Is God An Unfinished Project?

Several months ago, well, maybe a couple years ago, my wife asked me if I would refinish the Hutch and table I had built for her the first year we were married, 43 years hutch  ago. She wanted it to look more Amish like. She had ideas in her head of what she was looking for. She attempted to describe them to me and tableexpected me to transfer those descriptions to the furniture. I have resisted for a long time and finally unfinished chairdecided to delay no longer.

I am delighted to say that after a few weeks of work on the “almost antique” furniture the project is nearing completion. And I am glad that it no longer falls into the unfinished project category.

chairsFor several months there has been a line of old chairs along the fence in my backyard. They are chairs salvaged from the cleanup and restoration project of our new ministry center. Since last year it has been my intention to begin restoring these chairs and putting them to use. Finally the project is underway. Two chairs to date have been completed and a third is in the restoration pipe line. Though the  chair restoration project has a long ways to go it is at least moving forward.

Do you finish everything you start? I imagine not. And to be honest, some things are worth finishing.

But don’t think, even for a second, that you can put God in your collection of unfinished projects. For starters, he isn’t a “project.” Besides, he’s not going to sit on a shelf contentedly waiting for you to give him your attention once the kids are grown or the retirement is funded or other task are completed.

The Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. They returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple. They started strong but in time turned their attention to other endeavors. What was important to God became unimportant to them.

16 years past without any work being done on the Temple. So God allowed drought and downturns and difficulties to come upon them. And he said, “give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 5:7).

God is either the main thing in your life or he is nothing. At the end of the day, each of us are responsible for our own schedule. There is really no such thing as partial obedience. God begins as the priority and then we scheduled time with him and around him. We schedule the things that are important to him. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).

The Jews eventually got back to God’s priorities and took part in one of the greatest works of heaven. You can to. There are some things worth finishing. Get on with it.

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Decisions you make affect those traveling with you.

travel 2Every parent has been there. The trip ahead is long. The travel schedule is tight. You hit the road with a full tank, confident the plan you have crafted beats anything AAA could muster. But twenty minutes down the highway you hear a small, squeaky voice from the backseat. The artillery begins to bombard you. The questions.

Some you expected. Are we there yet? How much longer? Can we get something to eat?

The next barrage is unexpected. Who was the first person to decide to squeeze those things on a cow and drink whatever came out? Why does our dog get mad at us when we blow in his face but when we take him on a car ride he sticks his head out the window?

Every parent has been there. Questions from the backseat. You come to expect them. Every journey to a destination includes them. The same is true for the journey of faith.

Just like kids on a trip we get tired of the journey. We want to know when we can stop. We get tired of serving. We get tired of waiting. We get tired of the people we’re traveling with.

And we grumble. The Israelites did. They complained about the food, about the place they were traveling, and about their ‘driver’ Moses.

Grumbling does not set well with God. In fact, our grumbling can lead to our wandering. When offered the chance to leave Kadesh and enter the Promised Land, the Israelites listened to the fear-filled report from ten spies instead of the faith-full report of Joshua and Caleb.

Kadesh means “Spring of Decision” and it was time for one. They were in the right place to make the right decision. But the majority made the wrong one. The people wished they had died in the desert. So God told them they would get their wish. They would wander until the unbelieving generation  died out.

And they did. They wandered in the Wilderness for forty years. And their children were impacted by their decisions.

The decisions you make affect those around you, just like the decisions the Israelites made at Kadesh. You can decide to grumble or be thankful. You can decide to turn away from God or turn toward God. You can decide to wander without purpose through life or follow God’s vision for your life.

Just don’t forget that those in the backseat will be affected by your decisions.

Hang tough!

How often do you feel like keeping on in the same direction just isn’t working or worth the effort? When was the last time you felt like throwing in the towel? Why do you keep hearing those little voices that say, “Give up, it’s never going to happen?” What do you do when within and without you continue to get the compulsion to quit?

Keeping on, when multiple sources seem to say give up, abandon ship, change course, is about as difficult a task as we face as human beings. How do you maintain and keep on keeping on, in spite of so many voices to the contrary?

You have to begin with making sure the course you are taking is the one God is behind and in support of. You know that it is God blessed if…

o You have poured yourself out to Him repeatedly seeking His direction not His approval of your direction.
o You are absolutely certain that your direction does not violate the clear teachings of the Bible.
o Your plans and directions have been confirmed by mature Christ followers that you have confided in.

If you know the certainty that you are pursuing what God approves, then rest in His promises.

* “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is FAITHFUL .” 1 Cor 1:9

* “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we DO NOT GIVE UP.” Gal 6:8

* “Being CONFIDENT of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:5

* “If we are faithless, He WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL , for He cannot disown himself.” 2 Tim 2:13

* “Let us HOLD UNSWERVINGLY TO THE HOPE we profess, for he who promised is faithful .” Heb 10:22

I know firsthand how difficult it is when you are right in the middle of the doubt, confusion, weariness and conflict. It is so easy to get consumed and overcome by it all. But, in spite of the challenges and voices to the contrary, look beyond and above it all to the source of strength, direction, calmness and hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. He, and he alone, can give you everything you need to stay the course until breakthroughs happen.

I just want to stay home.

I can’t tell you how relieved and excited I am to be home with no prospects of another trip for quite awhile. The last three months have been in the extreme to ridiculous category when it comes to travels. We were involved in five major road trips that included a trip to Cincinnati for our third grand child’s first birthday, a false alarm trip to Lexington, KY for what we thought was our fourth grandchild’s birth, a return, two weeks later, for the actual birth, a trip to Delaware for the funeral of my mother and a trip to Indianapolis for the North American Christian Convention. We returned late Saturday, July 10, after having logged over 7000 road miles in the five trips. It is so good to be home for awhile.

On top of all the travels I had to maintain my regular responsibilities with the church, help move the church location from the Tomahawk Creek Middle school to 530 Courthouse Road, endure a house construction project that included living for two months with all our downstairs furniture in the garage and hold an open house at our place for the entire church. If I seem to be acting a little strange, I am. It’s OK. I will get back to “normal” soon. Sharon is experiencing her version of the same “strangeness.” She has been in the middle of it all with me.

It is so good to be home and into a regular schedule and routine. Since returning just four days ago I have been …

Reading more
Praying more
Exercising more
Watching TV less
Connecting with people more
Planning more
Listening to God more

So, I don’t want to go on any more trips for awhile. I acknowledge, there is so much value to getting away from it all and into a new environment but, there is also tremendous value in just faithfully and enthusiastically doing the day to day things that bring growth, enjoyment and value to others and self. No more road trips for now.

My next “scheduled” one is in August when I will be spending five days in a monastery where I can enjoy some uninterrupted time connecting with God, listening to God and planning the next year for New Venture.