Thoughts, musing and insights of a Zawacki mind.
The verse for 2021 is Galatians 5:1
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
In the early months of 2021 individuals and communities need to establish firm foundations on which to stand firm. It is time to drop anchor, allow roots to go deeper and lay true level foundations. For dark winds will blow come springtime. We must learn to build not on the sinking sands of offense and the opinions of people, instead we must build on the solid foundation of the Gospel’s good news; God’s extravagant love and mercy for his children.
Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
This is now. Those words are for 2021.
Many who are weak and frail with be unable to stand on their own, they will need the help and support of their families, and their communities.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us:
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
These words are essential in this hour.
I see two storms coming, one is called fear and the other is shame. There is good news in this, the only power they have is the power we grant them. Fear and shame have been a yoke of slavery for many. Christ has set us free and calls us to stand in 2021.
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…”
I sense the Lord saying that He has not left us as punching bags. He has empowered us with many extremely powerful weapons. I sense two highlighted to me, worship and love.
When we worship God, it helps to tune us into His presence and His voice. Jesus said:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27).
Listening to God, knowing and following where he leads is essential for the days ahead. Much like a radio, God is always speaking. Worship helps turn the radio on and tune us into God’s voice. When the dark winds blow, we’ll need to discern the voice of God against all the other voices. God’s voice will guide us, direct us and give us hope.
Many years ago, a wise old man that I loved and respected said to me:
“Tom when you don’t know what to do, and it will be often, choose love, it never fails.”
I’ve never forgotten those words. Love is one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal. I’m 60 years old, I’ve learned a few things on my journey:
- It’s more important to love than it is to be right.
- The reason it’s more important, is because I could be wrong.
- If being right comes at the expense of love or relationship, the price is too high.
- Love always looks like it’s losing, until it’s not. (Thanks Duane)
Not only did Saint Paul tell us that love never fails, Jesus commanded us to love:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Love is the antidote for fear and shame.
In 2021, if we are to stand in our Freedom and not surrender again to a yoke of slavery, we have to get our love on. This will be difficult for many; worship will help immensely. In God’s presence, his love will empower you to do God sized things.
Now is the time to prepare our foundations for dark winds will blow in Spring time. Come Summer we will see the lines between good and evil clearly defined. The Kingdom of God against the Kingdoms of the world. The Spirit of truth will shine on the darkness. Lies and deception will be exposed and robbed of their power. Many will finally know the truth and it will set them free. Just as Jesus said:
“… and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
By years end, eyes will be opened, lives will be divinely empowered and eternally changed. Many will see Saint Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 1:15-18 begin to be answered.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,”
Great promises await those who stand firm and those who love well. The Father will grant spiritual wisdom, divine enlightenment, hope and supernatural insights to intimately know God.
2021 is a battle for our hearts and souls. The mind is the battle ground and the weapons of our warfare are spiritual and powerful. Stand and love.
by Tom Zawacki
Word for the New Year: Worship
Worship not only touches the Father’s heart, but it changes our hearts. In the coming year worship will be God’s instrument to tune our hearts to his. Worship will enable us to hear and see more clearly than ever before, and worship will help us trust God in the unexpected.
Verse for the New Year: 2 Chronicles 20:18
“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground,
and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.”
Worship will be powerful weapon in the coming year.
Jahaziel son of Zechariah prophesied to King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem:
“This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
(2 Chronicles 15, 17)
In 2018 it’s not our job to battle, it’s our job is to worship.
A Call to Intimacy in 2018
God is looking for intimate lovers, not warriors in 2018. Jesus,
the Bridegroom desires intimacy with his Bride, the church.
He’s seeking the fragrance of worship, not the stench of war.
For many the change will be difficult. In 2018 there is a call away from a Martha mindset “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made”. To a Mary mindset “who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said”. The Bridegroom has much to share with His Bride in 2018. And it will be shared in places of intimacy.
Jesus said in Luke 10:41-42
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
May we also choose what is better in the coming year.
Number for the New Year: 12
I see the clock striking 12, both hand raised high, pointing to heaven in worship.
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
In the coming year the number 12 will be a reminder to:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Old Song for the New Year:
Great Adventure by Steven Curtis Chapman
The entire song speaks to me but the chorus stands out:
Saddle up your horses
We've got a trail to blaze
Oh oh oh
Through the wild blue yonder of God's Amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the Glorious unknown
This is the life like no other whoa whoa
This is the great adventure
Intimacy with God will launch us on a Divine great adventure. God’s amazing grace will take us into new
and uncharted places. This adventure will take many into their personal Promised Lands.
What begins in 2018 will have significant ripples throughout time, for decades to come.
Even now God is granting hope and encouragement for the adventure ahead.
Color for the New Year: Red
Red typically represents wisdom, anointing and love. This will be the trifold expression of Red in 2018.
Intimacy with God will result in supernatural strength to overcome. A fruit of intimacy will be increased wisdom,
increased anointing and increased capacity to love.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
In 2018 red will symbolize holy passion.
Passionate love for God and passionate love for people.
Trailblazers and Forerunners
I see trailblazers and forerunners birthed in 2018. I see natural and spiritual births.
Children born in 2018 will carry a special capacity to go where others have not gone before
and leave a path for others to follow. World changers will be birthed in 2018.
Spiritually I see heavenly beings delivering invitations to many people. I see envelopes personally addressed; the cover of each invitation is printed with the words “Scary Wonderful”. Inside each card is a unique assignment, a personal invitation to their own great adventure with God Almighty. Those accepting the invitations will be trailblazers and forerunners beginning in 2018.
A Final Word of Encouragement
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
God remembers. He has not forgotten you. He has not forgotten the promises he has made to you.
He is faithful, he will do for you, just as he promised.
I have an awesome wife. Not many men get to marry their childhood sweethearts, but I did. We recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, pretty cool. Together, over the years we have learned some wonderful lessons.
- As newlyweds we discovered that reddi-wip will remove paint from freshly painted walls.
- We discovered that poison ivy can cut your honeymoon short.
- We discovered that American Express really does expect you to pay the full amount at the end of every month.
- As new parents, we discovered that we actually were allowed to unwrap our newborn from that tightly wrapped baby blanket no matter how scary the maternity ward nurse was.
- We discovered that potty training your first born while eight months pregnant with the second child is NOT a good combination.
- And neither is looking after your 3 year old son while watching the Giant’s play football on Sunday afternoon.
- We’ve discovered that no matter how much I like to cook (and I’m pretty good at it), she is STILL the Queen of HER Kitchen!
- We discovered that only mommy knows how to comb out an 8 year old daughter’s hair, daddy just won’t do.
- We discovered a double standard when our children would date. I was fine when my son took out a lovely young lady on a date. But Mamma, grumbled in the back ground.
- We also discovered that when our daughter would date Momma was all smiles and giggles while I would growl, stare him down, offer a grip of death handshake, while holding a finely tuned, 5 hp, extra sharp chainsaw in my left hand
- We’ve learned that everyone else goes away, and that we better like each other. As God has moved us around the country we have left some awesome friends behind. Even our children have grown up and moved on… that being the case, we had better like each other, and we do.
- We’ve learned that in the best times and the worst times, I want her there with me, There is no one else I would rather celebrate with. She is the one I look to for encouragement, her presence comforts me.
- We have also learned that when I ask her to rub my back, she’ll do it but she tends to rub my back in the places hers is hurting, I do the same thing. Occasionally I’ll be asked to rub her feet, not a problem, I'm happy to do it. However, I’ve noticed that I do tend to rub her feet where my feet hurt.
So here’s today’s $64,000.00 question… Do you touch, rub, reach out, care for, cook, listen to, even pray for others where you personally desire to be touched?
We give love in the form we desire it. Gary Chapman’s bestselling book “The Five Love Languages" address this well. Chapman defines the five love languages as: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Acts of Service. My love language is Words of Affirmation. Nadine’s is a combination of Physical Touch and Acts of Service. What’s yours?
I participated in a lively group discussion last night. A group of friends have been gathering for a few weeks now. We eat together, worship a bit and talk about... stuff. So last night I threw out the following question: “Why do bad things happen?”
Now all those assembled have been around church circles most of our lives. Through the years we’d all been exposed to various theologies and philosophies attempting to explain this age old questions. Here are a few of the answers we came up with:
- We are reaping what we’ve sown.
- We’re out of God’s will.
- There's a lesson we need to learn.
- It’s warfare, a spiritual attack.
- It’s the effect of our sin.
- It’s the effect of someone else’s sin.
- It’s demonic payback or backlash for our good deeds.
- The injustice experienced creates an opportunity for Divine justice.
- A combination of the above explanations.
My guess is that you could add a few items to this list.
So, here’s my point, when bad things happen – do we really know why? Do we know with a definitive certainty why it happened? I think not. If we’re uncertain why bad things happen to us, then we’re even less certain why they happen to others. That uncertainty alone is a very good reason for grace. Grace toward others and ourselves; grace and dramatically less judgment. Bad things happen and we don’t always know why. When bad things do happen may our default position be one of love and grace.
What say you?
Mark’s Gospel records the account of James and John asking Jesus to sit on his right and his left in glory. In reply Jesus asks “can you drink the cup I drink?” They say “sure, why not” and Jesus tells them “you will”.
Author, theologian and bible commentator William Barclay comments on this text in his classic work “The Master’s Men” (page 101)…
“So then both of the brothers drank the cup of Christ. Let us see what the cup of Christ was. John went to Ephesus; he lived for almost a hundred years; and died in peace full of years and honor. James’s life was short, and came to an end swiftly and suddenly through martyrdom by the sword-and yet both drank the cup of Christ. There is a Roman coin, which has as its inscription the picture of an ox facing an altar and a plough, with the words: “Ready for either.” The ox must be ready for the dramatic sacrifice of the altar or the long routine of the plough. The Christian who dies in one heroic moment and the Christian who lives a long life of fidelity to Christ both drink the cup of Christ. The Christian . . . must be ready for either.”
I’m convinced, first we drink then we discover our fate. In the end it doesn’t really matter, the pay’s the same. For me the key to readiness is this… I’m already dead.
“I have been crucified with Christ…” Galatians 2:20
“My life is not my own…” 1 Corinthians 6:19
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
So Lord, what will it be today… altar or plough? My answer is yes.
I had an interesting conversation with an old friend this week, it reminded me that I DO NOT what to be the church policeman. I don't want to establish, maintain, monitor and ultimately punish violators of "the rules", You know, those man made religious, rules and regulations with a side order of "the traditions of men." I have zero desire to be a church cop, but I have an enormous desire to be a spiritual father. In my humble opinion, the world has more than enough self appointed prophets, priests and kings. All the while, lacking drastically in spiritual moms and dads.
Back on October 29th, 2010 I posted to this blog a brief article titled What I Want to Do I listed 5 things, 5 simple things. Here they are:
- I want to be a friend of God.
- I want to comprehensively experience God's extravagant love for me.
- I want to love people as extravagantly as I have been loved.
- I want to introduce my extravagantly loving Friend to everyone I know.
- I want to help others others experience this ongoing love affair for themselves.
Missing something? Notice the absence of religious rules and regs? Good.
Back in the 70's the Charismatic Renewal sweep through the Catholic Church and took my family right along with it. We typically saw 22 year olds leading meetings while regularly providing opportunity for a skinny 16 year old kid from the neighborhood to lead as well. It was an absolutely wonderful season in my life. However, we did have one enormous problem, we were spiritually fatherless. The parish priest was happy enough to grant us permission to use the school cafeteria, but not happy enough to join our group of 250 every Thursday evening. On the other end of the theological spectrum, our Pentecostal brothers wouldn't touch us with a ten foot pole lest they too would get a sudden urge to pray the Rosary. We were fatherless and like most kids without a father, we made a lot of mistakes and got into a lot of trouble. With rare exceptions (men like Bob Mumford for example) the church didn't know what to do with us so they just left us alone.
So, I wonder, who's next? Upon whom will God almighty sovereignly choose to pour out his Spirit? I'm not talking fraud, I'm talking about the real thing. The real God's actual Spirit. Now that we're the grown ups, will we step up and lovingly father and mother the next move of God or will we join the ranks of the too easily offended? What if this next move is among Muslims or Hindus or Mormons? What if God chooses to pour out his Spirit, dare I say it - among the gay community? Any one of these groups would be as offensive to Evangelical Christians today as Catholics were to the Pentecostals back in the 1970's or Gentiles were to Jews in the first century.
If you're on the church police squad you may feel this overwhelming need to get them back in line. However, if your only objective is to love them, to be a spiritual mom or dad, to help them experience God's love lavish and extravagant love for themselves... Well, then you just might want to turn in your gun and your badge because you're not going to need them anymore.
Awoke at 3:00 AM, can't seem to sleep.
Watched the season premier of House tonight. The main character is a brilliant but very broken physician. This episode opens up with our extremely gifted yet horribly flawed hero in a state mental institution... as a patient. The next two hours portrayed his journey to emotional honesty. The writers and actors did their jobs very well.
It made me think.
I'm broken too. I cover up my my brokenness effectively but that doesn't mean I'm whole, I'm not. I'm still broken. I've learned how to ignore my pain and how to coexist with my pain and even how to function at very high levels in spite of my pain. But none of these things, not one, has healed or removed my pain.
I could go on like this, broken yet functional, for a very long time and most would never know. Our culture is ill-equipped to deal with flawed leaders, the church even less then society. I have learned how to see the good in every circumstance and situation. When life has given me lemons I've used them to make very tasty sermon illustrations. I'm more entertaining but I'm still broken. Others are refreshed, heck, some are even inspired - but me, if I'm truly honest I have to admit, my pain still remains.
"Com' on Tom, count your blessings..." I do have many, much more than I deserve.
"Look at the lives you have touched..." Wow, more than I could ever have imagined, I'm humbled, eternally grateful - the lemonade has gone a long way, a very long way.
But about that pain...
Papa, two bouts of cancer have broken me in ways I can't begin to express. The physical toll, as expensive as it has been, is easily eclipsed by the emotional and spiritual. Please take all my fractured pieces. Some have been hidden away for a very long time. Others I have have kept well polished and as presentable as possible. I have no idea how to repair them, some don't seem to fit together any longer. I'm pretty sure that many just need to be replaced.
Papa, I offer you my heart, please be gentle, it's been through a lot and it's been broken for a very long time, thanks. Well, it's almost 4:30, I'm going back to bed and see if I can get a little more sleep, goodnight.