Archives For Jesus

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.

bearing fruit

In what could be described as frustration, I was going back and forth with God, sharing my thoughts and concerns with him about not moving forward as quickly as I wanted.

I was doing all of this in prayer, stowing myself away from all of the people and traffic and simply pleading to God for clarity and understanding. I told Him of my frustration with not seeing things grow or change as quickly as I had hoped.

Fortunately, the Lord gave me a bit of peace first from all of the anxiety. Then, over the past few days, I felt led to simply sit down and read my Bible. Besides, I had a sermon to prepare for anyway.

Day by day passed and I found myself focused less on the “what-if’s” of the coming days and more on being productive and actually bearing fruit.

Not long after that, a whole day of chores got done! Most everything in my schedule book was knocked out!

Then, after that, I got hit with a ton of blog ideas.

And my comic strip seemed to come alive again along with an assortment of other ideas in my head.

Inside of me, I felt less anxious. I felt less concerned about the days ahead. I felt peace. I actually feel, and believe, that the Lord is up to something major and I’m a part of it. And it feels amazing!

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget. We move so quickly to make things happen that we somehow foolishly forget that apart from Christ we can do nothing.

Upon reading John 15:1-8, I realized that not only is it my responsibility to abide in Christ (stay connected to Him) but also an opportunity for me to bear fruit from that connection.

The fruit is not just a bunch of actions either…but…of everything that glorifies God and changes us so that we become more like Christ.

The actions that are genuine and becoming of a Christ follower come as a result of the fruit because of our connection to Christ Jesus, the true vine.

I think of the fruits of the spirit when I read Galatians 5:22-24

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A computer, a smartphone or any of our favorite electronic devices can only run on their own for so long. They too need a power source to connect too to be of any good use to us.

Our connection to Christ is crucial in not only our surviving but in our thriving and striving to live for the Kingdom and affect change in the culture.