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

You Can Have the Emptiness Inside Filled Up with Love

I gave into lunch with an acquaintance who, as a self proclaimed atheist, wanted to debate religion.  I told him, “I don’t debate religion, but I will share what I believe.”

He finally agreed to those terms then promptly flipped to a debate.

We enjoyed a nice lunch and he enjoyed the debate.  He didn’t convince me nor do I imagine I convinced him.

On my drive home, I thought, “How depressing to feel that your existence is a cosmic mistake.  That you are utterly alone.  And when you die that’s it.”

That’s what I love about what I believe and have experienced.  That God, miraculously, came to earth as Jesus because he wants to have a relationship with me.

John writes, “The Word became human and lived among us.  We have seen his glory, of the One who came from the Father full of grace and truth.”

That alone fills the core emptiness people carry deep inside.

God wanted to live in a relationship with you so much that he sent his son here so people could see, hear and touch him.  2000 years later you still can.

All you need to do is ask.

Now, that’s worth believing.

And no, I still have no interest in debating.

 

*John 1:14

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 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

What To Do When You’re Striving for Your Goals and Failing

Do you ever have those times it feels like you’re dancing?  You know the old two steps forward, three back routine?

It might be your career or a business you’re building.  Or maybe a ministry you’re struggling to get traction with.

You’re focused on a great goal that would help people and your family but you just can’t break through.  You’ve stretched to reach it and now you feel exhausted.

I’ve had those times, a lot of them.   Yet, I’ve also learned a reverse truth.  See that’s how my brain works which is sometimes scary .

Often the harder I try the behinder I get.  Yeah, I know, pretty profound.

See, when I finally give in to God and say, “Ok Lord, I give.  If you want me to be successful you need to act.  I’ve got nothing left.”

Then surprisingly I see a sliver of light through a door that cracks open.

I cling to a promise that so often is my anchor.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Wow, how can I miss?

Why am I stressing and striving?

I’m not sure.  I’m taking a break.  We’ll talk tomorrow.

 

*Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

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)

Are Challenges Piling Up? Do You Need a Miracle?

Do you ever have times when the challenges seem to pile up?  I mean, you barely get one solved and the next hits?  Or worse their lining up faster than you can work?

We have so many friends facing that right now.  Truthfully, we’ve been on a run too.

I have two observations.  One it can feel overwhelming at times.  Two, maybe this is just life and I’m growing less tolerant.  Oh and three, no don’t ask my wife.

When I reread a Psalm I was encouraged though.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Evidently, people have felt this way a long time.  Yet you have hope.

He says when you rest in the hope that God will work it all out your perspective changes.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the mountains you face you see them through the lens of God’s unlimited power.

Instead of feeling frustrated and anxious you discover unexplainable peace.

You find joy in the midst of the stress as you see God act on your behalf.

Then you surprisingly find yourself quietly thanking him.

Now that’s the real life I’m tolerant of.

 

*Psalm 43:5 (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)

Never Call Any Challenge Impossible!

We have so many friends right now facing what seems like impossible challenges.  Unsolvable health problems, financial crises, family struggles.

They try everything they know and the situation only grows worse with no end in sight.  They feel helpless, more than a little frustrated, I’d guess even with God sometimes.

Heck, I would.  Actually, I have.

I’d guess you’ve had those times.  Maybe you’re facing one right now.  You’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.  And you’re ready to give up.

That’s what I love about Jesus’ reply to a question about impossibility.

“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

I can’t tell you how many times holding onto that promise has seen me through a dark night of despair until the sun dawned.   In the midst of some impossible challenges, knowing that though this is impossible for me it’s child’s play for God, has made all the difference.

He created all things so he can recreate them as he chooses.

He may not always give you exactly what you ask.  But he will give you what he knows is best.

Nothing you face today is impossible to the one who sees it all from the beginning.

Never call anything impossible.

I have and gladly been proven wrong.

 

*Luke 18:27 (NIV)