How to Find Confidence When Bombarded by Crises

Another text message another crisis last night.

I said to Jennifer, “I don’t know if it is our age, but it seems like it’s been non-stop lately.”

From her look, I could tell she didn’t appreciate the age part much.

Friends suddenly losing loved ones, other friends facing health crises, some personal challenges.  It’s been a run lately.

That’s why when I read a promise of Jesus I suddenly stopped and thought, “Yes, that’s it.”

Jesus said, “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the End.”

Think about that.  He says, “I’ve completed all my plans since before creation.”

Then he promises, “I am first and last.  I created the beginning and I’ll create the end.”

So no matter what you face Jesus promises he is with you.

He knew you before you were born.  He’ll meet you when you leave this earth.  And he’s with you in the midst of this crazy thing called life bringing his power every day.

Do we question his plans sometimes?  Of course.  Often I’ve wondered, “God, could I vote on this?”

Yet, I’ve also seen God work difficult circumstances into amazing blessings.   And in the midst find comfort knowing he’s with me.

Oh and seriously, I’m not answering my phone right now.

*Revelation 21:6 (NIV)

How Do You Find Comfort When Blindsided with Losing a Loved One?

One more phone call from a dear loved one who suddenly, unexpectedly lost a dear loved one.  She feels crushed as we do for her.  Words fail and no actions can fix the hurt.

I’ve been there as I’m sure you have too.  The world stops and it seems impossible to go on.

Yet in time after enough tears it does.

It caused me, once again, to think about how short and fragile and beautiful and wonderful life is.  We hurt because we love yet love makes life magical.

Jennifer and I spent a marvelous day skiing yesterday on a perfect blue sky day.  Yes, the only kind I go up on now.  I’m a card carrying wuss and don’t care.

Last night as I read my Bible I came across a verse that gives the most important answer.

God promises, “I will gather you . . . . I will bring you home.”

In the end that’s really all that matters isn’t it?  That God promises to bring us home.

When you simply trust in him as his child you’ll be with those you love forever where there will be no more tears only love.

Oh, and I hope some blue sky skiing days too.

*Zephaniah 3:20 (NIV)

How Do You Find Peace When Blindsided by Death?

We were stunned last night to learn that a friend’s daughter suddenly died.  She was friends with my kids growing up, in the height of life and now’s gone.

Death slams us when a loved one is taken from us or we face it ourselves doesn’t it?  Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t truthful.

In those times I find helpful rereading God’s promises.

David prayed, “You will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

Over and over God promises that nothing in this life or even death can separate you from his love.

In that assurance you can rest that in Heaven all things will be made perfect once again.

I don’t understand it all and often when staring down death my faith grows shaky.

Yet then I remember all the miraculous ways God has cared for me.  And I think, “Would he desert me when I need him most?”

Then peace filters in again and it’s enough for now.

*Psalm 16: 10 (NIV)

How to Uncover the Miracle Life

I’m amazed at the miracle of my life.

I think back to the dead end road I walked in college.  Frustrated, alone, depressed, running chaotically to find elusive happiness.

Yet, out of that confusion to find my wife and be blessed with our children astounds me.  The prosperity we’ve been blessed with even after so many years of financial struggle amazes me.  And to think that after all these years the journey today is the best and keeps growing better.

The miracle began when I stopped running away from God and chose to walk to him.

The Psalmist wrote, “You have made known to me the path of life, you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”*

He offers you a clear path even when life seems confused.  Joy when it makes more sense to feel depressed.  His presence when you feel most alone.  And the comfort that all of this grows better not only now but forever.

*Psalm 16: 11 (NIV)

Quora Post: “Is There Life After Death?”

I’m at Quora today answering this question:

“A friend told me about his death.

He suffered a massive stroke then heard the emergency room personnel say, ‘He won’t make it'”. . . .

You can read more here.

If you enjoy it please upvote it and follow.

Thanks

 

When Death is Finally Defeated

When I stand by the graveside of a loved one I’m struck by the finality of it all. And honestly often I’m plagued by doubts. Maybe you are too.

Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of heaven being like a net thrown from a boat gathering up fish. Then he concludes, “They sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age.”*

Unfortunately, that’s been used to scare people into a relationship with God. Yet, I don’t believe Jesus intended it that way.

Personally I see comfort in it.

When this life ends it really isn’t the end. We’re promised Heaven. There we’ll be with God and our loved ones.

He offers this to everyone. I think when we get to Heaven we’ll be surprised by some who are there. Heck, maybe some will be surprised by us.

In the end, though, there are some who completely reject God and choose to live apart from him so God finally gives them what they wanted.

Yet, also realize this doesn’t depend on us swimming into the net. But simply accepting the love God offers.

 

*Matthew 13:48-49 (NIV)

Finding Hope When Face to Face with Death

I would guess most of us, when faced with the death of a loved one, have doubts assail us. I’m sure there are some with immovable faith. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those.

And grappling with death brings out the worst of my questions.

So in those times it helps me to re-read promises and stories from scripture.

Jesus told a parable that I find comforting. “The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore.”*

I find this comforting because God takes the initiative to gather up his followers. It’s not because they navigated perfectly into the net but because God in his love draws them in.

Also, he offers his kingdom to everyone. No predetermination. No entrance exam. Everyone is welcome.

In a sense, all I can do is relax and choose to be a part of it. I can’t gain more of it or lose any it.

I enter in simply by accepting it. Really, how could it be any other way?

And when I remember those things it helps calm the storm clouds of doubt.

 

*Matthew 13:47-48 (NIV)

Death Sucks!

I hate death!

A few days ago I conducted my mother-in-law’s funeral. A year ago my father-in-law’s. Twelve years ago my dad’s and 10 months later my mom’s.

I hate the finality. That loved one I’ll no longer enjoy.

Oh, I’m often thankful when their suffering ends. But I hate saying goodbye.

I also hate that it always causes me twinges of doubt about this place we call Heaven.

On a good day I believe. But I’ll tell you when I’m standing beside a grave, looking at a casket, doubt creeps in again.

I hate that.

How dare it intrude in this solemn occasion? How dare it sneak in uninvited and crash this gathering? And how dare it do this when I’m conducting a funeral?

Sometimes I wonder, “God why is it so hard sometimes for me to believe?”

Then I think, “Perhaps it’s hard for a lot of people at times and I need to let others know it’s ok.”

And because when I’m standing by a grave it reminds me this life is incredibly short so don’t waste a minute.

Then I choose to rest again in believing Heaven is for real and I will be with my loved ones there someday.

And that is enough.

Why are Churches so Full of Hypocrites?

The number on complaint I hear from those who reject Christianity is that churches are full of hypocrites. Their theory goes, “Since the church is full of hypocrites I get a pass on having anything to do with God. I mean I’m not nearly as bad as some I see in churches so if God grades on a curve I’m gold.”

 

windy wheat

 

The number one fear I hear from Christians is losing their salvation. That somehow they’ll get to the end of life and have missed reading a chapter they needed for the final exam. And all the hypocrites in church kind of prove this.

Interestingly both are rooted in a common reality. One, that when I was a pastor, I can tell you I experienced up close and personal.

 

I used to say, “Some of the best people in the world go to church. And some of the most messed up people in the world go to church too.”

 

So how can this be? And how does it answer both questions?

[Read more…]

Growing Deep in Your Relationship with God

I’ve always been confused by something. Well no actually, I’ve been confused by a lot.

But one thing is why some people seem to enter into a relationship with God but over time they fall away from the vitality of it. And others, no matter what life throws at them, grow stronger and deeper in it.

 

Wheat Field

 

I’ve known people who started going to church and got excited about it. They made new friends, enjoyed the services, and found the messages engaging. So they got involved. Joined a small group, taught children’s classes, attended a retreat.

But somehow over time the excitement waned. They started attending sporadically. Found other things to do on Sunday morning. And eventually just moved on. Kind of “been there and done that”.

Add to that the ones who drop away when pressures hit. They don’t see God work they way they prayed. So they conclude, “This just doesn’t work for me.”

Through the years I’ve seen a whole bunch who tried out Christianity and somehow it just didn’t stick.

 

Yet the real problem I see? They miss the amazing life God offers because they never stayed with it long enough to truly discover it.

 

Frankly, I don’t have a clear answer for this dilemma. And honestly, I don’t have a clear answer for why with me it did stick. I was a most unlikely candidate.

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