If I tried, could I find 26 letters worth of thanksgiving? I shall try! And, hey, if you find yourself down this Thanksgiving, this is a good thing for you to pen on paper. The cloud may be over your head, but there is still has a silver lining in it. There is always something to be thankful for…
A – Amazing Grace ; B – Boys; C – Comebacks; D – David and Lisa; E – Endless Energy; F – Fozzy; G – Gods House; H – Hope; I – Ice Cream; J – Jouraling; K – Keurig; L – Life; M – Magnolias; N – Newspapers; O – Otis; P – Parents, Rob and Rach; Q – Quiet moments; R – Raul; S – Sunrises, Sunsets; T – Tall Trees; U – United States; V – Victories; W – Workouts; X – healthy X-rays; Y – YouVersion; Z – Zoos!
I carried around this one regret for far too long. It was a stupid thing I did in my 20s. After finding my way back to God, I could forgive myself for the small sins, but this one? No way. It was a BIG sin. In my estimation, worthy of 5-10 years of carrying it on my back. And it was heavy. But then, I read this: “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” The point? The east and the west never intersect. In other words, it’s an impossible act. And so it is with God. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Him to hold onto our sin. It just doesn’t happen. When we screw up, we go to God in prayer and we ask for forgiveness because Jesus already paid the price for it. Then, we throw out the sin with the garbage. And garbage does not find its way back into a house. I hope this encourages someone to stop hoarding what needs to be tossed. And that, IN Christ, you CAN stand up straighter because WITH Him, you are no longer weighed down.
Sheep are protected IN the valley BY the shepherd. And so are we. Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” We will get weaker, stray often, grow desperate…but God will not. His power and protection never weakens, though we do. Will God shield us FROM the valley? Not always. But nothing can separate you from God when you’re in it; and it’s God, alone, who allows what happens through it. I know dark valleys. Even with God, it stunk to be in them. But it would have stunk more to be in it without Him. Some of you are going through difficult circumstances. The pain is legit–but the fear is not! Jesus said, “don’t be afraid, little flock…” We don’t need to fear the valley if God is with us. We ONLY need to fear the valley if He isn’t. I hope this encourages someone today.
On many famous accounts, God displayed his love in big things: parting a sea in half, ingesting a human in a whale, raising Jesus from a tomb. But is God’s love in small things? Yes. God’s love is often in insignificantly-small people: a deaf man, a paralyzed man, a girl in adultery, a virgin carrying His son. Have we ever realized the insignificance of these people? Rather, do we realize their significance to God? He didn’t pick Hollywood celebrities to perform these mighty miracles. He didn’t pick the ones with the most “likes” and “follows.” Out of 22 miracles Jesus performed, 20 came from insignificant backgrounds. In the world, we often have to be “somebody.” But in Christ, we already…are. every. thing. You don’t need to beef up, clean up or puff up. You show up. And God loves you right from there. I was never popular as a kid. I don’t know what it’s like to be “most likely to succeed” or nominated to prom court. But I do know what it’s like to be recklessly, unconditionally, emphatically loved by God. You may feel small in your corner of the world, but to God? You’re an heir He’s proud to show you off. If you were the only small, insignificant one on Earth, you would have been worth dying on the cross for. You may feel small in your eyes, but you are the biggest focus of His. I hope this encourages someone today.
When someone intentionally hurts me–after I stop hurting–it’s my time to fight back, right? Surely, God knows my motive to “teach them” is pure, right? Wrong. We can all find ways to justify revenge. Just one problem…it’s not our job. It may FEEL like our job, but by the FACT of God’s word, it’s not. Simply put, God said, ” Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” A few years ago, I had to decide if I was going to trust this or not. I had someone deliberatly do something wrong to me, that also hurt my family. After praying and seeking counsel, I decided: if I sought revenge (which, mind you, is different than seeking justice), I had to be OK with elongating the pain. My choice of revenge was going to take it out of God’s hands and put it in mine. The problem was that my hands weren’t made to hold revenge. I would elongate the pain by now choosing to carry something too big to carry, in time and burden. It left me wrestling with one question, “Is it worth it?” I decided it wasn’t. Interestingly enough, I did learn how to pray for that person. In a weird way, forgiving was winning. See, they hurt me once, but I could pray for them a thousand times! Their deliberate act mighta meant they could write me off. But I was just getting started writing them ONTO my prayer journal! Today, I still can’t profess that I have this all together. But I hope that what I did learn will help or encourage one of you reading this.
from John 21:21-22
I’d like to propose a difference: resting is not the same thing as quitting. Resting is temporary, quitting is permanent. Resting is godly, quitting (if it’s not God’s will) is not. Resting keeps you from rusting. Quitting is rusting. Resting helps you not quit! But quitting doesn’t help you not rest. Resting is not regretful, quitting can be. I think we can get deceived that resting will mean “I am quitting,” or “I am weak.” But this is a lie the devil is trying to sell you from the clearance section in hell. GOD rested on the seventh day. JESUS got away in the mornings and rested in the Father. I get a lot of things wrong. But one thing I can stand behind is I find time to rest. After I was found in a bloody, psychotic mess in a parking lot, and locked up for it, I told God I will do whatever HE needs so that NEVER happens again. And a big part of it not happening again is is my conviction to rest. We CAN tell people no. We can build margin into our lives. There is no way God wants us to run so hard we go crazy. Because God needs us! But we need to rest so He can use us! As a new week begins, I hope you enjoy it…and find time to rest in it.
Have you ever noticed we never tweet that? We tweet about going to work, school, church, vacation…but we don’t tweet about going to the counselor (or therapist). If you know me at all, you know I have a big-mouth for Christian Counseling. If I ever write a book, one of the four people I will dedicate it to, is my Christian counselors. There is no number I give out more than the counselors’ contacts I have in my phone. As long as God gives me the ability to communicate, Christian-counseling is what I’ll be shouting. And I’m not just an advocate…I’m an avid member! I started seeing a Christian counselor when I was a kid. So truthfully, I never developed a stigma toward it because it’s all I know. At the end of the day, if we can agree that there is no shame in going to a doctor for a hurt lung or a leg, then we can agree there should be no shame in going to one for a hurt brain. And hello, it’s biblical! Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” I hope this encourages someone today. And if you have a Christian counselor or therapist, thank them. And if you need one, email me.