Mountain Brook Community Church – Birmingham, Alabama
October 25, 2019
Thank you for that kind introduction. The fact is that the human being is the only animal when you pat him on his back, his head swells, so, it’s a problem here. When I was here in March and I was speaking about the whole idea of transitioning; well, I speak a lot about living well, and what’s involved in living well has to do with, first of all, coming into the new birth. You know, no one’s, everyone’s born with bios, biological life, but no one’s born naturally with the next kind of life, which is zoë, spiritual life. So, at the point of regeneration, we become new creatures, and as a consequence, then, the process of growth—and I love to speak about the [inaudible] point of salvation and then becoming more and more us, becoming more and more in our practice, who we already are in our position. This is the astonishing thing; that you and I are spiritual beings having an earthbound embodied experience.
Let me just get this little thing ready here. So, that’s my best slide right there. I just blank the screen when I don’t want you to look up there; I do this.
One foot in heaven and the other on earth
So, we are spiritual. You really are an amphibious being. You are a person who has one foot in heaven and the other on earth. And the astonishing thing is that the Author of all creation now became an amphibious being. He took humanity into Himself with undiminished deity in order for Him not to live, but to die and to give Himself as a ransom for us. It’s astonishing. So that’s where the journey begins. I like to speak a great deal about finishing well, in addition to that, because when I speak about finishing well—just a quick word about this; it’s the whole concept here—what this means to finish well is for you to be a person who finishes the course. As Paul says, I fought the good fight, I’ve finished the course, I’ve kept the faith. And the problem is, many began well but finish poorly.
And I actually was in a situation like this myself when I was in the Zambezi River in Africa and we had 11 rapids and five of them were level five rapids, you see, and one was a six, and we had a portage on that one, but we were the only raft that was not turned over. I think I have a picture of that. Let me see if I can find it here.
So, we were the only, we were the only one that didn’t turn over after four. So, the last one, [you have a] choice: Go in the center and it’s a level five, go in the right, and it’s a three. Pride goeth before the fall. So, we decided to take that, and I’ll never forget going straight down in that deal. But a lot of people do not end well. Many start well, but some people drop out and they become benched believers. They watch the game from the sidelines, but they’re not participants in the game. They’re not part of it. And some people, it seems to be a sudden departure, but actually, it’s always a slow leak. It’s always a gradual leak. How did I get here? You wake up; if you wake up and you’re a minus five, how did you get there? I’ll tell you, the only way you got there, you had to be a minus four. How do you be a minus four? You had to be a minus three.
Not be defined by the agendas and the expectations of the world
And so, it’s a very, very gradual process. Growing and dying. But finishing well requires intimacy with Christ, fidelity in the spiritual disciplines, biblical perspective on the circumstances of life. Sometime I’ll teach you about this. Obedient, responsive, humble and obedient spirit, a sense of purpose and calling, as well as healthy relationships with resourceful people, and ongoing ministry and the involvement in the lives of others. And so, it comes down where knowing Him, first of all, goes inside out. So, as you move in that process, then, you become a person who becomes more authentic because the whole process really is being, knowing and doing, loving God completely with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and strength, and then, loving yourself correctly, which means to see yourself as God sees you, and not be defined by the agendas and the expectations of the world.
And then, when you are secure enough in Him to serve other people, then you begin to find that you have a true relationship because, you see, as you get to know Him, then you begin to know yourself. And, as you know yourself, you begin to know others as well and you’ll be able to serve them in an effective manner. So, I’m a very big believer in this whole process of what it means to begin well, but what about finishing well and transitioning well? When we look at the overall, all of life—this is a Gary Larson cartoon—it looks very strange. There’s a cloud up here and there’s some golf clubs being sucked up into the cloud. Maybe it’s just the order of priorities. Got his dog first and then he’s got these golf clubs. He even wants his piano and it’s going up there, and this woman, it’s his widow, and he always loved the fifties look. Ah, it’s George. He’s taking it with him. You didn’t know you could take it with him. I often say, you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. Maybe you do.
27,300 days and dots
People have this crazy expectation somehow that they can just take it all with them, but they leave it all behind. And the reality is, if you looked at your days and how many days do you have? Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom. And this is 27,300 days and dots. And that represents 75 years. Why? Because in Psalm 90, it says, as to mans, the years of our life, the days of our life, they’re 70 years, where, if due to strength, 80, but they fly away and they’re gone. So, here’s somebody who actually decided, okay, let’s see what it looks like. So, each of these is a hundred and he began to do this until this is where we are. And when you hit 75, that was kind of an interesting thing. I’m over here, so it’s rather, could be depressing, or it could be a point of view or a perspective that orients you to reality, because you need to understand your days are precious and every day matters. And, as a consequence, then, we need to realize that there’s a dash between these two dates. This fellow was born in 1945, and so, his 75 years would mean he would then be with the Lord next year. The odd thing is, I too, was born in 1945 and the reality is that, when I saw this 2020, that’s a pretty interesting finality, isn’t it? But you know, I have to live every day as if it was my last. I should always have only two days in my calendar: today, and that day. Today [and] the day when I see Him face to face, because that is a better way of living. Living with two days on my calendar is the wise way of living. So that effectively then I want to live well, but I also want to transition well, and then I want to finish well. So, given this whole idea of this process, here is the part that I had neglected until recently—the idea, how do you navigate through the courses of life, whether you’re young or old? How do you recalibrate and get a vision of what is your unique purpose on this planet? Because after all, we have a purpose for being here. God has an ultimate purpose and we don’t have a full grasp of why did He act to create anything? He’s the Author of matter, energy, space, and time. But there was a perfect unity and diversity in the divine Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Lover and the beloved and the love that flows between them, a perfect unity and diversity. God is the ultimate relationship. But at the same time, He wasn’t bored then. He wasn’t lonely. Why did He call us into being? We don’t have full clear clarity on that, but it was for His pleasure, and ultimately it will be for our good.
So, the universal purpose, which is to make disciples—I call it E-Squared, evangelism and edification—is something we’re all supposed to participate in, but there’s a unique purpose as well. And I see that every one of you is a person who, if you are, if you know, if you’ve transferred your trust from yourself to Yeshua HaMashiach, as I now call Him, because that’s His real name, Yeshua. It means the Lord is Savior, and that’s Him and His intimacy. We can know Him; to know Him is to know the Father. If you’ve transferred your trust to Him, then the Messiah will actually be the One who comes into your life, and actually you in Me and I in you.
So we have a, He’s given us something, but He’s crafted you in such a way that every one of you is unique in such a way that you are going to reflect and refract the glory of Him in a way that no one else can do. You have a participation, you have a calling, you have a purpose, and God has sovereignly embedded you within an arena of influence. And those people that have been put there are there for a reason. He’s given you certain abilities. He’s put you where you are, He’s given you capacities, and you have a unique purpose. And part of our purpose is to discover what that looks like. And I’m going to be sending you, Richard, I’m going to be sending a little thing to you that you can then forward to the men if you’d like. Some things along this line.
And one of them is discovering your purpose, because men need to do that. You need to review it and recalibrate. Because what I realize is, we can get our ships lost. And so, when you’re navigating toward a particular latitude and longitude, the reality is, though, that you often have to recalibrate. If you consider a sailing vessel, then, and you’ve got your course in front of you, but there’s always going to be movements, and you have to constantly change the rudder, move the wheel. And so, these changes in the course of life, the storms of life and so forth, it needs to be recalibrated; otherwise you’re going to go too far off target. So, the idea is making mid-course adjustments in the course of life so that if you’re heading off in a particular direction like this, the problem will be that if you are not recalibrating, you’ll begin to go off a little bit. And a small veer here will become amplified as the time goes by. So, we need to constantly revisit and recalibrate.
That overlap between your passion and your competency
For us to transition well is to review where am I, what was my history, where have I been, where am I going? And one of the things that has become very meaningful to me is this whole idea of discerning what are the gifts that God’s given me. And so, what do I love to do, which is my passion. And God has given you certain things that you love to do, but sadly, not all the things we love to do, we do well. Most of what we love to do, we don’t do very well. And then, the things we do well, many of those things we don’t love to do. So, there’s that happy spot – that sweet spot between that, that overlap between your passion and your competency that a man needs to sort that out and recalibrate and revisit.
Because when I’m telling people, when you’re making decisions about employment or anything like this, or even when you are retiring, you need to ask yourself, what are my motivated abilities? What are the things that motivate me to do what I do and what are the things that I’ve been called to do? And that overlap? And I tell people, don’t let this third area, which is what pays the bills, determine and drive your decision. If you let the money drive your decision, what will happen is you’ll miss your real passion. It’s easy to miss that. So rather, you need to realize that you have been uniquely crafted, God has given you certain capacities, and He’s given you aspirations. In fact, there’s a whole pattern in your life that you can look back and realize what are the things that you used to do well and love to do and what are the things that you can continue to then sharpen your focus and move in that direction.
So, I’m a big believer in those kinds of things. In fact, we did a retreat recently on living, transitioning, and finishing well. And we gave the men a number of resources, including a timeline exercise, which, again, we’re going to send to you, and the sovereign foundations that God has called you to have. That He’s called you for a purpose, and you look back and review that. And I will show you how to do that with these resources. But then, the process of inner life growth and so forth, and then life maturing. And ultimately, His intention is for us to reach a kind of a convergence where we discover our true place and calling in life. And it’s good for us to have a strength inventory, and this is what we’re going to send to you; the issue of who are you?
Defined by people’s opinions and expectations
That’s going to be the issue because most people, I fear, are defined by the wrong things. They’re defined by people’s opinions and expectations, and more and more, by our culture. So, your identity is absolutely critical. Who gets to define you? Who determines who you are, what do you pursue, what [do] you long for? So, this becomes a very critical issue because the more secure you are in your identity in Jesus, then, the more stable you will be in greater capacity to serve and love other people. And then, we have indicators. What are these identity and action moments that inform your life directions? And then, I’d like to talk about intake, your learning preferences, your intention, and then, your interconnection with other people. And so, I’m trying to help people process these things so that they can begin to see where they are.
I want to walk you through a journaling exercise as well in just a moment to kind of help you process this a bit more, but when we’re looking at this whole idea of how is it possible for us to take the things that are passing away, and what are the things that are passing away, your time, your talent, your treasure, those things are the currency of this world and we’ve been given a certain amount of time sovereignly to be on this planet. We’ve been given certain gifts by God and we’ve been given the capacity to earn wealth. Even there, it is God who gives you the ability to make wealth, Deuteronomy 8 makes very clear. Everything comes from Him and through Him. Everything is gift and grace and the key really to getting a proper position and understanding of yourself is to realize this—that everything is gift and grace; but He gives us the opportunity to participate in something that’s going to last forever. His call is for us to take our time, our talent, and our treasure and to leverage them in such a way that we begin to build into the other two areas of stewardship. Because I believe that truth is as big an issue of stewardship as time, talent, and treasure. See, the difference between truth and these is that truth is going to go on forever. God’s Word will endure forever. And the other area of stewardship is the people in which God has embedded you. So, He’s called you to minister to have an effective reach with other people and [as C.S. Lewis said] you’ve never met a mere mortal. My point here is that God has called you to actually take the things that are passing away and leverage them into the currency of that which is going to endure forever. And that’s a wise life. As Jim Elliot put it, He wants to make sure that you never lose out on those things which are going to matter in the end. So, he is no fool who gives up what you cannot keep to gain that which you can never lose. You see the concept there? How then can you make friends for yourself that you can leverage those things to matter and count forever?
So, my desire is for us to build truth, God’s truth, into eternal beings by using the resources He’s given me on this planet. He’s given each point of view a certain time and He’s called you to be in this place. He’s given you an arena of influence. He has given you certain abilities, He has given you certain capacities, and as a result, His desire is for you to leverage those things into other people’s lives. And that is a life well lived, where you exchange and transmute the lead of that which is passing away into the gold of that which is going to last forever. The life well lived. And I think all of us want to come to the end, look back on our journey, and to realize we were called to do this and we were called to live well; otherwise, so many men are going to live in the future and not in the present tense and my desire is for us to live in the now, for us to be able to realize this.
God’s presence in our present
Otherwise, a person, when he looks at the future and he supposes, as I look ahead here, if I can only get this product, I’ll call it “piece of one,” if I can just put this deal together, if I can accomplish that then I will be, and you fill in the blank: I’ll be happy, I’ll be content, whatever it’ll be. Guess what happens if you are among the rare people who actually achieved that thing you were fond of, really hoping to do—and that’s a small percentage? What you discover when you lay hold of it, you’ll discover it’s not all it was cracked up to be. And if you’re not thinking clearly, you’re going to suppose that “piece of two” may do. That maybe that wasn’t it. Maybe this product will do it. And you’re going to live from product to product to product. And you’re going to discover that [as Ravi Zacharias says], the loneliest moment is, in your life, is that which where you experienced that which promised the ultimate experience and it let you down again, and it’ll let you down again. And so, people suppose that the future will make up for their present lack until they finally reach the point where there’s nothing but memories behind them and the grave in front of them. And then, oddly, having lived all their lives in the future, then they return, we return to nostalgia land. So, is it possible for a person to miss his life like a person misses a plane? And the answer is yes. It’s easy for that to happen and you don’t want to live in that tragedy. The tragedy of something that’s so profoundly valuable. So, instead of living in the future, we are called to live in the now and to enjoy His presence in the present tense, to live fully and to recalibrate and to have an understanding that God’s presence in our present is the idea of practicing His presence in the now. You only have one day and that’s this day.
This is all you’ve got. You don’t have the past. You don’t have the future. Most men live in the future supposing it will make up for their present life. It never does. Most people suppose that if I can only get this, then I’ll be content. The idea is if you’re not content with what you have, you won’t be content with what you want. It’ll be a moving target all the time. How do we find them? The heart’s desire. We find it not in our accomplishments, but in our relationship with Him who then energizes our activity. My claim is this: The more you come to know Him and follow Him, the more your activities will be empowered and energized. But I want you to live with two days in your calendar: today, which is all you’ve got, and that day, when you stand before Him and give an account. If I live that way, I’m living, I’m fully alive.
So, it’s the precious present. And again, people miss this all the time. And my desire is for us to see how we can then be men whose lives matter, that add up and actually mean something, so that we actually pursue those things instead of having a compartmentalized life where the Lord is just a compartment of our life. The only difference for some people between a believer and an unbeliever is, there He is, and there, He’s gone. So that’s about it. There, He’s back again. And, so He becomes this little factor, a little component in your life. And I’m suggesting something more than that. You’ve got to have a centered life where He’s at the center of your being, and that the other areas—your hobbies, your families, your friends, your work, your finances—they center around Him, and given this idea now, the reality of life is often He’s there, but He’s a component.
You see, it might be the work at the center and maybe finances on this day, but my point is, He’s got to be the center of my life and because, if He’s not, then I’m not going to end up well. A compartmentalized life compared to a centered life makes all the difference in the world, and I want you to live in such a way that He becomes the hub, and all the spokes radiate from that hub, and that everything you do, you do because He’s in you and through you and living and you’re loving people and He’s loving people in you and through you. I tell people, stop trying to do things for Jesus. Instead, invite Him to do things through you. In other words, to empower you to be a person of purpose and passion and calling, for you to live out of that center and to have this dynamic where it’s an inside-out process, and in this inside-out process, the way I envisioned this is that you want to be active. But the problem is we are going to become human doings and not human beings unless we realize we are called really to live and practice His presence, and live in this now, and to realize that it comes from the heart, inside out, and then to love Him with your soul, your mind, and strength. It’s an inside-out process rather than an outside process. You don’t start with your activities. Activity doesn’t lead to intimacy. Intimacy leads to activity and then animates your activities. It’ll energize you. So, one of the key things of transitioning well so that we will finish well is that we sustain an intimacy and pursue Him, and there again, [there are] resources I’m going to be offering that I hope will be of encouragement to you along that line.
Also, the whole idea of practicing His presence and inviting Him to be a part of your journey. And when He calls us to abide in Him, do you abide in Him just a little bit? I think I’m just going to abide in Jesus for the morning, maybe before I go to sleep. No. You set your mind on things of—how do you walk by the Spirit? [Do you] just do that in the afternoon? It’s an ongoing process. To rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. To run with endurance the race that’s set before you. To walk by the Spirit. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to Him through God the Father. Everything matters. There’s no sacred/secular dichotomy. Everything you do can be done with excellence and with skill, and it can be done as an offering as unto the Lord.
Get a nice journal and a pen … don’t cheap out
Now, we were going to find ourselves in, and there were lots of things that we can do to practice His presence. But the thing I want us to focus on for a moment is this whole idea of what does it mean, then, to be a person who follows Him, who becomes like Him, who knows Him better and better? And then how do you kind of review your life during a journey and to recalibrate your presence tense? One of these little things I’m going to encourage people to do is, I’d like you, it’s a journaling exercise. And I tell people, get a nice journal and a pen; they’re symbols. Don’t cheap out. This is a meaningful thing. And I just gave somebody a special journal because he’s at a decision point; he’s near retirement trying to process where am I going to go from here.
You need to be processing that. And. in fact, if you’re younger, recalibrate this every year, because if you go too long without recalibrating your direction, you’re going to go off the course. So, every day, every year, rather, you should renew this. And I suggest then, secondly, that you schedule a day or a half-day somewhere that allows for solitude, somewhere perhaps when you can immerse yourself in God’s creation. And so, you go there, and you take that journal and you take that pen and you start processing, what am I going to do? You are not going to do, you’re going to be. You don’t bring your tablet, you don’t bring your electronic devices, and so forth. This is a time of walking and prayerfully discerning and listening to His voice. And this is what Jesus would often do: Go to a quiet place, lonely places, and He’d recalibrate His life journey.
He’d process His purpose for preaching on this planet. So, in the same way He invites us to do the same. So, I would suggest that you will learn more about yourself in that half-day or day than you will throughout the rest of the year. Review your life. I recommend doing it in five-year increments. So that, as you’re there, during that time, you just write it down and look at your life and just review what were the key places, the key persons, the key life lessons, what were my mistakes, what were my setbacks? Because you know, you will learn far more from your setbacks and your failures than you will from your successes. That’s just the dynamics of this, that most of our wisdom is hard-earned and it’s usually through those painful processes, so that good decisions are really something that you want to have, but often they’re forged by making bad decisions. But it’s what you do with your decisions, how you process, how do I learn from them? And so, who are the people you’ve encountered? What were your defining moments, your setbacks, your successes, your life lessons, your joys, your challenges, your pain, and what patterns begin to emerge? And so, I’m processing this before God. And as I look back and I see patterns in the past, I then recalibrate in the present tense and I have the upward view and the downward view. Looking up, who He is, and who am I, and to recalibrate that, to ask the Spirit to guide me and then to have the forward view looking ahead to see where I need to be, and what I want to do is look for the future. What do you want your life to look like in five years, 10 years, or more? What would a flourishing life look like? What would a fruitful life look like? Again, no one wants to live a life of mediocrity, but the way we go, if we’re not careful, you’re going to do just that; without training and habituation, you’re just going to float around with the current. Any dead fish can float downstream.
Go against the current
You’ve got to be alive to go against the current, you see. And what’s the stream? The world. The world is that culture and it’s consciously trying to seduce you to follow its mandates, and effectively, then, it’s a siren call. Here’s the problem. The world will define you by default. Do nothing and it’ll define you, but the Word, God’s truth, will only define you by discipline. And the key here then is actually training and habituation. So, you need to actually make the effort to see things from His point of view because you’re not going to get this material in the newspaper. The reality is then when we are looking at our life journeys and considering what, how we’re supposed to think, how we’re supposed to do, we realize, for example, in Philippians chapter four [verses six through eight] when he says, tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.
So, be anxious for nothing but in everything, the contrast and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and then, what are we supposed to focus on? Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. If there’s excellence, if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.(1) I’ve just given you the opposite of the news. This is the perfect opposite of the news. People want to focus on what’s not true, what’s dishonorable, what is wrong, whatever is impure, whatever is ugly, whatever is of ill repute. You see how that works? We have a way of doing that. What is your feeding mechanism? So you need to renew your mind and you have to be a person then who begins to practice His presence and then, in your life decisions, you’re inviting the Spirit of God to begin to animate and energize you because the thing that we want to avert and avoid is the tragedy of a life poorly lived, of the tragedy of a life that is not going to move in that direction.
So, share your discoveries after you plan to live well. How will you achieve those desires? Look upward and in Him. Who is God? Who does He say I am? What challenges are before you and what changes need to occur? The earlier you do this, the better off you’ll be. Why wait until retirement and say, now what am I going to do? Better for you to think in advance. If you have already reached the retirement years, realize that it’s never too late. As I argue, the best is yet to come and it can be the best if you are going to use these times, not fritter it away on self-pursuits but rather, you are called now to take all that you learned, all that you were given, because now we live longer than our fathers, our grandfathers. We have a longer time on this planet. We have more resources than ever before. We have hard-earned skills and wisdom. We have the capacity then to take all that we’ve learned and to use the things He’s given us. He’s given us time, He’s given us resources, He’s given us capacities, and how do I invest them in other people? And my belief is that you and I are called to mentor, to give away what we’ve received, by taking another generation and building it into them so that what you receive, you give it away to another because that’s what this is about. It is a process in which you are immersed in a culture, but He’s called you to be a person who is a changer, and that you are a forced multiplier as you begin to take what God’s given to you and through hard-earned wisdom and skill, through the pain of failure, to be able to then take others and to give away what you’ve received. Because it’s only what you give away that’s going to be yours in the end. So, you take those things and you then share it with other people.
And so, you want to be a person then who has eternal perspective on the temporal arena. I talk about planning to live well. What are the challenges that are before you? What changes need to occur at this point in your seasons of life? All of us realize that there’s this whole process of finality in life. Share your discoveries. If married, talk through these steps you’ve completed. Share this process with some key friends or with your children. Take your journal with you and write down your thoughts and expand them. Let it become an organic document. So, my desire for all of us is that we would be people who would move in this journey with clarity and with purpose and with understanding and with realization that He’s called us to actually go through this journey.
Live this day as if it’s your last
Well, now, there’s this process of birth, growth, decay, and death. This is a process that you can see, it can be in a day. For example, this day you woke up, some of you took longer to wake up than others, but you were birthed, as it were. You came out of this thing; the Scriptures use sleep as a euphemism of death. Awake sleeper and arise from the dead in Christ. So, then some of you required more caffeine than others, but after a while you begin to grow. And then after you, after your growth, then later on you’re going to be finding your energy begins to wear out. Oh, you may get a second wind, but eventually it’s going to nail you. And so, you have to then go to this death and you’re going to go to your burial chamber this very night. And in the burial chamber you’re going to put on your grave clothes, your PJs, okay. And you’re going to turn off the light. And in that darkness, you’re going to lie down on your bed, and then you’re going to pull your shroud up over your head. And then you’re going to go into, this sounds morbid, doesn’t it? You’re going to go into this deathlike state called sleep. What is that telling us? Every day is a birth-growth-decay. Every day matters. Every day has enough trouble of its own. And so, live this day as if it’s your last; treat relationships as if it’s the last time you’ll see someone, because how do you know that it wouldn’t be? And so, you move in that direction. That’s what’s true of a day, by the way. We know it’s true of a year and God has wired that into the seasons of the years.
So, we have spring, summer, fall, and winter. It’s true of a whole life, as we well know. It’s true also of a whole nation—it goes through its cycles—and of a civilization. These are things that are hardwired, so we want to realize that you have this day, and this is the day that God has called you to live in, and He wants you to use it wisely and well and not to be a person who misses out on God’s purposes for your life. His desire for us then is that we process prayerfully what it is that You have given me, what are the things You’ve called me to do, and how can I now invest that in the lives of other people rather than wasting all this hard-earned skill, this knowledge, this understanding that He’s given me? Rather, He’s calling me now to give away what He’s given to me, to invest in the lives of others, and to become a mentor for others, to serve them, and to let the last part move in, becoming the greatest part. Rather than selfish indulgence and missing out, I believe that the best can be yet to come. He can redeem the years the locust has eaten and it’s never too late to begin. As long as you have life and breath, He calls you to significance, and true significance, then, is that which is going to last forever. I fear that most people live their lives in such a way that they give it in exchange for the wrong things effectively. They look to people for their security, they look to possessions for their significance, they look to their position for their performance or their satisfaction. If they do that, what happens when you retire? You become [unintelligible]? Your position, you don’t, you no longer have it. You see, it better be more stable than that. It’s, in fact—God says, no, you are not defined by your work.
You should shape your work. Your work doesn’t shape you. You see this. So, you bring an identity to your work and whatever you’re called to do, you do it with excellence. Even the things you don’t like doing. You’re called to do it before Him with excellence. And teach me, my God and King, the poet [George Herbert] says, that in all things Thee to see, and what I do in anything, to do it as for Thee.(2) So, everything matters. Every person matters, every day matters, and treat relationships as if it would be the last time you’d see them. So, it’s not to be found in those things, but it is to be found instead in the One who made us and called us for Himself. His desire for us then is that we live a life of satisfaction, a life in which we move in the direction of our true calling and in His purposes for our life journey.
To live well, to learn well, to love well—being, knowing, doing
So, my desire for you then is for you to live well, to learn well, to love well: being, knowing and doing; the heart, the head, and the hands—integrating all that, treating relationships with dignity, and serving people with love and care. And the more I come to know the One who is the wellspring of what’s true and good and beautiful, then the more I’m called then to manifest that in the lives of the people I know. So, my desire then for us is that we become people who pursue His purposes with a passion, becoming defined by what that looks like.
I’d like to open it up for Q&A, and if you have to leave, you can just quietly leave. But I think I’d like, it would be best for us, to interact. You have a few minutes. So, I’m going to open it up.
[inaudible question from the audience]
Yes, I think a lot of it’s going to be, it has to do with passion, it has to do with purpose. It has to do with a sense of His presence. So, the best revival begins here. It begins in my life and my journey. You and Me and I and you. So, there are things we can do to come to know Him better. I have some material that I have, in fact, I have a book here that, it’s on leadership and this is a critical area for our lives here, this whole realm of leadership. Let me see if I can find it for you here. It’s Leadership in the Image of God. And another one that I have is, this and the, the structure of that is, let me see if I can find it for you here. Since I’m interested in how do you, a true leader, starts from the inside out. So, personal development is the first part. So, I discuss character, commitment, dependence on God, humility, integrity, and it’s always top down. Who is God? Who am I? How do I think? What do I do? And viewing that. So, I cannot impart what I don’t possess. So, if I don’t have a relationship with Him, how can I speak about that? So, it begins here in my life and vitality. And then we talk about the skills of a leader, like accountability, empowerment, and so forth, and then the relationships of a leader. That’s called [unintelligible] to prayer. And this other book that I’ve got, but I’m a big believer in the inside-out process. So, first of all, renewal, revival begins in the inside, but we can’t do it on our own.
You need other men to encourage you. A band of brothers to, for accountability and encouragement. And I ask, I invite accountability to protect me from myself. It’s invited, not imposed. And if I have an area I’m struggling with, then I invite somebody, someone I can trust, and tell them about that area and ask him to ask me tough questions there. So indeed, I think the transformation then, our spiritual resources, where we can learn then to practice His presence, to pray Scripture back to God, and to be people whose practice then becomes evident that they see something about you that demands an explanation. That, to me, is what I wanted us to be—people whose lives cannot be accounted for apart from the indwelling power of the Spirit of God. So, there are fundamental things that we can do that can help us in our spiritual life and journey.
What other thoughts? Couldn’t be that simple. I mean, it’s a huge topic. I mean, you were, you were first. Okay.
Audience member: You’ve talked a lot about experiencing the presence of God. Are there practices [inaudible] …
Oh my, yeah. There is a whole array of these things. In fact, I have a book called Life in the Presence of God, and it deals with just that, it gives me actual practices for doing just that. So, there are an array of practices that I can do to carry Him with me. One of those things I think I had was here, so I can, it’s astonishing. God has given you like, here, play to an audience of one, [unintelligible] for beauty. One of the exercises I did and started to do is I started to look at beauty when I’m driving instead of the car in front of me. So, [it’s] your choice, didn’t take any extra time and all of a sudden, it changed the rules for me. I started, it was a few years ago. I started in the winter and I was looking at trees. What am I seeing? I never bothered looking at it. But then I began to realize, they’re extraordinary, and I see beauty and elegance and now I can’t help but do that. You see, you are amazing. God has crafted us in such a way that you can think on two levels simultaneously—the spiritual and the material—[but] most of us don’t. But I believe that by habituation, and I talk about neuroplasticity, neurons that fire together, wire together. And the reality is that by training in habituation, not by trying, but training, training, so that perfect practice makes perfect. It’s not practice makes perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
So, train yourself to become aware of His presence. How can I train myself to now see Jesus and another person? How can I take opportunities and look and see and—wait a minute, those were opportunity moments that weren’t even on my calendar. And so, there are things we can do. You can; it doesn’t take extra time. You are capable through training and habituation of becoming increasingly aware of the spiritual and the material simultaneously, so that I believe that we can actually begin, it takes no extra time, to walk with Him, to pray for people, to consider turning pleasures into adoration, a time-stopping exercise. There are all kinds of things. So, I have an app called “Presence” and a book called A Guide to Practicing God’s Presence [about this topic].(3) So, this is an area, in my view that’s been largely overlooked. But if you can begin to immerse yourself so that you begin to realize, you know, it doesn’t take extra time for me to pray for someone while I’m talking with them. It doesn’t take any extra time for me to do all these exercises. You can do them simultaneously. And the more you do them, the more that you become habituated until you begin to see the spiritual realm, and everything then matters. Everything connects together. Every person matters. So often, I feel prompted to talk with someone who’s serving a table and I might get the person’s name and I might offer a prayer like we did last night. So, that when she was serving us, I just felt prompted to get her name. And then, before we were about to eat, I said we’re going to be praying, Shandea was her name, and we’re going to be praying, and thanking God for the food. Is there anything we can pray for you about? You see? That was a surprise and that was a moment, I call it a kairos moment. You can’t plan it. It’s not chronos. Chronos you put in your planner. Kairos is something that God gives you an opportunity, an invitation. Sometimes they’re construed as interruptions, [but] they’re really invitations. And you begin to realize the most important thing you do for the King in terms of the kingdom of God will not be on your day planner. So, becoming more alive to the grace of the present moment and realizing that we are called to be agents of change, of reconciliation, of redemption, where we’ve become winsome, attractive, and draw people to Him. So, there are many practices that we can exercise and I have a whole suite of them that I try to use. It’s astonishing to me. I’ve never seen the church take this very seriously. They give lip service to a guy named Brother Lawrence. You know, maybe you’ve heard about him, that’s about it.
Wouldn’t that be nice? They say no, actually, it’s not just nice. It’s commanded. Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself. Do you do that in the morning? You do it all day. You abide in Christ, you derive your life from Him. You know, you don’t create life. You receive His life and then display it to walk in the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit. This is an ongoing process. So, I’ve actually got a whole guide of how to do that. You can go to the KenBoa.org website and find that. One more question. Yes. Over there.
[inaudible question from the audience]
And then, truth and relationships. Those two are as much a matter of stewardship as are time, talent, and treasure.
[inaudible question from the audience]
Yes. I think I’ll give you one quick thing that has helped me immensely and it’s an outline of a—no, that’s not what I want. And so, that’s my eternal perspective [trilogy]. The Shaped By Suffering book is what I’m, it’s coming out in February, but that’s another matter, how temporal hardships are preparing us for our eternal home. But that’s not what I wanted to show you. I wanted to show you this overview of this sermon by Jonathan Edwards. Did I miss that? I’m just trying to find it for you here. I thought I had it set here. Because otherwise I’ll just describe it for you here. I had it set up here before. Three things you want to remember. Number one, it was a sermon when he was 18 years old. I forget the name of it, but here are the three points. Number one: Our bad things will turn out for good. That’s a point of view. Our bad things will turn out for good. Romans 8:28, all things work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. This is a true statement. Secondly, our good things can never be taken away. Romans 8:1, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Our good things can never be taken away. And third, the best is yet to come. First Corinthians 1:2, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
With that philosophy, I can be more than an overcomer if I can realize even the bad things … [He] allows in my life are mercies, severe mercies, that are designed to drive me to grace because we’re not home yet. We are aliens and strangers and exiles and sojourners and wayfarers. We’re pilgrims in this world. And so, we are being shaped by adversity, so that again, the lead of adversity is transmuted into the gold of glory as we now allow His purposes for our lives. So, the more we learn that, then, gives us an eternal perspective in a temporal arena. A book I wrote called Rewriting Your Broken Story. How do you fix a broken story? And with this, I’ll close. The only way I know to fix a broken story, and every one of us is in one, every one of us—broken dreams, dashed hopes, betrayals, misconstruals, [inaudible] how do you fix a broken story?
The only way you can fix one is to take your little story and put it in, embed that in the greatest story ever told. You see, and the greatest story ever told is a divine comedy, not because it’s funny but because it ends well; it began well and it’s going to end well, and you’re part of a journey, and your impact can be incalculably diffusive. That’s a term [from George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch] that I want you to think about. You can’t quantify your impact, but you can, a small act of other-centered love, can have a multiplying effect that you will not see this side of eternity. But most of your impact is hidden in this life. But there is a purpose and there is a hope and there is a calling. And my prayer for all of us is that we would seek Him out, ask Him to guide us and empower us and become more like Him.
So that’s where we’ll stop. Let me just kind of bless you. I’d like to pray for you right now.
Lord, as we look to You and You are the Author of all that’s true and good and beautiful, I ask that You would actually speak to each of us and our fears or hopes or dreams or uncertainties. Give us a sense of Your presence this day that’s palpable. Guide us and draw us by Your Spirit to become Your people. For this time, You’ve called us and embedded us in this culture, and You’ve given us a calling. Our career may be over. If it isn’t, we have a calling that continues. It transcends that. And I pray that we would be Your people for this time. Give us grace and power and love. We ask these things in the Name of Yeshua HaMashiach, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. Amen.
- Phillippians 4:6-8, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4%3A6-8&version=NET
- George Herbert, “The Elixir”.
- Presence.app, https://kenboa.org/product/guide-practicing-gods-presence/