Posted 2 weeks ago

Reading this thought from Rick Warren today made me think of this song from Fee. Here’s Rick’s thought:

“The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)

When your world is falling apart, it’s so easy to focus on the pain, the problems, the pressure, and the difficulties. It’s the natural response. But the biblical response is to turn your focus to God’s love.

Even though you’re mad at God, you need to remind yourself how much he loves you. Focus on his unconditional love. Remember that you can’t make God stop loving you. You can complain, yell at him, and scream at him, but he will still love you forever.

You can see this biblical approach in Jeremiah’s life in Lamentations 3:19-26. Jeremiah starts out focused on his pain: “The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed” (v. 19-20 TEV). He was consumed by the devastation around him; it filled his thoughts and made him bitter and depressed. 

If you want to change your life, you have to change your thoughts. So that’s what Jeremiah did. We see the mental switch in the next verse: “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.”

You don’t know God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. But that’s all you need, because God will take care of you.

We make dumb mistakes when we start doubting God’s love. We start to think, “I know better than God, and I’m going to start choosing to do things my way rather than following God’s way.” Or we think God is a cosmic killjoy who looks for ways to make our lives miserable.

We need to change our thinking. We need to remember, “The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong. He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain” (Lamentations 3:31-33).

God loves you. He is not the strict parent that you couldn’t please. He is not the imperfect parent with weaknesses and faults who messed up. He is God — the eternal, all-knowing, infallible God who created you to love you and will never leave you.

So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you.

Posted 3 weeks ago

God sees what’s going on… He’s working on it

by Janet Scott

Psalm 94:14-15   For the Lord will not forsake his people, he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

The Lord loves you and He sees what is going on and He will bring justice to  your situation.  I know there are times we all feel like God is never going to straighten things out and we are going to just watch as the “wicked” seem to continue as we continue to pay the price but that is not how God works!  His timing is not our timing most of the time because He is much more patient and gracious than we are, He will always give someone the chance to repent (that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for sin) but He does see and He will not allow injustice to go on forever in the lives of His children.

Earlier in this chapter it says:  “O Lord, how long shall the wicked , how long shall the wicked exalt?  They pour out their arrogant words, all the evildoers boast.  They crush your people O Lord and afflict your heritage.  They kill the widow and the sojourner and murder the fatherless; and they say, ‘The Lord does not see, the God of Jacob does not perceive.’”  Understand, O dullest of the people!  Fools, when will you be wise?  He who planted the ear, does he not hear?  He who formed the eye, does he not see?

God sees and He isn’t ignoring what is going on, He wants to make things right.  God loves all involved and would love to see all come to repentance in order to restore but He will not sit by and allow His name to go on being tarnished if there’s no repentance.  Hidden sins destroy. God is a God of Light.

I don’t know what you are facing today but I do know He cares and He is working on your behalf and He will always bring grace to the situation.  He loves us all and would prefer to see everyone repent and follow Him with all their heart as He brings His grace and justice to the situation, He will not force anyone to follow Him even though He knows that is where His blessings are.  Trust Him to deliver you today, know that He has your best at heart and He has your back!  Nothing has escaped His notice and He will take care of you! 

(Source: billscottgroup.com)

Posted 4 weeks ago

Real Forgiveness

by Rick Warren

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

Real forgiveness is not a cheap term you just throw out that instantly makes everybody feel better. That’s not real forgiveness.

The Bible says real forgiveness is four things:

Forgiveness is remembering how much you’ve been forgiven.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). This is the starting point for genuine forgiveness. If you don’t feel forgiven, you won’t want to forgive anybody else. If you’re hard on yourself, you’re going to be hard on others. But the more grace you receive from God, the more gracious you’re going to be to others. The more forgiven you feel by God, the more forgiving you’ll be toward others.

Forgiveness is relinquishing your right to get even.

Romans 12:19 says, “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (LB). Life is not fair, but one day God’s going to settle the score. He’s going to right the wrongs. So, who can get better justice — you or God?

Forgiveness is responding to evil with good.

The Bible says in Luke 6:27-28, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (NIV). How can you tell when you’ve really forgiven somebody? When you can look at that person’s hurt and not just your own and pray for God to bless him or her.

You ask, “How could I ever do that for the person who’s hurt me?” You can’t unless you allow the love of God to penetrate your life. Only the love of God can help you do something like that.

Forgiveness is repeating the process as long as necessary.

“Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’” (Jewish law said you had to forgive a person three times, so Peter doubled it and threw one in for good measure.) “‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)

How long do you have to keep forgiving a person? As long as it takes. You have to keep forgiving that person until the pain stops and the desire to get revenge goes away.

(Source: purposedriven.com)

Posted 1 month ago

I love Jesus… but I’m depressed… encouragement

from Relevant Magazine and “Life 201”

I love Jesus, or at least I thought I did, but these past few years have been plagued by a crippling depression. I feel like I’m not allowed to feel the way I do. So much of what I hear talks about having peace and comfort in The Lord, but I just can’t seem to find it. Is that okay? How do I get it back?
—Isaac

Isaac, you are brave—so very brave. And I need you to hear me say something. God loves you deeply, more than you know. Did you hear that? I want to tell you again, God loves you, Isaac. Even though it may be hard to feel, it’s true. 

I know that depression, crippling depression, makes it feel like there’s no path out of the dark woods. And I’m sure you’ve spent so many hours wandering, looking and waiting for some hint of light to illuminate the way—only to remain lost. But here’s an assurance that I need you to have: While it may feel like getting over your depression will lead you back into the favor of Jesus, that is just not true. It is in the darkest places where Christ draws most near and is with you. You do not have to “get it back.” It was never lost.

You do not have to try harder, be healthier, be happier,or be anything to impress God or gain his favor. What you need to do is continue to be brave, put one foot in front of the other, make it to all of your counseling and doctor appointments and live with the assurance that God is propping you up. His love can’t be earned, Isaac, and it certainly can’t be lost by someone as great as you doing the best you can to make it through the day.

I, and thousands of other people who just read this, are praying for you. Go get ‘em, friend.


Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/i-love-jesus-why-am-i-still-depressed#5wosBi60L7tuh2uQ.99

Posted 1 month ago

Prayers for your boys and your girls

I shared a great excerpt from a blog on the radio about praying for boys and a follow up praying for girls.  As the father of 5, both of these mean a lot to me.

Brooke McGlothlin is the author of “Praying For Boys: Asking God for the things they need most.”

She shared this excerpt:

The best way we can enter the battle for our sons is on our knees, so let’s start fighting for them right now. Here are five powerful prayers you can use today to fight for the heart of your son:

1. Create in my son a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within him (Psalm 51:10).
2. May my son walk after You, God, and fear You and keep Your commandments and obey Your voice. May he serve You and hold fast to You (Deuteronomy 13:4).
3. May my son be strong and courageous and not fear or be in dread, for it is You, Lord, our God, who goes with him. You will never leave him or forsake him (Deuteronomy 31:6).
4. May my son walk before You, God, as King David walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that You have commanded him, and keeping Your statutes and rules (1 Kings 9:4).
5. Like Timothy, may my son be an example to believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

Brooke shared those on the Proverbs 31 Ministries blog and they inspired a follow up for daughters.

Lysa Terkhurst shared 5 powerful prayers to help you fight for the heart of your daughter:

1. Let her learn early in life that to obey You, God, is the best way to the life her heart truly desires (1 Samuel 15:22).

2. May she find comfort in Your ability, God, to reach her, hold her and rescue her (2 Samuel 22:17-18).

3. Let her find confidence in You, God, even when hard times come and she doesn’t know what to do, by keeping her eyes fixed on You (2 Chronicles 20:12).

4. May she keep herself under control and not give full vent to people and situations that anger her (Proverbs 29:11).

5. Let her walk in the security of Your assigned worth to her. Give her a strong work ethic and health to accomplish all her tasks. Give her a heart that desires to extend her hand to those in need. Protect her for the right husband, a man of respect and godly honor. And let her be a woman of joy and laughter whose Christ-centered character is what makes her most beautiful (Proverbs 31).

God bless you as you pray for your kids.

Posted 1 month ago

The Holy Spirit

Last night at Bible study, some points about the Holy Spirit really stuck out to me.  To the point, I was really examining “where” the Holy Spirit is in my life.  Usually when I pray, it’s to  God… to Jesus.  I don’t know that I’ve ever really talked to the Holy Spirit.  I started to last night.

This morning in an e-mail I received… it talked about the Holy Spirit.  And talking to Him.  Asking Him to come fill me… wanting to operate in His control, not mine.

At this point in belief… in Christian life and study… it seems so odd to do something new that I’ve never done.  Talk to the Holy Spirit.

Posted 2 months ago

Sometimes we just feel like crying out to God… but we don’t know what to say. Here are some words to say…

"Lord, I Need You"

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

(Source: Spotify)

Posted 3 months ago

The Greatest Impact You Have May Come Out Of Your Pain

by Donald Miller

Have you ever met somebody who has been hurt, wrongfully hurt and is bitter about it? It’s difficult to have compassion, even though they have a right and reason to be bitter. We may want justice for them, and may even have empathy, but there is something imperfect about the story. And yet I find bitterness is easy when I’ve been wronged. Vengeance is a normal reaction, it seems, a human reaction. What else are we supposed to to with our pain?

Years ago I read a book called Country of my Skull, about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The TRC was a commission put together by Nelson Mandella to hear cases of crimes against humanity committed under apartheid. Mandella asked Bishop Desmond Tutu to head up the commission.

*Photo by Skoll World Forum, Creative Commons

*Photo by Skoll World Forum, Creative Commons

When asked what sort of people Tutu wanted to serve with him, he answered he wanted victims, people who knew firsthand the atrocities of apartheid, those whose lives had been ripped open, who’d lost families and loved ones. But what he said next would change my life forever. Tutu said he did not just want the victims who had stayed victims, but he wanted victims who had forgiven the guilty, who had the moral character to give of themselves when they had every right to be angry and vindictive. These people, Tutu said, are the most capable to help others heal, because they have the education of empathy, they know what pain feels like, and can guide the bitter into forgiveness and strength, and the guilty into reconciliation.

He called these people wounded healers.

At the time I read that book, I was working on my own book about growing up without a father. And at the time, having my own childhood in mind, I was tempted toward bitterness. It was Bishop Tutu’s words that steered me clear of sharp rocks.

When we stay bitter, we don’t grow, and we don’t help the people around us. (click to tweet)

What God wants to do with our pain is turn it into ministry, into an empathy that will heal others. Some of the darkest seasons in your life may turn into a gift for somebody else. And if we are willing to allow our pain and hardship to be used to help others, our pain is given dignity.

I’m often asked if I would change my life so that my father would have stayed around if I was able to. That’s a difficult question to answer, honestly. Were it not for the pain in my life, I wouldn’t have started The Mentoring Projectand potentially millions of young men would not be provided a positive male role model.

I believe in a God who can take our pain, heal it, and use the empathy to spread light rather than darkness.

So in short, I do not wish for anything in my life to have been changed, no matter how hard.

To be sure, there are some dark things that happen in our lives that require the aid of somebody else to help us through them. Sexual abuse is, perhaps, the worst kind of pain. Sexual abuse in your past is best aided by a counselor. But after the process of healing, even the hardest, darkest pains can be transformed to help others.

So my question is, what does God want to do with your pain?

Is it a blessing or a curse? My prayer is that it would move from the former to the latter, and you would become a wounded healer.

What pain in your life does God want to use to help others?

Posted 4 months ago

Christmas: God’s Great Rescue Plan

“The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.” (Luke 19:10 NCV)

If you don’t understand the purpose of Christmas, you might as well skip the Christmas lights and decorations this year. You might as well forget about buying Christmas presents. You might as well forget Christmas dinner.

If you don’t know why we celebrate Christmas, all the festivities are pointless.

To find the purpose of Christmas, you have to fast forward beyond the manger, the Wise Men, and the shepherds. Jesus told us the reason he came to Earth on the first Christmas: “The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them” (Luke 19:10 NCV).

Quite simply, Jesus came because people are lost without God. To be spiritually lost means to be separated from God, disconnected, and out of whack. Without Jesus, every person in the world is lost — no matter how much power, wealth, or fame they have.

And our lostness has immense ramifications on our lives. To know why Jesus came to Earth, we must understand what it means to be lost. Without God, we’ve lost:

  • Our direction. We’re bound to have little understanding of where we should go and what we should do in this life.
  • His protection. We’re on our own when we’re not under the Lord’s protection. That’s a huge reason many people are stressed out. They’re trying to live under their own care and protection instead of God’s.
  • Our potential. We’ll never know half the gifts and talents we have if we’re not in a relationship with him.
  • Our happiness. We can have all the money and power in the world, but without God we will never have true joy.
  • Our home in Heaven. God allows us to rebel while we’re here on Earth, but there’s no rebellion in Heaven.

But no one who is lost has lost one ounce of value to God. Even if you don’t have a relationship with him, you have immense value to God. Lostness implies value. Whatever someone is willing to spend to recover something that’s lost shows how valuable that item is.

In the most famous verse in the Bible, Jesus clearly explains our value: “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Good News is God loved us so much he sent his Son to Earth on the first Christmas to seek and save us.

That’s a reason to celebrate.

by Rick Warren

(Source: purposedriven.com)

Posted 4 months ago

Choose Grace, Not Bitterness

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)

If you’re still holding on to resentment, then someone is controlling you. Have you ever said, “You make me so mad”? What you’re admitting at that point is, “You are controlling me.” The only way you get this person out of your mind and heart and not controlling you any more is you heal it with grace — God’s grace.

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (NIV).

Have you ever known a family where a bitter mom poisoned the whole family? Have you ever known a family where a bitter dad poisoned the whole family? Bitterness is contagious, and it can actually become generational. Somebody has to break the chain, and it better be you. If your parents are bitter because their parents were bitter because their parents were bitter, you’re going to have to break the chain. And there’s only one way to break it: Heal it with grace.

Friends, if you don’t get God’s grace in your life, life will make you bitter. Because life isn’t fair. Why? Because sin is in the world. We live on a broken planet. This is not Heaven. Evil people get away with evil things all the time. Life is not fair.

And if you don’t get grace in your heart, it’s going to make you bitter.

Is forgiveness fair? Absolutely not.

But it is not about fairness. It is not about justice. It’s about grace. You don’t forgive a person because it’s the fair thing to do. You forgive a person because it’s the right thing to do, and you don’t want your heart full of poison. You don’t want your heart holding on to the hurt and the hate.

Forgiveness is free, but it is not cheap. It cost Jesus his life. It cost God his Son. And as Jesus was dying on the cross, with his arms outstretched and the blood dripping down, he said, “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they’re doing.” He was saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.” He was saying, “They don’t deserve it. They don’t even know what they’re doing. But Father, forgive them.”

Leave justice to God. Heal your bitterness with his grace.

by Rick Warren

(Source: purposedriven.com)