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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2017
How do I know what to do with my life? How do I hear Gods voice? Maybe the answer is easier than we think. When God led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, He gave them a cloud to follow. He led them in an intimately personal, ever-present way one next step at a time. He led them without revealing the whole picture because he wanted them to follow by faith.
In Follow the Cloud, Pastor John Stickl uses this image to ask, "What if we stopped letting obligation drive us and instead let grace lead us? What if instead of focusing on our faithfulness toward God, we focus on Gods faithfulness toward us?"
The cloud of Gods presence is moving in your life right now. Maybe God is inviting you to follow him to a new career or relationship. Maybe he is inviting you to extend forgiveness, share your story, or give up your addiction. Whatever your next step is, God is leading you to discover who you are, who he is, and what you were created to do. He is inviting you to a life of freedom. Inviting you home - one step at a time.
Note From The Author▼▲
What if I told you that God was more interested in setting you free than making you religious? That He wanted more for you than He wanted from you?
You probably wouldn’t believe me. I know I didn’t believe it. I was convinced that if I just did the right things and did them well, then I would thrive and experience the peace and significance that I longed for.
Because I was believing a lie that no one wanted me for me but that they wanted me for what I could do, I spent most of my life performing, achieving, and striving to become someone. Trying to keep up. Trying to measure up. Trying to live up to an impossible standard hoping my efforts would produce the love and acceptance that my heart craved.
But instead of living the abundant life, that line of thinking quickly led me to a place of loneliness, striving and exhaustion. I had no idea who I was, where I was going, or what I was doing. I strived to do the right thing but was disillusioned with the end result---a frustrated and at best distant relationship with God.
And from personal experience I can tell you that is an exhausting way to live.
Maybe you can relate.
I mean do you ever find yourself busy, overwhelmed or lonely? Do you ever feel like you’re trying to perform for God or earn His love only to find yourself doing all the right things but living an unfulfilled life?
I knew something had to change. I didn’t want to just teach on the truths of God’s peace, acceptance and purpose described in the Bible, I wanted to experience them.
It was right about that time that God extended an invitation for me to follow the cloud---to follow him one next step at a time on an intimate journey toward freedom. He began to show me the difference between being set free and living free. I started to hear His voice and experience His presence in new, life-altering ways.
Follow the cloud? It was an image that represented the journey of more than a million people as they moved from slavery to freedom one next step at a time. You see when God set the Israelites free after hundreds of years of slavery he gave them a cloud to follow. Of all the ways God could have led them from slavery to freedom he chose to do it through a personal and ever present cloud. From within this mighty cloud he spoke with the gentleness of a whisper. Follow me one next step at a time. When I move, you move. When I stop, you stop. Where I go, you go. Keep your eyes on me and I will lead you to discover who you are, who I am and what you were created to do.
Whether it was crossing the red sea, walking through the wilderness, or fighting the giants each physical next step was designed to heal and free their hearts. The entire journey of the Exodus wasn’t about getting to the Promised Land it was learning to live free as beloved sons and daughters by simply following the cloud.
Though I had read it many times before, the fresh truth revealed in this story captured my heart and changed the way I lived. It began to set me free from a life of performing, striving, and achieving. It has completely changed how I live my life and how we lead our church. It’s simply the invitation to follow the cloud one next step at a time.
No matter where you are, God wants to lead you on a journey of learning to live in the fullness of the freedom he offers. Destiny is not about finding God tomorrow; it’s about walking with God today. With each step you take He is inviting you discover who you really are, who he really is and what you were really created to do. As you receive his grace, you will experience his presence, and start releasing his kingdom and that is a life of freedom.
We are drawn by grace not driven by expectations. And each next step helps us see more of Jesus and become freer of the greatest bondage of all - ourselves. Every step God invites you to take whether it’s facing an obstacle, being faithful in the little things, starring down the impossible, staying when you want to go, or going when you want to stay is designed to help you discover who you are, who he is, and what you were created to do. In a world of exhaustion, performance, confusion and religious bondage God offers us a better way. To simply follow the cloud. To listen to his voice and respond with faith.
The truth is that wherever God is leading you is better than where you’ve been. You have nothing to achieve, prove, or earn. You have everything to receive, discover, and explore. So maybe it’s time to stop performing. Maybe it’s time to start receiving. Maybe it’s time to follow the cloud and live free.
"In a time where how to manuals abound, it is a refreshing manuscript you hold in your hands. John Stickl, as a young and successful megachurch pastor, chooses to engage us not with selling a model but rather inviting us to a timeless principle of hearing Gods voice and taking next steps with boldness. Ive been privileged to see him and the Valley Creek Church family practice what they preach. Framed within the conviction of Gods acceptance, godly community, and Gods purpose for your life, you will be deeply inspired! Read it and live it!"
Alan Platt, leader, Doxa Deo and City Changers Movement, global
"If you are a follower of Jesus, your journey with him is an adventure about taking next steps. John hits the mark in Follow the Cloud with encouraging Gods sons and daughters to continue to advance his kingdom by feeling secure in their identity, relationship, and purpose in his son, Jesus. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants the confidence that they can hear Gods voice so they have the faith to take their next step."
Chad Hennings, three-time Super Bowl champion, author of Forces of Character and Rules of Engagement
"Pastor John is one of the brightest young leaders in the American church, and I am grateful he has written this book! His voice is much needed right now, and I believe your faith will be strengthened and increased as you turn each page."
Brady Boyd, senior pastor, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, and author of Addicted to Busy
"I love John Stickls heart and mind for leadership. His approach is fresh, nuanced, and challenging. Regardless of the size of church you lead, John is a thought-leader for next generation ministry."
Carey Nieuwhof, author and founding pastor, Connexus Church
"God desires to have an intimate relationship with us, and its his voice that draws us closer to the very heart of God. In Follow the Cloud, my friend John Stickl explains how hearing the still small voice of God and obeying his call will lead us into a deeper, more passionate relationship with him."
Robert Morris, founding senior pastor, Gateway Church, Dallas/Fort Worth, and best-selling author of The Blessed Life, The God I Never Knew, Truly Free, and Frequency
"A playbook to lifes greatest lessons filled my mind while reading Follow the Cloud. If we want to experience all that God has to offer, then we must be still and trust that The Good Shepherd leads you through the valley you dont want to go through to get you to green pastures you need. This book is a must-read for all mighty men and women of God. I thank God for the power, courage, faith, strength, love, and guidance of the life that is John Stickl. He literally breathes life into others through his words."
Donald Driver, Super Bowl champion and New York Times best-selling author
"John Stickl reminds us that so much of being a leader, and so much of following Jesus, is taking the next step. One foot in front of the other. Pushing forward. Discovering and stepping into the new and unknown. And true influence is as much about following as leading. Follow the Cloud will encourage and inspire you on the journey!"
Brad Lomenick, founder of BLINC, author of H3 Leadership and The Catalyst Leader, BradLomenick.com, @bradlomenick
"If you feel overdriven, overworked, and fatigued, yet it seems as though the impact of your life is underwhelming, you need to read this book. If you think the best you have to give still isnt quite enough, you need to read this book. John Stickls writing in Follow the Cloud is clean and clear, kindhearted and thought-provoking. Follow the Cloud is valuable for everyone who places too much weight on what they do over who they are, which means most everybody needs to read this book."
Rick Bezet, lead pastor, New Life Church of Arkansas, and author of Real Love in an Angry World