Sometime in August 2011 the Keener family officially decided to move back to northern NJ. The place where our journey began in 2002. 

This will be the 4th time I have moved into the fray of the hustle and bustle of northern New Jersey. Each time I have left this busy state, I say in frustration, "I am never coming back to this place!" 

While I have made these thoughtless pronouncements, I instinctively realize that any man or woman who has given their lives to His service cannot, and should not, declare to anyone, and most importantly tell the King of Kings there are certain spots on this planet he or she will not go. Jonah would be a good example for all of us called to go and do whatever He calls us to do... becoming fish bait is not a good option for any of us.

We set aside human derived short-sighted pronouncements to the past, we turn away from being our own boss, and we set our vision to the future assignments and thus avoid large amounts of humble pie and sauteed crow. 

Our very ordinary family has had to face the reality over the last few years that when a family offers up their life to serve the King of Kings, and in doing so have sealed their fate as a "sojourner and pilgrim". We have been trained to live in the dwelling place of the presence of the King, here is where we develop an other worldly understanding that enables us to persevere through all the crazy divinely orchestrated changes that come our way, and which loosen our grip on the things of the world. 

We all must learn through the heat of the Divine crucible of testing that location matters to Our God if it matters to us. Geography itself is not the issue, but rather our obedience to go wherever He leads, even places that we have already traversed. Our call to follow Him requires a hands off approach to when and where.  

Our surrender allows Him to motivate even our enemies to force us out of a very pretty place like Southern California and lead us to a place we may feel a natural aversion to go. Even a place destined for trouble. A place where He has fashioned and suited to receive our next step. The absolute best next step in the training process for those of us who claim to be His devoted students.

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, [there] you may be also."  John 14:3

Many will interpret this passage as referring to the ultimate place of our dwelling, heaven itself. But in the journey He has for us here on earth, a journey marked by many twists and turns and even U turns, He is preparing the next step. The knowledge of Him makes each step good and worthwhile. 

So knowing Him as "the Way" means continually walking in His Presence... especially as it pertains to the crucifixion of our flesh in order to submit to His leading. 

To find HIs comfort in the fire. To resign ourselves the place where we allow ourselves to become putty in His hands, a place where we absolutely, without qualification, obey His leading. To follow the example of Our Lord Jesus, as He set His face set like flint, and steadfastly walked to His execution in Jerusalem. Don't you think His Grace working in our lives will get us past our fears and our don't want to's? To take us on a journey to face honestly our Jerusalem... our place of "I don't want to go"?

The apostle Paul put his life continually in the Father's hands. Toward the very end of his life, Paul went all the way to Rome to speak to the known ruler of the world. He obeyed God and things got bumpier as he went. 

Jerusalem was the first step in His ultimate journey to Rome. A place where a death sentence was placed on his head. It was in Jerusalem where Paul would begin his case to take his appeal all the way to Caesar. It was the same Rome that would bring an end to Paul's earthly journey. For Rome was the place of the guillotine... so it has been and will be for many of the Lord's servants.

Another example of doing things you don't want to do but in doing them find your destiny is provided for us in the life of Jacob:

Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me....

The account of Jacob's sudden turn back toward his homeland leads him to an epic encounter with Esau, his sworn enemy. It was only twenty years ago that Esau placed a hit on his life. Esau was the man who wanted to kill him for stealing his birthright. But when Laban kept changing his business arrangement with Jacob, Jacob got to the place where he was ready to face his greatest fears. 

With this providential turn, the Lord drove Jacob to humble himself before His holy Angel and to wrestle for the destiny of his Seed. The Seed promised to Abraham. The One who would eventually bear the Christ child... amazing isn't it?


Which brings me to my main point. Many times while scratching my head, and many times in stunned disbelief, I have asked this very real question of the Lord. Most the time I start with this question, "Why is it so hard to follow You?"

As that weaker question fades away, I soberly ask this question, "Is this moving around normal part of the journey for all who follow You?" 

My first reaction from the Lord forces me to reread the account of our biblical heroes. I like to meditate on my most favorite character --- Abraham. 

He isn't called the father of our faith for no reason. He is the  chief pilgrim in the Hall of Fame of Sojourning. He developed the art of this way. As the scheme of redemption develops over the course of the next 2000 years we see nothing has really changed.

Because when we turn to the New Testament we read that the early church believers in the resurrection of Jesus were noted as those who were part of a Great Dispersion; they were noted as sojourners and pilgrims.

"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings."

If you are one of those who has been scattered abroad, we gather today to comfort ourselves in the reality that the process of setting up tents and breaking tents down plays a significant part in our personal growth in the way of faith. By being part of the great dispersion, we too are made qualified to be part of the ancient class of people who inherit eternal blessings and covenantal promises. 

We are earning the right to be called "pilgrim and sojourner" and we should take this title with great honor.

Take heart my dear fellow sojourner, you who are the veteran of the "move" with no real plan. You who say, "just following the cloud". Knowing that when the cloud moves, you move, in simple service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

Look again with me at the simple command given to our father Abraham in Gen. 12:1 "Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you." 

Let's compare to the simple command of Our Lord Jesus just before He left our planet, "...Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations"

Do you see the similarity?

When our Lord shackles us with His Love and then commands us to follow His leading, He chooses not to give us details about the place we are going like we would like, no, He simply says, "I will show when you get there". As He spoke to our father Abraham, so He speaks to His people. He simply says, "Get out of your country, from your family and your father's house... and go to the nations"

Why then are we so surprised by the moves many of us have had to endure? Don't they shake from us our dependency on rational reasoning and geographical likes and dislikes? We reach for Him and His eternal word in this shaking process... what could be better than that? 

Exchanging eternal things for temporary things? 

All of our biblical heros have had to move around in order to spread the messages that they have been given by the Great Sender. If you have been given much to say and share, then I would expect that you too will be called to move around more then the average pew sitting disobedient believer. 

Especially since so few of us sign up for the full assignment required by those who say they have taken their cross upon their backs and are following Him. To those who have born the searing and painful separation from friends and family that the rest of the thoughtful and analytic plan-makers determine are "not according to wisdom". 

As I have stated in my past article, "do we really have the right to make a 5 year plan"? Do we have the right to indulge in setting down roots in these unsettling times? Especially since our biblical heroes have been denied such pleasures? Read again Heb. 11 it will reshape your American mindset.

Let's carefully and prayerfully read Heb. 11:8-10

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." 

When we put our heroes in the class of the superhuman, we do ourselves, and them, a great disservice. When we make Abraham into a superhero when he too struggled with the very same emotions you and I face. Don't you think he struggled to leave his family and break with the norms of his culture? 

When we step out like Abraham to follow the Voice leading him to unknown territories, we, like Abraham, will agonize over the choices we are forced to make. But isn't this way more exciting than sitting around and making our own plans? 

We don't get to be our own boss, therefore, we are surprised pretty much on a continual basis.

The new normal becomes the way of constant change. But He becomes the anchor of the soul. So spiritual stability is gained by letting go of known things and known commodities.

Many modern day church building attenders will judge our way as unstable or out of step with biblical norms, but they are wrong. Biblical norms would be considered chaos in our America. The Lord knows those who are moving with Him and doing the difficult things, verses those who continue to play life between the lines men have set us to walk.

Surrendering to His Lordship has to do with making difficult choices. Difficult choices in career, moving from family, changing your ecclesastical affiliations, losing face with your work associates, etc etc.

Need I mention the many trials and setbacks of our beloved apostle Paul?  Not even worth debating over.

People will say, "your not Paul" My reply, "Paul's gone, now what?"  

Jesus Himself, from heavenly throne warned Saul of Tarsus, on the first day of his conversion, that he would suffer many things in his call to bring the gospel message to the Gentiles. Paul's apostolic setbacks are seen most clearly in his 2nd epistle he wrote to the Corinthians. Read with me the continual stream of setbacks that marked the way of our apostolic ancestor, Paul:

2 Cor 11: 22-27:

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.  Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, inperils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 

To be an Israelite meant that Paul was tied intimately to the history of the God of Israel. From the great exodus from Egypt, where Our Lord called His people to their freedom, only to lead them through the Red Sea, then out to a barren wilderness, and on to battles with difficult enemies. In taking the Hebrews from one very hard and difficult situation to another, The Lord of heaven broke their will and trained them to be followers of His way verses the way of man. 

So we must learn from our wanderings how to trust the same El Elyon who rules all of time and circumstance, who shall be enthroned above the flood of catastrophic trouble looming over the entire earth. 

He is the Lord of all our personal moves as He moves men from place to place to perform His ultimate desire... to build His eternal Kingdom. 

"Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"

Acts 17:26-28

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.

Are you starting to see, with me, the nature of the walk of faith? If you have been called to a life of apparent stability, knowing what I have just shared, and you know that you are surrendered to the King, then I am sure that even in your so-called stable circumstances, your life has had many twists and turns. For you, enduring the death of loved ones, financial gains and losses, adversity in your world, crazy visitors with unique needs, and even blessing of promotion, all add new challenges and bring change and new pressures that drive you to your knees in humble submission to know His Will for the specific situation you are facing.

Where would our faith be without change? 

But why then does our Heavenly Father move some of us around so much? 

One of the basic points I am seeking to make here is that over time the reality that nothing in this world can satisfy us. And some of us our called to do things that simply do not make sense.

No matter what, your friends will move away or move on, family members eventually pass on to the next life, even our spouses will pass on to the next life. He never changes. The God of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps. In Him there is no variation or turning.  What a comfort this truth is to those who are called to make hard decisions and move around to accomplish His purposes.

Moving is a type of God-ordained adversity to bring us closer to Him. Moving around combined with the many other difficulties that beset the remnant of Christ, collectively gain for us the settled understanding that this world is NOT our home.  
Heb. 11:17-19

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

We have been bought for a very high price. The price is death of the only Begotten Son of God. The ransom price of our redemption has secured far greater riches for us in the world that is to come.  

Jesus commanded us to pray this way, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." 

We can not and we shall not settle for less than what the Blood of Our King has secured for us. Glory upon Glory in the earth realm. For this we continually yearn. 

For this we also endure, looking with a longing eye to those who have gone on before us and are now dancing before His Throne waiting for the entire
 church to be gathered into His beautifully prepared place of dwelling. 


Jonathan Keener & family of 10