Transitions


Presented at Life Church, Sunday, September 22, 2019

Link to the podcast: https://www.life-church.org/message-audio-and-video

God is passionately invested in you becoming more than you could ever become without His directions and His intervention.

I want to say this again because I want you to get this, it is my whole theme today. God is more invested than you could even imagine in what he wants to transform your life into.

There is so much more that God is doing in the earth today, than just what we know. I want to encourage you to allow God to transition you into the transformation that He wants to take you to.

In this process you will have to corporate with God.

We always say, "The best is yet to come."

My question today is, Are you willing to become what you are needing to become?

You better get ready because we can't just sit around thinking about yesterday.

We have to move forward for what God has for today.

It is really important that we are aware of some things.

We say that God is passionately invested in our lives because we know that what He has begun, He is able to complete it. I love Proverbs 16:3 - Commit your works to the Lord and He will establish your thoughts. I have lived on that for a very long time. I know He is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all we can think or imagine.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Where You Lean a Path will Appear

Where you lean a path will appear. If you lean into the wrong stuff, the wrong path will appear. If you lean into the transition that God is taking you into, I guarantee you a path will appear. Where you are leaning a path appears. But you have to know where you are leaning and you must be intentional about it.

In 2015 I had been a part of a technical college for sixteen years. I was the academic dean. I taught business communications and human relations. In the Summer of 2015, what had been familiar to me for a long time, began to feel unfamiliar. I'm talking about transitions here.

When what has been familiar to you for a long time suddenly seems unfamiliar, wakeup, because you are in a transition.

I always thought this was what had been familiar, but there is a new familiar out there that I did not even know about, which puts me on the bridge of the unfamiliar. In that time frame of the Summer of 2015, I kept saying, "I don't know but everything seems very strange. Something different is going on.

A company had bought the college and because I did not have the same DNA as they did, and because their culture was so much more different than my personality and values was, I was not going to brought back for the next school year. My good friend, who was the Dean of Students, told me he found an opportunity for me to become a John Maxwell speaker. When I checked it out they asked me, "When was the last time you invested in your life? God really used this statement in me. I had not been in a class and invested in anything like that in a long time. I invested $3000 in the program and went through the whole process. In March I became a John Maxwell speaker. I just did it. Sometimes we instinctively do things and we do not know that we know that we know. We just do it.

Our son Chuck is our middle child. One time when we were living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he came in the house with a BB gun in one hand and a little baby squirrel in the other hand. Chuck said, "I don't know what happened. I found this in the back yard." This poor little squirrel did not have any hair on it, its eyes were not open, he was about a day old. This little baby squirrel did not know a thing. Stay with me now, I going somewhere. Joanne, my wife, took this baby squirrel and cared of it. She began feeding it with an eye dropper and it finally grew some hair and it opened its eyes. I don't know where you get squirrel milk but that was what she was giving this baby squirrel. The baby squirrel grew up and for months it had the run of the house. We had a cage for it but we would carry it around in our pocket and walk around the neighborhood. The squirrel's name is Chucky. Chucky would be on our shoulder and as we did things, and we would just have fun with Chucky. On day I walk into the back yard with Chucky on my shoulder and he jumped off my shoulder onto a pine tree. He ran up the pine tree and panic because he had no clue how to get down. So he slide butt first all the way down that pine tree with the bark flying. He jumped back onto my shoulder and I took him back into the house. In a few days Chucky was on my shoulder when I walked into the backyard again. He jumped on the pine tree, and this time he began to leap, mostly successfully, from one branch to another. We had thirty pine trees in our back yard and Chucky moved out of the house that day. When he did, we looked in our baby grand piano, which we don't play, it was just a piece of furniture setting there. On the top of the baby grand piano, Joanne had a glass top hat, like a vase, but in the shape of a glass top hat, and it had glass marbles in it. When we opened up that piano, Chucky had been storing marbles in that piano, along with some underwear, socks and other unmentionables. Instinctively that little animal, Chucky, knew some things that he did not even know he knew. We did not train him to store marbles in the piano.

You know things, instinctively, spiritually. . .you know things. When you know things you have to move instinctively on those things. At any age, instinctively we know things as God moves us into a transition, and we must move ourselves in that direction.

When I became a certified John Maxwell speaker in March, the next month I am sitting in my office with my best friend Brian, and I said to him, "When I finish teaching this class, the first week in May, they're not going to reschedule me are they?" He tiered up and said, "No". God had indicated to me that He (God), had been hinting that I was in transition all those months before.

So, I began looking for a job, but I can't find a job because I have a MFA in Theater, lighting and set design. Everything I studied back in the day is now obsolete. I don't have a bible college degree or training. I have been trained by the Holy Spirit. That does not look good on paper. I could not get an interview. So, I am sitting at the dining table in our house and I said to Joanne, "What about Canada?" Pastor Kelly from 1999 and I had remained friends and we always wanted to work together. Joanne said, "I prayed about that yesterday and I told God I wasn't going to say a thing. If He wanted you to go to Canada, He would have to tell you." I said to her, "Hold that thought". I picked up the phone and I called Pastor Kelly. I went up there for two weeks to see what he was doing. I got an offer and in the Summer of 2016 we relocated all the way from Davenport, Iowa to Leprage, Alberta, only two hours from Calgary, Canada.

Transition is Hard

We were there for three years. It was a great adventure and then we began to transition back. It was hard to transition back. It still is because we became very close friends with those wonderful Canadians. We had a blast and God give me a great adventure. I got to have influence and help people change their lives. It was amazing. We went through all the emotion that you go through telling good friends goodbye, knowing that you will probably never see most of them ever again. We packed up 120 boxes. We did not go there with a lot of stuff but we seem to come back with a lot more than we when with.

We drove in a U-Haul truck 2000 miles from Leprage, Canada to Little Rock, Arkansas. When we got there we began to transition into a little apartment. We began getting the utilities and all the things that you do.

About a week into that transition I began to get a little stressed out about this whole thing. I know none of you are that unspiritual, but I was just a little bit ticked. They made us take the driver's test over again. The whole thing, the written and the drive part. I found myself a week into this transition making decisions just to make decisions, just to get them done, and just to move on.

We were studying the drivers manual and they have changed everything since 19(cleared his throat). I really had to work at that. Then we had to take the driver's test too. We took the written part and by an absolute miracle we passed that. Then we had to take the driver's test. I stopped at all the stop signs but it was kind of like a rolling stop. I know I have a blinker but I do not always find it necessary. That was a Wednesday night and we were planning on going to Texas on that following Saturday. Out of my mind and out of my mouths came, "I dread having to take that stupid test." When I said dread, the Holy Spirit said, "Dread is a part of fear." The root word from, "God has not given us a spirit of fear" (2Timothy 1:7), is dread. And I knew from previously, every time I said anything about dread, it was all about fear. I began to reverse the way I was transitioning. I began to think about the grace of God. Peter said in verse 2 of both 1&2Peter, "May the grace of God be multiplied to you." Paul knew that the grace of God was sufficient for us (2Corinthians 12:9).

When we are going through transitions we need the grace of God to multiplied to us. The need the sufficiency of the multiplied grace of God so we can go through what we are going through. When I began to lean into the grace of God a path appeared. Then I found myself becoming grateful.

The Three G's of Transition

When you begin to lean into the Grace of God you become very Grateful.

A grateful attitude begins to rise up and you begin to Give thanks. Thanks for little things, anything, as you begin to do it. You might be a little sarcastic when you start to give thanks saying things like, "Thank you Jesus we have to take that test."

The third G is Generosity. Joanne and I learned when we went to Canada, we had to put ourselves out there. We would go to coffeeshops and talk to people we did not know. We would complement them, always adding value to other people. As soon as I leaned into Grace, Gratitude arose inside of me, and generosity began to flow back out of me. It was not about me anymore, but it was about what my purpose was in life.

James 1:2-4

When it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

[The Passion Translation]

Isn't that awesome? Isn't that Good News?

We know in the King Jimmy version it says, "Count it all joy". Count it all joy means to govern yourself by the joy of the Lord. Not because of what is happening but because of who you know. We govern our life by being grateful and rejoicing in the Lord over all things, knowing that the testing we go through; the trying of our faith; it produces a patience inside of us. The word patience in the Greek means cheerful endurance. So, if I sow rejoicing cheerful endurance shows up. As I begin to endure what I am going through it produces perfection that completes something in me that needs to be completed.

Our endurance has to grow.

Our resilience has to grow.

Our compacity has to grow.

How many of you are going through transitions? Every one of you should raise your hands because you are going through some type of transition. There are a lot of transitions: it could be a transition of moving, in health issues, in relationships, in your career.

We Must Think Transitioning Like God Thinks

We think of transitions in linear: from here to there. That is not how God thinks. I felt like God said to me, "You're going through transitions, and transformations, and testing's, on multiple levels, all at the same time."

We must begin thinking like God thinks as he is moving us forward because we were created on purpose and for a purpose. He is moving us forward for that reason. We have to be instinctively tuned in to recognize that we are going through a transition.

The Canadians said to us, "Are you going back home?" Our answer was, "We don't know where home is." We have no clue where that is. We've lived here for four years; in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for twenty years; went to Iowa for twenty five years; and Canada for three years. I grew up in Florida and Joanne grew up in Louisiana. We were stationed in the Air Force up in Delaware. We don't know where home is. . .it don't really matter because God is transitioning us for a transformation and we have to understand that is what is going on.

Put Your Toys Away

I had coffee with a friend of mine the other day. She exercises with young mothers who have one year old's. Her name is Madeline, she was one of the choreographers for one of the productions I did when we worked together at William Cary College, years and years ago. She said to me, "I work with these ladies and I say to their children at the end of the time frame, because they bring their children with them, I say, 'Now children put away your toys and get ready to go'. One mother replied, 'Thank you for saying that to the children because I am kind of inconsistent with that.' " When Madeline said that to me I thought, "That's a transition." If you don't teach your children to put away their toys they won't be ready for the next big thing that is coming up in their life. You won't be ready the season you are going into if you don't put your toys away from the last season you just had. Pay attention to how you put your toys away. Don't drag the wrong things into the next season.

Transition is about putting your toys away; putting your old memories away. You can live in your past if you want to, but Paul did not do that or he would have never been transformed. If Paul had not allowed God to transition him to the point that he could put all the stuff behind him, and stretch toward what was ahead for him, he would have never had the Apostolic ministry God gave him. We have to do that and stretch toward what God is transforming us into.

Transition is God Resolutely Turning Us

In Romans 1:11, Paul is saying to the Romans, "I just want to be there with you. I want to come to where you Roman Christians are. I want to release a gift to you and establish you in the faith." The word establish means to resolutely turn you in a certain direction. When God is transitioning us, He is establishing us and resolutely turning us in a certain direction.

Transitions will do that with us and for us. God wants to resolutely turn us in a certain direction.

As we think about transitioning, we are learning things as we go through the transition.

Jesus went through transitions. He was baptized in water and immediately went into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. When he came out of that transition he was transformed into the teacher and prophet that he would become in the next few months.

Go knows how to move us from where we are to where we need to go. He is going to resolutely turn you in a certain direction. God is not just transitioning His people, He is transitioning His church. The Church, in this hour, is in a transition.

I see three different types of Churches: the denominational churches; the charismatic churches; and the new churches like what I was a part of in Canada, with all the bells and whistles, all the smoke and all the fun stuff. They are getting hundreds of people saved every year. It is an amazing thing. Here's the thing, we are all the Body of Christ. The Church of God is in transition. We are going to be transformed into what we are going to be for the coming of Christ.

Individually we have to get ready.

We have to get up and put our toys away.

We have to start stretching ourselves in that direction that we need to be going in.

I just have to say this again. . .

God is passionately involved in developing us into something that we could never be without His directions and intervention.

I have been studying in the book of James for months getting ready for this transition.

I find that God rarely leaves us where He finds us.

The book of James is written to scattered people: Jewish Christians that were scattered by persecution. Abraham was scattered, Jacob was scattered, Joseph was scattered, Moses was scattered.

David lived a lot of scattered years between killing Goliath and becoming the king.

Have you ever felt scattered? Well, we have. We have felt scattered.

Understand when you feel that way it's a transition.

At any age, it is a transition.

I want to get that down inside you.

Excuses are Seductive

A lot of times when we are in a transition we find excuses.

Excuses are really seductive.

When you buy into an excuses you begin to think, "Ok, I don't ever have to do that again."

If you buy into excuses you will decide, "Well, I don't have to go there; I don't have to go with those people; I don't have to that, because I have an excuse". "My father did this, my mother did that, when I was little, so on, and so on. . .

Then you begin to wear excuses like armor. Then you become harden against the things God wants to do in your life. We cannot waist any years wearing excuses like armor.

This is why we cannot rely upon excuses, they are seductive.

They mark us in a way that we should not be marked.

Jesus did not have any excuses.

He made every decision that he made in the context of the big picture.

We need to make all of our decisions in the context of the bigger picture, not our little tiny life.

We need to think bigger than that because we are all a part of the kingdom of God, which is in us and around us. You have to understand that we have to think differently. When Jesus found that Lazarus was dying He did not run to Lazarus to resurrect him. Lazarus had to die so that Jesus could raise him from the dead. Jesus new that and he was not going to be in a hurry. He did not make a decision based upon the emotion of the moment. He made a decision in the context of the bigger picture. He knew that the resurrection of Lazarus would divide the company. There would be those who jeered Jesus forward and there would be those who jeered him backwards to the cross. Jesus had to go to the cross and die so he could be resurrected. The death of Lazarus was part of what moved the crowed to condemn him and send him to the cross.

You have to make decisions in the context of the bigger picture of what is going on in the kingdom.

You are valuable to the kingdom and God is totally and passionately invested in transitioning and transforming you into who you need to be.

You can then do things you could never imagine in your life.

God wants to; He loves you; He loves watching you changes.

He loves watching us become who He created us to be.

I was reading a book called Resilience by Eric Greitens. I highly recommend it. It is a secular book, but I am always looking at books to find cool phrases I can use in ministry.

He said this,

"People who think us weak will offer us an excuse. People that respect us will offer us a challenge."

He was talking about wounded soldiers coming back from the war zone. People who would feel sorry for them and give them excuses saying, "You know you have served your time and you do not have to do anything, bless your heart." I understand their compassion. Eric was a navy seal who was writing to a navy seal in this book. This is why he said, "The people that respect you will offer you a challenge."

See, a navy seal is used to being challenged. We should become used to being challenged. If we feel sorry for ourselves we will give ourselves excuses. But if we respect ourselves, and what God has made us, we will give ourselves a challenge.

God has called us to be fathered by the Holy Spirit who knows how to father us through this life.

When I looked into the book of James I came up with seven principles that are steps which entwine with each other to challenge us.

  1. Opportunities.

In every transition, trial, and difficulty you go through look for the opportunity because it is in there. There is an opportunity to grow and change. [James 1:5,12]

  1. Testing. Your testing will produce what it takes to grow and change. [James 1:3-4,12]

  2. Listening. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry. Because you are going through a difficult time. You have to quick to listen so you will receive wisdom. [James 1:19-20]

  3. Wisdom. God has wisdom for you that you must listen to and be sensitive to instinctively do what He keeps bring back to you [James 1:5, 3:17]. Understand that God is stirring things up inside of you. He is hinting of the changes that He wants to make inside of you. In the transition I find all of these principles are true.

  4. Reaching out. When you are going through a difficult time, you almost always try to turn inwardly. It becomes all about "me, and poor me, and dear God nobody has ever been through this before but me, everything is on my shoulders, I don't know what I am going to do, nobody ever understands me." No one understand you. God does, but they don't, and they never will. Remember there is a power in reaching out [James 1:21-27]. In that moment, a few weeks ago, I had to stir myself up and get back in line, because I was beginning to fall into dread. When you begin to reach out in the middle of a crisis or a difficult time, God will reorient you. Reaching Out is:

R - Reorient you, to your purposes and opportunities, when you reach out.

E - Engage you, to reach out to other people, because you are all the sudden in an outward focus.

A - Awaken you, to the needs that are around you.

C- Challenge you, to help solve the needs of others.

H - Humble you, as He invests in you, nurtures you, and graces you. After Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, the disciples came to him with food and he said, "am not hungry, I have meat that you are not even of. My meat is to do the will of the Father" (John 4:27-31). When you begin to reach out, it nurtures you and you begin to feel alive again. Now, it is not just about you and your crisis, it is about adding value to other people around you. This changes your perception. How we receive things really, really matters. Acts of compassion will open doors of influence.

  1. Expectations. Get your hopes up. [James 5:7]

  2. Grace. Grace is God's divine influence on our heart and His reflection in your life. Grace is His divine influence in our heart (mind, will, and emotions) and how that reflex in our life. [James 4:6]

Four Important HUGE Questions

If you can answer these four questions you will know that you are in transition and where it is going.

H - What are your HUNGRY for? What are you really hungry for? This is not just what you want God to do, but ask yourself, "What are you really hungry for?"

U - Where is your UNDERSTANDING limited?

G - Where is the GRACE of God strongest in your life?

E - What are the EXPECTATONS and why?

When you begin to answer these four questions you begin to identify yourself and you know where you are going. I am challenge you to do your homework and figure this out. Then respond accordingly.

I Challenge You to Walk It Out

God gives us revelation knowledge in times of transition.

It is in the times of transformation that we have to walk it out.

Are you satisfied with being a traditional version of your age?

Or

Are you challenged to be the transformational version of your age?

This goes for young people and older people and everybody in the middle.

I refuse to be the traditional version of my age.

I choose to be challenged and become the transformational version of my age.

God has so much for us I want to encourage you to have around you the right people.

Have the right people around you that will challenge you and transform your limitations.

You do not need people around you that duplicate you.

I need people around me that will challenge me and transform my limitations.

This is going to be people I hang with, books I read, podcast I listen to.

I need more impute so I can give more output.

I have to let the Holy Spirit father me through every transition I go through because He wants to transform me for who I need to be for this very moment.

The Apostle Paul did this by forgetting the things that were behind him and he stretched for the things that were ahead of him.

Romans 12:2 talks about a transformation that God wants to unlock the heart of unbelieve that is in all the people in the earth. We are the ones that are sent to do that very thing.

If we are going to be outward focused in what we are transitioning through in our difficulties, we have to understand we must push the envelope more and really reach out to the people in unbelieve. God will use us to unlock the unbelieve in their heart.

My take away for you today is very simple but pretty strong:

God is passionately invested in developing us into someone we can never become without His direction and His intervention.

The Word of God says in James 1:2-4:

When it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

[The Passion Translation]

If you lack wisdom, ask of God.

If you are going through a transition and you know it, and you want to go right into the transformation by being willing to do whatever God wants to do in you, to enjoy "the best is yet to come";

If you are really willing to let God change you and challenge you;

If you are going to buy into this whole process by counting it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations;

If you are willing to let God transition you into the person you are supposed to be, to the transformational version of your age;

This prayer is for you:

"Father, in Jesus name, I thank you that right now you would reorient us in the directions that we need to be going in. That you would engage us in this process. Lord, God, that you would awaken us to all the possibilities, and all the things that you say you want to do on this planet. Lord, God, we want to be those people that you do this through. Thank you Father. We take up the challenge; we humble ourselves before you; we choose to invest in us so we can invest in other. We choose to be nurtured by doing the will of the Father in all that we do. Holy Spirit father us, father us, father us. Heavenly Father, thank you for the abundant, overwhelming, overflowing grace that is multiplied to us over and over. I speak grace to those reading this message, in the name of Jesus. Thank you, Father, God, that grace is overwhelming to us and empowers us. Thank you Father, for your grace and that a great moment of gratitude is raising up in the ones reading these words, and may their rejoicing hit the limits, in Jesus name, as they begin to move out into their cities to change lives by unlocking unbeliever's hearts, in Jesus name, Amen!!!"

Footnote: Gene Brack is working on a book that will define this study in greater deal. We will post a link to the book once it is published.

#Transformed #ListAll