Setting Things Right Again

There are a number of things about me that are weird.  Stick around and I guarantee you will find one for yourself to laugh at.  There really is no limit.  Making new ones every day, but there are some golden oldies that have been around for a few decades.  Wanna hear one?  Here goes.

Sometime around the age of 7, I took it upon myself to do a little project, and I recruited my brother and the neighbor kids in this rampant display of ridiculousness.  Looking back, I even think this was weird, but I do remember it vividly as something that meant a lot to me even though I think everyone thought I was insane.

This is not the mower, but it captures much of what I remember in its stellar good looks!

My Dad had a little push mower.  Green in color with a white Briggs & Stratton motor on top.   The mower ran well, but looked rough. The handle, once chromed, was pitted with rust.  The deck was covered in layers of “grass juice”, dried clippings, and was scratched up from years of use.  The motor was covered in dust, oil, and again, “grass juice”.  

I can’t tell you why, but I remember that I looked at it one day and I decided that it needed to be cleaned up and put back in order.  So, in what can only be described as delegation gone wild, I got 3-4 other kids to join me in cleaning up this mower.  I don’t remember if bribes were involved or how exactly I talked them into it, but they showed up.

So, there we were, armed with a bunch of rags and whatever aerosol products I could scrounge up in the garage that might have some type of solvent properties, we gathered around a 20 inch push mower with the determination to make it shine like new.

I can’t recall how much time we put into the project, but I do remember needing to talk a couple people into coming back to the job and trying to help them capture my vision despite their comments of “waste of time”, “just going to get dirty again”, and “you’re crazy”.  Who knew I was in career training…

At the end of the project I remember standing up, by myself because I had finally been abandoned by my crew, and looking at the mower expecting to be filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Before me sat the fruits of my labor and it was…

Still a scratched up, stained, rusted, and still fairly greasy mower.

There was not a lot of appreciable change to the mower’s appearance.  Yes, the “grass juice had been washed off, and the dried clippings and caked sand were no longer all over it, and there were even parts of the motor that showed the slightest glimmer of shine in the paint, but it still looked rough.  I was disappointed.  It felt like a waste of time with no discernible improvement.

Later that night, Dad asked me about the mess that I had left on the floor of the garage.  Piles of rags, empty spray cans of brake cleaner and WD-40, and the pile of dried clippings we had scraped out from under the mower deck gave evidence of my deeds.  I told him what I had done and said I would go clean up the mess.  I said it was a waste of time anyway.  He said something then that I have not forgotten.

“It might not look like you did a lot on the surface, but what you did do will make a difference.”

He then went on to tell me that in cleaning off the motor, it would run cooler which was better for the motor.  In cleaning the air filter I was protecting the engine from debris that could damage it.  In getting all of the grass clippings and junk scraped off the deck, I was removing stuff that trapped water and created rust so I was helping the deck last longer.

My restoration project did not turn out like I had hoped it would.  There was no obvious change, but it had made an impact for the future.  Because I was willing to take the time and put in the effort, the mower was going to run better and last longer.  It was, in some ways, a success.

I wonder if that was the catalyst that has given me an appreciation for making the old look new and the broken re-usable.  Since then I have been interested in auto restoration, home repair, and recently using reclaimed materials to build things.  It seems like I am always trying to figure out how i can take something broken and realize the value in it.

God saw the value in His broken people and provided a way for us to become new as well.  Through the redeeming death of His Son, we can experience life change and eternal life with God.  On the surface we might not seem that different, but changes are made, and if we submit to the process, those changes will multiply in us until they are seen by those around us.  There is no work that God does in the heart of man that does not yield a result for good.  Let me say that again,

There is no work that God does in the heart of man that does not yield a result for good.

I have reached the end of another book study in the Bible, and it is time to move on.  Colossians taught me a lot about how we are to #SERVEandGROW in life.  We serve God and we serve others.  That is how we grow.  It’s not a difficult formula.  Pretty much just those three steps.  So easy I can follow it!  I have enjoyed the study , and I hope that anyone who read along with me did too.

Now I am going to take a swing at something different.  I have pretty much stuck with books of poetry or doctrine, but now I want to do a book of history.  It will change some of how I post my thoughts, but I will try to keep with the same basic format of a post a day with a verse and a  thought.  Forgive me if the text gets a little small from time to time.

We will be going through the book of Ezra.  This is the story of the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish exile when Babylon took Israel captive.  The city and the temple were destroyed, the “choice” people were taken away, the walls were torn down, and only a few stragglers were left behind.  Jerusalem was in shambles.  A near wasteland.  

God wanted a #Restoration.

God began orchestrating what needed to happen to bring His people home, and He started with the #Restoration of the temple.  Later Nehemiah would follow and rebuild the wall and set the city back in order.

Ezra’s efforts might have seemed a little odd.  In rebuilding a city, would it not make more sense to build a wall first?  Many would agree, but God knew that there needed to be a more important change first.  His presence was needed.  The city would not be complete because the temple was rebuilt, but without the temple, the city might not have been built.  The restoration of Jerusalem needed God more then man.

#Restoration is needed in my life.  There are things I have let go, things I should have taken better care of physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.  Steps need to be taken to scrape out the junk that might be keeping my life from running as God intended.  I may need to wipe away some stuff that lets me see things that need repair.  All in all, I am in need of God’s redeeming, restorative work.

As I read through Ezra, I will be looking for what God has to show me in that regard and sharing my findings as I go along.  I will post them on my Relentless Growth Facebook Page, and I hope you will follow along.  If you see something that speaks to you, let me know!  I would love to talk to you about it.

Relentless Growth requires us to not only keep driving forward, but to be willing to take time to #Restore things that need work.  We have relationships around us that need God’s hand in them.  We have things in our past that we need to learn to overcome and use for God’s glory.  In His hands, there is nothing that is not salvageable.  Give your heart and life to Him and see what He can do with it!

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Psalm 101 for 2017

Note to the reader:  If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I am not posting an image here every day here anymore.  I have decided to move daily image posts to my Relentless Growth Facebook page.  You can find that page, like, and follow here.  This page will be reserved for writing moving forward.  Hope to see you in the Facebook world!

wp-1483279541415.jpgOne of the routines I have right now is reading in Psalms every morning before my feet hit the floor.  I don’t do it to be spiritual or to impress anyone.  I do it because I need it!  Since disciplining myself in this way, I find I have a little more grace to extend and a more positive outlook on the hard days as I have a bit of God’s Word rattling around in my mostly empty skull.

Last week I hit on Psalm 101, and after a couple days of looking at it, reading it, and thinking about it, I began to wonder what David’s thoughts were when he wrote it.  I know he was led by the Spirit to write it, but I wonder what the prompt for it was.

Since we were closing in on the end of 2016 and the thoughts of the New Year, goals, plans and dreams were running through my mind, I began to wonder if this was a “New Year’s Resolution” list for David. Is it possible that this was his list of things that he wanted to work on for the upcoming year?

I mentioned in my last post that I would be sharing more about this chapter and how I wanted to use it for myself in 2017.  Stop and think about it.  This is not a bad list!

  1. I will sing of your love and justice, lord.  I will praise you with songs. – I want to praise God more this year. I want to tell people about His love for me and how He has made changes in this life of mine that He has paid for.
  2. I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. – I want to live a life that doesn’t make people wonder if I am a fake Christian, just putting on a show.  I want people to just believe that God is real to me and that I am the same person in the workplace that I am at home or with my friends. I want to be careful to avoid the things that cause doubts.
  3. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. – I want to protect my eyes from things that are evil. I want to be sure that I am engaging in honest actions with people and avoid anything that will pull me into evil thoughts or actions.
  4. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. – I want to keep my thought life clean and focused on things that give God glory rather than things that give my flesh power.
  5. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. – I want to not only avoid negative talking about others, but also I want to be a voice that speaks up against that behavior.  I want to both be humble and promote humility in others.
  6. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me.  – I want to surround myself with people I can trust for encouragement, correction, love, and joy.  I want to help people live and work with a strong moral code.
  7. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. – I want to bring truth to light in my surroundings. I want to use grace and mercy to uncover the deceptions that are around me and  bring a restoration to the circumstances and people involved.
  8. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the lord from their grip. – I want to be on the lookout for evil every day.  Evil is not usually a person, but evil actions need to be addressed for what they are and they need to be stopped.  In all things, I want God to be glorified where His people work and live.

seo-checklistI don’t know if this was David’s list for a New Year, but I do see where I can take this list and use it as an outline for how I would like to act this year.  If I can even make a little progress on it in my life, that will be a good thing!  There is nothing wrong with a single step as long as it is in the right direction!

2017 is a fresh start.  I have made my plans for this year, and in total, they are pretty big plans!  I will need to be Relentless this year in order to accomplish them.  I will need to keep a strong Focus on the goals.  I will need to be Resilient as obstacles pop up and try to pull me off track.

What do you think?  Would love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment and share!

Happy New Year!

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No Excuses

there-are-no-excuses-4We have all been hearing the news of the Stanford rape victim and the lenient sentence passed down to the rapist.  Yesterday I read the young woman’s letter she had written to her attacker and I was hit with a few different thoughts and emotions.  I know I have not been here lately, and this is a pretty hard thing to come back from a hiatus with, but here we go…

  1.  I am impressed with this woman’s ability to so clearly articulate how she feels after this heinous act.  The way she described her emotional and mental state actually took me into her mind where I could feel the trauma she is experiencing.  I can never know what someone who has endured this has felt, but thanks to that letter, I have a much better idea of how deeply the wounds go into the mind and soul.
  2. I am full of respect for this woman for owning her part in this.  Careful.  No stone throwing… I did not say she should be blamed.  There is no excuse for what happened to her, but she admitted that allowing herself to get that drunk put her in a position for a bad thing to happen.  She could have made a better choice that evening, and she admitted that.  That takes character.
  3. I am cheering for the two young men who acted heroically by stepping in and stopping the act.  Truly Good Samaritans in their actions and bravery.  They must have a couple of very proud sets of parents today.  They saw evil and stepped in to do something about it.  Good job, men.  Good job.
  4. I am thankful that at the very minimum, and it was minimum, the attacker was convicted of the crime.  To the 12 jurors, I appreciate their ability to wade through all of the excuses and attempts to cast doubt and still come back with a decision that puts a mark on this man for what he has done that will stand for the rest of his life.  His victim has been marked, so should he.
  5. Beyond that, I have a range of thoughts and emotions I would rather not focus on in regards to the rapist, the passive father who made excuses for his son and tried to downplay his actions, the lawyer that worked so hard to humiliate a young woman who had already endured so much, and a judge who did not sentence a rapist with an appropriate punishment.  I am going to take the position that God will judge their actions.  I cannot change the past, and outrage simply for the purpose of being angry will accomplish nothing.

What we need to focus on is finding ways to make sure acts like this do not take place again.  Parents!  If you are going to count on school officials, government officials, and the ability of campus security to keep your children safe, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!  I am sorry, but this is not a problem that will be cured with programs and more parking lot lights.  This is a matter of the hearts of the kids that we are raising and the character we instill in them.  As a country, parents need to step up and insist on building character and integrity into their children.

We will never see a world without predators.  It is a broken world we live in and the effects of sin are far reaching, but we can fight against them.  The education we give to our kids in how to think past the moment in their choices is so important.  What are the consequences of this decision? Who could potentially be harmed if I do this?  What are the long term ramifications of this choice?  We focus so hard to get them to look both ways before walking across the street, but are we teaching them to pause and look both ways when given options on who to hang out with, what to drink, and what to eat?  Are we teaching them to weigh the possibilities of walking through a dark place alone rather than hanging out with a group of friends?

Again, we will never be able to stop all evil, but we can build into our kids wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and character that can guide them when we are not there.  Take the time, be Relentless in it!

To my daughter – You are beautiful, sweet and pure, and I want you to stay that way.  I want you to think about the places you go and the things that you do fro other viewpoints than your own.  I have tried to tell you as much as possible about how the mind of men works and where they are weak and potentially twisted.  I have tried to show you how to identify behaviors that you should avoid as well as indicators of character that you can trust.  I pray that you will make the right choices when given the opportunity, and I pray for your protection when the evil of the world crosses your path through no fault of your own.

To my son – You are a young man now.  You have been taught and have been showing you understand how to properly show women honor and respect.  You have been taught that while women are strong, and intelligent and capable of doing things on their own, God has charged men to be tender warriors for them.  Our job is not to hold them back and keep them captive “for their own good”, but it is our job to be men and stand up for what is right and protect their honor as those two young men did.  Women are not tools or toys, they are treasures and should be considered that way by all men.  You will have opportunities to choose, and I pray that you will make the right choice to show the same respect for them as Christ did in the Bible.  You will see men who will objectify them or hurt them and I pray that you will suit up and gear up for battle against that evil as one of God’s warriors.

Men, the battle is won in the preparation, and our home is the place it needs to start.  Show your wives how much you care for your children and their character.  Prepare your children, be involved.  Identify their battles. Teach them to recognize their enemies. Educate them on the weaknesses of evil. Coach them in how to fight evil. Cheer for them as they fight. Recognize their victories. Nurse their wounds. Encourage them for battle.

This world is not getting better.  We must be Relentless in developing children who can stand in it.

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Peer Pressure Takes You Into Deeper Water

6eb331d6f9d0cd92b16c97d232202e10a558612a7c73382d025a538efc98e2a8_1Just wanted to share a quick thought from my Bible Study this morning.  Reading about the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ I read the passage where Pilate has Christ standing before him and he is caught between what he believes to be the right thing to do and the will of the people.

“From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend.  Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” – John 19:12

The devotional goes on to tell a story of a mother who sits her son down to give him some advice:

“If you are running with the wrong crowd, then you are the wrong crowd. Don’t expect to stay out of trouble if you are putting yourself in places where trouble can be found.”

Pilate was a man with power, but it was limited power.  He had attained a position that brought benefits as long as he kept Caesar happy, but part of keeping Caesar happy required that he keep the Jews happy-ish.  There was an inherent struggle there that made that aspect of the job quite difficult, and then Jesus enters the scene and brings all kinds of upheaval to the Jewish leaders.

All the people following Jesus caused the Jewish leaders to feel threatened which made them start looking for a way to take Jesus down.  They were stuck, so they used the only real tool they had – Pilate and the Roman Empire.  As we know, eventually Pilate caves in and order Jesus to be crucified.

Pilate is the perfect example of a guy who knew the right thing to do, but let the external influences dictate his decision.  He was a smart guy, able to see exactly what was happening, but he feared for his standing in the eyes of Caesar and the Jewish people.  He caved in.

I’m not looking down on him for that though.  Not my position to judge, and who knows what I might have done in the same situation?  What I am saying is that in looking at him I can see a warning against the damaging effects of peer pressure.  It can take you to a place where you KNOW you are doing the wrong thing just because of the pressure from those around you.

If I want to have a Relentless Life, I need to make sure that when I am in a tough spot, I take the time to:

  1. Pray – I need wisdom, strength, and protection to make a good choice
  2. Remember – What does God say about the situation?  What guidelines are in the Word to help me make a right choice?
  3. Pray again – For the words to say that will rightly articulate my decision to do the right thing without bringing pain to the situation.
  4. Speak/Act – Do what needs to be done in obedience to God
  5. Pray again – That God will get praise and glory for my right actions, and that He will forgive me where I may have allowed my own agenda to take control.

Peer Pressure is something we all face, but if we take the time to pray and think before we act, we will see Relentless Growth come out of it!

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My Son – A Man in the Making

This past week we have been heavily involved in the Kalkaska County Fair.  We raise pigs for the kids to auction, and my daughter also has a dog she shows and does horseback riding as well.  There are things my son does with joy and passion, but anything involved with animals is not on his top ten list.  He makes it quite clear that he is, “in this for the money.”  I see no sign that this will change anytime soon, as his interests are definitely non-agricultural.  So, when fair week comes around, we have always looked to him and done our best to get him excited about it, and remind him that it is character development – hard work, responsibility, dedication, and so on.

DSC09975Looking at our pigs this year, we really thought that Zach had a nice looking pig of a decent weight and shape.  Every time we went out and looked at the pigs, I would think that he would have a contender for big market money, and his sister would just need to settle for the usual goal she has of being a showman.  His pig was exactly the shape the judge has been looking for the last two years.  He heard me say it over and over, and I think he was really starting to get excited for the fair this year.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised.

Well, we got our pigs up there and started looking around and found that Zach’s pig, while looking good, was much smaller than many of the other pigs.  Our worst fears were realized when she was weighed and we found that she was significantly under the weight for a market swine.  I was so surprised at the weight that I asked for her to be weighed again, and we got the same result.  This was a little pig. (we later found out she was the second smallest out of 40+ pigs this year.

Zach was crushed.  The main reason he does the pig is for the money, and he has a small pig.  Roaster pigs are sold at the end of all the other pigs, and usually your buyers have spent most of their money and the bids are low.  Low bids + low weight = less money.  That was a hard hit for him.  We talked to him and tried to get him fired up again.  I don’t think he was buying it much.  We pointed out to him that since he was one of the oldest kids in his class and had been showing for a few years, he had a great shot at winning the Showmanship award.  I think he perked up a bit at that, and he went the next morning with a good attitude, ready to give it a shot.

He did great.  I really thought it was his best performance yet as a showman.  He actually looked like he was enjoying himself!  When the results came in, he did not win the Grand or the Reserve spot.  I have to admit, that was hard for me to see.  I had just watched my son bounce back from a hard hit the night before in something he does not like doing, knuckle up and go at it again, only to be denied the prize he was after.  I looked him in the eye and told him that I was very proud of him and his efforts.  Inside I was devastated for him.  I didn’t understand it anymore than he did.  I pretty much concluded at that point that his week was pretty much over.DSC00018

I didn’t know what was going on in him though.  At camp last week, Zach was impacted by the messages and his time in the Word.  He came home and told us all about how God became much more real to him while at camp.  What I didn’t know, was that in the middle of all of this disappointment, Zach was reaching out to God for help with his attitude.  He was praying that God would still give him a good week at the fair.

Over the next couple of days, we watched Jessica rack up one award after another.  Her side of the pig pen was covered in ribbons, a plaque, and a trophy that fairly shouted to anyone walking by that this girl knew what she was doing.  We felt bad that Zach’s side of the pen was vacant of any award, and the number of hers almost made it look the barn was tipping with the weight of them!  Even though that was what we saw, there was something else we could see as well.  Zach was having fun.

He was there at every event supporting his sister.  He was feeding and caring for the animals with little to no push.  He was helping other kids out with their animals.  He was laughing, smiling, and not feeling sorry for himself.  He was out lifting up other people.  It became so apparent to us that his attitude was so impressive that we decided as a family it would be fun to take a picture of him and put it on his side of the pen with a sign that said, “Best Attitude with No Awards!”  It just seemed like a fun thing to do, and it would put something on his side of the pen.  We thought the buyers might get a kick out of it when they walked through the pens.  Honestly, we did it for the laughs.

DSC00093Well, the auction took place, and Jessica did well with her pig.  It was the 6th place market swine, and took a respectable price.  Bidding was going very well last night, but as we often see, as the pigs got smaller, the average bids did too.  You would see the occasional pig tip a large number, but we saw what we expected.  We told Zach to just get out there and have fun.  He had a pig to sell, she was small, so he needed to sell himself too!

When he got out there, I could not have been more proud of him.  He was smiling, had a bounce in his step and a grin on his face.  He even did the moon-walk as he walked with his pig!  I wasn’t even paying attention to the bidding until I heard the auctioneer yell out that he had received a $4.00 bid!  That was the same price per pound that the Grand Champion pig received.  By the time all was finished, Zach had received a final bid of $4.50!  That was a full $2.00 per pound m0re than I was HOPING for!  His pig brought in more money than his sister’s pig that weighed 50 pounds more than his!

The buyer was a complete stranger.  When we went to give her the buyer gift that we had purchased for her, she said that she and her daughter had been walking through the pens and saw the picture of Zach smiling and giving the thumbs up, and had decided right then that they would buy his pig.  Not because ot was a great pig, but because he had a great attitude, and it was showing on his face before and during the show.

Talking with Zach later, he said that he had prayed for a good result, but he had prayed more about a good attitude.  He said he is working on having an attitude of praying without ceasing and giving his thoughts to God when they start to go dark.  What better thing could a Dad hear his son say?  I told him that I thought God blessed him last night for something better than hard work.  He was blessed for his determination to have a good attitude.  I believe that with all my heart.  This was a battle for him this past week.  It was a man-sized battle, and he knuckled up and hit it head on with God at his side.  I could not be more proud.

Phillippians 4:8-9 say:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 6:33 says:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Zach did the hard thing this week.  He chose a Relentless attitude of trust and put his thoughts on God rather than focusing on his current lot.  I can learn a lesson there, how about you?  What hard thing has you discouraged right now?  Are you dwelling on the circumstance, or are you asking God to show you what you need to learn, to let you lean on Him, to direct your steps and spirit as you continue to walk?  That is a life of Relentless Growth.  That is kingdom living, and God wants to reward us for it.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong

Valor: Sometimes Getting You To Step Up Requires A Push

468758345_640One of the stories from the Bible that I have always loved is the story of Gideon.  It is the ultimate story of God reaching down and taking a guy who appears to be the least likely of leaders and turning him into a warrior with the honor of leading the original 300.  I’ve heard and read the story a hundred times, but like so many times lately when I read God’s Word I am seeing something new.

The Call of Gideon

 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

– Judges 6:11-16

Valor is defined as “boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle.”  Not exactly the words you would think of using when describing a guy who is hiding in a winepress thrashing some wheat where he won’t be seen.  Nevertheless, that is what the angel of the Lord called him.  That just really stood out to me when I read it.  “Man of valor?”  Why would Gideon be described that way? I used to think it was God speaking through the angel with a little sarcastic tone in His voice. (We do tend to make God into our own image…)  As I thought about it more, I began to think more about the people involved here and what they were doing.

Gideon – Hiding from his enemies, but still working.  I don’t know if he was thrashing this grain for himself, his family, or for someone else, but in the middle of this oppression from the Midianites, he was still doing something rather than just sitting around and crying for help.

The Angel – Sent on a mission to deliver a message.  Was the angel of the Lord actually Christ?  Not sure. Doesn’t really matter for the sake of the account.  The angel was there to do as it had been told, speak truth to Gideon.

God – The Creator of all mankind, the Jehovah God of the Israelite nation.  All powerful, and all knowing.

The more I thought about it, I realized that when the angel spoke God’s words to Gideon, he was not speaking of the Gideon that stood before him.  He was speaking of the warrior inside him.  Even in the act of grinding out wheat in a secret place, he was acting with a determination to do something.  I believe God had been looking at the nation of Israel to find the one who would lead His people into battle, and Gideon was just the guy He was looking for.

When the angel spoke, Gideon’s fear and frustration came out.  “With us?  What do you mean God is with us?  Look around!  I’m scraping together a little wheat for bread, and who knows when I will get caught? I’ve heard all the stories of how great God is, but where is He now?  He is the one who put us in this mess with Midian.”  Bold words.  Possibly foolish words, but God saw the heart.  He could see the determination in Gideon, and He wanted to draw that out.

Telling Gideon to go fight Midian on his own was God’s way to help Gideon understand that not only did God know the abilities of Gideon, but He also wanted Gideon to know that He knew Gideon understood his own limitations.  “Fight on your own, Gideon, and you will fall, but I am not sending you out alone.  Go with ME, and the entire army of Midian will fall as if it was a single man.”

Time and again in God’s Word we see Him use the lowly, the weak, the unassuming to do great things.  God does this to bring the glory where it belongs – to Him!  That is what we are created to do, and when we surrender our desires and our fears to allow ourselves to be used by God, He will do great things with us.  It is our opportunity to join Him in His plan, His will, and sometimes, His miracles.  Sometimes He just needs to come along and give us a little push.

I believe God used Gideon because he was doing something.  It wasn’t a big thing, but it was something.  That heart, that attitude is what God is looking for.  He wants to see us determined. He wants to see us being Relentless about something.  If we are moving and wanting to be used, God will use us!

I’ve had some very hard times over the years that have shaken my faith.  At times I have wondered about God much like Gideon did.  I just wanted to find a place to curl up and give up.  It is just too hard.  I quit… I never could completely quit though.  Call it faith, stubbornness, habit, or whatever you want, but I kept trying to at least do something.  I wish I could always say that I had nothing but God’s glory in mind, but it was usually not much more than maintaining the status quo as much as possible.  Just keep on truckin’.

Whenever those moments would come, God would send someone along to say something though.  It would be just the right thing to spark that determination in me again.  The words would be there to give me hope, and in that hope I would dig into God and His Word, see His truth, His power, His promises, and I would be able to do something through Him that I could never accomplish on my own.

Valor is a word we don’t hear much anymore, but maybe we need to resurrect it.  A life of Relentless Growth should be a life of valor. I know it is what I want in my life, and I want it for my son and my brothers in Christ.  I’m not sure what God is going to do with me through the rest of my life, and there will be times that He will need to give me a push to get it rolling, but I hope that God will look on me as a man of valor.  I hope I can influence others to that as well.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong