Long summer days are here. They’re the stuff movies are made of — chasing romance, leisurely travels, staying out late. They’re also draining, hot, persistent, and full of noise.
I think about the world and wonder how people get through it all without the Lord.
The news won’t stop. This summer everyone is dealing with the seething sense of mistrust that permeates all of society now, and the ominous possibility that things will feel this way for a long time. None of that is likely to vanish anytime soon, but night brings some comfort. Summer months in the south are brutal for all kinds of reasons, and among them is that in the long light of day, people pour into the world, and it always seems there’s something to say, or some occasion demanding conversation. With politics completely polarized and infringing on more and more of our conversational territory, self-exposure has now become on demand. You must pay attention, you must be present, you must have a position and make it known.
In the evening, a gradual hush falls over the world. It’s like the Lord puts a blanket on us. When you might credibly be sleeping, you’re free to say nothing at all, and nobody will think anything of it. When it’s dark out, the world itself seems to hesitate. I find sanctuary in that pause.
Hope your week was good. Ours has been fun but exhausting, and we’re looking forward to sleep. Have you ever wondered why when we sleep, our brain makes up stories and then gets scared of them? (Haha, it’s crazy, right?)
On to more important things.
A while back, Brother Nobles talked about how being saved is not an event; it is a journey. Overcoming is a process — we continue to work on our nature every single day.
Keep taking the next step.
God won’t reveal too much of the future, often only a glimpse, so we walk by faith, not by sight. We are pilgrims in progress.
Step by step is how we make it. Brother Everett Gavin spoke at our 2020 OCA Graduation commencement and talked about how we see the picture on the box, and we have all these pieces in our hands, but they look nothing like the picture on the box. And it’s frustrating because we live in a time when we want everything “right now”. I want that marriage, I want that kind of friendship, I want that thriving business, I want a six pack, I want to lose weight.
I’m guilty. I eat one kale salad and ask my husband, “Can you tell a difference”? You go to one trip to the gym, “Can you see it now?” We come to God and want him to shout it from the mountains—God, tell me now, what is in store?
Show it to me. Tell me everything. What are you going to do with my life? Tell me exactly what I’m going to go through. That isn’t going to happen. He’s going to take you step by step.
It’s going to be the Ministry directing you, the scriptures enlightening your vision, revelation opening your mind, the Holy Ghost stirring in your heart, something you hear in a message, and that still small voice saying:
Step out here . . . listen to me . . . step this way . . . be obedient to me . . . step a little to the left, step to the right, stop here. Give here. Hold fast there. Forgive here. Love here. Leave that there. Have longsuffering here. Step up there. Follow here.
By Sister Lisa LaFleur Meinhardt
God won’t give you a “this is what it’s all going to look like.” He’ll give you a message preached, a lesson taught, a scripture, a nudge that says, “Here’s the next piece, son or daughter.”
What are you going to do with the next piece He gives you? The next step?
Just take the next step. Each of us have a next step to take. We have a next step in our spiritual lives, in church, in overcoming, our marriage, our family, our education, or our jobs. How do we take it?
Like Brother Nobles taught us recently:
“Give us this day our daily bread.” -Matthew 6:11
We take the next step daily. God, give me what I need for today. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for it will have plenty of troubles.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” -Matthew 6:34
Brother Patrick reminded us:
“God is doing something right now. Take off your shoes (your own understanding and direction), and take on His truth. Don’t delay to serve Him, to praise Him—do it now! The carnal mind is the master of procrastination because it doesn’t want us to do anything for God right now. Every service is a building block in my salvation.”
Worry about the step He gave you to take today.
God won’t reveal the entire journey. Imagine if He did. We wouldn’t trust Him or have faith, and knowing us, we’d sabotage His plan for us or we would take all the credit. That’s what we would do. But He’ll give you the next step to take. He’ll give you the next piece of what your journey looks like.
It’s these small pieces that make the big picture.
Could you imagine going back in time and getting to visit the old testament saints? (Wow, right?) You’d knock on Moses’s door. You’d say, “Hey, Moses, I’ve read all about you and think your life is cool, but I need to tell you everything you’re about to go through.”
Moses would probably be like, “Come again?”
“Moses, look, you’re living the high life right now in Pharoah’s house. You’re part of the Egytian royalty, and that’s incredible, Moses, but you’re about to do something that you’re going to regret, and then you’re going to go into the desert. Not for a few days—you’re going for 40 years. That’s going to happen, Moses. And let me tell you something, when you go into the desert for 40 years, you’re also going to work for your father-in-law. And working for your father-in-law turns out to be one of the toughest things in the world, Moses.
Not only that Moses—don’t worry though, God is going to turn up, and He’s going to meet you in a bush that is going to be burning, and it’s really cool, Moses. He’s going to ask you to do something pretty crazy. He’s going to ask you to go and set a whole nation free that has been in captivity for 400 years. But guess what? Even though you have trouble talking and everything . . . you’re the man!
Oh, Moses, it gets better because when you knock on Pharoah’s door and say, “Let my people go”, he’s gonna refuse you for about 10 times. It gets better. The good news is they are set free from Egypt and three million people are going to follow you out, and you’re going to turn up at the sea, and you’re not going to know what to do.
The Egyptians are chasing you down—and the ocean is going to split open, and you and the Israelites are going to walk through!
But Moses, I’ve got to tell you something. You’re going to walk with three million complaining and insulting people behind you for the next 40 years.
Oh, and I forgot to tell you this part, Moses. You’re not going to reach the Promised Land. All that, and you are not going to step into what was promised, the Promised Land.”
See why we don’t need to know our whole journey?
Because you and I, our carnal minds, we want to know the plan of attack. We want to know the details and how long. How deep? How far do I have to go? Who do I need to meet? But God doesn’t give you the whole journey.
He just says, “Take this next step. Be obedient. Keep listening. Follow my ministry.”
Pilgrims On A Journey
Remember when Abraham got his next step in Genesis 12?
Leave the country.
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee . . . So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” – Genesis 12: 1,4
Look at Peter. When he saw Jesus walking on the water, he says, “if that’s you, tell me to step out.” We give Peter so much slack sometimes, “Man, you took your eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves.” But . . . at least Peter stepped out. He took that step. What is your next step?
Every step you take, every thing you overcome today—is progress.
A pilgrim is a traveler. We are walking toward everything He has for us while laying down everything that holds us here.
It’s about a process and progress.
Babies crawl, and they are wobbly, they fall over. Then they take that one step, and they fall over again. The parent is there Insta-snapping it (or a couple decades ago holding a camera) and saying, “Come on, come to Mama”. Like a parent, God is standing there like you are with your child. God is saying, “Look, you might fall over, but get back up! Come toward your Father! Keep coming—keep walking toward me!”
Gifts and Talents are amazing, but I’ll tell you what is brilliant . . .
. . . when you just keep turning up, when you keep believing, when you keep building—no matter what the cost, no matter what season. We celebrate the new with God, but understand He wants us to keep turning up every day and do what He’s asked us to do.
Elder told us hundreds of times: be builders.
If we’re going to build anything significant, then we’re going to have to learn to keep turning up. Every week, every day. Sometimes we make a big deal of what is “new”. That God is doing a new thing. God is showing you new rivers—for your career, a new job, a loved one, someone you will marry, a new house. God does new things for us in our lives, but He is also very much in the same. Every day, week in, week out, day after day, He is there. Same, same, same. There is power in consistency.
Just Look at Us
Look at our church. Almost 50 years into the story, and do you think we’re going to slow down? Absolutely not. We’re going to keep building. We’re going to keep turning up. We’re going to keep reaching people. We’re going to keep being a light to people. We’re going to keep illuminating the path. It is not time to slow down!
I look out at our congregation and see incredible people — do you ever do that? Brother Nobles said he loves to hear about individual journeys. What brought you here? What happened along the way that changed your direction? Next time you’re in church, look around and see all the individuals and couples — some have been around their whole lives, some got called in the middle of their lives, and others have been here a very long time.
They were young, they had plans, they had big dreams . . . and God stepped into their lives and turned it all around.
Maybe they met someone at work whose light was shining, or they came to service and heard something that rang true–and they couldn’t shake it, or they felt love unlike anything they had experienced. They knew God was calling them.
They found home.
They went through hardships to stay here. In crisis, no matter what season . . . they just kept turning up.
And now it’s years later. They are still here. Still turning up. Still building.
I’m reminded of our three OCA graduates this year and their coming testimony down the road:
Dylan, Kaitlyn, and Oliva graduated from here back in 2020. They could have gone on and done greater things in the world, but they chose to do great things right here. They chose to keep turning up. They chose to be here in crisis. They chose to be here in good times. And now they are still here, part of our incredible team, serving, hosting God’s people, still building.
Young people, and all of us: will you keep turning up? Will you keep building your spiritual friendships? Will you keep praying? Will you keep taking another step every day? Will you keep building the Church?
A Hammer in One Hand, A Weapon in the Other
In your spiritual life, you’re gonna have a hammer in one hand, and a weapon (the Word) in the other. Why? Have you ever been building your business or career or college and while you’re building, you have to battle some things—your car breaks down, your family gets sick, money gets tight.
Like Noah, when he was building, he had to battle other people’s opinions and what he was going through. You’ll battle your own mind. Am I really called? Can I really do this? It will tell you maybe you can’t finish college, maybe you weren’t meant to have a business, maybe your marriage is going to go down, maybe you weren’t meant to make it after all.
But you’ve got to have a hammer in one hand to keep building and a weapon in the other hand to keep fighting. Don’t retreat when things get tough. We’ll go through some agony, we’ll go through hard things, but even when we’re doing battle, we can we never put down the hammer.
We have to build and fight at the same time.
We’ve been taught that the way to build the church is by strengthening our own salvation: read, study, go to services, be present (engaged) in services, pray, fast, praise, keep pressing, overcome daily, and listen to messages during the week.
Brother Nobles just talked about not falling into the “habit” trap — as in going through a routine and motions without being fully engaged. We no longer come into service expecting something from God.
We turn up Sunday . . . and this is what we do on Monday . . . and life becomes a series of things we do by habit rather than being fully present in the moment we are in.
Remember Mary and Martha? Mary chose to embrace the moment she encountered with Jesus while Martha let the moment pass by as she was too busy. We understand Martha–if Jesus was coming over to our house, we’d be cleaning, getting out the best china, and making sure everything was taken care of — we would want to impress Him. But He wants our full attention when we are with Him.
Do we let precious moments in services pass by when we are too busy in our own minds to see what God is doing — even when He is there right in front of us? Brother Nobles just instructed us to be careful that we aren’t sitting in church just because it’s a habit. Don’t sit in services on autopilot.
Jesus sees where we are frustrated, He sees where we are struggling, and if we keep building and fighting—those small steps of blood, sweat, and tears . . . will turn into great strides toward Him.
“They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” -Nehemiah 4:17
Like the Israelites in Nehemiah, we’re going to keep building. We’re going to keep fighting. We’re not going to retreat. We are not going to back down.
When I’m in the fire, He’s there with me.
Let’s strive to not build our lives off the news, social media, the latest trends, worldly turmoil, financial gains, or fleshly desires.
Let’s build our lives from the Word of God.
We have been built here on foundational truths that you can fall on when the economy goes crazy or when the world starts doing insane things. You can fall back on those truths you’ve been taught since your first days of walking the doors.
God called me here, and my trust is in Him. He will take care of me.
When you’re in a trial and don’t know what else to do, keep following Jesus and keep walking alongside the people of God. We want to build our careers, we want to find the person He has for us, we want to build our families, we want to build our finances—all in His will.
God has called us to build and it is not time to slow down. There is so much more ahead!
Everything we’ve done, or are about to do, in this life is temporary. Still do it—work hard at jobs and relationships and be successful in this life. But know that if that is all you have, you have lost.
Grab This Picture in your mind
Just take a step toward God, and He will come running to you.
In Luke 15, a son goes to his father: “Father give me everything, my inheritance. I want it all right now.” His father gives it to him. The son goes, and he squanders it. He messes it all up. He’s hitting the night clubs, living it up. He’s throwing money and caution to the wind.
He’s throwing his life away.
Then, he hits rock bottom.
(It’s a hard thing, but if your want a change in your life, don’t wait to hit rock bottom. Find yourself standing on the rock and let Him change you.)
He’s there miserable in a pig sty and knows he needs to be back home.
As the son is walking home, his father is looking out in the distance, on the horizon, and he sees a silhouette (a great way off) walking. Maybe the son is limping with his head down low.
With each step the son took, can you imagine the conversation that was probably going on in his head? I can’t believe I did this. I can’t go home. Maybe if I become a hired servant, maybe then my father will take me back. Maybe I’ll just turn around. No, I have to go home.
He just keeps walking.
Then, he sees his father running toward him. The son probably thought maybe his father was coming to hit him and condemn him. But the father lifts his robe — and the He runs toward his son.
How many have had that vision of God? He’s coming to punish us. We want to take that next step toward Him but think He’s coming to condemn us.
The Father runs toward his son.
It’s hard for some people to hear. We think sometimes it’s more holy to hang our heads in mourning because of our failures and our misery. The prodigal son did, too. He came home with his head hung low and his mantra of ‘I’ve sinned, I’m not worthy, just make me a hired servant in your house’.
The father didn’t even talk to him. He didn’t answer him. He just covered him in his power, told his servants to get the best robe and put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, struck up the band, and said let’s have a celebration. Finally my son has come home!
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16
Elder and Brother Nobles have taught us how to go boldly before the throne of grace.
We’ve learned you can have deep, genuine repentance in your heart while still coming to God with confidence. He has invited you in. Come talk to Him. Come ask for His forgiveness, His help.
Whether you’re on top of the mountain or underneath the mountain, come to Him.
You’re my son, you’re my daughter! You don’t have to hide from me.
Can you imagine how it must have felt for the prodigal son to see his father running toward him, expecting the worst—only to feel the embrace of a father who says, “Welcome home?”
Come back home. It’s not too late. He still loves you.
We aren’t confusing coming boldly as not being humble. We come to Him daily to repent for our sins, we are sincere, and we have to have fruits unto our repentance. But don’t feel so low that you forget He’s your Father, and that you can come to Him. Remember all the times when we were in our mess, our filth, our mistakes? He didn’t walk away from us and step back and cross His arms. He didn’t leave us, but so many times, His mercy stepped toward us.
He has always come through for us — why would we not go to Him?
There will come a day when we will look back, and we’ll think, man, how far have I come! You won’t worry about how far you have to go. You’ll just realize . . . I’m winning – as long as I keep pressing closer to Him, striving every day to lay down my carnal nature, and taking the next step toward where the ministry is leading.
Just keep walking toward Him.
When everything in life feels so heavy, when you’re tired and weighted down, grab that image in your mind that He is running to you. It will give you a reason to not give up and to draw near to Him.
There is room in this house.
Elder LaFleur said he heard the footsteps of God’s people coming. He could see them coming—from the south, the east, the west, the north—broken, bruised, confused, beaten up by this world, but still sons and daughters coming home as God calls them.
Do you feel His call on you life?
Who do you trust? Where are you searching?
Pastor Phil Good on his television program with his positive view that you can have God and the world at the same time?
I’d trust that grandmother that has walked with God. She’s had to trust God for her provision and strength. I’d trust that single mom who struggles to make ends meet but is there at church ready to work and serve the Lord. I’d trust that man who walks into church every service with his family by his side. I’d be looking for somebody who knows the sufferings of God and who can bring the realities of Christ and the truth into their conversation . . . someone who has had to rely on God . . . someone not indulging or entangled in affairs of the world . . . someone who can stand in the midst of their pain and say, “It’s been worth it all!”
God has a people and they’re starting to shine a brighter light into the darkness of this world. When you see the light, know it’s God working. He found you. He inclined unto you and heard your cry. He is lifting you out of the pit. When we trust Him, that’s when He shows Himself to us.
How does He show Himself? Through His ministry.
Learn to block out the competing voices and noise out there. God has only one voice. There are plenty of false shepherds who are not feeding the flock — they steal, plunder, and destroy. Don’t be fooled.
His sheep will know His voice.
Adventures of the Sheep
Okay, maybe not that exciting. Sheep follow. They are vulnerable, and they get themselves into a heap of trouble without the right shepherd. When a sheep is distracted or listening to the wrong voice, they cannot hear the shepherd. When they don’t hear the shepherd’s voice, they get off course and potentially in danger. Sheep don’t know where the shepherd is leading—they just trust him. Once God opens your eyes, you’ll recognize the voice that leads, guides, directs, and takes us where we should go . . . and it will sound safe to you. The sheep pack knows that’s the voice that matters.
God’s ministry is His voice and they have the key to life: truth. It’s why we hope and persevere.
This is us.
Imagine a couple rows of people singing. Then a few more join in. Now, all the people join until the singing becomes louder. When you meet people who are all speaking and unified in one body, one spirit, and one truth, it becomes powerful.
In the face of so much hate and so much disunity, we actually have the answer. This is us: there is so much we can’t and don’t need to do with the state of this world—leave that to God, but we can overcome our own lives, love each other, be a light, and take our next step . . . all the rest belongs to Him. We cannot make people free or cause the blind to see, but He can.
He is always steps ahead of us and has already prepared things down the road;
He’s already worked things out we will need;
He’s already answered prayers;
He’s already poured out all of heaven!
What are we waiting for?
If there’s one thing we know, it’s when we step out of ourselves, God shows up.
You are here, and God is faithful. Keep trusting Him.
Take the next step.