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

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!

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!

Where Does Fear Come From

Fight Fear with God's Truth

Fear attacks us in the areas God wants to use us. Your greatest fears are platforms to step out in the faith that God has given you the power to overcome. Where you feel weak, is the opportunity to put the spotlight on God’s strength.

Godly fear is out of reverence and love. It’s a holy fear that says, “God Almighty, I see you on that throne and I trust you. I know your intentions for me are good.”

Satan will twist God’s good things — His word, His gifts, His work – around tormented thinking that makes you want to curl up in a corner. The devil wants you to entertain these thoughts in your mind and retreat. It’s a death trap for the serpent to coil more negative thoughts around that dream to suffocate the joy, the power and the freedom that God planted in the garden.

freedom, no fear, God's truth, the gift of God's truth, Jesus is freedom“God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” 1 Timothy 1:7

You have the Holy Spirit inside you that gives you the ability to resist fear. There is power here in the name of Jesus to stand up in the middle of a storm and say, ‘No more! I refuse to believe the lies.’

You have the power to welcome fear or resist it. You have the power to let peace in or let fear rule.

The enemy’s cunning device of fear is only a smoke screen. Satan uses fear to steal the life out of your dreams. This fear will convince you to give up the gifts God gave you out of insecurity. We might trade in God’s big things that require a leap of faith for a false sense of security in the ‘safe’ stuff we can see.

Fear from the gates of hell will force you to act fast. Fear is hasty. God’s fruit of patience knows how to wait.

The thief uses a heavy and oppressive fear to torment you, paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward in God. The devil uses fear as bondage. Our Savior came to bring us freedom.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived the things that God has planned for you. The Lord Almighty is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you could ask and think.

Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid. (John 14:1)

In the name of Jesus, you have the power to resist fear and stand through the storms of life. Holy fear gives you this ability to be courageous despite all you’re facing. Holy fear knows our Creator, Almighty God, is good and in His image, He intends good things for His children.

Fear says we’re alone. The gift of God is His Truth. Your Heavenly Father has never left your side. In Jesus, there is freedom, power, love and a sound mind.

Where is God calling you to step out in faith in this freedom of His power, love and peace? Where do you need to shut off the feelings of fear, the consuming thoughts of doubt and confusion and surrender to trust in Him?

Surrender Brings Clarity

Zephaniah, quiet heart, quiet mind, God is with you, EmmanuelPerhaps this moment is unclear, let it be. Lay it at the feet of Jesus with the rest of life’s unanswered prayers. Your burden is His gift.

When you let go of the questions that consume your mind, God receives the gift of your attention and trust. When concerns crop up and beg for your consideration, let wisdom lead you to fold your hands, surrender your heart and drop to your knees in the presence of what matters most.

Often, the mind stays stuck overthinking, in hopes the answer will reveal itself. As if all this strain in our head will squeeze out serenity once we know exactly what to do. Sadly, the solutions we search for come with their own complexities when we have to actually carry them out.

Peace is available today at the altar where you surrender the pain and strain of the unknown.

Where you spend your time determines what you treasure most. Instead of toiling, take those thoughts to the throne. When we live with this attitude of prayer, we find that God is present everywhere.

Honoring Our Fearless Ones

veterans day, fearless, valorOn bended knee my head hangs with deep gratitude at the wonder of it all. We need these long pauses to live in a little more awe of the beautiful brave hearts who serve valiantly to give us these safe moments to pray, to live, to sing and the space to make our own beautiful things. My prayers linger into a conversation of thanksgiving over such sacrifice as I pour another cup of coffee, wondering all the courageous stories these veteran souls of valor would tell at my table.

In humble adoration, our hearts honor you, o Fearless Ones. Thank you.

The Process of Preparation

What God promised will come to pass. Sometimes, it just takes longer than you expected.

Often when God plants a dream in your heart, He sends you back to the shepherd’s field to work out the things below the surface; character, faithfulness, humility, patience, obedience.

God's plan, my plan, God is preparing you, the process of preparationYou might be ready for what you have in mind, but you may not be ready for what God has in mind.

His plans are bigger than your willing heart can fathom. He not only knows where He’s taking you, He knows what it’s going to take to keep you there.

As much as you want this dream to happen sooner, if it came before you were ready, the blessing would be more of a burden.

Did you know that a Chinese bamboo plant spends its first four years establishing a root system underground? It barely shows any progress above ground during this time, but in the fifth year the plant shoots up to 80 feet in the air. What makes the fifth year possible is the four years of preparation.

You might not see progress on the surface of your life, but the roots are growing down deep inside. When God knows you’re prepared, your ‘suddenly’ will happen.