“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This is one of my favorite verses for a new year. You say, “But 2020 isn’t new anymore.” True. But thus far, 2020 hasn’t been off to a good start and a lot of us are wishing we could start it over.
*FOR I KNOW* God already knows what 2020 has for you. The bible teaches he recorded your days, before your first birthday. So if God already KNOWS, you can release yourself from being a predictor or controller of it. You don’t need horoscopes, dream-weavers or fortunetellers. You have everything you need in God KNOWING. And you don’t have to pay Him, because on the cross, He already did. He created you, He knows you, He sees you. Trust Him.
*THEY ARE PLANS FOR GOOD* Does this mean that in 2020 bad things can happen? Yep. And if I were a betting man, I’d say bad things already have and probably will again. But with God, bad can happen AND good can come from it. By sticking with God, God can bring good from bad because He is: all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, with NO sin, error, mistake, oops, misunderstanding or fail. The Bible teaches God already wrote your story. Until He ends your story, it doesn’t mean you won’t have bad chapters, it just means bad chapters will someday end in good results. God is good, and if you are with God, you are in His goodness. I hope this encourages you today.
One of the battles that can ensue on the battlefield of our minds are dark thoughts that enter and look for a place to stay. I don’t want to expound on what these thoughts are for us, lest I give them power. But they’re dark; and they have no right to our minds. I found a powerful counterattack in the bible for this: Romans 8:6, “but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” If you have Jesus in your heart, you have his LIFE and PEACE in your mind. His life and peace outweigh, outlive, outlast, overrule AND overcome the dark thoughts trying to stay there. Don’t be a wimp with dark thoughts. Don’t just roll over and submit to them. They don’t own you and they can’t take you. Jesus and you are bigger and more powerful than your thoughts. If you suffer from any degree of this, take your thoughts captive and SHRINK them to what they really are: cowardly attempts to attack turf that Jesus has already won. If you are struggling with thoughts having too much control over your mind, email me, I’d love to pray for you, as I pray for myself. I hope this encourages someone today.
Lamentations 3:28-30, “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.” Life can be like a weight bar: easy, okay, heavy, too much. That’s why this Lamentations passage was an epiphany for me. It unpacked a formula for the weighted, heavier seasons of life: 1) Go off by yourself. Shoot, Jesus did. If HE needed to, we definitely need to. During a season of heaviness, don’t be too cool or too busy to seek solitude, daily. 2) Be quiet. We are always “on,” “online,” and “on a roll.” In a heavy season, since talking is taxiing anyway, embrace opportunity for silence. 3) Pray. Period. The bible couldn’t make this any more clear: “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray for yourself like no one else has, is or will. 4) Don’t ask questions forever. It’s ok to ask (Jesus did, “why have you forsaken me?”) but let’s not stay there. In this season of heaviness, don’t let our asking prolong the Next-New season God has for us. 5) Wait. Not the kind of wait like a pediatric appointment with two sick kids in the “sick waiting room” for two hours while needing to pee. But wait like children on Christmas Eve, knowing when they wake up, there’s gifts under the tree! Wait like Lamentations exhorts us to: “for HOPE to appear.” If you have a King in your heart, you have a King who is alert, active and advocating for you in this heavy season. You may be lagging but He is strong! I hope this encourages someone today.
I sat in my car praying before going into the hospital for a visit. On the radio was a message about love. Not romantic love where you buy a box of chocolates. Not tough love where you detach and put up boundaries. Not neighborly love where you love the way you love yourself. But a love where someone doesn’t deserve it or can’t return it. The Bible calls this, “Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4) It means…
LOVE: This “love” I have for you is an attachment because we’re attached via blood, covenant, or conviction. So I can’t act like I don’t see you, hear you or know you. The attachment comes with no abandonment.
SUFFERS: This “suffering” I have for you is joining you where you are no matter where it is. In my suffering, I become blind, deaf, mute to what you’ve done or are doing, and my heart is for you. My mind and feelings struggle, but my heart’s still in it.
LONG: This “long” for you means I can’t put a timer on it. I have to take off my watch and surrender it to God’s Will. If I have to love you for a considerable amount of space it means I won’t be far away. If I have to love you for a considerable amount of time it means I’m not the timekeeper.
And before I grumble, “I don’t want to,” I gotta know God suffers long for me every day. He picked me, He suffered for me, and He’ll love me from “in the beginning” to never-ending. God IS love and love does when love isn’t deserved. God knows that WITH Him, this love IS possible. You can’t love that person who doesn’t deserve it, but if you make yourself available to God, He can *through* you. For my hospital visit, God did this through me, for someone who couldn’t return it (or frankly, deserve it). Listen, I ain’t all that. I’m moody, hypocritical and insecure. But I avail myself to God (who is 100% undamaged love), get out of the way, and let His love suffer long through me. ❤️
We all face temptation. For years, mine has been to give up (quit, throw in the towel, more bluntly, to end it). Here’s a few things I have done, am doing, will continue to to do…to keep going!
One time at a medical facility I saw this sign, and took a picture of it because the word “manage” grabbed my attention. Don’t medical facilities (i.e., hospitals, urgent cares, doctor offices) wanna eliminate pain?! They have the tools, experts, medicines and remedies to do so. Yet that’s not what this sign promises. This medical question got me thinking about the foreboding spiritual question. From reading the bible and walking with God, I know He can eliminate pain. He has an eternal arsenal of cures, miracles and remedies we can’t comprehend, much less, perform. But why, like this medical sign, does He sometimes manage our pain? The Bible offered my fallible, finite, (sometimes) failing mind something it could process. For starters, Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” I’ve learned there are some things God does or doesn’t do—-without
compromising his perfect love—that I can’t understand because I’m not God. And therein lies my choice (because his perfect love can’t force): I can choose or not choose to trust him anyway. Also, in 2 Corinthians 10, Paul said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” For me, I don’t know affirmatively, but maybe God is managing my ‘mental’ pain so people without God will see God. They’ll see a way to keep going with pain and the Great Pain Manager. Today, if you’re hurting, I’m so sorry. My heart hurts for you. I pray you know Him, Jesus, the Great Pain Manager. And you know he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Sometimes I read verses that spin in my head like chicken on a rotisserie. Afterwhile, my mind “beeps” that it’s ready, and God serves up a plate of insight! I don’t wanna keep this plate to myself—let’s have it together. Isaiah 44:5 says, “Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands.” Some insight…
1. Hold my people in an open palm. They aren’t mine to begin with. They were God’s from before the world was made. An open palm with my people is less painful than a clutch, should God ever need to release them. His name on my palm reminds of this.
2. To write God’s name on my palm is to follow in God’s footsteps (or hand-steps, wink). God wrote my name in his book before I was born. Even better, God didn’t erase it after I did many bad things in my past. To occasionally pen God’s name on my palm is significant that I’m His wonderful property no matter what.
3. If I write God’s name on my palm, it’s approximately where He sacrificed his life when they drove nails through his. NO agony, suffrage or pain I go through will compare to what He went through for all of us. Which means every pain I go through, He understands. His name on my palm keeps that perspective afresh.
Just one verse. But I am fed. Hope you are too!
Before I get started, one disclaimer: I am not a certified counselor or professional in mental health. Just a living, breathing, non-quitting bipolar-with-suicide-ideation Christian. One thing I used to do and observe others doing is using our mental struggles as an excuse or justification to hurt others. I don’t like that I have done this. And when I bounced my behavior off God’s word, I was convicted. In the bible, Paul wrote, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” (2 Cor. 12:7-8) From this text, I learned that Paul was tormented. Like Paul, some of us are mentally tormented. However, what I gleaned from the subtext, is that PAUL says HE has a thorn. He owns it. He embraces it. He gives it to God. What Paul does not say is that his “thorn” is mine, yours ours. It’s HIS thorn. And as the text continues, God used it to display His grace and power (2 Cor. 12:9). Sometimes, I’ve been tempted to say, “But I can’t help it. It’s just the way my mind is.” But that doesn’t line up with God’s word either. The bible says that we take our thoughts captive. My thoughts are not my master if Jesus is my Savior. The bible also says the greatest commandment is, “love your neighbors and your enemies.” And love does *not* mean I use my “thorn” to hurt others with it. I hope you know my heart. I know firsthand, the struggle (in the mind) is real. But I also hope this honesty encourages someone to join me in being the best we can be with it.