Patterns of Presence by Andy Sanders
By Andy Sanders
E-book PDF Download
By Andy Sanders, Cathy Sanders, Ellen King, Tammy Fitzgerald and Kathy Dolman
At age forty-two, I have been a Christian now almost twenty-three years, having been born again in 1992. Within one year of my salvation, the call of God rang out upon my life, leaving the dirty factory and setting out for Bible College to become a minister. Looking back, there have been distinct times when the patterns of my life shifted, yet the Lord of my life remained the same. It's like when one day the Israelites were eating manna and the next day they were feasting on the produce of Canaan's land (Joshua 5:12). Serving the same God, yet a different pattern.
Sometimes we blame God for our circumstance when in reality the patterns of our daily lifestyle got us into the mess in the first place. For example, most health problems can be fixed through proper nutrition, better exercise, plenty of rest, and lots of water. And when it comes to finances, it isn't about how much money a person makes but what they have done with that money that determines where it all ends up. Every turn that I have ever made in life that involved gaining large amounts of money quickly through specialized investments has never worked. Every one of them failed! The best way to get our bodies and our bank accounts in good shape is through good decisions in daily patterns of life, inviting His presence into every aspect. Small details build strong empires — well-planned strategies make superior leaders. Looking back, I have noticed some patterns that have completely shifted the outcome of my future, and I would like to share a few.
Seeking - Going Deeper in the Word
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2 NIV).
As a minister for more than twenty years, I have had to learn over time that there is a fine line between studying God's Word for the next message I preach versus digging into God's Word to feed my soul and renew my mind. If we are not careful, we can become so accustomed to studying the Word for the next project that we overlook digesting the Word to change our lives from the inside out. Most of this battle takes center stage in our mind and emotions. Fear comes in, causing us not to step at all when we should've listened and lunged forward. We debate all options rather than listening and following the option, which is the one God gave us several months ago that we haven't begun yet. Fear says, "That the mountain is too hard to climb"; faith says, "I hear the sound of a helicopter coming to take me to the other side." Fear overwrites our ability to act on faith. In this season, one of the biggest tricks of the enemy is to cripple God's people with fear. Fear works like a python, slowly moving along the body unnoticed. Creeping in here and slithering up there — and before long the snake has wrapped around its victim, choking the life out of them. How do we prevent this from happening? We study God's Word in order to continually renew our mind. This might mean turning off the TV or shutting down the phone for a while, but it is worth it in the end.
Covering the Work Day
There was a time in my life when I sought the Lord regularly — but on my time, when it was convenient, and not on His time. The end result: He got the crumbs of my time and I generally had a crummy day! When I noticed the result, I shifted the pattern. What changed was the result of pursuit. This is when we place the kingdom within our lives higher than the pursuit of this world.
From the day God dealt with me about this until the present, I've been committed to seeking the Lord before I go into the office, regardless of the situation. If I have to get up extremely early, work really late hours, or work an extra Saturday — whatever it takes — the day at the office will be covered in prayer. Since I committed to doing this there have been so many unique breakthroughs and unexpected surprises from the Lord come our way. Is it a sacrifice? Sure. Does it cost me something? Absolutely. But at the end of the day I see the presence of God working in ways that I haven't seen in times past. Whatever we see as a priority in our lives, we will make time for.
Unifying the Home
Communion: Community and union in one. The greatest place to start is at home. In my travels, I have seen many thriving, Spirit-filled churches only to discover that for some reason the Spirit hasn't filled many of the homes yet. The manifestation of what is happening within the church should be a by-product of what is being released within our homes. If the homes are out of sequence with the patterns of the Lord, then the church eventually will be too. The reason there are so many troubled kids running around our communities is because we have connected with the Spirit of Christ but failed to unite with the body of Christ. In order to prevent this from continuing, we must pass the kingdom of heaven on to our kids in a way that they can understand. We can be in touch with God but out of touch with the next generation. God is personal enough to communicate to each generation in a way that they understand — He is never out of touch or behind in relevance or culture. God has the keen ability to infuse the gospel into every brand, style, or fad and still remain eternally true. Sometimes we are waiting for God to catch up with us while all along God is waiting for us to catch up to Him. Is it ever possible to become more relevant than God? No! The same God who spoke to you in a way that you understood is the same God who is speaking to your family in a way that they will understand. It is time for our entire household to find Jesus!
One pattern that we have personally adopted in our home that has made a world of difference is to take communion together on a regular basis. Several years ago my wife and I started taking communion regularly, and the fruit of it is our family is stronger than ever before. If you are going through division or extreme circumstances in your home, I recommend that you start with prayer but end with communion. The manifestation is "communing in union."
Developing a lifestyle that cultivates the gifts that are within us is of ultimate importance to God. I work full time in the publishing industry and I am a full-time itinerate speaker. Because of this, I've had the privilege of meeting many people — some amazing, and some so far out there I don't even know where to start. When it comes to publishing and writing, there are two kinds of people who call themselves authors.
The first author gets something from God, writes it down, and then they are pretty much finished in their own mind. They didn't take the time to cultivate it through rewriting it several times for it to make sense. Rather than doing extended research on the topic to make sure that their facts are correct, they took information from unreliable sources and fit it into the manuscript to save time. They want everyone else to do the legwork to get it finished. They won't spend a dime on their calling to write! This individual doesn't take the time to hone their writing gifts by seeking and studying from author coaches or individuals who have been down this road of writing and have some experience to pass along. Unfortunately, this is easily detected in their writing style, punctuation, and grammar.
Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense (Proverbs 12:11 NIV).
The second type of author is called to write as well. They start writing every chance they get. It doesn't matter how many followers are reading their writings — they are writing out of a deep calling to touch the world with their gifts. When they are not working or writing, they are studying different writing topics, honing their skills, looking into different ways to develop writing mentors. Writing mentors? Yes. I have one, and I wouldn't be where I am today without God sending this godly man into my life. Not only does the second kind of author write the manuscript, they go over it — over and over again — making sure every sentence flows together, every paragraph intact. They get professional book editors in place to help clean up the manuscript, ones who are willing to give constructive criticism (which you must learn how to deal with if you are called to write). This second author works the manuscript so well that by the time it reaches the publisher or printers it is well polished, easy to read, and honorable to the Lord with excellence. If they have to work extra days to get it all accomplished, they will because they recognize that the call of God on their life surpasses the temporary comforts of a few material possessions.
It is the latter writer God uses the most because He knows that whatever He gives to them will be cultivated properly. Nothing ever made by the Lord is sloppy; this goes for the books that He gives us to write or anything that God wants us to do. Everything in life requires some sort of training. If we want to learn how to work on a brain, we must go to college in order to become a surgical doctor. Can you imagine going into a serious operation and finding out at the last minute that the doctor working on your head has never conducted a single surgery in his life and only watched a few videos before coming in the room? How scary would that be? When you first started out riding your bike, did you just jump on it and go, or did you have assistance? Did you have training wheels? I would say that you had both — assistance and training wheels. If not, you probably have the scars to prove it! This is exactly how it works with publishing and writing. You might be called to be a writer, but like everything else in life it requires research, practice, and mentorship.
If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV).
Your calling is worth fighting for!