The phrase “Step into it” that we’ve been focusing on this month, also made me think of the phrase “Stand in the gap.”
The article below is from gotquestions.org…
Question: What does it mean to stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30)?
Answer: In Ezekiel 22:30 the Lord says, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” The word picture painted in this verse is that of a wall with a hole or a gap in it. A wall was the best means of protection in ancient times. A breach in the wall would let the enemy through. If there was a breach in the wall, defenders would have to swarm to that location and hold the breach. The gap would need to be repaired as soon as possible. If a breach was left unattended or unrepaired, the city would fall.
Ezekiel 22 summarizes the sins and abuses of the nation. As punishment for Israel’s sins, God says He will disperse them among the nations. He says in verses 30–31, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” The “gap” here represents the danger facing Jerusalem: God’s wrath is about to break through in judgment on the sinful city. Was there no one who would, in righteousness, intercede on behalf of the city and seek God’s mercy? God searched for such a defender, but He could find none. It seems that, if someone had been willing to “stand in the gap,” the destruction of Jerusalem could have been avoided. Since no one was available or willing to defend the breach and rebuild the wall, judgment fell.
Similar wording is found in Psalm 106:23. This psalm summarizes the sins of Israel in the wilderness, primarily concerning the golden calf. Verse 23 explains, “So [God] said he would destroy them—had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.” Moses “stood in the gap” and saved the people of Israel with his petition on their behalf. In standing in the gap, he “stepped between the LORD and the people” (Psalm 106:23, NLT). Moses had been chosen for that very purpose.
The original story of Moses standing in the gap is found in Exodus 32:9–14: “‘I have seen these people,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.’ But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.”’ Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” To stand in the gap is to intercede and plead for God’s mercy.
In Ezekiel 22:30, God uses language that reminds the people of Moses’ actions centuries before. At Moses’ intercession, God had relented of His wrath in the wilderness. In Ezekiel’s day, there was no Moses. No one interceded for Israel. No one understood the danger God’s people were in. With no intercessor to stand in the gap, the destruction of Israel would be carried out.
To make matters worse, in Ezekiel 13, the false prophets in Israel are condemned because they had not repaired the breach in the wall. Instead of standing in the gap, they simply denied that judgment was going to come.
Besides Moses, there are several who have had the courage and insight to “stand in the gap” and intercede for others. In Genesis 18 Abraham intercedes for Sodom. Stephen prayed for those stoning him (Acts 7:60). Paul prayed for Israel’s salvation (Romans 10:1). And of course, the Lord Jesus is the master of standing in the gap, praying from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), and continuing to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).
In the New Testament, we are told to pray for others (1 Timothy 2:1). In God’s wisdom and sovereignty, He has chosen to use the prayers of people to accomplish His will. He still seeks those who will stand in the gap for friends and family, for people groups and nations. Like Abraham and Moses, we should be willing to stand in the gap, asking God to spare and to save. https://www.gotquestions.org/stand-in-the-gap.html
In Jude 1:22-23 (NLT) we read, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”
Lots of passages to take into consideration when asking the Lord which gaps He’d have you to step into / stand in. How will you respond? In your time of prayer, let the Lord know that you're willing and available to be used however He'd choose to use you.
Practicing His Presence,
Brother Mike Wagner’s challenge for us to Step Into It is still lingering in my mind. I can’t help but think that one of the main reasons as to why I have hesitated to Step Into something that God wanted me to involve myself in is because of my close relationship with fear. Can you relate with what I’m saying? Below I wanted to provide each of us with some thoughts on fear and see if we can lean into God, overcome our fears, and be used in a greater way to fulfill His will for our lives, and better influence the lives of others who are observing our every move. Hope you enjoy the verses, quotes, article and song. I’ll let y’all chew on this one for a while.
Practicing His Presence,
Joshua 1:9 (NIV) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
One author states that, “Fear is like a weed in a garden. Once you allow it to take root, it spreads, replicating itself, until, eventually, it chokes out all the other life there. Trust, love, kindness – none of those things can ever really bloom in a garden of fear.”
If you’re looking for a good documentary to watch, then I would encourage each of you to check out Free Solo. Here’s the trailer to it https://films.nationalgeographic.com/free-solo.
THE UNCOMPROMISING LIFE
You Have to Face Your Fears Because Your Goal Demands it
It’s either commit or give up, dithering [(being indecisive)] is useless
May 27, 2019
I recently came across the phrase, ‘face your fears because your goal demands it’ by Alex Honnold in the mind-blowing documentary Free Solo.
Honnold is a rock climber — one of the best in the world — and Free Solo follows his ruthless pursuit of a phenomenally dangerous goal.
To climb Yosemite’s iconic rock face El Capitan. Without ropes.
He understands that the risk of dying is monumentally high. One single misplaced foot and he’d plummet to his death.
El Cap's rock face is over 3000ft high and extremely exposed.
But free soloing El Cap is his goal. And he recognises that he must face his fear because it is imperative if he is to accomplish it.
And his logical attitude is something we can all apply to our lives to help take away the doubt. And our fears are almost certainly not as high risk.
How fear is worse than what we’re afraid of
Fear is surely the number one reason that we don’t achieve our goals.
It might not always be obvious, but if you dig past the surface reasons and procrastinations, you’ll probably find fear underneath.
We’re afraid of all sorts of things that undermine the pursuit of our goals. We’re afraid of looking stupid, afraid of failing, of losing money, of being rejected and, sometimes, of grave injury or death.
And it’s not that these fears aren’t reasonable or valid. Of course they are. But that absolutely does not mean you shouldn’t face them.
Because if you don’t face them, you cannot achieve your goals. It’s that simple.
Fear itself is dangerous. Probably more dangerous than the thing you’re actually afraid of.
Fear makes us hesitate when it’s safer to put our foot down and go. It makes us panic in precarious situations so that our chances of failure actually increase. And it makes us bail from things we want and need to do.
In short, it’s unchecked fear that is responsible for your goal going down the pan — not the thing you’re actually afraid of.
Facing your fear because you must
Facing your fears is inherently difficult. Often the fear has been built up in our minds so much that our bodies see it as something a lot worse than it is.
We start to breathe more heavily, we sweat, we feel flighty and restless. We can’t think about anything but what we’re about to face.
There’s no room for creative problem solving because we’re laser focused on survival.
And this is just when we go into the situation that we’re afraid of. Many of us never even get that far because we can’t cope with the very idea of facing our fears.
We lose our goals before we’re even attempted them. And if we’re set on never facing that fear or endlessly procrastinating, they’re not goals anymore.
They’re something we will never do.
And isn’t that more frightening?
What’s worse, the fear or giving up?
Picture one of your goals. One that you’ve been putting off because you have to do something you’re afraid of to progress or achieve it.
Now imagine telling everyone, telling yourself, that you’re not going to pursue it anymore. You will live your entire life never having achieved that.
Is that acceptable to you?
The first time I remember letting fear overcome a goal was when I was about eight years old.
I played the piano and had lessons every week. I loved playing and wasn’t bad at it. But then my grade one practical was coming up.
I passed the theory with no problem, but the idea of having to play whilst being watched by three strangers for my practical, was terrifying.
I just didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t face my fear. I couldn’t face it to the point that I told my mother I didn’t like playing anymore and threw such a tantrum that she let me quit.
So I stopped playing piano, an instrument I loved, because I refused to face my fear.
I was a child, so it’s understandable. But we still act like this as adults. Only we get better at justifying it.
Imagine if we spent our energy better
It can take a lot of energy to avoid our fears. I’m afraid of driving even though I passed my test 13 years ago and loved it then.
But so much time elapsed where I didn’t drive, that the idea of it became terrifying.
Avoiding driving takes up so much energy. I have to walk and cycle everywhere, or plan convoluted trips using trains and buses.
But I also have to continually justify not driving to myself as well as friends and family.
I want to drive. I want it so much. And I have recently, but only with a refresher instructor. I could drive at any time, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
And every time I don’t, I’m disappointed in myself.
If I spent that energy actually driving, I know I'd get over the fear.
There’s no right time
Here’s the thing though. There’s never a good time.
And if there is, that time is right now.
Because when you’re afraid of something and continue to avoid it, it grows to behemoth size in your head. It has ever more power over you.
If you don't face it, you will be more afraid of it in a year than you are now.
And when you do face it, it will fade into insignificance. You’ll eventually wonder why you were even afraid of it in the first place. You’ll no longer waste all that energy, it will no longer loom like a thunder cloud in the back of your mind.
You will be free. And you’ll have accomplished your goal.
"You face your fear because your goal demands it. That is the warrior spirit." - Alex Honnold #FreeSolo
Song: Fear is a Liar by Zach Williams
There was a lot going on in our Community this past Saturday which made it so that some couldn’t be in attendance at Ox Strong, but 26 overall was a great number and still very encouraging. Thanks for your continued efforts with spreading the word about this Ministry. I must say, it was great adding two new faces to the group as well. God is building something wonderful here in Grinnell and I love how each of us have had our fingerprints all over it. Next month we'll have brother Aaron Harper speak...from what I hear he has quite the story. Please announce at Church when and if you're able. Thanks!
Serving Alongside My Fellow Brothers-in-Christ,
Brother Mike Wagner was our guest speaker and he did an amazing job speaking on the topic: Relax, It’s only Uncertainty. Below are a few notes that I took that morning. Hope his challenge will be impactful to each of you. Thank you Skip for bringing brother Mike before our eyes, ears, and men.
Here’s the link to Mike’s challenge on video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBKAGp7tLyk
Note…this would be a great message to forward on to any recent graduate.
Title of Mike’s Message: Relax, It’s only Uncertainty!
We live in a time when Uncertainty is amplified right now. We’re left asking ourselves a few common questions, “Do I try to fix it?”, “Do I take charge?” The answers to these questions vary between those who are Planners, Reactors, and the Retreaters. It’s easy for many to resort to becoming anxious during these times. Many are turning to things that’ll fail them, rather than turning to the Lord.
Mike encouraged us to study each other. In 2 Timothy we find that the Apostle Paul had spent an extended amount of time investing in the life of Timothy that he’d learned so much about him. So much so that he reminds Timothy of his calling, and how he needs to fan into flame the gifts the Lord’s given him.
2 Timothy 1:1-9 reads as follows…
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
Mike reminded us that we too can be an Apostle Paul to our Timothy’s in our homes, churches, and communities. Some folks are like a bag of marbles…they’re in the same bag but not connected…just bouncing off each other. What the Lord and the Apostle Paul are aiming at, is for Christ-followers to be a life giving grape that is connected to THE LIFE GIVER grapevine.
Mike took the contents found in verse 7 above and shared with us some remedies that’ll help each of us battle anxiety, chaos, and or withdrawal during times of uncertainty.
Remedy #1…No Fear/Timidity.
Choosing to step into it and Disciple others…what does that look like?
Order of Books of the Bible to go through when Discipling someone:
A F.O.R.M. for a conversation starter when meeting with others maybe for the first time…ask them about the following:
The 4 chair approach to take into consideration when conversing with others…
Brother Mike has such a pastors heart for those whom God allows him to speak into. For me, I really needed the reminder to Step Into It!!! There are times of uncertainty, self-doubt, insecurities, but I need to remember Mike’s challenge and the following…
What kind of an environment are you participating in and or creating, a Forgiving Culture, or a Cancel Culture?
I read the following article this week and was blown away by the words jotted down by the author. Very convicting to say the least...cause for some self-examination for sure. I hope this causes each of us to stop and think of examples where Christ didn’t cancel others out, including you and I today. May we continue making efforts to learn from His example. Let’s be a Forgiving Culture, rather than a Cancel Culture. Cancel Cultures are only cancerous to any community. Learn to lean into being a forgiving people. Why?
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Hope you enjoy the article.
Practicing His Presence,
'It's a pretty big fall': How everything changed for Phil Mickelson in just one year
May 16, 2022
‘We're in a cancel culture right now,’ said Webb Simpson, who considers Mickelson a close friend and mentor. ‘If you say one thing, or somebody digs up something in your past, they cancel you. There have been many situations out here, and in sports, where a player might have done something wrong, sure we can all agree, but I would rather be in an environment where it's a forgiveness culture, not a cancel culture.
‘I'm going to screw up. I know I'm going to screw up. I'm going to say things I don't mean, or say things in the moment that sound bad, and I would hope people give me the benefit of doubt. And yeah, there should be consequences for when we screw up, but I don't think it should be as much as we've seen where it's like 'Hey, you're out. You're gone.'" https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/33916213/pretty-big-fall-how-everything-changed-phil-mickelson-just-one-year
I like to watch crime investigation type of shows. I recently watched one where a murderer took the wallet from the back pocket of his victim. In doing so he left some DNA on the back pocket, which they termed this evidence as Touch DNA. One author states that, “Forensic Science is a multidisciplinary science which helps in crime investigation. To link a suspect to a crime, DNA analysis has been playing a key role. According to the Locard’s exchange principle, when a suspect comes in contact with the crime scene, there is a transfer of evidence from the crime scene to the suspect and vice-versa. The suspect tends to leave the epithelial skin cells containing traces of his DNA on the surface which he comes in contact with. This DNA is referred to as touch DNA and can help in identification of the suspect involved in the crime. In crimes where identification of the suspect has proved to be a potential challenge for investigators, touch DNA has been an effective investigative tool. The present work throws light on the importance of touch DNA in criminal detection.” Link
The Book of Life, and the Lamb’s Book of Life are both mentioned in God’s Word (see the Verses section below)…both are referring to the same book. The only way in which one’s name appears in this Book is by placing his/her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us of this truth in Romans 10:14-15, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” In Matthew 28:19-20 we read, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The good news is the gospel message…the message that saves an individual. God chose for his followers to spread the good news, but the intent was for it to not end there. He then commands us to go, make disciples out of these converts, and teach them along the way. The process of spreading the good news, of making disciples, of teaching them, all involve Touch DNA. The only thing we can take with us to heaven are those we impacted with the gospel message/His word. You may never know how many lives you touched or impacted for His kingdom until you arrive in glory. What a day that will be when the Lord opens the Book of Life and reads off someone’s name you witnessed to and or discipled, just knowing that your Touch DNA was all over some individuals will be an exciting moment.
Let me encourage you with this…if you feel you’ve had no part in the spiritual life of another, then reach out to someone today and leave your Touch DNA all over them. Even if they don’t come to a saving knowledge of Christ at that moment, or ever, don’t assume that your words and efforts went unnoticed. The Lord sees all you do and will reward those who are faithful, obedient, and available. Today’s a good day to start!!! Leave some Touch DNA / Good News every where you go. As someone wise once said, “Preach, and sometimes use words.”
Practicing His Presence,
Casting Crowns - Only Jesus (Mark Hall Teaching Video)
Revelation 20:15 (NLT) And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 3:5 (NLT) All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
Revelation 20:12 (NLT) I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.
Philippians 4:3 (NLT) And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.
Revelation 13:8 (NLT) And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.
Revelation 21:27 (NLT) Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 3 granddaughters, a police chaplain, a pastor, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter