Thursday, September 8, 2016

Where Faith Leads

I am just an ordinary guy. There is nothing particularly special about me, but I have been given some great opportunities in my life. I assure you that I do not deserve those life events which I would consider my top-five. Yes, a couple of them required hard work and dedication (my baseball achievements and doctorate), but the others (such as my wife, my family, and my calling) are completely gifts from God and I can never express enough gratitude for those blessings. But a part of receiving blessings is to make the most of them. While faith is not from works, it must lead to works. As the Reformers are noted for saying, “It is faith alone that saves, but faith that saves is never alone.” Within the past 11 months, God has provided me with unbelievable opportunities because I have been obedient and gone where my faith has led me to go.

This past Sunday, I preached from the end of Mark 7 where Jesus heals the demon-possessed daughter of a woman, and then another man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. In both cases, the healings were, in part, because someone else begged Jesus to act on their behalf. The significance of that is that people had to seek out Jesus. Sure, they may have been seeking the miracle-man, but what they received was so much more. In the case of the woman (Mark 7.24-30), we find the only person, besides Jesus Himself, in Mark’s account of the gospel who calls Jesus, “Lord.” As a mother, she wanted the best for her daughter, but it was faith that led her to Jesus. For the man, he could not respond in faith before the miracle (at least, not audibly), but obviously he would have been a part of the group celebrating his healing (Mark 7.35-37). Again, a faith in what Jesus could do led these people to seek out Jesus. The question for us is where does our faith lead us?

Over the past year, my faith has led me to complete my doctorate (Life Event #4), to spend better time with my wife (Life Event #2), watch my children (Life Event #3) mature into two wonderful adults (including seeing my daughter get married), and fulfill certain aspects of my calling as a child of God (Life Event #1). Only the baseball accolades (Life Event #5) had no bearing on this year (nor will they in the future), and yet the Royals won the World Series which takes me back to the time when baseball was my life (before any of the other Life Events had happened). Granted, I have grouped many thoughts into a collective such as Life Event #2 or #3. And that is certainly true of Life Event #1.
In the Jordan, The Tark, and the Ewaso Ngiro

Prior to 2016 (technically, Dec 31, 2015), I had only traveled outside of the US a few times. On one occasion, I traveled to Europe, but otherwise only within North America. This year, I have been privileged to go to Jordan and Israel (in Asia), and now to Kenya (Africa), all related to serving the Lord. Each of the trips had been considered for years and planned for about a year or more in advance. Many memories were made on each trip, and Lord willing, I will return to both locations in the future. But one of the greatest memories is that I had the privilege of baptizing individuals on both trips. In fact, in 2016, I have had the opportunity to baptize several in our church, but also in three different rivers (Jordan, Tarkio, Ewaso Ngiro) on three different continents (Asia, North America, Africa). Again, this from a man, living in a small town, who had only traveled outside of the US a handful of times before this year.

Two years ago, I had just begun to plan to lead a group from our church to go to Israel. Two years ago, I was just beginning to plunge deep into my dissertation. One year ago, I began to seriously consider going to Kenya. Now, in September of 2016, all of these have happened, and my calling (Life Event #1) has provided me with immeasurable blessings, and with an expanded understanding of what God want to do (and is doing) in and through me.

Thus, I write this post not to boast of what I have done, but of what the Lord is doing through me. But His work in my has required obedience on my part. My faith and obedience has led me to places I had only dreamed of going, literally and figuratively. Now, those dreams have become a reality, and new dreams are surfacing. My point is this...where does your faith lead? I knew I served a big God, but perhaps I wasn’t letting Him be big. Now He has revealed a little more of His greatness to me, and I want to see more. Is the same true for you? Do you serve a great God? Where might your faith lead you? What does God want to reveal about Himself to you? Will you let your faith lead you there?

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