Friday, October 26, 2012


I was reading a friend's status this morning on facebook and I had to laugh.  Instead of retelling it, let me just quote it:
"Tucking [my son] in- [He] pulls up my bangs and says "mom, look at that nice "blonde" here...and lots more here..." - totally had a straight face and was serious! Didn't want to break it to the kid that he was really looking at grey:) he IS colour blind;)"
What a sweet sentiment this creates for those who are aging gracefully.  For the rest of us, we can just laugh and appreciate the heart of the child.  But this got me thinking.

I've been reading through the book of Job in my devotions lately and currently I am at the part where Job is sitting down with his three friends and they are constantly bombarding Job with how he must have sinned in order for the wrath of God to be poured out upon him like this but that cannot tell Job what he has done wrong.  They offer suggestions, but through their eyes, he has sinned.  Job on the other hand, maintains his righteousness and just wants a conversation with God asking why is this all happening to me.

I have been on both sides of the fence.  I have seen the things going on in people's lives and wondered what they have done to get themselves into the state of where they are at and ignorantly assumed it was their mistake.  I have also seen where people have seen something happening in my life and assumed that I had done something horrible to get myself into the situation that I was in.  No matter what a person has done or what they are going through, we are called to love people and appreciate them for who God has created them to be.  We need to stop focusing on their external situations and start focusing on the person.  We need to be colourblind.

God has called us to, "Love your neighbour as yourself"(Luke 10:27b).  Luke goes on to recount the parable of the Good Samaritan who helped his arch rival despite his circumstances.  No matter who the person is, what they have gone through or are going through, we need to be loving them the way that we would want to be loved ourselves.  We need to be colourblind.

If you are going through a difficulty today, I pray that people will be colourblind to your circumstances and come and help you in whatever way they can.  Likewise, if you know someone that is going through a tough situation today, may you not see the grey in their hair, but may you help them reach the blonde that you see in their life.  May you be the person who speaks encouragement in their time of trouble.  May you be colourblind.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Secret Stash

Yesterday, my wife and I were out for an afternoon of shopping and time together.  It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and plenty of laughs.  We decided to stop at one of my favourite spots, Starbucks for a treat for us before we went for a walk.  I just ran in and ordered while she stayed in the car.  In my backseat were a few articles of clothing, a blanket and pillow (for those long road trips) and a few receipts.  However, what was under my seat (and possibly under the pillow too) was my secret stash.  

The secret stash is something I keep in the car for when I have that craving for something sweet.  I have some gummy candies, mints and other things, but nothing that melts.  It is meant for those moments when the sweet tooth just gets the best of you and you need a quick fix.  I value my secret stash quite a bit, but one thing I neglected to tell my wife, is that I have one.  *insert innocent angelic grin here*

How many times in our lives do we have those secret sins in our lives that no one else knows about?  What are we trying to hide under the seat and below the pillow so that no one will ever find it?  My mom and dad used a phrase a lot when I was growing up, "Be sure your sins will find you out".  I hated that phrase!  No matter what I did, I always got busted by them.  For instance, there was the time that I was given the car and told to go to work, pick up my cheque and head straight home.  I did that of course ... and then I went to my friend's place to play some basketball.  However, locking the keys in the car ... not such a good idea.  Did I mention that the car was running at the time?  Well, to make a long story short, I had to call my mom and have her come to my friend's house and let me in the car.  We laugh about it now, but the ride home was a little bit rough.

The bible says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.  Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to Whom we are accountable"(Hebrews 4:13).  Paul also says in his first letter to the Corinthians: 
"My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right.  It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide.  So don't make judgments about anyone ahead of time - before the Lord returns.  For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives.  Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due"(I Corinthians 4:4-5).
Just when you think that no one knows about that little sin that you have in your life, God knows.  That habitual thing that might plague you, God knows about it.  That secret stash you have, nobody else might know that it is there, but God knows that it is there.  In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet says,
"'The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?  But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.  I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve'"(Jeremiah 17:9-10).

What do you deserve today?  Let me take you back to my secret stash for a moment.  When I hopped back in the car excited for our walk, I noticed that the back seat had been straightened and that my secret stash wasn't in it's secret spot.  I was busted.  My sins had been made known.  However, I am very grateful for a loving and gracious wife.  Despite my shortcomings, she still loves me and forgives me.  We have already had a good laugh about it, but she still wants me to take care of myself and make sure that I am eating healthy things.  She loves me.

Jesus loves you!

We serve a loving and gracious God.  No matter how deep and dark our secrets are; no matter how big our secret stash is, He loves us.  It doesn't matter how bad you have been, His grace is enough for you.  The truth is though, no matter how good we are, we can never be good enough to earn salvation from our secret stash.  We all have fallen short of the mark and need God's saving grace (Romans 3:23).  But the best part is this, "But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness"(I John 1:9).
So no matter what is in the dark recesses of your life today, come clean with God and allow Him to reward you.  He is a great God!  He is a gracious and loving God!  Quit hiding your secret stash and allow God to change your heart today.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Call of Encouragement

Have you ever been in one of those ruts where you feel like God has forgotten about you?  Have you ever gone through a time of disappointment and you just don't understand where God was in the whole situation?

I don't know how many times over the course of the last four to five years that someone has contacted me when I have been struggling or going through a hard time.  When I was ready to throw in the towel or just plain tired of the struggle, someone would call or email with a simple message of encouragement and remind me that God was still thinking of me.  It never ceases to amaze me each time it happens.  Think about it for a minute: Almighty God, the Creator of the universe cares about what I am going through enough to push someone to send a quick message to me at my time of weakness.  It really is a humbling thought.

I've been reading through the book of Job in my devotions and my thoughts keep coming back to the fact that God allowed Job to go through his struggle.  He actually even handpicked him and pointed him out to Satan when he said, "Have you noticed my servant Job?"(Job 1:8).  Then after Job had lost everything, God yet again focused Job out and said to Satan once more, "Have you noticed my servant Job?"(Job 2:3).  God knew in advance exactly what Job could handle and he knew that though Satan may try to get him to falter, Job would remain faithful.  He knew exactly what Job could handle.

There is a humbling thought to be considered in all of this.  When we go through trials, difficulties, struggles and times of frustration, we need to remember that God sees all that we face and He knows what we are going through.  Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians,
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more that you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure"(I Corinthians 10:13).
God makes a way, where it seems that all hope is lost.  God makes provision, when it seems your bank account is all but empty.  God provides healing even when the doctors tell you that you're as good as dead.  God sends people into our lives when we feel all alone.

God is faithful!

No matter what you are going through today, realize that God is with you.  He loves you and He is faithful to bring you through.  He might use someone to speak into your life and encourage you OR he might use you to speak into someone else's life.  Be willing to be used and watch how God steps in to change the situation.  Make the call and encourage someone.  Send the email and brighten someone's spirits.  You never know just how much your simple act of kindness can change the course of what the other person is facing.  They will greatly benefit from it and so will you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Are You Cooking?

Do you remember walking into your mom's house and smelling the fragrant delight of her toils in a hot kitchen and think to yourself that I just can't wait to sink my teeth into what she is cooking?  Often times, I am sure that you could even know what she was cooking just by the scent of what was permeating from the kitchen.  The best part is, you knew that what was being cooking was for you.  Oh the aromas.

For me, there are two smells that really stand out when I came home.  The first smell was usually cooked during the week either on a Monday or Tuesday.  I don't know why it was on those days, but I can remember coming in from school and getting smacked in the face by the smells of cabbage soup.  Now let me explain something.  I have not been, I am not and I probably never will be a fan of cabbage soup or the smells associated with it.  Honestly, it smelled like a sporting bag being found months later after a demanding game.  You first reaction was to try and control your gag reflex as you crawled with any strength you had left for the door.  It just wasn't pleasant at all (sorry mom!) but yet she was a fan of cabbage soup.

The second memory associated with smells from my mom's kitchen almost always happened after church on Sunday. Yes, you probably guessed, it was mom's roast beef dinner.  Reaching in trying to grab a small piece of the dad's carvings usually got your hands smacked followed by strict orders to get out of the kitchen until dinner was ready.  But that aroma, that comforting smell was like a warm blanket on a cold winter's days.  It just wrapped around you and sucked you in and said, "I love you".  My mouth is drooling now as I just think about it.  Words really cannot justly describe that pleasant nostril sensory overload.

I've just started a chronological reading plan of the bible with some friends. (NOTE: If you want to read the bible this way click on this link: Chronological Reading.)  It is a great read so far but the way things are popping off the page at me kind of catches me by surprise.  I've read the bible before but this time, things are grabbing my attention and I find myself asking, "How did I miss that before?".   In today's reading, God had just saved Noah, his family and the animals from the destruction of the earth.  Once God had given the okay, Noah and his entourage departed the world's first mighty ship, the bible says, 
"Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.  And the LORD was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to Himself, 'I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.  I will never again destroy all living things.  As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night'"(Genesis 8:20-22).

The sacrifice was pleasing to God.  
Immediately, my mind is brought back to my reading yesterday about Cain and Abel and the sacrifices that they offered to God.  Both brought a sacrifice, but only Abel brought his best.  Cain's offering was rejected because God got a whiff of the cabbage soup.  But Abel's offering was accepted and favour was shown to Abel because his Sunday dinner was presented from his best efforts.  Abel's offering pleased God and was a satisfying aroma.

What are you bringing to the table?  When you come to God, are you bringing your best offering?  Are you using the talents that He has given you to bring glory to Him and offer a sweet smelling aroma for God to enjoy?

I'm not hugely talented when it comes to sports, art or music.  I don't have a bucketload of money sitting around collecting dust.  My intellect isn't bursting off the top of the charts (just ask my brothers ... lol).   BUT ... whatever I do have, I want to use it to bring glory to God and allow Him to bless.  So if I run into some money, I want to use it to glorify God.  If I am able to help out behind the scenes at events, I want to bring my best efforts.  If I can help someone who is unable to do something that I can do, I want to do the best job that I can so that God is honoured.  Let's be people who bring our best to God.  Let's cook a meal that is pleasing to the senses and let God be pleased and bless it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Holding On

The struggles of life can be overwhelming sometimes. Wondering if there is ever going to be some good news starts to become a common thought in your mind. You just don't know if you're going to make it. Even as a believer, your mind can get the best of you. You begin to over think things and the best of optimistic thinkers crumple to their knees in disbelief of where they are at.

In the Old Testament, Job is infamous for going through one struggle after another. Just as things look like they couldn't get any worse, another message of despair follows the one before it. Then after all hope is lost, his health takes a turn for the worst. Even his wife tells him to just curse God and die. (Job2:9)

Do you feel like giving up today? Do you feel like you're at the end of your rope? Is all hope gone in your life? Are people telling you that you need to toss in the towel and just give up on your faith?

I don't know when the answer is going to come in my own struggle and I know it hasn't been an easy road, but I have come too far to give up on a God who has been with me through so many other tough times in my life. God promises me in His Word that "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you"(Hebrews 13:5b). I cling to that truth. I hold God to His Word and I continue to have faith.

Don't give up! Keep looking to God to lead you. He won't fail you. He won't abandon you. He is Faithful.

Audience of One

I had the privilege of being a volunteer at a leadership conference this past weekend for young leaders and helping out behind the scenes.  There were great speakers, great music and some powerful times of prayer, but if I am being honest, I have to admit that I didn't connect with what was going on.  I understood what was happening, and I appreciated the talent of those around me, but I wasn't engaging in the powerful encounter that God had allowed me to witness.

Let's step back a minute and give you some background into my upbringing.  I have had the privilege of growing up in a christian home all my life.  My parents took me to church from the moment I was born.  I've been to thousands of services and encountered God in many of those opportunities.  I have seen miraculous things happen right before my eyes and witnessed lives changed by the very presence of God.  However, I find that as I get older, I find there are times that I get a bit cynical of the worship experience.  My fear is that the bigger the production becomes with all the talented musicians and vocalists, the more it becomes a concert or a performance.  If the band isn't good or the singers don't have great voices, we won't be able to enter into the presence of God.  Coming from a smaller church growing up, it was a bit of a let down after coming back from conferences to our small church which lacked the musical capabilities of those witnessed previously at the conference.  Now add to that the lighting productions that have entered into these settings and the huge screens projecting all sorts of cool graphics on them it creates a sensory overload which is euphoric but at the same time, a huge anti-climax when you go back to your small town church.

But this week, as I was singing in the shower praises to my God, a still small voice whispered to my spirit, that it isn't the size of the crowd, or the grandeur of the production but rather the attitude of the person that matters to God.  Worship is a choice.  Worship is an action based on the priority of your heart.  No matter what is going on around you; no matter how good of a lighting production there is; no matter how talented the musicians or vocalists are; no matter how many or how few the numbers of people around you are; no matter how many mistakes the sound person makes; no matter what the style of music is or even if there is no music at all; no matter how loud or quiet the music is; no matter how great or how bad you're feeling; worship stems from the heart and not your sensory experience.  Worship is not for the people around you, but rather, for an audience of One.
"Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!  Worship the LORD with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.  Acknowledge that the LORD is God!  He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the LORD is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation"(Psalm 100).
Notice that it doesn't say, "Shout to the person beside you" or "Worship the LORD because the mood is right".  It just says to,  "acknowledge that the LORD is God!"(Psalm 100:3).  It is an exclamation of David.  It is an expression of what his heart is saying.  He is making the conscious choice to worship his Creator.

Wherever you are today, whether in the shower or in a crowded auditorium, choose to worship God and make Him priority in your life.  No matter what your sensory experience, come into the presence of the Most High recognizing who He is and all that He has done for you.  Give Him thanks for all that He has done acknowledge His unfailing faithfulness.

Here's a video that was playing in the background while I was composing this today.  I think you will find it very encouraging as you choose to worship: 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dinner for Two

I came home from work last night and my wife had made an amazing dinner which included candles and no one else ... except the dog.  It was a very nice surprise.  It isn't that she doesn't usually make dinner, but the fact that she took the extra effort to have the candles and place settings just made it extra special.  It was a great time together of conversation and dreaming of the future together and just over all, connecting with one another.

It got me thinking, how many times do we set the table in our personal lives to spend time with God?  I must confess that I have on a number of occasions rushed my personal devotion time with God.    I have squeezed my time in with Him while rushing in the morning or even skipped it in the morning vowing to "make time" later on in the day.  Time with God should never be something we do out of convenience.  It should be something we do because it is a necessity.  Every morning, I make time to grab a shower, get dressed and usually eat.  There are times when one of those things doesn't happen, but I will always make time throughout the day for me.  The reality is, that when we don't make time for God, we are starving our spiritual appetite and ultimately throwing off the much needed balance in our lives.

In the book of Isaiah, we are reminded that, "the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and won't become weary.  They will walk and won't grow tired"(Isaiah 40:31).  I love how this version says "wait with hope"(GWT).  It is a reminder that when we come into the presence of Almighty God, that we can come into His presence with expectation.  We can come with faith.  But we have to come.  If we never make time for God, then the table should only be set for one person.

If you are waiting for God to do something in your life today, make time for Him each and every day.  Set aside specific time where you can "wait with hope" for God to do something great.  He wants to have dinner with you, you just need to set the table.  The conversation will take off from there and you will be amazed at what God has to say to you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

It All Adds Up

I found myself singing another great hymn that I grew up on this morning.  It is funny how the old songs that I once mocked and made fun of when I was younger are the songs that I find myself going back to now that I am older.  There are some great truths in these old songs.

As I have made reference to in a couple of past posts, I am currently unemployed and searching for something to help support the finances of the household.  It can be very stressful some days.  I know that I am not alone in the trials of daily life.  Some of the people reading this are facing financial struggles.  Others may be fighting chronic pain or health issues.  Some people today are even grieving the loss of a loved one or possibly have deep concerns for a prodigal that is not living a life honouring God.

Whatever you are facing, I find that it helps to take a moment and reflect on what God has brought you through.  I think of times like when God had someone hand me money when times were tight.  I think of moments when someone dropped me a note to encourage me not fully knowing that I was disheartened in that point of my journey.  I remember moments when God caused third degree burns to have no effects on my skin.  I thank God for a time when I was so angry at Him that I told Him to get lost and leave me alone than climb the stairs far enough to hear my father, in his daily devotions, praying for me and asking God to keep me close to Him.  I turned around, and back in my room, repented for my foolishness.  I could go on and on, but I'm sure by now you understand what I am trying to say.

So as I think about all God has done for me, that brings me back to my hymn that I am singing this morning.  It goes like this:
When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your Man blessings, see what God hath done. 
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by. 
When you look at others with their lands of gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. 
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. 
Count Your Blessings
Johnson Oatman, Jr., pub 1897

No matter what you are facing today, remember that God loves you and that He is with you in every area of your life.  Remind yourself of things that God has done for you in the past and remember that He is always with you even when you're feeling alone.  Count your blessings ... you'll be surprised how quickly it all adds up.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gifts of Giving

There are only 74 more days until Christmas.  Now ... before you stop reading and flog me for talking about Christmas, snow and the cold when most of you are still desiring to slip on your shorts and bathing suits and hit the beach, you must understand that I LOVE Christmas.  It is one of my all time favourite seasons that I look forward to each and every year.  It makes me very happy!

This morning as I was reading my bible I came across a passage that invoked the Christmas spirit in me.  I was reading in the book of Hebrews and one verse jumped off the page at me.  Some of you may now think I have officially lost it because you're trying to figure out how the book of Hebrews reminded me of Christmas, but let me show you.

For me, the spirit of Christmas is in the power of the exchange.  There is something magical that happens when someone gives a gift and when someone receives a gift.  This is often best witnessed when you watch a child receiving a gift with wide-eyed wonderment.  The physical passing of the gift from your hand to theirs is captured in the joy and excitement on their face and in their body language.  Their eyes are ablaze with anxiousness of what is inside the gift and just the very fact that there is a gift with their name on it brings smiles to their faces.  But have you ever stopped and wondered about the expression on the face of the one giving the gift?  Often times we focus on the child or person receiving the gift, but the delight that is on the person giving the gift is also something truly magical to behold.  The ability to bring that joy to that child or the receiver of the gift ultimately comes from the person giving the gift.

This brings me back to the verse that sparked my ramblings today.  The author in chapter 7 of Hebrews is making reference to Melchizedek's and Abraham's interaction with each other after Abraham had returned from battle with his spoils.  Melchizedek blesses Abraham and Abraham gives a tenth of all he had captured in battle to Melchizedek.  But what caught my attention the most was this verse: "And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed"(Hebrews 7:7).  The more significant person in the exchange is the person who can bless.  Being a giver is a good thing.  It gives God the opportunity to fill you up with more so that you have more to give away.  Luke explains it this way:
"Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you give back"(Luke 6:38).
If you want to see God move in your life, start using the blessing He has already given you in other's lives.  I love the phrase my dad continues to use to this day, "you cannot out give God".  God has gifted us to give.  He has given to us, not so that we hoard for ourselves, but that we give it away.

Let's go back to Christmas (YEAH!) for a minute.  We can give gifts to those that we love, care and appreciate this year, but are we making an effort to be a blessing to people?  Are we acting out our faith out of a desire to fulfill an obligation or are we blessing those people with the intention of bringing glory to God?  Instead of just giving a toy to a child, take time out of your busy schedule to invest in that child's life.  Instead of giving an expensive gift to someone, make an effort to invest in their needs.  If they are struggling with some physical ailment, offer to help out around their house.  Shovel their driveway (yeah snow) or offer to run some errands for them.  If they are suffering financially, bless them with a gift card for groceries and daily needs.  If they are struggling emotionally from a loss of a loved one, spend time with them and encourage them.  But however you bless someone in the coming months, take time to reflect after the fact about how it feels to be a blessing to someone and then go and do it again.

Luke 20:35 wraps it up best (pun implied) "It is more blessed to give than to receive".  Let's be in the habit of giving to others.  Let's be in the routine of seeing a need and filling a need.  God will never leave you with less than enough.

One last thought: This season, the best gift that could be given to someone is the gift of eternal life.  You just don't know how God might use your act of intentionally blessing to help lead someone into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  There truly is no greater joy than that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Forgotten Principle

I was reminded of something last night that I am ashamed to say that I had forgotten in the midst of the uncertainty of unemployment.  I was out with my friend for a coffee/bible study at one of my favourite establishments (Starbucks) and as we were discussing our life issues and the vastness of our God, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Do you ever find yourself in stressful situations where you're not sure how the next bill is going to get paid?  Do you ever ask yourself will I get over this sickness?  Are there times when you wonder if someone you care about is ever going to find right relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you ever wondered if your life partner is ever going to find you where you are?  In those times of uncertainty, do you ever just feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and walking away in utter despair?  I've been down that path myself a few times and I've often wondered why do I continue to bother keep pressing forward?

Things have been a little stressful as of late with not knowing what God has in store for me.  Being newly married, I am admittedly quite concerned about how I am going to help contribute to my family income and help provide for our future.  I have faith that God can provide finances when I need them most, but I still like to know where the next cheque will come from.  I'm like a lot of people in that I like seeing the big picture of how things all work out in the end.

Probably one of the most famous of David's Psalms is Psalm 23.  As a child, I memorized for it for a group that I was a part of, called Crusaders.  It goes like this: 
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
23:4 Or the dark valley of death.
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD.
There is something about this Psalm, that no matter what you are facing, it just brings peace to an unrestful situation.  It causes you to stop and acknowledge that God is with you even "through the darkest valley"(Ps 23:4).  You recognize just how good God is.

This brings me back to my conversation last night.  The concept that put me back in my seat was being thankful.  Paul in his closing remarks of his first letter to the Thessalonians states, "Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus"(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Notice that it doesn't say, "in good times" or "when things are going your way" but it does say "Always"(5:16), "Never stop"(5:17) and "in all circumstances".

Am I always thankful?  When I am desperately needing a job, am I thankful?  When I am sick, am I thankful?  If I remind myself of what God has given me, then I have lots to be thankful for.  David says it best in Psalm sixteen verse two, "I said to the LORD, 'You are my Master!  Every good thing I have comes from you'".

God is so good to us.  Let's give him the gratitude that He deserves today regardless of the situation that you face.  Choose joy.  Keep praying.  Give Him thanks and watch what He does in your life.  He is faithful!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Persistence of a Puppy

It amazes me lately how much God is saying to me during my breakfast time. Today was much like every other morning and I had just sat down for a good breakfast with a hot cup of coffee when all of a sudden, peeking around the corner of the couch is a little snout and two black eyes. I've been known to give a 'treat' before and once you open Pandora's box, there comes a certain expectation of it becoming a regular habit.

As many of you already know, I find myself in the unemployment line seeking a job. It is a position that I do not desire to be in, but I am trusting God to lead me in the direction that He wants me to go. However, not that long ago, my wife and I were praying for some people and situations and after I had said 'amen', she quickly added that I would find employment in the right place at the right time. It got me thinking.

In the book of Psalms, David states, "Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly" (Psalm 5:3 NLT). David never came to God once a month. He never even came to God once a week. He came each and every day with his requests before Almighty God. But the second part of this verse is the clincher for me. David waited with expectation. He didn't wait thinking that God wasn't going to provide. He didn't wait thinking God couldn't heal him. He didn't even wait thinking that God wasn't going to answer him. He waited with expectation that Jehovah was going to come through and meet his requests.

Let's go back to my breakfast and the peeking puppy. She didn't peek around the corner thinking she was going to get nothing. She didn't even peek around the corner because she thought nothing was there. That cute adorable puppy came around the corner of the chair, like she does every morning, in the hopes that she would get a little treat. She came with expectation and persistence.

I'm learning every day that I need to bring my current employment issue along with my other requests to God and wait expectantly. But it is through my persistence of daily coming and expecting that shows that my hope is in God and not my own ability to create resolve to my situation. At the right time, God will provide all that I need.

This morning, no matter how many times you have come to Father God before, come to Him with expectation and persistence. If you're believing for healing, come expecting for God to heal you. If you're coming for provision, come expecting for God to provide for you. If you're coming for restoration, come believing that God is going to restore the brokenness in your life. If your coming on behalf of a loved, come believing that God is going to reach out to them. But don't stop there. Tomorrow, come again with the same expectation. The next day, come with the same expectation. Keep coming back to our Heavenly Father day after day with the same expectation and watch what He does as you seek Him.

Oh ... and to answer your question … yes … the puppy got her treat.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breakfast. Ahhh ... Memories

It is a beautiful September morning and I find myself at the breakfast table.  As I partake of my hard-boiled eggs, raisin bread toast, green grapes and coffee (you cannot forget the coffee) I find my mind reminiscing about moments passed with great friends over the breakfast table.

Back when I was going to Bible school, a group of friends that were formed by a desire to follow God found themselves sleeping in and gaining weight but we were determined to stop the downward spiral and change our habits.  Jamie, Carl, Sean and myself started getting up each morning and headed down for a quick workout before showering and heading to the school cafeteria for what was arguably the best meal of the day.  We all seemed to gravitate to the same things and I specifically remember Jamie with his fried eggs (left the yokes for last) and me with my hard-boiled eggs.  When he mixed it up however (quite literally) I will never forget the amount of butter he would put on hard-boiled eggs to create almost an egg salad with just eggs, butter, salt and pepper.  However, it was so much more than the way that Jamie ate his eggs.  The conversations we had and the dreams we shared are still treasured today.  The way we encouraged one another and just listened to what the other person was going through.  Breakfast.  Ahhh ... Memories.

Fast forward to Dave and Michelle's kitchen and coming down for work in the morning to the smell of fresh ground coffee percolating in the coffee maker with the craft which always leaked when pouring my morning cup.  In my humble opinion, there is nothing better than a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, however, it was so much more than a cup of coffee.  On countless occasions Michelle and I would share our victories and our concerns over a cup of coffee as we dreamed of a better day ahead but relishing in a God that had brought us through so much.  Breakfast.  Ahhh ... Memories.

As I watch the sun rise over the trees this morning, I remember great breakfast moments with people that I care about.  But in those thoughts, I was challenged with this: Why not say a quick prayer for those people today?  I do pray for family and friends, but often I find that when I am getting ready in the morning and especially when I am enjoying breakfast, my thoughts are mostly on me and what is my plan of action for the day.  But now I have a choice: Do I accept this challenge or do I ignore it and just keep my daily routine.  I would love to say that this is an easy choice, but it is one thing to say that I accept the challenge, but it is another thing to actually do it.  I hope I'm up for the challenge.  Breakfast.  Ahhh ... Memories.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Problems, Bigger God.

I haven't posted anything on here for a while, but that doesn't mean that things haven't been running through my mind.  It has been quite a journey over the past year.  I switched jobs, got married to an amazing women (those that know her would agree that I married up) and now I find myself in the unemployment line learning to trust God one more time.  I'll come back to that in a minute.

There are times in our lives that we 'struggle' or 'fight' to understand what is happening.  We might be waiting for our soulmate, disappointed about being overlooked for a promotion at work, fighting an illness in our bodies or wondering about a loved one that is not living the life that we would desire for them.  In those moments of 'struggle', it is where our faith is shaped and strengthened and it is when God takes us to a new level of learning to lean on him and not on our own understanding.

In the book of Judges, a man by the name of Gideon was preparing for a battle against the Midianites which God had instructed him to "go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!"(Judges 6:14).  For seven years, Israel had been subject to the cruelty of the Midianites and were living in fear for their lives.  Israel felt as if their future was very bleak and they were feeling abandoned by God.  They were wondering where "all the miracles our ancestors told us about?  Didn't they say, 'The LORD brought us up out of Egypt'?"(Judges 6:13).  They were facing 'struggle' and trying to understand what was happening to them.  But God WAS with them and watching over them.  He had a plan to glorify Himself through their situation and Gideon who made it clear of his limitations when he pointed out to God, "how can I rescue Israel?  My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!"

Because God is in the middle of your situation, it doesn't matter how weak, poor, sick or beat down you may be, He has a desire to glorify Himself in your life because you belong to Him.  He doesn't care how big the fight is in front of you, but God's desire is to show how big He is despite your situation.  In the historical account of Gideon, God said to him, "I will be with you.  And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man."(Judges 6:16).  In chapter 7, God showed up and with only 300 men, Gideon defeated the Midianites who "had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts"(Judges 7:12).  God was bigger than their problem.  God gave Gideon and his men the victory over what seemed, insurmountable odds.

No matter what you're facing today, don't look to the size of your problem, look to your BIG God and remember that He is bigger than any 'struggle' or 'fight' that you may face.  Look to Him to show you the way past it.  Let His Word find root in your heart and may the truth that God loves you very much.  Remember that, "[He] will be with you."(Judges 6:16) and that He will bring you through whatever you are going through.  He will provide the right person at the right time (as I recently can give thanks for ... WOO HOO!!!), the right promotion or position, the much needed healing and direction for that wayward loved one.  God will show up!  Just have faith and believe.

So what's the deal with me ... well ... I've recently lost my job after only a couple weeks of marriage.  It is never a desirable situation but I know that the GOD who is faithful is with me and has a plan for my life.  As I, "trust in the LORD with all [my] heart; do not depend on [my] own understanding"(Proverbs 3:5), I know that He is going to open doors of opportunity and increase my faith.  It doesn't mean that it is an easy road, but I step back and allow God to glorify himself in me.  I'm just learning to lean.

Never Lose the Passion,