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We just made a huge family move from Nashville, TN to Cincinnati, OH where the family is part of starting a new church, termed “church planting”. It has been quite the process: selling a home, buying another, packing, unpacking, finding new friends for the kids, fixing major issues with the home, new schools, new jobs, family, you name it. This morning was the first time in about ten months I even felt the room in my soul to try to write. Yes, it has been whirlwind, but maybe the winds are slowing down a little.

At times, I have felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Picked up by a tornado from my comfortable home and placed into this strange place where the old rules don’t apply and I’m just trying to figure out how to find someone who knows what is going on. Thankfully, I think I’ve discovered my own ruby red slippers, to find my way back home, except they won’t be taking me back to Nashville.

Philippians 3: 7-8
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

The Apostle Paul wrote those verses from prison, where he was shackled 24-7 to a Roman guard, one of the elite fighters responsible for protecting the Emperor. Many of these killers came to know Jesus as Savior because they were shackled to the greatest evangelist the world had seen.

But, I just let that sink in today. If Paul can consider everything he had ever done in life as loss, or better yet some translations say “rubbish”, or trash, compared to the greatness of simply knowing Jesus, then certainly I can too. At the end of the day, we must let the past pass away. We must let go of the past, with all of its achievements, disappointments, hurts and highs. And we must look forward, embracing our current circumstances and asking God how He wants to glorify Himself through us, even if we find ourselves chained up to professional killers like Paul did.

My eldest daughter and I recently went back to Nashville for a quick 40 hours to attend a wedding. We both agreed, it no longer felt like home. That was a little upsetting to me, because Cincinnati didn’t yet fully feel like home. But it hit me today, I must make this my home. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz always possessed the way for her to get back home: clicking her ruby red shoes, so we possess the way for joy in the midst of circumstances: our faith and trust in God’s plan.

Question: What circumstances is God asking you to trust Him through? What from your past needs to be let go and allowed to pass out of your life, so that something greater can come?

There is a particularly loud debate going on right now on the airwaves of this nation. It involves politics, which I refuse to discuss, but it gets at a bigger issue in our society: governance of the heart.
The question being asked is, “are you better off now than four years ago.”
Political pundits are spinning the answers this way and that, answering their mind, then retracting and reissuing replies, correcting the record and so forth. It is all nonsense because no one is looking at the question biblically, and I mean NO ONE.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the GOVERNMENT will be on his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The government of any nation rests upon the shoulders of Jesus.. This doesn’t mean that God approves of everything governments do (Syria is certainly grieving his heart now), but this means that God sets rulers in place and sometimes God gives us what we deserve. Sometimes he gives us what we don’t deserve and in his mercy we have a righteous ruler. If we have a beef with our government, then, our first stop should be on our knees in prayer. We should not neglect to pray for our leaders at all levels of government and if we do, then we are most likely in for a bad turn of government. And if we have a grievance with society, prayer is a great place to start, to ask God what he wants you to do about it. The church is the answer for every major issue of our day.
Jesus’ kingdom will always be increasing. The kingdom of God is basically the rule and reign of Jesus in the hearts of men and women. As we become more like Jesus individually and as a church, our community will change. Government will change to reflect the governed. The best part is that the rule and reign of Jesus is always increasing, both in our own lives if we allow it, and in our world. For proof, all I have to do is look at the testimonies of major change coming from China, India, Africa and South America. As someone very engaged with the global church, my prayer for my own nation has been, “Lord, don’t forget about America! You are the same God here as in all these other places!”
Because Jesus is increasing in my life, my life is always improving. Now, I know there are always ups and downs in our external circumstances. My point is that as Jesus increases in us, our fleshly tendencies will decrease. Repentance brings times of refreshing (Acts 3). As Jesus’ presence in our life increases, so does the grace to weather hard times with grace, joy and peace in our hearts.
So, my answer to this question is that, of course, my life is better now than four days, four months, four years, or forty years ago. I continue to repent of sin, deny my flesh, and accept the increasing government of my Lord, Jesus.
Question: How about you? Do you see your life this way or is this a new way of viewing your world?

I’ve been on the mission field with many powerful preachers, evangelists and prophets.  Some keep me laughing the entire trip, others keep me pondering deep spiritual questions long after we return.  But I think the trip that will forever be emblazoned in my memory was when I went to Sierra Leone with Franco Genarro and …

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