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
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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

Were They Weak?

You know, We really tend to underestimate what people in the bible did due to the fact that we get to see the whole picture across only a few chapters.
 
Was Abraham a fool for not trusting God? He should have trusted God yes…. but after living 5 years on faith alone with nothing to prove you have a chance…. I can tell you living 25 years on just faith is quite an amazing accomplishment…
 
Was Job a fool and that’s why God scolded him? God was right in the things he said, but that doesn’t change the fact that the reason Job went through such trials was to prove what God had already believed in him, that he was a holy and faithful man, (how’s that for interesting logic??)
 
Was Elijah a fool for praying God would strike him down? Yes he should have trusted God would turn things around…. but when you are faced with something greater than you can handle, and nothing but even greater trials lay ahead, it is very easy to realize you are not cut out for this living stuff and would it not be better for God to just end you here on a high note?? (It wouldn’t be better but the mindset is very easy to go to)
 
Was Jesus a fool for begging God for a different path? (I dared to say it!) You know… this is one I’m still working through… what right we have to ask God for stuff and how much we need to just trust and follow His path…. but if there is one thing I think…. it is this…. Yes God does want us to make mature choices, and follow Him, and believe in Him….. but if we can’t be honest about our feelings with God then who can we??? If we cannot bring our doubts and frustrations before God, and we continue to cling onto them ourselves afraid to show our weakness before God…. Then how can God take those weaknesses and fears away from us? God already knows we’re weak and frustrated. You aren’t revealing a shocker by being honest…. but you are accepting that He can help you by being honest.

Hearing God’s Voice

How are we supposed to live? By following God and doing as He says.
 
But how do we know what He says?
 
How do you know if you’re listening for God’s voice? You know God. You read His word and understand Him… but more than that you WANT to follow Him.
 
If there was no God and this was all up to our interpretation, then it would make sense to be nervous about “Am I doing what’s right or just what I want to do?” because it would be us deciphering what is true and what is not. BUT Since God is real, why do we have so much trouble understanding He can and WANTS to talk to us???
 
It is not us simply chasing after God, God is reaching out to us. And how will He talk to us? It differs from occasion to occasion because it is not about us trying to reach Him and decipher Him from all the other voices. It is about us listening and trusting that He wants to reach us just as badly if not more than we want to reach Him.
 
Will you make mistakes in life? Yes. Will you convince yourself your own wants are God’s voice from time to time… most likely. But the thing is that if you really want to hear God’s voice in your life and trust Him to reach out, He will. He wants to. He’s waiting for you to let Him. But it’s not always like a “Earth shaking and blinding light” revelation. Sometimes it comes from following Him for weeks before you suddenly clue in “This wisdom… it’s not my own… it never was my own… Praise God!”