A Drop the Mic Moment

If microphones had been invented in the late 1800’s when Spurgeon was in his heydey, I’m sure he would have been at least a little tempted to drop the mic after saying this little nugget of wisdom.

The temptation is real because it’s human nature to focus on hardships over blessings. I think we have very selective memories when it comes to trials versus blessings. When life gets hard, it’s difficult to focus on the joys we’ve experienced. All you and I can see sometimes are the moments of darkness and pain.

But it’s the trials that are temporary like the writing in the sand. It’s the blessing that comes after the momentary affliction passes that will endure.

Jesus is saying to each one of us going through hardship to take heart and remember that He has already overcome the world and conquered whatever it is that causes you grief and pain.

Weeping and trials may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

God’s Sweet Approval

“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him” (James 1:12VOICE)

Sometimes, the trials of life can feel devastating. A family member passes away. You lose your job and go through a financial crises. You deal with a debilitating injury or illness like cancer.

Sometimes, it can be the small things that get you down. Maybe a friend who normally texts you back didn’t respond this time. Maybe you had a Murphy’s law kind of day at work where everything that could go wrong did. Maybe it’s nothing specific and you just feel forgotten and abandoned.

Whatever it is, you can always hold up under trials by holding on to God and His sweet approval. The approval of God is not what awaits you at the end of the trial. It’s what gets you through the trial. If you belong to Christ, it belongs to you already.

Knowing God is in your corner and on your side makes any difficult circumstance bearable. Knowing God is still the God who fights for you in your battles makes even the hardest days easier to navigate.

No matter what you’re under, God is still watching over you. No matter how long the wait seems, God’s patience toward you goes longer. Remember, He was not willing that you should perish but that you should have eternal, everlasting, abundant life. He really  is for you.

Remember what God in Jesus went through for you. He thought that you were to die for. He still does.

That’s a reminder that all of us need halfway through another crazy and unpredictable week that never seems to let up.

It’s not that you’ve got this as much as He’s got you.

 

Borrowed Thoughts

I think a part of me would very much like to sleep until noon every day. That part of me would love to gorge myself with chocolate as much as possible and only eat foods that while being extremely tasty, are extremely bad for me.

I remember what a pastor said once. He said that no one ever wakes up in them morning and thinks, “Hey, today I’m gonna screw my life up beyond all recognition.” It all starts with choices.

I’ve never woken up thinking, “Today I’d like a heaping helping of humility and trials and crappiness in my day. I want everything to go wrong and to feel like the day is never going to end.

Just like the Israelites probably never thought, “Gee, I’d like to wander around in a desert for 40 years, eating some strange pastry that falls from the sky and drinking water out of rocks. That sounds like my cup of tea.” But that’s what they got.

God doesn’t often give us what we want as much as he gives us what we need. I may want non-stop chocolate, but I need to be healthy and not weigh 800 pounds. I may want to sleep late every day of my life, but I need to spend time with God in the morning to get my bearings put right.

I heard that discipline is getting us to a place we would have never thought to go on our own. On my own, I’d never think to develop a constant prayer life and a complete dependence on God. But when I find myself in places where my way just doesn’t work and I have no more answers, I find myself praying to and depending on God a lot more.

I’m grateful now looking back that I didn’t get a lot of what I asked God for in prayer. I thought I knew what I needed, but it was only what I thought I wanted at the time.

A perfect illustration is looking at a 1-year old. He may think he knows what he needs and what is best for him, but he doesn’t. He has to be told what is and what is not good for him. The father may have to discipline him to get him to see what he wants and what is best for him aren’t always the same thing. I’m a lot like that little boy.

May you and I come to embrace the hard days as well as the good ones, because they remind us of how much we really do need God every day. May Jesus use the trials and troubles we face to develop in us a constant faith and a undying hope and a love that won’t quit.

 

Etch-A-Sketch Theology

 

Raise your hand if you’re old enough to remember the Etch-a-Sketch. I am. I was never very good at the controls but I had fun with one of those back in the day. I was reminded of them when I saw Etch-A-Sketch art for sale at a Greek festival I attended.

The only problem with that is when you shake the device, whatever you’ve created is erased and you’re left with a blank slate.

Some people have what I like to call Etch-a-Sketch theology. It works just fine until some tragedy or loss shakes them, then their whole belief system vanishes.

Usually the theology that gets rattled is the kind based on feelings and circumstances.  The kind that looks at God as a cosmic genie bound to give us whatever we want and to make our lives easy and comfortable with no sickness or pain of any kind. The kind that sees sins to avoid rather than people to love.

I’m not saying that I have the perfect theology and that everything I believe is spot-on. I freely admit there’s a lot that I don’t know and have to leave up to God. I’ve had my doubts and fears along the way, but God has proved stronger than any of those.

The kind of theology that stands all kinds of weather is the kind that comes from immersing yourself in God’s Word. It comes in hanging around godly people who have survived their own storms and made their fair share of mistakes and learned a lot. It comes from a humble and teachable spirit.

I hope you find a theology that’s built not on shifting sands or prevailing winds but on a solid foundation. Or as the old hymn says,  “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Back to the Basics

Some days, I wake up and I do good to remember my own name, much less any one else’s. For me in the early morning, I have to remember whem I’m getting dressed that pants go on first, then shoes. I know most of you take that for granted, but for me at 5:30 am, it’s not a given.

Some times you have to remind yourself of the basics. Sometimes when life gets hard or confusing or just plain weird. Most of these are not original with me, but I’ve picked them up over the years.

1) God is for you. God’s not up there, wherever “there” is, waiting to smite you or cast a lightning bolt at you or give you acne. He’s not. He’s on your side.

2) Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of life is small stuff. Most of what you get so hung up on and stressed out over is small stuff. You probably won’t even remember most of those things that got you so worried today.

3) God never said He wouldn’t give you more than you yourself can handle, but He also said He Himself would take care of you. Quit trying to figure everything out and handle it all yourself. Be the child Jesus talks about and let God be your Father and get you through your trials and tests and other stuff.

4) Life is short. Choose family and friends and relationships over work and getting things done, because no one on his death bed ever laments about not having spent enough time at the office.

5) The only opinion of you that matters is what God thinks of you. The people you spend so much time wondering what they think of you are just as paranoid over what you think of them. Only God knows you completely. He made you. And He likes you.

6) You can’t do whatever you want or be whoever you want. I will never dunk a basketball on a regulation goal, no matter how much I really want to. You and I can’t be whatever we want to be, but we can be who God made us and meant for us to be.

That’s all I have. Other than maybe pants go first, then shoes. But like the song says, there are two things I know: 1) that God is good and 2) that He loves me.

No matter what else will happen to you, those two things will always be true. Always.

What God Says

You don’t ever have to be ashamed of who I made you to be. You don’t have to apologize for being you.

You are special. I created you exactly the way I wanted you to be and when you were hopelessly lost in sin and misery I redeemed you for My own.

You have a purpose, a reason, something that makes you come alive. Even if no one else thinks you matter, I DO!

Believe that I love you, not because I have to, but because I choose to.

Hear the sound of my Voice singing over you tonight and know how deep that My love for you goes.

I will never change and My love for you will never change, so you can rest in it.

I will not leave you as you are, but will through trial and tribulations make you who you were always meant to be– My perfect image-bearer.