What Causes Confusion

You can’t get confused if you refuse to get into reasoning. What if you trusted God so much you didn’t have to know why? Be careful that you don’t allow your desire for answers keep you straining and struggling in a sea of confusion. God never intended us to know why things happen the way they do. He created us to be devoted to Him, to stand firm in our focus, and persevere in praising Him in the face of adversity.

It takes greater faith to be denied what you want and love the Author, our Creator, just as much. thoughts on life, thought life, which direction are you heading

Faith Without Happily Ever After

The foundation of our faith is not answered prayer. The foundation of faith is not everything going our way or happily ever after endings either.

It’s always a mistake to wrap our faith and confidence in God around the fulfillment of our dreams or the answers to our prayer.

Dreams that don’t come true and prayers that don’t get answered say nothing about the presence, the goodness, or the faithfulness of God.

Through the highs and lows, and all the ups and downs, God is with you. – Andy Stanley

Your Second Chance Is Called Today

Today is a second chance. While you can’t change the past, you can change the present.

The crushing convictions you may have experienced in the aftermath of your past are not lost. That burden of conviction on your heart is a guilt between you and God, and He is a God of second chances; it’s called today.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.” – Jonah 3:1-3

second chance, change, jonahToday is your second chance. You can change how you respond to frustration. You can set new boundaries and protect what you have left. You can get help. You can walk away from that addiction. You can honor your loved ones by putting new priorities in place.

There’s still time to pick up the phone, text, reach out, show up. Perhaps for you it’s not picking up more but putting down what you already have; the pain, the blame, the worry.

Conviction is between you and God, the Author and Creator of your soul. He uses this kind of remorse and guilt on your conscious to change the course of your days ahead. He’s guiding you with a hand on your heart to steer your steps into more blessings, more favor, higher places with more responsibility.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” – Luke 16:10 NLT

Your Father will not give you more work or more burden than you can bear. He gives you and I a choice every day as He waits for change to reveal your growth, your strength, your resilience.

There is no shame changing who you used to be into the person you want to be, the person you know you can be.

Here is an opportunity to respect failed attempts yesterday by taking the second chance to change today. If you don’t know how to begin again, a good place to start is with “I’m sorry.”

The past carries casualties of our ignored convictions. May your present be the change God is calling you to be.

What Faith Looks Like

pen and paper, write your story, how you live, God is the words of your storyWhat will your story say today? What words will He pour out of your spirit and leave on the parchment of someone else’s heart?

I pray that you find the time today to document His faithfulness, and spill the ink with wholehearted sincerity in thanksgiving for answers to prayers you have yet to ask.

What Is Love?

Love is patient.

“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

It is no mistake patience is listed first. We could punctuate love here. Every other attribute of affection falls under a patient umbrella. When we are patient, we have self control in the troubles and endure through the hard times. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

When we come to the table with a calm spirit, we are not hasty with making decisions. The self control in patience holds back a racing mind from mixing in any fearful conclusions. Diligence doesn’t give up on tenderness because, well, it is patient. “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Patience bears all things and looks for understanding in the situation, in others, in God.

Patience is kind – anger has a tendency to lose its composure and restraint. “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Though it may appear passive, patience actually places a relentless trust in God. “His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Everything He plans will come to pass, He will accomplish all of his purposes (Isaiah 46:10). Patience rejects resentment and rests in God’s promise.

Be careful to think that patience is somehow permissive with sin or injustice. We are called to “reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction“ (2 Timothy 4:2).

Patience keeps believing the best, keeps searching for Truth, keeps Hope close through the trials because it knows something beautiful is on the other side. The reflection of Jesus is unfailing love and constant patience with people, pain, sin, and God. Patience holds grace closely and gives it away generously.

Patience is not wanting anything outside the will of God. In faith we can be content when things go differently than we had wished. We choose to believe “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). Patience is “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

It’s no mistake that patience is also a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). Patience is dying to selfishness. It is “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). When we allow patience to have her perfect work in us, we can praise a compassionate Father who is a good teacher in the trade. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8).

Waiting is not wasted time, “you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3). Patience has purpose. It is without worry. There’s no discouragement or sadness when the purpose of patience includes bringing our Father more glory in the wait than in the rush, the rash, or the reckless.

Patience has staying power. In the stillness our resolve strengthens through the refining work of a wait. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:7).

Learning to love begins with patience. Patience is persistent for beginnings and restoration. Patience has no end.

When we fall short of long-suffering, when our weaknesses take center stage and our frustrations steal the show, we can freely come to the feet of Jesus and confess every coward act without fear of condemnation (Romans 8:1). We can climb to our feet with rejoicing that these failings have too been covered.

His forgiveness and mercy encourages our hands and feet to press on and grow in giving the same kind of grace that is His patient, persevering love.

When we are tempted to be impatient, this is our invitation to love.

Love is patient.

Strength to Give Grace

If we don’t guard our hearts and minds, we begin to think God is so good to us because we have done something right.

We might conclude that escaping tragedies like divorce, depression, or addiction is a sign of dignity. We may determine healthy kids and a wealthy household is based more on merit than on God’s mercy.

Truth, God is good, God is loving, God is right, waves of questions

Truly God is compassionate. Not a tear falls without Him knowing, collecting and reaching out with comfort.

Listen, we will never be able to figure out why God responds the way He does. We can’t know why this devastation was ‘allowed’ and ‘that’ life was spared.

Be careful with any desire to have the answers. We might rob today with skepticism. We may waste this moment searching for reasons that go deeper than what we can see. We could potentially strip an innocent heart of it’s worth while chasing down blame, when the purpose was simply timing all along.

The questions can stir up doubt that God even cares about our concerns. Confusion can shake the foundation of faith that God is even in control here.

Beneath the waves of questions is this Rock of Truth: God is always good, always right, and always loving. If you’re brave enough to stand up in the storm on this bedrock of Truth, you’ll find the strength inside to love, to forgive, to extend grace in a sea of what doesn’t make sense.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Your Good For His Glory

God made a decision about you.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18

2016 was quite the year. Challenging for many of us. It carried such glorious and gut wrenching moments. Some of the most sacred and then shocking of events. God gave so much and He took too. The enemy sent arrows that sunk deep, piercing peace, breaking love and bleeding out joy. There were words that barreled through our boundaries and stirred up the dust on bitterness.

Satan’s attacks were meant to disrupt and divide us; to push the pain, stir up shame and bully beautiful hearts into despair. The past may have opened up doors of depression while the future shook you with worry and fear. Some of the things you walked through were not pleasant. It was unprecedented. Dramatic. Revealing.

Isaiah 55:8, working for your good, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughtsIt was a year that fell short, as most things that end with the number ‘6’ do. 2016 carried weapons that HURT but here’s what I want you to know, they did not prosper. They brought the warfare but they could not win; goodness and mercy were following you all those days buried in the confusion and turmoil. The devil had his moment but it’s over now. The purpose of last year has run its course. Your trouble is about to be put in its place.

God was not taken by surprise in all this, you know. He has a plan and you’re right in the middle of it. The hand of heaven is in control and hovering over the gates of hell. Everything you survived will ultimately swing in your favor. His purpose in allowing this hurt is for your good and ultimately for His glory.

God is so good, God does good and God can work together all things (even the not so good) for our good and His glory. I hope you live fully expecting great things in a year that ends with ‘7’, for He who promised is faithful. He’s working to complete His perfect plan and I think 2017 is a great place for our Father to finish some things in our life; healing in some hard places, redemption from the wreckage and restoration in our promised land.

Don’t assume that because it doesn’t feel good that it isn’t working for your good. His ways are not our ways. God is not haphazard in handling us. He is strategic and intentional. God is restoring and He’s rebuilding. Your past may have actually been a painful gift of maturity and growth.

There’s brand new opportunities, fresh grace, restoring mercy just waiting for your knock at the door. He’s going to complete it for His glory. The seeds sown and prayers prayed last year may just show up seven-fold this year.

Get into position. What you lost is on it’s way back around in ways you never imagined!

Stop Overthinking

Two of the greatest paralyzers to living a life of faith, to living life fully, is found in the “What if…” and “If only…” These two phrases grip our spiritual muscles and tighten a hold with possibilities we can see.

What if… If only…

Philippians 4:6-8, pray, fear, what if, if onlyThey stun our steps forward with anticipation of what might happen and consequently keep us from doing what God has called us to do.

In this moment of swirling thoughts, here is a gentle reminder to surrender those fears in prayer and invite peace in by filling up on ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

When the feeling of fear arises, do not entertain the ‘what if’s’ or engage with the possibilities of ‘if only’. Exchange it for an opportunity to pray.

We have a human tendency to rehash the situation, replay words and overthink outcomes in our mind, so when you have finished giving your fears to God, control the course of your mind by thinking on God’s Truths. Put your thoughts in their place.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Create Opportunities To Be Kind

Ephesians 4:32, be kind, tenderhearted, forgive othersDon’t wait for an opportunity to be kind, create one.

Humility is a beautiful teacher for a heart struggling with how to love. Courage can outshine every excuse holding kindness hostage.

Truth unlocks every reason why this treasure is worth sharing and meant to be free. Because of faith, we can be fearless with our generosity; God will provide.

When you find it difficult to stand with a face of kindness, may the Spirit of Christ be your strength in the bend to forgive and extend compassion.

Kindness is the only language we can all understand. May you be brave with what you’ve been given and take that step out in courage to create even more moments to be kind.

A New Year, A New You

2016 may have carried some unfortunate situations but you can’t blame people or you’ll stay stuck there. We don’t get to pause life. We must press on to find people who are running their own race, pursuing Christ, looking to be conformed and transformed in the image of Jesus, and striving to finish it!

It’s time to make what Jesus has done for you bigger than what anyone has done to you or said about you. It’s time to let go and move on. Lay into the promises of God written in his Word.

New YearWhatever you have done, leave it at the foot of the Cross, make amends with the people you need to make amends with and then move on. His mercies are new every morning. God’s grace is sufficient. There’s nothing that can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Love people. Share grace. Be the first to forgive. Drop the baggage and live for freedom.

Stop doubting and start believing. Start believing that your God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly and above anything you could ever ask, hope or think. Start believing that your eyes have not seen nor your ears have heard, nor has it entered into your heart the things that God has for you. If your God is for you then who can be against you?

Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. God is good, he does good, He works all things together for good. You are the head and not the tail. You are above only, and not beneath. You are a leader and not a follower. The blessings of God are leading and guiding, they are chasing you down. The goodness of God waits before you. Just look over your shoulder, a tender, loving kindness, goodness and mercy are following you. They are chasing you down wherever you are going. God is on your side. God is not mad at you. He’s mad about you. God is for you and He loves you. Happy New Year and a New You!