Doubleday Field during Induction.

The Dirt Under My Feet

I grew up playing baseball. I mean, with the last name of Ruth… In the ‘80s… There wasn’t really any other sport that I should have played. For the better part of my early years… from the time I could walk, all the way until I graduated high school… Baseball was a major part of my life. I remember sitting on my dad’s lap, watching the Cubs play on tv. I remember playing catch in the front yard of the apartment we lived in for a little while when I was super young. And as we were growing up on the South Side of South Bend, Indiana, my brothers and I made a baseball field in our backyard… Playing every day of the summer with the small wooden baseball bat we had as we pitched tennis balls to each other in our backyard.

Baseball. It was a way of life growing up. We knew all of the greats. Mantle. Maris. Clemente. Robinson. Banks. Sandberg. Grace. The Penguin. And Ruth… Babe Ruth. We dreamed of making it to the Big Leagues and playing in the same stadiums as our Hall of Fame favorites once did. The reality is that none of us did grow up to make it in the Big Leagues. But we did get to go somewhere special when we were younger…

Cooperstown, New York.

For those of you who aren’t baseball fans, this small town name doesn’t mean anything to you. If you’re a modest baseball fan, you might not even know this town either. But a true baseball fan, the person who absolutely loves this game, knows the significance of this little town. You see, each year the greats of baseball come to this town to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cooperstown, New York. It’s hallowed ground really. I remember when me, my mom and dad and brothers arrived there. It was part of a trip where we also got to see Niagara Falls. But between you and me… It was Cooperstown that I wanted to see… No, I needed to see. I remember waking up the morning we were supposed to head there. I couldn’t wait. We were going to Cooperstown. The anticipation. I mean, not only were we going to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, but we were going to be able to see Doubleday Field, grounds where baseball had been played since 1920.

As we pulled into Cooperstown, we parked on a side street and got out of the car and stepped onto an old brick road. And in my six-grade mind, I asked myself… “Did Babe Ruth and the other baseball greats walk on the dirt that’s under my feet?” To me, the dirt I was walking on… The brick road under my feet… The place I was standing on was holy ground.

There are many places that people might consider holy ground… a specific place designated by some person or some historical act that makes it special. And while the story of Cooperstown will always hold a special place in my heart, there’s one other story I want to look at regarding holy ground that’s found in Exodus Chapter three, verse five. Check this out:

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

When it came to the holy ground of Cooperstown, New York, my family and I had to make a special trip to experience that place. And while I loved every minute of being there, I’ve never been back. I went and experienced that place once in my life. And the truth is, I’ll probably never go back.

But what we see here in Exodus three is something different. You see, if we go back a few verses in Exodus three, in verse one the Bible tells us that Moses was taking care of his father-in-law’s animals. This was something that wasn’t new to Moses. This is what he did on a regular basis. He didn’t make a special, once-in-a-lifetime trip to take care of these animals. It was his ordinary life. This is what he did each day. And it’s exactly right here where he experienced God.

What if… just maybe… we’re missing God because we think we need to be somewhere specific for us to experience God? What if we aren’t meeting God because we think we have to do or be somewhere extraordinary to hear from Him? We think we need to be in church to hear from God. We think we need to do something extraordinary to experience God. We think we need to completely change to meet God. Church is great. Doing something extraordinary is awesome. Changing who we are for the better is a good thing. But I think that…

It’s in the ordinary that God will do something extraordinary.

I think a lot of us miss God, because we aren’t expecting to meet Him in our ordinary, everyday “boring” lives. But God is here with us, everyday. And that makes everywhere we walk holy ground. The job we go to is holy ground. The soccer field our kids play on is holy ground. The mall we walk in is holy ground. The home we live in is holy ground. Because God is already there with us.

So how can we be like Moses and meet with God and experience our holy ground moment?

First, keep your eyes up. As Moses was taking care of his father-in-law’s animals, he kept his eyes up and saw something that was different. In your job, on your sideline or bleacher, at your mall, or in your home… in your everyday life, keep your eyes up so you can see where something might be different… So you can see what God wants you to see.

Secondly, keep your curiosity open. Not only did Moses see that a bush wasn’t being consumed by a fire, he went over to see it because he was curious as to why it wasn’t being burned up. There are things that you will experience in your everyday life that might not make much sense. Stay curious as to why something might be happening. Be open to “seeing the why” behind what you are experiencing… the why behind what is happening in your everyday life.

And be open to hearing and responding to God’s voice in your everyday, ordinary life. When Moses went over to see what was going on, God saw that Moses came over to the bush. What did God do? He called to Moses from within the bush. Moses could have freaked out and ran away because he thought he heard some strange voice from a bush. He could have just dismissed it to just “hearing things.” But he didn’t. Moses instead, answered the call of God and said, “Here I am.”

What if we treated the ground we walk on every day as holy ground. Imagine how our lives would change if we expected to hear from and experience God in our everyday, ordinary lives. Because it’s in the ordinary that God will do something extraordinary.

God is with you… right now… the ground you are standing on is in fact holy. It’s my prayer that you hear His voice right where you are. And I hope you respond as Moses did and say, “Here I am.”


Child completing math problem

Simple Math

I. Hate. Math.

To this day, I really don’t like math. I’m kinda embellishing a bit… and kinda not… But part of the reason I chose my major in college is because it required the least amount of math I needed to take. Ok. Ok. That wasn’t actually one of the reasons, but it was a huge plus!

I think the reason why I hated math goes all the way back to second grade. We’d have these math competitions in class where we’d have to go up to the black board (yes, I’m old enough to have had “black boards” in school) and compete against another student by doing the same math problem. I’m usually all for competition, but when I was up at the black board, my mind would freeze. Second grade was also where I’d get lunch detention for not being able to finish my math homework in class prior to lunch. I’d routinely eat alone because I wasn’t simply able to “get” the math work we had to do in class. As you can tell, the teacher was a real peach of a woman.

Needless to say, this affected me not only my entire second grade, but followed all throughout my school career and beyond. To this day I hate math and can feel all those feelings I had years ago when faced with a math problem that might be a little challenging.

Math. It was my worst subject in school (with the exception of multiplication). History? Loved it. Government? Yes please. English/Writing? Those were classes I could excel in. But math? Nope. I wanted nothing to do with it. I hadn’t really given my math issues much thought until about a week ago. And then as I was reading a few mornings ago, God gave me a math problem. Yup. You read that right. He straight up gave me a math problem to complete. But don’t worry, it’s a simple addition/subtraction math equation…

Check this out. It’s found in John chapter three, verse 30…

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

When it comes to mathematical equations, it’s pretty simple. But in life application, it doesn’t always equal easy. But it’s exactly what needs to happen in each of our lives… and John knew this truth for his life as well as ours.

You see, John chapter three records and talks about when Jesus came to Judea… Many people received Him and were being baptized. John the Baptist’s ministry was already established and doing really well (the Bible tells us that “people kept coming,”, but now people were going to Jesus rather than John. Not only were people going to Jesus, but verse 26 says that, “all were going to Him.”

John’s disciples were like, “What the heck? This isn’t cool.” To John’s disciples, John was “The Guy;” But John, knew he wasn’t. You see, John’s mission was to proclaim and point people to Jesus who is the Christ – The Actual Guy. John realized that his ministry success he experienced, people coming to him to baptize them, was the result of God’s blessing and not because of anything he said or did to make it happen (“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” John 3:27). John describes himself as the best man at a wedding (in this case the marriage of Jesus and His Church) who understands that the groom is to be blessed, and that the best man’s joy flows from helping to bring the bride and the groom together on the day of the wedding (John 3:29).

Then, John declared this Kingdom principle, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. The reason for this statement comes from John’s next statement in John 3:31, “He who comes from above is above all ; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” The reason that Jesus must be increased is because He is above all and has all authority.

You see, this simple math equation takes our whole life to complete. And it means that we need to know where we stand in relation to Jesus. John knew where he stood. He knew that in order for Jesus to increase, he had to decrease. In order to gain more of Jesus, John knew that he had to give something up. You see, I think John gave up the hardest thing to give up… his ego. He was doing well, in terms of ministry… in terms of an occupation… in terms of a calling. People were coming to him to be baptized… a lot of people. Then, when Jesus showed up, they all went to Jesus instead. But John knew where he stood in relation to Jesus… and he knew what he had to give up. And bigger than where John stood in relation to Jesus… John knew where Jesus stood in his own life.

Can I ask you a question? What do you need to give up in order for Jesus to increase in your life? For some of us, it might be our ego. The desire to be known so much so that it over shadows Jesus. For others, it might be a secret relationship. Still, for others, it might be choosing that substance to cope in life and/or to ease some pain. So, what do you need to give up? Where does Jesus stand in your life?

Secondly, John didn’t misunderstand who Jesus was and is. As I look back over my life, I can look back and see how I misunderstood Jesus. Sometimes we simply miss Jesus because we simply misunderstand Jesus. As I look back on my second grade year, I couldn’t understand math because my math teacher misunderstood what I needed. Make no mistake, Jesus doesn’t misunderstand what you need… what I need… what we need. And John didn’t misunderstand who Jesus was and is. Check this out:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

I think a lot of us misunderstand who Jesus is. We think of all the fun we can’t have if we follow God and His Word. We think of all the things that go away if we give our lives to Jesus. And that’s what I used to think when I was growing up. The churches we went to were boring. The people in the church were boring. It. Was. Freaking. B.O.R.I.N.G.

But that’s a misunderstanding of who Jesus is and what He came to give you and I. Not only did He love us so much that He came to give His life for us to save us. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came so that we could live life to the full. John 3:29 says, “…For this reason (talking about Jesus increasing and John decreasing) my joy has been fulfilled.” You see, when Jesus increases and we decrease, then and only then will we experience true and life-long joy. The math equation of, “Jesus increases and I increase too” doesn’t equal lasting joy. We only get small intermittent glimpses of happiness that are connected to life’s fleeting moments. It’s only when Jesus increases and we decrease do we experience a true, life-long joy.

So, where do you stand in relation to Jesus? Where does Jesus stand in your life? What do you need to give up so that Jesus increases and you decrease. And is there, or has there been anywhere that you have misunderstood Jesus? It’s my prayer that I’m filled with more of what Jesus wants and desires in my life. And it’s my prayer that you are filled with more of Jesus in your life as well.


underoos

More Than Underoos

I absolutely loved wearing Underoos when I was growing up. Superman. Batman. Star Wars. It didn’t matter what the Underoo was, I just loved wearing them. If I was wearing my Superman Underoos, then I was in fact Superman. If I was wearing my Batman Underoos, then I was in fact Batman. Chasing down criminals. Battling evil. Conquering the Death Star. When I put on my Underoos, I was the very super hero that I was wearing.

And it was the same thing when Halloween came around. I remember times when I would look forward to picking out what costume I might possibly wear. One year, it was Spiderman. We bought the plastic Spiderman mask and nylon outfit. I couldn’t wear it or play with it before Halloween. But once Halloween came and went, I would play with that super hero mask whenever I could, taking it out into the neighborhood to battle evil.

Underoos and Halloween costumes. When I was growing up, these were my armor… my protection. When I wore these costumes, I could conquer and defeat anything and everything. But in real life, the truth of the matter is, is that my Underoos and Halloween costumes were just that, costumes… mere decorations that I would wear.

Paul, in the book of Ephesians, talks about a different type of armor that God equips us with to wear. But it’s more that just a mere decoration or costume… it’s full protection that God offers each one of us.

Check this out:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:11-17

What’s interesting is that Paul doesn’t say, “If you have trouble…” No, these verses assume that you will most certainly be attacked. Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. Paul goes on to say to put on the full armor of God, “So that WHEN the day of evil comes…” You see, if you’re really going to get in the battle, if you’re really going to do something great for God, if you’re really going to live for Jesus and follow after Him, you’re going to need God’s protection because the day of trouble will come.

But how amazing is it that God has made a way for your protection. He has designed the means to stand against any attack that comes against your life. In our life, we will most certainly be attacked. God won’t protect us from the battle. But He will protect us in the battle.

And this is the protection He’s provided, the full armor of God… check it out:

First, Stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. So many of our battles we face start with lies from the devil himself. You see, belts hold things up… specifically clothes. And these clothes covers us. The truth of God is just like that belt. The truth of God clothes and covers our lives. The truth of God reveals who we are in Christ. It shows us our value. And it reveals the lies of the enemy. When we cover ourself with the truth of God, it holds our lives together and it sets us free in Christ Jesus.

Secondly, we are to stand firm with the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness means that we are being made right in the eyes of God. Sometimes righteousness is talking about the righteousness that Jesus gives us through His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Sometimes the Bible is talking about the righteousness that God carries out through us, like “The righteous acts of the saints” in Revelation 19:8. In the battles we face, both are needed to protect our heart. The enemy tempts us with all kinds of sinful acts that tangle us, but righteousness protects our hearts. God has given us complete righteousness in Christ and wants us to continually receive the continuing righteousness that comes as we follow Jesus with all our heart.

Third, know that our feet are fitted with the gospel of peace. Peace is an attribute of God’s very character. In Greek, peace means oneness or wholeness. The gospel, which means good news, is the forgiveness of sins and access to that oneness with God through faith in Jesus. And this oneness with the Lord produces peace. One of the biggest battles that we might face is when the enemy will tempt us with worry. When we carry the weight of anxiousness and worry, we are robbed of peace. Ask Jesus to remind you of His gospel of peace and pray it into your life. The first tattoo that I ever got is the Hebrew word Shalom on my left shoulder. Shalom means reconciliation with God. And when someone in Israel greets or says goodbye, they are quite literally praying that you will be filled with a complete and perfect peace. That’s how I want my life marked… to be marked in a complete and perfect peace.

Fourth, take up the shield of faith. When Paul wrote this passage, the Roman soldiers carried shields that were covered with heavy animal hide. Before a battle, they would dip their shields into water so that when fiery darts hit them, the wet hide would extinguish the darts. In a similar way, our shield of faith needs to be regularly dipped in the water of God’s word to be fully functional. Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” If your faith feels less than you want it to, ask God to increase your faith as in Mark 9:24 and focus on God’s character and not on your circumstance. And begin to read the Bible on a regular basis.

Fifth, take the helmet of salvation. Salvation comes the moment we place our faith in Jesus. It also involves us as we walk with Jesus and allow Him to work that salvation into every part of our thoughts. The battlefield of our mind is the primary place the spiritual battle is fought. Romans 12:2 tells us to not conform to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. The helmet of salvation is there to remind us that we are Christ’s at the moment we call on Him to save us. And to renew our minds as we follow Jesus.

And finally, take the sword of the Spirit… the Word of the living God. This is the only piece of armor that is both defensive and offensive. When we are tempted, or are in a battle, the most effective weapon that God has given us is His Word… the Bible. In my experience, what has changed my heart, my thoughts, my actions the most has been the Word of God. What has provided the most calm in the midst of my storms, has been the Word of God. If you want to win your battles, if you want to see your life changed and the lives of your friends changed, go to the Word of God. When the devil tempted Jesus, it’s what Jesus went to in His battle as we can see in Luke 4:1-13. When the devil tempted Him three times, He responded with the truth of God’s Word every time.

Battles will come. Paul has almost all but promised it. But God has provided protection when we find ourselves in the battle. If you find yourself in a battle right now, I encourage you to put on God’s armor… His protection is effective. Run to His Word. It will change your life for the better. Oh, and one more thing... When soldiers put on their armor, they didn’t wait until they were in the midst of the fighting. No, they put it on before the battle to prepare for the fight ahead. And God wants each one of us to do the same thing in our lives.

God’s provided protection for your battle. Will you put it on?


Little league baseball players

The Uniform You Wear

I. Loved. Getting. Dressed. To. Play. Baseball.

The pants. The jersey. The baseball cleats. And most of all… the stirrups. You see, the stirrups are what goes over the baseball socks. When I was growing up, these were a separate piece of the uniform. I used to love getting my baseball uniform. I looked forward to it each summer. I’d literally get dressed hours before a game just so I could wear my baseball uniform. Then, if I made the all star team, that meant another pair of special stirrups and another jersey… that if you simply wore an under sleeve with the baseball pants and the blue stirrups, everyone at the park knew what team you were on… it was a label of honor… proof that I was chosen for that team.

Uniforms. We all have worn one at some point in our life. Some of us still wear them today. Whether it’s for a sports team, a school uniform, or a uniform for work. We’ve all worn a uniform. Uniforms mark us. They say some things about us. Some uniforms we love to wear. We’re proud of how we look. And there are other uniforms we think are ugly. I’ve worn uniforms that I’ve loved. And I’ve worn uniforms that I’ve hated. Kroger, it was a great first job. But I hated the poop-brown uniform.

Uniforms. We’ve all worn them. And we all wear them now to a certain extent.

And I wonder, what kind of uniform do you suit up in? Each day, what uniform are you putting on? Is it a uniform of fear? Is it a uniform of worry? I want to ask you a question. Every time you wake up, what uniform are you putting on? Are you putting on a uniform of fear? You hear that voice that ‘you’re all alone and nobody is with you.’ Or do you put on a uniform of guilt and shame and you think you’ve done too many things that prevent you from making a difference or from God using you. Or maybe you put on the uniform of insecurity that tells you you’re not good enough or equipped to be the parent you want to be… the husband or wife you want to be… the employee you want to be… or the servant of God you want to be. How on earth can I do this? Maybe it’s a uniform of doubt. God surely can’t use me.

Every day you wake up, the enemy will try to get you to put on any other uniform other than the spirit of God and confidence and truth. The problem is, is that when we put on any other uniform of shame or guilt or incompetence or insecurity, then when we wake up we aren’t living our lives with authority, we’re not living with joy and confidence. We’re not parenting in a spirit of joy and confidence. Our relationships aren’t lived out of joy and confidence. But we should be the most joy-filled confident people on earth. God wants you to live your life in confidence and joy. And when we put on a uniform other than God’s uniform, I believe it breaks His heart every time we listen to the voice of the enemy as we live our lives.

I hope this doesn’t overwhelm you, but as a follower of Jesus, we are called to a life that shifts our community around us… to shift our children’s worlds… to shift the worlds of those we are in relationships with. He’s made us to bring heaven down to earth. God has given us that authority as believers in Jesus. And if you’re not a believer in Jesus quite yet, this is what God wants of you when you do become a believer in Jesus. But each time we wake up and put on a uniform of fear or insecurity or of shame we forfeit the opportunity to release joy, freedom, passion and love in the lives of those we do life with. And we weren’t created to wear a uniform other than the one God created for us to wear.

So how do we become people who wear the uniform God wants us to wear? You see, how you suit up when you wake up matters.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10-11

This is the uniform God has for us to wear… the full armor of God. But that’s easier said than done right? So how can we daily put this armor on? How do we develop confidence to suit up?

First, don’t let your circumstance change your attitude or your confidence. Gideon, in Judges chapter six, battled insecurity and had a million reasons why he shouldn’t lead the Israelites. For seven years the Midianites demolished the Israelites stuff. When the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites invaded the country. When they invaded the country they ruined all of the crops and killed all of their livestock. For seven years this happened because of the evil that the Israelites did in the eyes of the Lord. So when the Israelites cried out to God for help, He sent them Gideon. So an angel of the Lord came to Gideon and said, “Yo, you’re the guy that’s gonna help conquer the Midianites." The angel of the Lord actually said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Have you ever felt that God has called you something like that and you’re like, “What, really? Me?” And then Gideon says, “But if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Gideon also says, “But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Excuse after excuse after excuse. But the Lord replied to Gideon and said, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Have you noticed that God tends to use the least over and over again throughout the Bible?

The very first thing that Gideon does is look at his circumstances. And this will be a temptation that you and I might do every time the Lord calls us to do something great or of great significance. The first thing that I do a lot is look at my circumstance and say I’m not good enough. I don’t have the influence. I don’t have the platform or the job title for that. And my circumstances become my excuse of why I can’t do what God has called me to do. The first thing that the enemy wants us to do is to think about our circumstances. When God calls you to do something great, the enemy will use every little thing to distract you from that great thing that God has called you to do. The enemy loves to distract us. But we can’t look at our circumstances and allow it to change our attitude and confidence. Even in the worst circumstances, God can do His best work. So don’t let your circumstances change your attitude and confidence. God is bigger than your circumstances.

Secondly, recognize the lies the enemy is telling you and replace them with God’s truth. Ninety-nine percent of the battle is fought in our own minds… what we believe or don’t believe about our own selves. And so we need to start to recognize the lies that are being fed into our minds by the enemy and replace them with God’s truth. Like, when you think you aren’t good enough or you’re nobody special, you think about and quote:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Or, when you start believing in the lie that you’ll never do anything of any significance, start to think about and quote:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Or, when the enemy starts to tell you that you’ll never overcome this fear, read and quote:

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

I don’t know what your lie is or what you’re facing. For me, it’s that I’m not good enough or smart enough and that God can’t use me because of my past. But those are lies from the enemy that I need to recognize and replace with the Truth from God’s Word.

And the third way to put on the uniform God has for us is to allow God to stretch us. You see, there are times where or what God calls us to will make us uncomfortable and/or nervous. As I look out over my life, specifically the last 20 years, there have been times where I’ve resisted the call of God because it would have made me uncomfortable. Instead of saying yes to the call of God, I said yes to the other thing that made me comfortable. You see, sometimes chasing after the comfortable could be you running from the call of God. And that was me 20 years ago… chasing after the comfortable. I think this came from TikTok, but over the last year or so, Morgan has wanted Jami and I to have a “yes day” where anything she asks for we have to say “yes” to. What would happen if we gave God “yes days?” No matter how uncomfortable we may feel, no matter how insecure we feel, no matter the fear we feel, we instead of saying no to God, we say yes to God. When we give God our yes, He in turn gives us confidence and blessing. Being obedient to God brings blessings to our lives and the lives we interact with. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we simply said yes more to God. I don’t know what God is calling you to do, but I encourage you to say yes. Give God a “yes day.” It may be scary, but it is always good.

You see, God wants us to have an Ephesians 3:20 life. Check this out:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20

God wants to do some crazy extraordinary things with your life. And if you’re obedient, I believe He will bring incredible blessing to your life as a result. Learn to put on God’s uniform in your life and to cultivate this God-confidence. Don't let your circumstances change your attitude and confidence. Recognize the enemy's lies and replace them with God's Truth. And allow God to stretch you and keep saying yes to God. That's how to wear the uniform God has called you to wear.


Dew on grass in the morning

What Is It?

I miss the younger years of parenting. Not me being younger. But the kids being younger. Don’t get me wrong, I love parenting teenagers. As a parent, that’s my sweet spot. But I miss when they were two, three, four and five years old.

When they were that young, everything was new to them. And it was fun helping them experience those new things. Like jumping off the side of a pool. As a parent, you know the fun and joy they will experience. But for them, they haven’t experienced that joy quite yet. And so their focus was on the fear they feel. They’d look at me. Look at the ledge and the drop to the water. Then they’d look back at the cement they were standing on and would start to walk backwards to what was familiar. But after a few words to make them feel better and helping them “jump” into the water, they’d eventually trust their mommy and daddy and jump themselves.

Then, in the very same summer after trusting their daddy and jumping into the pool, I remember taking a trip to a water park with friends. You know what’s at water parks, right? Yup. Water slides. Once again, as a parent, I could look at that slide and my kids and know the joy they’d experience going down that slide into a pool of water. So I took the kids up to the top of the slide, talking up the excitement and how fun and cool it was going to be to slide down the water slide into a pool of water. But once we got up to the top of the slide, fear crept back in and they insisted on not going down the water slide. They instead wanted to go back down the stairs to the familiarity of what they already knew.

I don’t suggest this as a parent, but when Carter was four or five, I actually picked him up, sat him down, then pushed him down the slide as he screamed throughout the process. Once down, he came running back up to go down the slide by himself.

Time and time again through different experiences our kids would have to learn to trust and depend on their parent over and over again even though we’d proven trustworthy through previous experiences. Time and time again they’d crave and desire the familiar over choosing to depend and trust the call of their mommy and daddy. That doesn’t change with age. And it hasn’t changed throughout the years. What is true now, was and is true hundreds of years ago.

Check this out:

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death. Exodus 16:1-3

Facing the question of where their next meal would come from made them question everything. The Scripture says, “they grumbled against Moses and Aaron.” I believe this is the first reference to a people being “hangry.” Only, it was more than simply being hangry. The Israelites actually wished they were back living as slaves in Egypt.

At this point, the Israelites had already experienced a number of miracles from the Lord. He had turned bitter water that they couldn’t drink into sweet water by having Moses throw a piece of wood into the water. And bigger still, they had just witnessed the Lord parting the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to walk across on dry land with a wall of water to their right and to their left. Once the Israelites had crossed, the Lord allowed the sea to flow again, washing the entire army of Pharaoh to their death.

But now, instead of trusting and having faith in the Lord, they begin to worry that they would die in the desert from hunger and they began to wish for the familiarity of what they had known. And they Lord heard the Israelites grumbling.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. Exodus 16:4

Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Exodus 16:8

In the midst of their worry and their grumbling the Lord heard them and decided to provide for the Israelites once again even as they were grumbling against Him. But this is the Lord’s character. You see, back in Exodus 13, as the Israelites were leaving Egypt, God decided to lead them on a longer path through the Red Sea instead of a shorter path through the land of the Philistines because God knew that if the Israelites faced war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.

Even when the Israelites didn’t know it, God was still looking out for and taking care of them. And, in the midst of their fear and grumbling of where their next meal would come from, God would still keep that commitment to the Israelites.

As I look back over my life, there have definitely been times where I can see how God took care of me… exactly when I didn’t even know it. Protection from dumb decisions I made as a teenager. Doors closing which led to better doors opening. The list could go on and on. And I’m sure, if you look back on your life, you would see the same thing.

So, here the Israelites are. Grumbling against a God who has already provided visual miracles for their safety. Grumbling against a God who had already provided protection that they didn’t know about. And now, Aaron is standing before them, speaking to the whole Israelite community. And as they looked toward the desert… the desert they’d be wondering through for 40 years… and what did they see?

The glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. Exodus 16:10

In the midst of their fear. In the midst of their grumbling. In the midst of their worry and their desire to just go back to what is familiar. In the midst of their desert, the Lord God was there with them. What is true hundreds of years ago is still true today. While God was with the Israelites in their desert, God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit is with us in our desert. You see, God doesn’t just lead us through our desert, He’s there with us in it.

And then the Scripture goes on to say…

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’” Exodus 16:13-16

The word, manna, literally means, “What is it?” That’s what the Israelites first reaction to what the Lord provided. Manna is the clear example of the Israelites’ dependence on God was. They had to rely on Him every day for 40 years just to survive. But this isn’t anything new, it’s just different. They had to rely on God to change Pharaoh’s mind to let them go. And when Pharaoh freaked out and changed his mind again, the Israelites had to rely on God to escape from Pharaoh’s army. Time and time again we see the Israelites’ dependence on God while in their desert. And when God says, “Trust me” to the Israelites one more time, we see them again wanting to go back to the familiar out of fear and worry. But God, each time, provided for the needs of the Israelites with just enough for each day… with exactly what they needed to survive for that day.

You see, what’s true hundreds of years ago, is true now…

God is acting on our behalf even when we don’t know it. God shows up in the midst of our desert. And God provides for all of our needs when we follow His Word, His guidance and keep His commands. I pray that you see the Lord and choose Him and His Word even as you read this now.


Jordan River in Israel

Are You Ready

As a kid, I loved looking forward to things that were good… Christmas. Birthdays. Getting my drivers license. My first day going away to college. And before college… the last day to any school year when that final bell rang and you got on that bus for the last time before summer.

Anticipation… for the good things, is a feeling like no other. Anticipation for something that isn’t good is… well… not anticipation… it’s dread. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the feeling of looking forward to something that’s good that’s around the corner. As an adult, this has become counting down the days before a family vacation to our favorite place in the States… Charleston, South Carolina.

Jami and I took a trip there last July for our anniversary… and we fell in love with that place. Now, we’re planning on taking our kids back there this June to see a Charleston Battery soccer game. And we can’t be more excited to show them what we experienced. Including showing Morgan the locations where Outer Banks is filmed! (In all honesty, I’m just as stoked to go back to those locations.)

I really can’t wait to get back to Charleston and take our kids along. I’m sure we all have our stories of anticipation. Childhood stories. Adulting stories. And as we read God’s Word, there’s another group of folks who might have had the same anticipation story as us. Check it out:

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” Joshua 1:10-11

For 40 years… FORTY. YEARS. The Israelites had been wandering around in the desert waiting for this moment. For 40 years they couldn’t enter the land that had been promised to them because of their disobedience to God. You see, God promised Abraham that there would be a Promised Land for the Israel nations to come out of his son, Isaac. And after God freed the Israelite slaves from Egypt through Moses, they ran low on their food to live. So much so that they wished they were back in the good old days of slavery in Egypt where they didn’t have to worry about where their food would come from. But God didn’t leave them to starve and instead provided manna to them all.

At one point, God told Moses to send twelve spies into the land of Canaan, one spy for every tribe of Israel. The spies went out and traveled the land for forty days. The spies came back and reported to Moses what they saw. The land was flowing with milk and honey. There were many places to grow food as farmers. But there were also many strong clans of people living there and many of the spies were afraid of them.

Caleb and Joshua wanted to lead the Israelites to take the land right away. They weren’t afraid of the Canaanites. The other spies lied and said that they saw very tall and strong people, some of them the size of giants. When the Israelites heard this, they became angry with Moses for leading them out of Egypt. They were afraid, too, and cursed God for bringing them there. They forgot God’s promise that he would help them.

God was angry with the Israelites for their complaints. They didn’t trust in Him no matter how many signs and gifts He gave to them. Moses prayed for forgiveness on behalf of the people. “Forgive the mistakes of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love,” he prayed. The Lord responded, “I do forgive, just as you have asked, but I will punish this generation of people for their lack of faith. You will wander in the desert for forty years, the same number as the number of days you spied out the land.”

Then, after 40 years, Joshua gives the order to the people… Get ready. You only have to wait THREE MORE DAYS! Can you imagine what they must have been feeling!? What must they have been thinking? The anticipation must have been like they hadn’t felt before.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Moses and the Israelites had to have struggled at times throughout those 40 years. Life was probably hard at times. I don’t know where you’ve been these last 40 years. These last 40 months. Or these last 40 days. Maybe you’ve been through hell. It might have been rough at times. Things might have been a struggle. Life may have certainly been hard and in your life you may feel like you’ve been wandering.

But God is telling you right now that your promise land is waiting for you right now to cross over. God is telling you right now that there is a better life to be lived and that He will provide for you if you will simply put your trust and faith in Him. And while He has a promise land for you to find, just like the Israelites, in order to find it there’s a couple of things God wants you to do to see it.

First, keep your eye on the Word of the Lord and follow it. Then you will know which way to go… you will know how to live.

Joshua 3:3-4 says, “…When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”

You see, in order to know how to get to our promise land… In order for us to know how God wants us to live, we need to keep His word continuously in front of us. When we do that, then can we know how to get to the promise land He’s provided and how to live.

Second, consecrate yourselves to God. In other words, promise yourself to God and follow Him. Devote yourself to following God. It’s surrendering all of you to all of Him. It’s a simple recognition that every second of your time, every ounce of your energy, and every penny of your money is a gift from God and for God. Consecration is an ever-deepening love for Jesus, a childlike trust in your heavenly Father, and a blind obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Joshua 3:5 says, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

When we consecrate ourselves to God… When we recognize that every second of our time, energy and money is a gift from God and for God, then can He do amazing things with and for and through our lives. Then can we enter the promise land.

I don’t know where you’re at right now. Whether you’re just entering your desert. Or whether you feel like you’ve been wandering for years. But I do know this, God wants you to enter your promised land. He has promised a better way of life. And it’s right around the corner waiting for you.

Can you feel the anticipation? I can. And God can too. The question is…

Are you ready for God's promised land in your life!?


Ludington Michigan Drone Photography

You Don't Have to Fight Alone

This spring break we headed back down to Florida. In the past, we’ve gone to the Gulf side to Siesta Key. This time, since it was just with our immediate family, we decided to go to areas we haven’t been to. So Jami and I took the kids to Fort Lauderdale, Key West and ended in Miami.

One of the things we got to do has been on my bucket list for quite some time… An airboat tour of the Florida Everglades. The tour guide was amazing. The boat ride was crazy fun. And seeing alligators in their natural habitat was stupid cool. It’s one thing to see them at the zoo. It’s something completely different to see how they live and what they do naturally in the wild… in their natural habitat.

Florida was a great family getaway. We had a blast. And then… back to reality where life has a way of catching up to you.

As I sit down to write this, I’m tired. Exhausted. Mentally spent. Physically drained. Jami’s in the same spot… probably more so. You see, just prior to heading out for spring break, we received news that Jami’s biopsy on a nodule near her thyroid tested positive for Thyroid cancer. The genetic testing indicated that there is a 95% chance that it’s cancer.

This biopsy result is a culmination of about a four-week wait to find out the definitive results. Two weeks to learn that the initial biopsy was suspicious. And another two and a half weeks for the genetic testing to get back. And now, a few more weeks of waiting for Jami’s surgery on May 7 to have her Thyroid removed.

The initial thoughts of her doctors indicate that it’s papillary cancer… otherwise known as the “good kind” of thyroid cancer. While this lends to a great diagnosis, there’s still the worry for when Jami goes in for her surgery.

I’ve never been in a physical battle… in war. But the last five weeks and going into the next few weeks before surgery has and definitely will be a battle… physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

And so, there are things we know at this point about Jami’s results. And there are still some unknowns that we can’t know until the surgery itself.

But we also know that, throughout human history, God has told His people that He goes before us. The fight we face was never meant to be fought alone. As the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptians, He parted the Red Sea so that they could cross then allowed the sea to close on the pursuing Egyptians. As the Israelites were wondering in the wilderness for 40 years He provided food to keep them alive and never allowed their clothes to wear out. And just before the Israelites were to cross the Jordan into the promise land, He renewed the covenant with His people through Moses. He was reminding Moses and the Israelites of everything He had done for them. And then He said this...

When you reached this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out to fight against US, but WE defeated them. Deuteronomy 29:7

It's not lost on me that God could have said, ..."came out to fight against YOU, but YOU defeated them." He didn't. The words He chose were specific and on purpose. Jami and our family is facing a battle. A fight. Physical. Mental. Emotional. And spiritual. It's clear throughout Scripture that we, as God's creation, don't have to fight alone. He is out before us. Fighting with us.

I don’t know what battle you’re currently facing… Whether it’s mental, physical, emotional or all of the above. But I do know this… as God’s creation, you don’t have to fight alone. Time and time again we can see as we read God’s Word, that He is fighting for us… He is fighting out in front of us… And He is fighting alongside us.

And secondly, God provides people to stand beside us. Check this out:

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Exodus 17:12-13

You see, when Moses’ hands grew tired and dropped, the Amalekite army would begin to win the battle. But when Moses’ hands remained up, the Israelites would gain the advantage. The problem… Moses couldn’t keep his hands up by himself. He needed his friends to come alongside him for help. And that’s ok. We all need help at times. And God knows that. Even as God fights before us and alongside us, He also provides people to stand beside us as well.

And if you’re not currently in a battle… if you aren’t facing a battle, you might be the friend that God provides to walk alongside someone who does.

You don’t have to fight alone.


Mount of Olives Jerusalem

A Seat at the Table

Easter

I loved this holiday growing up. We’d always have an Easter basket with candy, a couple of toys and that colorful Easter grass. Our parents would also hide hard-boiled eggs we had decorated around the house. There was more than one occasion where we couldn’t find all the eggs. And of course mom and dad couldn’t remember where they hid them. Only after a few months did we find them… Not because anyone found them because we saw them. No… we eventually found them by following the foul odor of a rotten egg.

As fun as Easter was growing up. It’s so much more than just eggs, toys, Easter grass and cute little bunnies. Check this out:

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

Easter. Jesus didn’t go the the cross for “good” people. God didn’t send His Son to die for “perfect” people. The Messiah didn’t rise from the dead for people who don’t have a “past” a “history” or a “current reality.” You see, it was the “perfect” people… the “good” people… the teachers of the religious law… the pharisees who were looking from the outside in at the table of Jesus. It was the people who were hated… people who were despised, people who had terrible reputations… in the words of the “good” people, it was the scum of the earth who had a seat at the dinner table of Jesus.

In other words… it was me. It was you. This isn’t a one-time deal with Jesus. He was known to spend time with people like this during His life. And, just before He was to be betrayed, He held one more meal where He invited His friends to eat with Him. The people who spent the most time with Him during His ministry were invited to the table… His disciples. The very people who traveled with Him. And…

The one who would betray Him.

And Jesus knew this. He knew that Judas would, the very next night, hand Him over to be murdered. But that’s the very heart of Jesus. To give His life… even for the very ones who we think don’t deserve His love and grace.

After He was betrayed and taken for trial, He stood before Pilate and next to a man named Barabbas. Now Barabbas was in prison for a reason… he was involved in an insurrection and had committed murder during the uprising. Pilate, not wanting to make what he knew to be the right decision, asked the crowd whom they wanted released… Jesus or Barabbas. Like any mob, there were bad actors who stirred up the crowd… the chief priests… who called for Barabbas to be released. There was one huge problem with this though. You see, just before the Lord was going to take the Israelites into the promised land way back before Jesus came, God wanted to remind the Israelites of the priorities of God. One of the legal requirements for the Israelites to follow was directly related to Barabbas. Check this out:

Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. He must surely be put to death. Numbers 35:31

The chief priests hated Jesus because He didn’t follow their laws. They wanted to kill Him because He was/is the fulfillment of the law. And now, they wanted to break a law that the Lord had spoken to them through Moses. A law that they knew the Lord had spoken. But they didn’t care. Their hate had overcome their minds and hearts. Talk about hypocrisy!

Jesus knew all these laws as well. But He kept silent. He could have spoken up and defended Himself. But He didn’t say a word. It was God’s purpose… It was Jesus’ purpose to go to the cross for the chief priests, the pharisees and Barabbas too. And so Jesus willingly went to the cross, hung between two criminals and died what some call a death without dignity. Execution from crucifixion was the cruelest form and was usually only for the worst criminals. Death from asphyxiation usually took many hours to possibly days. For Jesus to willingly die by crucifixion is not a death without dignity… No… it is the most dignified death… because He willingly died for you and me and Barabbas and the pharisees… for the best of us and the worst of us.

And then, three days later, what we now celebrate as Easter, He rose from the sentence of death… From the grave.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the  Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Mark 16:6-7

You see, Jesus willingly died a horrible criminal’s death. Beaten beyond recognition before being nailed to a cross. Was laid in a tomb. And rose three days later. When Jesus invited the tax collectors and “sinners” to His dinner table He knew He’d be sacrificed and killed. And when He hung on the cross, He knew that He was dying for those same people... and for me and you.

It’s because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we too now have a seat at His table. This Easter, right now, in the midst of our past and our current reality, Jesus calls to each of us to come and take a seat with Him. It’s my prayer that you’ll accept His invitation to…

Have a a seat at the table… the table of Jesus.

Happy Easter


Baseball Dugout

Fear Is A Liar

There are some things that you try to block from your memory.

Things that are so painful that it shakes you at your core and makes you question everything. I had this happen to me 20 years ago. I was a youth pastor at a small local church in Michigan. It was my first job/church out of college. This particular Sunday we had a parent visit us during our Sunday school hour. Not just any parent, but a parent who was a long standing member and one of the deacons. To say I was nervous was an understatement.

We worked through the lesson I had worked hard on that week and thought it went as well as it could have gone. We finished Sunday school and sat through the church service. After church got over, I stayed around to talk to the kids and other adults. Once we were finished talking and ready to head out, I looked up and noticed that this parent was making his way up to me from the back of the church.

I don’t know what I expected to hear. But what he said destroyed me. “Todd, I feel like God is telling me that you need to quit. Your message was awful. I just don’t think He’s going to use you as a youth pastor.” Then he walked away.

I stood there alone. Crushed. I wish I could tell you that I called him a week later to remind him that we took over a youth group that had five kids and built it up to over 65 kids in a matter of a year. I wish I could tell you that I called him up to remind him of the kids we built relationships with, some of whom we ended up having contact with for over ten years.

I didn’t. The words he spoke to me shook me to my core.

I wish I could say that was the only time I came across someone who has spoken words of hate and hurt to me. But it’s not. And I’m sure there are a few of you that can relate.

Or maybe you can relate to this story. I struggled with self confidence about my weight growing up. When you hear about a story of a kid growing up struggling with weight issues, you might think of a kid who might be massively overweight. You see, for me, I was super skinny… tiny… not strong… sometimes Skeletor-like.

Little League Dugout

This is a photo of me when I was about 12 years old (I'm the one on the left.) My nickname on my high school baseball team was Keebler… you know, like Keebler the elf. Growing up a super skinny kid was just as hard as growing up as an overweight kid. I wish I could say that being made fun of didn’t affect me. But it did. And I’m sure there are a few of you that can relate.

Maybe you’ve been exactly where I am… either as a kid or as an adult. And whether you have or you haven't, I want you to see this because it has the power to change your life… check it out:

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16

The verse above is the foundational truth that we need to keep in mind as we read the next few verses…

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates his brother or sister is a liar. 1 John 4:18-20

Love and Fear. They simply cannot live together. The two cannot co-exist… ever.

Maybe you’ve been where I’ve been. You hear and remember the voices of criticism, of hate… things you’ve tried to block from your memory but fear comes creeping in and starts telling you lies about yourself. Lies like, “You’re not good enough. You’re not strong enough. You’re not beautiful. You’re not loved. You’re not worthy.”

If you’ve been there, or you’re there right now, hear this…

This fear is not from God. It’s from the devil himself. Check this out:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10

The devil would love nothing more than to devour you. He hates God and therefore hates mercy, and grace, and love, and truth. Every fear that you feel and hear in your head is a lie from the father of lies. Check this out:

He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Don’t believe the lies. God says you are beautiful. God says you are worthy. Loved. And enough. You are made in the image of God Himself.

I wish I could say that I don’t go back to the dark places of the words that were spoken to me 20 years ago… or even to words that were typed in a message to me three months ago. But every so often I am tempted to dwell on the fear of maybe I’m not good enough… maybe I shouldn’t be following the call of God on my life… if only people knew how messed up I am… they would know for sure I’m not good enough.

And then Jami reminds me "that the enemy uses the lies in our head to try to keep us from doing what we’re called to do." You see, God gives each of us gifts out of love. And when we think of that, we can cast our fear into the fire as we remember that He loves us… He is love… and fear has no place in us as we call on the name of Jesus to save us and live within our lives.

The reality is that I’m not good enough. But thank God that He is. Thank God that it’s no longer I that am living… but the very Spirit of the living God within me.

And that’s enough. Because God tells me I’m enough. And He is telling you that you are enough. Fear is a liar. The father of lies is the father of fear. But God… God is love and there is no fear in love.


Jeep Wrangler - The presence of God

In the Center

Teaching a child how to drive is one of the most challenging parenting experiences I’ve ever faced.

It’s also one of the most fun too…

Jami and I have been teaching Carter how to drive for the last year and a half. And as I began to ride shotgun while Carter got behind the wheel to drive, it became very clear to me that I make what seems like hundreds of little decisions almost simultaneously as I drive.

For instance, when you change lanes you aren’t simply getting over to the right or the left. No. You are quite literally…

Initiating the thought about changing lanes, deciding on when/where to change lanes, checking the rearview mirror, checking the side mirror, checking rear view mirror, looking over your shoulder, putting on turn signal, beginning to turn the steering wheel, watching the traffic in front of you and end the change of lane in the lane that you needed to be in.

All of these things are happening simultaneously… all at once. Like any kid, learning how to drive doesn’t happen overnight. There’s so many things going on around them, and that can be overwhelming. It’s at the very least distracting.

There was one time when I was learning how to drive when I was a kid. (I’ve never told this to anyone.) Mom was in the passenger seat. I was driving on the south side of South Bend and pulled up to a four-way stop. As I pulled up, I was sure that it was my turn to go. So as I started to pull away from the stop sign, the car to my left started to pull away as well. I didn’t see the lady until she blew her horn at me. As I was in mid-turn to my left, I looked at the lady as we passed by and…

Flipped. Her. Off. With. My. Mom. Sitting. Right. Beside. Me.

To make matters worse, instead of keeping my focus on the road, my focus had switched completely to this lady and the bird to which I was flipping as I continued the left turn just past the lady’s rear bumper nearly missing the curb as my mom screamed, “Todd” which snapped me back to where my focus needed to be... on the road.

There are so many distractions while driving. I guess I completely forgot about them until I started teaching Carter how to drive. It’s really a great analogy to life too. And God knew this as well… check this out:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.” Numbers 2:1-2

Israel had been on this Exodus journey for more than a year and had assembled just about any way they had pleased. But now, ready to enter into the Promised Land, they had to take the next step in organization: Ordering themselves. At the center of this order was the tabernacle itself. The tribes would arrange themselves to the east, south, west, and north in relation to the tabernacle. Since the tabernacle was symbolically the presence of God with them, this meant all order in Israel began being centered around God Himself.

The way they were instructed to camp became a visual reminder, each time they put up their tents, of what should be at the center of their lives... the very presence of God.

And as we read God’s Word, and see His Truths, we can get a glimpse at what should be at the center of our lives. You see, when we place our camp around Jesus… around God’s Truths, the camp of our friendships, the camp of our work, the camp of our family and home… our focus can remain on what is right and good. When we camp our lives around God and keep our focus on Jesus, it makes it less likely that we’ll veer off to the side of the road nearly crashing into a curb and oncoming traffic, and possibly destroying our lives and the lives of those closest to us.

The other interesting thing about this passage is this… it isn’t only talking about individual people… it says,

“…each man under his standard with the… Banners. Of. His. Family.”

Guys. Where you camp your life… what and who you camp your life around, you will take your family with you. Ladies… you’re not off the hook. Where you camp your life… what and who you camp your life around, there will be your family.

There’s a lot of things that we can center our lives around… but there’s only one person who provides hope and love and grace if we camp our lives around Him.

I pray that we all camp around the presence of the Almighty God… Yaweh.