Archives For God

frustrated boy

My wife woke up early Monday morning to listen to Charles Stanley preach on frustration and on how God can use our frustration.

I woke up a little later after her, slowly trying to wake up and brew a cup of coffee in the kitchen while my wife took notes on Charles Stanley’s sermon that I heard in passing.

As Charles Stanley talked, he made a point that struck me…a point that I will paraphrase…that frustration comes from when you want something to be but it is not. Frustration comes from when you can’t get to where you want or get what you want for some reason.

My wife and I spent over an hour talking about our greatest frustrations thanks to that sermon.

Fortunately neither one of us were frustrated with each other.

You can laugh..Rachel and I are doing awesome!

But, we talked about the frustration of getting to our dreams…our hopes….our goals…our wants…for a life that was what we imagined.

Frustration settles in when you have to pay the bills in one place while pursuing your dream on the other side of it when you really want to pursue the dream job.

Frustration can settle in when you are struggling with an issue of the past and it seems like the more you pray the more difficult things get.

Frustration can settle in when you’re sick but you can’t seem to get well.

But, God can use the frustration you have. And often, that’s exactly what He’s trying to do.

What are you trying to escape from? What are you REALLY trying not to deal with? What do you really think of God? Do you truly believe in Him?

Rather than medicate or busy myself or try to escape in some way, I allow the frustration to be used by the Lord. This starts in prayer. This starts in “diligently” seeking him (Hebrews 11:6) and trusting and believing that He has a reason…a plan…a purpose… for why you’re not healed yet, not in that new opportunity you want yet, not accepted yet, not received yet, not where you want or what you want yet.

We miss it when we medicate the pain. We miss the opportunity for God to show us His love for us in the midst of the frustration — and to in fact relief and free us of the frustration and give us peace in the middle of all of the “frustrating” times.

I’m learning to stay faithful in prayer, seeking the Lord, trusting Him with all of the circumstances and in every circumstance AND living in the peace the Lord gives me when things are not favorable.

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This past week, I have found myself taking time to first read the scriptures and pray first before I even think of turning the TV on or looking through social media sites.

I love reading and analyzing news and information during the day. I love blogs. I love reading articles that hit home with me.

But, it was getting me into a bit of trouble in my faith walk. I was enjoying the journ

For a few days, I fasted from the hustle and bustle of news and social media postings on specific sites and the results are remarkable.

Not a surprise there!

I needed this break and the Lord knew I needed it. I was feeling a great deal of disappointment and frustration with what was happening in our community and across America. And if you sit around and watch this stuff unfolding for 24/7 you’re bound to get a little disappointed and even feel hopeless about it all.

I would love for people to understand the plight of citizens of color. I would love for people to get past their insecurities, selfishness, doubt and pride. I would love for people to drop their walls instead of supporting the ideas of building them. I want that so, so bad for people.

I came to the conclusion that I don’t have the power to change people’s hearts. The Lord will do that and the best thing for me to do is to ask the Lord to use me to help others draw closer to Him.

But, in order to be that agent of change, it starts with me. It starts with sitting down in prayer and making Jesus first.

This is a challenge. Daily we have to die to ourselves and to our wants and desires. And, after all, God already knows what’s up.

As H. Wayne House and Kenneth M. Durham of the book, “Living Wisely In A Foolish World” quoted “…nobody is getting away with anything. A lifestyle without consequences simply does not exist! To fall for that deceit is naive.” 

Colossians 2:6-7 says this:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Instead of wallowing in disappointment and discouragement, I’ve made up my mind to walk in Christ and draw closer to Him. By doing this, I’m empowered in the following way….”rooted and built up in Him…established in the faith…abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

This text in Colossians is a part of a much larger movement in the scripture that cautions believers to “philosophies” or the love of wisdom as Dr. Warren Wiersbe calls it.

This conviction from Jesus settled in me over the last few days…and I’m still learning to do this:

Seek Me, not just the books and blogs that talk about me.

So, I’m fasting for a little bit from the world of politics, hard news, 24/7 news analysis, blogs and commentaries, and learning to seek Jesus directly.

This is just part of the faith walk. And this period of my life is worth every moment that I get to spend with Jesus.

I Still Choose To Believe

January 29, 2018

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Considering the world that we are living in and the state of America (and the world), there’s a wonder why we should believe.

We question the validity of coming to church on a Sunday morning to worship God and believe in His son, Jesus Christ.

We don’t even take it that far.

We question the existence and character of God.

We begin to put together questions and answers in an attempt to place God on trial: the challenging “if-then” statements of our time:  “If God is real, then [insert antidote]”

The doubts, the questions, the cynicism, the skepticism, the “free thinking” seem reasonable at first glance.

 

 

But, in spite of what the condition our world is in, I still choose to believe!

I choose to believe that Jesus still lives! I choose to believe that He died for me and He died for you too!

I choose to believe because I look at the evidence in my own life both spiritually and even in the physical that proves that Jesus IS who says He is and that God is real and loves you and me.

I must acknowledge that while some amazing and awesome and wonderful things are happening in my life, I do experience trouble and challenges, which is a part of life.

Years of low self-esteem, low confidence, depression and a poor appreciation for my identity was something I struggled with for a long, long time.

It took a lot of prayer, counseling and building of real, healthy relationships with people.

In many cases, God put people in my life to help lift me up and help grow me up…people who actually cared, who listened and who empathized with my situation but also told me the truth about myself and about my situation.

Even when circumstances didn’t change immediately, I felt the sting of discomfort and disorientation and confusion.

But, through Christ, I was able to deal with the status of being up or down, rich or poor and doing things I don’t necessarily want to do but have to do in life:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

Also, the Lord already overcame this trouble filled world:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

I choose to believe and I choose to have faith because I’ve experienced too much of God and Christ in my own life to even think that both are made up. The message of the Gospel hits me at my core and moves me to live for Him.

The evidence of knowing God and Christ will show up not only in your own personal walk but also for others who see you and speak to you!

I’ve been through too many moments in life that have tested my faith to the limit…moments that I’ve fallen so hard I didn’t want to live…moments I felt so confused I almost decided to throw in the towel…moments I felt so lost and alone that I questioned my existence.

Then, God reminds me, He loves me. He reminds me through His son Jesus, who took my place and in turn has freed me from the guilty, penalty and power of sin.

My declaration is not a naive notion. It is real. It is real because my relationship with God and Christ is real.

Today, now more than ever, it is imperative to keep the faith.

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About a year or so ago, a co-worker sent me an article regarding the “Calvin and Hobbes” creators’ take on bullying.

The article hit home with me, reminding me of the times I was picked on, bullied, teased and humiliated mercileslly by other kids. I even had a few cousins who didn’t have a problem with poking and prodding me with their opinions and criticisms about the way I talked, walked, acted or existed.

Bullying did so much damage that it took a long time for me to come to a place of forgiveness and letting go. I take the issue very seriously, but, I learned most recently after reading that article and after further study of the Word of God that my whole view on Bullying, perhaps my “theological” view on Bullying, may have been very, very wrong.

Let me explain…and both apologize.

In the past, I have made comments like, “your bullies will get theirs someday” and “one day you’ll be successful while they are working at McDonalds.”

Junk like that! Yeah, I know. I realize now moreso than ever that victory is NOT found in seeing your bullies fail and fall. That’s not love that God calls us too…at all.

I was wrong and I apologize.

I used to believe that my bullies of the past would one day get theirs and that they would be dealt with.

Truth is, that’s not always the case. They could end up with a change of heart. God may have changed their hearts and minds. Then what? Or, the bullies may not change at all and instead of working in fast-food they could end up being your boss! Then what?

As my Pastor one Sunday was preaching on loving your enemies, the Lord was tugging at my heart, reminding me of my boyhood past that seemed to play over and over in my head and heart. Then, conviction came, the reality that I not only needed to let go of what happened in my past but realize that the victory doesn’t come from the bullies of my past getting what I thought they deserve, but, from victory in Jesus.

Luke 6:27-31 says this:

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

Luke 6:35 says this:

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

The article I read talked about a kind of moral justification, a kind of desire to be good and not stoop down to the level of the bully. And that’s a good thing to consider. But, for a deeper and lasting and real affect, it has to be more than just desiring to be good. You can’t do it by yourself and by your own kind of moral compass. Your greatest victory is in Christ.

What Would I Tell A Kid Now Dealing With Bullying

I’m still trying to figure this part out! The best advice is to make sure that people know about it. And as a kid, I know this is hard! On the one hand, you want something done about it, but, on the other hand you don’t want it things to go from bad to worse.

I was fortunate that I had a healthy understanding that who I was to God was way more important than what people thought of me. That got damaged during times of bullying, but not totally destroyed.

It’s by His Grace and Mercy I’m able to maintain that mindset even after all of that.

What I have found is that building a network of friends and people who support and love you through it helps.

As a kid going through bullying, I often felt alone in my struggles. No one, especially adults, bothered to step in and try and fix the problem. As kids, it seems like we were left on our own when it came to bullying.

There was no “speak up” or “speak out” or other bullying initiatives. It was the wild west for me and a lot of other kids.

I would say, “sure, self-defense, teach your kid to fight or put them in karate classes,” but that only solves a part of the problem.

The issue of bullying is complex. It is a little more than just “self-defense” but it is also a little more than just teaching children to accept and love one another and appreciate each others’ differences.

As a kid, much like the writer of the article I mentioned earlier said, as a kid you want justice NOW…not later. And that’s hard on the heart of a boy or girl. It’s a harsh lesson of childhood, but, it doesn’t have to end there.

I’m grateful for kids and adults who step up and demand that bullying stop these days. I’m grateful for the fact some kids are a lot stronger and tougher in their resolve and refuse to let themselves be teased or picked on or belittled.

But, I think of the kid like me, who didn’t want to get hurt so they would try to avoid the fight…but…knowing that if they did try to do something and they lost they would come home to punishment.

So, what would I tell a kid now whose being bullied!?

This might not be much to that kid out there, but here goes……………

You matter.

You matter more than you know. Please, don’t forget that you’re important and that you matter. You have purpose in your life. You are valuable!!! I know you’re hurting right now and I know that it sucks that you’re being bullied.

Self-defense is one thing…and you’re probably scared of fighting and getting hurt. But, don’t go it alone. There’s too many people around you that actually do care and will stop at nothing to see you through what you’re going through right now.

Tell your family, tell the school leaders around you, tell your church, tell the world, make it known….you’re loved and you matter!

Things are a little different now than what they used to be, and you don’t have to fight through this alone. If you’re a victim of bullying, say somethings and don’t stop saying something.

If you need to talk it out…if you need to cry…if you need help…you’re not alone. You’re never alone.

Never let anyone try to make you feel less than what you are.

From the Spiritual aspect…to the person whose experienced bullying…know this….

Your greatest victory is not in just being better than your bullying…but not becoming bitter from the bullying. The greatest victory is in Christ…where love will lead you to letting go of bitterness, anger, hatred and vengefulness and will instead lead you to prayer for them and yourself and praise to God.