Redefining A Heavy Load To Carry

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT

In every challenge, we are provided with a choice . . . believe in the process or be burdened with the problem.

There’s an old adage attributed to Coach Knute Rockne, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

The daily grind often produces a debilitating grief. But, those who endure will engage . . . the promise of everlasting hope gives us everyday help.

The apostle writes, “. . . And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” (‭‭2 Cor‬ ‭4:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬) Paul provides roadsigns to guide us on this potential and promising journey.

Our Resolve. “That is why we never give up.” Paul’s conviction is to never concede. Often, our defeat is birthed in our denial that the Divine will deliver us. Don’t give up. Franklin D. Roosevelt says, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” The apostle reminds us, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chron 15:7 NIV) Perseverance with purpose from above is powerful.

Our Renewal. Renewal and refreshment lead to our replenishment. These bodies wear down and wear out, yet our minds are made new and our spirits are sustained. Isaiah tells us, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is 40:31 NIV)

Our Reason. In the time frame of eternity, our trials are tiny and temporary. Paul reminds us, “For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor 4:17 NET). Any grief is our gain with a result of God’s grace and growing glory. Peter encourages us, “And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Pet 5:10 NET)

Our Recognition. Perspective is the ability to peer into God’s plan and trust in God’s purpose. Paul describes it as recognizing the eternal triumph over the everyday trial. Our seeing impacts our being. Churchill says, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” An eternal optimist sees all opportunities and obstacles from God’s observatory . . . hope and promise from a heavenly perspective.

When you feel like giving up, get up. 
When you feel like groaning, be grateful. 
When you can’t see with your eyes, see with His.

Allow God’s determination to drive you, deliver you and define you for your good and His glory.

Fear Is A Big Trap

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting The Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25 NLT

Augustine writes, “Fear is the response of the human heart when it’s one thing is threatened.”

Solomon is credited with being one of the wisest and wealthiest who ever lived. Yet, the threats to his treasured things created terror. He fought his own fears . . . fear of failure, fear of people, fear of loss, fear of loneliness. With insight, Solomon provides a solutionary strategy for the snares that surround us.

There Is Protection In Our Fears. Fear is a subtle snare of our enemy. It traps us with terror that will tear the very fiber of our faith. Solomon finds security and safety in his Sovereign. The psalmist reminds us that trust is the key, “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” (Psalms 56:3 NLT) A. B. Simpson writes, “Fear is born of Satan, and if we would only take time to think a moment we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood. Every fear is distrust, and trust is the remedy for fear.”

There Is Peace In Our Fears. God calls us to calm. Proverbs reminds us, “But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” (Prov 1:33 NLT) England’s most prominent 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon writes, “Whether the fear arise from without or within, from past, present, or future, from temporals, or spirituals, from men or devils, let us maintain faith, and we shall soon recover courage.” God commits His calm and courage in the confusion of our chaos. Jesus tells us, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)

There Is Promise In Our Fears. Paul reminds us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7 NLT). Fear cannot thrive where faith is alive. To survive in our fears, we must surrender to faith. God’s word is true, tested and tried . . . He has not given us fear, but favor.  First century disciple John encourages us, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18 NLT) We rest in His promise, in His passion and in His rock-solid, always powerful hands that never let go.

We share the same struggles as Solomon. Learning for his experiences allows us to live in his example. John Bunyan reminds us of our remedy, “Let it rain, let it blow, let it thunder, let it lightning, a Christian must still believe. ‘At what time,’ said the good man, ‘I am afraid, I will trust in thee.'”

Shirley Caesar writes the following encouraging lyrics;

“When the world that I’ve been
Living in collapses at my feet.
And when my life is all tattered and torn.
Though I’m wind-swept, I’ve been battered
I’m gonna cling unto His cross.
I’ll find peace in the midst of the storm.”

“There is peace in the midst of the storm-tossed life.
There is an Anchor, there is a rock to build my faith upon.
Jesus Christ is my vessel so I fear no alarm.
He gives me peace in the midst of the storm.”

Fight your fears with faith and turn your terrors with trust.

He is the Peace in the midst of your storm.

My Eraser Isn’t Big Enough

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
Line them all up and I’ve made more mistakes than had milestones.  
We all mess up.  It may be out of ignorance, incompetence, inattention, indifference, inability or even intentionally . . . for what ever the reason . . . we all make mistakes.
All mistakes have consequences.  We hope that we receive grace and mercy from community. Yet, we have the ability and availability to rest in the Grace-giver and Mercy-mover.  Solomon gives us a simple and proactive formula for our stupidity and errors in judgement.
Our Conviction.  Too many times we trust more in our own insightful whims, than in God’s inspirational wisdom.  We need to trust ALL in Him with ALL our heart.  It is complete conviction.  The psalmist writes, “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” (Ps 37:5 NLT).   Depending primarily on our own insights only leads to perpetuating instability.  The book of Proverbs reminds us, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”  (Prov 28:26 ESV)
Our Consent.  Another translation reads, “in all your ways, acknowledge Him . . .”.  It’s recognizing that we have limited reasoning, response or resource on our own . . . He has and is all that we need.  Our approach can often lead to anxiety, apathy or abandonment.  In our Prince of Peace, there is no anxiety.  With our Wonderful Counselor, there is no apathy.  With our Everlasting Father, there is no abandonment.  Prayer becomes our confession of conceding to our Creator. Paul writes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6 ESV)
Our Confidence.  Resting and relying on God’s complete and absolute guidance grounds us in His amazing grace.  Paul reminds us, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Rom 8:28 NLT). It’s not a “think so” . . . or “hope so” . . . it’s a “know so”.  There is no doubt in God’s decisive directing.  Solomon tells us that “He will show you which path to take”.  God’s direction becomes our delight and our deliverance.
Bottom line . . . we are all going to make some bad choices, stupid mistakes or have errors in judgement.   Famed UCLA basketball coach and mentor of young men, John Wooden reminds us, ” If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
Even in those dark and uncertain times, we have the conviction that He can be trusted, we consent to follow His direction, and we have confidence that He will guide.
Trust and seek . . . God will direct and deliver.
So, to all of us who mess-up everyday . . . we have a Help and we have a Hope.

12 Ways To Feed The Positive Wolf

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

“My dear one, the battle between two ‘wolves’ is inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a moment and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

Jesus reminds us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” (John 10:10) Two approaches . . . two contributions . . . one negative and one positive. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy . . . all are negative. Jesus comes to give life that is abundantly overflowing . . . all positive.

We all face the “two wolves” . . . good and evil, positive and negative, humility and pride. Two opposing forces in every day of our lives is a reality.

Stressed or blessed?

Obstacles or opportunities?

Fear or faith?

The one that wins depends on the one we feed. Consider 12 ways to feed the positive wolf.

  1. Embrace learning, don’t escape it. Victor is an 82 year old, retired hotel owner. Every time a new smart phone is released, he is the first to get one. New technology is something he embraces, not escapes. Positive people are always learning . . . a new technology, a new book, a podcast or a blog. Negative people believe they have learned all they can. For the negative person, new ideas are non-existent. For the positive person, new ideas are never-ending.
  2. Be grateful in challenges, don’t gripe about them. Positive people accept the challenges in life, they don’t abandon them. They know that growth is the outcome of every struggle. They see the good. Positive people will take the road less traveled, while negative people find the easy path. Positive people rebound, rebuild and resource from failings. Negative people look to reroute in order to find an easier path. Positive people see the rays of sunshine peering though. Negative people only see the clouds.
  3. Allow fear to push you forward instead of paralyzing you. Positive people are always in drive. Negative people are in perpetual park. Positive people realize that fear jolts their heart to beating. Negative people allow fear to stop them dead in their tracks.
  4. Walk through the valleys of life, instead of wallowing in the valley. Positive people are moving from mountain top to mountain top experience, knowing that the valley between is where they grow, rest and heal. Negative people get stuck and comfortable in the valley. Positive people see the valley as part of the journey. Negative people see it as the destination.
  5. Live by giving, not getting. Positive people give their best to help others. Negative people use others to get the best from them. Positive people know that giving can be sacrificial, significant or simple. Negative people want things to come easy with little sacrifice or effort. Positive people give when no one is looking. Negative people give for all to see.
  6. Reinforce communication, not reject communication. Positive people practice two-way communication. Negative people only drive on a one-way conversation highway. Positive people welcome feedback. Negative people believe feedback is a waste of time. Positive people respond to correction. Negative people reject correction.
  7. Value who people are over what people do. Positive people understand that each person is uniquely created. The masterpiece is in who they are, not in what they do. We all honor what we value. Positive people value the person. Negative people value the performance.
  8. Build bridges to connect, instead of walls to protect. There is an old song that says, “You can build a wall, or you can build a bridge. It all depends upon the love you give. If you build a wall, your world is small. But, a bridge of love will conquer all.” Positive people build bridges to get from where they are to where they want to go. Negative people build walls to stay where they are.
  9. Live in humility instead of humiliation. Humility owns it. Humiliation blames others. Humility shares a “high five”. Humiliation points a finger. Positive people build up by saying, “I told you could do it”. Negative people tear down by saying, “I told you so”. Positive people give heart felt compliments. Negative people give back-handed compliments. Positive people promote a sense of duty. Negative people possess a sense of entitlement. Zig Ziglar writes, “Pride is the strangest of diseases. It makes everyone sick . . . except the one who has it.”
  10. Your EQ is more important than IQ. Positive people develop their emotional quotient. They use their empathy and understanding to guide them. Positive people are inspired and motivated by the success of others. They share in the emotion. Negative people become selfish in their emotions when others are succeeding. Positive people are thrilled . . . negative people are threatened.
  11. We over me. Positive people value team performance over individual effort. Negative people believe that if they don’t do it, it won’t, can’t and will not be done. Negative people depend on their own individual contributions so they can take credit. Positive people develop a team effort so they can share credit. Positive people get behind the ideas of others, even if it needs work. Negative people stand against the ideas of others that may not be “good enough”.
  12. Change is good, instead of “I hate change”. Positive people agree with Heraclitus, “The only thing that is constant is change”. Louis L’Amour reminds us that “the only thing that never changes is that everything changes”. Negative people believe that people are fixed and cannot improve. Positive people say, “What’s new?” Negative people say, “What’s the use?”

One wolf will kill, steal and destroy. The other wolf will give a full and ever growing life. Which one will you feed?

It’s All Good . . . REALLY!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
Romans 8:28 NLT
I often wonder if things are going to work out or how things are going to work out . . . and during all that time . . . God is seemingly working them out.
The apostle Paul gives the believers in Rome a glimpse into God’s “behind the scenes” grace and guidance.
His Assistance.  Before telling of God’s control, Paul reminds us of His comforting counsel and communication.  Through His Spirit, God is working in our weaknesses.  Paul writes, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But, the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Rom 8:26-27 NLT).  The Holy Spirit prays in perfect partnership for us while promoting God’s own will.
Our Assurance. Paul reassures the Christ followers in Rome with three confirming words . . . “And we know”.  The word chosen in the original language means “an experiential knowledge”.  It’s not just in our head as a fact, it’s in our heart as a familiarity.  James uses the same word in his encouraging comments regarding trials and difficulties, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (Jam 1:2-4 MSG)
His Action.  I don’t understand how.  I can’t explain it.  It’s beyond me.  Its difficult because we live our lives with a “cause and effect” way of thinking.  Our God is not concerned with the effect, because He is the cause.  Paul tells us “that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love” Him and these are “called according to His purpose for them.”  He is the Sovereign Multi-Tasker.  He has been involved in our yesterday as He impacts our today and influences our tomorrow. Scotty Smith writes, “Nothing in our past has marked us as a ‘Plan B’ people; nothing in our present contradicts the promise of Your care or the pledge of Your presence; nothing in our future will separate us from the wonders of Your love or alter the completion of Your plan.”  He sees and understands it all . . . our past, present and future.
Our Acceptance.  God’s grace not only guides, but it grants us acceptance with Him.  He loves and accepts based on His passion and promises, not on our performance . . . “And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them His glory.”  (Romans 8:30 NLT).  John Gill describes God’s absolute acceptance, “not by effort, but by special grace; from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, from the company of sinful men to fellowship with Christ, from a trust in their own righteousness to a dependence on His, to grace here, and glory hereafter; which is done according to the purpose of God”.
Smith shares portions of his practical and powerful prayer from Romans 8:28 . . .
  • “You are a God at work.”
  • “You are presently working in all things for Your glory and for our good.”
  • “You work in all things for our good, not merely for our liking.”
  • “Our foolish hearts often call good things evil and evil things good.  Our demanding hearts often treat You like Sugar Daddy, rather than Abba, Father.”
  • “Our impatient hearts would settle for the fool’s gold of immediate relief, rather than wait for the lasting treasure of eternal inheritance.”
  • “Thank You for not giving into our whining and spirit of entitlement.”
  • “We praise You for not giving us everything we want, because we often ask for things that will simply make life easier, rather than trust You for things that will make us like Jesus.”
You may not see it . . . but, believe it.  God is working . . . and, it’s good . . . really!

God Can Not, Will Not & Does Not Use Me

But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though You have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” . . . Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.  Exodus 4:10, 12 NLT

How many times have we been in Moses’ situation . . . God says “go” and we say “no”.

It’s not because we are disobedient . . . it’s because we are discouraged.

It’s not because we don’t think God can do it . . . it’s because we think God can’t do it through us.

We don’t question His authority, we question our ability.

Moses was promised confidence and content . . . God would be with him and teach him what to say.  Yet, Moses still doubted his divine appointment.

Reverend Micheal Beckwith says, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”  It’s not uncommon for God to use common cracked pots to do Kingdom work.  Those who are the most skilled are usually the least selected.

  • Jacob was a cheater.
  • Peter had a temper.
  • David had an affair.
  • Noah got drunk.
  • Jonah ran from God.
  • Paul conspired to murder.
  • Gideon was insecure.
  • Miriam was a gossip.
  • Martha was a worrier.
  • Thomas was a doubter.
  • Sarah was impatient.
  • Elijah was moody.
  • Moses stuttered.
  • Abraham was old.
  • Job went bankrupt.
  • The woman at the well was divorced.
  • Peter lied about knowing Jesus.
  • And, Lazarus . . . well, he was dead.

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called!

He Confirms Our Call.  Paul writes, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” (Eph 4:1-3 NLT)  Our call is confirmed when we answer with humble hearts, grateful gentleness and practicing peace.  Loving others with our service and unity within the Body of Christ are the evidences of our everyday and eternal efforts.

He Affirms Our Adequacy.  God loves taking a rag-tag team and giving them a righteous triumph.  Paul reminds the Christ followers in Corinth of God’s recruiting strategy, “But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.” (1 Cor 1:27-29 NET).  We may not bring much to the table, but what we do bring, God blesses and uses.

He Works Through Our Weakness.  God’s grace works in our greatest weakness.  The apostle Paul experienced this gift of grace, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weakness . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9-10 NLT)   Paul reminds the faithful in Philippi, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13 NLT). Our weakness does not allow us to give up, but to give in . . . to God’s promised power and purpose.

We watch several reality programs that take something old, worn out, useless, broken or outdated and make it “new” again.  God has been doing the same type of dramatic transformations in the lives of people throughout history . . . taking something useless and making it useful.  John Dyer writes, “He recycles the worn out and remakes them to accomplish great tasks for His glory. He repurposes the messed up as He calls them to other purposes for Him and His Kingdom. He reconditions the weary with new energy and a new assignment to do what others would see as impossible. He remodels a life that is worn down through mistakes and rebuilds that person into a valuable vessel in His hands.”

Life can be discouraging, disillusioning and disappointing . . . but, don’t give up on God’s calling.  He has sovereignly selected you for service.  He will confirm you.  He will affirm you.  And, He will work through you.

He qualifies the convicted, the compassionate, the contrite and the called.  He will qualify you.