Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Everything can change...In an Instant

It was a cold rainy morning.  After watching the clouds roll past, I resolved  to myself that it was going to be a dreary day.  But then, in an instant, the sun broke through unexpectedly.  It was just for a few precious minutes.  It was enough time to remind me of the warmth of the sun and that circumstances can change quickly.

When we are on our job seeking journey,  there are times our circumstances appear insurmountable.   We aren't seeing the results we expected, but are doing the necessary activity.    The situation appears hopeless and not fruitful.

What do you think Moses thought as he and his people were being chased through the wilderness by Pharoah's soldiers?  He is cornered at  a dead end of the Red Sea with soldiers in hot pursuit.    At that moment things probably appeared hopeless and the struggle to escape was worthless.  Moses had followed God and led the Jews out, but where was God now?  Even the freed slaves were questioning Moses leadership and God's faithfulness.

"It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than it would that we die in with wilderness.  And Moses said to the people "Do not be afraid.  Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today, you will see again no more forever.  The lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace" Exodus 14:12-13

Moses proclaims victory before the circumstances changed.  Then in an instant…God moved…things changed.

The red sea parted allowing his people to escape and closed just as quickly upon the heads of his enemy.   Can you imagine what the Jews felt seeing God move like that?

We cannot always see God working, but he is working on our behalf.  Just like He has taken care of Moses and Jewish people in difficult circumstances, He will take care of You in all situations and provide for your needs.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? "  Luke 12: 22-25

Are you trusting God with the big and small of your job search?    Are you following up with your networking contacts?  Taking advantage of the resources around you?  Spending the time you need to with God and on your job search?  Are you believing for victory over your current circumstances?

Be faithful, know that God is in control...In an instant, everything can change.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Does Your Schedule Need Help?

Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established - Proverbs 16:3

In this world there are so many choices to make each day… what to eat, what to wear, what to spend your time on…. it can be overwhelming to decide what we need to be doing.  How to use our time seems to be an area which plagues many of us in our modern day culture.  There are so many "good" things to do… programs for our kids, serving opportunities, events, fundraisers, sports, etc.   Our life can become overwhelmed with things which are good in moderation, but can cause an activity overdose if too much is happening.

Early in my marriage, we were committed 3 nights to ministry & all day Sunday on top of the fact that both of us worked.  I found myself in an overwhelmed state, with the pressure of my schedule consuming me and an open door for depression.  Though I was busy, I felt like I was watching someone else participate.    I was not ever fully present and was always charging to the next thing.  This put a lot of pressure on my marriage and my own personal well being. I was not in a place where I was serving out of the overflow of my heart, but I was serving out of obligation.  It was like giving God an offering of a cracked vessel with water seeping out of the bottom rather than a vessel full of water from the wellspring of life.

With my current journey of unemployment, I find myself again with a time challenge.  I have more flexibility with how to spend my time and so many options!  There are job fairs, networking groups, online events plus the "job" of identifying opportunities to target.  Add to the job search my desire to grow closer to God during this season and improve my spiritual, mental and physical health.   All of sudden the schedule looks ridiculous instead of flexible!  

I am learning to put "first things first", spending time seeking God during this season.   This sweet time has stilled my soul in a time which can be very difficult and full of doubt.  I need to continue to commit my works to God and surrender my plans.  He has been very faithful to bring great meetings, wonderful people and show Himself in unexpected ways.  If I was so focused on building MY schedule instead of HIS schedule, I would have missed so unexpected surprises along this journey.

My challenge to you is to commit your schedule to the Lord and allow Him to guide you.  Ask God to search your heart and your motives for the activities on your schedule and to remove anything unpleasing to Him.   He is the ultimate scheduler and has divinely planned opportunities for you to serve your family, workplace and others you may not yet know.   If we control our schedule and don't put Him in charge, you may miss that chance to convey Him to someone who is supposed to cross your path.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:9

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My False Confession

Last night we were discussing the overcoming negative thoughts which cripple our walk with God.  Sometimes these thoughts are very overt, but other times they are subtle patterns that we don't even recognize.  As I was talking about the overt negative thoughts that I struggle with, I made a statement which I've made many times…. "I know that it will always be in my journey to constantly fight against the negative thought patterns".  My belief has been when I'm diligently serving the Lord, that the enemy will continue to attack my mind with these lies to keep me distracted from the work God has for me.

While I've combated the thoughts directly, I haven't addressed the root of the issue.  The belief that this will be always be a part of my walk with God is a negative pattern in itself.  By making that confession, I have falsely accepted that I will not have freedom from the negative thoughts which attack my mind.

How absurd is it that I don't have faith that God can give me freedom from this when He is the same God that has performed miracles since the world began!?   I am doubting the same God who...

- Freed the Israelites from the slavery of Pharoah (Exodus)  
- Kept Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego safe while in the fiery furnace (Daniel 1-3) 
- Rescued Daniel from the Lion's Den (Daniel 6) 
- Gave David the power to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17)- Forgave King David of his iniquity and used him mightily (2 Samuel 24) 
- Gave His only precious Son for our redemption

In 2 Corinthians Paul addresses this unseen battle and gives us key guidance on how to handle this situation:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ  - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

A couple of key thoughts…

Divine warfare has the power to destroy strongholds. Our God REIGNS, through His POWER and MIGHT, We too are more than conquerors.  Make that confession!   Don't allow the enemy to sneak in and cause us to accept less in this life than the freedom God wants for us.

We destroy arguments and every lofty option raised against the knowledge of God - For us to recognize our lofty opinions, we need to continually seek the knowledge of God through prayer and reading his word.  Ask for his wisdom and revelation and He will show you those strongholds and lies which are causing you to stumble.  (See Proverbs 8 for more on Wisdom)

Take every thought captive - After we recognize the lies of the enemy, find a spiritual truth to counter that lie.  I will take that truth into my own words and make it into an affirmation.   Many times I'll reference multiple versions of the scripture (NIV, The Message) to write the affirmation in a way which is meaningful to me.   When that lie comes to mind, renew your mind with that affirmation from scripture.   Sometimes I even say do this out loud and make that proclamation over myself.

Examples of affirmations

Lie Affirmation
"If they knew about X, they wouldn't accept me"I know there is no condemnation for him who is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
"I'm not good enough"   I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
"Things are bad, it's ok to be depressed"       I am going to rejoice when I go through trials as you God are maturing me for your purpose   
I challenge you to write out the lies and find a truth to retrain your mind.  As you continue to renew your mind, you will find that the lies come less.  It takes time and is a process, but you must take those thoughts captive!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wisdom, A Lifetime Guarantee!

There aren't many things in life that are guaranteed, but one thing that God has promised that if we seek wisdom we will find it.   Many times we seek wisdom on something specific in a moment of crisis.  For example, you get assigned to a project in a business area that's new to you.  You scramble to get up to speed on that subject area while the project is launching.   While there will always be a chance that you'll need to scramble for knowledge when something pops up, it's those that constantly survey the landscape and seek knowledge which are the most wise.   

Many times we struggle to take the time away from the day to day to build our knowledge and contribute to wisdom.  This applies to both the secular and sacred!  We all know that to grow in God we need to know Him better, but it's so easy to let other things take over our time.  As a leader we also need to grow our knowledge and competency to ensure we are building into our staff and those we influence.  If we aren't growing in both the sacred and the secular, we will not be building into others out of the overflow of our heart.

The good news is, that wisdom is always available for those who diligently seek it and there is a never-ending supply.  So the challenge for today is to schedule time to seek wisdom.  Put it on the calendar, ask God to guide you in your journey to wisdom, stick to it and be a lifetime learner!

I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.   The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.  Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate  I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;   by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me."
Proverbs 8: 12-17

Read the entire chapter, Proverbs 8 at Bible Gateway

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How puzzling...

God created us all as individuals that have the ability to show the attributes and character of God in a way only we uniquely can. We are all a distinct piece of a divine puzzle that God has designed to lead others to Himself. If we all do our part, the picture of who God is will be revealed to those who have eyes to see. If we don't do our part, the divine puzzle will be missing a piece!

You have unique gifts and abilities that were divinely designed, mixed with personality (& quirks). Your unique make up creates a beautiful collage of character which is God breathed. God not only designed you with a purpose, but lovingly has built you with a function for His glory that only you can fulfill.

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us - Romans 12:5-6a"

Don't run from your calling. Embrace your uniqueness.

Thank God for His "unique puzzle piece" He created in you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Altar for the Unknown god...

I'm reading in Acts about Paul's missionary Journey to Athens. At the time, Athens was a place where people dedicated their days to discussing the latest philosophies. The city was full of idols and differing approaches to religion. I would equate the dialog to a modern day college coffee house, where the philosophy majors and deep thinkers go to debate the merits of different worldviews and religions.

So here comes Paul.... He begins to preach the exclusive message of Jesus at the synagogue. The philosophers hear of his message which has been preached just to the Jews. They have a few choice words for Paul...

"...Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods..." (Acts 17:18)

Can you imagine what these guys were thinking!? How dare the "out of towner" show up with a new message about a new God and not have courage to discuss with those most educated about these kinds of things beforehand. I'm sure it was a mix of curiosity, shock, frustration. Imagine Paul's response when he stumbled across the ultimate display of righteous confusion...

"Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. " Acts 17:22-23

Imagine these well meaning philosophers who were seeking righteousness through an intellectual path. To make sure they were fully covered, they created an altar to the Miscellaneous! How can there be any fulfillment or redemption in worshipping an unknown God, but many of us do this every day.

- We seek to be righteous without acknowledging the role of the redeemer.
- We work to do the right thing to look upright and perform in compliance with the expectations of others.

Even more so than worshiping the "unknown", I have chosen my own idols. I thought that if I were more popular and had more fun experiences, I would be joyful. The reality is was that I was worshipping the wrong things and it left me more empty as I gave myself over to a cause not worthy of my calling by God. Bit by bit and piece by piece, I gave parts of my soul away in a quest for happiness and fulfillment.

The good news my friends is that OUR REDEEMER LIVES. He is here not to be unknown, but to KNOWN to us. What a glorious picture of humility is the fact that the Almighty God has a passionate concern for each of us individually. Don't take for granted the love that the Father has for you. Bare your soul to Him and He will answer when you call out to Him.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In the face of difficulty... YOU CAN OVERCOME!

All of us have situations which have profoundly shaped the course of our lives, whether we admit it or not. In observing how people weather the storms of life, I’ve seen that people have 1 of 3 different reactions to difficulty:
  1. Define - They let the difficulty define them
  2. Deny – Pretend it didn’t happen and push aside the impact
  3. Overcome – Address the situation head on with the knowledge of the grace of God
I want to walk through these reactions, to help you evaluate your own responses to situations which you have experienced.


Those who chose to allow their difficulty to define them, chose to live under the shadow of what happened to them. By living in the shadow of tragedy, they are unable to embrace the restoration which can be found in Christ. Many times those who chose this approach may not be doing it overtly, but negative thought patterns will sneak in and keep us from living free of that hurt.

"If X didn't happen, I would be happy"
"I can't do X because of what happened to me"
"If they knew X, they wouldn't want me serve anyway"
"I'm not worthy of this because of X"

To shift mindset, it's important to realize that every negative situation provides an positive opportunity for growth. One of my favorite verses is from Romans:

"...We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us" - Romans 5:3-5a

If you can wrap your mind around the fact that our sufferings produce character in us, it helps you get past the hurdle of being defined by your tragedy. I would much rather be defined by the character, perseverance and hope that is built up in me through difficulty. One of my personal redirects in difficulty is to take a step back from the situation and thank God for the investment he's making in my character. It's as if my heart is getting an Extreme Makeover - Heart Edition when God allows me to walk through difficulty.


Those who deny tend to remove themselves emotionally from the difficulty. They seem to disengage and become an observer in the situation and not a participant. At times the brain may be processing, but the heart is left behind. I think this happens more with men, as we've built an image of masculinity equivalent to toughness.

Denial may seem like an adequate coping mechanism to "get through it", but doesn't give any opportunity for us to grow through the situation. Denial promotes self-reliance instead of God reliance during the situation.

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:12

In order to get through difficulty it's important to reach out to God and your support network to work through the tragedy. Your friends, family and others in your life are there for good times and bad. By denying the situation and not working through it, you may be cheating others who would grow from the situation out of their own opportunity for growth. There have been many times that I've watched someone else struggle through a situation and be restored, only to be confronted with a similar struggle later in my life. The fact that I walked through it with someone else gave me hope and encouragement.


The ultimate example of working through tragedy are those who have overcome. When I think of people who have overcome tragedy, they become spiritual superheros in the lives of others. Is observing someone has overcome, they are able to share that encouragement with others in a way that only they can. Paul was grateful for this when he addressed the Corinthian church:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4

There is nothing more joyous than seeing a difficult time of your life encourage others as they walk the journey God has allowed them to walk through. Each and every one of us has a unique imprint to leave on the lives of others but we can only leave the divine imprint intended if we have renewed our mind with the Word of God and can view our situation from His perspective.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. - Romans 8:6

If you've realized that you aren't handling your own tragedies well, there are some key steps to take to become an overcomer.

Commit to Prayer
First of all, relinquish control of the situation and ask God to open your eyes to where you need to grow. Commit to prayer on the situation and ask God align your heart to his. If there is another person involved that has caused the hurt, pray for that person. This was very transformational for me in getting through a big situation in my own life. God can soften your heart as you pray for that person who caused your pain or conversely who you have caused pain.

Seek A Support Network
Make sure you don't walk this road alone. As mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12, a cord of 3 strands cannot be easily broken. You, a trusted friend and the holy spirit are a fantastic team to work through issues and grow stronger. To work through some tragedies, professional help may be needed. There is nothing to be ashamed of if this is the case. Keep in mind that the goal is to be an overcomer so you can live a life of freedom and help others along the way!