Tuesday, August 22, 2017

do unto God as you would have God do unto you

The Word for today:
Psalm 26
mark this: Psalm 26:12
I will bless the LORD.
Everyone says, "God bless you." It's like the Christian version of "Have a nice day."
Well, here's how to have a nice day: You bless God.
The Bible teaches us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31). We could start with God.
Do you want God to say something encouraging to you? You say something encouraging to God. Go ahead.
Do you want God to notice your effort? You notice his. That's right.
Do you want God to give you a reason to smile? You give him a reason to smile. You could tell him a good clean joke. Or, better yet, tell him how good it feels to be clean:
Because the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
You get the picture, so I don't need to belabor this. Whatever you need, you give God. Don't wait for a blessing when you can create one.

Monday, August 21, 2017

teach me your paths

(by Professor Dave)
The Word for today:
Psalm 25
After I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I developed a real hunger for the Word of God. I remember that one of my favorite psalms was Psalm 25. When I would read this Psalm, it became the prayer of my heart. I had a longing to understand God’s ways, and to be able to walk according to His direction. As David directed this prayer to God, he reminded himself of the essential elements of being teachable.
Psalm 25 is a psalm of David. The first thing that David requests is that he not be ashamed. Shame comes as the result of defeat. If we can recall, after Adam and Eve fell in the temptation, shame immediately followed. They knew that they were naked and they were ashamed. Sin brought shame. David opens by stating that his trust is in God. If we are to be free from the shame of sin, it begins with trust in God. In our own in strength we are powerless over sin and shame. Therefore, David goes on to ask that none who wait on God should be ashamed.
Having made this plea to God, David requests that God teach him His ways, His truth, and His paths. In seeking deliverance from the enemies of our soul, we need to follow God’s direction. In doing so, we must rely on God’s mercy and lovingkindness. Without these we would be lost, without hope. If God were to immediately respond to our sin, we would never see His face. But, because of His mercy and lovingkindness He has provided a way to restore fellowship with Him. Again David calls upon God’s mercy as he looks back to the sins of his youth and to his transgressions. He does not want to be remembered for his youthful sins or transgression, but he looks to God’s goodness in delivering him from them.
As David continues he reminds himself that God teaches those who are honest with regard to their soul’s condition and to those who are meek of heart. If one will not acknowledge one’s own sinfulness; they are not in a position to be taught by God. God teaches sinners. The beginning of God’s wisdom is in the fear of the LORD. God chooses the way to teach each individual, and that way is especially fitted to each individual.
David acknowledges his troubles and affliction, but continues to focus on God as his deliverer. David closes by stating that which he stated at the beginning. He seeks God’s deliverance from shame, based on the fact that he trusts in God. David ends by requesting the redemption of Israel.
I began this thought by stating the Psalm 25 was a prayer that I resorted to often in my early walk with Jesus. That hasn’t changed; I still return to this psalm when I am seeking guidance from the LORD. It all begins with placing our trust in God. We need to be honest with ourselves and with God that we are in need of His instruction. We need to approach God with meekness and reverence. Regardless of our present circumstances, we need to look to God as our deliverer, as David did.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


"Cross, Shepherd, & Crown" -- Stained Glass Panels, Faith Community Lutheran Academy

The Word for today:
Psalm 23, 24
Psalms 22, 23, and 24 are best seen as a triptych--a continuous painting displayed across three panels (1). Together, they depict the past, present, and future of our eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Psalm 22 is the holiest ground in scripture, a too-vivid picture of the day Jesus died. What is most striking is that it is the only picture of the cross from Jesus' point of view. It is shrouded in darkness until verse 22, where the resurrection is indicated by a shift in tense--a reference to the future and a ray of hope:
I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.
Now note the Psalm's last words: He has done it. It is finished! (cf. John 19:30)
Psalm 23 is a picture of the believer's new life, which Christ purchased in Psalm 22:
identified (baptized) in the still waters of death with Christ;
born again (he restores my soul);
led (v. 2, 3);
sealed, indwelt, and anointed by the Holy Spirit (v.5);
the fruit of the Spirit (paths of righteousness);
filled to overflowing with the Spirit (v. 5);
the faithful discipline and guidance (rod and staff) of the Father;
eternal life in the house of the Lord.
Psalm 24 begins where Psalm 23 left off--in the house of the LORD.
The suffering servant of Psalm 22, who is the shepherd of Psalm 23, is revealed as the eternal King of glory, who has restored his image and likeness (see Gen 1:26) in us:
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah. (v. 3-6)
Now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
(1) see yesterday's introductory article

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My God, my God, why?

The Word for today:
Psalm 22:22-31
Psalm 23 is the single most famous, most memorized, most beloved poem in all of literature. But it is even more meaningful when it is placed in its true context--as the middle "panel" of a triptych which spans Psalms 22, 23, and 24.
triptych is a display which stretches across three panels. Here's an example, called "Cross, Shepherd, & Crown" which presents the inter-relationship of Psalms 22, 23, & 24:
We will, over the next couple days, consider these three Psalms as a triptych which displays the past, present, and future of an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Psalm 22--the cross
Psalm 22 is the holiest ground in scripture. It is a vivid picture of the day Jesus died. What is most striking is that it is the only picture of the cross taken from Jesus' point of view:
My God, my God, why?
I'll type no more today. I leave you with the Lamb of God, in the Holy of Holies.

Friday, August 18, 2017

the Psalm of the Cross

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Psalm 22:1-21
The whole Bible is the Word of God and therefore the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, is really the story of Jesus Christ. But sadly many times we miss that fact. We think somehow that the Old Testament has not much to do with us or our relationship with Christ. We somehow think that all we need is the New Testament books. We are mistaken. And that’s why reading about Jesus Christ in the book of Psalms is not at all an aberration- the whole book screams His name!
This particular Psalm was written by King David, concerning some of his own difficult experiences. It was written way back around 1000 BC. But right away as we read, we see that there is much more than King David going on here. David has his fair share of troubles and sufferings, but what’s included here is beyond anything he ever went through. This Psalm is directly quoted 4 times in the New Testament (1) , and in verses 12-17, we're given direct details of a crucifixion, some 400 years before crucifixion was even invented.
Because of all of this, today’s passage has also been attacked. Some people insist that this has nothing to do with Jesus. They say any connection between this Psalm and Jesus is coincidence or Christians doctoring the Bible to make it say what we want. Why? They’ve already determined that Jesus cannot be the Son of God, so anything that implies otherwise is dismissed.
But as I read Psalm 22, I don’t see a fluke or dumb luck nor do I see word twisting. Instead, I see very clearly and unmistakably the fingerprints of God’s Son. Remember: The Cross Was God’s Idea. It was not plan B. Along with that point comes its twin idea: Jesus was not a victim. So often people can buy into the false idea that Jesus was caught up in something bigger than him. That he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. That if he had carried his pepper spray and stayed out of the bad neighborhoods, he could have avoided the cross.
Jesus was not a helpless victim! Look at His own words: "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again (2)."
This is a Psalm full of pain and hurt and torture and despair, and rightly so, because it points us unmistakably to the cross. The more you examine crucifixion, the more horrible it becomes. I want you to know today, that whatever you may think about yourself, God thinks that you are worth enough to plan out, and prepare for and then, when the time was right, to send His perfect Son into a fallen world full of imperfect people- to be killed upon a cross, so that you and I can be forgiven and know Him. That is why this Psalm, like the cross is both beautiful and terrible.
(1) Psalm 22: 1, 8, 18 (see also Matthew 24:35-46, among others)
(2) John 10:17-18

Thursday, August 17, 2017

a good word

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Psalm 20 & 21
There is no denying the power of words. Jesus Christ is the Word of God (1).
By words, God both created and continues to sustain this world (2). But this is not our topic today.
There is also no denying the emphasis that the Bible places on controlling the words we do say.
David gave to us this advice: "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies (3)." There are scores of similar such commands. But this is not today's topic either.
Instead, we are going to focus on "a good word" instead. We want to talk about benedictions, something that has been neglected by us of the Protestant tradition. (Most likely as an over-reaction to their constant use in the Catholic/Orthodox traditions.)  A benediction is simply a brief prayer of blessing. It comes from the Latin word "to speak well." It often has repeated uses of the word "may." If you attend a more liturgical church, you will find the liturgy full of them.
Psalm 20 starts with a lengthy benediction. May the LORD:
- answer
- protect
- send help
- grant support
- remember
- accept
- give
Now that's a prayer! Benedictions are all over the Bible.
In Genesis, the blessings given by Isaac, and later Jacob, are benedictions (3).
We see them often in the Psalms (4).
They are peppered throughout the writings of the Apostle Paul as well, with prayers such as "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love or God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (5)."
Benedictions can be an excellent help for your prayer life.
But I also know that for me, and for many others, the last thing we want our prayers to become is formulaic. I know that I am in trouble whenever I can pray by autopilot- without really engaging my heart or mind. When I was 16 years old, I was amazed to know for the first time, that God wanted to hear my honest and heart-felt prayers, not just repeating the Our Father over and over. I was grateful to find out that there were no formulas or certain words that had to be said in a certain way. I learned that prayer was available for even me.
And so at first I rejoiced in this new found spontaneity- I could talk to God any time all the time about anything! For a few years this is how I prayed, and I still look back on those days fondly. But there came a point when I realized that even my best attempts to be spontaneous sounded a lot like the same thing I prayed yesterday. After all, we remain creatures of habit. It became frustrating to me when it seemed like my prayers were not much different than how a 5 year old prays: "bless Timmy and bless Tommy and bless Cindy and bless Sally..."
This tension continued until I came to realize that the tyranny of the "new" was just as crippling as the tyranny of the "same old same old." Neither way was helpful. Take this thought to the world of food. I would soon hate pizza if I had it every single meal, but if I only had pizza once and then had to cross it off my list, never to eat it again would be even worse. We want a mix of variety and regularity. The same applies to prayer, and that's where benedictions come in.
So often, I don't know how to pray for others, I don't know what to pray for my own family or even myself. I've grown weary of giving Almighty God my advice. Somehow sharing with Him two or three ways I think He can best work in a given situation seems ridiculous to me. So how then do I pray?
I can simply go back to the Word of God, and pray what has already been revealed to us. I head towards these classic benedictions, and lift up myself and others through them. This way, you can't go wrong! This way, you can pray for everyone-yourself and others, people you know well & people you don't know well, your best friends and even your enemies. Rather than stifle my prayer life, I have found these benedictions to reinvigorate it.
As I close a blog about benedictions, it is very appropriate to leave you with one, perhaps the best know one:
The LORD Bless you and Keep you
The LORD make His face Shine upon you
and be Gracious to you
The LORD Turn His face toward you
and Give you peace. (6)
(1) John 1:1
(2) 2 Peter 3:5; Hebrews 1:3
(3) see Genesis 27:28 and 48:15
(4) see Psalm 19:14, Psalm 67 & Psalm 90:14-16
(5) 2 Corinthians 13:14
(6) Numbers 6:24-26

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

you can't tell a book by its cover

The Word for today:
Psalm 19
mark this: Psalms 19:1-2
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
and this: Psalms 19:7
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
Creation--the limitless cosmos--is just the cover of God's book, and under-girding it all is his Word. Take out the Word and the "cover" collapses:
He upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:3)
The cover's exquisite artistry is designed to draw us inside. But that's all. No one would presume to know the book by its cover.
Creation is an enticement to wonder, an invitation to seek the heart inside. The invitation has gone out to everyone:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (from Psalms 19:1-4)
Creation is what the theologians refer to as general revelation. It is perceptible to all--to the faithful and the faithless:
There is no speech or language
where the voice is not heard. (Psalms 19:3)
That is why the first six verses of Psalm 19 refer to the Creator with a general name that anyone might use--just like our English word 'God.'
The reader will notice that the focus of the poem shifts, at verse 7, from creation (which reveals God's hand) to scripture (which reveals his heart.)
Thus from verse seven on, God is referred to as LORD (a translation of the Hebrew Jehovah or Yahweh)--the personal name God revealed to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:15).
God, as Creator of all, can be heard by observing nature. But the LORD, the Savior of all who believe, is known only through the Word heard with faith:
For we have heard the Good News, just as they did. They heard the message, but it did them no good, because when they heard it, they did not accept it with faith. (Hebrews 4:2)
The heavens declare the glory of God--his greatness. But only his Word reveals his goodness. And his goodness is greater, by far.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

self made man

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Psalm 18:31-50
Wow,  some pretty impressive feats are noted in the second half of this Psalm.
I know that we are talking about King David, but even he cannot "stand on the heights" with his "deer feet (1)." He could not actually "bend a bow of bronze (2) ." Even this mighty warrior did not have untwistable ankles (3), nor was capable of transforming his enemies into "dust" or "mud (4)." No, all these things are impossible for any man to accomplish.
Then again, it was also "impossible" for any man to do some of the other things that David really did. It was impossible for the unknown youngest son of a shepherd to be anointed as king of Israel. It was impossible for that same youngster to fell the mighty Goliath. I was impossible for him to survive so many years as a fugitive while maintaining his integrity.
But notice that even while David is describing in detail some of his accomplishments, he is directing us to the only reason any of these victories were ever won: Almighty God. It is God who arms and keeps and causes and trains and sustains and provides and delivers and subdues and saves. David, like all great men, knew that he was like a turtle on a fence post: however he got there, he didn't do it by himself.
Horace Greeley was a prominent figure in America around the time of the Civil War. He was a prominent journalist (editor of the NY Tribune) and a prominent political figure (losing the 1872 Presidential election to Ulysses S. Grant). Given all his time in the world of media and politics, he certainly knew his share of self-important blowhards. A story is told of his encounter with one such individual. This man made the mistake of telling Greeley "I am a self made man." To which Greeley replied "Well sir, that relieves God of a grave responsibility."
The truth is, there is no such thing as a self-made man. While each of us certainly has a large part to play in our own lives, not one of us can say that anything good we have or have done was ultimately due to our own goodness or genius or whatever. The Apostle Paul asked the Corinthians "What do you have that you did not receive (5) ?" Great question, with an even better answer: nothing. All of our talents and skills, our birth and our background, the people who have taught and influenced us, the ability to work and laugh and play, and even life itself are all on loan from God.
And right here, David echoes these same sentiments, all to point us not to himself, but to the only One who can do the impossible. After all- that is the message of the Gospel: (6).  God has done the impossible through His Son, Jesus Christ. So in the end, there are only two categories, clay that acknowledges its Potter, and clay that smugly pats itself on the back, forgetting that both the hand and the back belong to the actual Potter.
(1) Psalm 18:33
(2) Psalm 18:34
(3) Psalm 18:36
(4) Psalm 18:42
(5) 1 Corinthians 4:7
(6) Luke 1:37

Monday, August 14, 2017

in or out?

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Psalm 18:1-30
mark this: Proverbs 18:10
"The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."
I still remember the feelings clearly. Anticipation. Nervousness. Excitement. Fear.
I remember all the questions that would race through my mind. Can anyone see me? Is there a better spot? Can I make it there? Did they really count all the way to 100?
And then the moment of truth arrived. You've been spotted. You were almost there, but your cover was blown. There was no chance of hiding again. Here was your one chance run like heck or just stand there paralyzed. The only question that mattered at that point was did you have it in you to outrun the seeker? Your heart was beating like crazy. You were tired and out of breathe. Your nerves were shot from adrenaline. Let's play again!
There is a reason that hide & seek is a perennial favorite since the dawn of time. It never gets old, we just do. As a child I think the kids in our neighborhood played hide & seek every night we could over the summer. And central to Hide & Go seek is the concept of a “home base”, the place where you try with all your might to get there, and once you’re there- you are safe. Our home base was always the lamppost right in front of my house. That poor thing had to be replaced because of all us kids dashing into it and clinging for dear life.
As we look to today's passage, the first half of Psalm 18, I want you to keep that idea of home base in mind. We have here a song written by a man who knew what it meant to be hunted and chased. At the time when David was a fugitive, always running from the relentless Saul. Though he was innocent in the matter, he spent the better part of a decade hiding as public enemy number one. Notice the language he uses in here.
David looks to God as his:
- strength v. 1
- rock v. 2
- fortress v. 2
- deliverer v. 2
- refuge v. 2
- shield v. 2
- salvation v. 2
- stronghold v. 2
- support v. 18
In verses 4-19, David vividly describes how Mighty God rescued him.
The key in this Psalm is found in verse three, David "calls to the LORD.... and he is saved..."
That truth has huge implications in the rest of the Bible as well.
In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that which the prophet Joel had written: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (1)."
The apostle Paul later echoed that same sentiment in his letter to the Romans (2).
So, what does it mean to call upon the name of the LORD?
We humans like to make things complicated, but the Bible keeps it simple. Calling upon the name of the LORD means we trust in God as our fortress and we enter into His protection.
That is salvation- when we stop trusting in ourselves or our good deeds or our religion or our pedigree or our church or whatever, and instead accept and received and remain and cling to the shelter that Jesus Christ provides. He is the fortress, the rock, the strong tower. We run to Him and are saved.
But remember, any place of protection only works if you bring yourself into it. It did people no good to camp outside Noah’s Ark. They were either in or out. In the Old Testament, if you were fleeing to a City of refuge- you had to go inside. Putting down roots in a nearby suburb would not cut it. You were either in or out. The same is true of this passage- you are only safe if you get in that strong tower, into that fortress, behind that shield, inside that fortress. Anything less is disaster.
Jesus Christ is the only "home base." That's why today's psalm is much more than mere poetry or even David's own story, it is the very Gospel message. The question then becomes- is this your story as well? Are you in or out?
(1) Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32
(2) Romans 10:13

Sunday, August 13, 2017

meet "the apple of God's eye"

The Word for today:
Psalm 17
mark this: Psalm 17:8
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
There's a good Hebrew/Yiddish word--chutzpah--which means a display of brazen audacity. In Psalm 17, it seems that chutzpah is on parade.
How can David, a known sinner (see Psalm 51, just for starters…) call himself righteous and sinless:
You have tested me and you will find nothing (v. 3).
How can David call himself "the apple of God's eye"? (v. 8) Why, the impertinence, the nerve, the chutzpah…
David can say all of that--because he's looking through the eyes of God, not man. David knows that he, of himself, is a sinner:
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. (Psalms 51:3)
But he also knows that, like Abraham before him, he has been declared righteous in God's eyes through faith:
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
David is righteous because God says he is. God credited the righteousness of Jesus Christ to David when he believed the LORD.
And he will credit Jesus' righteousness to you and to me, too, if we will only take him at his word.
A remarkably comprehensive, all-purpose scripture verse confirms the simplicity of God's faith-based salvation:
So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. (Acts 27:25)
It will be exactly as we have been told. Thus a sinner like David can claim the righteousness of Jesus Christ himself:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This concept is so crucial that we should practice and reinforce it habitually. A good way to start each day is by looking straight into the mirror and seeing the apple of God's eye looking straight back at you!
That may sound radical and/or crazy. But it's also the Word of God. That's how God sees things--and there's nothing that will alter his outlook.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

if you think it's about you, it never will be

The Word for today:
Psalms 15, 16
The last time I ran the Boston Marathon was in 2003. The schedule is a little different now, but in those days, we'd get on a bus at the Boston Commons in downtown Boston at about 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. Then we'd be transported to Hopkinton, where the race begins. I don't really know why we were there so early, because the race didn't start until noon.
That gave us about 5 hours to do…nothing.
So while I was doing nothing one April morning in Hopkinton, Massachusetts in 2003, I happened upon a man who was reading from a little Gideons' New Testament. It is not unusual to see Bibles being read before marathons.
What initially caught my eye was the yarmulke the reader/runner was wearing. (A yarmulke is a cap worn by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish males.) Being, at that time, just as direct as I am now, I intended to ask him if he wore the yarmulke during the race! But then I saw the little Bible in his hands.
"Whatchya reading?"
"The book of Psalms." (Gideons' Testaments always include Psalms and Proverbs.)
"Which psalm?"
"The 16th. I always read Psalm 16 before a marathon."
"Well, best of luck out there today."
"You too."
In 2003, I was on my way to basic Bible literacy, but I certainly wasn't conversant enough with Psalm 16 to engage him any further.
But I've often thought of him since then. I've prayed for him. I've wondered about him; whether he read only from the Psalms, or did he read from the rest of his Gideons' Testament too?
And did he know who it was he was reading about? Psalm 16 is a startling unveiling of the mind of Christ as he stood in the very shadow of a cross which loomed directly ahead.
That's about all I want to say, because I want you to enter the mind of Christ on your own. Here's the briefest outline:
16:8--life of Christ
16:9--death of Christ
16:10--resurrection of Christ
16:11--ascension of Christ
The day you know that Psalm 16 is about Jesus, then it's about you, too:
For I have been crucified with Christ... (Galatians 2:20).
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8)
But if you think Psalm 16 is about you, it never will be.
I hope by some miracle that this article will find its way to the man in the marathon in 2003. I hope this finds you with your cap still on your head, and with Jesus in your Psalm 16.
Long may you run.

Friday, August 11, 2017

That's the Spirit! (part 2)

The Word for today:
Psalms 13, 14
Yesterday we saw what walking in the Spirit is not. Today we'll take a look at what it is:
1. Walking in the Spirit is a commitment to walk like Jesus did.
As an example for us, Jesus set aside his omniscience, forcing him to depend--as we must--on the guidance of the Holy Spirit:
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. (1)
To become one like us, He also set aside his omnipotence, forcing him to depend--as we must--on the power of the Holy Spirit:
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. (2)
2. Walking by the Spirit means we must abandon ourselves to the supernatural.
Jesus said it is like allowing the wind to have its way in our lives:
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (3)
3. Walking by the Spirit is accomplished from start to finish by faith.
For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. (4)
4. Walking by the Spirit sees right through time and circumstance.
It sees beyond what our eyes are telling us, in order to see with the eyes of God:
We walk by faith, not by sight. (5)
Jesus Christ walked by the Spirit, by faith, all the way to the cross. It certainly did not appear to natural eyes that he was "winning." But the eyes of the Spirit saw it otherwise…
Q. How do I get going?
A. First determine what you are not going to do:
I am not going to make this about self-reformation or about self-anything.
I am not going to wait until I'm more experienced or until I've taken a course.
Q. Alright. Then what?
A. Make a commitment:
I commit my life to the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. I'm going to do things God's way and depend on him to figure out where all this is taking us.
I don't know all of what this entails, but I'm going to commit now and learn more later.
I don't know where this is taking me, but I know whom I trust:
I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him. (2 Timothy 1:12)
If the desire of your heart sounds like what you just read, then you are walking by the Spirit.  God's cheering you on, so go ahead and take another step...
(1) Luke 4:1; (2) Luke 4:14; (3) see John 3:8; (4) Romans 1:17; (5) 2 Corinthians 5:7