Walking through the waves

So much of my life has been lived in fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of looking dumb or being humiliated, fear of meeting new people, going new places or trying new things.  As a kid the new school year was frightening and my folks would remind me that everyone else is in the same boat.  While that may have been true, it didn’t help.  I was afraid to leave the comfort and security of home.  As I grew older new jobs scared me.  I would be physically ill on my way into work and have to stop along the way to empty the contents of my stomach.  Fear kept me from sleeping at night, from stepping out and trying new things.  It kept me from going or doing either what I wanted to do or needed to do.  Fear held me back from a great many things in my life and over the years I’ve learned that fear is powerful.

Fear isn’t all bad.  It tells me to run in the face of danger.  Fear protects me but it can also hold me captive.  I can be trapped by fear even when there is no danger present or when I allow my fear to grow into something greater than it should be.  Was there a real danger present at the beginning of each new school year or when I started each new job?  No, of course not, but because of what my mind was convinced of, my body reacted to, literally.  Yes, it’s true that when we’re convinced of something, like fear, our minds have the power to make us physically ill.  Consider Proverbs 23:7 which says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  I’ve given fear too much power.  My perception of a given situation can be entirely untrue and what’s more, I’m placing my trust in the wrong thing entirely – myself.  It’s time to shift my focus.

I don’t want to live in fear any longer.  I want to step into all that God has in store for me.  I want to go when God says “Go” and stop when he says “Stop”.  Isaiah 30:21 states, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  I want to speak when I hear his gentle voice urging me to talk with someone or pray boldly with a complete stranger. My heart’s desire is to move beyond the controlling confines of fear and step boldly into what God has in store for me.  In order for me to move beyond fear I must learn that ‘fearful’ is not who I am any longer.  Through Scripture I’m learning that God can set me free from fear.

There are two verses in Scripture I cling to.  The first is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The second is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  In order for me to step out of a fear-filled mindset I must step into something different.  For me, that something different happened when I was eight years old, the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior.  I’ve been a born again Christian for 42 years but only recently have I understood the power of Christ within me.  I’ve walked far too many years without knowing or understanding that I didn’t need to live in constant fear.  Too many years not understanding the transformative power of God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12).

I can’t claim to fully understand how Scripture works in me as I read it, but this I know: the more Scripture I read, the more peace I have.  The closer I walk with Jesus, the more I learn, the more I hide Scripture in my heart, the more peace I have.  I still have days when all I see are the waves and storms of life as they crash around me.  Still, I’m learning to keep my eyes on the One who calms my storms with the Word of His mouth.  Do I understand why things happen or for what purpose?  No, but I’m not meant to, because that’s what faith in Christ is all about.  It’s a simple childlike faith that believes and trusts, even when everything in me is screaming otherwise.  Fear is losing its grip on me as I grow in faith and trust in Jesus my Savior.

 

Sometimes it’s the little big things…

Sometimes it’s the little big things that keep you going…

Have you ever thought that?  Or had that happen?  Or are you wondering what I am talking about?

What I mean is that sometimes you run across a little thought, verse or encouragement and that is all you need to make a big impact on you and provide you with the push you need to keep going.

Social media (Pinterest or Facebook to name a couple) portray many clips and sayings – some that encourage, some that bring on the tears, and even some that invoke anger or another emotion.

But despite all the time I have spent scanning through Pinterest pins,  I have found that the Bible is the most encouraging, life-saving, true statements that promote life – and not only life – but a full life.  Did you know that?

There have been times when we wondered “did we do the right thing?” or “did we hear God correctly?”  Those questions would sometimes come during times of challenge.  And it has been a challenge to make the changes we have made.  But despite those challenges, the Lord is building a faith in us that I would never trade!

So what is a little big thing that keeps us going?  Well, it’s found in the Bible at Philippians 1:6 and it says:  “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

It’s a little sentence with big meaning:  “being CONFIDENT (to be fully and firmly convinced) of this, that He (Jesus) who BEGAN (started) a good work in you (fill in the blank here – ours is Biblical Counseling) will CARRY IT ON (continue it) to COMPLETION (until it is finished) until the day of Christ Jesus (the time of Christ’s return).

What the Lord has started, He will not leave unfinished.  There will be a beginning, a middle and an end.  So any challenges that we face as we go though this change in our lives, we do not need to wonder if God will see us though – because He will.

What challenges are you facing?  Seek the Lord, for He will see you though!

Trust In and Rely Confidently On…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP) Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

I love this passage.  We are commanded to trust in and rely confidently on the Lord.  When?  All the time.  Even when the storms of life swirl about us – we trust in Him.  Even when work hours have been cut – trust in him.  Trust and rely on Him when nothing makes sense.  We might not understand everything that’s going on right now and that’s okay because we’re not to rely on our own insight or our understanding.  We ARE to acknowledge and recognize Him – thank him for leading you through all the years of uncertainty and for being faithful and constant – He has not forgotten you and will not forget you.  The promise of this verse is that God will make your paths straight and smooth as you trust and rely confidently on Him and not your wisdom or understanding.

None of what you face today is a surprise to God.  Cry out to Him who is our mediator, who prays on our behalf – be confident in knowing that Holy Spirit prays for you with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26-27).  There is comfort in knowing that Holy Spirit cares deeply for us and prays continuously for our every need.  ~ Brad

Hope and The Solid Rock

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly trust in Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.”

Those lyrics from “The Solid Rock” hold so much meaning for me I love those old hymns. There is so much truth packed into the songs I grew up singing, although back then I didn’t appreciate them as I do now. This song reminds me to build my hope on nothing but Jesus. He is my firm foundation, my solid rock. When the storms of life assail me, I stand firm knowing that my feet are fixed on Christ Jesus who is my solid rock and my mighty fortress.

I know from experience just how disheartening and discouraging life can be. I’ve learned, slowly at times, to keep my eyes fixed on my Savior, my Lord and my King. Unlike earthly things, that leave me dry, thirsting and wanting, I draw from Jesus who gives me water from which I will never thirst again.

I encourage you to stand on the Solid Rock who is Jesus. Not sure how that’s done? Contact me, I’d love to sit down with you and walk with you through whatever it is you face today. I’ll always point you to the One in whom my hope rests. ~Brad

Faithfulness!

God’s faithfulness to us, does not depend on our faithfulness to Him! I was reminded of that after a bout with an old habit. Satan, my accuser was shouting in my ear that I had gone too far. Satan’s tormenting lie was, God would not meet my needs and I had to somehow work my way back to God’s good grace.

It was in that moment that God’s gentle whisper and his loving embrace surrounded me. I was reminded of all the months He had been meeting my needs. I was reminded that even though I sin, He is faithful. I was reminded that He knew me and had counted my days before one of them came to be.

God is faithful and compassionate – I’m thanking Him for that today. Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

~Brad

Life’s little lessons

Nancy and I came home tonight and received some news that wasn’t the answer we had hoped and prayed for. To be honest, we were disappointed and a bit discouraged. So we pulled the Bible off the end table and read Psalm 34. As we read our beloved Psalm we refocused our hearts and minds on the One on whom we depend. We were reminded to extol the Lord at ALL times and have His praise always on our lips. The Psalmist tells us to, “taste and see that the Lord is good [and] blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. As we read, we were encouraged because “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing [and] as the righteous cry out, the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles”.

As I sat and listened to Nancy read, I was reminded of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as they sang Psalm 34, so I turned on the TV, opened up YouTube and found this song. It’s amazing to hear all those voices raised in unison praising and worshiping our God, our King, our Redeemer, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting One, the Lion of Judah, the Great I Am!

We go to one of those ‘hand raisin churches’. You know the type of church I’m talking about. There are those people who raise their hands during worship and they even sway to and fro a bit as they sing. As I sat watching this video, I was reminded of how weird I used to think that was. Then my mind drifted to another question. What will I do when I’m face to face with Jesus? He’s the One who saw me through all my troubles and heard my hearts cry and saved me from my sin. Will I just stand there stiff as a board? I don’t think so! On that great and wonderful day, when my eyes finally behold Him, I will fall on my knees in humble adoration. I will sing to the mountain tops with joyous jubilation, I will raise my hands and dance for the One who rescued me from the pit of my sin and despair. On that day, I will praise Him because of all the nights like tonight, when my soul was disturbed within me and His Word comforted me. I will praise Him because His Spirit reminded me to trust in Him alone.

Disappointment will come, of that there is no doubt and when those times come how will your heart respond? Personally, I’m still learning to depend on Him alone, I’m still learning to trust in Him alone. I’m still learning that He does have my best in mind even when circumstances disappoint me. I’m reminded of Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Tonight, I’m clinging to the feet of my master, savior and friend.I’ll post the video of Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s Psalm 34.

~ Brad.

 

Hope the Four Letter Word

Is there really hope found in Christ? Years ago someone told me that hope was an awful word. I can’t recall his words exactly, but suffice it to say, hope wasn’t something he believed in and wanted nothing to do with. As we sat, eating lunch together, we talked of other things but I remained silent and said nothing to refute the statement he made. I’ve thought a lot about that conversation over the ensuing years. How could I have responded? What should I have said? What would you have said?Have you lost your hope? Do you look at the tumultuous waves that boil around you and sink into a pit of despair? Have you prayed in earnest, only to have those prayers go seemingly unheard and unanswered?

Here’s another story. Years ago I remember crying out to God, asking Him to take my addiction from me. I pleaded, “I know you’re able to do this, I know you can deliver me from this”. I poured out my heart in a tear filled cry to God because I knew that God, in His power, could deliver me from this awful snare in which I was bound. However, what God could have done instantly by His power, in His wisdom, chose to do something different. God chose to take me on a journey of recovery, one that I needed to go on. This journey would take years and involve a wife who didn’t know all there was to ‘know’ about me when she said; “I do”. This was a road I had to travel in order to learn about the One on whom I needed to depend.

During my journey I learned that God does care for me, that He is interested in me, and that He really does love me, in spite of all I have done. I’ve learned that His love for me doesn’t wain when I mess up, when I’m short tempered or fall back into an old habit. I’ve learned He doesn’t wink at sin and disciplines me out of His love for me, just as I do my own kids. I also learned that He loved me first, before I knew Him. Through all of this I’ve learned what hope is, what grace is and how much God truly cares for the broken and down trodden. God deeply and genuinely cares for each and every aspect of our lives.

It doesn’t matter what you face, how troubled your marriage, or how far astray your kids have gone. Do you struggle with addiction, fear, depression, anger, guilt or unbelief? There is no wound so raw, no heart so broken, or a hole so deep that the love of Jesus cannot go deeper still. There is hope and it’s not a four letter word. It’s actually a five letter name – Jesus.

Recently, I came across this statement: “My experience trumps your argument”. So, in my experience, hope is a marvelous thing, despite what men may say. No matter what you face today or the trying circumstances you find yourself in, Jesus is hope. In Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5), in Him there is peace (Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:7) and in knowing Him, you can find the peace you’re searching for.

I’ll end with Ephesians 3:18-20, which says: And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

~ Brad