The Adventure of Working with God

Being led by the Spirit is an exciting adventure. When Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”, his disciples may not have realized what they were getting themselves into (see Matthew 4:18-22). Certainly, none of them could say following Jesus was ever boring. The miracles they saw, the incredible teachings they heard, Jesus walking on water, the dead raised, demons fleeing, the Mount of Transfiguration – they were probably always on their toes wondering what was going to happen next. They were part of a great adventure of doing God’s work.

Several years ago, a friend and I took a trip to Florida. I was looking forward to enjoying a nice vacation. Admittedly, my thoughts were not on doing God’s work. But my friend was focused on being an evangelist. Before we left, however, there were a couple of people who said something to me about our trip or prayed for me. There was a certain quality to their words and prayer that made me feel like God was up to something more than us just having a fun vacation.

We drove across Louisiana, slept one night in our car in Alabama, camped at a beautiful beach near Pensacola, Florida, and continued our journey southeast through Florida. On the fourth day, we made it to Hollywood, Florida, a suburb of Miami. My friend wanted to visit the apartment where he had lived a few years back and where, as I remember, he had rededicated his life to Christ.

A girl named Shay was living in his old apartment. For about an hour and a half we sat by the pool and talked with her about the Lord. She was very open to talking about Christianity but wanted to debate a lot of different things. My friend did almost all of the talking as I sat quietly. As we got up to leave, I felt in my heart God wanted me to say something to her. 

I hesitated because I wasn’t 100% certain that I was hearing from God, but I felt like I had to say it, so I did. The Lord told me that she had been abused by a man and that God wanted to heal her heart and be a father to her. I assumed God meant she had been abused by her father (wrong assumption), but when I gave the word to her, she confirmed she had been abused by her uncle. It was evident that God was touching her heart. She said to me, “You’re quiet, but you’re powerful.”

Then, we visited another apartment where a man named Tony lived. He had recently suffered a stroke and we felt led to pray for his healing. As we prayed, something powerful began to rise up inside of me as I felt the Holy Spirit. It was so strong, I had to move. I couldn’t stay in the apartment. I walked into the street and began to pray loudly, interceding for the apartment complex and declaring salvation to the city.

I’d not had such an experience like this before, to this intensity, it was like electricity was flowing through my body as God’s anointing was strong. I don’t recall anyone in my sight, but if anyone was nearby, they certainly would have heard me praying. It was an awesome moment. I believe God was using my prayers to bring about change in the heavenly realms.

There were other times during the trip that my friend reached out to others to share the gospel, but this was the high point of the trip for me. After our short time in Hollywood, we drove down to the Florida Keys and camped in a state park. We went snorkeling from a sailboat on the Atlantic Ocean and had an overall good time. One morning in the tent, my friend and I woke up to this incredible sense of peace. It was like we were lying in a pool of supernatural peace. It seemed like God was saying to us, “You did what I brought you here to do, I’m pleased with you.” We felt God’s pleasure.

Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” When we follow Jesus, we should expect God to lead us by His Spirit, especially when we are doing His work. We can expect signs and miracles to follow us (see Mark 16:17-18).

Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17, NIV). Even as a young man, Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). We are all called to partner with Father God in the family business of advancing God’s kingdom, gathering in a harvest of souls and showing compassion to those in need.

You don’t necessarily have to travel to Florida or another country to do the Father’s work. You don’t necessarily have to stand in the middle of the street and pray loudly. The important thing is that we each do what God has called us to do and go where He has called us to go. Each of us is equipped to do the Father’s work. He does the heavy lifting; we simply join with Him in what He is already doing. Step out in faith and believe God to do mighty things through you!

What I’ve Learned in My Adventure with God

“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

In this article, I will share some of the lessons I have learned as I have journeyed with the Lord in my “adventure” with God. These truths are not earth-shattering revelations. They really are simple truths found in the Bible, but they have become more real to me as God’s word and timing has tested me and proved true in my life (see Psalm 105:19).

God is Faithful Even When I am Not

Sometimes the darkest moment is right before the dawn of the light of God’s fulfilled promise. There was a season in my life where I began to doubt God’s faithfulness because it seemed like He was not coming through on His promises to me. I got angry with God. After a few years of what was probably the darkest period of my life, I reaffirmed my faith in God in a moment of intense emotion. As I recall, it was not long after that when God began to bring about the fulfillment of some of His promises. My life began to change for the better. God was faithful even when I struggled in my faith. In my weakness, He showed Himself strong. God does not demand from us perfect faith, we only need to not give up. If we will not give up, we will see the harvest.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” -Galatians 6:9

God is More Patient, Gracious and Longsuffering than Am I

At times I have really struggled with a sense of condemnation, feeling guilty a lot. I don’t nearly struggle with this as much as I used to. As I have walked with the Lord, I have certainly made my share of mistakes and dealt with temptations. These struggles have actually helped me to accept and receive God’s grace. When we feel overwhelmed by guilt, we can cry out or we can cave in. I have had times of doubt and indecision and I have struggled to overcome temptations, but God has never given up on me. He’s been merciful when I have felt most unworthy. He has never counted me unworthy. In fact, there have been a couple of distinct moments in my life where God made it clear to me that I passed the test. I might not have given myself a passing grade, but He did! Thank God, His mercies are new every morning and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

God Knows More Than I Do

This one should seem obvious, right? There have been many times in my life where I have questioned God’s timing. I still question it sometimes, it does not always make sense. Why does God seem to wait so long for some things? When I was about 25 years old I began to have a strong desire to be married. But I didn’t marry until I was 34, about 9 years later. That was not my plan! Then, we waited another 5 years to have children and Leslie had 2 miscarriages during that time. I was 39 when our first boy was born. Again, not my plan. When I was younger, I pictured myself married by at least age 30 with 4 or 5 kids. But God had a different plan.

When I reflect, I am grateful for God’s plan. The delays have worked to refine my character and deepen my walk with Him. I am a blessed man, not because I got everything I wanted when I wanted it, but because I have allowed the Lord to add to my life in His timing. His blessings have enriched my life. I am learning to lean not on my own understanding, but rather to trust Him with all my heart, knowing He will direct my steps (see Proverbs 3:5-6). He will bring His purposes to pass in my life (see Psalm 37:5-6).

God’s Perfect Plan includes Setbacks and Disappointments

Setbacks, disappointments, personal struggles, even failures, are not an enemy of God’s plan. They may in fact be set-ups for better things. God wants to use these experiences to propel us into greater things. I imagine Peter in his boat, fishing all night. Jesus does a miracle and Peter hauls in a huge catch. Peter feels so unworthy, but Jesus says, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (see Luke 5:1-11). Peter might have settled for the life of a fisherman, but Jesus called him to be something greater. God will use setbacks to propel us into greater places of influence, authority and purpose for His Kingdom. But to reach that destiny, we may need to walk through some valleys.

In my next article, I’ll share more of what God has taught me as I have lived out my “adventure” with Him. Blessings!

What Does It Mean to Live an Adventure with God?

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” -Hebrews 11:8

Perhaps to the casual observer Abraham looked like only a wandering traveler in the ancient Middle East. He may not have looked like anything special to the naked eye or the undiscerning. Yet his life was marked by God for a special purpose. God called him out of his family’s house to embark on a journey to a land that was new to him, where God would begin to implement His plan for the salvation of the human race. God promised Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). That promise has come true as Abraham’s lineage gave birth to the Messiah Jesus Christ who is still saving people from their sins from all nations and races of this earth.

Often our lives are marked by the ordinary rather than what we might think of as remarkable. We go to work, punch a time clock, clock out at the end of the day, go home, eat dinner, spend time with family, and repeat the next day. We are bankers, truck drivers, nurses, lawyers, fathers and mothers, pastors, construction workers, and cashiers. We are concerned about paying bills, keeping the house clean, putting food on the table, and attending our child’s baseball game or dance performance. Yet, God can transform the ordinary when He infuses our otherwise ordinary lives with His presence and power. A tiny spark ignited in our hearts can cause us to burn with a holy flame and love for Him and for others. Like Jesus’ disciples, who were common and uneducated, we can impact the world for Jesus (see Acts 4:13).

I’m not an adrenaline junkie. I have no desire to bungee-jump or climb the sheer face of a 1,000 foot granite cliff. I am fascinated by mountain-climbers who scale Mount Everest at great personal risk, but I know I’ll never give that a try and my wife is not keen on the idea. The most adventurous thing I have probably done is a few short backpacking camping trips as well as several mission trips to Central America. I have rappelled down the side of a few smaller cliffs. However, when I talk about adventurous living, I’m not talking about seeking thrills, climbing mountains or even about the great explorers of history, such as Christopher Columbus or the astronauts who landed on the moon. What I’m talking about is a life of faith lived for Jesus that is marked by a willingness to obey, sacrifice and doing the works that God has called us to do.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

-Ephesians 2:10

I am talking about an attitude that views everyday life, no matter how ordinary, as an adventure to live rather than a drudgery or a problem to be solved.

When I think of adventure, I think of something exciting and also a sense of the unknown, a sense of risk. From our perspective, much of life involves risk. Sometimes the faith walk seems to teeter on the edge of devastating failures and soaring victories. Imagine Abraham about to plunge the knife in his son Isaac before the angel of the Lord stayed his hand. That could have ended badly. Instead, God’s test of Abraham resulted in a glorious shout from heaven affirming Abraham’s faith (see Genesis 22:1-19). When we walk in faith there is always a sense of the unknown because God seldom gives us the whole picture, meaning we have to trust Him for each step and grow in the journey.

If you get married, your marriage could be miserable or boring. On the other hand, it could be an incredibly satisfying experience filled with friendship and intimacy. That’s the risk. If you have children, they could end up being rebellious and disobedient and cause great heartache. Or, they could bring great joy to your life as you watch them grow and pursue their own adventures. That’s the risk. Everything in life, even walking out the door in the morning, involves risk because we live in a world that is subject to trouble. It’s the attitude we choose that determines whether we embrace challenges with joyful determination or a sour disposition.

I think that it’s better to die with an unfulfilled dream than to live without one. My father-in-law, who recently passed away, was still dreaming when he passed. I know he had ideas and plans for the future, things he wanted to do for the Lord. Now he’s with the Lord but we get to carry on his legacy. Are you dreaming a dream that will live beyond you? In God, there is no dream too big or too small, as long as it’s a God-given dream. What matters is that you are fulfilling the purpose God placed you on this earth to do. Whether it’s driving a truck across lonely highways or hammering away at a keyboard as an assistant, do whatever you do with all your might as unto the Lord.

Life is challenging, with setbacks and disappointments, cherished memories, smiles and laughter, sorrow and pain, and wonderful accomplishments and blessings. Few of us will walk on the moon and not many of us are the next Apostle Paul, but that does not mean we lack significance. Each of us can impact another with the love of Jesus Christ. When we get to heaven, God will not ask us if we accomplished great things in the eyes of the world, He will ask if we were faithful with what He gave us.

I believe some of us need to restore a sense of wonder to our lives. For my 2-year old, Joseph, going to the park with me for a walk is a great adventure. He loves to explore, pick up sticks and be hoisted onto my shoulders as we walk together. I love it. When a plane flies overhead, he points to the sky. We recently returned from a trip to Colorado where we saw beautiful mountains and some rainbows. Since we got back, Joseph will say “bow” for rainbow. May we never cease to be amazed. We can curse the sky when it rains or we can embrace life with child-like wonder and adventure.

Jesus said that he came that we may have life and have life more abundantly (John 10:10). The abundant life is not foremost an accumulation of possessions or experiences, but it is an inward fullness of life in Jesus, a life filled with His joy, His peace and His love. His presence can transform the mundane into a glorious adventure with Him. In Christ, we embrace the adventure of life, the adventure of daily work, the adventure of marriage and children, the adventure of the kingdom of God, and even the adventure of pain and death. The last frontier is crossing over to the other side. We know the certainty of what we believe and our hope of heaven, but even death is a step of faith as we step from this life into the arms of God.

On this earth, may we not hide in the darkness of fear, but may we march on boldly in the light of God’s glorious presence. May we launch out into the deep of His Spirit and embrace all the fullness of life in Him.

May you be blessed in your adventure!

Living an Adventure with God

Twenty years ago in August, I moved from northern Michigan to Dallas, Texas. To the casual observer, I was just a young college student moving across the country for school. For me, it felt like an adventure with God. In this article, I want to share my story of following God to Texas. I’ll follow up this article with 2 more parts about what it means to live an adventure for God and some of the lessons I’ve learned in my journey. I hope it will be an encouragement to you on your adventure.

Prior to moving to Texas, I attended a university/Bible school for 3 semesters in Minnesota. I desired to be a pastor. After completing those 3 semesters in May of 1999, I decided to move back to Michigan due to some personal failures. I was struggling personally and decided it was best just to leave. I spent the summer of 1999 working for my dad’s employer and living with my parents. That fall, I got a job at a local restaurant and rented a small apartment. I was 20 years old.

In October of that year, I fulfilled a dream and went to New York City for a week to volunteer at an inner-city ministry called Metro Ministries. The leader of the ministry had profoundly impacted my life while I was in high school and I thought perhaps I would become a part of the ministry’s discipleship school. I boarded a Greyhound bus and traveled for about 36 hours, including stops and layovers. I found my way to the ministry by New York’s subway system while also managing to accidentally hit a lady in the face when the subway lurched forward. It felt like quite an adventure for this small town midwestern kid. Nevertheless, after completing my week of volunteer work, I knew in my heart the discipleship school was not the place for me.

Sometimes in following God we know what we are not supposed to do, but we have to wait to hear from God about what we are supposed to do. That’s where I was after returning to Michigan from New York City. During that time, I had a real hunger for God in my heart. I recall that I had such a burning desire for God and His presence in my life. That Christmas, during a choir presentation at church, I recall weeping as I felt God’s presence come over us as we sang. Some months later, I had an encounter with God during a weekend where I had spent a couple of nights praying all night. God touched my life with His power and glory!

Despite my hunger for God, I had no clear direction for my future. I think probably after my personal failure in Minnesota, I wanted to be more certain God was leading me in my next step in life. Because of the influence of Metro Ministries, I believed God had called me to be an inner city pastor. One Sunday night, while praying at the altar at church, I asked the Lord, “If you’ve called me to the city, give me a city.” It was more of a prayer of exasperation. I didn’t necessarily expect God to answer it so specifically, but He did!

That very next Saturday evening, at the end of our worship team practice, my pastor prayed, “Lord, speak to us in our dreams tonight.” That night I dreamed I was driving around a city with my best friend but we didn’t know what city we were in. I asked a couple of people in the dream what city I was in, but they wouldn’t tell me. Then, from the sky I heard a voice say clearly, “Dallas, Texas.” I woke up with a sense of excitement. Texas was not on my radar as a place I might move, but God had a plan for me in Texas. This happened around April of 2000.

In June of 2000, I drove to Texas with a man from my church. There is a university near Dallas that is part of the church denomination I grew up in and I thought perhaps I would go to school there. I scheduled a visit at the university and wanted to spend some time “spying out the land” before I decided to move to Texas. If there were any giants in Texas, I was certainly ready to defeat them!

We drove south through Wisconsin, Illinois and into Missouri. As we drove through Missouri, I took a picture of my Bible, pictured here. I felt like I was following God on an adventure. Interestingly, as soon as we entered Texas, my friend became very negative. He couldn’t say one positive word about Texas. I recognized that the enemy was speaking through him which actually worked only to solidify my conviction that God was leading me to Texas. During our trip, my friend’s true nature was revealed in some other unpleasant ways.

I did not feel particularly drawn to attend the university I visited, but while visiting a church in Dallas, we drove past Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), a ministry school. I vaguely remembered having heard about the school but I didn’t know much about it. We didn’t stop but when I returned to Michigan I called CFNI and asked a lot of questions about the school. It seemed like the place for me to be, so I enrolled, stepped out in faith and moved to Texas.

For the last 20 years, I have lived in Texas, except for a 3-year stint in Virginia to attend law school. Over these years, I have seen God lead my life every step of the way, not always through dreams but always by His Spirit. Over the years, much of my family has followed me south. My parents and youngest sister live near Fort Worth and another sister lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her family.

God has led me faithfully in every aspect of my life, in finding the right church, in friendships, with employment, in my walk with Him, in ministry opportunities, and in marriage and children. My journey with God has involved unexpected surprises, seasons of agonizing waiting, times of frustration and deep disappointment, and also seasons of blessing and fulfillment. There have been some hurts and heartaches along the way, but in many ways I feel very blessed and full, especially when I look at my wife and 2 growing boys.

I think God has led me in part because I have so earnestly desired to follow Him and know Him. God has led me in the steps I have taken in life, but perhaps more importantly, I have grown in my knowledge of Him and with a greater confidence and assurance of His love. Now I’m 41 years old. It seems like a good time to pause and reflect back on my journey. In some ways, it seems like God has brought some things to a sense of completion in my life and now it is time to look forward to the next adventure with God. In some ways, it feels like I’m just getting started. What has happened to date has been training for greater things. Some of my dreams from God have been fulfilled, but there are many which have yet to come to pass. I’m excited for the next adventure.

What about you? How has God led you in your journey? In my next article, I will talk about what it means to live out an adventure for God. Stay tuned!