How Do You Find Hope and Peace When You Feel Overwhelmed with Problems?

I know so many people struggling with overwhelming issues.  Health setbacks, family chaos, financial stresses, job challenges.  Maybe you are too.

In the midst, even as a believer, it’s easy to give up hope isn’t it?  To think, “It’s always going to be like this.”

Or to feel, as a friend once said, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

Yet, when that becomes your focus where does it leave you?  Feeling hopeless doesn’t it?

That’s what I love about this promise from God through the prophet Jeremiah.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When that promise was given the Jews were exiled.  They had lost everything.  Life seemed hopeless.

Yet into the midst of their darkness God shines a ray of light.  He says, “Take heart.  Stop looking around you.  Instead look beyond you.  I have a plan for you, to prosper you and give you a bright future.”

He says the same to you today no matter what you face.

Just ask and trust him for that promise.  He will deliver it.

Then you’ll say, unlike my friend, “I don’t need any luck because I’m blessed.”

 

*Jeremiah 29:11

Enjoy Success and Prosperity When You’re Overwhelmed with Problems

We live in a confusing and challenging world don’t we?  Seems like every day something new pops up.

And when it doesn’t you worry it will.

You go to the doctor for a minor ache and he gives you that concerned look.

The business where you work gets bought out and needs to downsize.

The transmission in your 8 year old Honda starts making a funny noise that you pretend you can’t hear.

You look forward to a great retirement and find out you saved too little and invested poorly.

Yet, in the midst, God gives a promise that at first seems too simplistic.  Yet, I’ve found those are the best kind.  Even I can understand them.

“Meditate on my word continually then you’ll prosper and succeed.”

See sometimes, I think, we make things way more complicated than needed.

God simply says, “Take my word and infuse it into your mind.”

Then you gain confidence.  You look at life through the lens of his promises rather than your challenges.

You gain insight.  You see answers rather than only questions.

And God guides your mind along the path he wants you to take.

Then he promises you will prosper and succeed.

And why not?  God your father delights in blessing you his child.

Sure beats worrying doesn’t it?

 

*Joshua 1:8

Supersize Your Confidence and See Your Dreams

I’ve sat through way too many sermons where the preacher said, “We all need to suffer for Jesus.”

I remember a whole series on “Fox’s Book of Martyrs”.  Talk about looking forward to Sunday.

And how many times have I heard some church saint say about her problems, “Well, it’s just my cross to bear.”

Then Christians wonder why new people don’t crowd in their doors yelling, “Wow, supersize me with a helping of that misery.”

Yet, I see something completely different.  Yeah I know, not the first time someone noticed that about me.

A promise that says exactly the opposite and fills me with confidence.

“‘For these are the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.  ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.'”

Wait, what?  You mean God isn’t spending his days snoozing and then wakes up looking for opportunities to swat you?

Rather he has plans for you to prosper.  He has plans to give you success and abundance beyond what you can imagine.

Nowhere does he say, “I plan to make you miserable.”

What do you think would happen to your confidence and happiness if you truly focused on that promise?

And what do you think would happen in your life out of that confidence?

Supersize me with that!

 

*Jeremiah 29:11

How to Discover the Real Life You’ve Been Looking For

I find life often a paradox. Discovering a truly fulfilling life can be at times counter-intuitive.

I have friends, who by the world’s standards, have made it. They own businesses, have investments, live in big houses and drive expensive cars.

Yet, their lives are messy. Multiple marriages, health struggles, scant real friends and surprising insecurities.

 

Photo Credit: Gavin Clarke

Photo Credit: Gavin Clarke

 

I have other friends who would be considered perhaps less than the elite. They have middle class jobs, moderate IRA’s, live in tract homes and drive older mid-level cars.

Yet, they have a richness of life. Long time marriages, loving families, good friends and reasonable health.

 

So, sometimes I ask myself why, because frankly I’ve experienced both.

 

And sometimes I even find myself slipping back into a less than productive lifestyle.

Oh, thankfully not the divorce part. I’ve said, “I couldn’t ever imagine marrying someone else because I just can’t go through the training up period again.”

But what makes the difference?

[Read more…]

How to Connect With God in a Way That Changes Everything

I’m often puzzled by those who seem to make a commitment to God yet somehow it doesn’t exactly stick.

They go forward in a church service or pray at a retreat. Then drift back to the old ways.

I mean seems like it should work. They did all the right things.

Yet, soon they’re back in their previous life. Or are they?

 

Photo Credit: Tommy Clark

Photo Credit: Tommy Clark

 

I think often it’s worse. Something caused them to want a change. Some crisis or just being tired of it all.

So when they drift back the old ways don’t exactly work anymore. And now they’ve tried the “God thing” and that didn’t work either.

 

 

So often they feel worse off than before.

 

[Read more…]

Seizing the Moment

Number 47 in the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” The miracles and promises of Jesus that show us the awesome blessings we can experience each day. I hope it encourages you!

 

When I first committed my life to God and entered into that incredible relationship it radically transformed my life. So much that I wanted to share my joy with those I cared about.

I had literally gone from darkness to light. From anxiety to peace, emptiness to fullness, loneliness to love. I thought everyone would rejoice in my new discovery.

Yet, I found resistance and excuses often.  Annoyingly, the same exact excuses I’d once used.

 

Photo Credit: Sandeepachetan

Photo Credit: Sandeepachetan

 

One friend said, “Well it sounds nice for you but it’s just not for me.”

Another said, “You know, maybe later. I’m just not done really living quite yet.”

Another asked, “Well, what about those people in Africa who haven’t heard of Jesus? I don’t think I could believe in a God who’d condemn them.”

I felt frustrated because what was so life changing to me was met by some with indifference or even criticism.

And I felt somehow responsible for the eternity of those who’d rejected what I said. That was a heavy load.

 

Frankly, I don’t want to be in charge of the universe, thank you very much.

 

[Read more…]

Traveling Light Yet Abundantly

Number 45 in the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” The miracles and promises of Jesus that show us the awesome blessings we can experience each day. I hope it encourages you!

 

When I sold my business to pastor a church we got hosed financially.

 

Photo Credit: Ian Lott

Photo Credit: Ian Lott

 

We had a successful business but increasingly I felt God was leading me into full time ministry. I had served years before in a couple of short term ministries and completed seminary.

Yet, we had two small children and Jennifer was a full time mom.

So when the church offered me $35,000 a year we jumped at the opportunity. Yeah, just kidding.

When I told Jennifer my thoughts she looked at me with that look that only a husband truly understands.

I remember the first morning I sat in the predawn darkness of our living room by the glowing fire and thought with anticipation, “What have I done?”

 

To say I was scared was like calling Niagara Falls some rapids.

 

[Read more…]

God Rocks #19: Surprising Abundance

Part of the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of the awesome blessings God gives us each day. I hope it encourages you today!

 

The church is at war about whether we should expect abundance and prosperity in this life or not.

 

Photo Credit:  JD Hancock

Photo Credit: JD Hancock

 

One camp says, “If you claim it God will deliver it. Whatever you want state it and God will fulfill it.”

The other camp recites their motto, “If it doesn’t play in Calcutta it isn’t true.” In other words, “If what you’re expecting isn’t the same in the most destitute of circumstances then it’s not truth.”

 

Yet, the problem I see with both of these positions is they leave people frustrated and discouraged.

 

The first one puts God in a bottle as a genie and us as the master. And frankly God doesn’t play that role so well. So when it fails people think God failed.

And the second view leaves people expecting little in this life beyond subsistence. Which frankly isn’t very attracting.

[Read more…]

God Rocks #18: Overcoming Worry (Part 2)

Part of the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of the awesome blessings God gives us each day. I hope it encourages you today!

 

Worry runs rampant today. It and the accompanying stress some researchers say is the leading cause of illness.

We worry about our health, our finances, our family, the news. Frankly there’s never an end to what we can worry about is there? I mean have you ever woken up on a morning and thought, “Wow, everything is perfect today?” No neither have I.

 

Photo Credit: Troy Mason

Photo Credit: Troy Mason

 

But that’s only half the problem. Think about how so many people respond.

Some abuse alcohol or drugs as an escape. Others miss-use prescription drugs.

Some over eat to the point of obesity.

Many get lost in hours of TV or video games.

 

Yet, the problem is after all of those solutions nothing has been really fixed.

 

The problems and the worry remain. And the cures bring their own additional problems. Then that creates even more worry in a downward spiral. [Read more…]

God Rocks #8: Surprising Abundance

Part of the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of the awesome blessings God gives us each day. I hope it encourages you today!

 

I had a front row seat watching the train wreck called the “Great Recession”. I fielded never ending phone calls from my clients who were terrified.

In a word the recession was mainly caused by greed.

 

Photo by Jose Manuel Rios Vallente

Photo by Jose Manuel Rios Vallente

 

Many people bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford to live the “American Dream.”

Others heading into retirement with nowhere near enough savings took long shot investments to make up for their lack.

Banks willingly made bad loans to collect fees. [Read more…]