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.