One of Those Days!

outrageous loveHave you ever had one of those days when you feel all alone? You don’t feel close to anyone. It’s like you’re the only person on the planet even though you’re surrounded by a multitude of people. These feelings usually continue down the path of doubt. You doubt your importance, your worth, or even if anyone loves you. You’re alone, hurting, and feel like there is no one who cares that you are alive.

Sometimes you might be led down the path of confusion. You are suffering in so many different ways that you can’t imagine life ever getting better. This usually leads to wondering if the trials are because of something you’ve done. Confusion leads to questions you already know the answer to: “Are things so difficult because I’ve made God angry?” “Is this punishment for not going to church, giving, serving, reading my Bible, or praying enough?” “Does God really love me?” It is not uncommon for those who have suffered for a long period of time to be confused. You are so tired, weary, and worn that nothing makes sense, so you begin to wonder “What have I done to bring this pain upon myself?”

I believe the paths of doubt and confusion are two trails Satan has cut off the beaten path of faith to cause us to question God’s love. Just like Eve in the garden, Satan is still asking questions to cause us to misinterpret God’s Word and forget His promises. He wants us to believe we’re all alone so we’ll try to solve our problems on our own. He wants us depending on self instead of the Savior.

If you’re having one of the those days and about to leave the path of faith, stop and remember the cross. There is no greater sign of love in all of creation than the cross of Christ. God’s outrageous love for you was proven at the cross. At the cross your sin-debt was paid in full. At the cross anything that could bring condemnation upon you was placed upon Jesus. At the cross we can see that our suffering in this life should make us long for eternal life in heaven all the more.

So, if you’re having one of those days, know that our trials, troubles, and tribulations are not a sign of God’s displeasure. They are a sign that we live in a sinfully fallen world that will eventually end. When this world comes to an end, those who are believers in Christ will be ushered into one eternally long peaceful day where we dwell in the presence and love of God!

Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had disappeared and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride dressed in beauty for her husband. Then I heard a great voice from the throne crying, “See! The home of God is with men, and he will live among them. They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more, and never again shall there be sorrow or crying or pain. For all those former things are past and gone.” Then he who is seated upon the throne said, “See, I am making all thing new!” (Revelation 21.1-5)

True Rest from Our Labors

A one day holiday every September is not enough to give us true rest from all of life’s labors. However, when we humbly approach Jesus in faith He gives us an abundantly restful peace throughout all our days.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11.28),

Helpful Hints for Dealing with Conflict

Throughout our lives we are going to have to deal with conflict. There are those who love conflict so they have someone to straighten out. Others are so uncomfortable with conflict that they seek peace at all cost—which is not really peace. Then there are those who will put off dealing with conflict as long as possible.  None of these approaches to conflict are healthy or Biblical.

Perry Noble gives some helpful advice on how to be deal with conflict in our lives.

Noble writes:

#1 – Email DOES NOT WORK!  (This would also apply to texting as well as any form of social media!)   

When conflict use to arise with me and someone in the office I used to walk to my desk, log on to my computer and fire off an abusive email, several problems with this…

  • It is the act of a coward, I would do this so that I would avoid a eye to eye conversation.
  • It removes the fact that I am actually dealing with another person…if I type an email I don’t have to look them in the eye and removing that obstacle allows me to say things to them through typing that I would NEVER say to them in person.
  • It often drags out the conflict way longer that it should be.
  • It can easily be misinterpreted, thus causing new conflicts.

#2 – Handle Conflict Quickly – The Bible is VERY clear in Ephesians 4:25-26 that we are not to allow the sun to go down while we are angry.  If we allow something to fester inside of us what usually comes out of that is NEVER pretty.

#3 – Always Assume The Best About The People You Work With – If you don’t get anything else in this article then PLEASE get this, LOVE ALWAYS ASSUMES THE BEST ABOUT SOMEONE…ALWAYS!  If you hate/can’t stand the people you work with then THE BEST thing to do is to begin to ask the Lord, “what is wrong with MY OWN heart?”

#4 – Remember that Email Does Not Work! 

#5 – Stop Expecting People To Read Your Mind – Often times people have said something hurtful to me that they did not perceive as hurtful.  I would become angry with them and actually tell myself, “well, they should just know that hurt me!”  NEWS FLASH – THEY DON’T KNOW, and they won’t know unless I am man enough to look them in the eye (because email does not work), assume the best about them (which automatically assumes they didn’t mean to hurt me) and CALMLY walk them through why what they said wounded me.

#6 – Stop Waiting For Them To Approach You – If you know there is conflict and you know there is a problem to be solved but you are “waiting on the right time” or “waiting on them to come to me” then I would encourage you to read what Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24.  Maturity is when a person is willing to seize responsibility instead of just waiting on something to happen.

#7 – Never, EVER Go Public When You Have Not Even Attempted To Talk In Private – Too often people take their conflicts online when they have never even attempted to handle them in a private matter (sort of goes against what JESUS actually said in Matthew 18:15 as the first step in dealing with conflict!)  People are way too quick these days to read/hear something that someone says and automatically fire off a tweet or blog post without ever attempting to have a conversation with the person that they assume “got it wrong,” causing them to feel like they need to be the savior of the world by jumping to conclusions and making accusations about things that they actually have zero knowledge of.

#8 – And finally, do not forget that Email does not work! 

I’m Going to be a Dad?

In my office, on the wall above my computer monitor, is a present my wife gave me for Father’s Day 2005. It is a picture frame with thirteen pictures of me and William. It starts with a picture of me holding him the day he was born and is followed by another picture taken on the same day each month. The final picture is, of course, me holding him on his first birthday. On my book shelves I have several other pictures of him—graduating preschool, his school photos from kindergarten, first, and second grade.  In just a few seconds, I can see all seven years of his life.

Sometimes I just can’t think or study anymore, so I take a break to rest my weary mind. It is during those breaks that I recall all the wonderful memories I have had with William over the last seven years. I think about how much he has grown physically, all that he has learned educationally, and how he is maturing spiritually. Without a doubt, I am a proud father. I love my son with every ounce of my being, and I make sure he is confident of that love. I want him to know my love for him doesn’t change when I am frustrated at his disobedience, when I am disciplining him for his actions, and most especially when we are separated from one another. I want him to understand that my love is unconditional, and nothing—I mean nothing—will ever separate him from my love, ever.

Most of us have seen too many children literally fighting for the affections of their parents. When they do not get it, they go elsewhere in search of love and acceptance, and it is guaranteed they will find it somewhere. It was this thought which woke me up from a deep sleep shortly before William was born. I sat straight up in the bed with one thought racing through my mind, “What if I’m not a good dad?” I found myself gripped with fear and anxiety. What did I know about being a parent? I was thirty-nine years old and should be getting ready to be a grandpa not a dad! Needless to say, I wasn’t able to clear my mind or go back to sleep, so I quietly knelt down beside the bed so as to not wake my wife, and I began to pray.

That night, I prayed for everything. I prayed for my son’s health, protection, salvation, his spiritual calling, and even his future wife. I remember asking God to give him a heart that burns with a passion to live a godly life, tell others about Jesus, and meet the needs of the hurting. And then I prayed something I had never said before, “Father, I guess I’m asking you to give me a son like Jesus. A son who loves you, obeys you, seeks to glorify you in all he does.” To be honest, the words came out before I thought them through, so I stopped praying to contemplate what I had just asked for.

Up to that point, praying had eased my fear and anxiety; however, that last line had rekindled the fire of anxiety and put one thought in my fearful mind, “If he is to grow up like Jesus, he needs a father like Jesus’ Father, and I’m not GOD!” With that dark storm cloud of fear hovering over me I cried out, “God, please help me be a good dad!” Immediately a thought rushed into my mind, “Give him Jesus!” Give him the unconditional love of Christ, teach the commands of Christ, show him the love, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness of Christ, and most of all, live the life of Christ as an example for him.

That dark night of the soul has become a bright beacon on days when I just don’t feel like I’m getting the job done. It is a bright lighthouse shining in the darkness—lighting the way for me to avoid the dangerous rocks of doubt and depression. It is a memory that reminds me that my son doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does his father! Why? Because Jesus is perfect and He is in control of our lives!

The Way to a Peaceful Mind

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4.4-9 ESV).