2020 Vision

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Happy New Year everyone! This is the start of my 10th year writing this blog and it’s been fun looking back over that time and reflecting on all that’s changed since I’ve begun. Not all of it’s been easy, but looking back and seeing God’s hand in it, I can say with confidence that it’s been good.

So here we are in the year 2020. In the science of eyesight health, 20/20 is normal vision. While you see puns all over the place using that 2020 phrase, when it comes to God’s word and his will in my life, I don’t want to have just normal vision… I want to have exceptional vision. So here are my prayers for this coming year.

  • That I can see clearly where God is moving in the world around me. Not just on the big stage around the world, but right here in my neighbor hood.
  • I want to see clearly what God is calling me to do right here in my own circle of influence. In my neighborhood, my school system, my church, my workplace. Anywhere that God has called me to be, I’m there because he has something for me to do.
  • I want to see clearly how I can be intentional in sharing the overflowing of blessings that God has given me.
  • I want to be boastful in the Lord and sharing the good news that Jesus Christ is risen.

God has led me to this verse and when I read it, it was clear that this is meant to be my verse for the year.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

My friends, my prayer for all of us is to let 2020 be the year that we see clearly God’s goodness in this world full of darkness. That we can be the light to this darkness. That we boldly proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord. I pray that we are intentional in blessing others because God has filled me to overflowing. I pray that we use our sphere’s of influence for your Kingdom and to be loving of everyone we meet, because God is love. And I pray, that when we boast, we boast in the Lord.

The Prayer of a Father

Image may contain: 7 people, including Holly Domin Lautzenheiser, Kylie Lautzenheiser, Trey Lautzenheiser and Tela Lautzenheiser, people smiling, people standing, wedding, tree and outdoor

My oldest son got married in 2018. It was a day of mixed emotions and despite him not having lived at home for over a year, I was filled with emotions, both sadness of the young boy he was, riding on my shoulders and climbing on my lap, but emotions of joy on the man he has become. It was a great honor that he and his new wife asked me to say the prayer before dinner.

I wrote it down, but as it was a chaotic day I left it at home and had to just wing it. What I wrote and what I said was pretty close so my message came across. Today while looking through some writings, I came across the prayer I had written and as I read it, I realized that what I had written for the start of a new phase of their lives, applies to us on a daily basis, I felt it would be interesting to read it anew with that in mind.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for today.

Each day is a gift from God. Every morning I wake up and thank God for another day of life to spend with my loved ones and to serve him. And on those days that I forget or get too “busy” to say that small thank you, I usually realize it early into my day as I feel that things just aren’t going smoothly. That simple statement of thanks is always appropriate to give as every moment is a gift from God.

For allowing us to come together to witness the joining of Trey and Kylie in marriage.

We gathered that day to witness a marriage between a man and a woman that fell in love. That day, our son left our side and joined as one with his new wife.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

When they were united in marriage, before God, they became one. My wife and I have been married for 27 years now and we are truly one. We joined together not only to make a marriage, a home and four wonderful children, but have joined together in one mind in our love of God and our need of a savior, trusting in Jesus Christ as that savior.

We thank you for the fine young man and woman they have grown up to be.

Trey and Kylie have grown into wonderful adults. We as parents are given our children by God, to care for just a short time. Seemingly too soon, they grow and become independent of us. Not that our love fades for them at all, in fact it grows each day, but they grow in the image of God and begin their own life journey with Jesus. Our hope and prayer for them, is that they grow deeper in love with Christ each day. That they realize there need for him and include him in all parts of their lives. I’m nearing 50 and still learning to give my all to Jesus. I try to hold back pieces for myself, but I’ve learned over time that holding things back is not what God wants from us. He wants everything. The good, the bad and the ugly. He can turn our faults into things for his good. He can use us in ways we can not even imagine.

We pray that they honor you through their love and commitment to one another.

As they journey through their married life, how they love each other, their commitment to one another should be a reflection of God’s love for his church. Total devotion, speaking as one, putting each other first…all these things are clear examples of God’s love for us. People watch, their children pay attention, they will see how they treat one another. By loving one another, they are honoring God and what he has done for us.

We ask for your blessings upon them throughout their lives.

Of course they will go through their ups and downs through life. My wife and I have been through many, but through it all, we have shared a love and direction that has given us strength to make it through. Without one another, we wouldn’t have. Every day we wake up is a blessing from God. When we get to see our loved ones, it’s a blessing from God. The memories we have of those that have passed away, is a blessing from God. I pray for my children and their families that God will bless them with life, love and a faith in Him.

We pray that you bless this food and the hands that prepared it.

We partake in a celebration of their new life together by coming together for a meal. Following God is a daily celebration. Many think that by following God, we are bound by rules and life would be no fun. However, what I’ve found is that I’ve never felt more free and joyful. God’s people follow in the footsteps of Jesus and of the early church when they broke bread together in celebration of what God has done.

And we ask for you to join us in this celebration of their marriage.

We ask for God to join us in the celebration. God isn’t a distant, impersonal God. He knows all our names, our fears, our interests. Ask God to join you in all that you do and you will fully see God move in your life. God joined us that day as he put his blessing upon Trey and Kylie and celebrated with us their joining.

And most of all, we thank you for your son Jesus Christ and the love he shows for us.

Jesus is the way, the only way to salvation. We thank him for who he is and what he’s done. Christ is the answer. The door is always open. Jesus will change you and your marriage from the inside out. We can come before God, because Jesus says “They are with me!”

In Jesus name, Amen

God is on the Move

This song came to the forefront of my mind this morning. I see exciting things happening to further God’s kingdom. Last night I had the privilege to attend a vision night for a new church plant that I’m excited to see coming to my community. RiverTree Fairless is coming to our area in October 2020.

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The Fairless community is a rural area in northeast Ohio made up of four small villages. In the 60s, their separate school systems were consolidated into the Fairless Local Schools. Named after Benjamin Fairless, a former president of U.S. Steel company who was born and raised in our small community. Before the consolidation, the villages were rivals in sports and there were often disputes between the towns. But as time wore on, the memories of these rivalries have faded and the communities, while maintaining their independence, have largely come together as one behind the Fairless moniker.

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Today we have a tight knit community, largely still rural and farmland, yet we still see so many in daily struggles that are not being met. But God is on the move in our corner of Stark County. Many have been praying for quite a while to see a church come that is on fire and obedient to God’s call to go out and intentionally disciple and bless our community and beyond.

Fairless already has quite a few churches of different denominations that are working together and doing great things in our community. As a true example of how our community comes together and welcomes all, they have welcomed the RiverTree family into their community as we hold hands with them to bring God’s kingdom more fully into our community.

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God is on the move my friends. All around the world, but here in our small community the impact of God can be seen clearly and personally. I’m excited for the next 10 months as the planning, praying and growing continues and I fully believe that in 2020 we will see the Holy Spirit move in ways we can’t imagine in our area.

As the lyrics to the song state;

God is on the move, on the move
God is on the move
In many mighty ways

God is moving….I will continue to update as I can on the church plant and more importantly on what God is doing here in our area.

Intentionally Bless Someone Every Day

As we prepare for this Christmas season, it will be easy to get caught up in the secular meaning of Christmas. To prepare for family gatherings, to go shopping and make sure we have gifts for everyone. We spend a ton of time decorating our houses.

Many believers will take the time to attend the extra church services, to give a little extra, adopt a family for Christmas and so many other great acts of service.

These are all great things and I encourage everyone to continue these activities. But I wanted to share something that we can do consciously every day, something small that takes very little time away from our already busy schedules. But it’s something that can make a huge difference in peoples lives, including your own.

Intentionally Bless Someone Every Day

This can sound scary or overly complicated. In reality in can be something as small as a hello or a smile to a stranger on the street. Could be telling a child that you like their shoes or that it is a cool shirt they are wearing. Asking someone if you could say a quick little prayer over them. Praying for people on your drive to work. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru.

Don’t forget those in your own home. Thank your spouse for something they do for you (probably something they do everyday). Tell your children you love them. Or that they look nice today. Or that they did a great job on a small chore you asked them to do. Call your parents, just to talk.

I could go on and on, but the point is to intentionally bless people that you meet everyday.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

Religion is not about ceremonies or rules. Religion is about how we care for those in need. How we treat those that cross our paths everyday. How we give back from the blessings that God has given to us.

Let me share a quick story. Years ago, my wife and I were coming back to Christ and looking for a church home. Some friends had invited us to visit the church they attend, they church that later became known as Rivertree Jackson. On the Sunday morning, we walked into the church, a large church with a couple thousand in attendance over a weekend, into the atrium and stood looking for our friends. Before we could find them, a gentleman walked up to us and shook our hands, welcomed us and pointed us in the direction of the coffee. A simple encounter that truly made us feel welcome.

We grabbed our coffee, found our friends and went into the service. When the service began and the pastor walked on stage, we realized that the man who had greeted us was the same man who had welcomed us to the church. See my wife grew up in a Catholic church, I in a very conservative, old school Protestant church where the priests were seen as more elite and it would have been a real stretch for them to truly greet people and point them towards the coffee. Both of our experiences growing up were that church was not a welcoming place, especially for newcomers.

This intentional blessing of us, but simple welcoming us to the church had a huge impact. The pastor probably doesn’t even remember that day as it was probably quite ordinary to him. To us, it is etched into our memories and has truly impacted us in so many ways.

What I hope has been obvious from this post, is that a simple, very small blessing can have a huge impact on those being blessed. What we give back to God, God will make grow exponentially.

I wrote a few years back this post on How to Change the World. The small things you do, truly can change the world.

Be intentional.

He will always pursue us, even when we aren’t pursuing him.

Every year it seems I fall into a pattern with my writing here on this blog. About this time of year, the end of summer and beginning of fall, I start to write more. This will last through the fall and winter. Once the new year kicks in, I slowly start slowing down and usually around spring, I stop with only an occasional post throughout the spring and summer and then it all starts over again in August/September.

Why is that? I’ve thought about this for years actually as I’ve noticed this pattern in many areas of my spiritual life. With my kids playing baseball and with me coaching the sport, my spring and summer are typically pretty busy and the busyness of life gets in my way. I find my quiet time, my prayer time starts to wane. We often forgo church because of games or just a general weariness and wanting to spend the day resting.

This is not something I’m proud of and it’s something I try and repent of and get better at. But something I realize is that every fall when I begin to come around, God is right there. I realize in that moment that actually God was never gone. The entire time that I’m walking my own way, God is pursuing me. So much so, that once I turn around and start to look for God again in my life, he is already there. In fact, he has never left me.

Look at the story of the prodigal son. The son, left the father and went his own way. When he eventually comes around and realizes his mistakes and makes his journey back home, we get this verse;

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

When the son was returning home and was still a longs ways off. His father saw him. See the father was watching for him, pursuing him and hoping for his return. If he hadn’t loved his son and awaiting his return, he wouldn’t have been watching for him and see him as he was returning.

God watches for us and his always there when we turn around and cry out to him. He is always there.

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’

All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations

Isaiah 65:1-2

God loves us so much, he feels we are so valuable and so precious, that he never gives up on us. He always follows after us saying “Here am I.”

Let your Sin Story, be your God story

Jesus paid the ultimate price when He died on the cross. He was betrayed and abandoned by his friends, he was accused by his own people, tortured and ridiculed, and then executed as a criminal.

What makes it all different is that is not where the story ends. Jesus defeated death and rose from the dead. Because of his resurrection, we can have the courage to face our sins because they’ve been forgiven.

Before his arrest, during the last supper, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows. Peter is adamant that he will not fail Jesus, that he will go to prison with Jesus, that he will die with Jesus if need be.

Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Luke 22:33-34

Sure enough, when Jesus was arrested, Peter followed behind. And three times, he was asked if he was with Jesus. And three times he denied even knowing Jesus.

But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Luke 22: 60-62

Sure enough, Jesus was right and Peter suddenly realized what he had done. He had denied Jesus just as he was told he would. Peter had to have been aghast at what he had done. He probably felt as Jesus died on the cross, that the betrayal that he had committed against Jesus was unforgivable.

But because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are forgiven. Even our greatest betrayal is forgiven.

The disciples, still despondent from losing their leader, go back to what they know best. They try to get their lives back to normal, what it was like before Jesus showed up in the first place. So they go fishing. Jesus appears on the shore and when Peter realizes that it is Jesus he jumps into the sea to get to him quickly.

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. … This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

John 21:7, 14

Peter denied Christ three times. Jesus appeared to the disciples three times. It’s as if Jesus was saying to Peter, “You denied me three times, I’ve forgive for each one of those.”

Because Jesus paid for all our sins, for all time, he forgives us each and every time we fall short. I, as a Christian, am a flawed human being. I fail and fall short all the time. But I know, when I repent and ask for forgiveness, I am forgiven, because Jesus paid for it all.

Let our sin, what Satan intended for us to fall, but Jesus has forgiven, be used to give glory to God. Our forgiveness from our sin is a perfect picture of the grace of God and God can use it to bring glory to his name.

It’s interesting the interaction that follows between Jesus and Peter shortly after they reach the shore.

When they finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:15-17

And then after telling about the death of Peter he concludes with;

And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:19

Peter had denied Jesus three times. Jesus then appeared to the disciples three times. Now Peter gets to tell Jesus three times that he loves him. And Jesus says, “Follow me.”

We can sin, and will sin, but each time, we are forgiven through the grace of God and blood of Christ shed on the cross.

The denial by Peter, his sin story, became his God story when Jesus conquered death and Peter was forgiven. Our sin can be used the same. Despite what happened last week in our lives, Jesus can use that for his glory, because we are no longer slaves to our sins, but are freed from it.

In all things God may be praised

Last night I attended a fundraiser for our local high school football team. For years, I had been heavily involved and served on board of the non-profit that supports this group. I stepped down a year ago to allow me time to do other things I felt God was calling me too. Last night, my wife and I went to enjoy the evening and to help as we could.

I had a quite a few people come up to me last night and say one of two things. Some asked me a question as if I was still on the board and then when I told them I wasn’t anymore was surprised. Others were surprised I was there and helping out.

One in particular, was surprised I was there as she knew I had stepped down and had remembered my reasoning, as I had spoken about it in public as well as written here that I felt God was calling me elsewhere. She has been following this blog and was excited to see where God had led me and my wife and that she felt we were meant for big things.

I had a pleasant conversation with her and then we went about our business. However, the conversation stuck with me all night and I woke up this morning thinking about it. I had told her that while I had felt God had called me away from what I was currently doing, he hadn’t led me to the “next” thing yet. I feel that God is preparing me for the next part of my journey as he has been moving pieces in place over the last couple years, but He hasn’t told me where I’m “going” yet. I’m not sure what he is preparing me for.

My impatience screams, “I want to know now, before I begin the journey.” My practicality and knowledge of how God has moved in my life before tells me, “Just sit back and wait…It’s going to be awesome.”

Where God is leading me? I have no clue. Is it going to something big? I’m sure it will be, everything God does is “big,” even when it’s small in our eyes. I’m still waiting and praying and watching. I’m struggling with somethings, but in the long run, they will make me stronger and more useful to Him.

This time of preparation can be an anxious time, but as I told my friend last night when she asked me where God was taking me, because she felt we were meant for something big. I replied to her, “I don’t know where He’s leading me yet and that can be scary at times, because I’m comfortable. I’m comfortable in my life right now and I’m afraid He’ll ask me to change too drastically. However, wherever it is that I’m going, I know I’ll look back and say, that was awesome. And even if I think that I can’t do it, God will get me through.”

This verse from 1 Peter came up in my reading this morning and I felt it was appropriate for my discussion with her.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

-1 Peter 4:10-11

So why did I go back and help out last night? Because God gave my wife and I the strength and the gift to serve, so that’s what we did in hopes that we are praising God through our service.

Stop Praying for a minute

Stop praying. Why would I suggest that? Even the Bible says to continuously pray,

Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

So why should we stop praying for a minute?

I’ve been studying through Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and the title of his first chapter is Stop Praying. Francis asks us to stop for just a moment and contemplate who we are praying to. So let’s look at some of God’s own words to help us visualize this.

At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These were the seven spirits of God. Also, in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

Revelation 4:2-6

As soon as John entered into heaven this is the site he had seen. That is probably enough to cause most people to fall to their knees in awe. But he continues on;

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Revelation 4:6-8

So here are these fantastical creatures, sitting at the feet of God, singing his praise day and night. But John continues on;

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Revelation 4:9-11

So all these might creatures, those elders who seem greater than any earthly king we could imagine, they all fall to their knees to worship our God.

Yet despite this vision of the mighty, all-powerful God, who create the universe with just a word, we know that he wants a personal relationship with us. That he knows our innermost thoughts and needs. That he has numbered the very hair on our heads. This mighty God, who is awesome beyond our comprehension, has given us a way, through Jesus, to come before him and he hears our prayers.

So this week, after reading this first chapter, I began to pause before my prayers throughout the day. A quick pause, to really try to get in the right mindset before I prayed. I tried to remember and visualize who I was talking to. When I do that, I am now able to start my prayer with praise and worship without thinking. And by the time I get to my petition to God, I feel so filled with the Holy Spirit, that I know God is hearing my prayers.

This past week, I’ve been more conscious of my answered prayers than I ever have been before. I’ve put myself in the right mindset before praying and it only takes a minute to get me there.

Why did the disciples follow immediately?

Victor Bregeda

In my reading this morning, I was in Matthew chapter 4 where he talks about the calling of the disciples.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me, ” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20

What struck me today was that the left what they were doing at once. No delay, they just dropped everything and followed.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:21-22

No questions asked, they just left. They didn’t help their father bring in the boat or finish the day of work or anything…they left immediately.

Why? In hindsight we can say, “well it was Jesus, of course they would follow him.” But while Jesus was well known at this point, he may have been considered just another rabbi and I’m sure he wasn’t considered the son of God at this point by these people. So what caused them to drop everything and leave?

So I went searching for an answer to this question and came across this article, https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/rabbi-and-talmidim which explains quite a bit about the culture in the area of Galilee at this time and help me to understand why it’s quite understandable why they followed so quickly. Read the article, it’s worth it, but I’ll try to summarize here.

The people of Galilee were some of the most religious Jews in the world at this time. Because of their living on the sea, a trade route in the day, they had more interactions with the world and were probably more educated in the scripture and had a deep reverence for it and passion to be faithful to it. All of this created a very religious community with strong families and a strong resistance to the influences of outside religious thoughts than some other Jewish communities.

Children were brought up in this community with a strong educational system. Beginning at age 5 they begin to learn the Scriptures and continued until their late teens where they then began to learn a trade or in the case of woman, were married. A rabbi was responsible for the education of he students in each community and they were highly revered.

The best students would continue their education, while learning a trade. And a very few of the most outstanding students sought permission to study with a famous rabbi leaving home and travelling with him for a lengthy period of time. These students were called talmidim, which is Hebrew for disciple. The disciple is more than just a student, learning from the teacher…he wants to be like the teacher.

But it’s important to note that the student had to ask permission to follow a rabbi and it is likely that most were turned away. So it was a great honor to be accepted by a rabbi. When the rabbi accepted the students request to follow, it indicated that the rabbi felt the student had the ability and commitment to become like him. It showed that the rabbi had great confidence in the student.

So in the verses above when Jesus asked Peter, Andrew, James and John to “follow him”, it was a statement that Jesus had confidence that they could be like him. While we don’t know if any of them had sought out this honor previously, the fact that Jesus came and asked…they couldn’t refuse.

And think of Zebedee, who seemingly had his boys abandon him. But when taken into light of what I’ve learned, I suppose it gave him great pride to see not just one, but two of his boys chosen by a rabbi and one that was as well known as Jesus. So I suspect his eyes filled with tears of joy to see his boys running off after Jesus.

How do I apply this to my life in this day? Well it would be awesome if Jesus physically walked up to me and said “Follow me,” As children of God and believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his sacrifice that saves us all, we are called to follow Jesus. We are called to follow where he goes and leave all else behind.

It doesn’t mean that God will lead us to quit our jobs, sell our houses, and head out into the mission fields overseas….but he might. It might mean that God has already lead us to our mission field and be the light where we work today, where we live, in our own community and neighborhoods. He may be leading us to be like him with our co-workers, our friends and our families. We just need to be prepared to follow him where ever he leads.

Jump in with both feet

The new year has begun. It really is just another day, but we as humans add so much significance to the day. It gives us a point to look back on the previous year and then look forward to the next.

2018 was an interesting year. Had some really high points, but it was also a year that seemed to add an unusual amount of stress on my part.

This was the year that saw my oldest boy marry the love of his life. What a joyous event. My youngest became a teenager, what a stressful thought.

My parents reached a milestone of 60 years of marriage in 2018. What a great example they’ve been to myself as well as my children.

My youngest two boys are as active in sports as ever and I love to watch them play the sport of baseball that they both love so much. My daughter has grown in to a beautiful, independent young woman. My oldest, as I mentioned before, became a husband. Of them, I couldn’t be prouder.

While I may not always show it like I should, I fall in love with my wife all over again each day. She is my strength, the calm that cures the storms that I tend to create around myself. She is the woman whom I hope to reach 60 years of marriage and beyond with.

So what about the new year? What will it bring? What are my plans? How do I intend to approach 2019?

Well I intend to take it one day at a time. Believing that God has a plan, that God will guide my feet and show me his path. Believing that God will use me in wondrous ways and make it clear how he wants me to serve him.

In my reading this morning, I am reading in John 21. Where after the resurrection of Christ, the disciples are fishing with no luck. Jesus appears to them on the shore, though they didn’t recognize him;

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No, ” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

-John 21:4-6

See, I’ve felt like those disciples in 2018. I’ve seen the resurrected Jesus and I believe…but I was still fishing on the wrong side of the boat. I still was casting my net for Christ in the wrong places. It was leaving me unfulfilled and hungry.

2019, I intend to listen to what Jesus is telling me and cast my net on the right side. I will listen to his teaching and follow his lead. You can see what happened when the disciples finally did as Jesus said. They finally caught some fish, But maybe even more importantly, we see what happens next.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “it is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped into the water.

-John 21:7

See, once Peter recognized Jesus for who he was, he didn’t wait until the boat got to shore. He just jumped in with both feet. Bringing the boat to shore would take too long. He wanted Jesus now.

I want to start 2019 as if I’m jumping in with both feet. I want it to be a changed me, not just in the New Years Resolution type of way, but in a complete transformational way.

Will I falter, I’m pretty positive I will. Will others read this, then look at me and say, “I see no difference.” I hope not, but I bet it will happen. I’m a flawed human being, in need of a savior. So I expect I will not be perfect. What I do know is that because I have a savior that is forgiving, loving and nurturing, I have hope, hope for 2019 and for all eternity.

God bless you all and I wish for everyone, a happy 2019.

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