Target

The word of the Lord for the moment is: Target

“Among Benjamin’s elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing.”

Judges 20:16 NLT

Consider a fighting force with 700 hyper accurate, trained, focused soldiers on target.  Now, consider that they are only 10% of the soldiers as left handed are only 10% of the population.  A fighting force of 7000 spot on soldiers good at what they do because they are targeted and trained.  What can you do if you are on target?

““For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.”

Isaiah 50:7 NKJV

The aspect of being set on a task, a skill, a direction and not being easily swayed is called targeted.  Jesus was like that.  He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem and the cross of sacrifice that we all might be accepted.  Paul was like that.  He set his target on the Gentiles whether it meant prison or persecution.  Moses was like that.  He set his target on the land on the other side of the Jordan and pursued through pain and problems for 40 years to see it done.  David was like that.  Determined to build a temple, he insured the finances and plans were ready for his son, Solomon, to carry through.  Get a target.

“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do. ” —Norman Vincent Peale

A goal is a target.  A worthy goal is worth honing a skill, stepping away from distractions, sacrificing to become excellent not just good, and developing the value out of the pursuit.  Good is the worst enemy of great.  Yet, it does not take great to be great.  A good goal with a good pursuit with a good energy with a good skill produces a great result.  Every piece does not need to be great, but the focus and the targeted character through persistence produces great. The word is target.

Countless calls for prayer and counsel come to me for jobs.  When I ask what type of job, the answer is usually in terms of money, prestige, or anything that pays well.  That is a useless pursuit and a useless prayer.  Why spend a major portion of life with no goal in mind? 

My career has taken many twists, but the goal has always been the same.  My career target is to support my family and have enough to be generous to help others.  My target has been to do that in a way that develops others and gives value back to a company for which I work.  And throughout my career in management, I have done that. 

My life target is to worship the Lord with all my heart and all my soul and all my might and be a faithful disciple.  And throughout my life in Christ, I have done that.  Every time I am discontent, I find someone has added to my goals and disguised the target for their own benefit so that I sway off target.

In my latter years, my sight on the target sharpens and others want to use my skill but not assist the call and character of the Lord in my life.  It is not that they are wrong or selfish as much as they do not wish to support the target the Lord has given me.

Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong.  Abraham Lincoln

When Lincoln spoke those words, I believe he looked to his target and found others had distracted him to a different path.  It is time to get back to the path the Lord sent you to walk.  Walk with good partners.  But, If they veer to the right or the left too long and keep you off the Lord’s path, you must get back on target.  They might have good intentions and a good path, but is it your path in the Lord and the Lord’s intentions?

Lifelong Dads. Forever families. Kids Need ‘em.  Delivering Solid Life Foundations. Developing Healthy and Safe Relationships. Distinguishing Generations of Greatness.

There it is in a short, sweet nutshell.  If it builds that, then that is what I do.  If one more family moves in that direction, my target will be achieved.  I hear my Father say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s joy.” Every day that I work on the target that affirmation of my Father is mine.  If I am doing something that isn’t working to achieve that target, then I need to part with it as soon as I see that it goes wrong.  Good counsel, Abe.

What is your target?  Can you state it in simple format? 

These last weeks have been wonderful.  For months, I have labored to cut away distractions to get down to the essentials my Father wants for me.  I’ve allowed too many good-hearted voices to distract.  Constant pain and problems lessen my grasp on the target.  My throws seem a little off.  My strength is tested.  That is the time to begin cutting away and honing skill to get to the target.  With the slowing of the economy there has been a slowing of voices distracting.   Target.

The target seems more in view than at any time.  My obstinate pursuit takes me into hours of prayer a day.  I’ve thrown out four large trash bags from my office this week and carted out boxes of books no longer needed.  The target is tightly in view.  I called my marketing group and told them to cancel distractions.  I called support groups that have similar targets and made new agreements that fit.  All of this happens as the world spins off target, the economy crashes, disease explodes, and people weep.  Target.

Target is a verb. It means get focused and pointed toward the goal.

Target is a noun. It means the item to which you are pointed.

Are you targeted? That is where God wants you. Some are targeted early in life like Solomon. He was targeted to wisdom as a young man. Some take decades like Moses, who only understood the target being the nation free beyond the Jordan after 80 years of processing. Some get the fine points of the target like Elijah, spending a life as a prophet, to become targeted to train other prophets not just be one in his last years. Elijah was mostly a loner until the Lord targeted him in his last years. Paul was a murderer until the Lord targeted him at the peak of his life to be a disciple maker. Are you really targeted? Maybe you are just now getting to be targeted. Maybe all the years you have had bring you to a sharpened focus. Target.

Jesus’ core ministry on earth was less than four years.  In those years, He built a team, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit.  Thirty years were taken to get ready for the Target.  He is still working on the Target, the Church, 2000 years later.  Targeted. Immovable. Unshakeable. Targeted.

The Lord wants us targeted. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James 1:5-8 NKJV

There is no value in having a good target. There is value in having a God target. My mind goes to a friend, who has built a solid business producing significant profit. The profit is buried back in the business to build capital. He smiles and claims no profit and gives no honor through tithe or offering to the Lord. Why? Well there is no profit. Bigger and bigger barns are built that one day will have achieved nothing of value. The Lord will call for his life and the barns will be given to others. It is a good thing. It is not a God thing.

Another friend takes of his meager earnings and gives back to God.  He will never amass millions of dollars, but he stacks memorials in heaven that will stand for eternity in changed lives.  One lives the letter of the law and profits himself.  The other lives the life and spirit of the law and profits all.  Get a good target that is also a God target.

In the end there are no moving vans in the grave yard. But there is great treasure laid up in heaven. Targeted.

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

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.

 

 

 

 

Walking Together

Christ is the cure for loneliness. He connects us. He finds a place for us. That is the work of a church.
There is no reason to walk alone.

In discussion with a group of ministers, each decried working alone at their tasks.  That is odd.  Rarely do I work alone.  Of course, I write alone.  Yet, even in that I have people submit ideas and do research.  Even if I don’t use it, the conversation is good and contributes.

None of us should walk alone.  This morning I am reading responses from legislators across the United States to a quick blurb.  We pray together.  We walk together.  Never alone.  That is just not right.

Ephesians 4:16 NKJV from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love

Uncompromising High Spirits

Get a reason to run and a purpose to plan. The Lord choses to bless those that make known His name with no compromise. Jettison lax approach to heavenly living. Steel yourself and do what you know is right.
Psalm 5:11-12…let those who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits. For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly] righteous

Meet Jesus : Fruit Inspector,,, GSJ14

Each of us has a flavor of which comes out

Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17: Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19: Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 Daily Produce

Ever thought about what it is you produce daily?  Each of us has a flavor to what comes out.  A friend of mine has a perfume she has worn for years.  It is her trademark, her flavor.  Whenever she is around, you know she has been there.  Some years ago I worked with an individual that flavored the room.  Upon entering the workplace the entire atmosphere would become sour.  Each of us has a flavor of what comes out.  Another friend is vivacious and sparks excitement in whatever he does.  By our fruit are we known.

Pain Carry

For years, Greg had carried pains from his early years.  Memories haunted him.  At times he would accuse people of actions and motivations they never had.  It was an unwelcome memory bursting out into distrust and accusation.  It just wouldn’t shake.  Now he was looking for forgiveness.  He wanted to be free. He wanted to free himself from the flavor of the fruit of the past.  So many times he had been betrayed.  It had built a rage inside that needed to go away.  It created a distance from others that needed healed.  Greg was ready to change the flavor of his relationships and life.  Maybe he could start with Jake.  Maybe he could go back and start over.

ACT!  Inspect your flavor.  Are you goofy grape or excited orange?  Are you passionate purple or negative needles? What is your flavor?  Is it what Jesus wants your flavor to be?

PRAY!  Father, help us flavor the day with Jesus.  Grant us grace to give out Your sweet incense.  Enable us to let others know that You have been in the place.  Cause our fruit to come from the true vine, Jesus.  Let only fruit from His life veins come out from us.  Let our flavor be the scent of Your presence that men and women would come to You.

This devotion is #14 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

Meet Jesus: Straight Up ..GSJ14

Matthew 7:13: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

 Straight Up: Approach life straight up.  “Go straight ahead.”  “Go straight and narrow.”  These are all phrases that communicate little variance from an accepted path or norm or rule or guideline.  Straight up today might mean a person is real.  You get what you see.  They live what they say.  They say what they think.  Straight up might mean, “the best”, “what I want”, or “the exact focus of what I have been thinking.”

In any measure, straight living is valuable. Jesus is straight up.  He and His life are not boring or meaningless.  Life in Him is focused; results oriented, and evokes determined action that leads to a specific point.  The point?  Glorifying God.

Introspection: It had been a long time since Greg had felt comfortable with an old friend that represented his old life.  He wanted to forget what he was like before Christ.  Now, he felt an inner voice prompting him to face realities.  This was not time to ignore his prior life.  Sure, he had become a new man in Christ.  Old things were passed away.

 The people from that old life had not passed away.  They were still alive. They still had memories.  Greg still had memories.  It was time to be straight up with himself and them.  It was time in his personal thoughts and prayers to repent at a deeper level.  It was time to root out some leanings in his life that had not passed away.  They were still hanging on.  It was time to be straight up with himself and God.

ACT!  Be straight up today.  Don’t be evasive when questioned about your faith or prayer life.

PRAY!  Father, give me courage to be straight up.  Help me to do what You want me to do and live it all the time.  Help me to be a person of prayer and faithfulness to You and Your word in private and in public.  Help me help someone closer to Jesus today.

This devotion is #14 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.