Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Move the Mountain v2.0

A refining of a message from 2010...

Trials exist in every Christian's life. Trials are God's method of refining and purifying us. They often come in the form of a vision that seems too big. Or as a difficult circumstance that we're facing which appears insurmountable. Or maybe as a sudden defeat when we ultimately had expectations of victory. According to God we won’t lack for these challenges/trials in life. The idealist in me says more trials equals more refining. Yes Lord, try me! But be merciful please.

And yet it isn't the results of these challenging encounters or whether we succeed or fail in the moment that actually deems us victorious as a follower of Christ. It is more a matter of our ability to maintain the right perspective regardless of our outcomes that truly brings us victory. Overcoming a trial really begins with not being overcome by it, yes? I believe that the ability to maintain a perspective built on God’s promises is our key to mountain moving victory in life. I couldn't find the exact number of promises listed in the bible but one resource I found listed over 3500 and another over 7400. Either way that should more than likely cover all of our troubles, trials or what have you.

I don't know about you, but at times I’m not very different from the Israelites when they were being freed from their bondage in Egypt. How many more miracles do I need to see before I get it? I mean common. Really? The sea parted and your stuck a few days later? God’s promises are not going to change, but my perception of them needs to if I'm ever going to see real transformation, or mountains moved.

It has been said that God is more concerned with who we become rather than what we accomplish. I completely agree. And I would add that much more can be accomplished through us when we become who he wants us to be anyway. After all, God really doesn't need us to conquer the world, he just hopes that we can conquer ourselves.  He has promised to equip us to handle anything and everything that comes along. Circumstance or vision, big or small, we are equipped. Therefore, it is up to us to live in a way that shows that we believe him. He’s given us a written record of his character and what we can expect from him. He has also given us the Holy Spirit in case we have questions. What else do we think we could possibly need? Another miracle?

I don't believe that the faith to move mountains is about changing our mountainous circumstances. Although that can certainly happen through God. The mountains we need to move most often lay inside of us in the form of unbelief, curses, judgments, bitterness, envy, pride, and so forth.  If you're in need of a mountain moving experience don't just focus on the mountain that you see in front of you. Look instead to God to define the mountain that is actually in the way, because it is more than likely something that is unseen and within you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parenting Drive Thru @ TrueLifeMatters

truelifematters: Parenting Drive Thru: "Startled awake by a tentative teenage whisper…”Mom?” This is a morning I was going to sleep in – thus the ‘tentative whisper’. “Mom, I..."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Caught Off Guard and Unaware

My heart aches today for a couple that we know who just announced to us that they recently divorced. I'm stunned and also quite frustrated that I didn't see it coming and was not able to help change their direction. Although I'm not responsible for this couple's decision or the health of their former marriage, I feel that this is one of the very situations for which my wife Tracy and I have been equipped.

The truth is though; this is a painful reminder of an all too common occurrence of something that is happening all around us. Many marriages are currently in a state of distress. Blame it on the financial crisis or whatever you want; relationships are fragile because people are fragile. And unfortunately there is no amount of equipping or empathy that can make a difference in these relationships if someone doesn't reach out and ask for help. For whatever reason, this couple chose not to ask us for help. Maybe we aren't trusted friends or are unsafe in some way. I'm not saying that our influence would have made a difference in the outcome, but "all things are possible with God." Maybe they just didn't want help at all and so remained silent. Or maybe they had witnessed too much judgment in our world and didn't want to risk being the subject of ridicule from unsympathetic people. I hope to know why some day...

Today, I grieve for the loss of this couple's hope, for the loss of this covenant relationship and for the condition of marriage in our world. I also plead with all who read this; if you are struggling in life or in a relationship and are losing hope, please don't struggle alone. Reach out with whatever hope that remains and believe that there are still people who genuinely love unconditionally, people who won't judge you because they know that we all fall short of the standard set by the only one who is without sin. There IS ALWAYS someone with compassion for you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Daily Bread, Finding and Loving Manna

This writing is a short testimony describing my personal experience with Deuteronomy 8:3, which says, "Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

For the last four years I have been a man completely unable to provide for his family. This experience has been challenging as well as humbling, mostly because it seems that no amount of my own effort has really made a significant difference in the situation. Yet in all that time we have never gone without a single basic necessity. There were many very uncertain moments, sometimes days or even weeks, of not knowing where provision was coming from. Yet God would provide. That isn't to say that all of our bills have been paid on time or even paid at all. We haven't been able to pay a mortgage payment in many months. We also had to give both of our cars back to the bank. Many times we were down to the last "creative meal" put together from nearly empty cupboards. Yet God would provide before the cupboards were completely empty. We are also still in our house and have never gone without the ability to get from A to B when we needed to.

During this time I have learned many very valuable lessons. However, there are three things that stand out the most. God is truly a perfect provider, his love is enough for me, and he is the one that defines what my needs are. These lessons have sometimes been difficult to grasp when my perceived needs have gone unmet. Yet in God's perfect and long suffering love for me he has adjusted my sight. Not literally my eyesight but my spiritual sight of him, and my perspective of how he sees me. Today I am able to take God at his word no questions asked. I also know without any doubt that nothing can separate me from God's perfect love. I'm like a child believing with a simple yet profound certainty who says "my daddy says so".

For the Israelites, Manna was a food provision. For me it is the latter part of Deuteronomy 8:3 "we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord". If you're struggling in difficult circumstances and are not able to see God as the perfect provider that he is, I encourage you to ask him to adjust your vision and allow him to redefine your needs. He has never once let me or my family down, and he will and is doing the same for you even if you can't see it. His promises are trustworthy and always yes and amen! Manna, one of God's many perfect provisions, is our daily sustenance, but it may be a food previously unknown to you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Marriage in Paradise?

Marital bliss, we’d all like to be there. But can it be a reality? Can we really get there? I suppose that depends on how you define marital paradise, bliss, nirvana etc…

The truth is paradise in marriage is not a destination constantly lit by a warm glow and filled with tummy tingles. While those things do exist they are not what most happily married couples would say keep them together after ten or more years of marriage. Once the hormones of the honeymoon are gone we have to actually work hard not to lose that loving feeling. Now that may seem obvious to many, but then why is our divorce rate so high? People really believe and say that they have fallen out of love! They actually expect to have the feelings of love forever. Sorry to be a killjoy, but in practice love is more of a verb than a noun.

So where is paradise found in marriage? Here is a short list-
When disagreements and simple conflicts don’t escalate to verbal warfare.
When we say or do something hurtful to our spouse and wish to apologize immediately.
When we’re genuinely interested in what our spouse has to say.
When being with our spouse is fun regardless of the activity.
When the things that once bugged us about them become meaningless.
When there seems to be a warm glow everywhere, and our tummy tingles… oops! I got carried away.

How do we get there as couples? I like to keep this list short, just two items-
Be a forgiver. If we believe that our spouse’s faults are bigger than our own; it is likely that we are not a good forgiver.
Be happily incompatible. Realize that the differences that we have actually benefits us. If we don’t embrace our differences as individuals we’re being self-centered.

My wife Tracy says that marriage is like a home improvement project that never ends. I like that for two reasons; the words improvement and never ends. Marriage is not the money pit home improvement project that sucks the life out of us. Like a good wine or investment it is something that improves over time. With the right attitude and some genuine effort we can have paradise in marriage. So bring on the tummy tingles ‘cause I’m all in!