New Year 2018 – Reflection and Goals

2018 Reflection and Plans

Just as I have for several years now I look back on 2017 and reflect then turn to 2018 with hope, with dreams and goals for my relationship with God, my family and with myself. This is inspired directly from the Bible since we are often hung up on the old in a detrimental way and I was determined to change that.

Reflection of 2017

What I found was that God had already put that path in place for all of us. He knows that we dwell on things and need a reminder, that is why 1 Chronicles 16:11-12 exists! We are told specifically to remember the wonders God has done. My wife calls me a planner, and I am, I like to take the long term view over instant gratification so this speaks to my heart so much. I get hung up on stuff just like anyone else and I think we humans have the ability to slip down that slope of negative thinking so easily because it seems justified to us. Even if it were something small we allow it to eat at us and become a monster within our souls.

When I look back on 2017 I see a year that was everything good and bad in life. No major deaths in my family, but one of our dogs was put to rest. Successful school semesters and my wife has even gone back to pursue her ADN to BSN. We all turned a year older and even welcomed a new puppy to our home, and he chews on everything…literally anything.

All of those things are great days of our lives moments but it has also been a year marked by unexpected challenges of faith. The sudden departure of a loved man of God who is now planting a church in Salt Lake City, Utah called Ridgeline. It is easy to get distracted by that event because leaders, Godly men like that are a rarity in the Bible Belt so when you experience that you tend to latch on. I am completely stoked for what he and his family will do in SLC and you should go to their site and check out their journey! God has moved so that the churches expenses are already covered for a whole year. It is one of those things that shows why faith leads to God’s grace. If you know someone in the area, or are in the SLC area yourself, go and see what Ridgeline is all about!

Goals of 2018

I don’t like the term resolution, it has negative connotations around this time of year. It makes me think of things people promise themselves and abandon on week two of the new year. I don’t make goals until the middle of January because I want to make sure I can meet those goals and only after I look at where I need to improve from 2017.

I have three goals and the first is the most important one because it involves more than just me but my wife and children.

Goal 1 – Pray More

I don’t mean just making sure I dot the ‘i’ or cross my ‘t’ when it comes to grace and before bed. I mean intentional, important, God I need you, someone else I know needs you type of praying. It is something that was running around in my head and something I had mentioned to my wife two weeks before Christmas. This is the cool part, God had already laid the path. I received a copy of ‘The Battle Plan’ a prayer journal inspired from War Room. This gift came by way of my wife’s sister Tara who along with Melissa run Story of My Heart. That coupled with being asked to be a part of the Prayer Team for Reboot Combat Recovery by Melissa is just more proof that this specific goal is vital to my year.

The other half of this goal is my family. Until now we have allowed the kids to say grace using words they memorized in day care. It is sweet and cute and makes my heart swell but with them being 7 and 5 I want them to see more than just something they repeat every day. I want them to see how a conversation with God can be, to be comfortable talking to God about anything and can be done any where. It is my hope that I can communicate and how them that God is there for whatever mess you have fallen in to or placed yourself in (Romans 12:12). That faith in He will be victory in them even if the outcome is not what they expect.

Goal 2 – Read More

I’m not going to tell you I know the Bible forward and backwards or that I read it daily, I do not. I want to change that and will, but that is not what I mean by reading more. I mean to read more from great men of God to learn from their insight. This will be a tough challenge for me, I read enough in school so I fear burnout but, I want to learn more about their lives and how God moved in it. My goal is to read one book a month, and hopefully report back on it here! That would be awesome to accomplish but I cannot promise it I can only pray and try my best to do it.

Goal 3 – Practice Patience

Lord help me on this one, it will be difficult. As my kids have grown my patience has lessened because I can see the wheels spinning as they devise uncounted means of torture for the parental units of the home. They are testing their boundaries and on most days I am solid, handle it well. On other days I feel like that is all I have done that day, fuss at my kids. I do not enjoy that feeling one bit. I need more Ephesians 4:2 in my soul brothers, pray for that for me, please.

The Real Goal

All of those those goals really come together under one thing. Establishing a stronger relationship with God. I want my entire family to be bedrock in God. It is a great work, a life’s work of a husband to guide his family there. That is a burden made light by Christ, if we seek Him relentlessly. Jesus is the man we should be molding ourselves to be like, who we teach our sons to be like. If I bring Christ closer, I can lead my family to being closer to him and fulfill my life’s work.

A Challenge

Going in to 2018 I have set myself a challenge. I want you to solicit prayer requests for me at the Contact page and I will pray for you. I will log that prayer in the book provided by Tara. I want to fill that book up by the end of 2018 and know that I prayed heavily for those who I may or may not know. Regardless of the outcome I can look back and show my kids that prayer is unrestricted, available to friend, foe and stranger. It will be a difficult journey but if I Just Hold Fast, I can do it.

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It’s OK to Leave a Church…Sometimes

Leave a Church

This is a bit on the nose for my family and I at the moment since we are going through this decision to leave the church we have attended faithfully for 15 months. It is not something that we have taken lightly or out of anger (James 1:19-20). It is something that has lingered in our minds for months and has been discussed over and over with by my wife and I. It is OK to leave a church, you are not trapped and it isn’t always something that is going to burden you with sin. I write this for those seeking an answer to a touchy question but I also write this for myself and the ones I walk through life with that have angst right now as much as I have.

[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.

Ray Pritchard

Why are you leaving?

This is the most crucial question that must be answered because parting ways with a church is a serious event for any Christian. We are not meant to be in isolation. We should be seeking community (Ephesians 4:11-16). The answer isn’t a simple one and even after we determine why we feel we need to leave we need to ask ourselves if it is righteous.

Leaving because someone hurt your feelings is a great example of why you should not leave a church. We are fallible and a lot of times we are going to capitalize on that ability to fail. Even if we had no intention of doing so. This is part of being human and if a few people hurt your feelings at the church and you leave, it will likely happen again at your next church. Instead of running off you should give forgiveness and seek to reconcile the confrontation.

We should be seeking unity as Christians so pull yourself up by the bootstraps and seek reconciliation. If the door is closed by the other parties and they are unwilling to even discuss what happened that still doesn’t mean run. Instead, serve. Serve in spite of their behavior and do so graciously.

Reasons people leave

There is a loss regardless of whether we determine the reason as “good” or “bad” when someone stops attending a church or seeks another church. Some of the reasons below apply to why we decided to leave and some do not. Some are good reasons in my opinion and some are bad. I’d love to discuss this with others so please feel free to reach out. People have been known to leave a church because;

“Good Reasons”

  • Moving too far away
  • Long-term Missionary Work
  • Escaping false teaching
  • Openly committed and unaddressed sin
  • Power-drunk Leadership
  • and more

“Bad Reasons”

  • Church Size
  • Hurt Feelings
  • Lack of ways to Serve
  • The Church is changing
  • The Church refuses to change
  • You’re leaving/giving up Church entirely

This is a big topic, isn’t it? I hope you weren’t expecting a snack for today, it’s a banquet. There are a lot of reasons and way too many for me to cover because I can’t even think of them all. I just know these are things I have personally used before as reasons, justified or not. Reasons I have come to reconcile with their validity or whether I was just needing a scapegoat.

Don’t Give Up and Leave God

Of all the bad reasons giving up on church entirely is the most dangerous of them. God created us, Jesus commanded us to be a community and leaving that community opens a Christian up to the enemies power. It is open season on a soul.

Change can be positive or negative. How the church handles it really can affect how you are going to feel about whatever that change may be. There are still churches today that believe wholeheartedly that a woman’s place is at home, rearing kids and in a kitchen. If you’ve been at a church for over a month and that wasn’t evident to you. Please open your eyes. They will likely refuse to change that and if you are uncomfortable with that it is even more imperative that you move on.

Leadership

Leadership is hard and changes to leadership are even harder. The morale of a congregation can be shaken when a pastor who has their heart turned so fiercely to God leaves suddenly that people become hurt, angry, afraid and betrayed. Questions are asked, people are shouting, and fiefdoms can form because of it. This is when leadership must step up their game and be honest , opening their heart to those who attend their church. Non-answers to tough questions force your people to question things even more than they already do.

We cannot forget the Pastor who may be leaving the church. As an outgoing authority they are called to gracious exiting. God’s work takes providence over their personal feelings. This is not some cop out but is in fact extremely self-sacrificing because they could stay and fight. They could blast the leadership out of the water over Pharisee-like polity and power mongering. They could. Yet, a man going through God’s great work of sanctification seeks to live as Christ. And that alone is why a Pastor won’t.

Jesus could have lay waste to those who persecuted him. Effortlessly, they could have been gone, nothing, a bookmark in God’s work. Yet he submitted not out of fear but because his mission was of peace and love and forgiveness.

By God’s design, leadership in the church is a position of humility and selflessness. Church oversight is ministry, not management. Those whom God designates as spiritual shepherds are called not to be governing monarchs or slick celebrities, but humble slaves. In submission to Christ, they must exemplify sacrifice, devotion, submission, and lowliness.

John MacArthur

I have struggled with that realization of peace-seeking because of the affection I hold for a Pastor who affected me deeply. The messages that God allowed him to share with us always left me convicted. I never walked out of church feeling like I had heard the same thing by someone else just said marginally different. I am in no way putting a man on a pedestal because he is too humble for that.

What God did do is show me what a Pastor is. Something I’ve sought for over fifteen years. Something I lost and did not know how to find again. I am forever thankful and changed because of that season in my families life.

Leaving Ain’t Easy

When we choose to leave a church we are choosing to leave a portion of the body of Christ. That’s big. Leaving is a lot like a relationship coming to an end. It sure feels like it doesn’t it? There are two perspectives I want to address this final part through. That is the member and non-member of a church but one who attends regularly.

Non-members go through phases just like relationships. New church and it is so exciting! I want to be involved. What can I do to make this greater than great?! It is a lot like you meeting someone on a date you like and decide to continue dating. You start building your life on this and thinking how to show commitment to it. You start serving and getting involved, it’s a lot like you are now engaged. And that is where non-membership ends.

You could leave at any time. Whether it is a righteous reason or something that eventually proves out to be petty. While you committed yourself to the church in many ways, it was not like a membership. I am not placing non-membership in a serving role as less than a member but only highlighting there is a certain level of commitment that is missing from a non-member.

Members of a church have gone through the same steps of excitement, engagement and increased commitment but they took that last leap. They’ve married their desire to serve to that particular body. The church has poured in to them knowledge and trust that their lives meet the church’s barometer for membership.

Members parting should seek leadership and talk about it. Let them know why and pray they seek God’s authority in their leadership and not their own. When you part, do so graciously. Don’t burn bridges and cause a disturbance out of anger. There are people staying there after you are gone.

It’s Not Always Running

If you’ve come to that heart rending decision to part a church and you’ve prayed, given the decision due diligence, prayed some more, discussed it with the leadership, prayed with them. They will need your prayer and if Christ can pray for those murdering him, we surely can swallow our unjust pride and pray for them as well as the situation in general.

Leaving a church for a “good reason” is not running or “going out with a whimper” it is a walk by faith and not by sight.

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2016 in Review, 2017 a Path Forward

2016 Review

2016 will go down in the annals of history… However, we write it. It does not have to be the worst year ever, and it may not be the best year the world has seen. Those terms are entirely relative and often personal. A friend may have had a terrible year in some aspects while having great things happen in other areas of life. We, us fragile humans are concerned with blips in our time here on earth and often they are the things that happened yesterday or a week ago or a month. How we review our year determines how we feel about the bounty we have reaped. It shows us what we consider abundant and what is meager. Those things ultimately set the tone for how we expect our year to go. Genuinely consider that sunny disposition and ask if that is a facade for society or will you decide that your year is a mess the 1st day of January when someone makes your coffee wrong?

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Election, Pride, and God’s Directions

Election

Whew! That was an election of elections. I would be a terrible liar if I said I showed love during the last 18 months that the election cycle ran. Let me be blunt here, I was in no way acting like a Christian either. I don’t like the outcome of the election, I don’t like what has happened in our society and I’m ashamed of that, of my own actions. Terribly so. I thought people were stupid for their views; I sat gobsmacked listening to things that just didn’t align with what I thought was the right choice. In short, I was prideful.

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Live in Love

Live in Love

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. – 2 John 1:5-6

Man, life is hard being a Christian. Not only am I dealing with my own flaws but I have the media stuffing traumatic things down my eye sockets whenever I look at the news. It makes me sad when I see loss of life, it doesn’t matter whose life it is. I also get angry because here we are in a world that is trying to burn itself down. Raping, muggings, murders, doughy politicians with bad hair or negligent ones putting people at risk with terrible security. All of that, sucks. All of that is the cause of sin, the lack of being able to live in love.

Walk in Love

We are commanded to be imitators of God, as beloved children and to walk in love as Christ loved us (Ephesians 5:1-2). I won’t lie and say, “Oh yeah I totally love the drug dealer who sold kids some cocaine and caused their deaths” or “Oh, I’m BFFs with the rapist down the road.” those would be untruths and I cannot do that, will not do that. To walk in love however is to manifest the actions of Christ towards others. I’m not going to find the dealer and give him a beat down but I will call the police on him. I’m not going to stigmatize the rapist but I am going to ensure my wife knows where my gun is or how to defend herself in the event of an attack. If that same dealer or rapist needed help with something and I could provide it, I would. My personal feelings towards them may just be hostile from fear but do you think Jesus was not afraid of the task he faced?  While I don’t know for certainty that He wasn’t I do know that He was fully man and man has fear. I know that Jesus gave up His godly powers and grew just as any man did. All of His works came through the Father and it was not until He rose again that He donned those same powers he willingly gave up. In all the tribulations my savior faced not once did he write off someone who was a sinner. It is really hard to walk in love when we see the events of today but we must because the Bible is clear that we are in the midst of spiritual warfare and we are the soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).

Live in Love

I would say walking in love is much easier to do than living in love. Part of this is the immediacy of punishment that happens on a societal level when someone commits a crime. It reigns in our inclination to physically act out towards someone we find hard to love. To live in love however is the internal manifestation of what the Holy Spirit does for you. It’s why you are convicted when you do something you know you should not be doing. That doesn’t mean that it will stop you from doing it because we don’t listen to God as well as we should and will do things our own way despite knowing it is wrong. To live in love is to learn to let go of the stereotypes and to drop the prejudice that causes hate crimes and other forms of detriment to society. It is not the idea to be ignorant to the world we live in but to not assume that the person on the street is there because they didn’t have it together. Maybe they did and they hit a bad patch or maybe they didn’t. We don’t know their story.

Final Thoughts

I should address this up front, this writing is partially motivated by the happenings the last two days. I don’t care whether a shooting was justified or not from a spiritual perspective. I hurt for all of those involved and pray for all of them. From a societal standpoint whatever we have obviously is broken and it needs to be fixed. More death won’t do that. That’s why we also pray for society and show love to the stranger and the friend. The enemy that we need to battle is not of this physical realm. If I died helping a stranger who meant me harm but I was serving God’s will then my rewards will be great. Not because of just doing His will but because I was following Jesus’ commandment.

It’s a delicate balance isn’t it? Live in love but be cautious to protect yourself and the ones you love. Yet, we are commanded by God to love every one. Every one. It’s a simple rule and we break it like the words of God are effervescent when they are the most weighty words ever given. God doesn’t want his children to walk through life oblivious to the fact that there is danger, but he also doesn’t want those same children to perpetuate that danger out of fear. I’m not black, I’m not a cop, I’m not a politician. What I am though is a man who loves God, loves his country, loves his family and I’m a man who loves the stranger. Yes, I will want to take revenge upon someone if they were to cause my family harm, that’s natural. God doesn’t turn from war and He doesn’t expect us to go to the slaughter like sheep. Still we must love.

Love is unity. Unity is what we need. Black, blue, doesn’t matter. Life Matters. Love Matters. Live a life of love and THAT will make a difference.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

This should be a pretty familiar pair of passages for all of us. Galatians is an important part of how Christianity evolved after Christ ascended. Paul had visited the churches in Galatia (potentially founded many of them, it is uncertain) and after he left he received word that some individuals had begun teaching an alternate gospel to the newly converted pagans. Paul’s gospel was based on Jesus’ ministry while these individuals were saying that the gentile Christians must conform to Mosaic law. Even while rebuking them he always does this in love. Paul boils down how Christians should act in to the fruit of the spirit.

Fruit, not Fruits

I do feel that it is important to highlight that Paul signifies that all of the fruit of the Spirit is singular. The word used in Greek was ‘karpos’ a word that meant fruit but also meant ‘that which comes from something’ or an ‘effect’. This is significant because we as humans produce sinful things. We produce works of the flesh. Paul is clear in saying ‘works’ of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 but when it comes to the Holy Spirit it is singular. There is one Holy Spirit, there are many humans therefore only the Spirit can produce the nine traits that are the fruit of it’s presence in us. Humans can produce all the works of the flesh but the traits of the Spirit are the result of it’s effect on us. I hope I made sense there!

Final Thoughts

The fruit of the Spirit are things we as Christians need to pray for. Those traits are how Jesus lives. Jesus instructs us to abide in Him because we cannot bear fruit without the vine (John 15:1-11). Jesus is the embodiment of those traits and the way we learn to bear the fruit we are commanded to is by seeking strength in God when we face adversity. I would be a liar to say I got this on lock, I don’t. I get irritated over small and likely trivial things. I feel terrible about it because I feel like a backsliding serpent of a man. Maybe it is all the noise in the house and I snap and yell at my kids. I shouldn’t do that but I have. It’s those things I ask God for strength so that I can work on them. He’s a good father and listens when I call out to Him. It takes more effort to be mean to someone than it does to be kind. I pray every day that God gives me strength to not get irritated at my co-workers and to show His Son through me. I talk openly about church and God because we should never fear offending someone just because we are Christian. My hope is that I represent a child of His kingdom in the most honorable manner I can and produce fruit for God’s will.

Daily Devotional – Grow in Faith

Grow

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15

If God has truly made an impact in your life because you have truthfully made the commitment to trust Jesus Christ as your savior then you will grow. To give the reference verse some back story, Paul is writing to Timothy whom he asked to go to the church in Ephesus because it was a mess. A mess because while they loved God they had forgotten how much God loved them. They were a church on autopilot. In Revelations 2:1-4 Jesus tells them directly that while they profess in faith and show a walk in faith for anyone to see they do not grow in faith because they have left their first love by putting their devotion in to the church and not the people of the church.

Faltering in the First Love

Remember the butterflies that you had when you accepted Jesus for what He is? Son of God, the Lion, the Lamb and more. I would be lying if I said that it did not wax and wane for me. I’m human and broken. Sometimes I don’t like what God is putting in front of me, but I still love Him. Those times when I am listening to the enemy and not to God is when that First Love falters. Maybe it is getting caught up in the trappings of portraying what a Christian should be like the church at Ephesus was. Their biggest transgression was forgetting how much Christ loved everyone, including the unbelievers. When we as a church, I say that meaning the people of God, attack unbelievers by slander, action or denial of even acknowledging their existence we are showing we have let our First Love go. How can we grow in Christ when we are doing exactly the opposite of what Christ did?

How to Grow our First Love

To have your First Love is to be like Christ. One way to be like Jesus it is to serve others. He did this exceptionally well, perfectly actually. Why did he come to Earth and die? In service to us so that we may find a path to Heaven. When we lose that love we lose our desire to serve others including the lost, and even our brother and sisters in Christ. God has breathed words in to the Bible, in to our hearts and it will help us combat losing our love. We need to do everything we can for God. He has done enough for us. We grow our love by doing just that, loving others and not loving what we think the church represents.

Instead of calling people freaks or perverts or assuming they are terrorists because their faith is different (Ephesians 4:29), we should be trying to understand why they feel the way they do and reaching out to them in love as Jesus did. When we reach out in anger we condemn them in a way Christ never intended. As Christians we understand what judgment is because all will be judged. It is not the act of judgment, which is the formation of an opinion, that is a problem. It is how we express that judgment that is the problem. If we express that opinion in anger or fear then what have we done? We have taken away from how we should present ourselves as Christians. We have robbed ourselves and others of that First Love.

Final Thoughts

To nurture our first love we must nurture our faith. It is a synergy that is necessary for us to grow. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord and to not lean on our own understanding of things. Our understanding is often flawed with emotions of anger, fear etc. These things are where we are following our heart and not our faith. Worship God with all of your being, Pray to Him all the time, Serve others in everything that you do, Give all that you can muster to Him and then dig deeper and give more of yourself. There is no depth to which we can go that God doesn’t get. When we think that God just won’t understand we are wrong. He is God and He knew us before we were born and will know us long after we are gone. Plan seeds of faith, goodwill and love and water them to grow. Ignore the seeds of doubt the enemy tries to sow in your field of works.

Daily Devotional – Who Am I? Discover Yourself

Discover Yourself

This is what the Lord says – He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel; “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” – Isaiah 43:1

This kind of question is right up my alley. I spend a lot of time in reflection, examining what I have done so that I can improve my future. Let me be clear on this, there is a distinct difference between reflecting for improvement versus clinging to a mistake because you spent a lot of time making it. We should see our salvation as a catalyst for doing more than just changing our status in God’s eyes. It should show us how to discover who we are as a person and in Christ.

Discovery

I think that I have learned enough about myself to give you some advice on self-discovery. I know exactly who I am. This is going to be secular advice that will lead into why it is important in a non-secular manner! Understanding who you are is going to help you communicate better in showing the love of Jesus. How you discover who you are can vary based on your actual desire to and the life you’ve lived. I have a penchant for doing everything the hard way. So finding myself was a 10 year journey into depression, overeating, lying and being someone I wasn’t just to fit in. That needed to change, I had nephews and siblings that I wanted to see grow up. My sister had married, my brother had married. I was the oldest and here I was in my mid-20’s living at home eating myself to death. I wanted to see them grow up and I wanted to be there for them, all of them.

Like many lost or wandering souls I turned to God, after I had basically pushed Him away and did what I wanted I came back. Then I came across Psalm 40:1-3 and I had been asking what can I do, what can I change, what more do I need to be better. God answered me there and gave me hope. I would’t be perfect, I know I can’t be but He told me I was enough. I was enough. My sister had a gastric bypass and so then I worked towards having one done. I began eating better before hand and had dropped almost 50 lbs before I had went to see the surgeon and jump through the hoops to get everything done. I still was doing a lot of the things I probably shouldn’t, my language was not great among other things but I was trying and while I didn’t go to church I read the bible on my phone or tablet. Eventually I had the surgery and I lost a lot of weight. I learned a lot about myself in that time because philosophy is a hobby of mine. I came to learn some of my fears, my flaws and my strengths. I was an entirely different person. Who people know me as today was not who I was 3-5 years ago.

It took a lot for me to understand who I am and honestly, I think that in tragedy we do learn the truth. Being honest with ourselves is the hardest thing you can do (Psalm 51:6) on the road to self discovery. Like lots of other step programs admitting the truest facts are the first steps needed to restoration of the former person. It is a hard road to discover yourself but you can do it. It will increase your understanding of how things were, how they are and help you see what you can do for the future.

Testimony

How you view yourself is going to affect your testimony in Christ. If you are an introverted person it may be harder for you to be a witness to God’s work because you have a natural reluctance to reigning in your actions and emotions. Think about this though, David danced in glory of the Lord and sang His praises because of something God gives to us. The Holy Spirit. The Bible instructs us to use the Spirit to reach out to others (2 Timothy 1:7) not fear them. Yes, that is easier said than done but remember, God wants us to grow and we grow by reaching outside of our comfort zone and learning new things. We should let that light increase and touch other lives so that they know the joy we have in the security of salvation.

Discover Who I Am

I am a Child of God. I’m also a father, soon to be a husband, an uncle, a brother, a son. I have many titles and I have many obligations. They all make me up a part of who I am. I’m a man who has made mistakes and I have made some pretty awesome triumphs. I have been a liar, I have been a misogynist, I have been a terrible cook. That stuff doesn’t define me in the way I see myself today. They are chapters to my life, secrets I keep between God and myself. It is also things I have let go. I don’t get it right all the time and God doesn’t expect me to.

It is interesting that this devotional came up today. I was speaking with some co-workers and one brought up what Maya Angelou had said, “You are enough.” It made me think back to my experiences and then I open my devotional tonight and here is this devotion telling me that I am a child of the Most High God. I am important and precious to Him. I have a purpose in this life and I am enough. Yes, I am enough for God, that makes me enough for myself, for those I love and those who may scorn me. Thank you Jesus, thank you for the tears and the heartaches. Thank you for the times that were rough and you let me dwell in them so that when I was ready to spread the word it would burn through me like a wildfire and maybe just maybe reach someone needing it. Someone who may be hurting.

I am enough.

They are enough.

You, God, our portion, are more than enough.

Daily Devotional – Getting Up Again

Getting Up Again

Jesus said, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18

I won’t ever say I am a scholar of the Bible but I am a reader and I cannot recall a man in the Bible, specifically notable people who did not fail. Moses disobeyed God and was unable to enter the promised land. David, a man after God’s own heart committed adultery. Peter made the mistake of denying that he knew who Jesus was, not once or twice but three times. Each time these men didn’t just take it. Instead they showed that getting up again is what God wants us to do.

Falling is Not the End

Every Christian stumbles in our walk with God. It is why we sin. We fail to meet the expectations set before us. Whether it was what someone expected of us, our own self expectations or failing God they all merit the same response. Realizing that this failure is a learning point and that it doesn’t mean we should give it up. I found myself in that position when I was younger. I had left everything I knew behind to move to another state to live with a girl. I was young and not very cautious. Things went south after 2 years and I love everything. I moved back in with my parents and basically withdrew from society. I allowed my falling to be the end of me. I was far from my walk with God but He tells us that if we delight in Him that He will make firm our steps so we do not fall. (Psalm 37:23-24). Falling isn’t the end it is the Father giving us a chance to prove our resilience in adversity by getting up and testifying His grace.

Falling is our Wandering

If we love God’s instructions for our life we have peace and do not stumble. Think about the times when you know you’ve sinned. If God has really changed your heart you will not have peace until you make it right. It might start as a little tickle in the back of your mind but getting right with God sooner rather than later is going to prevent that time when God grabbed you by the seat of your pants and the next thing you know is you’re a blubbering mess. Saved people are His children. As we are His that means He will sometimes have to be harsh with us to bring us around. Jesus is called the shepherd for many reasons and to me this is one of the most basic reasons why. He is the one who keeps the sheep on the path and of one falls off of it He rights the sheep.

Getting Up is Finding Forgiveness

There is a reason Christian imagery shows a man beaten or broken and God’s hands lifting him.It is the Father letting the child know it is okay. We can fall a thousand times (we should try not too!) and He is always there to lift us higher than before because as soon as we confess and truly resolve never to fall back in to that place again we have gotten up. I jokingly tell Eli to rub some dirt in it sometimes when he is just being fussy, I like to think God feels the same way sometimes when he is confronted with the same person doing the same sin and asking for forgiveness. He gives it in the hope you mean it even though He knows you do not. If you are serious about getting up though God is there, hand ready to help you rise. Jesus forgave Peter three times because Peter sinned three times. Then he raised Peter above the other disciples in his appointment of Peter being the rock upon which the Church would be built.

Imagine what God can do in your life if you just let the fall be a lesson and become better are getting up than falling. Eventually you won’t fall anymore because your love for him is true and He will strengthen your steps, that is our walk with God in a nutshell. Don’t quit on God, He never quits on you.

Daily Devotional – There in the Tough Times

Tough Times

God had made me forget all my troubles and all my father’s household. – Genesis 41:51

I think we all have a tendency of forgetting how awesome God is all the time. Especially when the good times are rolling. We don’t give thanks nearly as often then but as soon as something bad happens it is the first thing out of our mouth, ‘God help me’ or some variant. God is here good or bad. So what about when things are more than marginally bad? Do we complain to God about it because we are experiencing trauma. Instead we should be seeking the comfort of His love. Joseph who was sold in to slavery, imprisoned despite his innocence never blamed God for the bad fortune. Instead he looked to God and then God raised him up higher than his brothers could have imagined!

Perpendicular Plans

For many of us our plans compared to God’s plans look very different. God’s plans are definitive and look like a straight arrow. Or plans on the other hand look like a winding snake over His plans. In fact it looks like this;

Sin Wave

 

As our walk gets closer to God those waves, those deviations lessen and sometimes they become the same straight line but we are human and prone to error. Even in those times when we are far far from God’s plans for us He is there filling in those gaps with His grace.

Life is Tough

Because we are promised suffering (2 Timothy 3:12) we should become comfortable with seeking God in the hard times. If you’ve ever found yourself in the floor crying out to God for help then you know exactly how powerful God can be when He moves. His plans may be that someone has a hard life from the beginning and uses those experiences to lift that person into ministry. It could be the death of someone so that others connected to that person come running to Him. There is no shame in reaching out to God in your greatest need but it should not be the only time. He deserves out attention all the time not just when things suck.

Final Thoughts

God is the perfect father because he is there endlessly. We may come into friction with our parents here on Earth and in some cases those parents will disown us. God does not do that. He waits until you are broken and with no second thought picks up the pieces to make sure His children are whole. Life is really tough and being a Christian does not exclude you from that. In fact, you become a target because Satan wants to lure you away more than anything. It’s not the lost souls but the ones that know Jesus so he can tell God to look at how his servant is failing him. If we can be like Job or Joseph we take that power from Satan because God gives us that armor. I feel like one of my biggest strengths is that I do keep my eye on God in good and bad. Part of why I can is because of Bethany. She is far more than I ever deserved in my life and yet God planted her there for me. I am also surrounded by Greg and Melissa who are just an awesome God loving couple. My parents love God and encourage my relationship with Him. The support system you build helps you remember that God is there always listening when things are great and when they are tough.

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