God Showed Me Lots of Things…That Were Just Not For You!

I had a GREAT hike trip this past weekend and decided to leave my phone at home. It was probably one of the most freeing hiking trips I have ever encountered in my life because it was missing all of the distractions of my technology and people trying to pull on me. I honestly believe it was something that “reset” me with my technology and distractions in life. I didn’t take one picture, video or create any social media post while I was gone. I was just able to enjoy nature, the amazing views and the company of friends.

I also had some GREAT times with God and him sharing things with me about my life and an unhealthy focus on turning things he would share with me (that were only for me and not anyone else) into a blog or instagram image or facebook post. It was a realization that everything God shares with me is not for public consumption, but everything he shares with me will help me when I know I need to share things with others.

Maybe you are like me and cannot stay off of your phone or social media. I have turned off ALL of my notifications on my phone except reminders, calls and texts so that I can have a buffer and my phone is not alerting me constantly. The best advice I can give someone who thinks God showed them a fresh revelation about an area of their life is put ACTION to the words of God. Just because God shows you something doesn’t mean anything has changed. You need to initiate and activate your free will to match what was shown to you.

So…God showed me ALL KINDS of stuff on my hiking trip but unfortunately, none of it was for you. It was all to help make me a better man, son, brother and husband. But think of it this way; they were all things that will help me be a better citizen of earth and develop my listening and obedience skills with God so I can love the people around me in an even greater way. Be encouraged that you can have that same relationship with Jesus and know that he wants to talk to you, no matter what you have done or where you are from. It’s as easy as reaching out to him and just saying, “I’m here, God. Speak to me.” Have a great week!

I had a GREAT weekend of hiking this past weekend and decided to leave my phone at home. It was probably one of the most freeing hiking trips I have ever encountered in my life because it was missing all of the distractions of my technology and people trying to pull on me. I honestly believe it was something that “reset” me with my technology and distractions in life.

I also had some GREAT times with God and him sharing things with me about my life and an unhealthy focus on turning things he would share with me (that were only for me and not anyone else) into a blog or instagram image or facebook post. It was a realization that everything God shares with me is not for public consumption, but everything he shares with me will help me when I know I need to share things with others.

Maybe you are like me and cannot stay off of your phone or social media. I have turned off ALL of my notifications on my phone except reminders, calls and texts so that I can have a buffer and my phone is not alerting me constantly. The best advice I can give someone who thinks God showed them a fresh revelation about an area of their life is put ACTION to the words of God. Just because God shows you something doesn’t mean anything has changed. You need to initiate and activate your free will to match what was shown to you.

So…God showed me ALL KINDS of stuff on my hiking trip but unfortunately, none of it was for you. It was all to help make me a better man, son, brother and husband. But think of it this way; they were all things that will help me be a better citizen of earth and develop my listening and obedience skills with God so I can love the people around me in an even greater way. Be encouraged that you can have that same relationship with Jesus and know that he wants to talk to you, no matter what you have done or where you are from. It’s as easy as reaching out to him and just saying, “I’m here, God. Speak to me.” Have a great week!

The MOST Overlooked Element of A Walk With God

ASking
There is an important principle that many people forget when wanting to be used by God. Countless people have started a relationship with Jesus to only think that it is boring and lifeless but they forget one simple principle. It is the one defining point that takes someone from an observer in his or her walk with God to a vibrant active follower of Jesus. It is so simple that many people overlook it when trying to read and follow what the Word of God says.

This simple and mind blowing principle is simply ASKING God to use you. There is a simple but powerful principle in asking. In Mark 10:51 Jesus asks a BLIND man a question – “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Now, if this were me who was blind, I would have probably said, “DUH! What do you THINK I need?” This is the KEY: It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t see his need it was that he was waiting for the man to ask Jesus for help.

I think that same principle applies to our walk with God and asking to be used by him.
I am just like any other person who has given their life to Jesus and living each day here on earth with the same emotional, physical and sometimes financial struggles. I have started simply asking God each morning, “God, use me in an extraordinary way today” instead of thinking “I am sure that God will use me if he wants to.”

It is very important to realize that God is not holding back his desire for us to be used in the world we live in. EVERY DAY God is speaking to us and wants us to interact with people and for them to see the love of God in the lives we live. I believe that we sometimes use a form of procrastination in our walk with God by saying, “If I feel like God wants me to say or do something for him today then I will do it” instead of saying, “God, I know it is always your will to reach your creation through people who follow you and let me be a simple part of that interaction.” This may not be necessarily saying something to someone but it could be just praying over where you walk, sit, drink coffee (chai for me) or work. Being used in an extraordinary way is not always just being seen or heard for Jesus. It can be that you are laying the groundwork for someone else to step in and interact with people who don’t know how awesome Jesus is yet. But it can also be a time for you to step outside your comfort zone do something for Jesus that you will never regret.

So today, if you are a follower of Christ, start to ask God to use you in an extraordinary way and then just listen. It can be the most simple and wonderful decision you will make today. It is time to take your walk with God from boring and just asking for things for yourself to being a world changer that is involved in altering destinies! Have a great week!

Stop Fighting TO Victory and Start Fighting FROM Victory!

spring sunset
When we speak about “fighting the good fight” in Christian circles we have been misled in a huge way. We have been led to believe it is something that we are fighting TO instead of fighting FROM. Let me explain.

When we think of the term fighting in our earthly minds, we consider where we are and where we need to end up after we have “fought the good fight”. We consider the struggle and mentally prep ourselves for the long journey ahead planning on a celebration at the end of the sacrifices it took to get to victory. We consider the importance of Ephesians 6:10-12

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

The problem with that thinking when it comes to spiritual struggles and our fight against the devil is that we have ALREADY won. Jesus already completed the victory over the devil and his perceived power on this earth. We are not fighting TO a victory over the devil but fighting FROM the place of victory. God is not waiting for us to be strong enough or powerful enough to overcome the devil and his schemes in the lives we live. His hope for us is that we would have a full revelation of the victory we have when we ask Jesus to guide and direct our lives.

So the struggle is still real because our natural inclination in life is to allow our flesh to be glorified and win or to take the easy road. The fight is not against the devil as much as it is against our flesh and reminding ourselves each day that we have already won!

When we get a full revelation of victory in our lives we won’t let the devil push us around, tempt us and make us think we are less than the loved creation that God created us to be.

Walk in your authority today over the devil and his schemes. Put on your spiritual armor with the mindset of TAKING ground and not just barely getting by. You have EVERYTHING you need in your right now to be successful in this life. The key is to ask God to give you a revelation of that power because when you do, the world around you will never be the same again!

Why Birding is Just Like Listening To God

Bee Eater
(This pic is of a Bee Eater…eating a Bee that Yolanda took on our trip to Nepal last year)

Yolanda and I went “birding” over the weekend. If you don’t know what “birding” is, it’s finding a place that birds hang out, getting a decent camera and/or binoculars, and walking around trying to see or take pictures of the rarest ones you can find. The key is to go out looking with the realization that you may not see anything or you may hit the jackpot and see a ton of them. Yolanda has gotten some amazing (and I mean AMAZING) pictures from all the places we have been. It is like every bird is just waiting for our car to pull up and then they have a little bird fight to see who gets to fly in front of her camera and get shot (in a good way).

When I go, I am mainly going to support her but I also feel like it is an intentional time of not talking about work (because you are supposed to be quiet and not talk) and for some exercise. I have to admit, I get just about as excited as she does to see an owl or another rare breed. But for me, it is more about just getting out and getting away from the grind of life.

When you are birding it is very important that you remember a simple recipe for success. No matter how far you walk or where you go looking for birds, you need to occasionally stop, look up and listen. You can be out walking around and a great bird can be in the tree next to you but if you don’t stop, look up and listen then you will probably miss a great opportunity.

It is the same with listening to God. I can get so busy in life with my “walk” with Jesus that I can forget sometimes in life to just “stop, look up and listen” for things that God may want to share with me. I am a firm believer that God is always speaking to us and willing to be found but we are the ones who need to learn to slow down in life sometimes and be willing to wait on God and his voice.

Sometimes I can intentionally “stop, look up and listen” with God and I don’t hear a peep (get it? Haha) If I am consistently stopping, looking, and listening for Him I raise my chances of hearing something from God AND I train myself to learn that it is not even always about the grand revelation that God would share with me. I think the peaceable life that God teaches about in the Bible is 20% Spiritual and 80% just learning to shut up and listen. Listening to others. Listening to those who love us and want to bring Godly correction or even God speaking himself to us.

I know that going birding has taught me more than just the importance of not talking, which I still fail at regularly. It has taught me that the world around me will let me “run” in life as fast as I want, even to the point of burnout. If I am not taking time out of life to just BE and not try and DO, I will allow the world to dictate the pace of my life and not God. When I intentionally put the brakes on and take time to enjoy nature AND use that time to listen to what God has to say, I take back control of my life and essentially put myself on God’s time.

I use birding to slow down my life and shut up. What do you use? When trouble hits in life the peace we find in those times of quietness and listening to God will be a foundation to help get you through. Think today about what you do to change pace and “stop, look up and listen.”

Don’t Be “Nearsighted” or “Farsighted” In Pain

glasses-blog

Below is a quick paragraph from my book, Holy Crap; Finding God’s Presence In Your Pain. You can click here for more information about how to pick up your own copy.

From Chapter 3: The Definition of C.R.A.P.
“We allow the devil victory in our lives when we let him keep us farsighted on the PAIN in life (making us think painful crap will never end) and nearsighted on the PLAN that God has for our lives (making us think God doesn’t have a plan to teach us something greater than the things we know at present).”

There were MANY times I thought that my pain, trouble and sickness would never end during the four years I was sick. Usually, the lowest times for me was when the doctor would have me try a new medication to pair with the prednisone I would be on and it would fail and I would have to be on up 120 mg doses of prednisone again. Those low points were coupled with a fact I had constructed in my mind that what I was going through could NOT be something beneficial for my development as a person and follower of Christ. These two firm impressions in life sent me on a downward spiral that affected my attitude, my focus in what I was going through and almost had me end my life.

I don’t say these things to make people feel bad for me or that what I dealt with was anything worse than anyone else but to bring up a very important point when dealing with any kind of pain; the determinations in your mind will direct your life.

1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 

A couple of things to point out that can help us and give us direction about dealing with the devil in painful situations. The very first sentence references a “sober mind” and then a definition of what the devil is always trying to relentlessly do; devour. Notice that it does not say, “Don’t worry about the devil because he knows he is defeated and won’t mess with you and try to take you out when you follow Christ. It is actually the opposite with a warning about the state of mind we need to be in at all times.

A sober mind leads to the last verse mentioning the importance of knowing that you are not the only one dealing with pain! Pain is very selfish and can make us think that no one else can even begin to understand what is happening which links itself to thinking that even God doesn’t understand or care for us. Just the opposite is true in God’s love and plan for us.

There will always be pain in life but how we handle it will be primarily based on our trust and belief in God’s greater plan for us. I cannot say why pain and sickness happen in life, but I can say that what you learn from those situations will either make you a better person or break you down. When you have a relationship with Jesus, you have the advantage of leaning on Him in those times of struggle and walking through the valleys of life.

God wants us to have perfect emotional and Spiritual “vision” as we go through life and focus that is not contingent on our circumstances but firmly rooted in his purposes and plan for our lives.

Praying for you tonight and have a great rest of the week!

For those who Say They Can’t have Faith in God, Never Update Any Mobile Device…EVER

applewatchupdate
I had an update pop up this am for my Apple Watch. I went through the normal ritual of accepting the update on my phone, which brought me to a screen that asks for my permission with micro writing that I KNOW no one even cares about and trusts blindly. I scrolled down to the bottom, as I do every time, and mindlessly clicked “agree” when I did not even read one word or warning.

Then it hit me.

I come in contact with people all the time who tell me that they just can’t have faith in God because they need to be able to see, know and understand everything He is doing and will do. Just like when Apple asks me to trust them with a device update that they feel will be necessary to help with security and new enhancements for my watch, when I trust God in my life I am doing the same thing. I trust he knows better than me because he is the “creator” of my life as Apple is the creator of my watch. I was not there when the watch or my body was put together, but I trust the update and God will do what is advertised and that it will enhance my life in some obvious way.

When we can see that we put our trust in all kinds of things each day without truly having complete knowledge of how they were put together and how they will work, it makes trusting God just a little bit easier. Updates for most devices are based on two things; security and enhancements. Putting your life in God’s hands and allowing him to guide and direct it, are based on very similar principles. God wants to enhance our life by giving us the security of knowing that no matter what happens to us, He will be right there with us and will never leave us.

In all reality, we do not have trust issues in this life. We have issues with who/what we put our trust IN. We need to consider heavenly trust in the same category as anything else in life and give trusting God a chance. The Bible says that if you seek Him you will find him.

I guess I just dared you to trust in God’s love, provision and help for your life.
Are you up for the “trust” challenge?

The Bible ALREADY Knows What You Will Go Through

power-of-the-bible-2
Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Revelation 2:10
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

The two verses above are just a couple of examples in the Bible that talk about adversity in life and highlight the importance of where our MINDS are set more than any external circumstance we will encounter.

I have been listening to the Bible in the mornings on the way to work and then reading the Bible at night before I go to bed. While doing this I have made an important observance when it comes to direction from the Bible. Take the two verses above for example. The fact that the Bible even has to address being anxious in Philippians and suffering in Revelation identifies the fact that whomever reads these verses will probably be dealing with those exact issues in some way.

I think the impression sometimes can be that as long as we follow God, speak the right scriptures and generally do all the right things in life that we will have it fairly easy. Or, that the Bible is just a book of “ideal thoughts” that are speaking from the best-case scenario. Both of those thoughts are wrong and can steer us AWAY from the Bible instead of TOWARDS it when trouble in life hits. I know that when I was in the middle of my crap that I had fallen into both of those thought processes and experienced the consequences of that mental decision. The things I was focused on was blindness, killing myself, losing my house, being poor and basically total and utter failure. The Bible is so far from those things because the Bible is written from an internal perspective understanding that circumstances in life will be against you at some point in your existence on this earth.

There are no promises anywhere in the Bible that says the circumstances of life will always be in your favor. In fact, it highlights just the opposite BUT gives reassurances of better outcomes purely based on faith that God is in control.

When we read the Bible as a practical guidebook for every and all situations then we can fully access it’s power throughout life. Knowing and accepting the truths of the Bible does not keep circumstances away from us but it gives us a firm anchor and mental fortitude to resist the temptation to fold under the guaranteed pressures of life.

Today is the day to start to trust God and his plan for your life. That starts with surrendering your life to him. You can simply say, “God I want you to be in control of my life and I surrender to you.” Don’t overcomplicate a relationship with Jesus. He simply loves you no matter where you came from our what you have done. Difficult circumstances in life will always happen but your reactions to those things are a decision that starts with trusting God and following his lead.

You can do it. Don’t give up. I am praying for you.

 

 

 

 

The Simple Truth of God’s Love

gods-love-for-you

We have been trained to believe that we need to become something before we can be accepted by God. The truth is that we can NEVER become who we can be without accepting God’s love for us just the way we are.

Your Mission Today and EVERYDAY: Accept God’s love for you and watch your life begin to change for the better!

The Holiday Season and Dealing with People in Depression

holiday-depression
I think Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. Not only do I get to be around people (which I love) it is also the time that Ghirardelli Peppermint bark hits stores, an excuse to watch one of my favorite movies Elf, and because my primary love language is gifts, presents are exchanged!!

For others, the Holiday season can be just the opposite in about every way. Coming from a family where there was so much love and a true celebration of the holidays it can be hard to imagine the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas could be anything other than enjoyable. That is, until I got sick with my eye condition. Then the full reality of the depression, angst and despair that people can experience was brought into perspective.

People have family members that they have not talked to in years because there was something said or done that caused real hurt in them. Some people lost a loved one or are currently going through some challenge medically, emotionally or spiritually.

As humans, we are naturally selfish not only in our actions, but also in our thinking. We can base our reactions towards people on things that we assume they should know or get. We can think or say things like, “Why would everyone not be happy this holiday season? They need to just get over their issue with family” or “Why did that person snap at me when I asked her a question at work? Don’t they realize this is the season of love and joy?”

I always want to be considerate of where people are in life because of the things I went through with being sick on Thanksgiving and Christmas for four years in a row. I was not always the most pleasant person to be around during the holidays even though it was nothing personal with anyone around me but more with my anger at God. I didn’t need someone to pull me aside at a gathering and try and counsel me out of being sad/mad. I just wanted to be left alone and would lash out at times because of the mental and physical pain I was in.

We MUST be intentional with loving those people who seem to be having the hardest time with the holiday season. It is not even so much about saying something to them but just showing love where you can and praying for them. Think of it this way, if you were in their shoes and dealing with some kind of pain over a holiday, how would you want someone to treat you? Jesus was the best example of having TRUE empathy for people who didn’t understand the peace that they could have by just trusting in God.

If you are someone who is hurting this holiday season, know that if you are reading this blog then I am praying for you to find hope and peace in your mind and heart.

Being an agent of change by loving people and acting like Christ in EVERY way is not easy, but necessary for those looking for hope in their hopeless world.

The Change that Pain Causes Can Be for Good or Bad!

pain_in_life

Pain will happen in life no matter who you are or where you come from. The question is not IF pain will happen but what you will do with pain WHEN it happens.

When we stop asking God “why” pain is happening and start asking “what” can we learn from it, we go from a survivor to a THRIVER mentality and attitude. When we only seek to survive in life we lose the ability to gain some wonderful perspective and actually USE the things that happen to us to make us stronger.
Praying for you today to get through the pain you are in and see the great things that can come from change that painful situations can bring.