Today it feels like there’s something missing in the lives of many Christians, we go to church, and occasionally read our Bibles but it feels if that it isn’t enough. As Christians we are good at listening, pondering, and absorbing information, revelation and insights but what do we do with all of that knowledge? Do we write it down, store it away in our minds for a rainy day, or do we replace it with whatever is heard the following week?
In this video you’ll find thee Keys to help you live out the forgotten ingredient of Christian life.
If you take the lessons and introspections of the wilderness
seriously you will eventually find yourself at the edge of the wilderness. That
place where you can finally see what is waiting for you beyond the horizon,
that place you know as your calling and purpose in life. For some it’s
ministry, others business, or another type of career. No matter what it is this
is the place where you can finally see what you only hoped could be possible
It’s that place where promises get fulfilled where you can
finally enjoy the benefits and added responsibilities of becoming who God
created you to be. For some this could be a paid position at a church, others a
place on the mission field, or a job teaching, or even serving in any other
capacity. The years of grief, training, apprenticeship, seeming futility, small
victories and painful growth are finally about to bloom into something
wonderful. Something that you have hoped for and simultaneously expected to never
With David this was the place he found himself in during the last months of his trek through the wilderness avoiding the persecution of Saul. So many years had gone by since his original anointing and commissioning by Samuel as a teenager. Now the process of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation were about to culminate in the season of Announcement.
Finding Comfort in
The path to ministry, or any calling from God for that
matter is never just a clear trajectory from point A to point B. Often God will
take us through twists, turns and unexpected detours not to punish us or hold
us back but to give us what we need to flourish in our callings.
David faced an unexpected turn in his strategic retreat from king Saul, as he found himself serving a Philistine ruler named Achish the king of Gath. This same ruler that David pretended to be insane in front of years ago (1 Samuel 21:12-14), but since seems to have come to an understanding with. David received a home called Ziklag (1 Samuel 27:6) in exchange for him and his forces protecting the Philistines south-eastern territory from the Amalekites and other rogue tribes (1 Samuel 27:8).
On the surface David seemed to have sided with the same people who regularly raided his tribe’s territory and sent the likes of Goliath against his people. Yet by serving this Philistine king as a mercenary he also fulfilled a task which also benefited the tribe of Judah as well (1 Samuel 27:10), by keeping Israel’s ancient enemy the Amalekites (Numbers 14:43-45, Deuteronomy 25:17, Judges 6:3, 1 Samuel 14:48, 15:18) at bay deep in the southern wilderness.
What we see play out here in this story of David is how the path to our destination will sometimes take us to unexpected places. These paths seem to be taking us in the opposite direction from our calling but actually are preparing us in a way we didn’t expect. I had a season like this myself, for about three years I had a second job where I wrote investment articles about Canadian stocks. It wasn’t something I was particularly passionate about and at the time I was more focused on working on the home group curriculum and other sider project at the church I was attending.
During this season I was writing four to five 3,000 word
articles each week and it taught me how to present otherwise unexciting
information in an interesting and concise way. It was an education I probably
couldn’t have received anywhere else and it prepared me for what I’m doing now
with my books and the regular content on my website. It was the polar opposite
of what I wanted to do with my time and ministry but in the long-term it was
one of the best things I could’ve done with my time back then.
The experience helped me pay off my mortgage quicker, it
gave me the skills to write entire term papers in a day (without sacrificing my
GPA), and how to structure information in a way which helped me greatly in
writing my books. But that job was only for a season and many of you will face
the same unexpected twists and turns in your journey as well. You just have to
be willing to accept and recognize these detours and to do the best job
possible at them because later on you’ll see how those unexpected places helped
you become who God wanted you to transform into.
Typically, you’ll know this season of detouring and unexpected travels comes to an end because you’ll swiftly be kicked out of the nest so to speak. With my stock writing this came in the form of cutbacks which reduced the minimum payments for my articles to the point where it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. With David this came in the form of the other Philistine kings dismissing David and not allowing him to march with their army (1 Samuel 29:4-7).
While on the one hand the other Philistine rulers wanted nothing to do with David, Achish still recognized the faithfulness of David and had nothing bad to say about him (1 Samuel 29:3). Just because you’re in this place that feels nowhere near the place of your eventual ministry it doesn’t give you a license to do a poor job or to not be faithful in doing it. David remained faithful even in serving Achish and ensured his reputation was not eroded by his actions during a less that favorable point in his life.
Facing The Last Ditch
Attacks of the Enemy
After being dismissed from the Philistine’s army David and his 600 men returned to their home in Ziklag, but instead of finding their families waiting joyously for them they returned to smoke, ashes and silence (1 Samuel 30:3). In an instant everything was gone their wives, children, flocks and possessions were nowhere to be seen. It was that feeling of abandonment by God and hopelessness which many of us have faced at one point or another. You walk into your place of comfort only to find everything torn down and left in ruin.
Those who followed David went from faithful companions to near mutiny, where they wanted revenge by killing David because of their loss (1 Samuel 30:6). The Amalekites struck knowing that the Philistines and Israelites were too busy fighting each other to protect their southern frontiers. This also could have been done out of revenge for David’s earlier attacks on them (1 Samuel 27:8). Either way David’s enemy had struck leaving him and his followers broken and at the point of despair.
We have to understand that our enemy is also an opportunist who
lives at the edges of our own lives, looking for moments to invade and carry
away the blessings God has given to us. Satan always attacks hardest right
before you enter into something new and powerful. He and his forces watch as
you reach the summit of the mountain blocking your destiny and they wait just
below the peak to stop you from seeing the lush valley of promise and
They understand that the more successful you are at contributing to the expansion of God’s kingdom in this world the greater risk you pose to their own territory. In reality you are like David and his forces making raids into enemy territory and carrying off the spoils back to their own lands. The forces of the enemy see you as the great invaders who are coming to take their people away from them so they lie in wait for a moment where you are unprepared to resist their retaliations.
In that moment David lost everything, but he didn’t cower or give up but instead rose up and sought out God’s will in that situation (1 Samuel 30:7-8). Upon receiving the green-light from God David lead his forces to take back all that was lost. Days later David and his forces defeated the Amalekites and took back everything which was stolen, plus the riches of the Amalekites. David later shared those spoils with the leaders of Judah who supported him.
We must learn from this experience because we will have trials and times of failure and loss and we have to endure and push through it otherwise we will never recover what was lost and we end up drifting back into the heart of the wilderness and blaming God for our misfortunes. When we face these seasons of loss or spiritual attack, we have to come at it from the perspective of “I’m going to fight back and reclaim what was lost, plus interest.”
You cannot use these types of losses or attacks to discourage you from continuing in the path to your calling. Because if you throw in the towel, you’ll just become another beggar along the road or corpse in the ditch serving as a witness to all those who come along this journey after you, that “happily ever after” is not guaranteed.
There are struggles and battles that have to be won, and you
can’t do it all alone, what would have happened if David left the six hundred
behind and went off to fight the Philistines alone? He would have most likely
ended up like the swordsman in Indian Jones, struck down without any real
effort. Then all of the promises and anointing David received would have been made
meaningless. You need to fight these battles with others as well, you need the
support of those who are still in the wilderness and you need help from those
who have come out of it.
The End Is In Sight
If you have proven faithful in the seasons of unexpected
detours and the surprise attacks of the enemy, you’ll soon find yourself at the
edge of the wilderness. The place where you’ve reached the summit of the
immoveable mountain of your life, the one which said you could never enter into
the fullness of your calling.
All that remains now is to walk down that mountain and enter the valley God has been preparing for you. The place where you are announced as being who God created you to be, the place where the anointing placed on you long ago manifests into an active calling, a visible platform, and the added responsibilities become real. To make it to this place you have to have learned how to benefit from the detours of life and you need to have developed the courage to take back what the enemy has stolen from you.
Otherwise you still may find your way out of the wilderness, but you will be ill equipped and left with nothing but the proverbial shirt on your back. You’ll soon find out that you weren’t prepared and will have to go through the season of training and refining all over again. When we come to the summit of that mountain we don’t want to be like Moses who only received a glimpse of the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). Rather we want to be like Caleb who was able to enter into the promised land and take the territory promised to him, with a little help of course (Joshua 14:14, Joshua 15:13-17).
Just like the entire process of surviving the wilderness where you have to cultivate faithfulness, character and your relationship with God, exiting the wilderness takes even greater mastery of those matters. You can’t coast down the mountain so to speak because if you do you will inevitably fall over and impale yourself on a tree or fall off a cliff. This steady march down hill can be the most perilous part of the process because you begin to let your guard down and you try and rush the process because you are so close to the end.
This is where we tend to get lazy and “forget” the three great keys of 1) Go to Church, 2) Read your Bible and 3) Don’t Sin. Or we no longer see one or all of them as being important because we can almost touch the place of our Announcement into our calling. We hear that Saul has been killed and realize that in a matter of days or moments we will be made king so to speak. This is why we have to take the lessons, experiences and times with God we have lived though during the wilderness and become even more diligent so we can make it to the bottom of the mountain and receive our commission.
For those of you who do make it to the bottom of the mountain and are free of the wilderness, receiving your commissioning and having your calling announced to the world is not the end of the story, Next week we will look at the two paths your life can take once you have received the fullness of your long promised anointing.
Are you looking to develop your relationship with God and better understand the Bible? Pick up a copy of one of my books today.
Are you struggling with surviving the storms in your life right now? In this life we are not exempt from troubles but often when we are experiencing those things we lose sight of God in all of it. Yet Jesus offers us a clue to not just thrive but rest in those storms of life
To fully see Jesus we must go beyond the images of Him with the disciples, or Jesus on the cross and see Him for who He is today. No longer just a lamb, but a lion, no longer a servant but the King of kings.
By now you should be able to recognize in yourself the traits of either the Doer or the Dreamer. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself looking for the happiness that supposedly is found within. With those shadows of our heart exposed, we now come to the place where we can discover how to overcome the Great Lie and find the happiness which Doers and Dreamers spend their lives chasing after.
thing we must do is accept that we must turn toward our Creator in order to
find purpose, joy, and success, all of which are rooted in a relationship with
Him. This all begins with our making regular time for God in our life. No
matter how busy, convoluted, or chaotic our life may be, we must actively carve
out time to sustain our relationship with God.
The words of
Paul provide us with inspiration about how we’re to make time for God: “Rejoice
always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16‑18). Notice Paul
doesn’t say “some of the time,” or “every other week,” or “only on Sunday.”
He’s encouraging this Macedonian church to be constantly looking toward God.
Not in some legalistic or mystical sort of way, but in a real way that touches
and interacts with their actual lives.
even begin this journey, we must have a starting point. That starting point is
accepting Jesus as who He says He is, and who the Bible says He is: the Son of
God, the Lord of all, King of kings, born of a virgin, performer of miracles.
He’s the great teacher who came in the flesh, died upon the cross for our sins,
and was resurrected, all according to the words and prophecies of the Bible, so
we can have covenant fellowship with Him for all eternity.
Before we can go further, this matter has to be settled, because all that comes next is available to us only if we’re in a covenant relationship with God through the power and atonement of Jesus. Otherwise we’re still “outside the gate” and lost within the curse of sin.
If you’ve never called on Jesus, believed in Him, and received forgiveness, now is the time. All the benefits in this book and in the Bible begin with our saying, “Jesus, I believe that You’re who the Bible says You are. I come before You a sinner lost in the darkness. I ask You to forgive me and to make me clean. I declare that You are Lord and King of all, and I ask You to adopt me into Your family and covenant. I ask You to wash me in the power of Your blood and atonement, to give me eternal life, which has its origin in You. I thank You for dying for my sins and enduring the cross, and from this day on I shall live as a member of Your family and live as You did upon the earth.”
Being now in
this place of relationship with God, we next have to develop it. This is similar
to how you can be very close to some family members, while others you don’t
really know. Those you’re close with are those you’ve put in the time to get to
know; you’ve shared experiences and conversations with them, and you feel
closer. The others, even though you don’t know them, are still your family, and
you may see them at a wedding or other occasions, but you have no personal
relationship with them beyond that of family ties.
different between us and the Trinity. We have two options. We can be either
close friends or occasional acquaintances. To have that close relationship
requires time and effort, and as we’ve seen with the Doers and Dreamers, these
are scarce commodities which we’re used to spending on all sorts of other
all-encompassing formula to develop this kind of relationship between us and
God (although many have tried to produce one). There’s no step-by-step process
that automatically brings us to the level of Abraham and Moses as “friends of
God,” or like John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
signposts to give us a general direction? Yes there are, and the remainder of
this book will show those to you. They come in the forms of time and grace.
Tithing Our Time
In church we’re taught that tithing is an important concept in Scripture because it represents giving our best to God. When Abraham wanted to honor God through Melchizedek, he freely and cheerfully gave, knowing that God was trustworthy to keep His promises. Abraham trusted God and saw Him not as just a cosmic entity or simply the source of one’s possessions, but as the source of all creation.
Fast-forward to our modern Christian culture,
where we’re taught to give our money to the church—10 percent of all we earn
plus any other gifts or offerings that are on our heart. We’re taught that it’s
an act of faithfulness to give back to God, not because He needs it, but
because it’s an opportunity for loving obedience on our part. As Jesus said,
“You are my friends if you do
what I command” (John 14:14).
Although this concept is taught, very few actually apply this teaching in their own lives. I’m speaking as a member of a church’s financial council, where we have to manage programs that many people demand but few are willing to cover the costs.
The problem we run into these days is that
we’ve removed the value assigned to our money. If I were a Jewish shepherd
living before Christ, I would find myself evaluating my flock—the little lambs
I’d helped feed when they were having trouble suckling, and had risked my life
protecting from wild animals, and had watched grow. I had to give away my
best—the healthiest and my favorites to God. My tithe was tied directly to my
efforts. I was essentially giving the best of my life, my most prizewinning
Today we’ve separated our money from our
efforts. With a swipe of a credit card I can spend money I haven’t yet earned.
My paycheck magically shows up in the bank without any effort on my part, and
all I see are numbers on a computer screen. There’s no tangible evidence of my
work other than numbers and the ending of another week.
Work is seen as the thing we do because we need
to eat and pay the bills, yet money always seems to be in short supply. Most
people don’t tithe because they feel they’ve fallen so far behind with bills or
have overextended themselves so much that there’s nothing left to give. “God
doesn’t need this money; I need it to pay the electric company, plus I have to
put gas in the car, and I have to buy coffee so I can function at work, and I
need the cash for that sale at the mall later this week.”
While a tithe of our money is both scriptural and important, God also wants us to put Him first in all things. Time is the most precious commodity in existence. We can trade our time for money or things, but we can’t buy more time. We live life as a series of moments, and all we have is the moment we’re in right now. Money can be printed, gold can be mined, houses can be built, but you can’t create time, and you can’t open up a savings account to store up hours to use another day.
Maybe it’s time to look at this idea of tithing from an entirely different perspective. What if I took the concept of tithing and linked it to my desire to give my all to God?
This would never replace my financial tithing, which is both scriptural and good. Rather, in my desire to give God the best of myself, what if I also give to God the only real thing I have of value—my time? How I spend my time is how I spend my life, and every moment I deliberately focus on God, I change my life for the better. This is so much greater than anything the Doer or the Dreamer could ever imagine or accomplish with where they invest their time.
Consider what Jesus told the religious leaders
of His day in Luke 11:42: “Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and
neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without
neglecting the others.” The Pharisees were giving to God financially, but they
lost the point of it all. They lost sight of God’s heart, and for the sake of
religious obligations, they traded away relationship with Him.
For a moment let’s replace my wallet with my clock. Let’s say I’m awake sixteen hours a day. If I wanted to tithe my waking hours, I’m looking at an hour and thirty-six minutes each day. Now, ask anybody who’s already starved for time if they could fit an extra hour and thirty-six minutes into their day to spend with God, and they’d say you’re out of your mind. How could anyone possibly change their life so drastically to even come close to doing that? Isn’t ninety minutes on Sunday morning enough?
But even if you somehow found that much time to
give to God—what would you do with it? After the first few minutes, your mind
would begin to wander, and it would be a constant battle to get it back. I’m
not judging you; I’ve experienced this as well. After two or three minutes, you
stare at the ceiling and wonder, “Okay, now what?”
Without any idea of what to do, we can quickly become discouraged or bored, and then a sense of struggle becomes associated with your time with God. Instead of trying to figure out how to set aside so much time in our day, we should just look for a starting point and take it one minute at a time.
One Minute at a Time
trying to lump the whole tithe of time together, what if we divided this tithe
of our time into more bite-sized increments that are easier to control?
In every hour we’re awake, what if we spent six minutes building our relationship with God? What if we then took those six minutes and break them down into separate one-minute exercises—six different things we could talk to God about for one minute each? Every time an hour goes by, and we see the hand of the clock change, we’re prompted to take a minute out of our busyness to pause and turn our mind toward God.
This is where the concept of “six minutes of grace” comes into play. In our time with
God each hour, we take these six keys, and we use each one for one minute at a
time. By focusing for one minute on each of these six elements, we’re helped to
draw closer to God and to align our will with His.
This isn’t just some magic number. And doing it
just for the sake of doing it won’t do us any good. It’s a starting point to
transform our lives from one which is focused on ourselves to one which is
focused on God and our relationship with Him.
Some people will do the six-minute exercises
every hour; some will do it only a couple of times a day, and others every
other day. What’s important is not checking the “done” box on a list, but
really developing a relationship with God.
In my own life, this practice of making room
for God hasn’t always been this formal. However, the heart of this concept is
what has changed life for the better for my wife and I. This lifestyle has
brought us through many rough patches. It’s the cornerstone of our relationship
with Jesus. This format is the easiest way to show us what’s important in our
lives, and it gives us a guideline on how to fellowship with the great Creator.
We must make room for God, and this approach of tithing our time helps to keep us accountable and focused until the novelty becomes a habit, and the habit becomes a lifestyle which produces fruit in our lives and draws us closer to God.
You can do these exercises out loud, or you can
do them silently. It can happen when you’re driving, as each red light gives
you a minute or so of opportunity. It can happen while you’re making coffee or
breakfast, or while you’re walking, or during the spaces between life’s
activities. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
Have we forgotten that God is the most
interesting being in all the universe? Yet more often than not, we treat Him
like a pet rock sitting on our dresser. Do we actually understand what’s
available to us? The One who created everything in Genesis is standing at the
door of our lives asking to be a part of it. But like the gentlemen He is, He
won’t kick in the door, but will knock ever so gently and wait for us to open
up to Him.
Even if we have only one minute in the entire day, we can purpose to use it to show gratitude to God (more on this in chapter 6). This is the personification of Philippians 4:8, where Paul says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Spend even just a minute in appreciation of God
and of all He has done. If the minute has passed and you don’t have any more
time, come back to this exercise later when you can. Focus on one step at a
time, and spend longer or repeat the ones that are on your heart. Give God your
attention—deliberately—one minute at a time.
The desired outcome here is for you to carry on your conversation with God throughout the day, using GRACE as a guideline. Don’t make this a religious exercise, but rather a reminder of how much we need Him throughout our day.
Don’t worry or feel badly if you forget a step,
or do the steps out of order, or don’t finish. This is just the starting line
for what can become a deep, rich, and meaningful relationship that will bring
you so much joy.
The more you repeat the exercise, the more God will become a priority in your life. The time you’re giving Him becomes focused, because each minute has a purpose. Over time, your moments of praise will give you a new sense of purpose in all that you do. Your life will become about doing simple everyday things for the glory of God.
As you begin this journey, I highly recommend
that you incorporate journaling into this process. Journaling can be a key
factor in making time for God because it forces us to slow down and consider
what we’re writing down. It also gives us something to look back on later. We
forget so much because of the busyness of life; it’s amazing what falls between
the cracks of our mind.