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?

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 See God Give You the Desires of Your Heart (Part 2)

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.” (Psalm 37:5 NIV)

We have so many friends right now that could really use a miracle.  I mean they need a full up miracle just to survive.  They pray, we pray and nothing seems to change.

It leaves them and me wondering, “Why Lord?  Why no answers?”

Sometimes, having previously been a professional holy man, people ask me those questions.  Frankly I don’t know.  Sorry to disappoint.

But I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered.

When I’m at the end of trying everything I know and finally in resignation commit it to God.  When I say, “Ok, I give up.  I don’t understand but I trust you have a better plan.  I’m done, it’s your shift.”

Then I see him work.  Often not how I asked but rather in surprising ways.  Then I see his miracle as he fulfills the deepest desires of my heart.

David writes when you trust God enough to commit your desires to him to fulfill as he knows best it opens your eyes to see his real miracles.  And through that trust God’s power is unleashed in mysterious ways.

Are you at the end of your answers?  It’s okay.  God’s shift is starting.

How to See God Give You the Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

What do you really desire?  What have you prayed for continually that hasn’t been answered?  What do you wish for that just hasn’t come?

And now you’ve grown weary and you’re ready to throw in the towel.  You think, “I guess God really doesn’t want that for me and I’m okay.”  Except you’re not.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced that and then a breakthrough happens.  Occasionally I’ve thought, “So God, you couldn’t give me this a little sooner?”

I won’t pretend to understand the mind of God.  Heck, half the time I don’t understand my own.

Yet, as a father nothing delights me more than seeing my children happy when I give them a gift.  But I also love them enough to want only what I know is best for them and so at times withheld requests.

When my children grew a bit older they could still delight in me as their father because they trusted I loved them and wanted only what was best for them.  Yeah, and then sometimes it didn’t work out exactly like that.

I think it works the same with God.  Only he’s a whole lot smarter.

Would You Like a Fresh New Start in Life?

“It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.”  (Galatians 6:15, NLT)

Have you ever had times you thought, “Man, I’ve blown it now.  God will never forgive me?”

I have, more than once—in an hour.

Then you continue to beat yourself up running through your mind all the “If only’s”.

Yet in reality, we don’t get Mulligan’s like in golf do we?  As our moms used to say, “You’ve made your bed now you get to live in it.”

Yet, God does offer us do-over’s.  Oh, you may still wrestle with natural consequences but God offers a fresh beginning.

It doesn’t depend on following religious rules.  It comes as we turn to God and say, “Ok, I want to walk with you in the daylight.”

Then he forgives your stumbles, picks you up out of the mud and tells you, “You are my child.”

He forms in you new desires and leads you by the hand out of the chaos into the light.

I’ve seen it in my own life and in the lives of others.  And it’s offered to you as well.

Oh, and sorry Mom for not making my bed.

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)

Find Power in the Midst of When You Feel Overwhelmed

I’ve heard said, “The problem with life is, it’s so daily.”

At times it can seem like series of challenging puzzles coming one after another.  And the biggest problem is often you don’t get one solved before next one hits.

You tirelessly work day after day.  And frankly after a while you can start feeling, “If this thing called life just wasn’t so daily I could get some rest and get on top of it.”

It’s what I love about what David writes, “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

We all have days when those those lions seem like a step up don’t we?

Yet, into the midst of this daily grind God brings his goodness.  And when you stop and seek his answers a feeling of renewal comes.

Renewal based on believing that God sees your struggle and knows the answer.  He sees your need and has the solution.  And when you feel overwhelmed he mysteriously gives you his peace.

When the challenges of life become too much for today, you can rest in him and find the strength to go on tomorrow.

So welcome to life.  Be careful out there, it’s gonna be daily.

*Psalm 34:10 (NIV)

Do You Face the Impossible? Here’s What to Do

We have so many friends struggling with impossible challenges right now I told Jennifer to quit answering the phone.

Several have health issues that appear out of control.  One is struggling financially because of health issues with no solution in sight.  Some are devastated by loosing loved ones and struggle to find resolution.

It makes me want to hide under our comforter and pretend I’m comatose.

Yet, in the midst of these challenges Jesus promises, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

I love that!  I’ve faced impossible challenges probably like you.  Yet, I’ve also seen God work the impossible on occasion.

I wish I could bottle the recipe that makes that work though because I’d be a billionaire.  Unfortunately, I haven’t.

I can tell you though he works miracles.  And he’ll work his greatest ones when you face the impossible.

He seems to do it most often when you just finally give in to his power and say, “Ok God.  I’m out of ideas.  I need yours.   I’ve finished my shift.  Time for you to take over.”

And then he does.  Maybe not like you expect.  Perhaps not even like you prayed.  But he brings his possible into your impossible.

Hey!  I hear the whistle.  Shift’s over.

*Luke 1:37 (NIV)