It happened one Sunday in Jackson, TN

I think the most sobering words in the Bible have to be the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)‘Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’

I remember the day this passage gripped my heart. I was 21 years old, sitting in a Sunday morning service at Northside Assembly of God in Jackson, Tennessee listening to a teenager tell of her experiences on a recent mission trip. At some point, she shared this verse, and it shook me. This was not the first time I had heard this verse. However, that day, the impact was so great, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time.

The words “Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter” reverberated within my soul. Grief enveloped me as I wondered if Jesus would say to me: I never knew you.

Having been raised in church, I thought I had this thing figured out. My Christian credentials were quite impressive. I won’t bore you with those details, but I had prayed the sinner’s prayer. Been baptized (multiple times). I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. Went to revivals and special services. I was involved. I volunteered. I was connected. But, somehow in my 21 years of church attendance, involvement and connection, I had missed the heart of Christianity – intimacy.

That might sound odd to you. It did to me at first. But the more I explored this verse, the more I realized Christianity was not about following the rules. Initially, that’s what I thought and it was how I lived my life – always trying to follow the rules. But, this verse opened my eyes to the reality that God desires intimacy.

In verse 23, Jesus says I never knew you. The word knew is the Greek word ginóskó. I bring this up because the New Testament was written in Greek. So, for clarity, it’s important to know and understand the original word so that we can understand the original intent. If we don’t do this, we could easily misunderstand the intent or context of a Scripture or passage.

The word ginóskó means to know, come to know, get knowledge of, understand, perceive. It is also the Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. This word implies more than an awareness of; it indicates intimate knowledge of.

Ginóskó is the same word found in Luke 1 when the angel appears to Mary to announce that she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. In verse 34, Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.The word virgin is the word ginóskó. In other words, Mary is asking how could conception be possible since she had never been intimate with a man. She is saying: since a man has never had access to that part of me, how could I possibly be pregnant?

So, in Matthew 7:23, when Jesus says I never knew you, He is saying I was not intimate with you. I did not know your heart. I did not have access to every part of you.

Christianity is not about formulas and rituals where we live by rote and routine. It’s not about doing things for God. Jesus makes this clear in verse 22 when He says: On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’  There will be people who say; I did a lot of things at church. I did a lot of things on Your behalf Jesus. And His reply will be; Yes, you did a lot of things, but you were never intimate with Me. You were a worker, not a lover.

Christianity is about being with Jesus. Intimacy. It’s about allowing Him into every part of our lives. We’re not trying to keep up appearances with Him, do things perfectly so we’ll impress Him, or follow any rules. We are developing a deep and intimate relationship with Him. We are continually giving Him complete access to every part of us. No walls. No closed doors. Complete transparency. Total availability. Nothing is off limits. Nothing is restricted.

And, as we share our heart with Him, He then shares His heart with us. He tells us His desires, plans and what’s in His mind. We get to see what He sees. Hear what He hears. Feel what He feels. That’s how we know what His will is. Knowing God’s will comes from intimacy with Him. It is not an exchange of facts and data. It is a transfer of heart to heart. And, because we’ve seen His heart and we are intimate with Him, doing His will becomes our passion.

As we are intimate with Him, we then do things with Him – not for Him.  From the being comes the doing.

I will never forget that Sunday morning in Jackson, Tennessee. I am so thankful Holy Spirit thundered this verse in my heart and awoke me from my slumber. It changed the course of my life. It changed everything about me. And now, at the end of my life I am confident He will say to me – Hello Kim. I know you.

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The love of my life.

In case you haven’t met the love of my life, this is my husband Bill.

Bill Wahl37979_484813072728_1749468_n1914616_1242088772487_846870_nBill Wahl5

On August 1st, we celebrated 30 years of marriage. And, I want to tell you, this man has my heart. Every. Single. Piece.

We met at Lee University (then college) in 1986. One look at that face and I was hooked. Handsome. Funny. Intelligent. Interesting. Engaging. Kind. Confident. Transparent (yes, even then). It didn’t take long for me to fall head-over-heels in love with this man.

We spent every waking hour together. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together every day in the cafeteria. That means I got up early every day in order to eat breakfast. Even before that 8am class. Y’all don’t even understand what that means. I’m not a morning person. I come by it honest as it’s genetically woven into my DNA. And, I seldom want food in the morning. But, every day I met him for breakfast, just to be near him one more time. And, I ate lunch and dinner even if I wasn’t hungry.

He walked me to every class; he met me at the end of every class. We even had some classes together. (You can arrange that when you meet during freshman orientation, which was the week before registration. In hind sight – that was risky! Glad it worked out, otherwise I would have had to drop a class or two.)

We studied together in the library, hung out in the Student Center, and arranged to have our Chapel Seats next to each other. We stood in front of my dorm until curfew at night talking and talking. And, if we’d had cell phones then, I’m sure we would have kept talking into the night, falling asleep on the phone.

When my parents called to check on me, all I could talk about was Bill. What he said. What he did. What he thought. What I thought about what Bill said. What I thought about what Bill did. What I thought about what he thought.

It was all I could talk about to anybody. If I was not with him, I was talking about him to anyone who would listen.

We spent so much time together, that both of the best friends I went to college with were annoyed. My cousin, who was also on campus, was concerned. They all wondered if I had lost my mind because we were inseparable. This was unlike me. But, I couldn’t help myself. He was like a magnet, and I could not resist. I was hooked. This man amazed me. Fascinated me. Intrigued me.

I hung on every word he said. I wanted to know what he thought about everything. I wanted to hear about his life. His past. His hopes. His dreams. His plans. His opinions. Every detail. And, I wanted to tell him every thought in my head. Every feeling I felt. I wanted to share past, present, and future with him.

Once I saw him, no one had to convince me to talk with him. My normally shy and reserved self lost all in-habitations. I actually approached him first to invite him to play a meet-n-greet game.

Once I spoke with him, no one needed to encourage me to spend time with him. I took advantage of every opportunity. I created opportunities.

Once I spent time with him, I didn’t need reminders to get up for breakfast. Despite my disdain for early mornings, I didn’t need to be coaxed out of bed. I was up early and ready to go.

I looked forward to spending time with him. I looked forward to being with him. I looked forward to hearing his voice.

Meeting him changed my life. It changed the way I lived. It changed the plans I’d made for the future. It changed everything.

As intense as this sounds, I feel like this is what our relationship with Jesus is supposed to look like.

I feel like we are supposed to be so captivated by Him, that we want to spend every waking hour with Him. So eager to be with Him, that we willingly get up early to see Him – even if we are not morning people. So in love, we willingly plan our day around Him because we want to do everything with Him.

So enthralled that we talk with Him non-stop, hanging on every word He says. Wanting to discover what He thinks about everything. What He wants. What His plans are. Telling Him everything in our heart. Every feeling. Sharing every experience with Him.

So fascinated that we talk about Him non-stop, telling everyone what He said. What He did. What I think and feel about what He said and did. He’s so ingrained in our conversations, that everyone knows we’ll talk about Him given the slightest opportunity. That we’ll create opportunities. That we will work Him into every conversation. That we will just boldly bring Him up.

To be so consumed with Him that others wonder if we’ve lost our mind. That the magnetic pull He has on us is evident to the casual observer. That we radiate with love for Him.

To be so in love that no one ever has to convince us to talk to Him. No one has to give us a list of reasons why we should have conversations with Him.

So enamored that no one has to encourage us to spend time with Him. No one has to sell us on the features and benefits of spending time with Him.

So engrossed with our relationship with Him that we don’t forget days on end that He’s in the room with us.

I think this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Jesus told us in Matthew 22:37 that we ‘….must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ In other words, loving Him with everything. Being so consumed by Him that it changes everything about the way we live, the way we think, the way we speak and the choices we make. That connection to Him becomes our number one priority – overshadowing everything else. That He alone becomes our everything. The One who completes us. The One who fills us. The One we crave.

Yes, that sounds intense. And, it is. But this is what we were created for. Intimate, deep, soul-absorbing, mind-blowing, life-giving, earth-shattering relationship with the One who created us. It’s so much more than we think it is.

Anything less is not enough. Anything less leaves me wondering………

So, this is what I’m working towards. This is how I want to live – with such an awareness of Him that every thought and feeling is shaped by His Presence and His voice. That I’m driven to connect with Him continually. That I am completely absorbed by Him. Engrossed in the relationship. I want my continual response to be Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard You say, “Come and talk with Me.”  And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

 

ps – to clarify. Abba loves the way I love the man He gave to me as a life partner. He is thrilled that Bill has my complete heart and utter devotion. He is please that Bill is the love of my life. It’s the way He planned it. And, He is also pleased that I realize Bill is a gift to me from Him. Abba gave Bill to me (and me to Bill) to complement, support and partner with. Bill does not complete me. I do not need Bill. I want Bill, I want him every step of the journey, I enjoy him – but I do not need him. I need Jesus.  I can’t survive without Him.  

So thankful I get to do the journey into the heart of Jesus with this man. xxoo 

Bill & Kim

One more for funsies. This is a pic of the first time I saw Bill’s face. (there’s a story behind that) A friend took a picture of me watching him. Beside me are the two besties (Jennifer & Melissa) and cousin (Sonya), watching the whole thing unfold. Sigh……

finding Bill

Have You Tried Reading the Directions?

I’d like you to meet my forever friend, Jennifer. I don’t remember when I didn’t know this girl. We’ve been through just about everything together. And the stories we could tell…..like the time she got a round brush stuck in her bangs during Sunday School and I took her to the kitchen and filled the brush and her hair with peanut butter to help get it out. Or the time I cut her hair. Or the time she set her back yard on fire when we were camping. Or when it appeared her hair was on fire at my wedding. (lots of hair and fire stories here) Or the time we got stuck in a tree in a field with an angry bull. Or the time she saved my life in the girl’s bathroom in high school. Or when we sneaked off campus for lunch and she left me hiding in the floorboard of her car for Coach Cleveland find. (I learned what aiding and abetting was that day) Or going to college together (with our other forever friend, Melissa).

This picture pretty much sums up our relationship.

Kim & Jennifer

I’m sure you’re going to love her thoughts!

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Is there anything more nerve-wracking than driving in Atlanta?  Well, yes actually.  Driving through Atlanta with a load of 17-year-olds in tow.

A couple of years ago, I was driving my daughter and several friends up to north Georgia to go whitewater rafting.  As we were zooming down the 285 “speedway”, I had a blow-out.  I managed to get my old grey Suburban full of teenagers to the shoulder (such as it was).  The next couple of minutes were alarm bells and sweat for me.  I was a nervous wreck inside.  The kids all piled out as to not sit in a hot car on the side of the Interstate.  The “shoulder” was a very narrow left-side concrete strip, which left me in a sheer panic of the thought of one of my passengers getting hit by any of the literally thousands of vehicles whizzing by in the six lanes next to us. When an 18-wheeeler would blow by, our bodies were literally swayed by the hot wind that rushed behind them.  I was sure that distracted drivers were manning the wheel on most of these cars, and well, let’s be honest: we ourselves were a distraction– a bunch of kids on the side of the road with a crazy-looking, sweating, woman and a broken-down truck.

In my group were some young men, one of whom was an Eagle Scout, and they set out to look under the back of the Suburban to start getting the spare out. They weren’t having any luck though.  My spare was not dropping down like it was supposed to.  They worked and sweated and then started over again…but no luck.  The rest of the kids in the group grew restless and so did I.

A couple of policemen pulled up. They were extremely nice and friendly but they could not figure out the tire either. We politely discussed what my next move might be (a tow-truck) while the two boys continued to fiddle around under the truck.  We had been at this for about 30 minutes now, and I knew it was probably time to throw in the towel and move to Plan B.

At this point, my daughter emerged from the side of the Suburban and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen her since we had first pulled over.

She said simply, “Can I try it?”

I said, “Well, sure…but the guys have been working on it and they haven’t figured it out yet.”  That was code for, “Don’t bother.”

Then she said, “Well, I’ve been reading the Owner’s Manual.  Maybe that will help.”

That was one of those parent-moments. You know…when you just stand there like a dork and marvel at this kid of yours and their superior reasoning skills, and wonder when that transformation happened without you noticing.

You can guess what happened next.  It wasn’t too long before we were, in the words of Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again.”

That was a scary situation, but like most crucial moments in life, we laughed about it later.  As time passed, I found some symbolism in the chaos.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NIV) says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

How many times are we faced with a scary situation in life?  Something that we haven’t faced before… Something that seems to be without a solution…something that is entrenched in treacherous circumstances.  We stand there, and stare at it, and try to figure out how to fix it.  But it won’t fix.  We try again.  Still, nothing.  We fiddle with it, tinker with it, try looking at it upside-down…nothing.

At some point, hopefully, we turn to our “Instruction Manual”, God’s Word, and look for instructions on how to address our problem. But how much easier would our life be if we would read the instructions right from the start?  How much stress and worry could be avoided?  Maybe some negative situations wouldn’t even occur at all.

All we need to do is read the directions that our Maker gave us. God doesn’t want us to stand on the side of road worrying about what is going to come barreling toward us and knock the breath out of us. He wants us to read the directions. Then, we can get off the shoulder and continue our journey toward something better.

Jen's Blog pic

This is the crew who survived the flat tire fiasco. The daughter who saved the day (and the cost of a tow) is Kayla, the long-haired beauty sitting on the bench, second from the right.

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Jennifer lives in Madison, Mississippi with Pat, her wonderfully patient husband of 24 years and her two amazingly brilliant daughters, Tavyn and Kayla. She is the 7th grade principal at Madison Middle School and a die-hard LSU fan. But most importantly – she loves Jesus. 

Jen's family

Is there anything more beautiful?

I love to imagine what Jesus looks like. I love to think of Him in different aspects; envision Him doing and being what the Bible says about Him.

For example, I love C.S. Lewis’ imagery of Jesus as Aslan – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. (Revelation 5:5) Fierce. Dominating. Forcefully putting His paw down and roaring so loudly that He shakes everything around Him. As I see Him as the Lion of Judah, I feel protected. Safe. I sense my enemies trembling at His presence. I see them running as He roars.

I love to think of Him riding on His white horse at the Second Coming. (Revelation 19:11-16) Bold. Strong. Courageous. The Conquering King. Thundering from heaven with fire blazing from His eyes as His hair flows in the wind. Leading the charge to silence the enemy once and for all. Defeating him by His word. (wow. I faint right there.)

I love to think of Him seated at the right hand of Abba Father. (Colossians 1 and 3) The position of honor. The position of authority. Magnificent, He is the radiance of the glory of God. Holding creation together. And as He overlooks all of creation, we see His heart as He intercedes for us. Pleading our case, asking Abba Father to move and work on our behalf.

I love to think of Jesus preparing a place for me. (John 14:1-3) Creating a room for me. Preparing a place for me at the table. Anticipating my arrival. Excitedly expecting me to join Him. To see the sheer, unreserved joy I feel as I finally see Him face-to-face. As I leap into His arms. As I encounter brilliant beauty that I could never have imagined. As He takes me to see Abba Father. To watch me finally experience all that I was created for.

To think of Jesus in these ways draws me into His magnificence and splendor. Opens my eyes to how incredibly exquisite He is. I catch glimpses of how beautiful He really is.

But of all the things I imagine – all the ways I picture Him – there is nothing more beautiful to me than the crucified Jesus. (John 19) The gruesome Jesus. The one with flesh hanging off His bones. Blood running down His face. Streaming down His body. Hair matted with dirt and blood. Bruised. Whipped and beaten Jesus. Grimacing in pain. Crying out to God in agony. With spit on His face. A hole in His side. Nail pierced feet and hands.

I love this image of Jesus more than any other because it is in this, that Jesus set me free. Paying a price to redeem me from an utterly hopeless situation. Buying me from slavery. Releasing me from a prison I was powerless to escape. I am no longer a slave. I am no longer bound. Limited. Restricted.

Because He willingly suffered and died for me, allowing Himself to be savagely beaten, abused, ridiculed, humiliated and tortured, I am healed – spirit, soul and body. My blinded eyes opened. My oppressed heart set free. My wounds healed, whole. Missing parts restored. I am made new. No scars. Just as if I had never been damaged. Broken. Enslaved. Imprisoned.

In agony, He carried the weight of my crushing sin. Wiping away my past. Eliminating my depravity. Wickedness. Choosing to forget. Choosing to release. Choosing to look at me with love.

His brutal death defeated a foe that I was no match for. Completely disarming my enemy. Destroying his works. Stepping on his neck. Breaking his hold. Conquering for me. Giving me victory.

The cross He carried bridged the chasm between Abba and me. I am no long separated from Him. No longer an orphan. Adopted by Him. An heir with full benefits and privileges.

And it is through the magnificent gore of the cross that I can see the beauty of Him now. Because I have seen Him crucified, I can see Him as the Lion of Judah. I see Him riding His white horse. Seated next to Abba Father. Feel Him making intercession for me. Know that He is preparing my place. Eagerly anticipating my arrival.

Nothing is more beautiful to me than Jesus crucified because it opens my eyes to see everything He is.

 

 

 

You can’t eat an elephant in one bite.

Or at least you shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t read your Bible through in a year either. Cause that’s a lot like eating an elephant in one bite.

Why?

Too much to chew. Too much to digest.

Think about it. The volume of content you must consume daily to stay on schedule is sizeable. Some days could require 3 or 4 chapters. And some chapters could have as many as 50+ verses. That’s a LOT of material to read and digest in one day.

Now, I can hear what you’re saying. People read lots of things every day. And many read several chapters from a novel or informational book daily. Or they read chapters from multiple books as they study for classes and exams or do research for their jobs. If they can read multiple chapters from a “fun” book or, material they “want” to read or are required to read – then surely they can do the same for Jesus. Surely reading 3 or 4 chapters of the Bible is not too much to ask.

But I think maybe it is.

You see, those books, newspapers, blogs, educational texts and paperbacks were written by men and women with limited knowledge and understanding about the subject they are expertly writing about. All were penned by people with intelligence similar to yours. From the most difficult and complicated work to the easy-read, all were written by mere mortals.

On the other hand, the Bible was written by God. 2Timothy 3:16 (Amp) tells us that All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration]…..” It is Divine. Every, single word was breathed from the mouth of God into the hearts of more than 40 different men. God used these men as pens to compose a letter to humanity. Words from the mind of God spilled onto the pages, as He poured Truth into their hearts. The One who knows all things; the One who created all things; the One who lives outside of time and space put His plans, purposes and intents on paper for every person to read. The Alpha and Omega put Himself on every page for all to see.

Think about that for a moment.

The One whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours wrote the Bible. (Isaiah 55:9) The One whose thoughts are deep – profound – in a way that transcends our depth, authored every chapter and verse. (Psalm 92:5). The One whose understanding is beyond comprehension, penned every single word. (Psalm 147:5) The One who created the intricacies of the human body (Genesis 1:27), the wonders of the heavens (Isaiah 40:6) the complexities of advance calculus and liner algebra, and the perplexities of quantum physics (Colossians 1:16) wrote all 66 books contained in the Bible without any research, help, resources, or support. There are no credits in footnotes and no recognition in a bibliography. Romans 11:33-34 (GNT) says: How great are God’s riches! How deep are His wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain His decisions? Who can understand His ways? As the scripture says, “Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give Him advice? Who has ever given Him anything, so that He had to pay it back?”

And we think we can speed read through it? That it can be skimmed? We think we can actually digest 3 to 4 chapters of Divine writing as we are winding down from the day, with brains that are tired and eyes that are fuzzy? We really think we can absorb the depth and complexities of the writings of God as we cram in bulk?

I don’t think so. I think David nailed it in Psalm 139:6 when he said, “Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.

Because it is a collection of Divine writings, you must have time to digest the Bible. You need time for contemplation. You need time to discuss with Holy Spirit. You need time to dig into the magnitude of the text, understand the setting, context, and inspect surroundings. You need time to discover the people and culture of the particular passage you are reading. You need time to grasp what God is saying to you. To savor every morsel.

That will never happen if you are (speed) reading 3 to 4 chapters a day.

So how do I think we should read the Bible?

Slowly. Thoughtfully. Repeatedly. Daily.

I think we should ask Holy Spirit where to start and let Him direct us. He knows what we need to read.

[But, if you need a pointer: I encourage new Bible readers to start with the Gospel of John. If you have not read the entire New Testament, stay there until you have. If you are ready to branch into the Old Testament, read Psalm and Proverbs. Then, read Ruth and Esther. Then move to Genesis and work your way through the Old Testament.]

Once you’ve determined where to start, read each day until He tells you to stop. And then re-read. Pray through what you’ve read. Meditate on what you read. Journal about what you hear. While you will gain information as you read, the purpose is to receive revelation. Unlike anything else we read, we are not looking to be entertained or educated; we are looking to be transformed. And this takes time.

You see, revelation comes as we allow His word to have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness,……. (Colossians 3:16), hiding it in our heart, so that (we) might not sin against (Him). (Psalm 119:11), so that His instructions are written on [our] heart and becomes part of [our] very being. (Psalm 40:8) We want our heart to pump God’s Word like blood through (our) veins;……so we must take our time and chew on wisdom like a dog on a bone, [and] roll virtue around on (our) tongue. (Psalm 37:30-31). And as we do, we are transformed – changed from the inside out.

Then, pick up where you left off the next day. Don’t jump around, reading in a different place each day. If you do this, you’ll miss the connections between sections and chapters.

And if it takes you three years – five years – to make it through the entire Bible, then so be it.

But, if we rush through, we’ll find the Bible disappointing, frustrating and boring. We’ll think God’s word is a burdensome chore. His writings will seem disjointed. (be honest – you’ve thought that) And we’ll dread reading. (you know it’s true) And we’ll miss the wealth of treasures stored within.

Rushing through, we miss the depth and profound message in that passage, section or account. Skipping sections to “catch-up” will cause us to miss the connections. In the hurry to stay on schedule, we fail to discover what God is saying to us personally in those verses.

I think this is why we often think the Bible is slow moving, boring, irrelevant, and insignificant. I think it’s often why we think the Bible is confusing. And, I think this is why we haven’t fallen in love with reading the greatest literary work of all times. Why we are not captivated by the Author. We’re going too fast to see the depth, wonders and magnificence.

So, read your Bible this year. Read it every day. Be intentional. Be systematic. Be aggressive. But move at His pace, taking it one bite at a time. And let His words wash over your heart and fill you with revelation so that you experience transformation. Then at the end of the year – regardless of how much territory you cover – you’ll find that you are full and satisfied. And yet……..you want more.

I have more to say on this subject. You can see more of my thoughts on this in my Soapbox post.

ps ~ If you need a plan to follow, here is a 3 year planYou’ll read one chapter per day as you toggle between books of the Old and New Testaments. Or, this plan takes you through the New Testament in a year and gives you the weekends off to review and reflect. Both can be printed from the links. 

It’s going to be a great year 🙂

I’m throwing in the towel. (again)

A couple of years ago I wrote this post. And it’s still how I feel. So why don’t you join me? Go ahead and throw in the towel and see what Abba’s plans are for you this year. I’ve found it’s much better -and less stressful – this way!


I always have such high hopes this time of year. Regardless of what kind of year it has been, the next is always full of promise. It’s the fresh start I’ve been looking for. I can re-group, re-focus and start anew. I’m high on anticipation and expectation.

So I start to plan. I make lists of things I want to change in my life. I make lists of what I’d like to see happen in the coming year. I make lists of what I want to see Abba do. And I head off into the New Year with great enthusiasm.

But by February, the high is gone and my enthusiasm has waned. I’m now overwhelmed by disappointment and frustration. The changes I wanted seem impossible (what was I thinking?). The things I’d like to see happen aren’t anywhere in sight (people aren’t cooperating). And what I want to see God do……well, I can’t see anything for the discouragement and exhaustion.

What happened to my year full of promise? And why do I repeat this same scenario year after year only to be disappointed year after year? I usually end up throwing in the towel along with those lists. And try not to indulge in too much self-loathing as I ask myself: “Why can’t I do this? Why is this so hard?

But – one day I’m reading in Galatians and the light bulb comes on. Galatians 5:25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

I think I may have finally discovered my problem. There’s way too much of me involved. I’m being Kim led – not Spirit led. I’m the one calling all the shots; listing the changes I want, what I want to see happen and what I want to see Abba do. It’s my agenda and I’m leading the way. I’m taking charge.

I’m also the one trying to make it all happen. On my time-table of course. Always sooner rather than later.

No wonder I’m frustrated. And exhausted.

Why didn’t I see this before? How many times have I read Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”? How many times have I sung the sweet little Psalty song, “God Has A Plan For My Life” to my kids?

I don’t need to make any lists. I don’t need to set an agenda. I don’t need to make a plan.

All I need to do is let Holy Spirit lead me into Abba’s plan for my life.

So I’m not waiting until February. I’m throwing in the towel now. I quit writing list of what I want to see. Instead of setting my own agenda, for a change I’ve decided to ask Holy Spirit to lead me into Abba’s plan for this next year.

And because it’s His plan, I’m not in charge. I don’t have to figure anything out. I don’t have to organize or orchestrate. It’s His responsibility to implement and set the timetable. It’s His responsibility to power, fund and fuel His plan. It’s His responsibility to produce the changes He wants in me.

My part is to follow Holy Spirit, listen closely and then obey. That sounds a lot easier and a lot less stressful.

So this year, I sit down with pen and paper to listen. I will write down only what He whispers into my heart. And that will be my focus for this new year.

Unity

Unity. Of all the things He could have prayed for, Jesus cried out to the Father for unity. As He prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus bowed His heart before the Father and interceded for us. In John 17:20-23 (NLT) we hear Him say: I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are one.  I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that you love them as much as you love Me.

His heart desired unity. He prayed that you and I, His followers, would be one. He longed for us to be unified, like He and the Father are. His plan is that His Body would function as a single unit, united by His heart and His desires, moving and flowing in solidarity in Him and through Him.

Jesus prayed for our unity because He knew it would be the key to our success. He knew that the only way we could advance would be to operate as one.  He knew that without unity, it would impossible to accomplish anything. He knew that without unity, His Body would be disjointed and splintered. And, Jesus also knew that in a disjointed and splintered state, we’d be an easy target for the enemy and susceptible to his deceptive strategies.

So what does unity look like? Does unity mean that you agree with me? Or that I agree with you? Or that together we agree with the leader? Does it mean we lay down our opinion to pick up the majority’s? I don’t think so. I believe unity means, we agree with Him. Unity is being on the same page with Abba. And solidarity is evident as together we say what He says, go where He goes and do what He does. We are unified as we live out His plan.

How does this happen? We step into unity as we practice 2Chronicals 7:14 (NLT) Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. Certainly, unity is developed through prayer. But specifically, unity is achieved through humility. Humble prayer. This means we don’t come to Abba with our agenda. We don’t spend our conversations with Him telling Him what we want or what we think. We are not sharing our plan. We are not taking our preconceived notions and opinions into the prayer closet.

Humble prayer means we enter with a heart that says: I do not have any answers. I do not know what is best. I need Your wisdom and guidance. I choose to want what You want. Please tell me what that is.  Then we sit and listen. And, in our silence He reveals His plans. As we leave the prayer closet, we follow His plan with His power.

As we humbly pray, He will reveal His plan. And the plan He reveals to me is the same plan He will reveal to you. If we disagree, one of us is not listening. Therefore, we return to the prayer closet, determined to listen until our heart is unified with His.

Humble prayer positions us for a move of God. Our unity with Him brings us to a place of restoration.

And, living this way will resolve so many issues within the Body of Christ. It would mean that we would stop fighting over everything from the color of our carpet to the type of music we worship to. We’ll no longer bicker over doctrinal differences or how to exegete a particular passage. And we’ll stop squabbling over which political candidate to vote for. (insert eye-roll here)

Which brings me to the point of this post: Abba has a plan. He has already chosen the one He desires to be in office. Shockingly, it may not be the person we think it should be. It may not be the person we identify with politically. It may not be the one we would personally choose. It may be the one we don’t like. But it doesn’t matter what we think or what our political stance is, because the one He has chosen is the perfect one for the job. He knows what we need and He knows what we cannot see. And, if we will humble ourselves in prayer and listen to His heart, He will tell us who to vote for.

It’s not about what I want. It’s not about your opinion. It’s not about what we think. It’s about His divine and perfect plan.

As we lay down our ideologies, opinions, perspective and feelings, we – the Body of Christ – will be a force to be reckoned with. When we have been in humble prayer, as a unified body we’ll exit the prayer closet and enter the voting booth and change the course of our nation.

Now – stop for a moment and think big picture. If we, the Body of Christ are unified, imagine the possibilities! To start, we’ll no longer look foolish to the world. When we say we heard from God, we’ll all be saying and doing the same thing, instead of giving the impression that God is confused or senile. In unity, we’ll powerfully execute the Great Commission with precision, making powerful disciples. We’ll step into the enemy’s territory and put an end to his destructive plans.

As we live in humble prayer, unified under His plan and purpose, we’ll be agents of change. We’ll change our life. We’ll change our families. We’ll change our local church. We’ll change our community. We’ll change our nation. We’ll change the world. This is how we become world-changes – through humble prayer that brings us into unity, enabling us to cohesively move as one.

So, with that, I am telling you who to vote for.

Vote for the one Abba has chosen. Get into your prayer closet and ask Him who that is with all bias aside. Listen. And then vote for that person. Even if they aren’t the one you’d have chosen yourself. This is unity.

And then, let’s live that way. In unity, saying what He says. Going where He goes. Doing what He does.

 

 

If you’d like to hear more on prayer and politics, I recommend this message by my son, Stefan. It will certainly open your eyes and adjust your perspective.