I received this magnificent painting in my inbox from Suzi—one of my social media friends. Her 19 year-old daughter, Kayla, painted it after being told by Suzi how much my book 41 Will Come impacted her. Thank you, Kayla, for creating this beautiful reminder that the sun will always rise above the mountain—and it will be beautiful.
In the Bible, the number 40 signifies relentless rainfall and neverending storms. (Just ask Noah.) After Noah built the ark, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Day 41 came, and the rain stopped.
After Moses committed murder, he hid in the desert for 40 years. Year 41 came, and God gave Moses a second chance—commissioning him to rescue Israel from slavery in Egypt.
After the Exodus, the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Year 41 came, and a new generation entered the Promised Land.
For 40 days, Goliath bullied and taunted Israel, just begging for someone to come fight him. Day 41 came, and David stepped up and slew the giant.
For 40 days, Jonah delivered a message of doom and gloom to the city of Nineveh—that God was going to destroy them because of their wickedness. Day41 came, and God changed his mind and instead extended mercy because the Ninevites had responded and repented.
After being baptized in the Jordan River, Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and was tempted by the devil. Day 41 came, the devil fled, angels showed up, and Jesus launched his monumental ministry.
The pattern is clear. The number 41 represents the dawn of a new day—the hope and promise that if you don’t quit, the rain will stop, the giant will fall, and you will enter your “promised land.” God believes in second chances. Your fulfilled vision is right around the corner. Your 41 will come.
Forty-one resuscitates hope, restores the sunlight, and returns the calm after the storm. Forty exemplifies exile in the far reaches of a scorching desert, with no end in sight. Forty-one wipes the slate clean and gives birth to second chances. Forty symbolizes the consequences of bad decisions and disobedience—and the postponement of promised blessings. Forty-one turns the page on a new chapter, a new calling.
Maybe you’ve been stuck in a downpour or lost in the desert for what has seemed like 40 years. Maybe you’re hiding from an enormous giant—or running away as fast as you can. Maybe you’re so hungry for God to move in your life—or in the life of a son, daughter, mother, father, other family member, or friend—that you can taste it, but it feels as if it’s never going to happen.
Do you feel so spiritually empty that you desperately need a fresh start? Have you just about given up on the future because you feel stuck and defined by your past? Here’s the good news: The story’s not over. Forty-one is still out there. Let this painting become your personal reminder that things will get better, the rain will stop, the sun will shine, the day will break, the page will turn, the answer will show up, the pipe dream will become reality, the Promised Land will be inhabited, and the giant will fall.
41 will come.
Yesterday was Friday; Good Friday to be specific.
Tomorrow is Sunday; Easter Sunday to be specific.
Today is Saturday; nothing special to be specific.
Saturday is the day between Friday and Sunday. I know what you’re thinking. Duh. Am I right?
To get serious for a moment, the Saturday between Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection must have been overwhelmingly difficult for the disciples. If Friday delivered life-shattering shock and surprise—and Sunday delivered a throw-down dance party—then the day sandwiched between must have been filled with gut-wrenching sadness and grief.
Saturday is the middle of the meantime.
Saturday is hope deferred before longing fulfilled.
Saturday is every single day between 1-40 before 41 comes.
Saturday is the season of waiting before the breakthrough shows up.
The question is, “Will you give up?”
Yes, today is Saturday.
But tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday—and the same Spirit that raised JESUS from the dead lives inside of you!
…Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. —Psalm 30:5 (NLT)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not sure who “they” are, but this picture is worth 60,000 words…literally.
What you probably haven’t noticed about the picture is that I’m in the blurry background. You can find me just below the framed wall art on the right side in front of the two men with the video camera. Yeah, I’m the guy with his head down who appears to be sleeping. I can assure you that I wasn’t sleeping…but I was dreaming. Moments before keynote speaker Mark Batterson was introduced to speak during the closing session, Tyndale Momentum awarded a publishing contract to the winner (Cherie Lowe — Slaying the Debt Dragon) of the 2013 Re:Write Writing Contest.
So nope, I wasn’t sleeping. I was dreaming about what it would be like to win the same contest—all while pounding out notes furiously on my MacBook as Mark dropped awesome sauce for the soul. It was this following quote that rocked me to the core:
“If you feel called by God to write—but you aren’t writing—you are living in disobedience.”
This was an epic moment in my publishing journey that pushed me from dreaming to doing.
Here is my actual tweet just days after the conference:
From that moment on I continued to pray, dream, and write. Fast-forward to February 27, 2015. I won the same contest that I was dreaming about in the above photograph…which resulted in a publishing contract with Tyndale Momentum. I submitted my 60,000 word manuscript in August 2015 and my book 41 Will Come released on August 1, 2016 with an endorsement from…yep, the guy in the picture—Mark Batterson.
Now 41 Will Come is in it’s third printing and I have received numerous encouraging emails and messages from people throughout the U.S., Canada and as far away as South Africa. I have been privileged to share the 41 Will Come message on the Canadian television show 100 Huntley Street, on the nationally syndicated radio show In the Market With Janet Parshall, and on numerous additional radio shows such as Live the Promise with Susie Larson and Pat Williams – The Power Hour (Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic).
In fact, I just received this tweet a couple days ago:
So check this out: Because Mark Batterson followed his dream to become an author (more than a decade and several books ago) he ended up on the stage at a writers conference (which was an idea/dream of my literary agent Esther Fedorkevich) that directly fueled my dream. The result of my dream-come-true landed me on a radio show that was the result of author/speaker Susie Larson’s dream. The result of that radio show interview between Susie and I pushed Leanne (in the tweet above) to move forward with her dream and the result of that dream is a book that will release next month! This entire scenario is what Mark Batterson would call (in his book Chase The Lion) a “dream within a dream.”
So…what is your dream?! Write it down.
What is God calling you to do? Let me know so I can pray for you!
I firmly believe that God is already moving behind the scenes to set up divine appointments on behalf of you and your dream.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. ~Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
Holding On & Standing Strong,
S C R I P T U R E
Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. ~Daniel 1:11-14 (NLT)
F O C U S
The church that I lead begins each new year with ten days dedicated to fasting and prayer. For us, the Daniel Fast is a spiritual discipline designed to deepen our relationship with God, unify our body of believers, intercede in prayer on behalf of individual and corporate requests, and commit our vision for the forthcoming year to the Lord .
S O C I A L M E D I A S H A R E A B L E S
Our pastoral staff submitted devotionals that were shared with our church during the fast. For us, we chose the following themes to focus on:
- Your Story Matters
- Found People Find People
- Saved People Serve
- Growing People Give
- Growing People Change
Here are ten social media shareables for you to use during your fast.
(Please message me if you would like me to send you the devotionals associated with each graphic.)
For someone who compiled and submitted 60,000 words to a publisher—as I come to grips today with the stark reality that my friend (and former youth pastor of the church I lead) Chad Patroff passed away suddenly yesterday morning—I am at a loss for words.
My heart aches.
Even though Chad was born with a heart ailment and suffered through countless surgeries, hospital visits and trips to the ER—I am still shocked, saddened, and mad that his four boys no longer have their father—and his wife, Carrie, no longer has a husband. If only I could have one more Starbucks visit to talk about all things Jesus and our beloved Dallas Cowboys.
Mr. Punch the Devil in the Throat.
The dude was passionate about a lot of things, but most noteworthy (besides Carrie and the boys): POD (band), the Dallas Cowboys, rescuing outcasts and misfits, and Jesus. Chad was more than out-of-the-box; Chad was a no-nonsense, one-of-a-kind wrecking ball for the Kingdom of God. If he thought it, he would say it. If you needed something that needed to be torn down in your life, he would burn it to the ground. Chad would do anything for anybody. Whatever it took. He was all in…and then some.
When I read about Jesus hanging out with sinners, I think about Chad doing the same thing.
Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” ~Matthew 10:9-12 (MSG)
Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.” ~Luke 14:12-14 (MSG)
Riffraff. Misfits. Outcasts. Yep, that’s who Chad was about.
Every time we met for coffee at Starbucks over the years, I always left inspired—because no matter what Chad’s present circumstances were, he was always transparent, he always stayed focused on the Word, and he always shared what God was saying to him. As I sit in the same Starbucks with tears welling up, I can’t help but listen to the song ‘Alive’ by POD.
I feel so alive for the very first time
I can’t deny you
I feel so alive
I feel so alive for the very first time
And I think I can fly
These are comforting words because they serve as a reminder that Chad is flying high in the presence of Jesus…and he is very much alive.
When I received the tragic news yesterday, I went out on a two-mile run to process and pray. One of the songs I was blaring through my ear buds included the following lyrics: This won’t be the end of me. Ahh, that’s some good truth right there. There’s going to be a grand reunion on the horizon—a reunion that reminds me of one of his tattoos.
KEEP YOUR FORK.
What does that mean? Thanks to Facebook, I’ll let Chad tell you in his own words:
The meaning is that we all have been to Gma’s house for family dinners. They tell us to keep our fork b/c desert is coming. So the twist is this…What God has done has been good but what He is getting ready to do is BETTER!! Hence “Keep Your Fork”.
Sad for us, but lucky for him, Chad is already experiencing the better. In fact, there will never be anything better than hearing the following words from Jesus in Matthew 25—the same words Chad has now heard himself in heaven: “Well done, my good and faithful servant…let’s celebrate together.”
I’m sure going to miss answering my phone and hearing Chad shout, “What’s up, Homie?!” or “ How ‘bout them Cowboys?!” but I know this is not good bye. This is see you later. And if we could hear Chad utter one last breath to Carrie, Trae, Luke, Riley, Jesse, Marilyn (his mother), the rest of his family, church family, and slew of friends like me and you—he would probably say, “Keep your fork.”
Today is Election Day 2016.
Read the Word of God.
Pray some more.
Love no matter what.
Regardless of today’s outcome, JESUS is still King, and I choose to follow Him…and I will continue to do my best to lead like Him. By the way, just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I don’t love you, but if I can’t disagree “with love,” then I’m not representing Jesus very well. Let’s not forget that we can be right–but if we’re a jerk–no one is listening. The Apostle Paul calls this (and I’m paraphrasing) clanging cymbal syndrome. [See 1 Corinthians 13:1]
And if I allow my passion for politics to supersede my relationship with Christ, then I’m part of the problem.
So…what’s the answer?
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
~2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)