One Thing That I Struggle With Daily

trustingThis morning, I was taking some time to pray, read and just take some deep breaths before the day started.  I need these times to put my head on straight and focus my heart on what’s important.

As I sat on my couch, I prayed for God’s direction and that He would simply guide me in the way that He wants me to go.  This is a pretty common prayer for me, but this time my stomach started to twinge a little….I got nervous.

That nervousness led to uneasiness, then to worry, then to fear, then to doubt, then to distrust.  But why was I so anxious?

I’ll tell you why.  To state it bluntly, I struggle with trusting God sometimes.  I pray for direction, but then I’m afraid of the actual direction that He might take me!  You ever do that?  Questions roll around in my mind like:  “What if He moves my family?  What if we don’t have enough money?  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I don’t hear God correctly?  What if?  What if?  What if?

From a natural standpoint, my concerns over trusting a God that we can’t see would seem legit and understandable.  I get it.  But, I have a relationship with a good, big, powerful, loving, generous, righteous God who’s completely overtaken my life.  He’s my heartbeat.  He’s never let me down and He’s always provided.  Sure, many times His answers are different from mine, but He always comes through, always.

I’m learning that fear often doesn’t make much sense.  In this case, I’m anticipating God to move me in a direction that isn’t cool.  Maybe to a place where I’m uncomfortable and stretched (sometimes this can be a good thing)…..or to a place where my family suffers and struggles….seriously?!  It’s almost as though I forget that He created me and knows me better than I know myself.  I forget that I was created for a reason.  I throw every Bible verse aside that encourages me to trust and not worry about the future…..it’s messed up.  So I confess it, ask for help and move on.  Tomorrow is a new day to trust.

Friends, if you struggle with trusting God sometimes, no matter what it is, know that you’re not alone.  Join me today and everyday in throwing our arms wide open, in faith, knowing that our God and Father is calling the shots.  Confess it, turn the other direction and keep moving.

I’m confident that even a broken guy like me can learn to trust better.  You can too.  One step at a time.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

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A Few Thoughts

imageTo be honest, I don’t have much to say tonight, so I’ll be brief.

Some evil stuff happened in Brussels today.  People died, injuries occurred and fear was planted in our hearts yet again.

THIS WORLD IS MESSED UP!

Don’t lose faith though friends.  Don’t let fear steal your joy.  Don’t lose sight of what’s important.  Don’t forget to hug your family.  Don’t hide your face from the only One who gives hope…..Jesus Christ.  He’s the only constant.  Period.

Lastly, let’s pray for our enemies tonight along with the victims, knowing that Jesus’s love can penetrate even the most evil of hearts.

God is bigger and He’s eternal.  All the evil going on is temporary.  Join me in keeping our eyes on the prize.  Take a deep breath and relax in knowing one thing…..THERE IS HOPE!!!

God Bless,

Paul

 

Why Love Knows No Borders

multicultural loveWhen I got home from work today, there were 2 envelopes in the stack of mail with the word “Compassion” labeled on them.  Typically, this means one thing….LETTERS FROM NICOLE AND ALAN!  These are the names of the 2 children that we sponsor in Ecuador.

I look forward to reading their simple words, translated into English.  On the back of the letters, there’s questions that they answer about themselves in their own handwriting.  I will literally touch the words that they’ve written on the paper….knowing that little pencils here held in little hands that wrote little thoughts to us about their lives….all from a country thousands of miles from us.  Pretty amazing to think about.

Typically, I read the letters and I comment on how cute they are and how I love their pictures that they draw for us.  This time though, towards the end of each of the letters, both Alan and Nicole wrote some things that touched me in a simple, yet profound way.  Alan wrote, “But I also want to say I hope to be able to know you someday.  Thank you for being my sponsor.  I send you thousand blessings.”  Nicole wrote, “But I also want to say remember always that here in Ecuador you have a person who prays always for you and remember you.  God bless you.”  Wow.

What a humble feeling to know that 2 beautiful children from another country are praying for my family and wishing us blessings!  Brings tears to my eyes.  I felt so loved.

These kiddos are living in poverty, yet they are praying for me, an American who has more than enough.  I start to feel guilty for receiving anything from them, even if it is their prayers and blessings.  God sees it differently.  He wants us to accept love through the vessels that He chooses, hoping that we also become vessels, overflowing to those around us.  It’s how He works.

His love is boundless, not restrained by time, distance or any obstacle.  Culture, status, possessions and geography are mere tools for God to use, not to stumble over.  He thinks outside the box and uses the most creative ways to spread His love to and through others.  Shoot, He used kids from Ecuador to encourage this 35-year-old man with a few simple words, motivated by a big God-fueled love.  Powerful.

I’m learning that love exists beyond the borders that we draw around ourselves, our communities and our churches.  This is a new way of thinking for me and I’m excited to dig deeper.   It’s a big world out there!

God Bless,

Paul

 

I Almost Missed The Rainbow!

rainbowYesterday afternoon, I went for a run around the neighborhood.  My knees hurt a little, but I decided to push it anyways.  I also noticed super dark clouds overhead and rain was falling on the hills to the west of me.  The second that I stepped outside, the sky started to spit a little….then it started to rain like crazy!  I considered heading back inside, but I didn’t let the thought simmer too long.  So I went and I’m glad I did!

If I would have passed on running, I would have missed a lot of things.  I would have missed the glow of rain drops lit up like small sparks by the sun.  I would have missed the smell of spring and the light breeze against my face.  I would have missed the “I hate it, but I love it” feeling of exercise.  Most of all, I would have missed the beautiful, bold rainbow that presented itself against the dark backdrop of clouds and sun and trees….powerful.

Although this is a small example, life kind of parallels this doesn’t it?  The temptation to be comfortable and safe is so tempting.  It takes the DECISION to push through the uncomfortable to often experience the good, chewy, flavorful things in life.  Many times, we can’t trust our feelings….we have to rely on the sheer power of our will and our motivation to just GO!

Whether it’s taking that new job OR reaching out to a hurting friend OR standing up for what’s right OR taking a big step of faith OR checking Jesus out for the first time OR simply just running…..the “rainbows” often show up smack dab in the middle of the uncertainty, grit, mystery and the risk of it all…beautiful.

Join me in rolling out of bed each morning with the expectant certainty that we will push ourselves harder and farther.  Let’s look for the path of MOST resistance!  Let’s peak around unfamiliar corners with confident grins on our faces, knowing that the God of the universe is waiting to impart the most amazing things to those who trust Him.

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO MISS THE GOOD STUFF!

God Bless,

Paul

 

Open Arms

boy running awayI once knew this guy who wasn’t perfect.  He sinned a lot and messed up almost daily…..whether it was his thoughts, his actions or his intentions, he just couldn’t stop…it’s almost like his nature as a whole was infected with selfishness.  He wanted to do good, but the things that he wanted to do, he failed to do and the things that he didn’t want to do, he did.  Make sense?  Good 🙂

That guy is me and I’m pretty sure that it’s you too.  We all struggle with sin every single day, in different ways.  It’s just part of being human.

There are 2 ways in which we can react to our own sin:  1.  We can run AWAY from God out of guilt, shame and embarrassment  2.  We can run TO God with a trusting heart, knowing that by His grace and mercy, He will forgive us.

The temptation to run is something that I’ve struggled with for many years.  It’s not productive at all….it just divides and isolates me from God’s presence….a pretty lonely spot.

My buddy and I were talking about this the other day….how our sin can separate us from God so easily, not because He pushes us away, but because we CHOOSE to distance ourselves out of fear.  At the root of it all, I think we’re afraid of God’s magic score card, making giant checks against our existence every time we do something wrong.

In fact, many folks have dismissed God altogether because they know they can’t measure up.  The truth is, THEY’RE RIGHT!  None of us measure up to God’s perfection….no matter how many church services we attend or how many hoops that we jump through.  Only Jesus provides the forgiveness that we need.  Fortunately, He forgives us a lot…like multiple times a day, every day.  WHEW!

I often compare my relationship with God to my own relationship with my sons.  Sure, they mess up a lot.  They’re just normal, goofy, rambunctious kids!  Of course they’re going to make mistakes and of course I’m going to still love them and forgive them when they do!  That’s the thing, I EXPECT them to mess up because I know that they’re imperfect and growing.  I think God sees us the same way.

My heart would break if my kids ran and hid and ignored me and rebelled against me every time they were in trouble.  It would tear me up inside not just because I love them, but because I know that there’s so many things that I can teach them through their mistakes…so many lessons to share together, so much character to gain.

When we run away from God, we’re not really escaping….He knows where we are….He knows what we’re struggling with…He just simply knows everything about us.  It’s a waste of time.  We need Him and without Him, we’re only black and white versions of ourselves.  He adds the color to our lives.  He enriches us, teaches us and frees us.

Imagine a life free from the heaviness of guilt and shame.  Free from fear.  Free from hopelessness.  Free from the pressure of measuring up.  Now stop imagining it and reach for it.  Jesus is waiting for you.  Don’t run anywhere but into His arms, I dare you.  He’s our Dad and believe it or not, He actually loves us!  Join me in soaking that one in!

God Bless,

Paul