Road Signs

Image of many road signs isolated on a white background.

When you think about it, signs really are amazing things. In a simple picture or a single word, a sign can convey a life-saving message. If it is understood and followed, the lives of those who see it can be kept safe and on course. However, if it is seen and ignore, or simply missed because of a moment of distraction, the consequences can be quite deadly.

I had an experience many years ago with a sign and it has stayed with me to this day. I was traveling on a crossroad between two county highways, and it was a foggy, rainy day. All three of my sons were in the van with me and they were having their normal brotherly competition, while being strapped down in the back seat. For a brief moment I looked at them in the rear view mirror, giving them “the eye”, and in those few seconds I missed a road sign that flashed by in the fog. Twenty seconds later we drove right through a “T” intersection, crossed the highway, flew in the air over a ditch and came to rest, safe and sound, in a farmers field.

The boys, in childlike fashion, were laughing and loving the thrill ride they had just been on. They, in fact, wanted me to turn around and do it again. I, however, was not laughing, but I did manage to contain my emotions so as not to plant fear into my son’s lives. I simply told the boys, “no, we are not doing that again because we will be late”, and I drove the van out of the field, got back on the road and we continued on our way.

Fortunately for me, and my entire family, I did not suffer the deadly outcome that could have been possible. Had I not been so lucky, my life, those of my sons and the lives of others would be much different than they are today. The point being, when we miss a sign at one point, it has the possibility to make a dramatic, and at times a deadly change in the final outcome of our destination.

Here is another example that happened about two years ago. A local man who lives not far from me, finally retired and bought his dream bike, a big Harley Davidson low rider. He and his wife were still quite active and for months they had been planning what they would do with their free time. They finally decided on a cross-country road trip on that bike. So, the man paid cash for his “Hog” and got his license. One beautiful summer day he took his wife out for their first day trip together, just to test things out.

They took a favorite biker road that is not highly traveled. It is filled with sweeping curves, the smell of pine trees and elevated inclines that lead to dramatic over-looks showing the grandeur of the hills and river valley’s that cover this area. On their drive, his cell phone rang, and contrary to all he had been taught, he reached into his pocket and pulled it out just to see who was calling. At the moment he looked down, he missed the road sign that identified a sharp turn just ahead, and he missed the warning to slow down. As he returned his phone to his jacket pocket they entered the curve but the bike was traveling way too fast. It shifted to the outside edge of the road, went into the gutter and then hit the guardrail. In the impact he lost the lower part of his right leg, but his wife was thrown from the motorcycle and instantly killed. It was a heart-breaking tragedy that did not have to happen if he had simply seen the sign.

I say the above because a new year is quickly coming and I believe it’s time to ask ourselves a few very important questions. #1. What signs am I missing right now because of the fog of activity and the distraction of others in my life? #2. What roads am I on that have warning signs of deadly things ahead, yet I am still answering the unimportant things that should not get my attention? #3. What good things are others doing that I should say “NO” to? If you will focus your life by honestly answering these three questions, who knows what things ahead may yet be avoided.

For some it may save their marriage and for others it may reconnect them to their spouse, children, relatives or friends. For many it may bring them the love and personal relationship with God they have always needed. There will be some who find inner healing, personal growth and new satisfaction in living the life they have. Whatever you might find, it cannot happen unless you make the decision to slow down and look around. Take the time to really see where you are going and who you will impact if things don’t change.

The point in all the above is quite simple. Without honest, personal evaluation, the fog and distraction of life will remain. Unless you are willing to get rid of the unimportant things that consume your time and attention, you are going to eventually hit the guardrails, and what will that cost you and others? Until you learn to say “no” to the good things others are doing, you won’t be able to say “yes” to what God is calling you to do.

In this final blog of 2015, let me encourage you to look for the signs that are all around you. They are found in the people you love, the friends you have and the leaders you respect who speak into your life. If you will take the time to see what they are doing, and hear what they are saying, it could change your life. More than that, it could change the lives of so many others. If you will slow down, unplug, say no and wait, the fog will eventually clear. Who you really are, and what you are really made to do will rise to the surface. I can tell you for a fact, that this is worth waiting for, and if you do it you will not be disappointed!

Have A Merry Christmas And A Blessed And Prosperous New Year

 

Dealing With Your Elephants

elephant room

My wife and I pastor a church in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. We are also traveling ministers who are on the road a great deal. The prophetic ministry we have is quite unique and at times we have received invitations that took us into Canada, Israel, Africa and other wonderful places. More than that it has given us friends across the United States and around the world. That being said, ministry can also produce some pretty big elephants in the room.

What I mean is, we who are ministers have good hearts and desire to serve God and His people with honor, honesty and purity. We pray, study Scripture and do our best to share God’s heart with those He sends us to. Yet even with all this searching and seeking, at times we miss it. We get distracted, we may be physically tired or emotionally drained, and that is a setup for miscommunication between us, others and God. Our human capacity for error shows up in these moments and this becomes an elephant in the room, so to speak, that ministers and congregations don’t want to talk about.

For anyone called as an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor or a teacher, an “elephant” has varying degrees of importance. It can be nothing more than a bump in the road that is soon forgotten, or it can be a killing blow that ends what really is a vibrant, genuine call of God. Of the five ministries mentioned above, those of us called to prophetic ministry have the most hanging in the balance. This is due mainly to wrong teaching, lack of Biblical understanding or fear in the church of being misled by a “false prophet”. The point is, those of us in prophetic ministry miss it on occasion, and  we find it very difficult to get rid of those elephants. One mistake can easily kill our ministry in one area, or church forever.

We had just such an elephant brought to our attention during our last ministry trip into Canada. The French speaking churches we go to love us, and we love them. The fact is, we have spoken clear, detailed, highly accurate prophetic words to them for many years, and our ministry is well respected in that culture. A number of congregations consider us to be their spiritual father and mother in the faith, and that is a very high honor.

Yet with all that honor, one of our host pastors mentioned that something hapened during our last trip to Quebec, and it really hit me. It was an elephant in the room we were unaware of, but it had to be addressed. Apparently I had given a “word” to another Canadian pastor more than a year ago an it did not come to pass. I don’t know the details, but it seemed clear that this was a miss on my part. When it was brought up, I listened with care and then went through the normal emotions to be expected. In the end I knew I had to think about it and then get back to them after setting aside time to ask God what happened.

In the final analysis I had to face the fact that even though I am usually right on, this was one time I had missed the mark. My heart was in the right place, but I was moved by my concern for this particular pastor when I spoke over him, and I was not moved by God’s Spirit. He was comforted in that moment, but was not given a clear vision by the Holy Spirit through what I had said. This elephant had to be addressed and our host pastor was right on target to ask me about it.

How did I respond when the issue was brought up? Did I argue, try to justify things and make excuses? No! I was uncomfortable to say the least, but we still talked about it, honestly. When Esther and I left for the U.S. later that day, I gave it thought and prayer, and I realized there was more to be done. So, I sent an email to our host pastors and asked them to express my sincere apology to the other pastor for what had happened. I admitted I was wrong and took full responsibility for the incorrect word that was spoken. In other words, I owned the elephant and by doing so, I was able to take it out of the room.

Biblically speaking this is the right way to deal with those kinds of things. Especially when it comes to prophetic ministry, we have to embrace the reality that at times a prophet may not be correct. You don’t ignore the issue, or through pride and insecurity refuse to admit you were wrong. You look at things honestly and get it out in the open. 1st Thessalonians 5:20-21 puts it this way: “do not despise prophetic utterance, but examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good”. The stuff that is not good you apparently don’t hold on to. You talk about it  and resolve any misunderstandings. You take full responsibility for it, apologize and then let it go!

What about the elephants in your life? How do you deal with them when they show up? Do you make excuses, point the finger at someone else or get all bent out of shape? Does your pride and ego direct the show so that nothing is ever addressed, or honestly embraced as being your fault? Perhaps it is time to call things what they are and be honest with yourself and others about the mistakes you’ve made. If you are in ministry this is one key that can unlock your future. The hallmark of great ministry is not about being right, it’s about being honest and humble when you are not right.

If you are no longer comfortable with the life you have, it may be time to clean out a few elephants. If there is little room for you to move about freely, perhaps you should take responsibility for your elephants and get them out of the room. You will be amazed at how good it feels to face the truth and be set free. Not only will you begin to enjoy your life and ministry again, those who really love you will embrace your transparency and love you all the more.

By the way,.. I am please to say that we will be going back to our French speaking brothers and sisters in Canada once again.. Dieu Est Bon ! 🙂