We let God’s commandments become a burden, when in reality they are there to show us the best way to live and to lead us to a promise God has for us.
I just came back from a home missions trip to New Orleans, LA, a trip that have been on for the past two years, this one making it. My third trip during my Spring Break time. Every year has been different, this year being the most so because I was actually in charge of organizing the trip, which is an experience in and of it self. We took a team of 29 people to go and help churches and evangelize the neighborhoods surrounding those churches.
The trip was memorable and life changing, from seeing the students that went with us be touched by God is our devotional times, and then seeing them be affected by the reality of the broken world around us as they encountered Bourbon St and the stories of many hurting people.
One story stood out to me this week though, a small group had entered the home of an older woman to pray for her. She couldn’t really move on her own, being confined to wheel chair after a bad accident that almost killed her, and following brain surgery and plates implanted into her body. She told her story to these young students, a story filled with pain and a loss of hope, she about given up and was ready to end her life. After the accident she felt like she had been given a second chance, but nothing really seemed to be getting better. She had been seeking God and asked that her pastor come and pray for her and her family (she lived alone with her two grandchildren who she had custody of), but no one ever came.
A week before we ever arrived at her door step, she prayed, asking God that he send somebody, anybody to pray for her. And God listened and sent someone. The truly amazing thing is the young man leading that group had only decided to go on the trip just that week before, the same time that this woman prayed. Many things tried to keep him from it and he almost didn’t go but in the end, it was an appointment setup by God.
We really never know where God will take us, but I know that he is setting up things behind the scenes of life, difficulties in our way are often times challenges meant to delay us from what God has planned. But I know this, when God plans it, it is going to happen, no matter what anyone has to day about it!
So keep moving forward, don’t get discouraged, because God is has appointments setup just for you.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
I remember the first time I heard the definition of the word “perseverance” my teacher explained it as the ability to “keep on keeping on.” I thought well that is stupid, but years later, I think there is no better definition!
I life we set goals, dream dreams, and set out plans to make ourselves, our lives, and the things around us better. But guess what? Life is hard. Period. No matter what it is that we set out to we will encounter obstacles, we will encounter enemies, and we will encounter the hardest thing to face: OURSELVES.
I have found that we are the biggest obstacle we will ever face is us, because let’s be honest we can stand in our own way. One of the goals I have set this year is to lose some weight and get healthier, so almost everyday this year I have been running or going to my local YMCA to work out. And I have been making progress little by little and I’ve been feelings better about myself, but everyday is a new challenge. Because everyday, as I get ready to go out and run or get on the treadmill I find in my mind a thousand excuses as to why I shouldn’t or cannot run that day, and I have the lost battle with myself on a more than one occasion.
You see no matter how good or great our aspirations are in setting out to do something, we can and will always find a reason to not do it. So we give up, we stop dreaming, we just stop and convince ourselves that we will do another day.
But that day never comes. We say I will read my Bible more next year, I will pray more one day, I will be healthy when I turn ___, I will accomplish my goal next time, and on and on and on. Instead of “keep on keeping on” we keep on making excuses! And nothing ever happens.
We need to stop making excuses and just do it (Nike is not endorsing me to use this phrase, just so you know). We need to get up when things hard, we need to get back on our feet and keep moving forward, because if we don’t we will never reach our goals and life will be very uninteresting.
Yeah it will be hard, but we have the best support and the only support we need, Jesus! He is at our side ready to help and through him we can do anything (Philippians 4:13). He will be ready to help us up when we fall, no matter how many times we may mess up or fall down along the way, He won’t ever let us down. So today make a decision, to keep on keeping on, to get up one more time, to go the extra mile.
January has come and is almost gone with amazing speed. It seems like things began at full throttle and don’t show any signs of slowing down AT ALL. At the end of last year I sat down and I prayed about what 2013 would hold for me, what goals I needed to set for 2013 and my life. And I have accomplished some so far, one of them for this year was learn to snowboard, which I did…sort of, you could have called it falling rather than snowboarding. But I did it!
There are many more goals I have for this year, and the first month is the hardest push, because it tests your starting strength, it tests you will power, and your commitment to the things you have set in your mind to accomplish. I will be honest, I am not going to accomplish everything that I wanted to this month, and some might say, “well you know not everyone is perfect” or maybe, “you tried to do too much!” But I know that most the reason why is because I simply didn’t START!
My good friend Robert once tweeted about a nine mile run that he had finished, and that definitely is something that impressed me, especially since one of my goals is to be able to do that one day, and be able to run a marathon (I am not in the best of shape, and I have a long way to go), I responded saying how great that was, and his response to me took me by surprise, he tweeted, "The miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start."
Isn’t that the truth! The hardest thing about our goals in life is STARTING something NEW! We are afraid that we would give up, we are afraid that we won’t do well, or we won’t get the results we are hoping for. But we have to start somewhere. If Abraham never had the courage to take the first step on his way to God only knew where, then Isaac may never have been born, if Moses never had the courage to take his first step on the trip back to Egypt, Israel may have still been imprisoned as slaves, and the what ifs are endless.
We have start somewhere, we have to have the courage to begin, and trust that God will help us through it. What do you need to start today? What steps do you need to take? Don’t let time pass you by anymore, START!
"I can do all things through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you Go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Christmas is my favorite time of year! I just love everything about it. The time with family, food, fun, gifts (I’m not going to lie I do like to get gifts), giving gifts, and just the love that comes with it all. But we have made Christmas something that it should not be. We have made it about the parties and gathering with family and friends. We have made it about the gifts, making lists of everything we want. We have made it about being busy and about the family and made it about just about anything else you can think of.
Then to justify ourselves we go to church, watch the christmas play, maybe read the passage out of Luke 2, we make sure to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays (and sometimes I think we take it too far on that one), we declare “Jesus is the reason for the season!” and even have it posted outside our house or have the manger scene out on our yard or in a nice little display in our homes.
But in reality the reason for the season is lost on us. And its more about everything else than it is about Jesus. And I will be the first to admit that I do it too! I forget! And I make other things more important. One Christmas a couple of years back I became bored with the holiday, gifts meant nothing, and the season “holiday spirit” was lost one me. I tried to go back to the roots of Christmas and read the Christmas story to try and make things right, but it didn’t work. I was bored with the story (I’m a pastor’s kid so I’ve heard the story every year of my 23 years and then some).
"God do something about this! Everything just bores me!," I cried out to God in a moment of I can’t take this anymore! And then I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, "You need to forget. Forget everything that you have made Christmas about, and then you need to remember, what I made Christmas about."
I picked up my Bible and read through Luke chapter 2 again, praying the whole way along asking God to give me a fresh view into. I put myself into the story, I imagined what would I say to the baby Jesus as I kneeled before the manger. I was simply at a loss for words, because that baby, left all the glory of heaven behind to be one of us. Wonder was brought back to my Christmas.
My challenge this Christmas is to take a moment a forget it all, and just remember Jesus, because that is what it’s all about!
”Today in the town of David a Savior has been born; who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
"Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world." - CS Lewis
The Doctor of Doctor Who, describes time as “wibbly wobbly.” He is a Time Lord (the last of his kind), who travels around the world in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), at full speed ahead seldom stopping for anyone or anything. He just jumps into time stays a little bit and then leaves.
I mention the Doctor because the show has made me think about time (and partially because I have recently become a little obsessed with the series) and how fast it seems to pass us by. The Doctor always talks of how fast time passes for him, and he gets bored when it passes “normally.” And I feel the same as him in way because time seems to be passing by at the speed of light. I mean for crying out loud it feels like 2012 just started and 2013 is about to begin (and yes I’m pretty sure that the world will not end this year)! And with all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it doesn’t seem like it’ll slow down anytime soon.
A few days back I had a day to myself and all I did was be lazy and watch movies all day. But at the end of all that I thought, is this how I want to spend my time. I mean I am all for taking a break from time to time, but sometimes I wonder how much time we waste on things that don’t really matter. I mean I don’t know how long I will live and I don’t know when Jesus will come back. I don’t want to be caught watching a movie when jesus comes back (unless of course it part of some elaborate youth ministry effort) or sleeping (and I do love my sleep). What I want to do then is to make my life count, moment by moment. I want to use the life that Jesus said he came to give me, “But I have come that they may have life, life abundantly” (John 10:10 NIV) I want to live! Don’t you?
So I’ve never really blogged before, but I figured it would be a good way to share the experiences of myself and others as we go through life and God gets involved and just amazes us. As I am writing, I am thinking,” What do I write!?” No simply answer can come from that question, since today my mind seems to explode with all kinds of answers to the question, and thoughts come racing at me at a thousand miles an hour. But still in the middle of all of this I know one thing is certain, and that is God is right here with me.
Life is hard, and that is the truth, no matter what you try and do that fact will come to be true time and time again. But you see the thing is that even though we can’t be certain about why things happen or what will happen, God does and He is in control. And there is proof of that too, that in everything, “God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
That is a great truth that has helped many through many things, because it’s true when things are going good, you have no worries, and life is just great! But it is also true, when everything is going wrong, life is terrible, and there seems like there is no hope.
I’ve been there and we all have, but we must remember that God is in control and He is with us always.