When December Comes

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     December is a month of change, wonder and nostalgia. It brings to a final conclusion the Fall season, as Thanksgiving has just passed, and hunting season is basically over. This last month of the year ushers in Christmas, the new year and all that the cold days of winter have yet to unleash. It is more than just another month on the calendar. When December comes to the northeast, it brings with it the stuff of warm childhood memories and the reality of a long, snow-filled winter. How you see it depends on how you see life. For the young and the young at heart, it is a time of dreams come true in a winter wonderland. For everyone else, it is a time of preparing to go on hold until the Spring thaw arrives. The point being made here is quite simple, life is what you make it.
     My father and mother were believers in making life good, and they instilled that value in our family. We never had much in material wealth, but we were wealthy in the things that mattered most. Love, food on the table, a clean, warm home and consistent fair discipline were in great abundance. Since my parents had both lived through the great depression of 1929, they knew what it was to go without. I heard the stories of what things were like in those days, and I marveled at how resourceful they were with the little they had. What really amazed me was that I never heard them complain about it, not once. They took great pride in the fact that their struggle for survival was met with personal strength and the courageous conviction needed to make the best of what they had on hand.
     No one ever sat back and expected or wanted the government to bail them out. People did what was necessary to make ends meet, and they helped each other when things got tough. It was not just a way of living for everyone, it was a way of staying alive. If you didn’t work together, you didn’t survive, and everyone understood the consequences. My grandmother, Louisa Rossi, was a great example of this. Over the years, my mother told me stories of how grandpa and grandma Rossi passed this lifestyle down to her and others. Especially during holiday time, when December came, they brought hope to the hopeless in what could have been the start of a very difficult winter.
     My grandfather, Alexander Rossi, was a master blacksmith in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the dark days of the depression. He always made a good salary even when others in their apartment building in Flatbush, NY had lost their jobs. Many of those people worked temporary jobs for the wealthy, stood hours in bread lines or dug through the garbage behind restaurants just to have one meal a day. To help these unfortunate ones, grandma Rossi made it a point of cooking extra, and I mean a lot of extra, every night. She knew some in their building had eaten little that day, so just before dinner she would take a walk and invite families to join them for the evening meal. It was not uncommon for 25 or 30 people to share God’s bounty and blessing around my grandparent’s dining room table.
     To spare the guests from feeling embarrassed, grandma would ask each family to bring some minor item that was “needed” to complete the meal. A loaf of bread, a few apples, a bottle of wine or even a jug of water were welcomed additions to any meal. The time spent together praying over the meal, sharing recipes and telling stories, enriched everyone. Such kind-hearted generosity deeply impacted the lives of all who shared those meals. It kept families together during the hard months, and encouraged them to hold on for the better days to come. No one knows how many thousands of dollars grandma Rossi spent over the years, but her desire to alleviate suffering and bless all she could, made it a worthwhile, eternal investment. She knew that a little kindness, food and time was all you needed to make someone feel that life was worth living.
     Years ago, in Saranac Lake, NY, I learned a very hard lessons along these lines as I was on my way to teach school one day. It was a bitter cold January day when I stopped at a traffic light and saw a ragged man crossing the street in front of me. He had cardboard wrapped around his shoes to keep the snow out, torn gloves on his hands and wore a dirt stained overcoat. In my heart I felt God wanted me to stop and buy the man a hot breakfast. To do so would have made me late for work so I ignored the clear inner voice and drove on. By the time I arrived at work I was deeply convicted and promised God I would look for that person the next day and stop to buy him food. I never saw the man again. What I did see was the story of a homeless man who had been found frozen to death a few days later. Had I stopped that story may have ended very differently.
     What about you? When December comes, what acts of kindness will you pass on? Perhaps your days will be filled with stress and frustration of not have more to give those who already have more than they can use. My hope is that you will look beyond your self interests and seek to help and bless those who have honest needs to be met. Think of the treasured lessons to be learned around a table of food that is filled with those who have no family, the lonely or the singles who are by themselves this holiday season. Consider the eternal impact you could have by opening up your life and sharing your table with those who are less fortunate.
Who knows, by slowing down and showing compassion and kindness, you might touch someone God has destined to change the world. It could change a life, and that life might be yours!

An Unexpected November

Here in the Northeast, November can be like a lion or a lamb. What I mean is, it can be a day filled with raging blizzard conditions or as mild as a wet spring day. Today just so happens to be more a of lamb day. It is November 6th, 58 degrees outside, windy and raining. Hardly what I would call a normal Fall occurence in the foothills of the Adirondacks. In fact, it’s been so warm that ninety percent of the leaves are yet on the ancient ash trees in my front yard, and half of those are still green. This November day is totally unexpected, but I will take it over what we have had in the past.

In years gone by, there was several major storms by now, and snow would be piled high in our yard. The furnace and snow blower would both be running full-time, and I would have to start each morning by warming up our vehicles and scraping ice and snow off the windshields. The snowplow crews would already be racking up overtime, and we would be glued to our television sets to see what businesses or schools had closed for the day. Kids would be knocking on my front door looking to make money by shoveling my sidewalks, and sand trucks would be coating the roads to keep cars from sliding into each other, or into the ditch.

But what am I looking at on this November day? I see a gentle rain soaking the road and the lawn. I see summer Kale still healthy and growing bigger in my garden. I see a light coating of orange leaves on the yard and many more yet to fall off the trees in the week or so ahead. I hear strings of geese flying overhead, and watch them circle around, wondering if it’s Spring or Fall. I see people in summer shirts, shorts and flip-flops walking along with umbrellas, enjoying this warm, wet day. It’s just amazing how things  can be so different from one year to the next.

Why do I bring all this up? I bring it up because we often think our current situation is all that there is. We become so locked into the here-and-now, that we forget how quickly every circumstance can change. Year to year, month to month and even week to week the most horrendous things in life will give way to a time of clarity, peace and personal blessing. Just as one November can be full of blizzards and heating bills, another can be blessed with mild temperatures and warm rain. What makes all the difference is just a simple mater of time.

Like it or not, never forget that time is the great divider. One season of life can be full of distress, disappointment and discouragement. Bills can pile up, people can betray you and relationships get broken. Soon enough, another season will come along and it’s just the opposite. Money comes in, friends show up to help and we feel comfortable again with the life we have. All we had to do was allow enough time to pass, and keep a good attitude until the process finished. Once things run their course and a new season arrives, if we choose to, we can move on. That, my friends, is the key. Moving on is a choice that is totally up to you.

Some people get so locked into the emotions of a bad season, that the emotions hold them captive. They become a prisoner to what was, and are never able to live in the joy of what now is. This captivity will keep its death grip on them until they are willing to let it go. What I mean is, the emotions you hold on to, eventually hold on to you. The feelings a nasty season evokes, that you don’t let go of, the people and events you will not forgive, will grip your life and blind your ability to see anything but what went wrong. This means you are forever locked into the feelings of a nasty November, and will never be able to enjoy the beauty of the mild one that is right outside your window.

The nasty November’s of your past only have power over your life, if you give it to them. Forgive those you must, and let go of what happened in the past. Remember, the truth about the past is that you can’t change it, but it has the power to change you! In light of this, my question for you today is quite simple. Why wouldn’t you want to let go of the past and live the life of freedom God created you to have? Only you can answer that all-important question. Now, why don’t you go out and enjoy this beautiful November day!

 

 

Different Than We Imagine

History is often not as kind as we might like to believe. Our vision of a simple, hardworking, agricultural people, living off the land in an idyllic setting is more fantasy than fact. The reality is that ideas, beliefs and traditions in past ages have frequently proven to be strange, odd and somewhat horrifying to our modern way of thinking. Things certainly are different from what we imagine them to be, and that difference, be it driven by love, ignorance, fear, superstition or knowledge, is what moves us forward or sends us back.

Human history has been filled with the drama of generations struggling for significance, and the out-working of that struggle is what has pushed everything into the present. Take, for instance, the fact that in Medieval times someone accused of an offense, often faced a “trial by ordeal,”. That is, they were forced to stick their arm into a vat of boiling water. If their arm emerged unscathed, it prove their innocence. How about the “witch trials” that began in Salem, Massachusetts and spread due to ignorance, superstition and fear. In this case it was a “trial by fire”. The one accused of being a witch was tied to a stake in the public square, wood was piled around them and set on fire. It was believed that those who were innocent would be protected from the flames, like the three young men in the Book of Daniel. An estimated 600,000 “witches” died this way globally.

Fortunately for us, there have been changes in our way of thinking, living and governing. The systems now in place in most countries, and the laws that protect most people, seem to work substantially better than the above. That being said, the one thing that has not changed from one millennium to the next is the need for good character. The ideology and laws of democracy don’t produce it, the false conformity of socialism does not create it, and the terror imposed on the victims of the Islamic state does not bring it into being. Good character is not something that can be imposed from the outside. That’s because it is an internal condition of the heart and thoughts that reflect in the outward behavior.

Good character does not come by way of force, just like human nature does not conform well to rules and regulations. Change, real change, is always an internal issue of the human condition. It is the manifested truth within us that is revealed by what we do, and what we say when no one is looking. We can hide who we are for a while and we can fake things for a short time, but eventually what is living and breathing within us will come out. Unfortunately, self-reformation never lasts last very long. It always fails because we as humans, always fail. That is exactly why the latest self-help gadgets end up collecting dust in a back room, or get tagged in a garage sale. Natural effort will never remain committed long enough to achieve the permanent results we all desire.

The kind of change everyone needs, runs deep into the core of who we are and what we believe. Genuine change is not a quick fix, or a fast, easy solution. It is an inner revolution that brings an upheaval to an old thought pattern, or ingrained habit. This kind of revolution releases us from the guilt of past mistakes, and gives us the strength to press on, even when we fall short. What I am talking about sets people free to be who they really are. It gives fresh hope for today and fresh vision for the future. It is a radical conversion of the soul, heart and the mind that comes to the one who has surrendered to a truth that is greater than the one that has falsely defined them.  I have had such an experience, and so can you!

My personal revolution came when I encountered Jesus. He turned my world upside down, inside out and front to back. He was so different, so sacrificial, so pure, so right, so other. He gripped my heart and mind, touched my soul and spirit, and reordered my thoughts and emotions. His love was a powerful and relentless agent of change. It came after me like a cleansing flood that would not be satisfied until it had me… all of me…. at every level. Through that flood of grace and truth, He restored me back to my original design, and that’s when I began to understand the heart of my Designer.

From the day I surrendered my life to Him, that incredible revolution never stopped its work in me. It has taken me to foreign countries, taught me how to love the unlovable, given me the boldness to fearlessly proclaim the truth, and shown me how to forgive the unforgivable. It has carried me when I was too weak to walk, guided me when I was too confused to move, and strengthened me when I was too tired to press on. This is what it means to live a surrendered life to the Lordship of Jesus, and it is simply amazing. There is nothing else like it in all the earth.

Living a genuinely Christian life is very different from what I imagined. It is filled with challenges and tests. There are great failures and amazing victories. There are blunders and mistakes, followed by insights and revelations that are beyond words. Those of us who live this life not perfect, we are forgiven. We seek God for clarity but still do make our mistakes. He shows us how to make things right when we mess up, and we learn how to obey HIs voice. We serve those we meet the best we can, with what we have, and He graciously gives us more. It’s a place of perfected balance between the constant weakness of our humanity and the endless strength of His divinity.

 Yes, real Christianity is indeed very different from what I thought it would be. I am not strangled by rules and regulations, but I am constrained by the Love of God that sets me free to be who I was designed to be. I am not searching for the mysterious will of God, but I have a liberty and an excitement to do what He places within my heart. There is clear focus, purposed vision and genuine anticipation for what He and I will do next. I am not wrestling with the endless stain of sin, but I am wrapped in His robe of righteousness and walk in purity and power.

All of this came simply because I laid aside my narrow, preconceived ideas of an old, dead religious system, and embraced the living reality of how much Jesus loves me, and what He did for me. What about you? You may be sick of the hypocrisy of religion, and the old religious system that never provides the clarity, assurance or strength that conquers sin. You may have turned your back on all of it because there were no real answers, and way too many unanswered questions. If so, I have good news for you today. Look to the simplicity of Jesus and all you have wondered about will be answered by all He is. It’s just that simple!

Surrender and give your life to the One who Gave his life for you. Turn from the things that never satisfy but they have taken you from God. Begin your life again and live their new life the way He intended. He will enter into everything you do, heal your heart and pour His love into every area of need. Don’t settle for second best any longer, because a much better choice is available if you take it. It’s up to you! If you want more info on what it means to live for Christ, send me your address. I have some free materials that can help you on  your way. My email is: wemmons@gmail.com. Have A Great Day!

The Hidden Truth Within

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Above is an actual electron microscope picture of a protein molecule called Laminin. Next to it is the molecular drawing that biologist developed to show its actual chemical nature and structure. It was discovered by a molecular biologist several years ago, and it has rocked the scientific community. This protein is the framework upon which all human life hangs. It is the biological equivalent of the reinforcement steel that builders use to strengthen and tie together cement.

This unique protein is unlike any other structure in human beings. This is because it is the only one of its kind that is found in every human cell, tissue and organ of our body. Without it, the physical body, and everything that makes it up, would literally fall apart. How amazing is it that God would design this specific molecule, in this specific shape, to be the literal, invisible foundation and glue to hold us all together. How ironic that God’s design in every human, be they muslim, atheist, satanist, hindu, spiritist, or anything else, holds them together by the cross. This truth, now confirmed by science, is literally hidden within every cell of every human being on planet earth.

Psalm 19:1-2 saysThe heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to-day pours forth speech, And night to-night reveals knowledge”In addition  Romans 1:19-20 says, ….because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  The above scriptures identify the fact that both day and night are filled with the knowledge of God. All of creation is declaring Who God is and what He has done.

Scientists agree that there is perfect balance, timing and symmetry found in the universe that can’t be explained naturally. This absolute gravitational perfection, and perfect synchronizing of every moving body, is mathematically impossible. Yet there it is for all to see. And now, that which is know about God through the cross of Jesus,  has indeed become evident to us. The discovery of Laminin is in fact the very thing God made evident within us all. In other words, the things God made, that we now know about, declare Who He is. Laminin is just one more voice calling out from creation that confirms God and His Word to be true. We will either hear that voice or ignore it.

Acts 17:28 says “In Him we live and move and have our being”. For thousands of years theologians thought this was simply an analogy designed to point out a purely spiritual concept. Now it is quite evident that this passage of scripture is so much more than that. With the discovery of Laminin, that verse has taken on a literal context that no one could have ever imagined. For years ministers of the Gospel have been telling the world that the cross of Christ is the answer that holds everything together. It is God’s answer to overcome sin and death so we can have life itself. Apart from the Cross, there is no real life. Little did they know how true that was, right down to the physical, sub-cellular level.

What about you? You have the cross within every cell of your body. It’s power to hold you together is real.  The fact that you live because of it, is a scientific reality no one can deny. However, the Cross of Jesus also needs to be a settled issue in you heart so that you have real Life.  Did you get that? You really do live because of the cross, but do you have the Cross that gives Life? The first cross is yours by birth, but the second cross is yours by choice.  You can actually decided which kind of life you want operating in you, and both of them depend on the  cross.

My question for you today is quite simple. Why choose to live a natural life through the connecting power of one cross, when you can live a supernatural Life through the cleansing  power of the other?  How sad it will be on the day of your death, to discover your life was held together by a cross. It was there within every cell of your body, yet you rejected the Life and forgiveness of God that it was pointing to. Let me encourage you today to accept that second Cross of Christ and become the forgiven, whole person God intended. The arms of Jesus were open wide on His Cross to embrace you at any cost. Why don’t you receive His love and embrace Him back?

Want to know more about this? Send me an email with your address and I will give you some free materials that will help you understand the Cross of Jesus. My email address is wemmons@gmail.com . Now go have a wonderful day and think about the hidden truth within you.

When You Have To Make A Choice

It-is-not-hard-to-make-decisions-once-you-know-what-your-values-are.Over more than 40 years of counseling and personal ministry, I have noticed that sometimes there are no easy answers to the thorny problems of life. We can do our best, try our hardest, and give it all we have, but in the end we may still come up with the “short end of the stick”. There just may not be enough time, wisdome, knowledge, finances or personal skills. Like it or not, when that happens, we are put in a position where a decision must be made. That hard choice is always based upon the reality of what is, even if we don’t like where “it” is going.

This is especially true when that place of hard, naked reality is caused by someone you know, love and trust. If that happens, it can feel like such a punch in the gut that we can become stuck in the quicksand of life. Unfortunately, every action we take from that point forward, seems to make it harder to think clearly. It becomes more difficult to have good judgement so we can move forward in the right direction. When life, or someone in it, gives us a raw deal, it can hold us captive and produce what I have come to call “SP”, or  “Situational Paralysis”.

The inability to make a decision, or move in a defined direction in traumatic situations, causes “SP” to set in. This can be a painful and frustrating thing for everyone involved. It makes some feel trapped in an invisible prison, where there is no key to unlock the door. For others, it becomes a reality where life is frozen in place, and emotions are locked to an event that is re-experianced almost daily. The twilight-zone of existance this creates is nearly impossible to break out of, and many have succumbed to it, literally putting the rest of  their productive lives on hold.

I have seen the hardiest of souls crumble, and watched them flounder in life like a wounded bird, wasting precious time by wondering what to do next. It could have happened because of personal ignorance, lack of information or unmet expectations. It may have been the result of thoughtlessness, the uncaring actions of someone who is focused elsewhere, or through perceived or genuine trauma. However it happens, it is a painful reality, and until it is dismanteled and overcome, those suffering under it are virtually held captive for life.

The key that unlocks this demonic trap is quite simple, once you know it. I have discsovered that what sets people free to begin making good decisions again, is knowing what their values are, and holding to the convictions that are anchored to them. Values and convictions don’t just define who  we  are as people, they actually define the life we live. These are the foundation stones of everyone’s character, and the reality is, character is what makes us who we are. More than that, it is what makes our life what it is.

We all have character within us, in one form or another. It is there from the earliest stages of our life. Every mother will tell you, even in the womb, their children all behaved differently. Every mother also knows their newborn children were all distinctly different at birth. The Bibile says that difference is the inborn character God gave them.  Psalms 149:13 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” The Hebrew words, “formed” and “inward” mean, to gather and bring together the mind, heart and feelings of an umborn child. It is a very intimate, first-hand knowledge of that child’s nature and personality.

In case you missed it, this is the bedrock of who we are, and how we make decisions, and it is fused into the reality of how God made us. What people don’t realize is when we ignore our Creator, we also defy the design for wholeness and unity He placed within us. This produces a break from reality, and it disconnects us from the truth of who we are in any crisis. When crisis happens, especially in important relationships, it strikes at the root of our innermost need for unity and security, and this is the reason why we become paralized in such situations.

When people begin to refine their character, values and convictions according to God’s design, and His eternal word, nothing shakes them. The faithful, unchanging love, and absolute truth of God, becomes an anchor for the soul, and the calm in every storm. The mighty wind that destroy others, is simply a powerful force that is harnessed to propel us forward into our destiny. For those who are securely embraced by the truth of who God made them to be, it is impossible to stop them from moving forward. It is impossible to take away their vision, or hold them captive by anything in this world. Why? Because they may be in this broken, beautiful world, but they are not of it. That, my friends, brings the untimate freedom, and it releases everyone from every captivity.

Are you suffering under the bondage to “SP”? Are you paralized by some past situation, feeling emotionally stuck to it, and lacking clear vision for the future? Prehaps it is time to go back to the roots of who you are, what your real values are, and who God made you to be. Psalm 139:14 says; “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well”.  It’s time to hand your life back over to the One who made it. He is the only One who can lift you up, pull you out of the mirey clay and set your feet upon a rock. He has already broken the power of everything that wants to hold you back.

How do you do this? Just invite Jesus into your life. Surrender every situation, every hurt, every place you are stuck, to Him. Give Him your weakness and failures, and he will give you His love and strength. In that wonderful exchange, you can start to move forward through His never-ending strength, and begin to step into all that God has prepared for you, from the foundation of the world. He has been waiting a long time to pour His love out on you. Go ahead and receve that love and forgiveness right now……

If you invited Jesus to take over your life, shoot me an email with your address. My email is wemmons@gmail.com.  I have some great, free materials to send you that will help you as you walk forward with God in this new life.

 

 

Potatoes Of Change

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Those of us who have vegetable gardens in the Northeast, enjoy the seasons as they come. Each has it’s own design in the life of any piece of ground. For us, winter is the time of rest for the soil. It freezes up and specific kinds of plants die off, while other plants, like garlic, go into hibernation until the spring thaw arrives. The frost and snow-filled days of winter kills off many kinds of bacteria and fungi that are a problem to those who garden in the warmer climates. This dormancy of the land, though it appears to be a wasted, non-productive time, is actually very good for the soil. Beyond that, it is good for those types of seeds that need the cold to germinate. The fact is, what you see all around you is not always a true reflection of what you will get.

In the Adirondacks, especially around the little village of Gabriels, NY, potatoes are a very important crop. The Young and Tucker farms have both been successful in growing these tubers for several decades. These families realized that the rocky, well-drained soil of the area is ideal for growing “restaurant” grade potatoes. Each year, they ship their produce to local stores and restaurants all over our area, and around the nation. Both farms specialize in large, mealy, white potatoes that have a rich texture, and a nice full flavor. The qualities I mentioned are present due to the unique minerals in the soil, and the unique abundance of clean rain that falls in the Adirondacks.

More than that, what makes these potatoes so desirable is the impact of climate on their growth. The harsh Adirondack winters are actually a blessing in disguise when it comes to producing this particular crop. Certain kinds of bacteria, and specific fungi that attack potato crops in the warmer climates, are not found here. As a result, these farmers don’t have to spray for those things, or be concerned when shipping their crops to other markets. The long, frigid, mountain winters kills off invading species that might try to adversely affect the potato crop when it is still in the ground. This keeps the stock pure, and makes these specific potatoes very unique, and highly sought after, in the market place.

Consider carefully what I just said. The harsh conditions, and huge heating bills that drive the less hardy from the area, are not a problem for these framers. What makes it inhospitable to the bulk of the population, is the very thing that produces such an amazing potato. Think of that for just a moment. A major problem for one person, actually is the solution for the success of another. Why is this? One person sees a problem to be avoided, but another sees an answer that avoids a problem. In other words, how you look at something, and adjust to get the benefit it offers, really determines the outcome of everything. Want to change your life? Change the way you look at life’s problems, and your future will be a success.

In your current situation, what do you see? Is it an overwhelming issue you are trying to avoid?  Is it a problem you just want to get past and hope to forget about? Try looking at your current situation as something that actually has the potential to bring future success. What caused the issue in the first place, and what can you learn from it? What benefit can this be to you in the days ahead? How you look at what you are now facing really determines the future more than you imagine. It will cause you to either be a victim, with your head hung down, or you will uncover the hidden benefit and have a life-changing victory. That choice is up to you, and no one else.

Years ago my father told me, “Bill, the life you have is the life you made. Don’t blame others for what you have done, and don’t expect others to bail you out of what you failed to do. If you want a better life, then make better decisions today and things will be better for you tomorrow.” That was good advice for me, and it holds true for you as well. Use the current problem to make changes that will give you a harvest of “potatoes” tomorrow! The issue at hand is not a problem, it is an opportunity for change. If you will see your “winter” of distress as an opportunity for change, the advantage you gain will let you reap an amazing harvest. This can be your time and place to have success, and thrive, where others have failed. It just depends on how you look at it. Now… go plant some “potatoes”!

A Season Of Being Alone

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Deuteronomy 32:10 says “He found him in a desert, and in a howling waste of a wilderness, He encircled him, He cared for him as the apple of His eye”. What a powerful picture is painted here of God’s concern and care for those who are wandering in a wilderness of life. It does not matter if they chose it for themselves, it happened because of others, or God Himself actually took them there. The point is, they were in it alone, and in His own time God came to them, and cared for them, whether they deserved it or not.

There is a time in everyone’s life when we find ourselves totally alone. This is not so much a physical thing, but it’s more of an emotional and spiritual season of isolation. When it comes upon us, we cannot avoid the impact it has on everything we hold dear. The empty, wandering time of our soul and spirit, might last a few weeks, a few months or even longer. Once it arrives, it does not depart until it’s work is fully done. This lonely plateau in life is identified in the Bible as a place called the “wilderness” or the “waste-howling wilderness”. The point is, we arrive there unaccompanied, in a distracted and unrefined condition, and we do not leave there the same way we came.

In this empty season, no one is there to carry us, guide us, or give us the companionship we have always needed. No friend is there at our side, providing step by step instructions to bring us into the new place we need to be. The fact is, every man or woman who is destined to fulfill their calling, will make this journey. Even those who do not know God, but are hungry to do better in life, will be taken to this place. The truth is, I believe this trip into the wasteland of our soul, is a necessary part of healthy personal and spiritual growth. It is my conviction that there are no short cuts through this, and more importantly, these times of barrenness should not be avoided. They should be looked at with clarity, embraced with sincerity and walked out fully.

It is only during our wilderness experience that we are fundamentally changed within. Our metal is tested, our character is developed and our flaws are painfully exposed. It has the potential to be a powerful time of personal evaluation and transformation. The excess baggage and wrong thinking we picked up in life, is finally thrown off. Those things that are really important, and genuinely necessary, come into clear focus, perhaps for the first time. For some, this brings a shocking revelation of how shallow and self-absorbed they have always been. For others, it is a grand adventure where they rediscover who they are, and begin to build upon that good foundation, to become even better. These are powerful times we enter into alone, and in an unsettled condition, but we emerge from them focused, and quite comfortable in our own skin.

I was in such a season not long ago, right after I got back from a powerful ministry trip to the Philippines. Myself and Apostle Rick Callahan did two national conferences and ministered at numerous church meetings in that country. When I returned home, my wife then flew off to California to be with our daughter, who was having our 10th grandchild. I was alone in our house, after all the attention and activity of successful ministry, and I was surrounded by the “stuff” of our lives. There was an absolute quietness all around me, and the impact it had went deep within me. It became a time of introspection, where I sought God, ponder my life and ministry, and consider what brought me to this place. I reflected on the family I grew up in, the wilderness seasons I had been through, and the lessons I learned that made me the man I am.

I had time to think about my father, and the example he set, both the good and the bad, that served to shape me in ways I am just now discovering. Among other things, he taught me the wholesome value of a strong cup of hot, black tea, and a slow cooked venison stew. He taught me the blessing of honest work, and the need for personal sacrifice when it comes to family. He showed me that failing to plan for retirement meant you could never really retire. He showed me how to love the wife God gave me, and how to care for my family, no matter what the personal cost might be. He demonstrated the value of living debt free and within our financial means. He also showed me why it was important to pay cash for the things we needed or wanted, rather than go into debt by using credit cards. In essence, my father taught me how to be a real man by the way he lived, loved and died.

Because of that, I became the kind of man my sons could look up to. I showed them it’s OK to not always be right, but it is good to always try to make things right. They learned how to be the leader in their own homes, and the voice of reason to their own children, when it is needed. They were shown how to love their wives and children in ways that were meaningful to them, and to do what must be done to provide for their families. Most of all, I taught them not to see the government as a source of income, but to seek God, plan with care, work hard and invest well. These good things brought them all the provision they have ever needed.

How did I learn the above, you might ask? These truth’s were life lessons learned during my wilderness wanderings, when there was no one but Jesus to prop me up and carry me to safety. It was forged in the time I found myself needing a teaching job. I prayed and sought God, and the perfect job just opened up where there had been none the week before. It was the time I quit my teaching job, at age 35, and my family followed me to Plattsburgh, NY where I went back to college to get my Master Degree. I learned the lesson when we needed a place to live in Plattsburgh, and out of nowhere a place opened up near the college that we could afford.

Fresh instruction came when our cupboards were totally empty, and I gave my sons the last of the powdered milk and instant mashed potatoes for breakfast. I went to school hungry, but when I returned home in the evening, food filled our shelves, our hallway and every counter top in our kitchen. I told no one but God about our need that day, and He showed me how His faithfulness went way beyond my imagination. It came when I quit a great teaching job in Westport, NY, where I was loved and wanted, because God called me to pastor a church of 3 people in Johnstown, NY. Three years later the brand new $250,000 building and all the surrounding land was given to my 60-member congregation, debt free.

New lessons were learned about forgiveness when those I trusted, lied to me, lied about me and then stole money and financial records from the church to cover what they had done. Then, to add insult to injury, they systematically went after the good people in the church and spread gossip in the community in order to pull away even more people and further hurt those who remained. That was a tough one, but we got through it and grew in love and kindness because of it. 

Without those wilderness journey’s my knowledge of God, and experience with Him, would be sorely lacking. Unless I had been willing to walk through those barren wastelands, I would have never seen God’s ability to bring such abundant provision and healing. My faith was built up, my trust was properly anchored, and my life story was enriched, all because of a desert journey. How grateful I am that many times God has led me into a waste-howling wilderness, to be emptied, tempted, tried and tested. At times I failed, but even in my failures, I learned valuable lessons that changed my life forever. The truth is, I would not trade those experiences for any amount of money, because they made me, and my family, what we are today.

Right now are you looking at a dry, sandy landscape, where there is no water, and everything looks dead? Are you feeling alone in a barren land, with no answers, and lots of questions about where God is in all of it? Let me suggest to you that your current condition is actually designed by God to change you in ways you don’t yet understand. He is simply doing with you the very thing He did with Jesus, Moses and David. Like them, you also need to walk it out one step at a time, and pray with an honest heart. You need to gave your weaknesses, and find the place of rest God has for you. Until you are willing to change, embrace your own flaws and exchange the whole mess for God’s strength, you will find yourself a resident of the desert, time and time again.

Perhaps it’s time to embrace the truth about yourself, and be willing to change so you can live out the rest of your life with passion, clarity and vision. Remember, there is a whole world out there waiting for someone just like you to emerge from their dry season. Why? Because who you really are, will emerge as well. The best is always ahead for those who are able to grow in their season of drought. It’s time to enjoy the journey, and let it change you along the way.  By doing so, you can finally break free from your cocoon of self-doubt and secret failures.

Remember, it’s the fight to get out of the shell that makes every chick healthy enough to survive in this world. When people “assist” in that shell breaking process, the young bird will be weak, under developed and prone to sickness all it’s life. But, when they are left alone to struggle their way out of the confining, restraining shell, they will emerge exhausted but strengthened to meet the challenges of life. So, let me encourage you to walk through your wilderness with great expectation. Look to emerge from your shell really changed, and with strength to meet and overcome every challenge that may come your way. Enjoy your season of being alone, because you will not be there forever!