6 Secrets from the Magi

We don’t know the exact time frame of the journey made by “wise men from the East”  in search of young King Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12). It may have been several months or even a few years after Jesus’ birth when they arrived at Herod’s palace and asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”  (v. 1).

But while some of the details of their journey may be unclear, there’s much we can learn from the wonderful example set by the magi:

  1. Pursuing the Lord was their top priority (v. 1). These men came from a great distance – probably 900 miles or more – to spend time with the Savior. In contrast, King Herod and the religious leaders wouldn’t even travel the six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. The magi showed they weren’t just casual believers, but were committed to seeking a personal encounter with the newborn King. In the same way, shouldn’t we  make it a priority to seek the Lord and spend time in His presence?
  2. They came to worship Him (v. 2). Right from the beginning, the magi made the purpose of their journey clear: “We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”  May that be our  focus as well during this Christmas season. Instead of being distracted by all the trappings of the holidays, let’s take time to worship Jesus!
  3. Nothing could divert them from their mission (vs. 3-8). When God gives us a dream to pursue, we often have to deal with a “King Herod” who tries to distract us along the way. The magi truly proved to be “wise men,” able to discern that King Herod had no intention of furthering their mission. In the same way, we must avoid the influence of toxic people and naysayers during the holiday season.
  4. They had to overcome the discouragement of temporarily losing sight of the star.  If your GPS has ever malfunctioned, you know how frustrating it can be to lose your sense of direction. This seemed to happen to the magi at one point, causing them to seek human guidance when the miraculous star was no longer visible. Yet if we persevere in our pursuit of the Lord’s purpose, His guidance will eventually return. We’ll discover that we’re in the right place after all: “Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!”  (Matthew 2:9-10 MSG).
  5. They not only worshiped Jesus with their words and their time, but they also worshiped Him with a generous offering. “When they had opened their treasures, they presented to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh”  (v. 11). If we have a genuine encounter with our Savior, the King of Kings, how can we not honor Him with our treasure, time, and talents? True worship demands nothing less. Our treasure  and our heart  are always linked together (Matthew 6:21).
  6. They returned home “another way”  (v. 12). Genuine worship will transform us and cause us to walk on a different path than we started on. If necessary, we’ll even be given supernatural direction or be “divinely warned in a dream.”  As you worship Jesus this holiday season, He wants to instruct you, change your life, and give you the miraculous breakthrough you need!

May the Lord give you a fresh revelation of His LOVE for you this Christmas – love that took Him from the glories of heaven to a dusty stable in Bethlehem…to a cross on a Jerusalem hillside…to the right hand of God’s heavenly throne…so that you might enjoy spending eternity with Him.

Take a few moments right now to give God thanks for all He has done in your life. Like the magi, your journey may seem long and difficult at times. However, peace and joy will rise in your heart when you put your focus in the right place this Christmas: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy”  (v. 10).

That can be your  experience as well.

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It’s What’s Under the Hood That Counts

Sonata

My 2011 Hyundai Sonata looks exactly the same as it did a month ago. On the surface it’s the same 100,000-mile car as it was then.

Yet here’s the strange story of why my car is worth more now than it was several weeks ago…

I got a big surprise when I took my Sonata to the dealer for some routine recalls. “You need a new engine!” the service rep told me, to my shock.

In the seconds that followed, I groaned at the thought of having to pay around $7,000 for a new engine.

But then came the amazingly good news: “The new engine is at our expense, with absolutely no charge to you,” they assured me.

As one more fortunate outcome, they said it would take about a month to get the new engine to the dealership. In the meantime, I got to drive a free, brand-new Toyota Camry from Hertz. And this was great timing, since I was about to embark on a weeklong ministry trip in Ohio.

When I got my car back, I found myself looking for the spiritual lessons in this story…

My Sonata is still a 2011 model, five years old. The body still has 100,000 miles of wear and tear, but overall is in pretty good shape. With a new engine, the car can be expected to run at least 100,000 miles more, probably a lot farther than that. The odometer hasn’t changed, but my car has a new lease on life.

I think there are some parallels between my Sonata and the contrast between our outer body and our inner spirit, which is the “engine” or driving force of our lives. Although people tend to dwell on outward appearances, it’s really what’s “under the hood” that counts (1 Samuel 16:7).

The apostle Paul contrasted the aging of our bodies with the renewal of our spirits: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV). In other words, even though we may not be able to keep our body from aging, God can renew our spirit and give us a new “engine” on the inside.

We’ve all met elderly people who are full of youthful joy and vitality on the inside. But there also are many people who have allowed their internal “engine” to age prematurely. Even though their body is still relatively young, they have lost their joy, their creativity, and their zest for life.

Are you a candidate for new engine—a new heart and spirit? If so, God offers a stunning “recall” you should take advantage of: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

That’s an offer too good to pass up, don’t you think? But as with my Hyundai Sonata, the new engine is only offered by the manufacturer. The One who made you in the first place is the One who now offers to renew you (Psalm 51:10-12).

And all you have to do is ask.

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Escaping from Your Personal Groundhog Day

groundhog-day 3

Lately I’ve met lots of people who seem to be perpetually stuck in Groundhog Day. You’ve probably seen the classic 1993 movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Murray plays a weatherman named Phil who’s assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He finds himself stuck in a time loop, forcing him to reexamine his life and priorities.

Day after day, Phil wakes up to the same Groundhog Day reality, with a chance to make better choices this time. It soon becomes clear that he won’t escape until he gets things right.

When I first saw the film, I didn’t realize how significant its message was. Just another mindless comedy, it seemed to me. Yet in 2006 the movie was added to the United States National Film Registry, deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Now that I look back, my perspective on the movie has changed. I think it became popular because many of us can relate to the experiences faced by Bill Murray’s character. Even though we may not be caught in a time loop, we find ourselves stuck in some area of our life.

What about you? Do you currently find yourself trapped in some kind of Groundhog Day experience? Perhaps you are…

  • Having the same relationship struggles over and over.
  • Repeatedly making the same financial mistakes.
  • Dealing with recurring health problems that you’re unable to shake.
  • Battling cyclical addictions.
  • Experiencing periodic bouts of negative emotions, such as depression, loneliness, or anger.

Many people in the Bible experienced Groundhog Day of one kind or another. Jacob frequently had a problem with lying. Joseph faced recurring episodes of injustice. The Israelites spent 40 years traveling in circles in the desert. David and many of the prophets had some pretty severe mood swings at times.

Thankfully, though, the Bible provides numerous tips for escaping from Groundhog Day. Someday I’m going to write an entire book on how to get UNSTUCK…but for now I’ll just share a few brief insights. It’s interesting that many of these were eventually discovered by Bill Murray’s character in the movie.

  1. Face the truth about your present condition. Jesus promised that the truth will set us free if we’re willing to fully embrace it (John 8:32). But this means we must drop our excuses and rationalizations. You see, it’s not just a coincidence that we find ourselves dealing with the same problems again and again.
  2. Quit blaming others. We all have a tendency to blame-shift, but that’s a sure way to remain stuck. It’s time to stop saying all your failed relationships are simply because the other people are so dysfunctional. And if you’ve never been able to keep a job for more than a few months, it’s probably not the fault of all your employers.
  3. Get some help. Perhaps this means you should hire a good counselor, but that’s not necessarily what I mean here. It’s often even better to have at least one or two real friends who will love you enough to tell you the truth and hold you accountable for the needed changes.
  4. Don’t give up. When you’re stuck in Groundhog Day, it’s tempting to give up hope. You feel like simply resigning yourself to the belief that things will never  change. But take some time to let these words from the apostle Paul change your perspective: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Look at what this is saying…

Now… You must have a sense of urgency if you truly want to change. Don’t procrastinate!

…the God of hope… Unless God is involved, difficult circumstances frequently look hopeless. But when you recognize that He’s with you and is available to help, there’s always hope.

…all joy and peace in believing. Your joy and peace will return as soon as you put your eyes back on the Lord and begin to believe His promises again.

…abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. You may have already tried 1,000 times to escape Groundhog Day in your own strength. But everything changes when you allow yourself to be filled with the power of God’s Spirit. The secret is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), and that’s the only way lasting change will come.

You don’t have to wait for me to complete my book on how to get unstuck. Today can be the day you face the truth about your circumstances and believe God’s promises for better days ahead. Then you can wake up tomorrow morning with fresh appreciation for the One who is able to make ALL things new (Revelation 21:5).

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5 Secrets of the Magi

We don’t know the exact time frame of the journey made by “wise men from the East” in search of young King Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12). It may have been several months or even a few years after Jesus’ birth when they arrived at Herod’s palace and asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (v. 1)

But while some of the details of their journey may be unclear, there’s much we can learn from the wonderful example set by the magi:

  1. They made it a priority to pursue the Lord (v. 1). These men came from a great distance to encounter the Savior. They weren’t just casual believers, but were committed to having a personal encounter with the newborn King. In the same way, shouldn’t we make it a priority to pursue the Lord and spend time in His presence?
  2. They came to worship Him (v. 2). Right from the beginning, the magi made the purpose of their journey clear: “We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” May that be our focus as well during this Christmas season. Instead of being distracted by all the trappings of the holidays, let’s take time to worship Jesus!
  3. Nothing could divert them from their mission (vs. 3-8). When God gives us a dream to pursue, we often have to deal with a “King Herod” who tries to distract us along the way. The magi truly proved to be “wise men,” able to discern that King Herod had no intention of furthering their mission. In the same way, we must avoid the influence of toxic people and naysayers during the holiday season.
  4. They not only worshiped Jesus with their words and their time, but they also worshiped Him with a generous offering. “When they had opened their treasures, they presented to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (v. 11). If we have a genuine encounter with our Savior, the King of Kings, how can we not honor Him with our possessions? True worship demands nothing less. Our treasure and our heart are always linked together (Matthew 6:21).
  5. They returned home “another way” (v. 12). Genuine worship will transform us and cause us to walk on a different path than we started on. If necessary, we’ll even be given supernatural direction or “divinely warned in a dream.” As you worship Jesus this holiday season, He wants to instruct you, change your life, and give you the breakthrough you need!

This Christmas, may the Lord give you a fresh revelation of His LOVE for you—love that took Him from the glories of Heaven to a dusty stable in Bethlehem…to a Cross on a Jerusalem hillside…to the right hand of God’s throne in Heaven…so that you might spend eternity with Him.

Take a few moments right now to give God thanks for all He has done in your life. Like the magi, your journey may seem long and difficult at times. But peace and joy will rise in your heart when you put your focus in the right place this Christmas: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (v. 10).

That can be your experience as well.

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Leaving Limbo

One of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever heard was based on an obscure passage where we’re told that Abraham settled down between Kadesh and Shur” (Genesis 22:1). After reading this verse, the preacher spent nearly an hour describing the challenges and frustrations of living in-between two different places.

Have you ever found yourself in a place like that—stuck in limbo between where you’ve been and where you’re going? Perhaps you were awaiting graduation from college or grad school…a promotion at work…the sale of your home…the diagnosis of a troubling medical condition…or the finalization of a bankruptcy or divorce.

It’s no fun to live in-between. And this is especially true when your limbo experience comes through no fault of your own.

Abraham and Sarah had a long wait for their promised son. They spent years in limbo between the promise and the fulfillment. Their wait wasn’t because of any lack of faith, but simply part of God’s preparation for the blessings ahead.

In contrast, the Israelites’ 40-year delay in reaching the Promised Land was totally preventable. They could have reached their destination in less than 40 days if they had been willing to trust and obey the Lord.

So what can you do if you find yourself stuck in limbo today? Sometimes all you can do is trust the Lord and wait! But in the meantime you should follow God’s instructions the best you can, and keep sowing seeds of love and kindness to the people around you. In “due season” you will reap!  (Galatians 6:9)

It’s not an exaggeration to say that our entire earthly existence is “limbo” in comparison to our future life in eternity. Even if God has blessed us with a great life today, we surely haven’t arrived at our ultimate destination yet.

Hopefully we’ve left our life of sin and rebellion behind, but that doesn’t mean we’re near perfection. Even the great apostle Paul knew he was still on a journey in-between his old life and his heavenly one:

One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

No matter how long we live or how mature we become in Christ, this uncomfortable reality will not change until we reach our heavenly home. Limbo experiences are bound to come from time to time.

But notice that Paul wasn’t resigned to passively living in a bleak, unchanging limbo during his lifetime. Yearning for ever-increasing intimacy with the Lord, he was committed to pressing on until he reached life’s finish line.

Recently I worked on an article describing the breakthroughs God gave many of His people in the Scriptures. These inspiring stories demonstrate that we must never lose hope, for the Lord can find us even we’ve been residing in limbo.

How long does it take to exit limbo? Although it sometimes can take months or years, at other times the breakthrough just requires a simple decision or step of faith.

The Bible is full of examples of God SUDDENLY intervening in people’s health, finances, relationships, or emotions—totally changing their circumstances in a mere moment. Often our exit from limbo takes much longer than that, of course, but it’s good to know that God still can work miracles when we give Him the opportunity.

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He’s Saving the Best for Last

There’s an old saying that tells us, “All’s well that end well.” Although I’m not sure this is absolutely true, the Bible clearly does provide many supporting anecdotes.

There would have been nothing “good” about Good Friday if it weren’t for Resurrection Sunday. The seemingly tragic and unjust story of the cross ended in complete triumph. Resurrection changes everything.

The final word in the Old Testament (Malachi 4:6) is CURSE (Hebrew cherem), quite a sobering reminder if we’re ever tempted to live under the Law again. But fortunately the story of redemption isn’t over yet. The New Testament ends on a completely different note: The GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). Praise God for His grace. It changes everything.

If you would have met Job midway through his story, you would have declared him a quite pathetic fellow. But his story certainly ended well: “The Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” and The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” (Job 42-10-12). Don’t you love happy endings like this? Happy endings can change just about anything.

That’s why I love the story in John 2 where they ran out of wine at a wedding feast. We’ve all run out of something at one time or another, and it’s not a pleasant experience.  Yet the story ended well, for Jesus turned water into wine.

It’s exhilarating to read that Jesus didn’t turn the water into some kind of ordinary or CHEAP wine. No, the master of the banquet said the BEST had been saved for LAST (v. 10). I’m claiming the “best for last” principle for my life, and I hope you are too.

However, perhaps you feel like you’re still living in Good Friday or in the middle of a story akin to Job’s. Maybe you’re not yet ready to declare, “All is well.”

But the good news is this: Your story isn’t over until it’s over. A day of resurrection is coming. Until then, God is still at work to bring ALL things together for your happy ending and a glorious fulfillment of His purposes (Romans 8:28).

So take a deep breath and trust Him to finish the work He has begun (Philippians 1:6). He will.

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I would love to preach at your church or conference, be a consultant to your leadership team, or help your organization navigate the waters of transition. You can reach me at info@JimBuchan.com.

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Bitter or Better? Here’s How to Turn Things Around

Recently I was stunned by two observations while attending a reunion of old friends I hadn’t seen in many years.

The first observation was that virtually everyone had dealt with some kind of crisis or loss since I’d last seen them. A few had gone through a health crisis, such as a heart attack or kidney failure. Others were grieving over lost loved ones or reversals in their career. And several had experienced the pain of divorce or difficulties with their children.

This first observation was a great reminder that we ALL “go through stuff” in life. No one is exempt. Your trials may be different from mine, but we’re all in the same boat in many of the tough experiences in life.

However, the second observation was just as eye-opening: While everyone had gone through adversity of one kind or another, their reactions and outcomes were entirely different. Put succinctly, adversity had caused some of these friends to become BITTER, while others had clearly become BETTER.

This same principle is seen in nature, where fire causes completely different outcomes in the elements it touches. When wood  is placed in the fire, it turns to ashes. However, when gold is placed in the fire, it is refined into purer gold (Job 23:10). The fire doesn’t determine the outcome, but simply reveals the character of what it touches.

Of course, people aren’t inanimate objects like wood or gold. We’ve been given freewill, the power to choose our attitudes and responses to the events we face in life. Because of their choices and their character, two people can experience exactly the same kind of trauma, with totally different outcomes.

I’m intrigued by how God turned things around for many Bible heroes who experienced hardships or losses. Job…Joseph…Naomi…David and many others could be cited.

Naomi recognized that her losses had made her bitter, and she even wanted her friends to call her by the new name, “Bitter” (Ruth 1:20). I admire Naomi in this, because few people are that self-aware or that honest about their condition. Bitter people seldom seem to realize their malady.

It is also very encouraging that Naomi’s friends were determined to see the best in her, and they never called her by the very unflattering label she had chosen for herself. Instead, they continued to call her Naomi, which means sweet or pleasant.

I hope you have friends like that. There is no greater asset if you need to make the journey from bitter to better.

Fortunately, by the end of Naomi’s story, both her heart  and her circumstances had changed in a positive way. Although she admittedly had been bitter at certain points in her journey through life, she didn’t stay that way.

Isn’t it great to know that bitter people—whether Naomi or you and I—can move on toward better attitudes  and better days?  No matter what we’ve gone through or are going through today, we can entrust our lives to the Lord. No matter how hard our hearts have become, we can ask Him to soften them so we don’t remain captives to bitterness.

Even though many Bible characters experienced a joyful new beginning when they got unstuck from their bitterness, others never learned the keys of going from bitter to better. For example, Esau is cited as a tragic example of someone who never recovered from the “root of bitterness” that had become entrenched in his heart (Hebrews 12:14-17).

I hope you haven’t allowed life’s traumas and losses to make you hardhearted, cynical, or bitter. But if you have, there’s still time for a turnaround. The poison of bitterness can be replaced by its antidote—grace and forgiveness.

So drop the excuses for your bad attitudes. If you’ll let Him, God stands ready to give you a heart transplant, and that will transform your circumstances too.

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I would love to preach at your church or conference, be a consultant to your leadership team, or help your organization navigate the waters of transition. You can reach me at info@JimBuchan.com.

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Surprised by Heaven’s Serenade

After a hiatus of several decades, I decided to pick up my guitar again. The ramifications have been revolutionary…almost shocking at times. Although my singing and strumming are as bad as ever, the experience has caused me to make some unexpected discoveries about the nature of true worship.

On the most elementary level, worship begins with singing songs ABOUT God. Many of today’s most popular praise songs include the phrase “Our God…” In songs like that, we are singing about our Lord’s many great attributes, but we aren’t necessarily interacting with Him.

On a somewhat higher level, our worship must move into songs directly TO God. This is described in a wonderful line in Misty Edwards’ song, “I Won’t Relent”:

I don’t want to talk about You
Like You’re not in the room
I want to look right at You
I want to sing right to You

Too often, church services are characterized by lots of talk ABOUT God, but not enough genuine interaction WITH God. No wonder people walk away uninspired and unchanged. They needed a touch from the living God, and all they got was a history lesson instead.

Lately, I’ve been surprised by several other insights about the nature of worship—not just during church gatherings, but in my personal times with the Lord as well.

One of my recurring word pictures is an orchestra prior to a concert. If you’ve ever been early to such an event, you’ve heard the strange sound of the orchestra members tuning their instruments. Before they attempt to perform together, they must first make sure they’ve individually tuned their instrument to the right pitch.

The apostle Paul describes the church as the body of Christ, with uniquely gifted members who work together for the common good (1 Corinthians 12). Perhaps if he was writing today, he would also note that the church is meant to be like an orchestra, with a variety of instruments that can function together because they’ve been tuned to a common pitch.

Why is there so much discord in the church? Because we haven’t individually taken time to tune our hearts to the Master’s perfect pitch.

Recently I’ve sensed God’s desire to draw me into a level of worship I haven’t experienced for a long time. Beyond just singing ABOUT Him or even singing TO Him, I’ve been startled to hear Him say that He wants to sing back to us.

Yes, as amazing as it may sound, the Lord wants to SERENADE His people! The Bridegroom wants to sing love songs to His bride!

Wow. Do you see how revolutionary this is? It’s not enough even to sing songs TO God, for He wants to speak to us during our worship and sing back to us.

If you find this mind-blowing and hard to believe, I understand. But it’s in the Bible (and not just in the Song of Solomon!).

Zephaniah 3:17 says:

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing (NIV).

The Message paraphrases this, “He’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.”

Isn’t it incredible that the God of the entire universe would take time to sing love songs to you and me? Yet that is exactly what the Bible says.

Still not convinced? You can find this same principle in a number of the Psalms (e.g., 91, 95, 32, and 2). The psalmists begin by addressing the Lord, then He breaks in and speaks back to the psalmists.

Psalm 91 starts with He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Adding to this beautiful picture, the text goes on to list some of the awesome blessings derived from living our lives in God’s presence.

However, in the final three verses of the psalm, God Himself breaks in with His own commentary and promises:

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!” (vs. 14-16 MSG)

Not only does God want to serenade us, but He says He wants to throw us a PARTY! He wants to speak to us…encourage us…and even DANCE with us!

In the process, He will repeal “Spiritual Prohibition” and gives us “a long drink of salvation!” No wonder the early Christians were accused of being drunk (Acts 2:13-15). And the lovers in the Song of Solomon had a similar experience: “Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of your love!” (5:1 NLT)

So my friend, if you’ve found “worship” to be a dry and empty exercise lately, I encourage you to go deeper. Don’t stop until you’ve heard heaven’s love songs. Soak in the Lord’s presence long enough to get intoxicated with His love.

When your heart is tuned to the Bridegroom’s serenade, everything around you will begin to change. When you hear His love songs, you’ll have no alternative but to dance with Him.

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Transitions…or Not?

I have a love-hate relationship with transitions. Whenever friends tell me they are going through “transitions” in their life, my heart goes out to them. I’ve been there and done that—and transitions are seldom fun or easy.

However, I also feel sorry for people who aren’t going through any transitions at all. Too often, such folks are dealing with a situation far worse than transitions. They’re stuck in place, locked in an unhealthy coffin of contentment and apathy.

If you’ve ever been through major transitions, you know they’re uncomfortable, and sometimes even terrifying. They typically feel akin to a whitewater rafting trip where you’ve lost your oars and have absolutely no control of where you’re going.

Yet again, the opposite is not so great either. If you aren’t experiencing any transitions at all, it feels like your raft is dead in the water. Just sitting there. No progress in any direction. What a dreadfully boring life…

Sometimes we have a choice to make in whether or not to allow a transition. One day Jesus challenged some fishermen: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He was giving these men a choice, and certainly not an easy choice at the time. It was a choice to engage in a lifetime of self-denial and constant transitions—but the world would ultimately be transformed as a result of their decision.

Another great story about transition involved four lepers who were sitting on the edge of a city on the brink of starvation because of being surrounded by an enemy army, the Syrians. Things were looking bleak, when finally one of the lepers pointed out an obvious fact: “Why are we sitting here until we die?” (2 Kings 7:3-9)

What a profound observation! Like these lepers, if we just sit in place, refusing to take bold steps of faith, we will surely die. In fact, I’ve met people who are already dead in some ways. Although they are still walking around, their hopes, dreams, and visions have died long before.

No, I don’t really like transitions. I would prefer to just find some comfortable oasis and camp out there until Jesus returns.

And one thing I especially dislike about transitions is the feeling of being “in-between.” It’s like being in limbo—knowing you’re not where you used to be, but not where you’re going to be either.

But I’ve discovered that I’m even more afraid of getting stuck than I’m afraid of transitions. Like every other believer, I know I’m called to be increasingly conformed to the image of Christ, and that process will be thwarted if I’m unwilling to grow and change.

So, whether you are going through a difficult transition or feel stuck in place, my heart goes out to you either way. Yet I’ve concluded that transitions are preferable after all. They are an indispensable part of God’s plan to take you from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18, Proverbs 4:18).

So if the white waters of transition are raging all around you, don’t panic. Hang on to the Lord and try to enjoy the ride. You’ll be better for it in the end.

 

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Lessons From a Trapeze Artist

I recently found myself humming an old tune, which is an apt prophetic picture of where many of us presently find ourselves:

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,

The daring young man on the flying trapeze.

Just as a circus trapeze artist must let go of one trapeze and fly through the air until grabbing the next one, I often have found myself in a similar position—flying through the air in transition between the trapeze left behind and the one still to come. We know we aren’t where we used to be, but we’re not where we’re going to be either.

It must be an exhilarating experience for a trapeze artist to fly through the air like that. But I’m sure it’s also a bit terrifying to know that the force of gravity will take its effect if the next trapeze doesn’t come within reach soon.

Much of the church is in a similar place, it seems. We have been propelled by many wonderful trapezes, past revivals and moves of God. But now many of us are flying swiftly through the air, on our way to a coming trapeze that is not yet altogether visible.

If we recognize that God’s plan is to take us “from one degree of glory to another” in this process (2 Corinthians 3:18), this can be an exhilarating experience. However, it’s easy to feel apprehensive as well, with nothing to hang onto except the Lord Himself.

Experienced trapeze artists realize they dare not look down or they will surely miss the next trapeze. Big mistake! Instead, the Lord’s intention is not only to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24), but to enable us to soar on eagles’ wings (Isaiah 40:31).

Despite the dangers, this is no time to play it safe. If we insist on clinging for dear life to our original trapeze, we are certain to make no progress at all. We’ll never go any higher unless we exhibit the courage of “the daring young man” who was willing to defy gravity and fly.

Be bold and courageous, my friend. As you let go of the past and press forward, I pray you will be strengthened for exciting new transitions on God’s flying trapeze.

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