Thursday, December 31, 2009

His Plan

But He answered them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said to Him, "Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?" Mark 6:37 (NASB)

Something occurred to me as I read this passage for the umpteenth time. Jesus did not expect the disciples to come up with the solution. He wanted them to come to Him.

Back up in Mark 6:31, He was leading his disciples to a secluded place so they could rest, get something to eat, and be recharged to start back up again. But, the people found out where they were going and beat them there. So, there was no chance to recharge. The disciples needed to learn something that I also desperately need to learn – He wanted them to learn to come to Him in the midst of exhaustion. He wanted them to seek His guidance when they were tired, frustrated, and totally out of options. He didn't want them to dig deep in their bag of ideas or even their piggy banks – He wanted them to realize that He already had a plan.

When challenges face me in times of exhaustion, I so frequently come to the Lord out of grudging desperation saying, “Lord, this is the only plan I've got, and it seems a bit ridiculous, but if that's what You want me to do then I guess I don't have a choice.” I don't come to Him with openness, ready for Him to strengthen and take care of the solution as well. I come to Him in defensive griping. There is no rest in that. There is no restoration. There is only more work.

He has a plan, and it is good. He has energy to give to accomplish the plan. And, He has every provision to accomplish all He wants to accomplish. I am challenged to make sure that I come to Him truly seeking the plan that He has – no defensiveness, no preconceived ideas. Just a hunger to do it His way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Response

A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.Acts 16:10-11

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. Acts 16:13

As I read this passage again this morning, I had to wonder how I would have reacted if I were Paul. I would probably have stopped and analyzed. Macedonia wasn't a city – it was a region. How could I just go to Macedonia? Wouldn't I need more information?

I can just hear myself, “ Okay, Lord, exactly where in Macedonia would you want me to go?”

While I was waiting around to hear the city name, I would study the culture, the language, and the plan of action for ministering to the Macedonians. I would try to find contacts in the area to help me out.

Paul and his companions set out immediately. They didn't waste a bit of time. They jumped right in with both feet, not even exactly knowing where they would begin to teach (see verse 13)! They just went.

Now, please don't get me wrong. Mission agencies all over do a great job of preparing missionaries for their work, and the planning and preparation phases are helpful and good. I'm not criticizing that.

I am, as is the purpose of this blog, challenging myself. I am challenging myself to act immediately. I don't do that a lot. I think, process, study, and frequently talk myself down or out of things.

I am challenged to choose to act, and to act immediately, when given direction. And somehow I have a feeling I'll be given more clear and frequent direction the more I'm willing to act on what has been given me already.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  Acts 16:3 (NASB)

Something struck me this morning as I read about Paul meeting Timothy.  Paul, in most other circumstances, was pretty adamant about circumcision being unnecessary for salvation and ministry.  He wanted to fight against the insistence that anyone had to covert to Judaism in order to become a Christian.  Yet here he made sure that Timothy was circumcised before taking this young man with him to pursue ministry. 

Paul knew that Timothy, as a young man, needed all the credibility he could get.  He knew that he, himself, needed credibility in bring Timothy along. 

And so he convinced Timothy of the need to be circumcised.

Are there times when I'm willing to set aside some of my preferences for the sake of service to God?  Even those preferences that I cling to the most?  I claim that my desire is to do all things to the glory of God.  How far am I willing to go?

The Holy Spirit will never lead me contradictory to the Word of God.  Never.  But, sometimes, He will lead me contrary to my personal preferences.  Paul insisted that circumcision was not necessary for salvation, and he was right.  As such, he argued, why force circumcision on Gentile believers?  But, circumcision was also not a hindrance to salvation, and in this situation it was felt that circumcision might actually bring more people into the kingdom.  So, to Paul - and apparently to Timothy as well - it was worth it. 

It's one thing to stick to my guns, hold to my convictions, and be solid in my doctrine.  It's another thing entirely to hold my preferences as equivalent to Scriptural doctrine and Bible-based convictions.  I am challenged to be willing to set aside my preferences when the need arises.  And I'm praying for the wisdom to discern when to stick to them and when to put them aside. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

For His Glory Alone

As I have mentioned it many times before, my family thrives on routine and struggles when out of it.  So, after two months of being out of routine, we are ready to get back to it. 

This week is our week of working back to that point. There are a few things we need to take care of to get back into a routine, things like a bit of catch-up in school, some home organization, some re-evaluation of our family schedule, etc. 

As I made my list and pondered the week, the Lord laid something on my heart.  It really came from reading Ephesians 6:7, but 1 Corinthians 10:31 comes to mind as well.

Why am I really getting us back into routine?

I need to make sure that my reasoning for getting things back in order is for the glory of God.  If it's not, then I will struggle to maintain it.  If it's just for the sake of keeping my house in order, then when I am tired it won't be worth it.  When the kids are cranky it won't be worth it.  When other things creep in and look more alluring, it won't be worth it. 

It is my joy and delight to see my home and family run smoothly.  But, that delight is not completely fulfilled until I managed this household for God's glory and in service to Him.  So, as I get things back in order this week, I am challenged to keep my focused right there - doing all things as service to Him and for His glory. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.  Acts 15:41 (NASB)

So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."Acts 16:5-9 (NASB)

According to Acts 15:36, Paul's original intention was definitely to go and check on all the church's and strengthen them.  But, he also longed to share the gospel to many more who had not yet believed.  Twice, however, he was redirected in his attempts to preach the gospel until he was finally led to Macedonia.

I like to have direction and vision.  I like to have a plan.  And, oftentimes, God uses that sense of vision and plan to get me pointed in the right direction.  But, I frequently get going on my plan and then think I can just keep going on the plan.  It's not necessarily that I consciously think I don't need the Lord's hand on it anymore.  I just know the plan.  So, I'm okay, right?

Paul had to rely each step of the way to know exactly where God did and did not want him preaching.  He had to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in all things.

It's okay to have a plan, but it is so necessary for me to be sensitive to God's redirecting at any time.  I need to be more reliant on His voice for my next step than on my plan.  That might mean I can't be in my comfort zone of having it all laid out ahead of time, but it will also mean that it's not nearly as difficult for God to direct me through a turn and a change. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fruitfulness or Suffocation?

"And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world , and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."   Mark 4:18-20 (NASB)

There are many ways to be fruitful.  When I see my children beginning to apply a new spiritual principle to their lives, I know I am being fruitful.  When I see a lightbulb come on in the mind of someone I have been discipling, I know I am being fruitful.  When I see a project come together or someone live out a lesson I have taught, I know I am being fruitful.  And, then there is the most obvious fruitfulness - when Christ's salvation is bestowed upon another life, and He has used me in the process, I know I am being fruitful.

 But, I look at these verses and I realize how many times I let the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things take over my heart.  Even things that seems noble, like justice and rights, grab ahold of me and choke out God's ability to work fruitfulness through me.

Just yesterday I inadvertently angered some people.  The truth is that at the beginning I had no idea I was frustrating anyone.  The further truth is that I was right in what I was doing and they shouldn't have been frustrated with me.  But, my immediate reaction was to stand up for what I considered to be my rights, and at that point I ceased being right.  It was a split-second reaction, and it was not a godly one.  So, in a situation where I could have shared the love of Christ and been a light for Him, I instead exacerbated the situation and caused the anger and frustration to grow. 

That's not bearing fruit.  That's killing it. And, that's not what the Lord wants from me. 

Prov 22:17-18 gives me the exact information I need to be fruitful - keeping the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord close to my heart and mind.  Will I choose to do what I need to do?  Will I be faithful?  Will my next encounter show fruit or will it show a life choked by the cares of the world?  My challenge is to fill my heart and mind with the nourishment of God that I may truly be a healthy, fruit-bearing child with no sign of worldly suffocation.

Monday, December 21, 2009


And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"  Mark 4:37-38 (NASB)

The last few times I've read this story, I've been struck by something - I might have even posted about it before.  Even so, this is what struck me yet again this morning, so this is what I will share.

In this story, the disciples didn't necessarily expect that Jesus would save them from the storm.  I'm not really sure what they wanted from Him - maybe they simply wanted Him to commiserate with them.  Maybe they were crying out in desperation, grasping at straws, but still not really believing they would be saved.

But He did save them.  He calmed those winds, and they were almost more terrified of His power than they had been of the storm!

When I cry out to the Lord at times, I wonder what I'm really asking for.  I wonder if I even know.  I wonder if I truly expect Him to work in an unfathomable way or if I just want Him with me so I have Someone to lean on through it all.

I want to learn to expect Him to act in His way. 

It's never going to be to just hold my hand through a crisis.  It may be that He calms the storm and shows His power such that many come to know Him. 

It may be that He does not calm the storm, but instead comforts me through it.  But, when He does, it's never going to be just for me.  It's going to be for His glory.  Matt Chandler and his family come to mind when I think of this.  They are being comforted by the Lord through the trial of his brain tumor and cancer diagnosis, but the reason his story is so powerful is not because of that comfort, but because God is being glorified through it in a very, very real way. 

Whatever the case, I want to be expectant.  I want to ask my Savior for His intervention and the expect that He is going to work in an awesome way that will glorify Himself.  I want to have the attitude of Paul in Phil 1:18-20, that no matter the outcome I will rejoice because He is being glorified. 

May He always be glorified in me!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.Acts 13:51 (NASB)

But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.  Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.  Acts 14:2-3 (NASB)

There are times when I face frustration in serving the Lord. I don't see results, and I just want to shake the dust off my feet like Paul and Barnabas did Acts 13:51. But, then they went on to Iconium and had issues as well. Pretty severe issues. Two verses later we find that they had to flee the city because of violence planned against them.

But, up until that point, instead of making them move on from this city, the challenges caused them to become more bold and more entrenched.

What was the difference?

I think the answer can be found in the Christmas story. Check out Luke 2:26-27. Simeon had no idea when the Messiah would show up, or even how He would show up. So, he waited. Not only that, he was sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

I am challenged to be sensitive. To walk through my days letting the will of the Lord be my first priority with "my" day falling in line with the Spirit's guidance rather than establishing my day and then fitting God's will in when it works with my plans. Then I will know when to shake off the dust and when to entrench; when to stay home and when to go to the temple. When to look for a king and when to be ready for a baby.

Friday, December 18, 2009

For All People

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people...When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  Luke 2:10, 17-18 (NIV)

What an amazing statement.  The lowliest of society was given the message "for all the people."  All the people were not told - just these shepherds.  In fact, the shepherds weren't even specifically told to tell all the people.  They were just told to go see and worship.  But, obviously they didn't have to be told what to do next.  They took the statement that it was for all people, combined it with their incredible excitement over the events of the evening, and went to spread the news.  And all people wondered at these amazing events.

I know excitement tends to wear off.  I know urgency tends to die down.  But, this is the good news!  This is the salvation of all mankind!  This is the source of all joy that life could ever hold!  Why do I let the excitement die down?  Why do I falter in the urgency to share this news that should be for all people?  All people have not heard yet!  I have to share!  I have to keep the wonder alive! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

God is God

And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.  When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread.  Acts 12:2-3 (NASB)

I like precedences.  I like to look at the awesome ways God has worked before and use that as an assurance that He's going to work the same way again, showing Himself in incredible ways.

He has never allowed us to miss a bill.  He works that way for everyone, right?  He has given people new cars when they needed them.  He'll do that for us, right?  He has miraculously healed people of horrible diseases.  So, He'll do it for a friend I'm praying for, right?

In Acts 12, we see a completely different picture.  James was killed.  One of Jesus' inner circle.  One of His closest friends.  In a single unceremonious verse we are told of the end of James' life - he was killed by Herod.  Period.  The end. 

Not long after that, Peter is arrested, and the intention is to put him to death as well in an effort to please the Jews and make Herod's position a little more stable.  The rest of the story shows that, thanks to a divinely orchestrated plan, Peter does not die.  Instead he escapes and goes right back to work. 

Why did God spare Peter and not James?  Wasn't James being effective?  Obviously he was, since Herod considered him worthy of arresting.  Couldn't he have continued to be effective?  Couldn't his family have been spared the grief of his death?

This story reminds me yet again that - guess what - God is God!  His ways are not my ways!  His thoughts are not my thoughts!  (Isaiah 55:8-9) He has a plan that I cannot comprehend.  Sometimes grief comes.  That doesn't mean His hand is not in it.  Sometimes wonderful things happen.  That does not mean He's only working in those times. 

My challenge is to remember this and to rejoice always.  My week hasn't been a super one.  There have been a lot of discouragements and frustrations.  But, He's still God.  He still loves me, and He is still in control.  He's still working, both in me and in the world around me.  His will is going to be accomplished - will I rejoice in His will whether I'm ecstatically happy or crushingly grieved? 

Monday, December 14, 2009


About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!" Acts 10:3 (NASB)

On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;  Acts 10:9-10 (NASB)

I would like to think that if I saw a vision in the middle of my prayer time, that I would respond to it and then immediately act upon it afterward.  But, sometimes I fear that I would be more like Ebenezer Scrooge, blaming the vision on some underdone food, rationalizing it all away once the vision was over.

Which brings me to the real thought I had about these verses.  They are really less about the visions and more about the idea of being interrupted in certain tasks.  The goal in both situations was prayer.  (It isn't specifically stated in verse three that Cornelius was praying, but verse two had just mentioned that Cornelius prayed to God continually, and the ninth hour was an expected prayer time for Jews.)  In both situations, these men are interrupted in their prayer time. 

But, what strikes me the most is not the interruption of the visions as much as Peter's first interruption during his prayer time.  He was hungry.  So, he got up and asked for food to be prepared, and then he went back to praying.  Acknowledging the hunger allowed for two things.  First, the vision was less about food and more about breaking out of tradition, and acknowledging his hunger allowed Peter to consider the meaning of the vision.  Secondly, the fact that food was already being prepared allowed for the entertaining of unexpected guests!

God used an average, everyday need in the middle of Peter's prayer time to accomplish a purpose.  I have a lot of average, everyday interruptions in the middle of my prayer times and Bible reading.  Whether it's a child, a wailing cat, a growling stomach, or some other mundane need, I rarely see it as God's hand.  Instead, it's just an interruption.  Often I get agitated and allow myself to be distracted.  Sometimes, I just throw my hands up and say, "That's it!  I give up!" 

Now, tell me, how can God use that? 

My challenge for today is see God's hand more than I see the devil's (oh, he's just really trying to distract me today! - yep, we all say it, don't we?), and to allow God to work through interruptions knowing that they just could very well be specifically ordained by Him to accomplish His purpose through me!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Memorial Before Him

And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.  Acts 10:4 (NASB)

Just to give the context, this is the story of Cornelius, the Roman centurion who was a devout follower of the Lord but knew nothing of Christ.  God used Peter to fill that gap.  It's a great story - if you're not familiar with it, head over to Acts 10 and take two or three minutes to read it.

What struck me this morning was verse 4.  I hope to blog more in depth about it soon on my thoughts blog.  But, for now, I want to share the thing that hit me the most.

Cornelius did everything he knew to do to honor the Lord, and in doing it all with his whole heart, he greatly honored the Lord.  When the time was ripe, the Lord then showed Cornelius what he needed to do next.   But, the beautiful thing is that at this point Cornelius was doing everything he knew with his whole heart. 

My amazing Savior has blessed me so greatly with a knowledge of Him and with clear instructions regarding what He expects of me.  Am I faithful to Him in what He has shown me?  Am I obedient to those things?  Do my words, actions, offerings, and prayers rise up to Him as a memorial?  As a sweet incense?  As pleasing to His senses? That is my challenge, and I accept it with great delight!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Standing Out

Now Saul , still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  Acts 9:1-2 (NASB)

I've read these verses many, many, many times.  But this morning I noticed something.  Luke specifies that both men and women have attracted Saul's attention. 

I had to stop and chew on that one.

In New Testament times (and even now in many countries), women had no rights.  They were meant to be wives and mothers, and without a husband they typically could not support themselves.

Having that in mind, it makes sense that Luke would have to specify that women were being targeted as well as men - otherwise the automatic assumption would be that the men would be the only ones targeted.  Why mess with the women too?

These women were targeted as well because they were being just as bold an effective in sharing the truth of Christ as the men were!

And that is what got me. 

So often I live my life in such a way that I would easily escape notice.  I don't make a big splash.  I am not a "danger."  But, oh, how I want to be.  Not in a way that makes me the center of attention.  That's not really what I mean.  I don't like to be the center of attention.  I would truly rather be effective in the background.  Sure, I like credit for what I do, but I don't like the spotlight.  So, I can honestly say that the "big splash" I want to make has nothing to do with being in the spotlight.  But, if someone is going to come through and target those who are truly making a difference for the kingdom of God, I want my life to be lived in such a way that I would be a target! 

Right now no one is targeting people who are making a difference for Christ in my proverbial neck of the woods.  So, now is the perfectly safe time to stand out!  I know it will not always be safe, but I want to be in the habit of standing out so that when the safety is gone, the habit is firmly entrenched.

Here's to standing out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Pauses

But Philip found himself at Azotus , and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.   Acts 8:40 (NASB)

Yes, I'm still in this story!  Didn't I say I loved it? 

This morning the very last verse really grabbed me.  Something absolutely extraordinary had just happened to Philip.  First of all, an angel had appeared to him and told him to go to this specific road.  Then, he met a man who was just itching for good news Philip just so happened to have available to share.  So, he shared it, baptized the man, and then disappeared into thin air! 

The image of Star Trek comes to mind.  "Beam me up!"  I can't help but wonder how it felt to Philip to suddenly and supernaturally be transported from the presence of the eunuch to Azotus.  To just have "found himself" there.  I can only imagine how I would have responded to such an event.

But, what did Philip do?  He kept right on preaching!  I'm sure this most recent experience was used as an illustration in at least one sermon, but he just moved right along and preached. 

So often there are things that happen unexpectedly in my life.  I find myself in new situations or new circumstances.  I find my expected plans interrupted.  And, it seems I always have to have a bit of an adjustment period to work back into normalcy. 

I was convicted today that I need never take an adjustment period before getting back to the ministry of the gospel.  Life might be "interrupted."  What I consider my normal routine might be challenged and changed.  But, there should be no pause in ministry.  No pause in sharing the gospel.  No excuse that should keep me away from serving the Lord fully.  No matter how extraordinary the circumstances.  I just need to get right back to sharing the gospel!

Friday, December 4, 2009


Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:30-31 (NASB)

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. Acts 8:35 (NASB) I absolutely love this story (Acts 8:26-40). I've been reading it for several days, and will probably be in it again tomorrow. There are so many things that draw me to this story.

  • Philip's sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
  • The fact that God sent an angel to give Philip specific direction.
  • Philip's unquestioning and immediate obedience, such that timing was perfect.
  • The eunuch being right where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there.
  • The fact that Philip was ready.
It's those last two that really got me this morning. First of all, Philip was not responsible to make sure that the person he was to meet was there. In fact, Philip wasn't even told what he was supposed to do or who he was supposed to meet. He was just told to be on the road. He was never told to reach a specific destination - just to be on that road. It was God's job to arrange the meeting. It was God's job to take care of the eunuch. Philip was just called to be obedient. So often I don't just obey. I have to try to ensure that everyone else is obeying, too. Otherwise, how in the world can God work in their situations? How am I to be useful if the person I am to talk to doesn't get to the right place at the right time? Guess what? It's not my job!!! It's God's. I want to live like that. Secondly, Philip had no idea who he was going to encounter or what type of teaching that person might need. He had no clue who he would meet. He just went, and he was ready. He was ready with an understanding of Messianic prophecies in Scripture. It is easy to step back and say, "Oh, when I have need, the Holy Spirit will guide me." On the other hand, it's easy to study, study, study and rely on the results of that studying alone - my own human understanding of Scripture. There must be a balance. I must have a balance. I need to be very familiar with the Word and I need to be very sensitive to the Lord's leadership as I study and learn. God has granted both His Word and His Spirit, and I need to be growing in both. Essentially, today, I was challenged to just be ready. Be ready by growing in the Word. Be ready by being willing to be where God has placed me. Be ready without manipulating the readiness of others. Just be ready to be used.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


"To be the joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything, for in our life, if one is joyful, it means that one is faithfully living for God, and that nothing else counts; and if one gives joy to others one is doing God's work; with joy without and joy withing, all is well...I can conceive no higher way." Janet Erskine Stuart I read this quote this morning in Come Let Us Adore Him by Robert J. Morgan as I was reading the story behind the writing of the beloved Christmas hymn "Joy to the World." To say I was captivated by these words would be an enormous understatement. Can you imagine this being said of you? Can you imagine a better compliment than this? Oh, to be truly called a joyful person! To truly see myself in that very light! What an awesome, amazing, wonderful, incredible challenge to take on - to live faithfully for God and to give joy on to others simply by nature of who I am. I know that I do that at times, in moments. But, to truly live this way! To give joy on a daily basis to those who surround me, starting here at home with my family and moving on from there. Yes, that is where I desire to be. Oh, the joy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. Mark 1:16-20 (NASB) Mark is the immediate Gospel. Everything in Mark happened suddenly or immediately. I have always found the urgency very, well, urgent. I do have to wonder - would I have followed immediately? I like to weigh my options, to think through things, and to process. I like to list pros and cons and make decisions based on careful deliberation. I over-think things. Even little things like what to wear or eat. Are there good reasons to wear or not wear that? What are the implications of planning that particular meal for that particular day? I know, it sounds a bit ridiculous. I have gotten better over the years, and now I'm trying to (figuratively speaking) beat the extremism of this type of behavior out of my eight-year-old. But, the truth is, my nature tends toward stopping and processing. It's not always bad. Although I still make impulse purchases, I am inclined to stop and process at least a little bit. Although I like some spur of the moment excursions, I am enough of a planner to make sure those spontaneous events don't supersede something scheduled. But, there are times when I need to be more immediate. The Lord puts me in circumstances at times that require action, immediate action. So, my challenge is to grow in the willingness and ability to follow my Savior immediately. To change plans spontaneously simply because He puts an opportunity in front of me. To let the plans that He has laid from before the foundation of the world take total, complete, and immediate precedence over anything - no matter how long my plans have been determined or how abruptly He informs me of His long-established plan. His comes first. Immediately.