Is This My Fate?

This morning, I was reading, once again, in the book of Psalms. If you know me, this is my go-to book. I write often from the Psalms. I have preached over a hundred times from the Psalms. It is a book that is raw, honest, yet hopeful. In so many of the Psalms I have seen myself and the words have spoken to me at the very moment I needed them the most. There are other times that I have been talking to someone and they ask questions just like the Psalmist did. I am a firm believer that it is okay to ask God questions. He knows what is in our hearts anyway.

As I was reading this morning, Psalm 77 really spoke to my heart. I thought of the many people who have been walking through challenging seasons and some who are even on the brink of giving up. The Psalmist brings hope to us when we face these situations.

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.” (Psalm 77:4-10 NLT)

The writer is looking back on the good days and how they appear to be a distant in the rear-view mirror. He is writing from a place of feeling forgotten, unloved, rejected. The wording of this Psalm reveals that they perceive everything that is happening is done with a harshness. He uses words like “permanent”, or phrases like “slammed the door”. You can sense the emotion of this whole passage, especially when the writer resigns to the place that we all get at one time or another. This must be my fate in life.

Have you ever felt that way? Things are always going wrong and nothing turns out right. “It must be my fate in life!” Many have even taken it a step further; “God has turned His back on me.” But nothing could be farther from the truth. Certainly, God has not turned His back on you, nor is it your fate to live a life in the mullygrubs. God has more for you than the current season you find yourself in. This is why the next part of the passage is so powerful.

In the midst of asking questions and feeling forsaken, the Psalmist stops to reconsider.

11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. (Psalm 77:11-12 NLT)

His mind shifts from thinking of being forgotten to remembering how God had done wonderful things in the past. The Psalmist shifts his thinking from the present situation to seeing what God did before. Now, the writer’s thoughts are consumed by the mighty works of God. He cannot stop thinking of them.

This is important for our lives. Remembering what God did before gives you faith to get through your situation and to see a breakthrough in your future. God’s blessings in the past guarantee that He will see you through to another blessing in the future. You just have to hang on and keep going until you see Him move.

Do not allow your thoughts to be consumed with the present crisis or situation. But let God’s great works be constantly on your mind. Consume your thoughts with the goodness of God and His great provision.


Grab a copy of my latest book, Worry Free. WORRY LESS.

Giving God Thanks

As I started the day, I received a text from a friend. I must say, I am terrible at reading texts right away, so I didn’t read my friend’s text for a while. I’m not sure why I am always slow to respond to texting. I guess it is a flaw I have. Perhaps, I don’t like the pressure of having to respond right away. Having to think of things to say. I like to process things and have a well-ordered reply. Therefore, I just don’t read them quickly. As a side note: I apologize if you have texted me and I haven’t responded quickly. I am working on this problem of mine, so please forgive me. I am not even sure why I divulged all of this to you, my dear reader, but I guess I just needed to clear the air.

Back to the story: As I started the day, I received a text from a friend. It was a pretty simple text. Good morning! Read Psalm 107. They shared a few more words. End of text. I replied with a simple text as well.

I love Psalm 107. I have read it hundreds of times. But per my friend’s request, I read Psalm 107 again. Wow! It spoke to me like never before. The Psalmist begins the chapter with, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Now, there is a whole message there.

When is the last time you stopped just to thank the Lord for His goodness to you? When have you recounted all the ways that God has blessed you?

I know for me, I often take for granted all the good things God has done for me. I think of God’s goodness when He saved me and set me free from my life of sin. I think of that moment, when I was 19, on July 27, 1991, when God arrested my heart and I surrendered my life to Jesus. I have never been the same. As time wears on, I have to guard my heart and remind myself never to forget what He saved me from.

As you read through Psalm 107, you find the many things that God had done for the people of Israel. Over and over, we see that they were in a predicament, they called out to God, “Lord, help!” and he delivered them. Throughout this Psalm, we see different situations that God responds and saves them from their distress.

There are a couple phrases that are repeated in Psalm 107.

“Lord, help! they cried in their trouble”

“and He saved them from their distress.”

“Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.”

There is a pretty simple process in this great chapter:

Cry out for help.

Receive help from the Lord,

Praise Him for what He has done.

My friend, this should be a mark in our life. We should never hesitate to call on God in the midst of your troubles. When He helps you and brings a breakthrough, you should never hesitate to praise Him for what He has done. We should continually give thanks for the good things God has done for us. There is one characteristic of the writers of the Psalms. No matter what they faced, they still understood that they must praise and worship the Lord.

Hard times may come. Life throws us a curveball. Things happen that we cannot control. But what we can control is our praise. Make it a habit to praise Him in the good times and the bad. Praise Him in the morning and in the evening. Praise the Lord at all times! It will make you feel better.


Grab a copy of my latest book, Worry Free. WORRY LESS.

A Calling to Hope

It is amazing the journey we have been on the last couple of years. Little by little, people have lost hope in the midst of the uncertainties. The world at large has found itself more anxious, on edge, and hopeless. Yet, in the midst of it all, we can find peace. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it me afraid.” He even said that He came to give us peace. Not as the world gives, but only peace that Jesus can provide for us.

Think with me for a moment about this season of your life. How are you feeling? How are you coping with the unending changes? Are you standing strong in the midst of the world’s angst? There is no doubt, it is difficult to walk in unending peace, but it is possible. If it was impossible the Bible would not give us the hope of peace.

In fact, this is what the world needs the most. Not just peace, but hope. When I speak of these things, I know instantly that our mind goes to the fact that the world needs peace. But it is not outward peace that we need as much as inward peace. The Bible warns that this world will never have complete peace until we get to Heaven. Jesus did say that in this life we will face many hardships, and He also said that He would give peace.

Here lies the hope! The world will never know peace, yet we as individuals can find peace in Christ. Inner peace is possible through prayer, thanksgiving, and worship. However, peace can also come through resting our hope in something more than this life. When this life is over, it’s not truly over. For those who have trusted in Jesus, there is something beyond this life. We have hope in Heaven.

The reason we are anxious and hopeless is because there is nothing on this earth to hope in. People cannot always be trusted. Sickness and disease are rampant. Life is uncertain and heartache is everywhere. Why not hope in something beyond this life? If we think this world will eventually satisfy us, we are destined for disappointment. But if we keep our eyes on Jesus and our eternal home, we will find peace in the midst of chaos. The problem we have most of the time is that we look for something here on earth to fill the emptiness in our heart. That longing can only be filled by Jesus.

I don’t want to paint a picture of glum, but I find refuge in knowing that this life is not all we have. This is why we must live for more than just this life. We must live to make impact that will affect eternity. To love others, to serve others, to lead others, and to touch the lives of those who need hope.

The Apostle Paul said, “If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hoped only in this life [and this is all there is], then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied.” I Corinthians 15:19 Amplified Version.

We have a calling to hope. We are to spread that hope to others. Christians should be ones who point others to eternity. If Christians are the ones who lack hope, then how can we ever convince others to believe in the hope of Jesus.

Daily Habits

In the last couple of years, there have been numerous books on the subjects of rest, slowing down, and simply taking your life back. We live in a fast paced culture that doesn’t value quiet or rest as we once did. In fact, we believe people are lazy if they are not always on the go.

Furthermore, we seem validated if our phone is always notifying us, or someone is calling or texting. We also find our sense of satisfaction from how many likes or views we get from the posts that we make. Yet, one thing is missing; inner peace.

We are the most connected society in the history of the world, however, we are also the most anxious. Not to mention, we are distracted like never before. We are more social, but our relationships aren’t any deeper. We have friends (and followers) but how many of these relationships are vital and add life.

John Eldredge wrote a great book called Get Your Life Back and John Mark Comer, wrote, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry to address these very things. Another author, Justin Whitmel Early wrote The Common Rule, which takes it from, not only the personal level, but connects it to family and social life as well. For every one of us, I think we need to slow down and evaluate our lives to make sure that we are valuing the right things.

In The Common Rule, Early writes much about spiritual disciplines and the need to make them a daily and weekly part of our lives. (DISCLAIMER: with any of these books, realize that they may have viewpoints and habits that might not resonate with you or me). However, there are some things that we can glean from their writings. The old adage, “Chew the Meat and Spit out the Bones” applies here.

I like the way that Justin Whitmel Early gives us a great perspective on the daily habits that I believe are applicable to all of us. Check out the PDF below on the Daily Habits and see if you can incorporate these into your life. If you can’t do them all, at least start somewhere.

Early challenges us to:

  1. Kneel 3 times a day in prayer.
  2. Eat one meal a day with someone (Family or Friends)
  3. One hour with your phone off.
  4. Read Scripture before your phone (or if you read on your phone, don’t do anything else until you have read the Bible)

Try these things and see how you grow in your spiritual life. Getting our priorities in order will help us in every part of our life and will lead us into a life of peace and not anxiety.

Stretching our Thinking

It’s hard in life when you get in a funk. You know the days, or weeks, or months, when you can’t seem to get a clear direction on anything. This last year and a half has been that kind of journey. The old saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That pretty well sums up this COVID season of church and leadership. For me, it has been extremely hard watching everything you have been working for and toward, suddenly taking a step or leap backward.

But yet, I find that God is not surprised, rather, He is watching to see what I have been doing and what I will do. I have grumbled and complained for the last year. As if, God has turned a blind eye to the situation the world is in. Then I had an epiphany a couple weeks ago, perhaps, I should look at things from another perspective. With a new set of eyes. Maybe I should think differently. Instead of looking at the problem at hand, what we can do about it. Of course, there are a lot of uncertainties. But in every uncertainty, there will always be an opportunity. Now is the time to really look at what’s important.

There are a lot of things that have changed, some permanently. There are a great deal of things that have been lost, but there are also a lot of things that remain. Instead of focusing on what is lost, we must learn to work with and grow what remains. To say that God is working in my heart is an understatement. He is changing the way I think. Changing the way I view things. God is trying to get me to see things through His eyes and to focus on what is most important not to me, but to Him and His Kingdom. Instead of always worrying about how this affects me, I am beginning to ask, “How is God working this for my good?”

It is a stretch in my thinking, but in the end, I am learning to ask the right questions and allow my heart to be shaped by the plan and purpose of God. For the first time in a year, I am seeing forward. It has been long journey but I am excited for what is ahead.

This Sunday, we begin a new series called REGROUP. You don’t want to miss it.

A Stirring to Pray

One of the Classic Christian Authors  that can instantly stir the passions of my soul is Andrew Murray.  He spoke often of our relationship with God and our lives of prayer.  Read these words and let your prayer life be stirred:

 “The first and chief need of our Christian life is, Fellowship with God. The Divine life within us comes from God, and is entirely dependent upon Him. As I need every moment afresh the air to breathe, as the sun, every moment afresh sends down its light, so it is only in direct living communication with God that my soul can be strong.

The manna of one day was corrupt when the next day came. I must every day have fresh grace from heaven, and I obtain it only in direct waiting upon God Himself. Begin each day by tarrying before God, and letting Him touch you. Take time to meet God.

To this end, let your first act in your devotion be a setting yourself still before God. In prayer, or worship, everything depends upon God taking the chief place. I must bow quietly before Him in humble faith and adoration, speaking thus within my heart: “God is. God is near. God is love, longing to communicate Himself to me. God the Almighty One, Who worketh all in all, is even now waiting to work in me, and make Himself known.” Take time, till you know God is very near.

When you have given God His place of honor, glory, and power, take your place of deepest lowliness, and seek to be filled with the Spirit of humility. As a creature it is your blessedness to be nothing, that God may be all in you. As a sinner you are not worthy to look up to God; bow in self abasement. As a saint, let God’s love overwhelm you, and bowing, you still lower down. Sink down before Him in humility, meekness, patience, and surrender to His goodness and mercy. He will exalt you.”  Andrew Murray, ​The Deeper Christian Life

Choices

Have you ever wondered where you would be if you had not made a change?

Life changes in a moment! Life is also full of decisions. One bad decision can change the whole course of your life. One good decision can do the same. In my 43 years of life I have made some good decisions and many bad ones.

The other morning I had a sobering thought, “what if Christ had not intervened in my life, where would I be?” The thought took me back to 1990 when my life was on course for a devastating shipwreck. If Christ had not intervened in my life I would be a thief, or an alcoholic, or in jail, or maybe dead. I was one of those kinds of guys that needed a change. I was such a “heathen” that when I went to meet my future-in-laws, my mother-in-law to be, cried.

I am not proud of the way I used to live, but Jesus saved a wretch like me. What about you? Where would you be without Him? Where will you be if you do not surrender to Him? We can plan for our future but our future is not guaranteed. One bad choice can ruin your life. One good choice can change everything for good.

We all have a choice to make. The options are: we can live like we want and act like there are no consequences to our actions or choices; Or we can live with the thought that my decisions will affect me and sometimes others too. Many people do not like to be confronted with this fact. The truth is that there is only one choice that can be made that will alter your life for eternity. It is the choice to follow Jesus. To surrender your life to Him.

What is your choice? Will you chance living the same way you always have or will you surrender to Him?