Iran launched as many as fifteen ballistic missiles into Iraq last night in retaliation for the US airstrike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week. According to a military spokesman, ten missiles hit Al-Assad Air Base, one hit a military base in Erbil, and four failed to hit their targets. A US military official reported that initial assessments showed “no US casualties.” President Trump is expected to make a statement later this morning.
In other news from Iran, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukraine International Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff early this morning from Tehran’s international airport. All 176 people on board were killed. Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA reported that the crash was due to technical difficulties.
One fact today’s news makes clear is that tomorrow’s news is unclear. In such unpredictable times, a path to transforming peace is both welcome and vital.
Four steps to experiencing God’s “sacred pace”
Terry Looper is the founder of Texon, a Houston-based energy company. He experienced severe burnout at the age of thirty-six, a crisis which became the turning point of his life.
In Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself with His Will, he tells the story of his transformation. Terry gave himself completely to Christ and went through a season of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.
Over time, he understood that he was driven by an incessant need to be seen and valued by others. And he learned to trust Jesus to meet this need on a level that has brought him deep and lasting joy. This dependence has led him to seek and trust God’s will in every dimension of his life and work.
To know God’s will, Terry outlines a four-step process he has refined over decades:
- Consult your friend Jesus. Develop a deep friendship with Jesus and trust that his will is always best for you.
- Gather the facts. Seek truth from Scripture, your own understanding and nature, and the wisdom of others.
- Watch for circumstances. Look for ways God is at work in the events of your life and world.
- Get neutral. With God’s help, reach the place where you will accept any answer as best for you. Die to self so you can live for Jesus. As Terry says, “Wait until you clearly know in your heart that you want His will more than your own.”
His book is filled with examples taken from his personal and business life. I highly encourage you to make his story part of your faith journey.
A simple but profound exercise
One fact that Sacred Pace made clear to me is that I must pay a greater price than ever if I would experience a greater purpose than ever.
Terry quotes George Müller, the minister whose reliance on God was legendary: “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
Then he offers a simple illustration that I found profound: “Try this little exercise for some perspective the next time you’re faced with a decision. Draw a circle and place a dot in the center, then honestly ask yourself, ‘If this circle represents my world, who does the dot represent?’ For most of us, there are only two honest answers: God or Me” (his emphasis).
Terry applies his question: “Being aware of our need for God is our greatest strength. When we lean on Him, we can do anything that He has planned and purposed for us to do. Exchanging our weakness for the Lord’s strength enables us to avoid making the mistake that the psalmist decried: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain’ (Psalm 127:1).
“Think of it: A life in vain. A business in vain. Relationships in vain. This is what our little kingdoms come to if we strive to accomplish anything minus our true Strength.”
“Disobedience is always a greater risk than obedience.”
During our recent study tour of Israel, our group spent some time at the Spring of Harod. This is the place where the Lord led Gideon to reduce his fighting force from thirty-two thousand soldiers to three hundred (Judges 7).
They were facing a Midianite army of more than 135,000 men (Judges 8:10). But God wanted his people to know that their victory would come from him and not from themselves (Judges 7:2) so they would continue to trust him long after the Midianites were defeated.
Standing beside the spring where Gideon had to make this fateful decision, I told our group that there are times when we must trust God even though we do not understand him. We must pay the price of humility and submission to experience the purpose only his Spirit can fulfill in our lives.
You may be standing beside a Spring of Harod today. If your next step with God was easy, you would already have taken it. To experience your Father’s best, you must believe that the cost of your obedience is less than the reward it will produce.
As John Piper notes, “Disobedience is always a greater risk than obedience.”
“Fear nothing but to fail God.”
Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle: “There is a common, worldly kind of ‘Christianity’ in this day, which many have—a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice—which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.”
Terry adds this observation from Archbishop Fenelon: “Fear nothing but to fail God.”
What do you fear today?