The Way Forward

Give God Your Best!
Continue To Strive To Improve
But realize that it is not your strength that can save you.
Realize until God says it’s time for you to be saved you will not be.
 
Is it your own failings that are holding you back? Would your life have been better if you had known about one weakness or another? Do you panic constantly about what sin in your life you can’t find yet that is keeping you from moving forward??
 
Don’t be crazy. If God worked like that how could anyone move forward? Are we not all sinners? Do we all not fall so short of where God wants us to be?
 
If life is not going the way it should then pray. Pray for God to save you. Pray for God to show you all you need to improve on. Pray for God to give you the courage to endure and the wisdom to move forward. But if you cannot think of how to improve, or if you stumble after trying so hard to overcome one sin in your life…. will God keep hitting you until you get it??
 
If there were a sin in your life you knew about but would rather justify or ignore than deal with than that is different. In fact, there will be many who will tell you this is the case as others can pick up the appearance of evil in yourself better than you can… but only you and God can truly know your heart.
 
If you know of sin in your life, deal with it! Even if you fail at dealing with it, keep trying to deal with it! Pray to God for help, He is very reliable when it comes to dealing with temptations! But if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. If you can’t think of how you can do any better in your old weakness. Should you be beating yourself up on how you cannot move forward?
 
Does God’s plan rest on your shoulders? Does God’s plan rely on you having the purity of a saint? Does God’s plan require you to have a greater strength than any other human in the world?
 
God does not ask you to be perfect to complete His plans. In fact the Bible says many times that you never will be perfect.
 
It is not our goal to be perfect and lead His plans. It is our goal to follow Him!
 
God has used liars, cheaters, murderers, and lunatics. Idiots, cowards, the depressed, and the anxious. God CAN use you. God WILL use you. Realize your current circumstances does not rest on your shoulders alone. It is God who will decide what and when your rescue will be. And He will do all things for His glory and your good. So trust in Him!
 
Amen

When Your Best Gives You Nothing

What do you do when God doesn’t answer prayer?
 
What do you do when your best falls flat?
 
If you were being lazy, or not willing to give up a problematic vice, then at least you would have the comfort of believing you could dig yourself out of your current circumstances if only you kick your butt into gear…. but what if you’re already doing everything you can think of?
 
Now I don’t mean to say you’re doing everything perfect, because let’s admit it… we’re human beings. Our perspective is so limited that there’s no way we can figure out every possible answer… but if you’re praying, reading your bible, addressing weak areas, looking to others for advice, grabbing opportunities as you see them, making opportunities when you can’t see any, addressing areas you keep putting off, throwing yourself out there, and trying to stay open to where you are weak.
 
Not that you are doing it perfectly, but that you are giving it the best effort that you can.
 
We like to believe that as long as you put in enough effort, things will go our way. That anyone who doesn’t seem to keep up, is clearly not giving it their all… but there are also times when life just stinks.
 
When you give out resumes but they all fall through
Where you network with others but are quickly overlooked
Where you advertise but are immediately overshadowed
Where you budget, but unexpected experiences come up
Where you give the quality but have no fame
Where you try new things, but fall through
Where you give your best effort, but are slower than those who slack off
Where you fight through pain, but it doesn’t matter since you can’t bring results
Where you look for advice, and hear only what you already know
Where you look for comfort, but can not find understanding
 
There are times where you long to move forward but you no longer know what forward looks like.
Where if you panic and try anything, you’ll end up somewhere worse, but if you hold out and stay, things will fall apart anyways
 
So what do you do when human logic is clueless?
What do you do when human effort fails?
What do you do when the path forward is not clear?
What do you do when there’s no explanation for how badly things keep working out?
 
You pray. You pray. You pray.
 
When people ask me what I’m doing and I say I am praying… I do not say that to mean I don’t do anything on my own. No. I apply for jobs, I sell my wares and services, I seek opportunities, I look for ways to improve my weaknesses, to grow my skillset, to improve my existing one. I budget, rebudget, and rebudget again. I seek advice, learn from others, make connections.
 
Yes, I do all the things I can think of to do, but I tell you now that all those things in and of themselves are worthless if that is what you think what will save you.
 
Even if my odds of failure are 10000:1, if the Lord is still holding me back to teach me, then that 1 time will hit every time. If I were going by worldly standards I’d have nothing to say but that my luck is horrible…. but because I know God I can say I am still learning and growing.
 
So what? Has God abandoned me? Am I just sitting by waiting for judgement to come?
 
No! I would not say that at all!
 
I stand on a battlefield with thousands of enemies, and three giants have been approaching me closer and closer. They are giants who wish to kill me. They are giants I cannot defeat. They are giants I have prayed ceaselessly for months for God to save me from. They are giants who continue to remain untouched.
 
So where is God? What happened to my hope? Are my prayers so useless? Is it wrong for me to want? Is it wrong for me to hope? Is it wrong for me to ask? Am I just abandoned? Are my prayers defective??
 
It is true that the giants remain untouched…. and if the giants were all I looked at, then yes. I would say I had been abandoned… And yet… God has been at work…. He has been slaying countless enemies one by one. Enemies I have put off dealing with for far too long. Enemies who had weakened me. Enemies who had held me back.
 
I am still no match for the giants before me. No matter how strong God makes me, there is no way that I can save myself. But why would God take time to repair a ship He intended to let an approaching storm destroy? In that I can find encouragement, when all that lies before me is despair.
 
Now I want to take a moment to say, that I am not saying this as one who knows he will be saved. To tell you honestly, I’ve had my prayers unanswered time and time again…. it shames me to say there are days when I almost feel expectant that I will be ignored again… I have no proof that God will not let me drown. That God will not let me be attacked. That I won’t come out of this beaten beyond recognition.
 
But I do not serve God because He can save me. Were He to abandon me to my fate, were heaven itself to be not true. I would still have to serve Him. I do not serve God for what I get out of it. I serve God for He is God!
 
But Because I serve Him I ask Him. Because I serve Him I know His love for us. Because I serve Him I feel the courage to ask. Not because of what I deserve. But because He loves me enough to listen to my concerns. Because He loves me enough that He will provide and protect.
 
However, if I am to fail… my one regret would be that I am sure there would be those who would look at me and say “After all the talking he did! This is his result??” and believe God to be a fake. Or even worse! Those in the church who would say “We tried to warn him. God only helps those who take initiative. God only helps those who lead the way.” and use it to solidate such beliefs within their minds.
 
I will confess I would love to be saved. I don’t like hurting every day. I don’t like being scared at all times. The chains around my neck choke me to the point I feel I can hardly breathe. But more than anything… since God has brought me this far, I would love to be able to show the world what faith in Him can do.
 
I know there are many who read these posts, even when there are few who seem to like or comment. I get stopped from time to time from people who thank me, whether they agree with me or not, for giving them something to think about, and it makes me glad.
 
But I can rattle off philosophy, theology, economics, observations, and theories for as long as I can breathe…. but even still, there is no greater witness than to live your faith out to the fullest.
 
These last 5 years have been rough. These last 3 months have been murder…. but if there can be any good to come from my suffering, I want it to be this.
 
I want people to see what it means to choose to have faith. And more importantly I want people to see what wonders God can do with it.
 
Amen

Follow Him

Why is this world so scary?
 
Why do we hold so much fear?
 
What job will we have?
What will they think of us?
Will I get in trouble for this?
Will this work?
Will I have enough money to pay my bills this month?
Will I end up on the streets?
Will I lose everything I own?
Will I go bankrupt?
Will I live my life single?
Will they be offended?
Will they be disappointed in me?
Will they scold me again?
Will I lose support?
What if I get sick?
What if another emergency comes up?
 
We take worry after worry upon ourselves. We lose sleep and energy over obsessing over them. We go to great lengths to knock out as many threats as we can… but to what end?
 
You can give life your best to the point of exhaustion and depression, but if God so wills in, you will be accused of being a slacker.
 
You can apply to thousands of jobs, with a perfect resume, and wonderfully supported cover letter, but if God so wills it you will continue being overlooked and picked over for people with better smiles
 
You can be supportive and wise, but unless it’s the time God permits, you will only ever be considered “Just a friend.”
 
You can search the wisest people for direction and advice, but unless God inspires them, they will just tell you what you’ve already known and have already been working on as if it is the “Save all Answer”
 
You can live like a monk and save what pennies you can, but unless God protects you, all it takes is one scam, one unexpected crisis, and you’ll find yourself even deeper in the hole.
 
You can obsess over self care, taking all sorts of medicines, avoiding things you’re weak at, and exercising to grow stronger, but unless God watches over you, in three seconds you can have an accident that will ruin everything.
 
We are not on this earth to please others. We are not on this earth to protect/provide for ourselves. We are not on this earth to show the best business practices, wisest lifestyle choices, or best relationship advice.
 
We are here to follow God where He leads. To show what He can do through us. To show how He defies all logic. How to the world His logic is madness, but to Him their wisdom is meaningless.
 
At the end of the day, do not worry about the hundreds of thousands of people you must keep happy in order to follow God. In the end you are only responsible for following Him. If people get angry at you, it is because He let that happen in your life. If you go through loss, it’s because He let it happen. But do not be sidetracked trying to appease the many voices that come at you from all sides. Focus only on following God! He is able to restore all that you have lost and more. He is able to protect you no matter where you go. He is able to provide for you, no matter what you have. He can do more with nothing than you could do with everything.
 
Follow Him so you can have no shame. No matter what others say. No matter how they misinterpret you. No matter how they judge you from your state of life, not what you are doing. Realize God is the judge. God is the provider. That there is nothing you can accomplish without Him. So cling to Him, follow Him. Trust in Him
 
Amen

The Prodigal Son(s)

I was doing some thinking on “The Prodigal Son” today and it made me realize a few things that I often have just accepted and overlooked.
 
1. There are two sons… I know this is obvious, but when you think about it a bit more you start to realize the implications of this.
 
This was just a story Jesus made up. There was no facts to keep up with. Everything in the story was in it for a reason. So why include a second son? Was it just to show that we shouldn’t be envious when those who seem to do less than us seem to get more? Was it to show the outrage that it was the YOUNGEST son who demanded inheritance? Or was there something more to this? Was it just to show how the father loved both sons equally?
 
From a writing point of view, the two sons are very much foils to one another. While we don’t know for certain, it seems to be insinuated that while one felt entitled to ask for everything in spite of doing nothing, the other seemed to give his best without asking for anything (which is why he seems to be so upset when the younger brother comes back and gets so much more than he has)
 
To put it another way… I see many times in the church today, two types of Christians. The first treat God as their personal genie.
 
“ASK GOD AND CALL THIS HOTLINE AND YOU CAN HAVE A RICH HOME, BEAUTIFUL WIFE, AND ALL THE MATERIAL THINGS YOU WANT!”
 
The other side I see however, are people who see that first side and are so (rightfully) appalled at what they see that they go to the other extreme and feel they carry the weight of this world on their backs.
 
“God helps those who help themselves. God will support you but YOU have to do the grunt work. For miracles to happen you have to MAKE them happen! If you feel God calling you one way then make a business plan of how you’ll make it work and if you can’t well… maybe you aren’t hearing God right or maybe He means in like… 60 years or something.”
 
And that also doesn’t work… On the lighter end of things, God DOES want us to ask Him and for us to rely on Him. He says it time and time again in the Bible. On the darker side of things however… people who try to force God’s hand often regret it.
 
What happened when Saul tried to force God to protect them in battle because HE thought it was the right choice? What happened to Abraham when he tried to have a kid another way because HE thought he was running out of time and HE had to make God’s will happen? What happened to Peter when he fought against the Roman guards because HE thought that HE needed to protect God to keep God’s will happening? What happened to random person who tried to catch the arc of the covenant from falling because HE thought that it would break if HE didn’t intercede??”
 
We are so used to the bible telling us that these people did wrong that we tend to villainize them and make them appear so much weaker than we are in our eyes… when the truth is, it’s SO easy to do!
 
“God said for me to do ____ but I see no path forward. I should try to get my life together and THEN follow Him.”
 
“God put this cause on my heart, but I need to make ends meet this month, so maybe I’ll write a note to send them money or time when I can afford it.”
 
“God really put that person on my heart right now…. but they’re so radical liberal, and I’m with my incredibly extremely conservative friend right now… so I should try to find them later on.”
 
I’m not the one who can say what is the right answer or wrong answer in situations such as these…. but what I can say is how easy it is to out-logic God’s will and justify turning back… because sometimes…. often…. most times God asks us to do crazy things!
 
Which leads to point 2
 
2. It was never about what the brothers had or didn’t have.
 
The younger brother asked for the inheritance…. and here’s the crazy part… he got it! The younger brother complained about the younger brother getting a crazy party when he came home when he still had so little.
 
The thing that I realized from this, was that it was never about what they had or didn’t have.
 
The younger brother had stuff in abundance…. yet he failed. Why? Because he was living life as HE saw fit, (which brings us back to what I was talking about before)
 
It doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have. What matters is what God can do with it and if you are going to trust God with it!
 
He defeated an army with clay pots and torches. He toppled a giant with a kid and a smooth stone. He protected a nation with a talking donkey… owned by the person who was going to curse said nation in the first place. He fed 5000 with a few loaves of bread and some fish. He created mankind out of dust and some breath. He created the whole of reality out of nothing! Whatever you have or don’t have, GOD CAN USE IT!
 
It’s not about what you’ve been provided with. It’s about what you trust God to do with it, because even if you have nothing, God can do everything! And even if you have everything, you can still waste it all and accomplish nothing.

It’s Not About Saving Yourself

You know, I think eventually you hit a point where you realize, even if you COULD save yourself, you wouldn’t want to.
 
I don’t want people to look at me and say “He was strong and wise and got through it!” I don’t want people to say “He was resourceful and lucky and figured it out!” because I’m not strong, and I’m not wise, I’m not even all that lucky!
 
So praise the Lord when you’re in over your head. Praise the Lord when you can’t figure out how to move forward. Praise the Lord when you don’t know the next step. Because when this is over, and it all works out, I don’t want people to say “he fought on and won.” because that’s now how this works!
 
No matter what I do I won’t be able to save myself. No matter what I try, I won’t be able to make things work. It will be by God and God alone, because He is the only one who can make things work. He is the only one who give hope in the hopeless times, He is the only reason I am able to fight on. He is the only reason I can move forward.
 
Too often we take too much upon ourselves. Too often we tell ourselves “God can only support us as we save ourselves. You serve the God who created everything! Wake up! He holds you in His hand, and He wants to show you what He can do.
 
And so may God work a miracle. Not so that I can find peace. Not so that I can move forward. Not so I can have an easy life. But so those watching can realize it never has been me moving forward. It never has been my own strength persevering. So people can realize it’s been the constant prayer, reading the Bible, and trusting in God that has gotten me this far. And how He won’t abandon those who chase after Him!

Godly Courage

“If you pray for courage, the Lord will provide”
 
and He does. He has the ability to change you from a “My mouth tastes like adrenaline, I haven’t slept in weeks, and I want to throw up” wreck, into an amazingly relaxed calm in a surprisingly short amount of time.
 
But He doesn’t do it by making you forget your problems, or giving you a testosterone high of ignorance. In my experience, it has never been “Courage” the Lord has given, but “Perspective”
 
The perspective to realize that God is in control.
The perspective to see your overwhelming weakness and all the mistakes you’ve made and realize, God already knew that about you.
The perspective to realize God still can and still will use you for great things.
The perspective to realize that God loves you, and it is because of that that we can ask Him for help.
The perspective to realize that all the voices saying to fear and despair don’t matter because HE IS
 
It is from that perspective that you can find peace. It is from that perspective you can breathe easy yet again. It is from that perspective that you can switch from crying out “God save me! Lord show mercy!” to “Praise the Lord for what you have not yet done but WILL do for YOU are Lord!”
 
This world will tell you many things. To panic, to fret. That if you aren’t outwardly showing signs of the panic you are in at every second you are clearly not taking matters seriously enough.
 
Even in the church we fall into this trap. We believe God cannot move unless we do. We believe God plays a support role in our life but not a leader.
 
But God CAN and God WILL save.
 
Give God your best
Be willing to go where HE will lead not where YOU want Him to
Trust HIS timing, not your own
He CAN and WILL use you for Great things.
He never told us to carry this world on our shoulders. He only told us to believe and follow Him.
 
Amen.

At the End of My Rope

What do you do when your best isn’t enough? What do you do when your prayers aren’t being answered? Or even worse, your strongest prayers are met with greater hardships within minutes? What do you do in the times when the greatest proof that there is a God is that it makes no logical sense for your hard work to be met with such emptiness and for your luck to be THIS bad with such timing?
 
At least when you are holding back or not facing something you can at least find comfort in the fact that life would be better if you kicked your butt into gear. But what about when you’re trying your hardest? What about when you’ve addressed every sin and weakness that you can think of? What when your ambitions have led to making the burns worse every time? When you’ve failed so many times and the fires grow so big that you’ve forgotten which way is forward, which is back, which is up, and which is down?
 
What when you seek wisdom and you just are told what you’ve already been doing? What when you seek comfort, and instead find pain and emptiness? What about when you’ve forgotten how to dream and want, because all you dream and want is just to survive another day? What when what you find through prayer and the Bible, vs what the wise people in your life tell you clash?
 
Do you blame people? For their empty words… for their offensive comfort? It is not their fault…. If they say what they feel God is leading them to say, it’s not a matter of saying what is wise, or what will help you. It’s up to say what they feel God is leading them to say. Whether it comfort you or test you further.
 
Do you blame society? The cruel, cold, and empty machine… who at one point was designed to face a problem, but has long since forgotten it’s purpose, and is now run by fools who only know how to milk it dry to prolong the time till their own punishment reaches them? Such a ridiculous thing is out of your control and you were never meant to rule the world in the first place…. you wouldn’t be much better at it…
 
You realize that you are part of a bigger game… A game that transcends society, feelings, emotions, relationships…. yet a game that is simpler than most…. a game between God who wants you to trust Him and to show what wonders can be done through Him, and the Devil who wants to convince you how much better the world would be off without God.
 
I can’t say what works and what doesn’t in this world…. I am not that wise, and if I could then what would be the point of faith. I write now not as a conquering hero who overcame hardships and saw a brighter future… but as a weak, confused, and lost little kid… who is completely overwhelmed, with the room spinning, confused, and out of ideas of what to do…. but I write this now not out of searching for pity…. but because THESE are the points when it is most important to decide….
 
It is when you have no strength left that you most need to stand.
It is when you have no hope left that you most need your faith.
It is when you have no path left that you most need to move forward.
It is when you feel empty that you must keep running on full.
It is when you feel most abandoned that you must know how loved you are.
It is when you feel most abused that you must accept how blessed you are.
It is when you want it all to end, that you MUST keep going forward.
 
I know not what the future holds… and quite honestly, from where I stand I see no light. I see no hope. I see no peace. I find little to no comfort from others. I see no way my future can work out. I feel like no matter what I say or do, more bad news will come in a few minutes time. I feel like this is all my life is… all my life has been… and all my life ever will be… The thought of being excited for the future… having things I can’t wait to see happen… hope… they all sound like luxurious dreams which people like me have no right to have. But I know what the Bible says…. and even if I haven’t seen it…. even if I never do see it… I am going to follow it..
 
It says that if you are lost then God will find you (Luke 19:10)
 
It says that when you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, to remember to whom you belong (Ephesians 2:19-22)
 
It speaks of how God is able to do abundantly more than what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)
 
It says how God can turn our storms and devastation into something good (Romans 8:28)
 
It says even what is intended for harm, God can use for good! (Genesis 50:20)
 
It says how the Lord will give you strength when you have none (2 Timothy 4:17)
 
It says how this battle was never ours but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15)
 
It says how there is nothing the Devil can steal from us which God can not restore, and how the one thing the Devil can not steal from us is God Himself!
 
It says how patience and perseverance are rewarded but at God’s timing not our own.
 
It says how we shall never be abandoned. How we are loved in spite of our weaknesses.
 
That God knows our weaknesses and still has great plans for us.
 
That none of this life has caught God off guard or by surprise. That He knew our weaknesses and problems before they even came to be.
 
That God works all things to His glory, beyond human comprehension
 
That it is not our ability but our faith to Him that let’s Him use us
 
That He can use the uneducated, those with rough pasts, the socially inept, the weak, the cowards, the proud, and more
 
That even though we should never stop combatting our weaknesses, that God accepts us in spite of them and can use us in spite of them.
 
That our circumstances are not directly tied to our efforts or our path. It is up to God to decide who rises and who falls.
 
That He brings rest for the weary, hope for the helpless, strength for those who can move no further.
 
That He is GOD and that He can do great things. That no matter what comes our way we are never beyond His saving.
 
So while I know not what the future holds… I barely know what tomorrow will be like…. and while I fear more suffering and hardships because even if God is strong enough to face all things, I am not and I passed the end of my rope years ago…. I know that He is God… that my life always has and always will rest in His hands. That no, there is no way to save myself… but God put me in a place where no one but Him could save me for His glory and for my strength. Much like chasing away the armies for Gideon, or putting Job through trials and ridicule…. He is the Lord. He is God. He is the only truth and way. And so yes I am scared. Yes I am tired. No I don’t even want to wake up tomorrow…. but I can come to Him about this…. I can come to Him with how I feel…. because He is God. And He loves me. And He already knew in the first place.
 
Amen