God loves you

God loves you. Did you know that? I think we all want to know and believe that is true. I think we want to believe it in the depth of our heart. But He doesn’t just love us so that we can do whatever we want to do. God loves us and wants us to know Him. He wants to have a relationship with us; He doesn’t just want to be a salve or a bandaid we put on our wounds.

God is not someone who only wants to be contact when we are in pain or when we are sad so He can make it go away. He wants to walk with us through the good and the bad, and have us realize that we can’t do really much of anything at all on our own. We can only breathe because God is constantly sustaining His creation. God wants us to be in relationship with Him when we are thankful, when we are happy, when we are in need, when we are sad, when we are in pain, when we are in tears, and when we are in laughter.

God-loves-youThat is what His love is there for. He wants us to know that He loves us. He wants us to know Him, be known by Him, and spend our lives getting to know Him more. God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could know God as our Heavenly Father. This is an intimate knowledge, more than some big guy in the sky, or the man upstairs. God sent His Son to show us His love. Romans chapter five verse eight says that God demonstrates His love toward you and me in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

God knows we are not perfect. He created us. He knows we’ll mess up, that we have messed up, and that we will never fully arrive in getting it right all the time. But God still loves us. He wants us to know Him, but more than that He wants us to follow after Him. He wants us to see the example of Jesus Christ in the Bible and to follow it. He wants us to follow His commands because that is the most abundant and blessed and fulfilled way to live.

To follow Him means following a different Way… a better way. It is a way that is not easy and is often uncomfortable and selfless, but it is much, much better than the normal way of the world. God’s Way is a Way of fulfillment, satisfaction, and wholeness. It is a place where love and forgiveness abound. It is a place with a high calling to live life in the right way and to tell other people about this different Way. It is a challenge, for sure. But it is well worth the struggle.

What’s holding you back from following The Way?

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What’s the value of experience?

There are some things that I would rather read about than personally experience. For example, I recently read a very moving blog about a widower who had removed his ring, and the process of that. I don’t ever want to have to experience that.

Yet there are other things in life that I desperately want to experience. They are things for which mere words cannot describe well enough. I would love to climb a mountain, to take an Alaskan cruise, to write a book, maybe even run a marathon. These are things that reading about or seeing pictures of is not good enough. They are things I want to experience. They are things that I know today I need to take steps toward doing in my life, or else it may just be too late by the time I get around to it.

Here’s a quote I read recently about “experience”:

“Experience is more than a great teacher, it is a great resume that qualifies all of us to make judgments, decisions, and choices that we can trust and that others can trust. Even our failures can occur with passion and confidence because we know they are the fruit of our previous self, the evidence of our unknowing, the mistakes we need to make in order to know we’ve made a mistake, the necessary preface to new insights and awarenesses.”

What is something that you maybe have read about or seen pictures of that you want to experience? Why not start taking steps today to help that come true in your life? Obviously, these are not sinful experiences being talked about here, but experiences that glorify and honor God and help us to fully experience joy and fulfillment in life. Maybe it’s experiencing a new job, taking a trip, going skydiving, or giving more than 10% to your church and trusting God in that.

Experience as teacherWhatever it might be for you, experience is a great teacher. We learn things by doing that we can never learn by reading or hearing about. So go out and experience something, and learn from it. Do something out of your comfort zone. Share Christ. Stop someone and pray for them right then and there. Add value to someone’s life by going out of your way to be kind and caring. Give a listening ear.

Even in failure we can experience a learning moment and move forward to new insights and awarenesses. What experiences can you make happen today to better your life and someone else’s? Don’t let anything hold you back. Go and do!

Well that was unexpected…

Have you ever had something odd happen to you? Something that you didn’t plan for, not necessarily good or bad, just unexpected? There have been times where I’ve been out to eat and when the bill came, the waiter or waitress came over and told us that our meal had been paid for (interestingly, this is almost always correlated with praying before our meal and someone commenting on the unexpected witness of that).
There have been other times when I’ve been given an unexpected gift. It wasn’t Christmas or a birthday, but someone simply wanted to be a blessing and gave an unexpected gift.
Then there was that time driving through Canada where I was driving like I would in America, following behind a semi, and I got pulled over unexpectedly for driving through a light that was very much yellow (I in fact never even saw it turn red, because I had already gotten through the intersection!). But this was an unexpectedly expensive experience.
The Christmas story itself is unexpected. Especially for Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. An angel came to her unexpectedly, and she was “greatly troubled,” as the Bible records. But then, Luke 1:30 records this:
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”
It’s intriguing, isn’t it? An angel just showed up and started talking to you! What in the world?? It’s freaky and unexpected, of course we’d be afraid and nervous and uncertain of what to do!
The first thing we seem to do when something doesn’t make sense to us is to be afraid, or nervous, or overwhelmed… why is that?
God’s encouragement through the angel here to Mary is that even though she doesn’t understand, she doesn’t have the “why,” she has the “Who.” That is enoughWho.
We may not always know the why or the how of something, but we can always know the Who that is on our side, guiding and encouraging and shepherding us. So today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, when the unexpected happens, don’t go right to fear, but instead go right to faith. God is in control. Rest in Him. Don’t get stuck on the why or the how, but put focus on the Who. It’s all about bringing glory and honor to God.

Life Lessons from “Creed”, Part 2

It is time for your Tuesday morning encouragement! I hope you have been enjoying these posts! My prayer is that they would give you encouragement for today and hope for tomorrow…hope that we can grow, together, and keep moving forward.

It’s been two weeks now since I’ve seen “Creed,” but I want to share another powerful quote from Rocky Balboa as he is training Apollo Creed’s son. Here is what he says:

“One step. One punch. One round at a time.”

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? At first glance it just makes sense. But if we take the time to think about it, no matter how much it makes sense, the way we normally do life isn’t to do things one at a time. Now, I know not everyone has the same personality, but I struggle to stay focused on one thing. I like to multitask, even though it may not be the most productive way to get tasks accomplished.

Actually, the more that I multitask, the more I realize I get more done when I focus on tasks one step, one punch, one round at a time. When we come to our day and we see everything that needs to get accomplished: all of the minutia of work, all of the house chores that need to happen, paying the bills, getting gas, taking the car in for an oil change, picking up dog food, grocery shopping, getting flowers for your wife or daughters, taking your kid to a movie or ball game, doing homework, taking care of ourselves spiritually and physically, working out our mind and spirit. All of these things add up, seemingly exponentially.

The key is to focus. Focus on one thing at a time. Give that one thing your full attention and don’t worry about the next round. Don’t worry about the next task. Don’t worry about what might be in the future, later today. Instead, focus on one step at a time. Complete one task at a time, recognize when the task is completed, and then move on to the next task.

That is really the heart of what Rocky was getting at. The fight is long. Our days are long. The fight can be painful, and Creed was missing punches and taking punches. The round was getting long. But the advice Rocky gives him is to keep going. Take it one step at a time. If you don’t take one step, you’ll never be able to get in position to throw a punch. If you can’t throw a punch, you can’t win a round. If you can’t win the round, you’ll lose the match.

So take it one step at a time. Do one thing at a time. Sometimes we need to step back from the big picture, realize that the only thing we can do is move forward one step at a time. Don’t let the big picture overwhelm, but instead do one thing at a time.

Start your day off in the Word and a cup of coffee, then hit up some breakfast, get ready for work or school or wherever you need to go for that day, and do things one at a time. It will bring greater focus to our days, and I think it will help us become more effective.

The blessing of work

We are created to work. God created Adam & Eve and put them to work before the Fall of Man. Before sin entered the world, work had entered the world. It is a good thing for us to work.

Genesis 1:28 says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

So Adam and Eve are called to bear children, to fill the earth, to subdue the earth and to take dominion, or rule, over everything on the earth. This is work. It takes work to subdue and rule. It takes work to do all of these things.

So why do we sometimes view work with such a negative attitude? Conversations happen almost daily about how tired or busy or stressed we are because of work or home life or school or a sport. Does it have to be a negative thing? Or can we transform our attitude to view work as a good thing? In fact, could we even go so far as to view work as a blessing from God?

That is the challenge and the encouragement today. Transform your view of your work, and take this verse and apply it to your life:

Colossians 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Wherever you are today, whatever your job, do it with the right attitude. It will change the way you do your job! Let’s do this together today!

A little pick-me-up this morning!

I hope you enjoy this Tuesday morning encouragement!

What is Tuesday? It’s not Monday. Mondays are the start of the week, the end of most people’s weekends where they had time off and now they begin again the drudgery of the weekly schedule. No more free time at the cottage, less time to do household chores, and more things packed into a 5-day schedule than can actually be accomplished. It’s common to hate Mondays.

Then there is Wednesday. Hump Day. When we make it to this day we’ve successfully made it halfway through the week and another weekend is on the horizon. We can see the end of the week because we’ve made it over the hump.

Thursday is kind of like Tuesday. It’s an in-between day. Not the best, not the worst, just a pit stop on the road to Friday afternoon!

Then we finally make it to Friday! We get to wear casual clothes and maybe even finish work or school a little early, and we sneak out as quickly as possible. FINALLY THE WEEKEND!! monday-to-friday-workweek-graphic

But then the weekend ends and we go through this cycle all over again.

Now, this is the normal cycle. I get it, and I often feel this way coming down the road to Thursday and Friday, I’m ready for a day to sleep in a little bit longer and have some time to get things done around the house that I hadn’t been able to do during the week. But is this cycle necessary? Is it life-giving? Is it exciting, filling us with a desire to work hard and work well?

Today, on a random, in-betweener Tuesday, what if you lived like it was Friday? Bring that energy and excitement that Friday brings, knowing it is almost the weekend, to your every day, and your Friday will be just that much better. Live every day intentionally. Be joyful on purpose. Take the initiative to make your own cycle, and don’t fall into the drudgery of horrible Mondays, pretty good Wednesdays, and great Fridays.

You’re still alive and kicking, so why not make today (and every day) the best day by intentionally choosing to have the right attitude, to add value to those around you, and to give your personal best in whatever endeavor you find yourself in? Try it. See what happens!