  The pains and issues of a fatherless society have come to my doorstep over and over and over.  My phone rings with issues beyond help in this realm.  No day is quiet or calm.

It does not seem real.  It seems as if I have been in a dream and have not woken. No day resembles another.  The Lord has done marvelous acts.

In this time frame, my health has suffered from injury and stress.  For a year, I walked only with a stick to support me as my knees gave out. Extra weight loads heavy on me.  My normal exercise routine is a mess.  All for the sake of the gospel.  All for the sake of families.  All for the sake of some, who have become family to me and close to my heart.

Lord, how will you answer me in my distress?  How will you meet me in my day of change?  What will you do?

We Have Been Here Before

In 1996, my thyroid went bonkers.  Swollen over my vocal chords and covered with growths, the doctor informed me it must come out.  Surgery was quick and the next five years were a nightmare.  My hormones never stabilized.  Every day seemed like the day I would lose my mental and emotional ability.  My health deteriorated.

During those five years, we grew our congregation from 1500 to 5500.  We went from a white church to completely multi-cultural.  Over 50 ministries were birthed. There is no way to describe those years.  Much like today, it was surreal.  Coming from a corporate environment to a miracle environment of growth made life seem unbelievable.  Lord, I have been here before.  Yes, we have been here before.

Transitions

That world too changed.  God healed my thyroid and I began the road back to health.  Through a miracle for 18 years now, I have taken no hormones and all is perfect.  The doctor calls me, The Man With No Thyroid.

For 10 years, we delivered city-wide conferences alongside the National Center for Fathering, CBMC, the Oklahoma Policy Council, and hundreds of churches.  My youngest daughter and I spent a weekend in Washington, D.C. with an insider tour of the Whitehouse at Christmas due to our activities in the Father/Daughter Summit.  It was surreal.  It is impossible to describe the ride.

Here We Are Again

At 63, when I would love to just relax and spend time at the lake, here we are again.  In front of us is an amazing journey to wake up the sleeping giant in the USA.  This generation of grandparents are the last generation to believe in marriage and family.  41% of our children are born into no marriage situations.  This is not teenagers, this is couples in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.  We are in a family crisis like no other time and the impact on the children is horrid.  For the last six years, the Lord has placed me on the ground face to face with this reality in rural America.  In the place, we thought was the safest for families, I assure you, it is not safe.

Healing is Ready

Now, with the National Center for Fathering and the National Association for Grandparenting, we embark on another journey of the surreal.  Donations for non-profits are low these years.  We birth marketplace solutions for benefits for our seniors in medicare with a national launch.  It seems impossible.  In a few months, we have agents in 49 states poised, a well developed web presence. an email campaign pilot, and offices opening in OKC.  All to turn our nation to family commitment.  It will take all the miracle power I have seen through life plus more than all.Image result for miracles

The Abnormal Normal

This week, we meld our congregation of the redeemed into a congregation formed from an older congregation of Baptists and a newer plant of Calvary Chapel.  Can you imagine?  Elder and Baptist with Millennial and Calvary Chapel with twenty-somethings with young kids and IPHC all in the same congregation?  Loving and learning together?  From the elderly to families with teens to families with babies all melded?  Completely multi-cultural in a racially divided community?  In an instant? In a moment?  These people whom I love and have watched over and hugged and cried and rejoiced now have a beautiful home and family to receive and support them.  The Lord provided when I could not see a way.  A transition I expected to take months happened beyond imagination in minutes.

When He Heals

Receive. Accept. Absorb. It is surreal.  It is impossible to explain the speed at which He is moving.  Yes, He has been orchestrating for years to get to this day that we might believe Him and move forward. But the pace of change and immensity of solution boggles the mind and heart and emotion.

Heal me, Oh Lord, and I will be healed.  Save me and I will be saved.  Show us Lord how to adapt and order our conversation, our way of life and living into this new reality.