Gratefulness Admidst Pain

Have you ever wanted something, and someone gives you a gift, and you think it’s the something you want, but it’s really something else? Well, my High School English teachers would kill me for that sentence, but I think we’ve all been there a time or two, wishing for A but getting B.

I remember one Christmas so profoundly, I can still feel the emotions and remember every aspect of this one moment. I was about 13 years old, and all I wanted in the world was a stereo! Oh, I could go without ANY OTHER Christmas gifts, if only I could get a stereo! To make matters worse, one night, my parents went out, and I was fiddling around on the limited family computer (I think I was playing an early computer game), and I saw a box. This box sat level with my parents’ bed, with a blanket over it, so I couldn’t see. Being me, I didn’t go look, but I KNEW I was getting my stereo!

Christmas morning came, and the presents started being opened, and I got to my big present. And yet, it wasn’t as big as I had thought, but maybe it was a remote (that was the new thing, then! Remote-controlled stereos), or maybe it was a receipt or some adventure to go on to find my stereo. And as I opened that package, my heart sunk into my legs, and I struggled to hold back tears and be grateful; my gift was my Dad’s boom-box (basically, a CD player with speakers and a radio, for those of you who don’t know what a boom-box is). My parents went on to explain how they couldn’t afford a stereo but could give me this. Oh! I knew my parents weren’t rich, so I tried so hard to be grateful, but the tears welled up anyway…

I find that I still struggle with being grateful when I’m given gifts that are not what I wanted. My heart is so set on a thing that anything less or different is hard to be grateful for it. But, I am also working on it! I’m learning to see the heart in the gift that was given. And the same is true of God.

Sometimes, we ask God for something, like a spouse, but He gives us a better car. “A car is not a spouse, God! Don’t you know this?” LOL! Every time I say something like that, I immediately see one of my kids getting upset with me. Here I am telling the Almighty God of the Universe, the One who knows everything, that He doesn’t know the difference between a car and a spouse. But you know what? He knew I needed that car to keep me from being broken down on the road two weeks later. He knew that I needed that vehicle to help my friend move the following month. He knew!

As for the spouse, sometimes God says no or not-now. Truthfully, I don’t understand that! I really don’t! From my analysis, I know that what is truly needed is a spouse! But then I have to admit that I’ve just violated Proverbs 3:5.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

Do you see the conflict? I’m judging God’s provision by my limited knowledge. I’m trusting in my own analysis. I’m depending on my “educated” understanding. But, as may be obvious to you, God is bigger than me, better educated than the greatest of scholars, and has an understanding beyond human comprehension. He understands, sees, and knows so much more than I can hope to understand, see, or know.

So, when God provides a car, even though I asked for a spouse, I must submit my heart to His wisdom and healing touch. I need to look at that car, let my tears fall, and say with absolute trust, “Thank you!” My perception of what is best is often inaccurate. He knows what I need, and He will provide it. (As an aside, let me say that this DOES NOT mean one cannot keep asking for a spouse! Jesus tells us to be persistent in our requests until we get a response; so, there is nothing wrong with continuing to ask for A when you get B.) In the midst of my humanity, I need to remember my limitations, and I need to practice gratefulness for what He HAS given, even if I am grateful through my tears.

Ok. I should finish my earlier story. In the midst of my trying to be grateful and working so hard to keep from sobbing, I had missed that my older brother was now standing next to the couch I was sitting on. Furthermore, I missed the fact that he was holding a very big box. After clearing his throat, I looked in his direction and was elated to see a nice, new, shiny stereo for me! I didn’t care how it compared to any other stereo, it was my stereo, and I could finally listen to my music in nice, detailed, equalized sound! Yeah, baby! I had arrived!

When we surrender our lives to Jesus, when we line-up behind Him and walk with Him, following His plans for our lives, we will find He has the perfect gifts for us. Sometimes, they’re not what we want, but they are what we need, and they are ours, our gifts from our Father. And through these gifts, we are better equipped and enabled to serve Him. Nothing is wasted and little is much when God is in it! Consequently, I encourage you, Dear Reader, to press into gratefulness for what He gives you, even if you must weep as you’re grateful; He’ll work on that weeping, and you’ll find more gratefulness. Better yet, you’ll find your life more aligning with His, as you practice this denial of what you think is best and gratefulness for what He has given you.

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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My Doubts Will Answer To Your Scars

There is a fantastic line in a Skillet song called “Terrify the Dark”, and it is that line that now titles this blog post. But before I get into that, let me take you back.

Many years ago, a dear and close friend brought a band to my attention, Skillet. I’d never heard of them before, and truth be told, I wasn’t exactly into the hard-rock, punk, metal, nor industrial music scenes. In point of fact, there was a whole side of music I had not yet opened to. Fast-forward a few years and the girl I was seeing was into Skillet. At first, I wasn’t that excited about their sound. But with the album Collide, I started getting into their sound.

In 2004, Skillet performed at an event called Acquire the Fire. At the close of their set, Skillet did something many bands, at the time, did not do; Skillet took a moment to play Be Thou My Vision and engage the crowd in worship of our Creator and Lord. So many bands, at that time, were all about the money or their own music or what-have-you. But Skillet took a moment and brought it back to why we are believers, the amazing God of the Universe who created us, lived among us, and gave his life to save us (being resurrected on the third day). Not only that, but they did a hymn! And not only a hymn, but one that is a prayer for God, Himself, to be the center of our thoughts, purposes, life, and everything, our very vision!

Afterward, I got the distinguished honor to shake John’s hand and thank him for being so bold. His heart, at the time and to this day, is a unique treasure; he is a man who seeks after God with all he is, all he does, and follows Him into the future! Even in the early aughts (2000-2009 for those who didn’t know, like me), finding someone like that in the music industry could be difficult, and John’s story is a worthy tale of following God amidst adversity. But I’m not here to talk about John (Cooper, if you’re reading this, I’d love to chat with you, sometime, just as brothers in Christ; nonetheless, much love for ya and your mission!).

Consequently, Skillet has become a source of enjoyment and inspiration, as their music gets me up and moving, gets my fingers coding at light speed, and is just so backed with little golden nuggets of wisdom! (I would be remiss to not mention the vocal gold of Jen Ledger! Words would fail me to express it; Jen, if you happen to read this, you keep lookin’ up and pressin’ forward. God’s using you in so many ways! Much love, sister!)

And with that preface, you can understand why this is intriguing to me that I’ve listened to this song for 3 years now, and only once has this line stood out to me.

First, you have to appreciate the message of the song, “Your light will terrify the dark!” The visual imagery is profound. The light of the Almighty, the light itself, will terrify the dark. It’s not the attack, not the weapons, not the power, not the intensity, not the potential, nor the virility. It is merely the PRESENCE! His light terrifies the dark. It doesn’t merely intimidate, nor does it concern, nor does it simply disturb, but it fully terrifies the darkness. The idea is like a Chinese man hearing of Genghis Khan coming for his town; he isn’t merely afraid, Khan had generated an image that struck immediate terror into anyone who heard he was coming.

And with that understanding, then grasp the sweet potency of this line:

My doubts will answer to your scars!

And fear will have to place, no hold upon my heart!

Skillet, Terrify The Dark (chorus)

My doubts will answer to your scars. This reminds me of a scene in 1883, the paramount TV series. The series takes place on a wagon train moving from Texas to Oregon. In it, one of the cowboys, helping to wrangle the herd of cattle being transported with them, takes a liking to one of the Tim McGraw’s character’s daughter. She also shows an interest in him. Well, the father, in giving the cowboy his blessing to court his daughter, tells the cowboy, “you break her heart or get handsy, you and me are gonna have a problem.” In other words, that cowboy will answer to the father if he breaks the daughters heart or worse. Well, as Hollywood does, the cowboy and the daughter get intimate; sure enough, the father just about kills the cowboy before the daughter stops him. This, ladies and gents, is what it means to “answer to” someone.

So, think about that. Your doubts, not you but your doubts, will answer to Jesus scars. They will be dealt with by the scars on Jesus’ head, hands, side, feet, and back. (As an aside, think on that for a moment; Jesus beating, flogging, and death touched every side of his body. He left nothing behind to give His life for you!) You don’t have to be captive to fear, nor to doubt. They must submit to Jesus!

In our modern world with COVID-19, fear became almost a constant for a lot of folks. Some of us fought against fear, some fought each other, and some gave into fear, letting it take up residence in their lives. Dear Reader, you don’t have to live this way! Not if you have given your life over to Jesus and seek to follow Him! He has freed you, even from your fears and doubts! Take a page out of Skillet’s song book, and let His light terrify the dark, and shove your doubts up to the throne, and let them answer to His scars because He loves you too much to let you live in fear and sin! Repent (this means to turn away from your sin and never go back to it) and ask Him to take charge of your life. Let Him become your standard and the goal you strive for, but more importantly, let Him be the Father you need, let His advice be the wisdom you follow, and let His word be the first and last input in your life and all you do. Be like Christ, and follow Him into the truest freedo you’ll ever experience!

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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Everything Is A Trade-Off

Today’s post is more of a random musing than many others which brew for longer times. But recently, this theme has surfaced in my life, and I think it’s worth commenting on. In America, we’re so used to the idea of “have it your way” and “have it all.” Something our predecessors understood has been lost on my generation and the ones since.

Everything is a trade-off. Do you remember when you’d “make it last” or you or your parent would fix something rather than replacing it because of cost? Even if you don’t, I can testify to these things. I remember my Dad bending and shaping a fireplace screen, so it would be fixed and useful because replacing it was not an option. We’d rescreen windows, and a neighbor was often helping me fix my bike. Those moments are still fond memories and formed portions of who I am.

These days, we’ve gotten so used to figuring out “can we afford it?” Or we look at “well, does it have the features I want?” And all that is well and good! It’s worthy to make sure you spend your money well and that things meet the needs their being acquired for. But what I am pointing to is the moments when we choose new over old just because it’s new!

Recently, a friend encouraged me to read a book called One Second After by William R. Forstchen. It is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it. But one of it’s important attributes is that it’s highlighted, for me, the importance of caution when acquiring or investing in new technology. These days, we move at such a speed that many things are easily run over or past. To steal a quote from the movie The Hunt for The Red October, we are running so fast “that [we] could run right over my daughter’s stereo and not hear it!”

There’s an old saying, “Free as in Speech, or Free as in Beer?” But what’s missed is that someone paid for both! One of the first lessons to my kids was the fact that whenever someone gives you something “for free”, always consider who paid for it (store owner, promoter/company, you via price increases, you via tax increases, etc.). The point is that there’s a trade-off in all things!

Microwave A will warm your food, but it doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles, custom settings, timers, etc. Just a basic “heat my food up in this much time at this much power” microwave. It’s $20. But Microwave B is $45 and includes a popcorn feature, something that will cook a small chicken and has a built-in thermometer, and it includes a timer and a defrost feature. Is all that worth $25 extra? Probably. Let’s assume the extra features really cost that much, for this argument’s sake. But is it worth the extra $25 TO YOU?! Do you need those features? “Well, I might want them, one day; I might get a sudden craving for microwavable popcorn.” Well, if you have the spare $25, go for it! But recognize that you’ve traded that $25 for those features. For $25, you could’ve bought some popcorn and a pan to pop it in, and you could’ve taken yourself out from some nice fast-food (like Chipotle or Smashburger or even a medium Starbucks ;-D).

Another consideration is digital versus analog. Oh nuts! I think I lost half of you. 😀 I kid, but truly, I’m not sure if most people know those terms, as they are fairly niche terms. So, let’s look at it this way, portable music (Amazon, iTunes, Pandora, etc.) is digital versus vinyl or cassette tapes which are analog. Some people swear digital is better; others will go to war for analog. I tend to be Switzerland, neutral. But I will point out to both parties that there are trade-offs. Digital has a convenience to it that analog can’t provide. But all of that comes with trade-offs. Digital can be more easily altered which means you don’t have a reliable historical record. Analog can be easily lost, which means it’s not as durable. Then there’s the warmth that analog is often felt to have, but digital is more crisp. In sort, analog has a certain warmth and a depth to it that digital loses, but digital has a portability and durability that analog can’t match.

At the end of the day, the point is that in all things we should be aware (or “heads-up” as we used to say) of the gains and losses we accept around us. Something may cost a bit more, but it covers all the needs. Is it worth more? To the person that needs it, it is. Do you need those features? Maybe it’s worth holding on to the extra money. Do you really want to jump on that bandwagon? Maybe it’s not worth the cost!

In our ever-emotional, cheap and convenient world, it is important to take a moment to pause and consider the benefits and drawbacks of the things we spend our time, money, and energy to acquire, support, and utilize. There’s some food for thought!

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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I Don’t Matter…Truly!

The other night, I was quite irritated with one of my children because of an attitude issue. As I took a moment to calm down and clear my mind, it dawned on me that “I don’t matter!” Now, initially, this was a very self-pity-ish way of thinking. “I don’t matter; woe is me. No one cares about me.” Blah, blah, BLECH!!!

Nonetheless, as I began to take care of some things, the deeper truth welled up inside of me. I really don’t matter! Now, this is not some self-pitying tripe. Nor am I saying that my life or activities don’t matter to anyone at any time! That’s asinine; I have kids, and by virtue of being their parent, my existence matters.

Rather, what I came to realize is that, when you get down to it, I am not the one that matters! Jesus is! He matters because He is God, because He laid down His life for my sins, because He rose again on the third day, and because He is the only one worthy of such worship and importance! By His declaration, my life matters, but He matters more, and I need to acknowledge that.

When you’re in pain, experiencing pain, or just generally unsettled, it’s easy to get selfish. If you’re on the Autism Spectrum, it’s even easier to get self-centered because you’re oft inside your own head, even more than being in the world around you. So, this isn’t meant to condemn anyone, but it is hoped that it might convict a few, as I was convicted.

And that conviction should lead you to repentance (turning away from the sin, in this case selfishness). Whatever my desire, and however well-reasoned or well-intentioned my thoughts, my desires and my thoughts are not what matters. What does Jesus want? What has caught Jesus’ attention?

For me, I have made a point to pivot and redirect my selfish thoughts and intentions. Most notably, I’m working on purging the phrase “I’m tired” from my vocabulary. Most of the time, it’s an accurate expression, but even so, many times, it benefits no one to declare it. My yawns are visible, the tiredness is seen in my face, or the clock, alone, shows that the day is coming to a close and it’s times to rest. Declaring that I’m tired benefits no one in these situations.

On the flip side, there are times when my tiredness is my reason for not doing something. I worry about pushing myself too far or too hard, and I try to strike a balance between what I must do and what is optional to do, so I can maximize my energy level over the day. And yet, that’s not really what Christ calls us to do. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks the disciples to pray with Him in the garden of Gethsemane, and the disciples keep falling asleep because it’s late. In this moment, Jesus acknowledges “Keep watch, and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:41, NLT, emphasis mine)

In short, Jesus is telling the disciples (and, now, us) that the inner-man, the part of us we call the “spirit”, the part that, in Christ, communes directly with God, that part is more than willing to push beyond our physical limits. But our flesh, that part which is inclined toward sin, is weak. This plays out two ways; 1) The flesh can’t conquer the spirit, if we choose to follow the spirit, and 2) If we live our lives by our flesh (or by our own efforts), we will find ourselves not able to do what He’s called us to.

At the same time, Jesus knows that we’re human and need rest. This blog is not trying to say that you can go without sleep! I am not of the mind that we should knowingly do harm to ourselves. However, I am also not saying that we should tell God that we can’t do something because we’re tired or because we don’t think it’s possible. Quite to the contrary, if God calls you to do something, then that is what you should do, consequences notwithstanding!

Paul reinforces this in Galatians 5:14-17, when he tells us to follow the Spirit and not give in to the flesh. Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews reinforces this in Hebrews 11 as the various miracles of God, throughout history, are identified as coming from God through faith. He even goes so far as to say, “Faith shows the reality of what we hoped for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)

With all these ingredients, let’s cook this stew!

God understands our weaknesses; Jesus lived as a God-in-flesh for 30-ish years. He knows how tiring life can be, having been persecuted, sought out as a celebrity, having lost his earthly father, having been on the go for most of his 3 years of ministry, and having suffered a brutal death of abusive torture, endured the death-inducing 40-lashes, and then walked up a hill to be nailed (raw back against rough wood) to a cross and hang for 3 hours before dying. He surely understands being tired and being worn out.

While He understands our weaknesses, He also calls us to live by the Spirit, not by the flesh. As Zechariah 4:6 (NLT) says, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” In the context of this passage, God is laying out before Zechariah that He will work through Zerubbabel to finish the temple, and that nothing will stand in Zerubbabel’s way. But this is not going to happen by any other manner than by the very Spirit of God, Himself! Similarly, our lives can be lived in the flesh, but we will miss the best of what God has for us, and we will fall short of all that God desires to accomplish through our lives. We are called to live by His leading, through His strength, in His Spirit!

And when we live by the Spirit, when we submit our plans and desires to Jesus’ Lordship, we will find Isaiah 40:31 (NLT) becomes very real in our lives; “but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” And I can testify to this! I have seen the Lord make me able to do that which I could not; I would’ve never thought I could be a single Dad, let alone raise 3 kids through their teenage years, but here I am, doing so, by the grace and strength of the Lord!

At the end of the day, it’s not about me! I don’t matter! I think John the Baptiser put it best when he said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30, NLT) He is greater than I, and His reflection through my life must increase, and my reflection through my life must decrease. People should see Jesus, through me, more, and they should see me, through me, less. In essence, the highest compliment I can ever expect to receive is “you [sound/look/feel] like Jesus!” Of course, I assume that will be the day the Lord takes me home, and then, I hope His compliment will be, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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The Illusion Of The Day

There’s a fantastic song by Caedmon’s Call, which is called Masquerade (linked to YouTube, if you want to listen), and it speaks of the illusion that city lights can make, leading us to believe that it’s almost as bright as the day. It tells the story of such a city and the contrast when a lightning storm rolls in. The lightning flashes so brightly that the city lights are shown for what they are, poor imitations of the real thing. In fact, the song goes so far as to say, “Now the lights of that little town were as dark as the night compared to His light!”

This morning, I was coming to terms with my own humanity. In so many ways, I hate myself. I’m inefficient, inadequate to my own standards, and generally am not the person I want to be; worse yet, a lot of what bugs me about me are things I can do nothing about! My brain is what it is; I’ve experienced trauma I didn’t know how to avoid, been through trials I had no control over, and I’ve made mistakes I didn’t know would cause the damages they have. In short, I am a man in such desperate need of mercy and grace, I can feel it with every breath! So, why do I tell you this?

Every attempt of mankind to “find God” is fraught with futility. Whether you go the Roman Catholic way of penance and confession, good works, or whether you go the Mormon way of emotional experiences, following the Mormon Church’s exact guidance, or whether you are of the Church of Climate Change, believing that elitist ideology, perfect composting, and a minimum “carbon footprint” will save the world. (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to insult anyone here; this isn’t a comparative religions post, so I’m not claiming anything exacting about these groups, just using them as an example.) No matter where you go, if you’re trying to find God, find a god, or find some god-like existence or perfection, you WILL fall short of it! Even if you are a Protestant (or Non-Denominational) Christian, trying to find God will leave you lost!

In reality, humans have never had to “find God”. In point of fact, the action words in the Bible are more like looking for something that you have an idea where it is. Like looking for a book, or trying to find your shoe, as opposed to trying to find love or peace. God isn’t hiding. But quite often, we are!

We hide behind our comfort foods. We hide in our media (TV shows, news, or streaming content). We hide behind pleasure, be it sexual relationships, pornography, or adrenaline rushes. We encase ourselves in our careers, our houses, and our cars, and we think that we have somehow “arrived” at the place we’ve always desired, but eventually, the lightning crashes down reveals that all of our fancy lights are but mere darkness compared to what our souls ultimately craze in The Almighty.

Today, I caught myself pining for the future, for a time when my present “lack” would be filled, and my current frustrations and pangs would cease. And as I pined for that future, God gently whispered, “when will you choose to be happy with Me?” It was not a condemnation. Quite the opposite, it was the cry of a Father who has given His son so much, and His son (that’d be me, if it’s difficult to follow) has not been wholly grateful. And it’s not like I’m ungrateful.

In fact, it’s the fact that I’ve become absorbed in the thoughts and expectations of dozens of people. I’ve gotten lost in what seems best, in what makes fiscal sense, in what my day-to-day life of tangible needs has burdened me with! I’ve gotten lost in the gratefulness of what I have. I’ve forgotten to be grateful for what I truly have.

“What? You lost me!”

I know. I’m sorry. It’s hard to express this properly. Let me use a tangible, albeit fictional, example. Let’s say that I have a small apartment, a wife who’s expecting, and we are about to buy our first house. In such an example, I am so grateful for this apartment, for my first child, for my wife, and for the possibility of a house that I get lost and start to worry about how to get a house in this market. I start worrying about whether I make enough (yeah, my boss just said I’m getting one of the biggest raises of my career), whether we’ll have enough room, whether it’s the right neighborhood, or is it close enough to schools, etc. Let me highlight that for you: I start to worry!!! And as I worry, I forget that I have a job! Not everyone has a job; oh, I remember when I didn’t have one, how scary it could be to be running low on money, or to have to pick whether we pay a bill or get food! I forget that I have an apartment that provides shelter from the elements! Oh man, I remember when we had that previous apartment that was so drafty and barely kept the heat in! I forget that my wife loves me, and that we can raise our child, under the gracious protection of The Almighty, regardless of where we end up living.

I forget that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me like my own Dad did. (The example has ended, by the way.) Sometimes, we are grateful just so far. We remember to be thankful for A, B, and C, but we forget to go all the way to X, Y, and Z. Or maybe we forget to be grateful for O because it’s round, and we really needed a square! Or we forget to be grateful for P and Q because those were difficult and by the time we got through them, we were more grateful to be on the other side of the trial than we were to have P and Q. (Incredibly important letters, P and Q; they’re often understated, but they are quite perspicacious in their qualms and inquisitive purposes. LOL! Sorry, I had to do it, but they are important, yet understated, letters!)

At the end of the day, especially in America, it’s very easy for us to think we’ve got it together, to think we don’t need Jesus, and to think we are truly grateful for everything we’ve received. But today, I challenge you to look at the things you might be forgetting to be grateful for, the things God has placed in your life to bless you, help you, or challenge you! And sometimes, those challenges are a challenge to turn away from what we think we need and to spend time in the Arms of the One we really need!

Today, I choose to embrace the pain, grab hold of the frustrations, and press through them both. The Lord is greater than any of my troubles, and I desire to know Him fully and unrestricted! I would rather pursue His best for my life than to back-hand Him with my temporary pleasures or my immediate entertainment. I choose to power down my city’s lights out of a desire to wait for and see His daylight.

Whatever my challenges, worries, or struggles are today, He is more than able to overcome them! So, I choose to trust Him and press into my relationship with Him, trusting Him to work out the details.

Dear Reader, I pray you will trust Him, too, and that you will press into a relationship with Jesus, the Messiah/Christ. If you don’t know Him, you can begin a relationship with Him today. It starts with you admitting that you’ve sinned, that you have broken God’s laws, gone against His righteousness. Then, you simply declare (and believe) that He has died in your place and risen from the grave. And from this day forward, you start digging into this relationship with Him; get to know Him through His Word, the Bible, and through prayer (really, just a conversation with God). And as you get to know Him, He’ll show you areas of your life where sin has messed up His original purpose for you. As He shows you those areas, do what He says and let the cleanup begin (and eventually complete). Oh, and the last thing, find a church near you that teaches from the Bible and get into fellowship with other believers (hang out, talk about what God’s teaching you, hear what God’s teaching them). We need the support of each other, especially in these dark days when so much is turning against God.

If you don’t have a Bible and would like one sent to you, you can request one through WayFM (this site is not affiliated, nor do we receive any benefit from WayFM): https://www.wayfm.com/bible/

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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When I Get Where I’m Going; Thoughts on Legacy

Today, I happened to be listening to Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton singing “When I Get Where I’m Going”, and it got me thinking. I’ll spare you the random hops and schisms that led me to this, but I began to consider what would my kids remember, if I was gone. I thought of how we played my Dad’s favorite hymn at his funeral, and…do my kids even know my favorite song, let alone if it’s a hymn?

What would my kids remember of me? What would my headstone say? “Soli Deo Gloria”, like my Dad? “He was a living sacrifice”? “Beloved Father, Brother, and Friend”? What kind of phrase sums up me? And do my kids see that? Or would they remember me a different way?

So much of our world has pushed us to think only of today. Whether it is the entrenched consumerism, society’s ever-militant desire to deny God, or the immediate fears of things like COVID, there are forces all around which seek to draw us only into a self-centered “now” and to ignore the ramifications of our actions.

Some years ago, God asked me a question, “what if I took your kids from you, tomorrow?” “Whoa, God! You can’t do that! That wouldn’t be right!” “That’s not the question; what would you do differently, if you knew you wouldn’t have your kids tomorrow?”

After a few tears, my brain started cooking. God wasn’t being mean; He was being purposeful and directing me to think about what was important, to be intentional in raising my kids. And that day, I decided, if I lost my kids tomorrow, I’d want them to know that they were loved, to know the Gospel that Jesus could save them from their sins and give them everlasting life via a relationship with Him, and I’d want them to know that I, specifically, was their father who loved them.

By the gracious hand of God, and through multiple circumstances, my kids know these things. Even if He were to call me home today, I can confidently say that they would remember that their Dad loved them dearly, and they’d know their Father God. What they did with that? Well, that’s largely up to them, but I think that’s also part of why God hasn’t taken me off this earth yet.

So, what would be your legacy? Do you have kids? If not, what would your friends say of you? Do you have at least one close friend or maybe a brother/sister? What could he/she say of you? Would they speak of the love of Jesus flowing from you? Would they be able to articulate the Gospel? Or would they say that you were a partier? A rocker? A lover who never committed? What is your legacy, thus far?

The beauty in Christ is that there are second chances! If your legacy does not reflect Jesus, then you can repent (admit it’s wrong and turn around) today and start a new legacy. It may not be as clean-cut as you’d hoped, but maybe that legacy goes from “yeah, he was my father, but I never knew him” to “yeah, he was my father, and at the end, he weirdly changed and tried to be a part of my life.” But I’ll encourage you that I’ve known folks who had that story, and that “weirdly changed” later became “he started following Jesus, and it took me some years to realize that I needed to do that, too.”

In 2 Kings, there’s the recounting of a man who was sick and dying. Isaiah is sent to him to tell him to get his house in order, for he is going to die. The man weeps and cries out to the Lord to remember his faithfulness and his service to the Lord. Shortly thereafter, Isaiah is given a second message for the man; he is told he will recover and has been given another 15 years. While some think this is God changing His mind, I tend to view it as God telling this man what he needed to hear to motivate him to do what he needed to do. Some may view that as a lie, but God knows all; if the man hadn’t cried out, I’m certain he would’ve died, but he did, and God knew he would.

The same is true for you and I. We may think we’ve failed, permanently and completely, but God is so much more faithful and capable than we have ever known! If we follow after and serve Him, He will make beauty out of ashes, and He can work through you to leave a legacy of service to Jesus that will carry on for generations.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10. And I encourage you not to serve Jesus in some religious, self-serving, or even self-saving way. Rather, serve Him out of a real acceptance of His death in your place, a recognition of His resurrection, and a desire to follow after and serve Him with whatever time you have left!

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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Where God Guides, He Provides…Or Does He?

Ok. I owe you an apology for the click-bait-ish title. At the same time, I think anyone who has stepped out in faith has felt this way at one time or another. “God’s got us! Right? I mean, we followed Him here, didn’t we?”

Recently, my own life has been marked by a step of faith. Honestly, one could call it steps of faith, as it has been a month since the original decision. And in that month, my decision has been challenged plentifully. The key question that has surfaced in my head has been, “Did I hear God, or am I just doing what I want?”

Well, the short answer is, I know I heard God because there were several items (I call them pillars) that have shifted to direct me this way, and those haven’t shifted back, and nothing of what I’m experiencing in opposition is anything that changes those confirmations. It is merely opposition, and the Enemy loves to oppose those who are following Jesus!

In the midst of this, my mind has been reflecting on two folks, Elijah and Abraham, and I will cover them in that order. Both of these men followed God in ways that seemed a bit foolish at the time, but by the historical record of Scripture, we know it worked out.

In 1 Kings 17:1-7, God sends Elijah away from Jerusalem and has him camp by this brook called Cherith. Here, “the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evenings, and he would drink from the brook.” (v. 6, NASB) Sounds kind of nice! Sweet brook, good water, birds bringing food….yes, please! But it turns! “And it happened after a while, that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.” (vs. 7, NASB)

Now, Elijah had predicted this drought; God had told him to get out of town right after he faithfully declared that it was coming. But here Elijah is enjoying a bit of a respite, and his provisions dry up. What we aren’t told here is whether the Lord’s word came to Elijah right after the dry up or maybe there was a brief lapse between the water drying up and the Lord speaking.

In Scripture and in my own life, I’ve often seen that God sometimes allows a modicum of pain to prove our faith. Now, this isn’t like a court room, but it is like a knife or sword forge. When a knife/sword is complete, there’s a proving to be sure it won’t bend, break, or be easily dulled. Similarly, the Lord will prove our faith, mostly to ourselves, as He already knows the outcome. Even so, that proving of our faith has an effect similar to tempering a knife/sword; it generates a unique, beneficial tension that helps to strengthen the knife. Similarly, our proven faith helps us to know we can go the distance with Jesus, and it makes us less likely to freak out when He allows something difficult to come our way.

As aforementioned, I’ve also been thinking on Abraham. Remember in Genesis 12, when God calls Abraham (then Abram) to go forth “to the land which I will show you”? I’ve often thought this would make a great comedy routine. Think about it; ladies, imagine your husband comes to you…. or guys, imagine your buddy comes to you….and says, “so, we’re packing up everything we own, and we’re moving.” “Oh! Wow, that was fast! Uh, well, cool! Where are we moving to?” “The place God will show us.” “Ok. And that is….” “Oh, no, He’ll show us when we get there.” “…Uh…huh….so, we’re going in…which direction?” “Oh! Uh…well, God will show us that; He just hasn’t yet.”

You’re either cringing or laughing. Either way, it’s an appropriate response. And yet, as we can read and now know, God did show Abraham a great land, and we know it now as, roughly, modern day Israel. But seriously, consider what it took for Abraham to go to Sarah and say, “we’re moving, and I don’t know where to; we’re just going to follow God, and He’ll show us the land He has for us.”

Hence, the title! The old Christian adage, “Where God guides, He provides” is a great rhyme and a good adage to remember, as it is true! Even so, it is also true that we sometimes wonder, “Well, does He? Really?” And my dear Reader, if you’ve followed my story here or spent the time to review the posts here, or if you are one of the folks who know me, well then, you know I can say with full authority and testimony that, “YES!!!!!!! HE DOES!!!!!” But sometimes, He’s going to ask you to trust Him.

Trust is not a common thing in our culture, these days. With mainstream media being hit-and-miss on actually reporting truth, with political leadership being two-faced, hypocritical, and cultured liars (in many cases, not trying to be too general), and even with churches turning into places of happy-messages versus being solidly Biblical even when the truth doesn’t feel good, it’s not a surprise that we would be tempted to ask God for more proof, more evidence and rarely be willing to step out and trust Him.

But dear Reader, I cannot emphasize this enough, we must trust Him! It literally causes me to get teary-eyed just typing that. If we seek evidence for God’s trustworthiness, there is plenty! It may not be our particular situation, but it is nearly the same or close enough to relate and sufficiently proclaims that He is good and trustworthy. No other person on this earth has as much evidence and proof that he or she is trustworthy, a person of their word, than The Almighty. If we even have the most basic trust ourselves (which must have to do most things of life like walking or speaking any words), then we must trust Him. It is truly not an option, it’s that obvious and imperative, but He is gracious enough to allow us to have the option.

At the conclusion of all things, we can know that He will always do what is best for us, even if that isn’t what we want or is doing nothing at all. His love for us is so immense that He chose to take on human form; Jesus took on breakable, weak, limited skin, just to save us from ourselves. And that salvation was no small thing. (We are in the midst of Passion Week. If you don’t know what He went through, The Passion of the Christ does a good job of showing it visually.)

He was mocked and brutalized while a willing captive (he could’ve resisted and/or defeated his captors), a crown of thorns was woven and pressed into his head, thorns pressing deep enough to reach his skull. Then, he was subjected to a Roman flogging, whipped with a device that was designed to rip flesh, to leave a person’s back ripped open and raw, and many who received the 40 lashes didn’t survive. But that was not enough! He was then forced to carry his cross up to Golgotha, so weak that he needed help to make the journey, and then was nailed to that cross, his raw back touching the rough wood. He hung there for 3 hours; 3 hours = 180 minutes = 10,800 seconds in excruciating pain. And in the midst of those 3 hours, He forgave, He made sure His earthly mother was taken care of, He made one last call to the people to help them realize He is the Christ, and He expressed His humanity, all before giving up His spirit and dying.

If the story ended there, we’d be pitiful to believe in Him as Messiah. But 3 days later (if you are exacting, it was more like 36-40 hours, but because he died before nightfall, it is 3 days due to the lunisolar calendar), He rose from that grave, having conquered death. After some final time on earth, He ascended into the Heavens, and He will come again.

Dear Reader, if you don’t know my Lord, much of this won’t make sense or will be harder to do than how I’m expressing it. I encourage you, today, to accept His sacrifice in your place, to begin following Him through spending time reading the Bible, His Word, and spending time talking with Him in prayer. And, equally important, I implore you to connect with a Godly, Christ-centered, Biblical church near you, so that you can be built up with and by other believers.

Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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The Art Of Raising Adults

(This post is longer than my usual posts; given the topic, being more brief felt disingenuous and unclear.)

Parenting is unique. In many aspects of life, one improves or atrophies. In one’s career, one advances or changes careers. But in parenting, it’s kind of like a tug-o-war. The moment you think you’ve made progress, you’re back to square one, and when you think you’ve almost lost it all, you find you’ve hit a new level of expertise!

From what I’ve seen, where most people go wrong with parenting is that they get part of it upside down or miss a part entirely. Parenting isn’t a triangle; it’s an diamond! Additionally, some parents forget that they were once a kid too! While your kids aren’t you, some of the same thoughts are there, and you might even remember what it was like then, and what you’ve realized now, so you can help reach them where they’re at.

When your kids are wee-ones, there’s a lot of fun and a lot of learning. Diaper changes suck! But they’re such cute things as babies! And you get to teach them such simple stuff! Clapping, walking, even the meaning of the word, “no!”

Then they become toddlers, and somewhere between infancy and toddler, they show their sinful side. The dumbest of rebellions become their hill to die on; “no, you can’t have the remote…no, you can’t drink the fabric softener…no, I won’t let you throw yourself down the stairs!” I’m such a mean parent, aren’t I?! LOL!

In the toddler years, it’s important to teach them boundaries. This is the formation period where the foundation of how they view the world will be set. So, will they see the world as a place where nothing can hurt them? Will they see it as a place where they don’t have to obey anyone? Or will they learn the balance of being careful and of respecting authority? It is a tiring period, often feeling exhausted. Seriously, how many questions can a toddler ask?!? No matter the number, the depth of their curiosity will rarely ever be this profound again. Consequently, this time is so worthy! And you’re not done yet!

As you hit a stride and life gets simpler, it is a lull in a storm before adolescence. (Given that there are late bloomers and early bloomers, let’s define adolescence as 10-18.). In this period, it is often best to establish the rules of warfare before the battles begin. Prepare your child for the changes and pains to come. When my kids were born, I jokingly said something to them (as newborns) that has become a very serious credo; “hi, I’m your Dad! I’m not your friend, not your buddy, not your pal. I’m your Dad! And that means that sometimes, your not going to like me; in fact, you may even hate me. But that’s ok because I’m your Dad, and that means I have to make the hard decisions, decisions you won’t like, because I’m your Dad, and I love you!”

This motto takes new shape in the adolescent years. At best, I can hope to guide them through the years. At worst, I’ll have warned them of the dangers and done my best to help them avoid the pitfalls. But ultimately, when that transition comes, they have started becoming their own persons. And I need to show respect for that.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! You just lost me. They’re kids! You can’t let them call the shots!”

Funny enough, some think that’s what I said! Some even think that’s what that means! But that is not what I said nor what it meant! You see, I can respect someone and that someone can still be wrong! Think of it like being a manager. Your employee is their own person, but if they’re late, you’re going to correct them. If they tell you to float a boat, you’re going to tell them to pick up their final check on Friday! LOL! Parenting teens is similar.

Let me take you back for a moment. I’ve always been a weird kid, long before I knew what Autism really was. In my high school years, I knew I wanted to be a Dad, though it’d be almost a decade before I’d be one. So, naturally, I did what any atypical kid would do when seeking a goal! I studied the parents around me to see what they did! But I also studied my friends to see how they responded!!! What worked? What didn’t? What was for show and what was real?

From what I’ve observed, many parents fail when it comes to adolescence because they didn’t lay the groundwork initially. They had their careers, or each other, to think of and forgot their responsibility to their kids.

“Well, that’s just great! So, what can I do about?”

I like to use the analogy of a Saturn V rocket; more so, the assembled components that launched many astronauts to the moon and brought them back.

When your child is an infant, that’s the design phase. Any mistakes are pencil marks that are erased and redrawn.

When they become a toddler, that’s the build phase. Any mistakes cost some time and effort to go back, redesign, and rebuild, but it’s doable!

When they hit the beginning of adolescence, that’s the assembly phase! Whatever has been built is going to be put together. Any mistakes might be fixable, but you have to catch them early! Pretty soon, they’ll hit their stride and you’ll have no time left!

So, now they’ve started to assert their independence! You’re on the road to the launch pad! That road took 2 weeks to travel 1 mile! It had to be slow so the rocket didn’t fall apart, but once you were on that road, only life-or-death issues would allow you to replace things!

And so it is when your kid has hit their independent streak. The best you can do is repent of your mistake(s) and try to help your kids to see right. But what does that mean? This is why I like the rocket analogy!

Consider that your child is an astronaut and your Mission Control! What would you do if you realized you had a bad gauge or widget? It’ll still work, but it’s not going to read right or work perfectly? You’d tell the astronaut, “Ok, so we have a problem! You’re going to have to modify how you read X and use Y.”

The same goes for kids. “Son, I apologize! I have wasted money and run up credit card bills, and I’ve taught you to have whatever you want, immediately. We won’t be doing that going forward, and I’d like to show you a better way.” “Daughter, I have failed you. I let you dress like this, and it is not how a lady should dress. I will help you get some new clothes, and I am setting a new rule that such and such cannot be so and so.” Now, you can’t expect that such a statement will be met with happiness and acceptance! Nor can you just walk in and say that and have that be it. This is going to be a discussion!

For the sake of brevity (and given that this post is already longer than I prefer), I won’t outline a full, fictional dialog. I think you can infer that. But the point is that you own the mistake and establish the new standard, and then you need to be willing to hear their thoughts and objections. But you don’t move the boundary. A wrong decision because of a broken widget can have devastating long-term effects. Allowing a child to break house rules, just because you made a mistake, can have devastating effects on the child’s life and society as a whole!

And that brings me to my final two points.

First of all, launch day! Once your kids have reached adulthood, that’s launch day! Now, NASA (before they were even NASA) launched dozens of failed rockets! Sadly, they even lost a few astronauts. And while I hope no one loses a child (the thought alone hurts!), I am mostly referring to the fact that the launch may not go as planned. So, when your child launches, and they crash, you help put the pieces back together, you help them figure out what went wrong, and you launch again! You don’t pull the rocket back to assembly. And you can’t just build another one! You help them learn from the mistakes, just like you did, and eventually, they’ll break through the atmosphere and maybe even break orbit! Huzzah!!!!

The second thing is that without Jesus, parenting is infinitely more difficult! Without Jesus, I wouldn’t have learned all that I have, wouldn’t have the passion to keep raising my kids, nor would I believe that there are do-overs. Jesus has taught me all of these concepts through the Gospel of His coming, His substitutionary death, and His resurrection, and through His Word, the Bible. If you’re reading this, or if you’re a parent looking for help, I would be doing a disservice not to point you to my Lord! Truly, He is the One we need before we can hope to solve any problems in our lives; trying to live without Jesus is like trying to run a marathon without shoes. It’s doable, but dadgum, why would you want the extra pain?!

No matter what, parenting often starts as something relatively easy, turns into something excruciating and exhausting, and ends as something relatively easy again. It’s worth it, for all the triumphs and growth along the way. But it is work! And granted, the world is getting darker, and the pains are getting more piercing. Even so, parenting doesn’t have to be a mystery nor an impossibility, but it will take your time, your energy, and it will take your heart being truly invested in your kids, their best and their futures.

Godspeed! – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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When God is Silent, Listen All The More!

Sometimes, I find that God goes silent. Usually, it coincides with my own fears mounting and me shouting for answers. But even when I’ve quieted myself and submitted my fears before Him, I find that I sometimes still do not hear Him. And personally, I find that frustrating! It hurts, truth be told, because it feels like He doesn’t care.

It’s been previously discussed, on this blog, how feelings are not a good metric of truth. In fact, they can be liars! As such, “feels” is emphasize above to draw out the reality that this feeling is not accurate. He truly does care; in point of fact, His silence, much to my vexation, is actually the evidence of His care.

Many people these days have gotten used to instant gratification. With microwaves, fast-food restaurants, delivery services for most everything, and Internet streaming of offered and on-demand content, the average American is flushed with a plethora of instant gratification. If I may be so blunt, even pornography, what often was purchased in a store and carried out in a paper sack, is now available at one’s fingertips. It is not an exaggeration to say that we are ill-acquainted with patience!

In the Bible, we find many times when God chooses to be silent to give someone the time to surrender to Him before He responds. And in our present day, one may dare contest that He is silent, sometimes, just to remind us that we are not Him and that His timing is perfect, even if it requires us to be patient before we see things fulfilled.

While we could postulate for decades, maybe even eons, as to the reasons for God’s silence at times, the conclusion we can always draw is that He does exactly what is needed, for exactly as long as needed, exactly when it is needed. In other words, His actions are perfect, even if we don’t understand them or don’t see them that way.

“So, what does that mean for me? I’m still waiting on His response!”

Aye! That is the rub. But here’s your answer: it means you can trust Him. It means that you should continue to ask, continue to pray, continue to be in His word, and trust that in His time, He will answer you. And all the while that you do these things, keep listening! Keep your ear so near to his voice that even His breath tickles your ear!

Don’t stop listening, and don’t stop being honest. In the last many decades, many of us Believers have been deceived to think that we can’t be honest with God. Some think He won’t hear how frustrated we are. Some think He doesn’t see the grief in our hearts. And some are all of the above and more. But if you read the Psalms, God shows us that we can be brilliantly and boldly honest with Him.

I’ve said, and been told, that God is a perfect gentleman, that He will never force someone to do something nor will He be abusive or anything else evil. At the same time, I’ve not always believed this; my emotions lied to me, and I believed them, and I thought being honest would get me smacked, metaphorically, by the Almighty. But He never does that! Granted, I will sometimes characterize things as a “smack in the head” or “with a 2×4”, but that is only because of how powerfully a realization hit me. He has never been so harsh with me. He will get stern, though; His tone changes, it’s as if His face has gone slack, and He will set me back in my place as a human talking to the God of all creation. But even that is done so lovingly, it would be hard to characterize it as harsh.

Consequently, we can come before God and tell Him, “I’m angry with You for being silent.” We can boldly say, “I feel like you’ve left me alone because You’ve gone silent!” And we can throw ourselves on Him and beg Him, “I need you to show up! Please, please say SOMETHING! Anything!”

Yet, no matter what we do, we do it with the attitude of a child to his/her parent. Now, some had bad parents, but even those with bad parents know how their parents should have responded. So, imagine your perfect parent, and make your requests, let out your frustrations, and listen for your Heavenly Father respond.

He is there, and He has a response for you, be it “yes”, “no”, or “please wait.” He has a response for you, when it’s time for you to hear it. So, keep praying, keep spending time in the Bible, and above all, LISTEN!

“And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”

1 Kings‬ ‭19:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬
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Sometimes, Pain Moves Us Onward

I must admit, I’m a pretty classic human; I don’t like pain, and I prefer comfort. But over the last few years, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that I need to flip that around, and learn to not like comfort and prefer some amount of pain. No, I’m not advocating that I (or anyone else) become a masochist, but there is a truth we’ve lost in modern American culture, and we’ve lost because we’ve gotten comfortable and, frankly, rich!

Our parents, grandparents, and further on knew something many of us have forgotten: the art of contentment. Those who lived through the Great Depression, who made it through WWII, who built an incredible breadth of technological advancements that many, myself included, now build upon, all had a perspective of being grateful for so many little things. And their lack prompted a pursuit that drove them to bigger and better.

“But I’m not rich! I can barely afford my groceries.”

While that is true for some, there are others who have enough to eat and still more. Do you get to eat out? You’re rich! Do you have a full stomach at any or all meals? You’re rich! Now, this isn’t to disparage anyone, and I’m not using the term “rich” like American politicians do (in point of fact, our culture makes it almost assured that a politician while be among the very “rich” many of them rant against) . Still, it is meant to cause you, dear Reader, to pause and take a look at your life from a lens many have not had in a couple decades.

The amount of decadence and luxury we enjoy tends to distort our perspective. Take for example the ability to pick up a plane ticket for $30 or $80 and fly to most any major city in the US on any number of airlines. My grandparents never dreamed of such luxury! To be able to access entertainment from dozens, if not thousands, of options all via a large TV screen? My parents had a 27” TV at the height of my father’s career, and it was the biggest TV I’d ever had. Now, that same cost would buy 60” or more in flat-screened decadence!

Again, this is not about shame. It is about awakening ourselves from the narratives of our culture, breaking out of the news media’s diatribes, to lift us from the moans of those who claim we’re lost to “Corporate America”, and to give us a chance to look out at the landscape and ask, “are we really living in a way that glorifies the Almighty?”

Perhaps you have been wasteful, and you can be more considerate of what you buy, what you throw away, and what you hold on to. Perhaps you’ve been so simplistic that you’ve missed how you can bless others. Or perhaps, you’re somewhere in-between, waking up to nonsense you’ve believed and changing your mind from false ways of thinking.

Either way, the question comes: will you choose to accept the pain or will you cave to the comfort?

Let me spin off into one last point; comfort means “to strengthen” or “to give hope to” someone or a group of folks. It used to connote something that helped a person continue on, to get up and keep moving, or to push onward after a setback. Today, comfort is often used to imply “something restful or relaxing”. Where it once was meant to get us up and going again, it has oft become a destination.

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:13b-14, NLT

What is holding you back? A house? A car? The desire to be married? The desire for a family? Perhaps career goals?

While still holding to the truth of God and living as He has taught us to live, let those things go! Seek Him. It’s not about a city, a building, a particular church congregation, or some career. It’s not even about how many kids you have, whether you homeschool them or not. It is solely about one things and one thing only: Jesus! Are you seeking Him and following His example with everything you’ve got and everything you are?

If you’re doing that, praise God! Keep it up! Keep pressing in, and learn to value the pains He brings, knowing that they always bring blessings either directly (prompting us to remove sin, teaching us something we’ve missed, and/or advancing the Gospel into someone’s life). And if you are not doing that, time to get off the proverbial (or physical) couch and get going! He has plans for you, and they are GOOD!

As a final thought, no one who has ever competed in sports will tell you it was painless. Whether it’s the workouts that build your strength or the actual competition where you give everything you’ve got to bring home that prize, none of it leaves you without pain. Muscles scream, lungs burn, and you sometimes wonder if it’s worth it.

In life, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that pain is bad. But pain is sometimes, almost always, very good. It alerts us to problems, helps us avoid bad things, and it is often needed to build strength so we can do more and go farther. With Jesus, it is the same; pain helps us remember that sin isn’t worth it. It helps us know when there’s a problem in our lives. And through pain, Jesus often draws us nearer Himself and moves us onward and upward in our life with Him. We may not always understand, but if we know Him, we can trust He has our best at heart and will only do what is absolutely right, best, and necessary (Romans 8:28).

I am learning to embrace the pains He brings into my life; let the tears flow, but press in and through. And in the midst, I find He is moving me and making me accomplish things I never thought possible. But that’s my Jesus, God of the Impossible!

Godspeed! – 1 Corinthians 15:10

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