Finding Joy When You’re Overwhelmed with Grief

I’ve stood by too many grave sides talking about the one who left too soon.  Memories flood my mind.  Tears well up in my eyes and spill down my cheeks.

Sometimes I’ve thought, “If I could just have one more hour.”

But of course I can’t.  And it wouldn’t be enough.

You’ve felt the same I know.

As has been said, “None of us get out of this alive.”

That’s why I love this promise of Jesus about Heaven.

“God will wipe away every tear.  There will be no more death, grief, crying or pain.  The old way has ended.”

This life is not the end of your story.  The dawn is just breaking.

As we simply accept God’s gift he gives it.  He says, “Join me my child.  Live with me and those you love forever.”

Then you rest in the comfort that you’ll get to spend that extra hour with that one you love.  Heck, you’ll get to spend a gazillion hours.

Actually, with a few loved ones, that might be just a smidge too much.

No loved one will ever leave again.  No more tears or grief or pain.

Hey, and you get to live there also.

Oh, and me too.  Not sure how I got so lucky but I’m not asking.

 

*Revelation 21:4

How to Find Comfort and Peace When You’ve Lost a Loved One

I’ve stood beside a grave when a loved one died and even with all the faith I feel on a good day been filled with doubts.  When I need that faith the most, because I want assurance I’ll see my loved one again, my faith fails me the most often.

I’ve got a leaky faith bucket.

Perhaps you’ve struggled with the same thing.

Jesus offered a prayer to comfort his disciples and us.

He prayed, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see the glory of my kingdom.”

I love that.

One of the last things Jesus did before he was arrested was pray for his disciples and us.  That we would live in his kingdom with him forever.

Kind of like wanting your children to be with you where ever you go.  There’s nothing better.  And with my adult children exhausting.

I find that comforting and liberating.

You don’t need an intermediary.  You can simply ask him to let you live with him as his child.  Then he prays to the Father for you.

As a Father there’s nothing I enjoy more than to be with my children.  Evidently Jesus feels the same.

Now if I can just find that leak.

 

*John 17:24

Enjoy the Confidence of Heaven When You’re Scared to Death of Hell

I’ve sat through way too many church services where the preacher at the end gave an altar call.  Then I’d see some of the same people going forward again to make sure they were still saved.

I’d think, “These are the nicest people I know.  If they’re lost I’m toast.”

Some who long ago should have been filled with joyful anticipation of Heaven lived their lives in fear of hell.

See Jesus settled that question.  Yet his answer is ignored for some unexplainable reason.

He said, “I give them eternal life, not one will perish, and no one will take them away from me.”

Ok, so what part seems nebulous?  I don’t see the cracks we can fall through.

So instead of living your life in fear you get to live it in love and joy.

Instead of fearing hell you get to anticipate Heaven.

Instead of striving to please a gotcha type of God.  You love him and others with the love he’s given you.

Is it time to settle that issue once and for all?

Then simply ask for and accept God’s gift of eternal life.  Then from now on choose to live in confidence of it, never doubting again.

It will transform your life.

No cracks!

 

*John 10:28

Do You Need to Refill Your Happiness?

Have you ever you felt just empty inside?  I mean like you’re drained and have nothing left?  Your energy and joy are dissipated?

Maybe you’ve slogged against an immovable challenge.  Maybe you feel alone because of the loss of a loved one or a broken relationship.

And no matter how hard you work nothing changes and you finally just feel empty.

I’ve felt that, way too many times.  Particularly before I entered into a relationship with Jesus.

But I can tell you when I entered into that relationship something changed.  I felt a joy and peace and love that filled me in a way I never imagined.  And it continues to this day, though it can get a bit leaky occasionally.

 Jesus promised, “The water I give will become like a spring of water bubbling up into real life now and eternally.”

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who responded astutely, “Please give me this water so I won’t get thirsty ever again.”

That’s the only way you receive it and refresh it.  But it’s also that simple.

Then it will bubble up into peace and joy and love like you’ve can’t imagine.

And assurance you’re filled with God now and will live with him forever. 

Please pass me that water.

 

*John 4:14

How to Fill Up the Emptiness Inside with Amazing Life

When I was younger I seemed to have it made.  Lots of friends, a good education, a career ahead of me.  Yet, there was just something missing.

I can’t explain it other than, there seemed to be an emptiness inside that I couldn’t understand or fill.  No matter how many parties I attended.  No matter how many mugs of beer I drank. When the party ended and I sobered up the emptiness returned.

Through a series of events I finally discovered what Jesus so long ago promised.

“Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst.”

I’d probably heard that verse somewhere through my growing up years going to church but somehow it never sunk in.  Perhaps because I was more focused on partying than getting to know the living God.

Yet, I finally asked, as the woman Jesus was talking to, “Lord, please give me this water.”  And he did.

Though life has at times been challenging, like it is for everyone, that living water filled up the emptiness.

I never again felt truly alone and that my life was pointless.  I quit wasting time wading around in the weeds trying to find what only God can give.

I’m thankful for that.  And that I don’t look like I kept on partying.

 

*John 4:14

How Can You Be Sure You’re God’s Child Forever?

To be honest, seminary was really weird for me.  I just never fit in.

I was chatting over lunch with another student one afternoon in the student lunch room.  As I ate my meatloaf sandwich the conversation turned to whether you can lose your salvation.

He said, “Absolutely.”

“How?” I asked.

“When you sin,” he replied.

“Like every time?  If so, I’m toast.”

“Yes, unless you’ve ask for forgiveness again.”

“What happens if I miss one?”

“Then you’re not in any longer.”

“Wow, so let me get this straight.

I wouldn’t treat my own children that way, if I had any.  And besides how would you keep track of who’s in and who’s out anyway?

“Yet, God loves us with far greater and purer love.

Let me phrase this for you in my most theological terms.  That’s nuts.”

We parted disagreeing.  He struggled with depression.  I cracked jokes few appreciated.

That’s what I love about what John writes.

“To all who received Jesus, to those who believed in him, he blessed with becoming God’s children.”

See you become God’s child simply by believing enough to ask.  And you remain his child forever just like your children.

That’s as theologically deep as I get.  The rest to me is pretty weird.

 

*John 1:12

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)

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)

How to Try Out the Spiritual Adventure

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8 NIV)

In college I lived the party life in a fraternity house.  I’d go to church occasionally to please my mom or meet girls.

The music was boring, the services long and the sermons remote.

Frankly, I couldn’t see the point.

During my senior year in college I came to a place where the partying just wasn’t enough anymore.  I struggled with depression and truly felt lonely even in the midst of the crowd.  I thought there simply had to be more to life than what I was experiencing.

A fraternity brother had gone through a spiritually transforming experience that I grew curious about.  I talked with him one evening about his spiritual journey and how he began.

No walk down a center isle in front of a crowd.  No membership classes.  No pledge forms.  He just tried it out to see if it worked.

Exactly what this verse says.  Take a taste.  Try it out.  See if God isn’t good.

I did and my life changed forever.  I can’t imagine, well actually I can imagine, what my life would have been like otherwise.

And no, I never once wanted to go back.

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)