Wow, how time seems to fly by when life is full of events. Just in the past two months we have ventured into the world of having a daughter enter the exciting days of high school and actually attending school for the first time in her life. It has been quite the new schedule adjustment for our family, but looking forward to what God is going to do through her life. So please join us in praying for her on this portion of her journey through life.
I am amazed at how close we are to actually having the children's book ready to go. Dave Olson has been working very hard on the illustrations for this story that was written nearly a year and a half ago. I cannot tell you how excited I am about announcing when this project is complete. Please pray for God to use this story for His glory just as he used the initial video of Precious and her rejection.
So, now for the "Real, Raw, Ray" moment. And I will be honest, this one is going to be tough for me. SO please bear with me.
For several months I have known that God was calling me to come and rest with Him so my spirit could be renewed. He was calling me to take a break from shooting morning video devotionals so I could be rejuvenated by simply spending time with Him. But I chose to press on because "there are people who need and/or expect these everyday Lord." So I disobeyed his calling and kept on going. I knew that this choice was one of stubbornness and rebellion on my part, but what I was failing to admit was that my ministry had become an idol to me.
Yes, I know that sounds harsh, but it is true. I allowed myself to become flattered by the feeling that I was needed. I allowed myself to believe people needed me and needed to hear a #lessonsfromsheep and forgot what they actually needed was God and to hear from Him. I forgot that what I needed was to decrease so Jesus could increase.
This reality really set in, after about a month of ignoring His call for me to rest, then I read an instagram post in which Amos 5 was quoted: "I can't stand your religious meetings, I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions, I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I'm sick of your fund raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I've had all I could take of your ego music WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SANG JUST TO ME?" Amos 5:21-24
It was the last part that convicted me as I heard in my spirit, "When was the last time you shot a devotional video FOR ME?" This stung me, struck my heart, and still even yet I pressed on. I figured if I just kept going, eventually I would be back to sharing what He wanted shared. My devotionals became more "here is a nugget of truth" vs "here is what God wants his sheep to know." My messages became nothing more than offering stale leftovers from things I already knew. For that, I want to apologize to you (and all you know who listen to Enjoy the Shepherd that you can share this with.)
Despite the sting, I pressed on until God intervened this past weekend through the most unusual circumstances. In my spirit I knew He had been calling me to come and be still with Him, but I did not want to disappoint anyone who felt they needed the encouragement, and if I am honest, I did not want to leave the front of the camera. I like being liked and looked up to. It runs in my DNA. But God allowed some interesting, and awkward events to awaken me at 3 am this past Saturday and bring me to a time of just being with him. As I read Scripture (the book of Daniel) along with a book called Living Water by Brother Yun (https://www.amazon.com/Living-Water-Teachings-International-Bestselling/dp/0310285542/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505744327&sr=8-1&keywords=living+water+brother+yun), my heart was crushed at the event of my rebellion against my Good Shepherd.
Brother Yun shared some of his journey as he ministered to his people in China. He spoke of getting so wrapped up in ministry that it became an idol to him. His words of giving his listeners stale bread to chew on struck a cord in my heart. I knew God was using this Brother Yun to speak directly to me. One sentence really stuck out, "We can trick ourselves into thinking everything is all right, because the people seem to be blessed by what we have to say."
This one sentence described the very reason I have been rebelling against his call to come away and be still with him because it seemed people were still being blessed. How could I take that away from them. "God, they need me and they need to hear what I have to share." And in His ever so tender way, God replied to me in the early hours of that morning by saying, "No son, they need Me and they need to learn to hear what I have to say to them. And by the way, so do you!"
Brother Yun wrote, "There are times when God calls us to be alone for a time so that we can get to know Him more intimately."
That is where I stand today. I have had to repent of my pride, my arrogance, my rebellion, my stubbornness, and my idolatry of ministry. I now realize that the verse "The Lord is my Shepherd" means much more than just saying I am under his care. It also means I, as his sheep, have to surrender my will to his and admit my desperate need for Him. I have asked my wife to forgive my stubbornness in this pursuit of my idol of ministry, and I am now asking you to forgive me for offering stale leftovers instead of waiting on the fresh flowing of the living waters of the Holy Spirit through me. I ask you forgive me for pursuing my own personal platform instead of bending my knees to His way and His platform.
I am so grateful that we serve a patient and long-suffering Good Shepherd who has not given up on His people, including me. I am grateful He has allowed me to see my need to come and rest with Him so that I can enjoy the feast of being in His presence. I am also very grateful for you and your willingness to forgive me and be patient with me as I pursue His face.
SO you may ask, what does this mean for Enjoy the Shepherd going forward? Here is what I know for right now.
1. I will be taking a break from producing new devotional videos on a daily basis. I started this journey off by saying I would only record a video when I sensed He was leading me, and I honestly can say I strayed from that very early on in this journey. However, when I sense He is saying to open my mouth, I promise I will.
2. In the mean time, past videos will be chosen and re-shared on FB with the help of my wife and kids.
3. I sense God is wanting me to finish a couple of projects we started earlier this year including the children's book and a series/book called "Enjoying the Shepherd Like Jesus." As I wait on the Lord, please pray His fresh anointing will be over these two things specifically.
4. I have also been studying Scripture this year looking at the "Impact on Jesus" each portion of the Old Testament had and asking the Spirit to impact me the same way. I sense God is leading me to focus more on this and share as He leads.
5. I am committing myself to "surrender" to my Good Shepherd and for this time go and "Be Still" before him and to Wait on the Lord. You can pray that I will obey Psalm 27:13-14 and that I will be strong enough and courageous enough to Wait on the Lord.
6. I have been praying, along with others, both for myself and them Ephesians 1:15-23 and Colossians 1:9-10, focusing on my desire for God to give us (fill us) with the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, so that (for the purpose of) knowing Him more deeply. This has become the cry of my heart as I long to know Him better and the hope we have in Him and the power He has toward us! Please join me in this prayer.
7. I also long for the Spirit to move as only He can through His people and spark a true rising up of His people and the salvation (finding of) all His lost sheep. I long for Jesus to return, but I am confident He will not be sent until he has completed his mission of gathering in his sheep completely. So my heart yearns to be used, to be sent, even among the wolves of the world, in order to lead those lost sheep to his feet. And I know, as we have learned together, the only way I can lead them to His feet is to BE THE ONE willing to stay by His side. Wherever He sends us, He also goes with us, so we are always by his side. I long, I yearn, I passionately desire to Be The One who sits at his feet.
So please be in prayer. I appreciate so much you taking the time to read all these words. I covet your prayers and I appreciate your patience and forgiveness for my short comings. I thank you for allowing God to use me in your life, and I pray that as He once again will lead me out of this alone time with Him, that I will be allowed to humbly lift His name up before you!
As I close, I want to say with the Psalmist:
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us (me), but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness." 115:1
"May the Lord make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heavens and earth." 115:14-15
"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, Equip you with everything good for doing HIS will and may He work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, AMEN!" Hebrews 12:20-21
I love each of you and pray His eternal blessing of the gift of His Spirit on you!