Better Ways For Better Days

  For some reason the GPS on my phone, takes me on the craziest routes to reach my destination. There have been times where it even took me off-road! However, if I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure it’s entirely the GPS’ problem. Instead, I’m quite positive the blame rests firmly with me in that I haven’t invested the time to learn how to use the tool effectively. Similarly, God provides clear directions on the best way to live our lives. Yet, how often do we invest the time to study them? Relying instead on our own instincts and intuitions? Clearly, knowing God’s ways and then obeying them will always lead us to better days:

Learning: The first step to applying God’s ways is knowing them, and this does not automatically happen. It requires proactive and intentional effort on our part (Joshua 1:8). For example, how could we expect to become a quality physician if we never went to medical school, rarely applied what we learned and refused to study for exams? Likewise, how can we expect to mature in our Christian walk if we rarely attend church, study God’s Word and apply His teachings?

Living: This is where the rubber hits the road, and we implement God’s Word in our daily lives. Of course, He empowers us to apply His truth, but we must take the first step (Hebrews 4:2). Basically, the Word works when worked. Therefore, we will be provided plenty of opportunities to work His Word so that He can strengthen our faith, expand our witness, and build is Kingdom. For the blessings flow when we act on what we know.

Leading: Unlike my GPS system which is nothing more than a software program, God’s GPS is living. For it is His Spirit sent to comfort, help, encourage and direct us throughout this life (John 14:26). This gift is an exclusive and profound gift to Christians, and why we would ever continue to rely on ourselves and/or others more than Him is one of the most nonproductive and detrimental actions we can take. Yet, sadly, many Christians continuously try to go it alone. Rarely reading His Word, worshipping with others, or relying on His truth. This of course results in increased stress, delays, stumbling blocks and frustrations – but thankfully, with God, that can all change.

Application: “Rest For The Restless”Matthew 11:29
I get frustrated when my GPS system takes me off course and leads me in a direction that takes longer than it should. However, the same thing happens when I attempt to live my life without full reliance on God. For I either get in a rush, get restless, or get ruined with my ways. Therefore, may we be wise enough to know, show and alway grow in His ways over our own

Better Than Me

  I recently heard the song, Anything Like Me, which is basically about a father describing how his newborn son’s future behavior was bound to serve as payback for his former ways. However, in the end, it’s a song about life stages, lessons learned and the love shared between a father and son. For me, it was an encouraging reminder that when our kids make similar mistakes we did, it’s not the end of the world. However, it also inspired the hope that they don’t have to make the mistakes we did. In fact, it’s my hope my kids will be better than me – especially in three key areas:

Faith: Without faith in Christ, we go through life hindered. For example, I have known what it’s like to have a strong walk with Christ and a weak one. For growing up, I thought believing in Jesus was good enough – but today, I know how much I missed out on by not being fully surrendered. It’s like being on a football team, but never playing in the game. Thankfully, today, my family is not only on the team, but are active participants and seeking to have our coach, God, use us in every possible way. Therefore, my hope is my kids will never have to know what it’s like to be on the bench through “unsurrender”. Instead, may their faith be greater than my own and may they be used powerfully by God for many years to come (Ephesians 4:13).

Family: I’ve shared how my wife and I both came from homes impacted by divorce, and although, I was fortunate to have loving step-parents, divorce is still a hardship I pray my kids will never know. My wife and I, by the grace of God, have today a loving, Christ-centered marriage, and we are committed to one another and our family. Therefore, even though we have made our share of mistakes, my hope is for my children to have even better marriages than my own. In this way, I pray they will be better parents, better spouses and build stronger families (Psalm 128:3). Thus, establishing a trend to be multiplied for generations to come.

Fruits: God desires us all to be fruitful (John 15:8). This means we contribute to His kingdom and to others, like a tree abounding with sweet, attractive fruit. Thankfully, God is able to produce more fruit through me today than He was when my life was not surrendered to Him. Thus, my hope is my children too, will have much more fruit than me. I hope theirs is sweeter and more abundant than my own, because they never waste time being distant from God.

Application: “Growing Giants” – Deuteronomy 4:9
Isaac Newton declared, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants“. Similarly, may we be wise enough to make the sacrifices, invest the time and give the love that will present us the opportunity to serve as “giants” in our own children’s lives. Then, in time, they will grow to be giants for their own. However, apart from God, none of this is possible – for to be giants, we must first be giants of faith and that always begins with Christ

Christ In Crisis?

imageIn the movie, Tomorrow Land, there is a scene that tells the story of two battling wolves. One is said to be the wolf of darkness and despair and the other is the wolf of light and hope. The question is then presented – which wolf wins? The answer? The one we feed. Although, this was not referencing a Christian worldview, it does highlight a powerful truth. What we choose to focus on is typically what we get. Therefore, as believers in Jesus Christ, when a crisis comes our way, how we choose to see it will greatly determine its outcome in our life:

Delays: We don’t like waiting, especially when it involves hardship. We want our pain gone as quickly as possible. However, as we know, sometimes God has us wait on His deliverance and sometimes, it appears our deliverance never comes. Are these miseries in life simply random acts of cruelty without purpose, or are they allowed by a loving God for greater purposes we may not understand at the time? We will feel pain, but when we choose to believe God is never out-of-control and can work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, then we can trust in His outcomes (Habakkuk 2:3).

Despairs: When we lose hope, darkness overtakes us and frankly, that’s exactly where Satan would love to keep us. For we may believe in Christ, but if he can keep us off the battlefield with discouragement and despair, our impact for the Kingdom is reduced. However, when we live out our faith, we can expect to get hit and hurt, but through Christ we receive hope, encouragement, strength and endurance to keep fighting the good fight (Habakkuk 3:17).

Dead-Ends: There will be times the battle will seem lost. Like in the movies when the hero seems defeated by the opposition, this is the climax that sets the stage for the hero to overcome overwhelming odds in order to save the day. Isn’t this just like Jesus? Evil may seem to be winning, but Jesus cannot be defeated and will always overcome and has overcome. The question is, will we continue to believe this during our darkest hours, or allow ourselves to be sidelined by the opposition (Jeremiah 12:5)?

Application: “Like A Rock!” – Mark 5:36
The Bible provides numerous examples of people, just like us, who faced overwhelming hardships and challenges. Did they face delays, despairs and seemingly dead-ends? Absolutely. Did they struggle with doubts, worries, fears and discouragements? Absolutely. Did God use all these things to strengthen their faith, character and impact – absolutely. Therefore, He will do the same for us, but we mustn’t focus on the defeats, but the victory we already have in Christ and then trust Him to have our back as He helps forge our faith to be solid as a rock!

Advancing The Line

imageWhen under attack, defenders are required to hold and advance the line in order to prevent defeat. However, it can be difficult to defend a position we don’t know, understand, or possess. In the spiritual battleground, we see this lack of clarity result in folding to compromise, constituency and/or cultural demands. Thus, we abandon the doctrines we once held so dear. The Bible helps us stand firm amidst such attacks by refining several key components of our faith:

Clarity: What is truth, and who defines it? Clearly, there are numerous opinions and interpretations, but there can only be one truth – and we can either seek this from man, or the Creator of man. When we seek God’s truth, we gain clarity; and with a clear mindset and goal, we are less likely to be swayed by public pressures and opinions (Exodus 23:2). This allows us to hold fast to the protective guidelines God establishes in order to live a life that’s truly more abundant.

Calling: To know one’s calling and purpose in life is a powerful position to hold. It helps us maintain focus amidst a myriad of blurred lines. There’s a powerful freedom in being unswayed by power, positions and possessions. Although not always easy, being committed to fulfilling one’s purpose and calling in Christ is the only way for our souls to know genuine peace and prosperity, no matter our challenges and circumstances (John 17:18).

Courage: In order to have courage, there must be the confrontation of our fears. For we can allow fear to either control us, or contribute to the maturing of our faith. For every time we rely on God, rather than succumb to the threats of this world, He is positioned to encourage our hearts, empower our hands and expand His healing to an anxious world (Isaiah 12:2).

Application: “First Things First” – Matthew 6:34
We are clearly instructed not to worry, but to focus on the demands of today. For it’s difficult to hold and advance our mission when we are weighed down by burdens. However, as we strive to seek God first and foremost in all we do, He secures our way. This means we pursue His way – not our own. Or, as Oswald Chambers once stated, “We have simply to obey God and to leave all consequences with Him“.