How to Find Comfort and Direction in the Midst of the Craziness

I talked with a friend recently who’s going through some challenging times financially.  He’s holding up pretty well but I know feels worn out.  He’s working hard but there’s only so much he can do.

He worries sometimes, like all of us, how he’ll pay the mortgage and take care of his family.

I said to him, “You know, I finding life surprising.  Challenges pop up in ways we never see coming.   Yet, over and over I’ve also discovered God’s unmistakable comfort and direction in the midst.”

“In a way we’re all walking wounded.  Like a hospital filled only with patients.  We have no idea what we’re doing but we’re just trying to help each other.”

I was reminded of that in a verse.

“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others in trouble with the comfort we’ve received from God.”

God will comfort you in mysterious ways no matter what you’re facing when you simply hope in his love and direction.

Then you get the opportunity to share that love with someone else who needs encouragement.

And mysteriously you’ll find yourself even more encouraged.

Yeah, my dad told me I’d have crazy days.  He just failed to tell me there’d be so many.

 

*2 Corinthians 1:4

You Can Have an Amazing Fruitful Life

In college I had it wired.  Lived the fraternity life with parties and friends.  Eked out good grades, drove a nice car and had a family business waiting.

Yet somehow it wasn’t enough.  I often felt like I was running.  I couldn’t stop and think about my life.  If I did I saw only emptiness.

I look back now years later and can’t imagine my destiny if I’d not miraculously found a relationship with God.

I wouldn’t have my wife because we’d have never met.  I wouldn’t have our kids we because, well you know.

I wouldn’t have had our life adventure that though at times certainly challenging always has been fulfilling.

I thought about that as I read a promise of Jesus.

He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”

What an amazing offer.  Far from curtailing your life, living in a relationship with God brings richness you simply can’t create.

And I can tell you it has little to do with living it perfectly.  Believe me, I know.

God, in his love, simply says, “Join me.”

Then the adventure begins.

Never one day have I looked back with regret, only relief.

 

*John 15:5 (NIV)

How to Win a Passport to Heaven

Sometimes they’re called “Chreaster” Christians.  You know the ones who go only on Christmas and Easter.

Perhaps just to get an extra helping of religion.  Make sure they have a valid pass to get through the gates into Heaven.

I’m not critical because at times I’ve been a “Creaster” too.

We all want to make sure our passport is current.

Yet, the downside can be wondering if it really is.  I mean how do you know for sure?

Easter reminded me of Jesus’ last words on the cross.

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Quite literally the last word on the subject, isn’t it?

See there’s nothing you can add to what Jesus did.  You can’t be good enough or attend enough church services to validate your visa.  The good news is you don’t need to.

When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant it.  He finished all the requirements.  He paid the price for what separated you from God.  He left nothing undone and nothing else for you to do.

He issued you your visa, stamped your passport and says, “Welcome to my kingdom.”

You only need to ask.

So if you’re a “Creaster” Christian welcome.  See you at Christmas.

 

*John 19:30 (NIV)

Find Healing When You’ve Lost Someone You Love

We’ve been on a run lately of people we know passing away.  My wife said, “I’m ready for a break.”  The problem is too they seem to be getting closer to my age.

I know you can relate and have felt the hurt of losing someone you love.  All the encouraging words and hugs help but the empty hole remains.

Nothing you can do ever completely heals the wound.

If there was no other reason for wanting a relationship with God than that it would be enough.

David writes, “The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.”

Aren’t you glad?  No matter how much God promises to bless you in this life he promises even more in the next.  And those loved ones you’ve lost wait to greet you.  How much better could it be?

That gift is given not to those who are perfect because none of us are, even David who wrote these words.  Rather the blameless are those who come to God and say, “Forgive me and accept me.”

Then he says, “You are forgiven.  You are my child.  Live with me forever.”

I’m glad.  But I still wish people would quit dying closer and closer to my age.

 

*Psalm 37:18 (NIV)

How Do You Find Peace in this Hurtful and Chaotic World?

Does it ever feel like the bad guys are running the world and you’re a helpless pawn caught in some cosmic chess match?

I mean all the fighting and wars and corruption in government and business.  Someone else keeps winning and you keep getting the short straw.

Maybe you don’t need to look that far away.  There’s enough chaos and hurt going on in your life that you stop and wonder at times, “Will this madness ever end?”

Well, I have good news and less than good news.  The less than good news is it probably won’t completely end.

The good news is God wins.

David writes, “For the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”

See God looks at those sowing hurt and says, “Their time is coming.”

Then he looks at you and says, “I see your hurts.  I love you and will take care of you.”

I look back occasionally at some with power who chose to hurt me.  Today, they’re gone or their power is dissipated.  And God just continues to bless my life.

The lesson I’ve learned continually is to trust a lot more in God’s power and love.  And to fret a lot less.

Now that’s a trade I win.

 

*Psalm 37:17 (NIV)

How to Discover Peace and Power When You Feel Helpless

Have you ever been personally attacked?

Maybe not physically, though that could be true.  But certainly verbally and emotionally.

And attacked by someone you trusted?  Someone who had power over you like a boss, parent or spouse?

How did you feel?  Angry, hurt, vengeful, helpless?

I’d guess all of those and more than once.  Welcome to life.

Yet when we stew in our anger we damage ourselves more than the other person.  Kind of like slapping yourself to get back at who slapped you.  Not exactly effective.

That’s what I love about this verse after David talks about being helplessly attacked.

“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

Wait, what? You mean when you stop fighting back you find peace?

See the word meek doesn’t mean wimp.  It means trusting in someone who does have the power.

Kind of like facing down an attacker in school when a bunch of your buddies walk up.  Suddenly you’re the big man on campus.

Only God is your powerful buddy.  So when you trust in his power you find peace.

And confidence that no matter how powerful your adversary they can’t keep you from God’s promises.

Nice to remember when you feel overpowered.  Remember, whose buddy is biggest.

 

*Psalm 37:11 (NIV)

Find Peace When You’ve Been Attacked and are Powerless to Win

We’ve all had times we’ve been treated unfairly.  Perhaps in your marriage, job, family or a friendship, someone you trusted attacked you.

Yet, you felt powerless to defend yourself because they held the power.  It left you knowing you ought to forgive but feeling more like you’d rather slap them, of course in the most spiritual way.

What do you do when you simply can’t win?

David writes, “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

I had this happen recently and when I reread this promise I thought, “Yes, that’s it.”

See no matter what power that person has it pales in comparison to God’s.

And God promises success and prosperity, what the promise land meant.

So when you hope in God for that, you can rest that eventually he’ll provide it.  No matter how powerful your attacker they can’t thwart one ounce of God’s promise.

When I came back to resting in that I discovered good in the midst.  I have confidence that they may have one this skirmish but God will win the war.

And for today that’s enough.

Well, actually I still want to slap him, but in the most spiritual way.

 

*Psalm 37:9 (NIV)

What Do You Do When Your Dreams Crash and Burn?

I just had a writing project crash that I’ve been working on for a year.

A couple of weeks ago I had a breakthrough and was getting great traction.  Then suddenly, without any indication, a key player pulled the plug sending me a form letter.

I felt stunned and ticked.  My first reaction was, “Really?  Are you freaking kidding me?”

My second response was, “Why God?  This project furthers your ministry.  Why aren’t you blessing it?”

This is so fresh I don’t have answers.  So it’s perhaps a great time to write.

Because we all face those setbacks when there seems to be no end and no answer.  Maybe you face one now.

I reread a verse this morning which shines some light though.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed . . . . (and) carry out their wicked schemes.”

Now I can tell you patience isn’t my strongest gift.  And yes my wife would concur.

Yet, uncharacteristically, I’ve found a level of it.

I’m choosing to just be still and wait.  I’m trusting that God has a better plan and won’t be thwarted.

So I turn it over to him to let him work.

Well actually, occasionally I also want to scream.

 

*Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

Discover Forgiveness When You’ve Screwed Up Again

Wow, talk about needing a thick skin.

I wrote an article on “Quora” about an incident of struggling with lustful thoughts.

I was answering a question about how husbands stay faithful.  For most it isn’t lack of temptation but rather learning how not to give into it.

I wanted it to be encouraging and it seemed to be for many.  Yet, a few of the comments were, shall we say, less than supportive.

One woman wrote, “When you had those thoughts you waded into infidelity.  You need to tell your wife.”

Well, actually I’d already encouraged my wife to read the article.  Later we discussed this comment.  She said, “Yeah, having a lustful thought isn’t anywhere close to having an affair.”

I probably wouldn’t have the ability to write today if that had happened.

Yet that common religious viewpoint can leave people never feeling sure they’re really forgiven.

David wrote, “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.”

I love that.

When we trust in Jesus to forgive us he doesn’t just wipe a little of the mud off.  Rather he bathes us in his righteousness so we glow like the sun.

I continually need a huge helping of that.  Oh, and an understanding wife.

 

*Psalm 37:6 (NIV)

What Do You Do When You Feel Like You’re Drowning and You’re All Alone?

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16 NIV)

We have so many friends treading in deep water right now.  Struggling with grief, illness, financial setbacks or family challenges.

I don’t know, is there something cosmic going on?

I’ve swam in some pretty deep waters also a few times as I’m sure you have.  And in addition to the challenge, we can struggle with feeling like God has deserted us and left us all on our own.

Yet, this verse promises something very different.  You may not understand why the struggle but you can find comfort knowing God is with you in it.

And not only is he with you but he will pull you out and set you on dry ground again.

Kind of like Peter, getting out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus.  Bad idea.

Yet, Jesus reached out his hand and lifted him up.  Then they both walked on the water together and climbed in.

I’ve had a few of those Peter moments.   And I’ll tell you when I’ve reached out, Jesus’ hand was always there.

What about you?  Tired of swimming?  Ready to walk back to the boat?