Running Out of Real Estate

Pick up the phone 2

 

  Acts 16:6-8cliff

  “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phyrgia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.  So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Paul is seeking and reaching and praying… and he isn’t getting anywhere.  The Holy Spirit stops him from preaching in Asia.  The Spirit of Jesus won’t let him touch Bithynia.

This is different from his first missionary journey.  It was wondrous.  Paul and Barnabas traveled through Asia, founding churches and setting people on fire for the gospel. But after returning home things cooled off a bit.  They come back to a less than rapturous welcome from a Jerusalem church, who wanted to know what they were doing baptizing Gentiles!  Then there was a fall out between Paul and Barnabas.  The dream team splits.  Barnabas heads off with Mark and Paul journeys with Silas instead.

Now this trip is not going so well!  Bouncing from city to city they can’t plant a toehold in any of them.  They were prevented… they weren’t allowed!  Whatever form this took, it sounds to me like a lot of angry faces and slammed doors.

Faced any rejection lately?  Impeccable skills and a flawless resume have not turned up one good job interview?  Your past experience in a certain ministry field is now turning out underwhelming results?  What gives?  What can you do to find where God can use you best?

In Matthew 7:7, Jesus said we were to “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”  You have probably heard somewhere before that the verbs for “Ask,” “seek” and “knock” are all present tense verbs in Greek… meaning they should be translated:  “keep on asking,” “keep on seeking,” and “keep on knocking.”

That is what Paul does.  He can’t find the place he is suppose to serve… so he keeps moving.  He Troaskeeps going and going until he reaches the city of Troas.  Now Troas was a sea port.  That means that Paul and Silas plumb ran out of real estate!  In the next few verses God is going to open their eyes to a brand new mission field.  But first, imagine the two of them “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”  They are painted into a corner, at the end of the road… Troas!  Maybe that’s where you are right now…  out of options and very desperate.

God may have you there because he wants to open your eyes to a whole new way of viewing your world.  And this often comes at the end of where your own ingenuity has taken us.  So don’t despair.  Keep asking!  Keep seeking!  Keep knocking!  God will grant a vision in His timing!

Many years ago, a young writer interviewed the legendary IBM president Thomas J. Watson.  He was given some unusual advice by the industrialist:  “It’s not exactly my line,” Watson said, “but would you like me to give you a formula for writing success?  It’s quite simple, really.  Double your rate of failure.”

Watson continued, “You’re making a common mistake.  You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success.  But it isn’t at all.  Failure is a teacher—a harsh one perhaps, but the best.”

Then he looked at the young writer and asked him a critical question:  “You say you have a desk full of rejected manuscripts?  That’s great!  Every one of those manuscripts was rejected for a reason.  Have you pulled them to pieces looking for that reason?”

Arthur Gordon, the man who had interviewed Watson, went on to become a nationally known author and editor.  He had originally gone to Watson for an interview, but Watson gave him something much more precious.  He gave him a new perspective on failure.   (Gary J. Oliver in How to Get it Right After You’ve Gotten it Wrong, pp. 26-27.)

Failing?  Running out of ideas?  Do what Paul did… keep moving… keep listening.

God may be ready to completely blow your mind with what He has in store for you.

Re-Construction

Philippians 1:6; Revelation 3:14-21Image

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Every once in a while when you visit a favorite site or blog you are met with a “under construction” page.  You are instructed to come back at a later time.  Don’t go anywhere… because I have a construction project I need to announce.  The project is me.  I sense a need for change in my heart and life.  I am praying for personal revival.

Gypsy Smith (an evangelist from another era) used to tell his audiences: “Do you really want to see a revival begin? Then go back to your home and draw a circle three feet around in your bedroom. Then get down on your knees in the middle of it and ask God to convert everybody inside that circle. When you do that, you are experiencing the start of revival.”  I have begun to draw the circle in my own life.

I am frustrated in the construction project which is me.  I thought I was building a pretty good house there for awhile.  It seems the winds of time and circumstance have blown the the thing flat.  I’m getting tired of imaging walls were there are no walls… and the winds are starting to blow cold.

I’m reminded of the lyrics of an old Greg X. Volz song:  “How can you rebuild what once had stood so tall… when rubble covers everything in sight?”

I know I need to shore up some faith in the Philippians 1:6 promise.  What God started in me on December 6th, 1980…. he will be faithful to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete… the work he began in me.
What will cause me to pick up the pieces and build a great cathedral for God?  The desire to live a vibrant life in Christ for starters.  Author Greg Ogden wrote:

“All too often I have watched myself and others slowly turn down the temperature to where we become lukewarm and insipid.  We need purifying and refining contexts where the best is continuously called out of us.  Humans follow the law of entropy; we wind down, and our energy dissipates unless the poker stokes the coals of our lives and stirs them up again.  (Greg Ogden,Transforming Discipleship, p. 114.)

I don’t want to be lukewarm or tepid.  What I built yesterday was great in its day.  It is time to build a more glorious tabernacle.

ImageThere is some spiritual reconstruction ahead for me… for my body, my mind, my calendar, my habits… etc.  I am embarking on a project that will carry me forward for the next 20 years or so.  Pray for me as I go over the blueprints with my Lord.  And then maybe ask him to go over yours with Him.