Like Paul, I Found Joy Amidst Devastating News

Joy From Philippians

One of the greatest types of joy I have in life is being a husband and a dad. I’ve told my wife from the time that I saw our relationship growing deeper that I guess I was the odd teenager growing up. We did not have much as kids but I also never wanted for anything either. So when I looked at what goals I wanted in my life, it was simple. I wanted to be a good husband and a good dad. That’s it. Simple goal but hard to obtain. Anyone can father a child that is a biological process but to be a dad it takes so much more.

That is a saying I have seen and lived. I come from a household where my dad is not my biological father, but he has been there since I was two. My father was an ephemeral figure in my life as a kid. We would spend a night there randomly and once we went on a vacation to Ocean City, MD. It was not until I was older and had my car that I spent significant time with my biological father. I worked at Burger King, and after we closed, I would drive to downtown Baltimore and hang out at the place he worked at as a cook.

Fast forward to today, I am married to an amazing woman who is my soul mate. She drives me to be a better man, a better husband and the best dad that I can be. She had two children from a previous marriage when we met, and now I find myself in the same position my dad was in when he and my mom got together.

This was unintentional on my part, I had given up hope on finding someone and having a family, but God knew better than that. He knew like he had known before I was formed that being a dad was my dream in life. In that moment where I had in my heart decided that if this next date did not pan out, I was done. I would live as a bachelor and just throw myself into my career and tuck away all notions of romance.

God’s Providence

God desires to show His power through your storm, but is your lack of faith keeping Him from doing so? God brings storms into your life to show His strength and to gain glory from His providence.

Paul Chappell

Before I get into the devastating news I had earlier this year, part of which made me unsure of continuing to write here; I want to talk about what we mean by God’s Providence. Providence is a combination of two Latin words; the first is  “pro” which means “forward” or “On behalf of” and “vide” which is Latin for “to see.”

So when we think of Providence, it should mean “to support, or to supply what is needed.” If it is God’s Providence, then we are proclaiming that God has provided support, sustenance or what it is we need for the season we are experiencing. Sometimes that providence is his non-action because of the learning and growth we get from difficult but not impossible trials.

God’s providence in my life starts with Jesus. He’s given the ultimate sacrifice for my reconciliation with him. That providence began with the fall of man in Genesis and does not end, ever. He supplied Israel time and time again in the Old Testament. He supplied the world with unending grace through the bloodshed of his son. We can lose sight of that Providence in the day to day grind of life, but it has never been more clear to me than it has been lately. I would not have a better understanding of this providence were it not for Ryan Huguley, and the time he was at Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory. I’ll get into that in a moment. This next part is me peeling back the armor, exposing my heart to you in a way I have not done before.

Devastating News

We have two amazing kids and were considering a third because we felt our hearts and family could certainly expand to love more. So we began trying and spent time making sure we were doing things at the right time etc. Adult stuff. After 8 or 9 months I decided to go to a urologist and see if there were any issues. What I was told after examinations and several tests is that I have a condition called necrozoospermia. Necrozoo-what? Yeah, me too. What that meant is that my body manufactures sperm, but they are all dead. Their tails don’t wag, and so they can’t swim.

So what is the rate for complete necrozoospermia? 0.2-0.5% of men have it. An almost infinitesimal chance and I hit the lottery in the worst kind of way. I had thought about this many times as an adult and my desire to have a family, would I be able to? The doubt was from an incident when I was playing Little League Baseball, back before kids wearing a jock strap was a thing. My cousin was mad about something I had done and came up to me and kicked me as hard as he could in the genitals with a pair of baseball cleats on. I was taken to the hospital for that, and my whole region was black and blue for weeks.

Back to now, the doctor told me that incident caused primary testicular failure. I can’t have children without assistance. It would cost roughly $15,000 for even a chance to harvest sperm and egg then perform In Vitro Fertilization. We are nowhere near that well off to be able to afford that so my chances of having a child with my wife are zero. I was devastated. I left the urologist and did the ugly cry in the car before I called my wife to tell her something I did not want to talk about.

Paul’s Joy and Content

I cannot express the gratitude I have for Ryan enough. He was the first pastor in a long time that inspired me. When you meet Ryan, you will find a man full of God’s word, Jesus’s love and the compassion that only the Holy Spirit can provide. It is through his preaching that I know the means of finding joy in dire circumstances.

When he was at Harvest, he went through a series titled, ‘Everyday Joy – A Study of Philippians’ you can find it here on Vimeo, Everyday Joy Series. It was and has been my retreat when things look stormy, or I am suddenly in the midst of something that challenges my faith. To suddenly discover that I could not have children was both of those. The whole, testing and waiting and eventually finding out. It was hard to come to terms with it.

Consider Paul’s situation as he writes to the church in Philippi, he has spent almost four years in prison (Philippians 1:12-18). Why? Because he was preaching the truth and following Jesus. Yet, in that time he rejoices and proclaims that even if he is sentenced to death, he will rejoice (Philippians 2:17-18). Why? Because Paul learned to be content with his condition, whatever it may be (Philippians 4:11)

Coming to Terms

I know that I have been given grace beyond measure and certainly something I do not deserve. I try to teach that to my children that humanity is the cause of Christs’ death. If I am given this grace and freedom in Jesus, why am I focusing on not being able to father a child biologically? Am I not an adopted child of God? Yes, yes I am. I did not know that I could never have children, but God knew. That is where his providence comes in and becomes completely humbling.

Is it sad I cannot have children biologically without assistance? Absolutely. Did I feel less a man? Yes, I did. The information I received did not cause me joy it was the exact opposite, but when I take a step back from my immediate emotions, I see something that even as I write this brings water to my eyes.

God knew.

He knew that my life goals were not money or cars or women or drugs. He knew that I would become a man some day and I would want children and provided that in the most spectacular way possible. When I took that view, I became at peace.

It is things like this that leave no doubt that God exists. The cost to have another kid is extraordinary, and there are so many children that need homes. I hope that I can continue to provide a haven, a home that follows Jesus for my children and maybe…just maybe a third that God will put in the path that Bethany and I walk in this life.

This has easily been the most difficult thing I have written to date, but I hope that you can find how God’s providence is present in your life. It is easy to get caught up in the negative emotions that Satan wants us to embrace. That does not mean that you are in a sandpit of despair. God is there, just grab on to him and those trials become contentment because through it all you have Jesus and the salvation he provides.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Scott Dunn

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.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Scott Dunn

Breaking the Shackles of Doubt

Shackles of Doubt

We all have doubt. I doubt myself. I doubt the person who says they’ve never doubted anything. I really doubt the person who says they’ve never doubted God. It’s hard not too when we face a difficult time in our life.

Why is this happening? Why does God allow it to happen? What did I do to be put through this?

All questions we ask ourselves in times where we are experiencing difficulties personally, read in the news or from seeing someone we know go through a trial. It is fear and it is anger that drives these doubts.

My biggest fear isn’t death, it isn’t even whether or not God exists. I know I will die one day and I know God is real. My biggest fear is failure. I fear failing God, my soon to be wife, our children and my family. I fear failing at work or failing my friends. That failure does not paralyze me but it affects how I react to things when I do and also affects the choices I make. Can I risk hours, days and months chasing something while allowing my family to suffer? Well no, no I cannot. Or what if I speak harshly to my children or Bethany? It drives my choices or it did.

God has a way of kicking people in the pants when they really need it. I needed it. I got a kick in the pants. When I set out to write for Just Hold Fast (JHF) I thought big things like people would take an interest and I’d be able to get men together, fellowship and maybe set up some things we could do publicly to spread our cause, to spread the gospel. I’ve spent so much time worrying about helping people that I allowed doubt to creep in. No one is interacting on Just Hold Fast, maybe men won’t peel back that armor and expose their pain as easily as I have seen women do. It isn’t an expectation, it is a hope.

Bitter obedience is just disobedience baptized in right action.

A Seed of Doubt

I walked away from God because I didn’t understand what it meant to love Him like I do now. I didn’t understand what made Him so important. I do now, I ‘get it’ so to speak. Since that fire has been ignited it’s all I’ve wanted to do, share and maybe help someone if God puts it in my path. So I started this, I was overly ambitious and thought I could manage to do a devotional every single day. I could but after some time and doubt I stopped. I hadn’t posted anything for over a week. During that time I became bitter, family and friends who I thought were supportive didn’t notice. So I thought, ‘what’s the point if it doesn’t reach anyone because no one spreads the word?’  Still during all of that I soldiered on albeit bitterly as I started writing again.

A Kick in the Pants

So that kick in the rear I said I got? Came from Ryan Huguley, a man I admire because he gives a straightforward message and it is always something I can take home and reflect on. We are going through Philippians currently, it is a time when Paul is imprisoned yet he finds joy as he writes to the church at Philippi. Paul, who once persecuted Christians with a tenacity that was only surpassed with his conversion and the fanatical love for Christ he eventually showed, was ultimately going to be martyred and yet found joy in his work. The moment Ryan said, ‘Bitter obedience is just disobedience baptized in right action.’ my brain exploded. It had been three weeks since I had done anything related to JHF because I had become fed up. I was writing because I had committed myself to a lofty goal. I was performing right action but my heart was out in left field looking at the grass.

Facing Doubt

I had allowed doubt in what I knew God was wanting for me to creep in because of my own hubris. My need to succeed and to fulfill a prideful mission was blocking the way to glorify God. So what do you do about that? You address the doubt and you seek God for healing. He’s the only one that can heal these deeply seeded things. Talking with people can certainly help relieve the pressure but if that is what you put your faith in then you will face issue after issue because a Godly man is not the solution it is a stopgap. That doesn’t mean men of God cannot help, we can guide someone to God but God does the real work, the real healing. We are advocates of Christ. We are disciples destined to help others find Him. So I had to face that doubt, pray a lot and make sure that I would continue on this path regardless of some tangible reward that is ultimately insufficient for the needs of my soul, of any soul.

Three Verses for Doubt

God provides us everything we need even though we may not need it right then but we may need in the future. So what does the Bible say that can help us combat doubt? It says some very clarifying things that helped me. I pray they help you as well.

1) Listen to the word of God like you have never listened to it before. In Romans 10:17 it says ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ (ESV). Put yourself in the path of someone who speaks the word of God in their life, a pastor, a deacon, someone from Church. Don’t allow yourself to stew and become bitter towards God.

2) Read the word of God like you have never read it before. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we are told plainly that all scripture is God’s word and we are also told what it is good for (everything). Correction and reproof are key because when we wander off the path and doubt we definitely need correction.

3) Speak the word of God like you have never spoken it before. When Christ was in the desert being tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-13) it was in a way His right of passage. Immediately after this Jesus began his ministry and began the work that God set into motion after the Fall. During this temptation Jesus consistently defended against the devil by speaking against him using the word of God as his sword. He truly embodied having the whole armor of God (Ephesians 16:10-18).

I don’t know how much it will help exposing myself like this, sharing my doubt. I’m in a place where I don’t care if it affects 100 people or 1 person. God wants me to share myself and I am content with that. I know I will struggle and fail. I am imperfect but if I start to doubt I know I have the wisdom and experience to help myself. If God is willing, maybe I can help others too.

In Christ – Scott

Don’t Seek Revenge

Revenge

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:9

Revenge is something we all struggle with because our natural instinct is to retaliate against that which causes us loss of some kind. Whether it is loss of life, property, body parts etc. The idea of revenge in Christianity has been discussed and some say there is contradiction because of Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:23-25) and what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-39) where Christ urges us to turn the other cheek. How can Mosaic Law which was defined by God and given to Moses to communicate come in to contradiction with the Son of God?

Revenge in the Old Testament

There is a misunderstanding of the terms of the Mosaic Law. It was given as a guiding point in that justice when rendered should be fair and equitable. There were times in ancient Israel and there are times now where death is deemed as the right action by law. There is no instance of the law being used exactly as it is said, no hand was cut off from someone because they caused another person to lose their hand. Instead it was intended for the lawmakers to allow compensation for those lost things. We see this in modern legal systems as a civil case usually. If something happened that caused a person to lose their foot then the owner of the business, perpetrator of the offense etc. would have to pay the person compensation. That is what the purpose of the law in the Old Testament was for and is still usable today.

Jesus on Revenge

Peter makes use of the knowledge that he gained being a direct student to Christ. This is not the only OT passage he addresses. Still he urges us to follow what Christ spoke of during His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:38-42). He speaks plainly that we should not hurt someone in return for hurting us or to insult them because we were insulted. That’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone. As men, the leaders of our homes we are always ready to defend our loved ones and ourselves by any means necessary. That often manifests itself in retaliation of equal or more brutal forms. Martin Luther King Jr. said it well (he is not the first just his quote is being used), “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.” and he is right.

Final Thoughts

Our need for justice is well documented even in the Bible when you consider Gideon’s bloodthirsty actions of killing a tower full of men because they denied him bread. He was doing God’s work pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna but God did not call him to kill those men (Judges 8:1-17). Should Gideon have done that? It is not for me to judge that. Gideon saw but a portion of the picture in humanities history whereas God sees it all. He does not shy away from punishment but He is a fair judge who does punish equal to the crime. He is also the only one who knows how much more work forgiveness can do instead of punishment.

I mean look at what God chose to do. He chose to give His son up for man’s salvation. We can choose to forgive. We have the right to self-defense but the words of a person should not break your bond with Christ. It should strengthen it. If someone has said something cruel to your wife, your children and even you forgive them and put it in God’s hands. Payback just causes more suffering. Cut it to the quick and pray for them instead. As a Christian you know the blessings given to you in forgiveness instead of condemnation. Teach that to your family and show them that holding fast to their faith will see them through. Revenge has a sweet taste at first but the aftertaste is sour and bitter.

Show Your Love

Show Your Love

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Yesterday I touched on the idea that not only should we say what we mean but we should mean what we say. Christianity is far more than lip service. Imagine if Christ had pulled the greatest prank of all mid-crucifixion and said that it was all a hoax. It’s uncomfortable even writing that because I feel like in a way the satire of it is a sin. I’d expect the thought of that is not comfortable either. Christ showed us the path to redemption in the way he would show love to everyone. It did not matter who they were, what their transgression. Show your love to those who are lost, those broken. We are the same but we have salvation. That is the thing that sets us apart, small in word but vital in every aspect of our lives.

No Hoax, Show Your Love

For me, one of the best parts of reading about Jesus in the Bible is when He shuts down the naysayers by giving them Old Testament words that they choose to ignore so that they profit from their work and not God. In Matthew 15:1-9 the Pharisees had come to Jesus from Jerusalem and were asking why the disciples of the Savior broke the tradition of elders by not washing their hands when they ate. Jesus pointed out to them their greed and then quoted the prophet Isaiah (Matthew 15:8-9) when Isaiah said, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

Drop. The. Mic.

Final Thoughts

If we have not only accepted the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven but have also submitted ourselves to the reality that He alone is King then how we treat others is going to change. It is not easy and we may struggle with being nicer at first because our hearts love sin but the Spirit is there to help push that away with the light we gain. Acts of kindness go a long way to improving anyone’s day. It happened yesterday with Bethany and I. We have a small (not really) desire to drink Dunkin’ Donuts on the daily. So often that the guy at the drive-thru last night knew our order and gave us the drinks gratis. I don’t know if he was saved, he doesn’t know if I was either but how awesome would it be if someone asked, “Why are you so nice?” and we could just say one word to explain it. Jesus. Yahweh. He taught us to show your love and that is a far better example than an angry zealot causing pain and hurt then breaking out our Bible and saying the work was God’s.

I cannot fathom any reason we would want to pay lip service in God’s name. We have no right to do that and frankly I don’t want to. I want words of love to spout forth form my mouth and to not defile others with my words. The moment church, your salvation, the things you say and that you do become more than just a thing you do to get by, that is when you are following Christ. That is where you can show your love and that is when your lip service has stopped. We are expected to stumble and get back up because we aren’t perfect but doing that shows more strength and faith then the falsity of Christianity that has been portrayed.

Daily Devotional – Peace in God’s Presence

Peace in God's Presence

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

I’m breaking from my normal format for this devotional because this is just hitting home with the message from Sunday at Harvest Bible Chapel Hickory where Senior Pastor Ryan Hughley has been discussing the Armor of God in Ephesians. We are on the sandals which are to represent the gospel of peace. That being said I want to share with you my journey for peace.

It’s not over, it won’t ever be over until I go Home. Peace is something that comes in goes based on how much we tend to our relationship with God. If we were perfect it would be an endless exaltation of knowledge of His love and Grace. We are human, we like to place our confidence in things that give us no spiritual return, we are broken. So when we place our confidence in those things like money or sex or drugs we are holding on to something that will ultimately let us down, let us go.

I prefer to plan things out. It’s easier to control variables then. That isn’t to say that I don’t like spontaneity because it is all contextual. If there is something like a party or a building project. I want a good plan together to deal with the organizing or potential issues. I’m not arrogant enough to assume I can know all variables, I can’t. If it is a night where the kids are being watched and we have some free time I don’t want to spend it shopping for groceries. I want to spend it doing something fun with Bethany. Usually there are no plans in that and I am perfectly fine with it!

Those times with planning though. Man they are a curse to me. I enjoy the challenge but I get burdened by anxiety. That anxiety can make me irritable and I can be someone I don’t even want to be around. That is where I struggle with peace. I don’t like the idea of something not going how I intended because I want to control the variables if possible. Yet at the same time I know that to grow those variables may need to be allowed to play out. Sometimes I recognize that and other times I don’t.

That’s where God comes in. I’m not saying that He is a substitute for my failings but that I’ve grown because of Him. He is there to lift me up from those failings and show me that I can’t walk through life without Him. If you’ve ever known that kind of peace where you have an absolute stillness in you then you know what I am talking about.

Prayer is one of the hardest things for most people, including myself. Our minds travel all over the place in seconds as we try to navigate life. So to purposefully slow that activity down and focus on one thing is very hard. It is the most important thing that we can focus on and that is our relationship with Christ.

When I get filled with a negative emotion I should be praying for God to help give me the strength to fight that emotion off. I don’t believe in just saying, “God, do the work and I’ll just take a free ride.” because we are called in to service to God. I feel that there is a distinct difference in that kind of prayer, asking for Him to do the work and asking for strength. Sometimes we need both but often times the strength God gives us can help us accomplish great things with Him and through Him. That is how we gain testimony so that others can see God in our works.

God is always there with us. Always ready to offer peace in His presence. If we go to Him daily and humble ourselves before Him we will find peace. If we go to Him daily and ask for His guidance we will find peace. It’s all about putting Him first in all you do. Putting God in your work and in your family life will change how you react to people and how people view you because they can see the change, even if sometimes you may not. We live in God’s presence all the time so whenever those emotions get to boiling or the frustration gets to you. Pray. He will listen, He will comfort, He will give you a peace that is so still it will leave you in breathless awe.

Daily Devotional – When You Pray

Pray Continually

Pray Continually – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I think that Prayer is not as complicated as we make it. Humans have a wonderful way of taking an action like prayer into realms it is not or to forget about it. I’d like to talk about what prayer is not. I think that to understand why we pray we should think about what causes us to pray. What is the purpose of prayer? These questions that God has given us answers to. So why do we misuse it or disregard it all together?

Prayer is Not…

A get out of jail free card. We should not be using prayer only in tragedy. God gave a greater purpose to praying. It also is not a means to lie, by this I mean that if someone asks you to pray for them, you do it. If you tell someone, “I’ll pray for you” then do it. They leave feeling as if you are genuine but instead you have taken their trust in you, their hope of your words to heart but they are lip service. You have subjugated your faith to save face to sound empathetic to someone’s needs. Prayer is not a complacent action and when we pray it must be done in truth (Psalm 145:18).

Prayer Is…

Personal and yet also public. The Bible is clear about prayer as the reference verse says we should pray continually. My morning and evening commutes are often spent with God. I talk to Him as if he is there in the car with me physically. He is the Father unseen but he is also the Father who sees what is done in secret and will reward us. Jesus speaks that in Matthew 6:6 and in the NKJV version unseen is translated as the “secret place.” This secret place is not a physical place, it can be where you go but what Jesus is speaking about is within us. When we pray it can be hard to turn down our mind to focus on God only. That’s where spiritual fitness helps us. Prayer is our connection to the Father.

Final Thoughts

One of the things I enjoy is prayer and it doesn’t take time out of my day it is an integral part of my day. I get time with God and I am preparing myself for any potential spiritual warfare that I or my family may face. It sounds kind of silly but I did one of those “What is your Biblical Name” tests from Facebook and I received Yishmael or Ishmael which means God Listen’s or God hears depending on your translation.

Biblical Name - Ishmael

I like the idea of that, who wouldn’t? God listens to me! He listens to you too if you pray in truth He is there. Approach His throne in confidence and God grants us the mercy we so need. The healing we desire and the comfort of his presence.

Who Is God to You?

Who is God

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. – 1 John 1:1

This is going to be really easy and really hard. Who is God to you? Who is God to me? It is something we should ask ourselves to really put in to place how we view ourselves as Christians and how we view God. This is going to be a wholesome activity but I have to tell you, I am unsure if I’m going to enjoy exposing this much of my relationship with God. Not that it is bad or that we shouldn’t. Our testimony is a direct reflection of our walk with God. I am committed to doing this devotional every day, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be for me. The fact that it is there means God wants me to. His command, my obedience.

Who Is God to You – The Easy Answer

Everything. Yep that is the short of it. God has created all things. He is in all things from the air to the mitochondria in our bodies. They were designed by Him for a reason (John 1:3).

Who Is God to You – The Hard Answer

Answering who God is to me is not a hard answer on the surface because He is sovereign but in answering who, we should define what He means to us. If we look at not just who but what God means in our lives we get a richer understanding of how He has moved in our life. God really is everything but the Bible gives him many titles that we, rejoice and proclaim. Alpha, Omega, Sovereign, King, Creator, Father.

He is more than words or title. He is mine. He is Bethany’s. We are his. When that clicks this light bulb comes on and you’re just awed. He is this being we cannot quantify because our understanding is limited to the words we know. He has saved me, he is pure grace to me. When I think about Him and writing this I get all knotted up inside and swell up in adulation that I get to talk about Him.

He is what draws me to my knees and has compelled me to plant my face on the ground in obedience to his will. He is what makes my hands raise when I am on fire from the inside. He is Yahweh, Lord, and God.

Final Thoughts

God is in everything. He is part of everything. To confine Him to a set of words is truly a disservice but that is all we have because we are not with Him until our lives have ended. Once we are welcomed in to His kingdom only then can we see the truth of Him. Faith gets you there and it will see you through tough times in life. God should be the focus of a Christian man’s heart. God is what gives man a family, the wife who is devoted in the good and the bad. The children to bring unexpected joy when a day has been long and hard. The family outside of his immediate kin to show him additional love. The pets he shelters in his home that bring him untainted love and devotion. God gives us all of that and He does it knowing we will fail Him at some time because He is a Father. Fathers encourage children in their dreams and ambitions even if they may see some hurt coming because they know that as a parent they will be there to support them and lift them up when it happens. That allows the child to grow even in failure.

I’m jealous of John. He was there and got to be with Jesus, to touch Him and to have his feet washed by Him. What greater gift can we receive from God beyond salvation? His presence. The best news, he is always there.

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.

Scroll to top