Archives For Courage

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Change

Releasing to God what I think I control is often hard for me. I suspect the same might be true of you from time to time. However, releasing things to God is the only way truly to live. All of us have something in our lives that needs to be changed for the better, but letting go of it and turning it over to God can be a difficult task to obey. Change is rarely easy, but it’s needed to move forward with God. I think for the most part we all have a desire to follow God but many times our lives, our own plans; our un-confessed sins keep us running in a circle.

We love the circle because it’s predictable. Following God is not predictable but you can be certain He knows where He is going. He will see you through any change no matter how big or how small. The creator has built change and transitions into life. The only one that doesn’t change is God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can’t control the seasons or transitions, but We can control how we respond to the changes.

Change is rarely easy, but it’s needed to move forward with God.

To hear more and go deeper listen to the message, Change Is Rarely Easy.

Until Then

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

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brokenroadUnanswered pain won’t go unanswered forever…but it sure feels like it sometimes. Pain is a former thing that will one day pass away. Life has a way of bringing challenges into our lives that at times seem too much to endure. Aches, limitations and even permanent limitation haunt many this side of eternity. Depression that is inescapable and scarring that runs through the soul unhealed, call for many to give up…and they do.

For all the bad things pain brings…pain also acts as a signpost pointing to an end to pain forever. Pain has a small whisper calling for you to endure anyway. Pain speaks with a faint voice of courage and resourcefulness; calling us to take hold of the future that will one day be ours. Pain calls to you to help others who are going through similar pain until the pain is no more.

Revelation 21:4b stands true, “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” You will have a new body in the age to come. You will be untouched by the things of this present age. Pain, disease and any limitations will be forever cast aside.

For now, there is a call to press on, a call to endure by the power of His grace, which is sufficient for all things and all circumstances. Paul asked the Lord three times to remove his thorn in the flesh. The answer he received from the Lord was simply this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Until then…

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freedom

Isaiah 55:1 (ESV) “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

In Isaiah 54, God has offered forgiveness and now in chapter 55 the call to walk in forgiveness is given. It is not enough to be free; we must live free. We don’t have to order our lives around the axis of a world system that begs for us to dance as its puppets. We don’t have to order our lives around a fragmented social system that includes only those with more power.

In God’s order, everyone is included. We have a Christ centered alternative to be fully human and live fully human in Him and His redeemed order of justice. We have been given the choice of the one that choose us. In Christ, we are the tribe of Revelation 7:9-10

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (NKJV)

We are His redeemed community living a life of radical love in a sea of hatefulness. We render not evil for evil, but we love our way through this age until the age to come overtakes us, and death is swallowed up forever.

We need not use violence to fight for our rights, but instead as one writer has so eloquently put it, “Our violent ways find an end in the wounds of Christ, and in his forgiveness we are offered healing from our self-inflicted pain.”

For now, death remains but soon death will be swallowed up forever.

Isaiah 25:6-9 (ESV) 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

 

scar

I have a scar on the palm side of my left hand, near the base of my thumb. I once had an accident while hunting and cut it open. The only thing I had on hand in the woods was some crazy clue I had in my bag. I poured that into the cut and pinched my skin together to stop the bleeding and to close up the injury.

I finished my hunt, returned to my truck for the drive home. Everything seemed fine until I grab hold of the steering wheel. I felt a shock go through my whole body followed by pain I can’t even begin to describe. I looked at my cut and couldn’t see anything, but I knew something was not right.

Over the next couple of days,  I kept hitting my injury on random objects and every time the pain would just grow worse. A shock of pain would course through my body and almost bring me to my knees.  I would look at my wound and to the naked eye it seemed to be healing just fine. However, it wasn’t fine. There was a major problem.

I went to the doctor, and he informed me that I did a excellent job with my homemade superglue stitching, but with a pause in his speech and funny smile on his face, He informed me I had made one big mistake.  I had left a never exposed and that was the reason I was feeling so much pain. He would have to open  my injury and take care of it.

He did a great job. He took care of the exposed nerve, and the pain went away. However, for some strange reason, whenever I rub my finger across the scar it tingles and has a numb feeling. It feels weird. It shoots a numb feeling down the length of my thumb.

So, what’s the lesson? What’s the devotion? Scar will be imposed upon us in this life that you can be sure of. Some scars are self-inflicted while other scars are inflicted upon us by friends and strangers. Either way, the scars remain and although the hurt often fades away, numbness and tingling seem to remain.  Some scars in this life simply have odd, yet funny memories attached to them, much like the one I just shared with you.

However, other scars are painful in a very intrusive and controlling way. There are scars attached to injustices and evil that was conveyed upon you. You are not alone. Jesus experienced that kind of scaring also. He was beating and placed upon a cross. Nails were driven  in his hands and feet. He was stabbed in the side, and blood and water flowed. He took the scars for you and I.

You are not alone. He stands with you. His scars point to the day pain and tears will be no more. When I look at my scars on my body I surely have memories. Some of the memories are not bad while others haunt me, especially the scars of my soul. However, I see the future. I embrace the future. How about you?

Jesus came and stood among the disciples. He spoke to them, Peace be with you as he showed them his hands and his side.

Neither Have You

July 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

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I’ve never been skipped over by God and neither have you. On the other hand, there have been many times I’ve felt like God doesn’t even know where I’m at, I’m sure you have felt the same. Facts and feelings often seem to be in conflict with one another.

The unwavering facts of God’s love grace and mercy are abundant. However, at the same time, conflicts of emotions try to erode it all away.  Feelings fight against faith, but faithful is He who has you engraved on the palms of His hands.

When the walls of Jerusalem were torn down, God assured His people He was still in control. It is no different today in your life, or in my life. When the walls of safety, protection, assurance and hope are torn down, He is still master.

It is in those moments we are reminded that He alone is our answer, protector and provider. He is enough. He is our contentment. Like the Apostle Paul, we know what is like to be in need, and we know what it is like to have plenty.

We embrace the same secret of being content that he embraced many times in his life. That secret was simply,  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You are not skipped over, and feelings can never win. God’s word boldly declares, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

I’ve never been skipped over by God and neither have you.

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Have you ever felt numb emotionally and spiritually? I’m sure you have. Maybe even today you find yourself in just such a place. You don’t have any feelings because they seem to be gone. The effect of sadness and depression over the many closed doors in your life have slowly cut off your faith blood supply, and you feel only numbness.

Numbness! That place in your faith life where you want to completely give up, but you know you can’t, and you know you won’t. Numbness is the part of walking by faith that personally haunts me the most. Maybe you know the feeling I’m referring to?

You are doing everything right and still all the doors in your life seem to close with a dull rudeness. You break out your faith check list to make sure you are walking pleasing to the Lord and sure enough everything for the most part seems to be right on track. Why then is every door closing, and yet for everyone else around you, the doors seem to not even have a close option?

Numbness will take you to the place of Elijah. Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle in his life. He witnessed God move on Mount Carmel in such a way that human involvement couldn’t be credited with any part of it. Yet, not long after the open door miracle, we see him whining that he’s all alone as a follower of God. He is numb! He is in the perfect storm.

Numbness led him to isolation but even in the isolation God was there. Numbness can’t push God away from you. He is commanded to get up and eat and to his surprise food and water have been supplied for him. Numbness can’t cut you off from your needs being supplied.

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before GOD. GOD will pass by.” We are informed that a hurricane type wind passed through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. Then after the wind there came an earthquake, but God wasn’t found in it either. Next, fire came, and God was not found in the fire. Finally, a whisper! God was in the whisper.

Numbness can’t be blown away. Numbness can’t be shattered away. Numbness can’t be shaken away. Numbness can’t be burnt away. However, numbness can be whispered away.

The whisper always comes. The whisper always comes. I’m waiting on my whisper. It will come!  How about you?

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

storm

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Of course, He cares. But even better than that, He knows!

Jesus knew the storm was  coming when He commanded the disciples to cross over to the other side. He even knew the storm was upon them during His nap.

It’s kind of incredible when you think about it.

You know you’re in a storm when it’s all you can think about. It’s on your mind so heavy you toss and turn on your bed at night.

However, I want you to know that Jesus can be calmly trusted in the middle of trouble.

He knew they were destined for the other side, and He knows how to write your story also.

He knew they would arrive, and He knew they would arrive different men than when they launched out from the other side.

The kind of differences only a storm can bring.

It is not that Jesus is not around; He is there all the time.

You may not understand His timing or the way He chooses to answer but please understand Jesus is sovereign over all forces and that’s enough.

Jesus can calm the inward and outward storms of your life. He will get you to the other side.

Psalm 89:8-9 (NIV) 8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

emptiness_sings_scan

I’ve have found that the worst thing to do with emptiness is to try and run from it. If you run from emptiness, you will miss the song.

Emptiness that is not avoided, causes you to ask questions you would otherwise never ask. Emptiness is not the valley of death, but rather, the valley of teaching and even a valley of Joy.

I once read, “Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness,  we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.”

In my emptiness,  I’ve established I’m often to quick to look for human help before finding joy and peace with God first. When I was younger in my faith I often found myself asking for help from anyone who would listen, and then I would pray and ask God to bless what I had just asked for.

Older and more mature now, I now seek the joy in emptiness and then asking is nothing more than breathing out from a place of assurance- no matter the answer to come. When you stop running from emptiness you are one step closer to hearing a creative song.

Emptiness was the starting place of God in Genesis, and it’s still His creative starting place in your life now. Give your emptiness to God and watch as He speaks, “Let there be!” Emptiness is the place God begins to complete you. Emptiness is a place God begins to sing through you. This is how emptiness sings!

Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

dry-well

A dry well never worries God; a dry well only worries us. Looking into the well of life and finding it dry is a scary scenario; especially if the well has been flowing unhindered for quite awhile.  It’s in times of abundant flow we say things like, “God is good; God is faithful, and God is the provider!” However, when the well starts to become dry, there is a tendency to allow our faith to become dry along with it.

I’m convinced that one of the secrets to trusting God is being faithful with dryness the same way we are faithful with abundance. God requires faithfulness from us no matter the amount given or allowed into our lives. Adversity is the most amazing place  to see God demonstrate His faithfulness. He will always give you what you need to survive.

He is the God that will sustain you for His glory. Circumstances have no disturbance on God who is the master over all circumstances. Don’t panic and look for shortcuts when your well is running dry.  Look instead to the gift of faith God is trying to birth into your life to grow you into a disciple for His glory. Don’t allow the call of panic to grip your soul causing you to move into part-time loyalty to God.

Charles Swindoll once said, “From the tiny birds of the air and from the fragile lilies of the field, we learn the same truth…God takes care of His own…. At just the right moment, He steps in and proves Himself as our faithful heavenly Father.”

Don’t look at the dry well! Look to God who is the well that never runs dry. I want you to understand today that when you wholly yield to God, you are yielding to the answer for dryness. We are not called to prove the faithfulness of God; we are only God to demonstrate our own faithfulness in knowing that His inevitable supply will come.

Psalm 36:5 (NKJV)Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.