The Intersection of the Cross

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I was sitting in church, not long ago, gazing at the back of the stage during our opening worship song. Contemplating a question that came to me as I was staring at the cross.

What significance is there in the point where the vertical timber and horizontal timber meet? The intersection?

I quickly realized that was roughly where the crown of thorns sat on Jesus head when he slumped to his death. I often heard the cross used as an analogy for where the temporal or horizontal meets the spiritual or vertical plane. Maybe that’s it.

What are you thinking right now? That place where the cross intersects; is there some symbolic meaning there?

I had to assign something to it. God often speaks to me in moments like this. Not audibly, but in my mind and my heart. I just knew there was something there.

Here’s the thing. I walked away that day without an interpretation. In fact, I started writing this without real clarity asking God; what do you want to show me in this today?

Here’s what I heard:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) Jesus is King. He is the head of the church. He is our advocate. He is our Savior. He is our guide. He is Love. He taught us how to love. He has a purpose for our life.

By nature I’m a planner. It’s in my DNA. I love to dream and document. Plan and implement. I love when a well thought out plan comes together. I love creating strategy and steps to get where I want to go or think I want to go – in business and in life. What I do know is there were many plans that I orchestrated that were a disaster. Businesses that failed. Relationships that were decimated. Balance sheets that imploded. Why? Because I didn’t take them to the intersection of the cross. The place where God says; “these are my plans and my desires and my will for your life” The vertical comes in synch with the horizontal. The next steps are God’s to decide. He paints the vision, he reveals the dreams for my life and most of them are executed in quite a different way than I ever planned. That’s why I love it so much when a plan comes together and it really wasn’t mine.

A company that I lead wasn’t even in existence a year ago. I was in church chatting with a friend when she mentioned there was some one that knew of me and wanted to meet me. I had no idea what she or they had in mind and she didn’t give me much to go on. Normally I’d say thanks but no thanks without a little more information. I did believe it to be business related and a topic that centered around an existing retail specialty food business that I’ve been stewarding for God for nearly 20 years. I just followed the bread crumb. 10 months later we’re about to export our first shipment of jams, butters, and salsas to the country of Panama where God is and has been preparing the hearts of the Panamanian people to receive the blessing he has in store. Not just by feeding their tummy’s but also by feeding their souls with the love of Jesus. God has clearly showed my wife and I that we will be serving the least reached people group; the top 3% or wealthiest (our distributor and colleagues) and the disenfranchised of society that needs Jesus equally as much. The forgotten. The poor.

Now that’s serious plans revealed that weren’t even on the radar screen. I did know this. That God had an amazing plan of ministry for my wife and me. I just never dreamed it would be in Panama and throughout Central and South America.

You see there is a place where the intersection of this world and the unseen world meet. It IS the intersection of the cross and it always will be.

Do you trust Him enough to lay down your plans and engage His purposes; not matter what that may look like or what the “cost”?

We have that assurance that Jesus death and resurrection claimed the ultimate victory over sin. And we also know that he has a plan for our life. Not one that’s built on doing anything except trusting Him to lead us in it, showing Himself every day and in every way possible and sometimes in the seemingly down right impossible.

The next time you gaze at the cross think of the intersection of the vertical and horizontal as that place of unity in life with God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and you.

When God Just Confirms it All

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Above: Ruben Moreno (Center), in Panama City, Panama prepares to execute trade agreements with two US companies. Steven Adams (Right), President & CEO of ICC Global Trade, LLC and Bob Horning (Left), President of Way Tea.

I’m just so blessed today to write a short excerpt from a recent experience I had in Panama City, Panama.

ICC Global Trade, LLC and it’s brand of specialty foods, Intercourse Canning Company, are two organizations I’ve been fortunate enough for God to have me steward for nearly 20 years. ICC Global Trade was more recently formed to do international distribution and sales of the ICC brand of jar good and specialty food products.

We just returned from Panama City where we announced our first international trade deal with a wonderful gentleman, Ruben Moreno. For months God has showed us, through a host of events and relationships built here in the US, that we were to take on this expansion to foreign markets. NOT just as a way to do business but to do business AS missions and contribute a portion of the profit to support the local community in-country.

After an exhausting but exhilarating week of touring Panama City and the surrounding areas with our hosts and business “partners”, Karen and Ruben Moreno, we executed an exclusive distributor agreement to export a large variety of jar goods and dip mixes to Panama.

All along we knew this was an important part of the journey my wife and I had been called. Especially after so many difficult years of God allowing the refiners fire form the clay of our lives for just a time as this.

After the press conference where I spoke, as did my partner, a native Panamanian women came up to me and simply said that she was praying for us in advance; although unaware of the circumstances she found herself in. Not really a part of the event she was moved to tears and in her broken English said how she saw Jesus in my countenance, spirit and the message that I delivered. She prophesied not only business success but confirmed our commitment to contribute a portion of all profits made in Panama through a trust to help widows, orphans, and the disenfranchised in any way God would call us.

I was equally moved to tears when God showed up and showed off this day and we gave Him all the credit. I love that. i wouldn’t want to live any other way.

When It All Comes Together

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I sat down recently to read three different devotional books that I’ve been dipping in and out of for a couple years now.  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Knowing the Heart of God by John Eldredge, and Every Day in His Presence by Charles Stanley. I highly recommend all of them if you haven’t sampled the brilliance in each. Uncanny what happened next. As I turned to each entry on that date the parallels for me personally were breathtaking. I knew in that exact moment that God reached into my heart and sent me a personal message. One of encouragement, comfort and love. It all came together just the way I needed to hear it.

“Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental check-lists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. There is a better way to find security in this life. Instead of scrutinizing your checklist, focus your attention on My Presence with you. This continual contact with Me will keep you in My Peace. Moreover, I will help you sort out what is important and what is not. Fix your eyes not on what is seen (your circumstances), but on what is unseen (My Presence)” (Excerpt from Jesus Calling – Sarah Young)

Ok, Sarah Young was reading my mail that day. What an incredible message for many of us but in particular ME. Wow.

Here’s more.

“We cannot control what the Romancer is up to, but there is a posture we can take. So let me ask – are you willing to let go of our insistence to control, meaning, to allow for a life that exists beyond the realm of analysis, to let some portions of your life be impractical, to cease evaluating all things based on their utility and function? To enter the Romance we must slow down, or we will miss the wooing. Turn off the news and put on some music. Take a walk. Better still, what was it that stirred in your heart over the years? Go and get it back.” (Excerpt from Fathered by God (Inside of – Knowing the Heart of God) – John Eldredge)

Mr. Eldredge, huh? Again this one hits me to say, Steve, “Just be in my presence.” I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend about Mary and Martha. I just want to have Mary’s spirit and sit at Jesus feet, not hustle and bustle around doing and not being present; as Martha did. God cares so much more about who we’re becoming than what we’re doing for Him.

And lastly;

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20 NIV

Dr. Stanley wrote: “You can endure. You will overcome this. How? By turning to the Savior often-in prayer and through his Word. Whenever you feel weak, go to His throne of grace and find the strength you need-even if it’s every two minutes. He will sustain you. He wants to teach you His ways, build His character in you, and grow your faith. Just rely on Him. In His presence … wait expectantly for His deliverance.” (Excerpt from Every Day in His Presence – Dr. Charles Stanley)

That day, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that God loves me and wants to daily invade my life and yours with the message of hope, love, encouragement, or whatever you need in that moment in time.

It’s absolutely uncanny how God reaches into our lives in ways like this – When It All Comes Together.

Your “Authentic Swing” and Your Decision to Find It

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It’s that time of the year when those of us who cherish the game of golf start thinking about how to get out there regularly and what we need to do to improve our game. We just watched the Masters and only wish we were that good. Here’s a little something to think about in parallel to all those difficult decisions that you need to make along the way.

Picture yourself standing on the first tee. It’s a new day, fresh start. You’re optimistic. Maybe this will be the one. The day I break a hundred, or 90, or 80. Whatever that big dream is that’ll give you bragging rights until the next round.

Now picture that huge decision that’s lurking large in front of you. The options are as wide as the fairway, or maybe narrow like the landing area. Whatever it is, it could change your life forever, or at least the foreseeable future. (pun intended). What club should I use? Driver, if I can bear a possible hook or slice and still be in play.  If that decision lands the ball in the right spot, now I can play with a shorter club, less risky. Maybe it’s a one club choice on that par 3 and I just need to hit the green before the next move. Much easier to putt than chip and I can get a little closer to the hole; my objective. It’ll be one step more in line with that big dream. On in two and one putt is still a par though, so if I come up short there’s still a chance to save it. Don’t be hard on yourself. Re-assess and always be moving forward.

What about that fairway trap, or water along the left side? How about the sand around the green? What if I hit it long and into the hazard? So many ways to get it wrong but if I don’t persist what’s the point?

All the decisions we make in life have risk involved. None are a sure thing; even the simple ones. But as you decide to take action on those dreams and pursue the “better” life (however you define that) you’ll have the necessary clubs in the bag to advance the ball. Get to a place that’s one step closer to fulfilling your life’s purpose.

It really is about advancing the ball. Advancing the dream. Being intentional day in and day out. So the hacker muffs one off the tee but then hits a solid 3 wood into the middle of the fairway. That’s life. He can still meet HIS objective. Maybe it’s double bogie for the hole for him and birdie for you. Work at the pace and talent level that God gave you. You’re a unique creature. Celebrate that and set the mark.

God gave you an “authentic swing” as Bagger Vance mused. You may have lost it or you may not have found it yet. But it’s out there.  No, it’s in there. Right inside of you.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Your creator has given you a built in “Authentic Swing” different than all others. Go for it, ask for it, or just live it. Sometimes it’s that simple.

The Quail Just Kept Coming!

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I was listening to my favorite Bible teacher the other day speaking about the people of Israel and they’re complaint against the day in day out supply of manna; requesting of God meat to satisfy them. All the while grumbling about how tired they were of wandering in the wilderness and eating the same food. Can you imagine they even suggested they’d be better off being back in Egypt.

It struck me that all that complaining about God’s perfect provision resulted in a swarm of quail. Quail in the morning, quail in the afternoon and quail at night. Quail coming out of their nostrils.  Then he struck then down with a plague due to their obsessions.

So what’s that got to do with our behavior as Christians? Think about it. God knows what’s best for us yet we continue to ask for what we believe is better. The crazy thing is He’ll actually give us what we want. Then we realize just how destructive our choices can be when deciding to ignore God’s perfect plan for our lives. Be careful what you ask for? You actually may get it, then what happens when it virtually destroys us.

I was convinced that a business partnership I was involved in launching back in the 80’s was just for me.  The perfect position as a young man who cared mostly about accumulating stuff than pleasing God.  I deceived myself by believing that being unequally yoked with unbelievers only applied to marriage. WRONG. It cost me everything. My finances, my family, and ultimately my freedom. One of my partners decided there wasn’t enough money to  go around and helped himself to some of ours (a bunch of it) and perpetrated fraud on our clients at the same time.  Hmmm……… Didn’t see that coming.

Unintended consequences of bad choices.  God’ll let you have it. If that’s what you really want.

As a nation we decided that a woman’s right to choose would replace the sanctity of life. Since Roe v. Wade over 55 million babies have been killed. If you’re 18 years old or younger half of your generation didn’t make it out of their mother’s womb. If you’d substitute the names of those 55 million little ones for the names on the Vietnam War Memorial, it would be 80 miles long. That gives it a little perspective.  Here’s the thing though, God forgives us. No guilt if you were one of those Mother’s. There’s always redemption and love wins out.

Here’s the best news of all. God escorted His people into the Promised Land even though they did a lot to re-direct His efforts. His will prevailed and His promises were kept.

We have that same assurance if we follow Him. Don’t let the enemy distract you. We live in a world at war. Don’t ever forget it. Place the armor on daily and know God loves you and wants the best for you. Follow his cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. Eat his manna. It’s always sweet and always the best for us. Be patient and walk in that assurance.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

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Above: Barnabas – Son of Encouragement

Unconditional Love.  It’s all about establishing trust. When our only daughter (only child for that matter) headed off to college it became painfully obvious that my wife and me were about to experience a “loss” in our life that we only understood on paper, not in reality. After 19 years, with 3 only children around the household (my wife, daughter and I), there was a pretty inseparable bond that had formed. Some might call that codependency. We called it camaraderie and love.  Total love; total trust. The sort of glimpse that God gives us into His heart towards His sons & daughters.

Fast forward only a few months and we just know a replacement “child” must come from somewhere. Let’s face it we can’t produce one ourselves anymore so let’s go buy one.  I mean, come on. Can’t live this way for too long, right? Enter Barnabas. A tiny little toy poodle (you can see him in the photo the day he came home). Before too long we understand why dog spelled backwards is God. Whoa, talk about unconditional love. He doesn’t talk back, he listens most of the time, if we’re lucky he’ll do his business out back; but a little grace in that area goes a long way. Here’s the best part. I can leave and come back in 5 minutes and he acts like I’ve been gone for a year. Jumping, rolling, licking, panting, spinning. You name it. To this day, 13 years later, he still runs at me and leaps off the ground into my arms. We started that a long time ago and that, my friends, is TRUST. A 10lb. poodle being airborne the way he does is pretty risky. Haven’t dropped him yet.

God’s Word says He’s as excited as Barnabas is to see us love Him, follow Him and seek His heart. No mistake Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”.  He’s been that and a lot more. For you dog lovers out there, you know what I’m talking about.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he defines it as God defines it.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7. A very familiar passage.

We know that God sacrificed the ultimate on our behalf.  His Son. That’s a mind blower.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (atonement and substitute for what we deserve) for our sins. I John 4:9-10.

The toughest part for us, as human beings, is to accept this Love and in turn pay it forward into other people’s lives that we contact daily. When we do, we feel like Barnabas – The son of Encouragement. That’s just a little glimpse of how God sees us.

Genius – It’s In Every One of Us

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When you think about the unique nature of every human being we all possess the ability to think, create, change, learn, understand and be understood. Sort of a created geography, a confluence of inherited flows, and a conglomerate of all our past and present experiences. Then there’s the DNA that exists in us from generations past; all the way back to creation. At one time we were in prefect harmony with our Creator, our God. Unique in every way, but perfect in every way. There’s memories, hurts, triumphs, and untold stories yet to be lived out in each one of our lives.

To live out our genius is to live out the intersection between what we’ve inherited and all that we’ve been influenced by since conception.

David Whyte, a Welsh Poet I often read, says this about Genius:

“Genius is both a specific gift and a possibility that has not yet occurred; it is not a fixed internal commodity to be exploited and brought to the surface but a conversation to be followed, deepened, understood and celebrated. Genius is the meeting between inheritance and horizon, between what has been told, and what can be told, and what is yet to be told……”

I love that. There’s genius in every single human being on this planet. Take the time to celebrate your genius, contemplate your unique nature and what you bring to this world; different than any other person that ever existed, exists today, or ever will exist.

The Most Important Question You May Ever Ask Yourself!

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What’s in Your Top Box?

It’s a question I heard recently from Bill Hybels at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit. Bob Buford was asked the same question from a high powered strategic planner he hired as he was considering how to move from success to significance in the second half of his life.

I’ve asked that question of myself more than once during my 35 year career as a business owner, employee and leader.

It’s a question that each one of us needs to ask ourselves. Whether in our business, our home, our ministry, or in any role where people look to us to bring a sense of purpose to our mission.

So what do I mean by your Top Box? Every day we wake up to limitless potential. So often we look at the day as just one more 24 hour period of meandering through life just grinding it out to get to the thing we love most; weekends and holidays. Wondering what it is that we’ve been placed on this planet to do or who we were meant to be. Could that be more depressing? We were created with a purpose and need to ask the right questions and seek out the wisdom to determine why. Mark Twain nailed it when he said this – “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” So think about it. As you consider what the driving force is behind why you do what you do, ask yourself what’s really in my Top Box?

A simple parallel may be considered as you envision an old, deeply rooted tree. The root system represents our core values, beliefs and mission. Who we are and why we exist. The trunk, our operating principles. How we do things. The branches represent the culture or behaviors that exist in our organization. The fruit – The Results. Those results ultimately reflect back to the roots; our mission and the WHY behind doing what we do.

Besides coaching and consulting with CEO’s and business owners I’ve had the privilege of owning and leading a small business that provides our guests with some of the best food you can pack in a glass jar.  Now in our 19th year in operation and located in the village of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, Intercourse Canning Company (ICC) offers a seemingly countless variety of canned edibles. You’ll find pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, relishes, salsas, sauces, fruits, dressings and more on our shelves. You name it. That’s the real “fruit” of the labor of many hard working folks and originating with our Creator. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are obvious. The WHY? Not so much.  You might say, “To feed people.” I say it’s more than that. It’s to care for those, while on vacation, who are looking for a place to enjoy themselves and disconnect from the pressures of life. Yes, they purchase a specially crafted and unique food but really it’s about the experience they have when they walk through our front doors. To graze on incredible samples of a variety of goodies; to see how canning was done the old fashioned way and learn how it all started. Our team members are charged with the mission to make the experience a special and memorable one. That’s the “Why.” To create a moment that they’ll talk about and enjoy for quite some time and when chowing down on the “fruit of our labor” they smile about the respite from life during their visit.

Howard Schultz, who built Starbucks, challenges his team to remember that “we don’t just sell coffee; we provide a third place in people’s lives. A critically important space between their work and home for people to gather their thoughts or gather with friends. This is for sure. Our why is so much deeper than selling coffee and it’s worth giving our best efforts to.”

In order to accomplish its vision, Southwest Airlines needs every one of its executives, pilots, and employees to work together for a common purpose. A paycheck is usually enough to get most people to work on time, but only an inspiring purpose beyond a paycheck will encourage people to go the extra mile. According to Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, “Southwest is a great place to work and brings the greatest joy because we have such meaningful purpose.” A purpose should answer the question, “Why do we exist?” Southwest has stated the following purpose:

 “We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Southwest Airlines has been operating for 45 years. Remarkably, after 42 consecutive years of profitably, they never rest on their laurels. Like all true customer service champs, Southwest executives and employees are always striving to improve their service, culture, and to create even more loyal customers.

Reflecting on your unique why will reveal that whatever you have in your “Top Box” is either fueling you to more dizzying heights of significance or forcing you to re-think exactly why it is that you do what you do. If it’s just for money I challenge every one of you to go deeper.

I want to ask you something again, and depending on your answer, may not only change YOUR life but countless others you serve, for an eternity.

What is in your top box?

Exit Planning – What does that look like in a Self-Managing Company?

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Let’s examine what your exit strategy might look like as you work toward building a self-managing company. Or should you even have one?

Most entrepreneurs have this idea that they’ll work forever; or at least until the day before they die. Is that really a good idea?

For the purposes of this post I’d like to identify 3 types of entrepreneurs. Survival, Achievement and Lifestyle. As in any start-up there are sometimes months and even years of just getting by. Scraping for every last available dollar to keep the venture going. Building a clientele and a business is no task for the weak at heart.  As opportunities for growth become more a way of life and the viability of the business is proven out I’d shift categories to Achievement. Profit is evident, debt being eliminated, unless productive debt, and a shift to more consecutive quarters of positive earnings provides a bit of a cushion for the cycles to come. Lastly, a Lifestyle entrepreneur is able to choose exactly how he or she may want to balance their life between work, family, faith, social, physical, philanthropic and almost any other category of life you’d like to toss in to mix. Call it work/life balance.

What an incredible concept to be able to live a Lifestyle that affords the CEO opportunity to lead in their strengths and passions. They can then build a team around them that can do the same and create a “self-managing” culture and operation that runs flawlessly on all cylinders; at least for a while. Don’t get used to that idea for too long. Yet I digress.

I’ve often wondered if it just makes sense to let it run or get out while you’re on top. Two vastly different philosophies and I’ve seen them both work quite nicely but it takes a lot of fortitude to stick it out. Re-invention on a regular basis is inevitable needed; not matter what the business.

Steven Sasson as an engineer at Eastman Kodak invented and built the first electronic camera using a charge-coupled device image sensor in 1975. But, the first name that comes to mind when I think digital camera isn’t Kodak. How about Nikon or Canon. Being a technology or even local category leader doesn’t guarantee success. Far from it. Owning and operating a small business has even greater challenges.

So what do we do when we decide to wind it up; or down depending on your perspective. Sell it, keep it, exit but stay connected, or succeed to a family member or colleague. A lot of choices.

Here’s 20 questions supplied by the Business Enterprise Institute in Denver, Colorado. Just happens to be where my daughter lives. Hey Steph!

Consider these questions seriously as you plan your exit.

    1. When would you like to be done working in your business?
    2. After you leave your business how much cash will you need (each year) to achieve your personal financial objectives?
    3. Let’s forget for a moment about who can afford to buy your company. In a perfect world, to whom would you like to sell your company?
    4. What recommendations have your current advisors made about your eventual exit? Have they urged you to start planning your exit? Have they suggested that you assemble a team of experienced Exit Planning advisors?
    5. As you think about leaving your business, what keeps you up at night?
    6. What will you do after you are no longer working in your business every day?
    7. What is your business worth? How do you know?
    8. What are you currently doing to enhance the value of your company?
    9. Are you the primary (or only) sales driver in your company?
    10. Who handles the day-to-day operations of your company?
    11. Tell me about the employees that play a significant role in the operation of your company.
    12. What kind of burden would it create if they were to leave?
    13. What have you done to motivate and reward those employees to grow the value of your company?
    14. How have you “handcuffed” them to your business?
    15. Has anyone offered to buy your company in the last few years? What happened?
    16. A. (If the business is co-owned): Do you and your partner have a buy-sell agreement in place? When was the last time you reviewed that agreement? Is that buy-sell agreement funded? When was the last time you had a formal valuation prepared for your company?
    17. (Sole Owner) What arrangements have you made to explain to your family what you want to happen with your company if you are no longer around?
    18. If you could no longer run your company, what arrangements have you made to make sure that your family will benefit from your life’s work?
    19. Tell me about any Estate Planning you have done.
    20. Who do you turn to for advice as it relates to your business?

This is serious business; your future is at stake and many of those you love.

By all means have some fun planning this. It’s a time of celebration and transition. Make it count. Keep the legacy alive.

The Present Will of God

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Every time I think of the challenge of actually knowing God’s will I get excited about the possibilities but apprehensive about my experiences where I didn’t hear well, interpret what I heard well, or just flat out missed it.

As you read this know that God is speaking truth and He so wants to meet you in the place where you are. Whether in total peace or total chaos, He loves you. He has a will for you, He has a will for your family, He has a will inside of your calling and your gifting.

Books have been written on this subject. Actually volumes of work on knowing God’s will. I want to focus on three categories. God’s perfect will, His permissive will and His present will. Wait, what do I mean by present will?

I set you up. Yeah sorry. Perfect and permissive will, that’s way too complicated. Let’s just focus on present will.

In this moment God has a very specific will for you. Let me say it again – IN THIS MOMENT. How much of our lives do we live either in the past or in the future? I like to call those the “two thieves.” These are regrets of the past and the anxiety of the future. They can steal our joy in the present.  Thieves they are. I liken them to the thief that hung next to Jesus on the cross.  Full of self-pity, judgement and piety. If we hang out in those places we’ll miss the blessing right beside us. In this case, he missed an eternity by not seeing the present as a gift from God.

Every day and in every moment God is available to show us His present will. I love this verse. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV) Starting with a basic trust that God is who He says He is gives us the confidence to seek Him in the present. Have you ever fired up a little “Oh God help me” prayer? Of course you have, we all have. And guess what? He wants to help you but first let’s get something straight, relationship is paramount. He wants to give us good things but He wants primarily to develop trust and for us to abide in Him EVERY moment. I was with a friend not long ago sharing and praying for her friend who’s 8-week old baby was rushed to the NIC unit of a well-known medical facility near us with a near fatal respiratory virus. We all wondered what God’s present will looked like then as we desperately prayed for healing.  God, is it possible that your present will would be for this baby to come home to be with you at such a young age? No one knew but we all prayed not knowing but still believing. Thank God He answered the prayer by healing this little one.

Is your marriage falling apart, did you lose your job or a family member or friend to cancer? Are your finances a complete disaster? You can’t explain the early Alzheimer’s diagnosis or car wreck that took your best friend’s life. Is that God’s present will? Huh? I’m not sure how to answer that. I do know the one who can though.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Let’s take it a step further and see what God does if we’re willing to do even this:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2nd Chronicles 7:14

We all need healing and often times our present circumstances are a result of wounds in our life, missteps in our decision making process, flat-out sin enveloping our world, or the spiritual battles that the enemy delights in waging against us. In all of those circumstances God wants to “heal our land.” He also wants to bless us with grace upon grace. First and foremost he wants a personal relationship with us. He wants us to seek his face moment by moment, and in so doing His present will WILL be revealed.

Do these simple things and cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you. Don’t get bogged down in the past and future, take the present as a gift and look into the eyes of Jesus. He will show you his present and most critical will and it is that we LOVE Him and turn over our life to Him today and every day.