How to Discover Unexplainable Joy In the Midst of Sorrow

We’ve gotten besieged with sorrow over the last few weeks.  Loved ones of our loved ones suddenly, without warning, passing away.

I told Jennifer, “If the phone rings at 1:00 a.m. again don’t answer it.  Nobody’s calling to tell us we won the lottery at 1:00.”

I know I’m not alone.  I’m sure you can relate.  You haven’t even worked through all 12 steps of the grief recovery program before it starts all over.

Yet, this morning as I fixed breakfast, I thought how God’s grace and healing springs fresh as the new day begins.

David sings, “Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Somehow after finally sleeping and then seeing the sun shining I feel God’s presence renewed.  I believe he has a way out of the darkness and I feel his unexplainable joy filling me again.

It comes not because you worked through all 12 steps successfully, good luck with that project.  But rather because you took the most important step.  You rested in the love of the one who can see the end from the beginning and promises, “I am with you always.”

Then the sun rises in the morning beaming light through your windows and into your soul.

*Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

Stop Worrying and Get Some Sleep!

Have you ever had those times when you were so consumed with worry you couldn’t sleep?  Pressures and the challenges kept you staring at the ceiling most of the night?  And the longer you stayed awake the more frustrated you became?

I have more than a few times.  But see I was raised by a family of worriers.  They perfected worrying to an art.

Yet really, there’s always something to worry about isn’t there?

I discovered a promise though that shocked me and helped calm those sleepless nights.

Solomon writes, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

Wow!  He says you can strive and worry if you want to.  Or you can rest in God’s care and enjoy a good night sleep.  It’s up to you, whatever floats your boat.

See God enjoys giving that gift to those he loves.  No special formulas required.  Simply when you come to the end of your abilities and say, “Ok God, I’m tired.  It’s your turn now.”

Then, with that minuscule seed of faith, God works his miracle and you find peace again.

So have a good night sleep.  Let’s talk further tomorrow.

*Psalm 127: 2 (NIV)

What Do You Do When Life Grows Confused?

Do you ever wish God would just give you a road map for your life?  Have you ever had those times that you’ve thought, “God I’m happy to do what you want but frankly I don’t have a clue?”

I have, way too many times.  I’ve felt so lost just touching the edge of any road would’ve felt like a victory.

So what do you do when you’ve tried everything and you’re still poking around in the fog as lost as ever?

I’ve found, in those times, it helps to just rest in the promise that I may be careening from pot hole to pot hole but God still sees the road clearly.

He promises, “He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

I love that!  Not after I’ve accomplished five more steps but unconditionally now when I walk with God he walks with me.  He has the map and sees the road.

So you can settle down on the bus.  You may not be able to see the road but the driver can.  And he promises to get you to your destination.

So get on, put on your headphones and relax.  The road may be foggy but you’ll arrive safely.

*Micah 4: 2 (NIV)

Do You Want to See a Miracle?

I’ve seen some genuine miracles.

I’ve prayed for needs that were beyond reason and seen answers beyond explanation.  Yep, I’ve experienced full up, no kidding miracles.

I’ve also prayed for people to be healed and they died.  So no, I wouldn’t call.

I’ve prayed for answers that God in a blink could have provided and he didn’t.  And it left me or others bewildered and frustrated.

So why the difference?

I think there are innumerable answers, most of which comes down to, we really don’t know God’s mind that often.  Heck, if we did he wouldn’t be God would he?

But the one indispensable key is faith.

Jesus promised, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Frankly, I find that promise a bit scary.

I mean, what if God really gives you what you ask?  What if he doesn’t?

Yet, that brings you back to the core of Jesus’ promise.  When you approach God in faith that he loves you and wants to bless you it unleashes amazing power.  And when you pray with that faith you’ll see his miracles in a way you simply never will otherwise.

I think it’s worth the gamble.  What about you?

*Matthew 21:22 (NIV)

How to Unleash a Joyful Day Every Day

I have a special gift.  I can wake up to a fresh new day and crash into the dumps even before breakfast.  And if I’m not careful it can carry over making for a marvelous day.

I’d guess you’ve perhaps had a couple of those yourself.

Yet, I’ve discovered an antidote which helps transform my outlook.

I pause long enough to remember that God created this new day just for me and choose to start it in joy.

David wrote, “This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.”*

I love that verse.  I don’t memorize well but that verse I have and it can transform my attitude in an instant.

This morning when you woke up God had already pulled the night shift creating this new day just for you.

Sure, it might have some challenges, maybe some heartache.  Many days do.

But God also promises a blessed day.  A day to see his miracles, feel his love and enjoy his beauty.

Wow!  I don’t think it gets much better.

And imagine if you started every day with that focus.

Heck, I’m smiling just thinking about it.

So have a blessed day today!  Oh, and tomorrow too.

*Psalm 118: 24 (NIV)

You Can Be Changed into a New Power Filled You!

Do you ever have times you wish you were someone different?

Oh, not so much someone who’s rich and famous though that might be fun.  But deep inside, when you’ve stumbled again at the thing that keeps tripping you?

I know I do occasionally and I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t mind a few changes in me also.

Yet, I find that to be one of most powerful promises from God.  That he can and will change us from the inside so we become the person we truly want to be.

Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”*

I love that.  It offers so much hope no matter who you are and what you’ve done.

God offers to overcome it and make up for it by literally changing you into a new, power filled person.

And it begins simply as you ask God to create that change in you.

Frankly, that’s been perhaps the most amazing part of my faith journey.  I look back at all the rough edges of my personality and am astounded sometimes by the changes in me.

Oh, there’s plenty more to go but I’m thankful for the journey so far.

*2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

How to Discover a Life Beyond Your Dreams

So many people live as Thoreau described, “Lives of quiet desperation.”

They desperately race to give themselves happiness, chasing down blind alleys that lead nowhere except to frustration.

I think about what a friend said, “This isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is our lives.”

So what makes the difference?

I don’t have all the answers.  But I do know the trajectory of my life changed when I stopped running and asked God to lead me into his amazing life.

The journey has been filled with detours and storms.  Yet, also an incredible life I never could imagine.

Paul promises, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”*

God has planned for you a life beyond what you can even imagine. Even if you’ve missed some of it, it’s never too late to experience it.

It starts when you say, “God give me your unimaginable life.”

And then it grows each day.

*1 Corinthians 2: 9 (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 Feel Loved When You Feel Most Alone

Do you ever just feel alone?  Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or are struggling through a challenge.

When surrounded by family and friends you feel loved.  But when they’re gone that loneliness bites again.

I’ve certainly felt that.  I think we all do.

At a time I felt very alone, I asked God to bring me into a relationship with him and I immediately felt his indescribable  love.

Sure I’ve felt lonely at times since then.  Yet I can honestly say, in the midst of those times I’ve truly felt God’s presence the most.

David prayed, “I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”*

In those alone times, when you wake up, you can feel the most overpowered.   Yet, in that moment is when you can feel God’s presence the most.

You may still feel the pangs of loneliness of course, but feeling God’s love will get you through it and that will be enough for today.

*Psalm 17:15 (NIV)

Do You Need New Strength to Conquer Your Mountain?

Do you ever just feel worn out?

You’ve push and struggle against an unconquerable problem until you feel like you can’t go on anymore.  Yet, giving up isn’t an option either.

Yeah, I’ve been there,  way too many times.

That’s why I love what David wrote, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on heights.”*

No matter what we face when we come back and just relax in God he renews and guides us.

Often I find this hard to remember as a full member of the type A personality club.  But I’ve also learned there comes a time to stop pressing and wait for God’s answers and strength.

It’s not doing nothing and saying, “I’m waiting for God.”

It’s more like productive waiting.  Praying, listening, reading, thinking, trying to understand your heart and God’s directions.  Oh, and resting too.

Then he promises he’ll give you renewed strength so you stand on top of your mountain.

*Psalm 18: 33 (NIV)