The Greatest Obstacles to My Faith

Faith develops. Faith grows.

I understand that. None of us have “perfect” faith.

Yet, without faith, it’s impossible to please God. (The Bible says so.)

If I want to please God, which I do, then I have to be a man of mature faith.

There are many times though, if I’m being honest, where my life is defined more by my lack of faith than the strength of my faith.

Just being honest.

It seems to me there are certain things that get in the way of my faith.

The greatest obstacles to my faith:

My self doubt and tendency to worry rather than pray (Ouch…that one hurts!)

My inability to forgive others (Yea, that blocks pure faith)

My lack of closeness to God when I neglect our relationship (That hurts to admit too…being honest again)

My lack of knowledge…or reflection…of who God is (The more I know him, the more faith I tend to have)

My inconsistency in spiritual disciplines (If I’m faithful to them…My faith is strong)

That’s my story.

Do any of those ring true for you?

Any you would add?

Election Results Prediction


 

Call me a prophet, but I have the results.

Here’s what you may not have known.

You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve seen the debates.

But it was really only a one candidate race all along.

And only one vote was cast.

Here’s my prophecy.

The votes are in and I’m happy to report.

Jesus wins!

He is Lord! He is King!

He has risen. He’s alive. He’s the Victor!

No need to stress. Don’t be worried. It’s all under control.

The election results are in and Jesus wins!

For the literal reader: Maybe there were three candidates if you count the Trinity separately. But really the three are one… (But that’s another post.)

What election did you think I was referring to? Is there one more important than this? 

An old story…A timeless truth

I read a new detail and was reminded of an old principle…from an old story.

Maybe you’ve heard this one:

Pharaoh then commanded all his people: “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.” (Exodus 1:22 HCSB)

But, you know what happened:

Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it. When she opened it, she saw the child-a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.” (Exodus 2:1-6 HCSB)

It’s an old story. You know it.

But, do you see the part in bold? (I added the bold, of course.)

Moses was crying. Somehow, I’ve always missed that. It wasn’t the childhood Sunday school picture I had in my memory, where a sweet little baby is cooing in a basket floating behind some grass along a quiet river.

It was a crying baby. Moses was upset. Probably hungry. Needing a diaper change perhaps. It’s what got Pharaoh’s daughter’s attention.

But it was a good reminder of an old principle.

God uses tears to bring forth joy.

This story of Moses ends well…he was protected…well fed…diaper clean…you remember the good part of the story, right? That’s the part I always chose to remember…but it started as a story with tears.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Are you in a moment of tears?

Leave a comment and we will pray for you.

God is working…even now…towards an ultimate joy.

7 Things I Attribute to Personal Success

A young leader asked me recently, “What has gotten you where you are today? When you look back over your life, what would you attribute most to your success?”

Great question. I love people who think.

My first thought was to ask, “What success?”. When I look back at my life, in many ways, I see a life scarred with personal failures and setbacks. But, as I pondered the question for a couple days, I knew God has blessed me greatly, so I came up with a more comprehensive reply. Let me be clear about something, one of my missions in life is to help younger leaders succeed, so that’s why my motivation for answering this question. I am still very much a work in progress, but as I reflect on where I am midway in my life and career, I can clearly point to some things that have helped me succeed personally.

Here are 7 things I attribute to personal success:

God’s grace – I can’t deny it. It’s really all grace. I do not deserve the favor I have found. His grace has been amazing in my life.

Other people – I have had so many people invest in me. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve been intentional with networking and wisdom seeking, but I’ve had great people in my corner to help me along the way.

A little luck – Honestly, I don’t believe much in luck. It IS all grace. I think God is always at work around us, and He certainly has been in my life, but sometimes we find ourselves in “the right place at the right time”. Learning how to capitalize on those times has been key for me.

Purpose – I have usually known what I ultimately want to accomplish. I believe you hit more targets that you have in site. Sometimes that has been a few months down the road or a few years down the road, but I’ve most always tried to keep some direction in front of me…as much as God will allow me to see at the time.

Intentionality – Probably if there were one word to describe how I live my life it would be this one. Since I was in high school, I have intentionally pursued opportunities to accomplish where I felt God was leading me. But, I’ve been intentional in every area of my life, not just in my vocation. I think that is critical to living a balanced life.

Tenacity – I have weathered a few storms…actually, many storms. My list of failures, setbacks and disappointments is long. Every time, again, by God’s grace, I have gotten back up, refocused, learned valuable life principles and moved forward.

Commitment to help others – I genuinely love helping other people succeed. It’s been a pulling force in my life to do much of what I do. The purpose of this blog, for example, is for that reason. My personal investment in others has always returned to me tenfold.

So, there’s my attempt at an answer. How would you answer that question?

What has gotten you where you are today?

Why most blogs never make it…

They don’t stand the test of time.

It takes months or years to build a strong, steady, daily audience.

The worst thing for your blogging may be the numbers you are monitoring. Stop it. Quit watching them.

Pick a subject you know and about which you are passionate. Write good posts. Engage with other blogs. Look for opportunities to promote your work. Then, ignore all the numbers and keep blogging. Be patient as your blog grows.

We miss a lot of great content, because you give up before we find it. If you have something that needs to be said, if you know a little about it, say it well, say it with passion, but keep saying it until we start to listen.

Any questions?

7 Suggestions for Processing Pain

I tweeted recently: We all make a decision how we respond to the pain in our life. It is one of the most important decisions we’ll ever make.

Someone tweeted back a great question. What’s s great way to process (emotional) pain?

Here are 7 biblical ways:

Expect God to use pain for good – Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28

Use it to comfort others with similar pain – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Reconsider your perspective on the pain – Romans 8:18

Receive the honor of suffering pain – Philippians 1:29

Accept the normality of pain – 1 Peter 4:12

Celebrate His sufficiency during pain -2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Look for the reward in suffering through pain – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

How we respond to emotional pain is a choice we make. The promises of God are real, even during our times of suffering. In the earliest days of any trial, we may not see any of these truths at work. That’s okay. We are frail people. The key is as we move forward, what we do with the pain in the days to come. Painful times are not going away in this earthly life. Jesus told us that. Learning to rest in Him is part of maturing as followers of Christ.

Suffering reminds us that His grace is sufficient for all our pain. In fact, though I don’t completely understand it, His power is perfect in our weakness, but only when I surrender the pain to Him.

We are not intended to handle pain alone. Thankfully, by His grace, we don’t have to.

Are you learning to “cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you”?

God Does Math!

…what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” He (God) said, “I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:28 NIV

God can do math!

That’s good news. Forgive me if I seem to be trivializing God. That is certainly not the intent. One time, I was reading the story of when Abram pleads for God’s mercy on Sodom and this verse jumped out at me. I couldn’t help but notice that God quickly converted “five less than fifty” to “forty-five”.

Sure, I know God is the Creator and nothing is impossible for Him. But, sometimes I think I am caught in a trap of thinking of God as the God of only the spectacular. It’s easy to remember Him as the God who holds the stars in place. Who can forget the power He displays as He parts a sea? We all know it is Him when we see the sky painted with a rainbow. God is so evident in the miraculous, that we sometimes fail to see Him as the God of the small things of life.

Yes, He is the God who can form mountains, but He is also the God who can wipe a tear from an eye, count a grain of sand, paint the spots on a Lady Bug or the freckles on a face…and help me with a math problem.

Today, let’s see God for who He really is!

He is the Great, the Mighty, the Powerful, and yet the tender, delicate, detailed God….

…who can do math!

Give Him a problem. Any problem. He will know the answer!

You can trust Him today!

Do you have a problem you’d love God to solve?

The secret to worrying less…

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8 HCSB)

What are you dwelling on these days?

(By the way, that’s the secret.)