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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.

EmptyhandsImage Credit

Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

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.

loneliness11

Loneliness chokes the human spirit. Loneliness was one of the first feelings God dealt with in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It’s not good for the man to be alone…” In a beautiful garden that was created by God, loneliness somehow showed up and it’s be showing up ever since.

Have you ever felt completely alone? I’m sure you have. Maybe you are feeling lonely right now. Maybe you are feeling like no one who crosses your path daily even has a clue as to just how lonely you feel. The world simply can’t see deep into your soul where the pain of loneliness has found a home.

Loneliness doesn’t discriminate. It happens to people of all ages and from every walk of life. There are some people that have lived more than half their life wondering why they are even here at all. A deep sense of loneliness attacks some people from time to time and yet, for others loneliness seems to never go away. The pain of loneliness is so powerful it feels like a endless night where there is no rest for the soul.

If you are feeling loneliness today, you are not alone. You are not the first to experience loneliness, and you will not be the last to feel loneliness. Even Jesus felt loneliness, so you are in good company. Jesus felt loneliness in the garden the night He asked His disciples to pray with Him and they feel asleep. Jesus felt loneliness when the disciples fled and allowed Him to confront His trials by Himself.  Jesus, on the cross, cried out in absolute loneliness as He spoke, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”

God understands loneliness. He still calls it “not good.” Loneliness is a cold dark road to be on, but one day it will be done away with forever. Loneliness knows it’s existence is short. At the second coming of Christ, He will set all things right. There will be no more tears in God’s future. Loneliness will be cast away forever, giving way to an eternal sunrise.

I have no answers for you today. I only have a road to keep pointing you down. It’s a road where heaven and earth will one day come together, and God will dwell with us forever. That my dear friend, is the hope that lights the way through loneliness.

people

Those outside of Christ have a perception of you. They know you are a follower of Christ; but how do they label you? Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

I once heard it said, “It should break our hearts that often we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, for who we have excluded than for who we have embraced.”

Years ago when I gave my life to Christ, I became part of the youth group at the church where I surrendered my life to Christ. It was an enthusiastic group of kids. They loved God very much. However, there was one thing that confused me much.

They spent a lot of time after the message in the altar praying. Now of course there was nothing wrong with that but it was some of the prayers I heard that confused me. The prayers didn’t confuse me because they were wrong. I think they confused me because they seemed incomplete. The prayers were one-sided prayers.

I would often hear prayers of repentance over sin they had committed in their lives. Of course,  there is nothing wrong with that because it’s the right thing to do. However, I would also hear prayers of repentance over things that were not sin. I’m not sure why they did that, but I can only assume it was motivated by the desire to be holy and closer to God. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, other than you’re repenting over something that doesn’t need repentance.

The thing that was missing were prayers that would accompany them out of an altar into the darkness of their world with the love, grace and mercy of Christ as their battle cry. Instead, I often saw these same kids walk into the darkness preaching their convictions onto those outside the faith. Therefore, many of them became known for what they were against, instead of what they were for.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I love that! I don’t have the ability to convict anyone. I do have the ability to bring guilt to someone but that not the same as the conviction the Holy Sprite brings. I much rather leave the task of drawing the heart of the outsider to Christ in the hands of the Spirit of God.

I don’t have the right to judge the outsider. That’s the job of God when He sees fit to do so. (Judging one another in the church is for another post) However, I will share just one scripture. 1 Cor 5:12, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

It’s my job and your job to love! When we love and show God’s love to the world it melts and convicts the heart of the outsider. When people met Jesus, they didn’t walk away with an opinion of what He was against. (Well, the religious Pharisees did because they needed to be shook up) When people encountered Jesus, they walked away hopeful because of what He was for.

So, allow me to ask you one last time. Those outside the faith, Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

Live like Jesus. Love like Jesus and He will change the world through your witness.

Called To The Gap

December 6, 2012 — 2 Comments

bridge-the-gap
As Christ followers, we follow Christ. That being said, never forget that Jesus is also found walking in mission fields beyond North America and we must follow there also.

You may not be able to travel to mission fields far away, but you can give to them. When your giving is done with God’s love it becomes a demonstration of His grace, mercy to the world beyond your shorelines.

God has called each of us to fill the gap between North America and the rest of the world. As I mentioned a moment ago, you may not be able to travel abroad, but you can give to them. Your money can travel.

God has His missionaries placed throughout the world. They are His servants that live the message of His love out every day in some of the poorest places on earth. They need your help to stay there. Deep in your heart you know they are out there and deep in your heart you can feel the commitment calling you to give more.

2 Corinthians 9:7
tells us, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”

I give to missions. I’ve been on the mission field many times. Yes, there are works to be done at our own doorstep, but our doorstep also opens to the entire world. We have in North America the funding to completely change the world if each of us would do just a little.

I’m sure you have a desire to give, but maybe there is something standing in the way of your giving. You have a life to live. You have bills to pay. You have dreams to accomplish. All of those are fine, but missions should be part of that plan.

When you invest in missions, I’m convinced that God smiles. We must remember that God has called us to the world that is beyond our local world also.

I end with the following quote from David Livingstone who said, “God had an only Son and He made Him a missionary”

Will you follow? Will you go? Will you give? I know you will because all of us are called to the gap in some way or another.

Heart Hoarding

November 28, 2012 — 2 Comments

hoarding2

Authentic outside change starts with an inside work of God

We live in a very aesthetic focused world.  The world is fixated on the outside.  The gospel of Jesus is just the opposite. We are in need of rescue, not from the outside, but from the inside. You see, the trouble is you can make the outside look good while the inside is dead.

Matthew 23:27 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

Authentic outside change starts with an inside work of God

When I lived in California, not only was I a pastor, but also I was a paint contractor. I had one particular property that had 680 units to take care of. When people would move out, I would clean the carpet, clean all the inside, and paint the unit fresh for the next tenant.

All the units looked the same from the outside. All the doors were red with a doorknocker and a peephole. You could pick any hallway and walk it, and every apartment would appear the same.

However, they were not all the same on the inside. I would often find some crazy stuff on the inside once I was allowed access.  I was once called to take care of a unit, and when I stepped inside I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The entire three-bedroom apartment was a foot deep in trash. One of the bathrooms was unusable because it had trash all the way to the ceiling. There were only a few paths that went from room to room. I was completely blown away by what I was seeing.

The apartment manager had asked the man how it got this way and he replied, “Little by little I made a choice not to get rid of what I didn’t need.” From outside, the unit looked like all the others, but inside it was a mess.

So what about you? Is there something on the inside you have not surrendered to God? Do you truly understand that we are spirit, soul, and body according to 1 Thessalonians 5:23?

Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We should never come to God and give him just our outside to clean up.  We must give him all of ourselves.  Otherwise, we are seeking a religious God and not a relationship God.

Authentic outside change starts with an inside work of God.

What would happen today if you would let him have every area of the inside of you heart? All Growth in Christ demands surrender. If there is a mess inside the apartment of your heart, I would ask you to allow Him in. He will clean it all up so you can truly live free.

4 Tips For Frustration

October 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

Anger
Are you frustrated and feeling stuck? Each of us has been there. You feel like at every turn there is another dead-end waiting to greet you. You are stuck, and trying really hard only seems to make it worse. Sound familiar?

I’ve been frustrated and stuck many times in my life. I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. I have no way of knowing what you might be facing at this moment in your life, or what you are frustrated about, but I know this-God is able to get you through it.

Allow me to give you a few scriptures to meditate on.

Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalms 34:18 tells us, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Galatians 6:9 tells us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. “

Now, before you give up and just quit, let me give you a few tips to help your walk.

1. Look again

Many times we stop looking for an answer right before the answer is reveled. Frustration can cause you to not see many times what is right in front of you. Therefore, look again. I once was trying to fix something at my house and was frustrated that I couldn’t make it work. I had tried everything and was ready to give up. At that moment a friend walked up, who was not frustrated, and gave me the solution to the problem. I just started laughing because it was so simple. I couldn’t see it because I was frustrated. LOOK AGAIN.

2. Back up and take the big look again

Many times we get so caught up in a small problem that we cant’ solve, that we miss the big picture of what we are really trying to accomplish. You may find out, by backing up, and looking at the big picture again, there is a different small step to take that will get you there. Trying a different small step might just be the key to getting unstuck. You could just be missing multiple solutions to the same problem.

3. Never stop the action

Don’t allow frustration to stop your work. You are closer to success than you think. When you are not getting anywhere, don’t procrastinate. (See Point 1 Again)

4. Stamp a positive outlook on your eyeballs

Don’t allow fear to speak a bad outcome to you. Imagine a positive out come and let that be the target you aim at and hit. See yourself achieving your goal with God’s power and blessings. When you think positive, it will put the wind at your back.

One last scripture for you to think about

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Life-Running-Out-Of-Control-Documentary-300x225
The ability to choose how to handle things that spin your life out of control is yours to embrace. You can’t help what life throws at you, but you can make a decision as to the way you will deal with it. When things are out of my control, I like to do these 4 things.

1. What am I suppose to be learning by this?

When my world has been rocked by something momentous and I’m hurt and feel life is out of control, I slow down and ask myself, “What am I suppose to be learning from this?” Have I taken my blessings for granted? I use the ‘out of control’ time to make sure what is in my control is not being overlooked because of what I’m going through. For example, when things are happening out of my control, it’s easy to lose focus on my family because I’m busy trying to figure out what to do next. I slow down and refocus on them.

2. I think past myself

I think past myself. In other words, I look for someone that is in need of help and I try and reach out to him or her. There is something healing about reaching out to others when you need someone to reach out to you.

3. I remind myself, that even though I can’t control everything, God does control all things.

I trust deep in my soul that God has not forgotten me and He knows all about my pain and distress. He cares more about my life than I do. He has promised in His Word that he would never leave me or forsake me. He has given you that promise also.

4. A bend in the road is not the end. (Unless you don’t make the turn)

Appreciate the adventure that God is allowing into your life. Hurt and pain are often part of the road you must travel. There is no need to allow all the negative emotions you are feeling to run you. Just keep making the turns that God is putting in front of you. The road will straighten out soon enough.

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GodsPerfectTiming

God’s timing and my timing….boy are they two different things.

In Mark chapter 5 Jairus had a daughter who was sick and so he goes to Jesus and begged Him to come and heal his little girl.

On the way Jesus is stopped by the touch of another. A women with a 12 year issue of blood touched Jesus and He stopped. Now even though God was at work, the world of Jairus must have went into slow motion.

How could Jesus stop knowing I have sick daughter at home?  Jairus must have had many question going through his mind. I know I would have.

After the healing of the woman the bible says, “While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Whey trouble the Teacher any further?”

Now here is the really blessed part. Even though the timing had changed for Jairus, the timing for his daughter to be  touched of God was perfect, right on time and not forgotten in the context of another getting what they needed first. (The Woman)

Notice in verse 36 of Mark 5 where it says, “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

Just because Jesus stops to touch someone else first doesn’t mean you have been overlooked. It only means your timing and His timing are different.

Your touch is coming!

 

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