Missing Pieces

It was a summer evening and my sister and I headed into the city with our friends. Our friends and us were concert lovers and piled into our car any chance we got to attend the next concert. This weekend it was Skillet and we were pumped. The night was amazing. From crazy friend conversations in line, to dancing, to meeting the band and making new friends, it just couldn’t have been better. At the end of the night we loaded up and started the drive home. We lived about an hour away and at me point my sister turned down the loud music we had been car dancing to and let me know that she’d lost the pin in her watch band while dancing and wasn’t able to find it anywhere. I was sad for my sister as this was a watch she really liked. We had learned that the Lord was interested in every part of our lives big and small and choose to ask Him to help us find the pin so her watch could be worn again. After saying amen we blasted the music and went about our evening with our friends. The next day my sister woke up and opened the window of our room. I heard her exclaim with joy “what?! No way! Come here!” I got out of bed and went to the window with her. Sitting outside on the window sill, was the small pin to her watch. (True story). The lost piece was found. She immediately put it back into her watch and wore that watch for a long time.

This was a miracle as it was obvious the only way that could have gotten there was by the Lord. I really believe the Lord was trying to send several messages here. One is that He loves us. Second is the Lord’s ability to restore the missing pieces in our lives. Many of us have lost things in our lives. Maybe our joy, peace, relationships, hope, etc., but God can restore the missing pieces and He cares about our lives, the big and the small.

It all begins with knowing the Lord. Click here to learn how.

A couple of my favorite old school Skillet songs I can and Gasoline

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When the Road to the Dream Isn’t Dreamy

Dreaming, it’s such a great gift in life. Even in the toughest situations, we have the ability to imagine a time when things will be different. We get to let our mind wander to places we hope for. But what happens when the journey to the dream isn’t very dreamy at all?

I think of the account we read in the Bible about Joseph. He was a young man, and God gave him a dream. He understood it only to a point, but the jest of it was that one day his brothers, mother, and father would bow down to him. It was an amazing dream to be at a place where even his family bowed down to him, for a young boy with mostly shepherding outlined for him in life.

So he did what any young man would do, he ran and told the ones he loved. “Look, brothers, this is what I dreamt.” Now if we may take a page from our own lives here and imagine a little. Even when we read this, we could begin to think of what it might look like for him to go from shepherded to royalty. Maybe a king passing him by on their way to their palace notices how amazing he is, how strong and handsome he is. Maybe they are so moved by his greatness they instate him as a prince and off to rule the kingdom he goes. He, however, didn’t probably imagine the next step in his journey from dream to fulfillment was outlined with ridicule by this own brothers, or that he’d be placed in a pit to die because of their jealousy. Maybe as he was hauled away as a slave, he envisioned the previous story just to put out of mind what his life is becoming.

How often do we start to dream? Even a dream straight from the Lord and then as we step onto the path that leads us there, it begins to feel anything like a dream. Definitely different then we’d imagined.

Now there is usually light of hope that flickers on the journey. Like when Joseph was made head slave over Potiphar’s house. I mean it’s closer to the dream than the bottom of that pit was. Maybe things are looking up. Maybe God was just using that to get me into the palace. Maybe he will still see greatness in me and instate me as prince yet. But wait what is this? Thrown in jail for doing the right thing, for refusing advances from Potiphar’s wife?  Wait, hold on God. Don’t you know this is not how it’s supposed to go?  Don’t you know that when I walk in what you have, when I do the right thing then…ding, all good stuff happens? Right? Uh? Lord, hello? Ever been on this part of the path to the dream?  Maybe working long hours to develop your gifting, maybe going without recognition for the way you are helping people, or maybe receiving evil for the good?

Next, we see Joseph being made head prisoner over the jail he’d been thrown in. He just interpreted dreams for the king’s cupbearer and baker. He’d asked them to remember him when they went before the king. But as he’s starting to expect from his journey so far, they didn’t remember him. In fact, they pretty much forgot all about him.

This is usually where even the most devoted throw in the towel. They used to push off the question of “is this really a dream from the Lord?” “Can it really be true?” “Will it ever happen?” But now the thoughts are allowed to swirl, to persist because all the evidence seems to point to their truth.

What happens when the road to the dream doesn’t look like a dream? When what we see and feel seems to be making a case against the word of the Lord? We believe God.

His word says that He is not a man that He should lie. It says that He that started a good work in us and is faithful and just to complete it. (Philippians 1:6) Times of struggle is what the body of Christ (church) is for. Like our physical body when one part is weak the other part steps in for support. Find that Christian brother or sister that can encourage you in the word of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

Joseph was eventually remembered. Pharaoh had a couple of dreams that needed interpreting, and when none of his magicians and wise men could interpret the dreams, the cupbearer remembered Joseph had been right about his dream and Pharaoh sent for him. Not only did Joseph get an opportunity to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, but the dreams were a warning that not only saved Egypt but also Joseph’s whole family and all of Israel. Through this, he saw his dream. Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt, and Joseph’s family came to him for food and bowed to him, just as he’d dreamed all those years earlier.

The dreams God has given you are true and will come to pass. But we must be willing to walk the path even if it doesn’t look dream-like.

Account of Joseph stats in Genesis 37.

It all begins with knowing the Lord. Click here to learn how.

We Can Because He Made Us Able

We see in Matthew 25:14-30 the parable of the talents. Now talents are measurements of money. Let me recap what happens in this parable. The master gives three servants talents according to their abilities. One gets five, one gets two and one gets one talent. The first two servants put their talents to work and reap double what the master gave him. The person with only one talent became fearful of how the master might respond if he failed in his endeavors and lost even the one talent that he had. So he buried it. He dug a hole and hid it to keep it safe.  We see when the master returns he approves of the first two and how they put their talents to work. But he scolds the third servant saying you could have at least put it in the bank to gain interest.

Full Story HERE

We learn several things from this story.

First…the Lord wants us to know that He has given us each talents according to our abilities. He is a good Father and He loves each of us. Giving us the talents we can manage. Not overbearing us or asking more then we can handle, but giving us just what we are able to work with.

Second… He’s not as interested in how much the return on the talents are but rather that we use them to their full potential. He was not more impressed by the servant that brought in ten talents then the servant who brought in four. He was proud of His servants in that they each put what He gave them to use and it was able to grow.

Third…Knowing that He gave you just what you can handle, He does not excuse us because we are afraid. His expectation is that we put to use what He gave us for the growth of the kingdom. He is a good Father that calls out the best in His children.

Last week while doing the dishes I heard the Lord say “My children spend most of their lives on this earth wondering if they are qualified to walk in who I’ve created them to be.”  He reminded me what His Word says about the fact that He qualifies us. We can because He made us able. We must put to bed the idea that we can’t, because in Christ we can do the impossible. Matthew 19:26.

So what talents, gifting or callings has God called you to? Are you walking in them? If, yes, how do you continue to nurture growth? If, no, then how can you begin today. When the King returns we want Him to say “well done good and faithful servant”.

Again it all begins with knowing Him. Read here to learn more.

The Major Minor

We’ve all been there. The thoughts of insignificance, being less then or questioning our place in the world. We look at others and their lives and compare ourselves to whatever greatness we see in them. At times we’ve probably even been guilty of looking towards the weaknesses of others and saying “we’ll at least I’m not that”. Which is usually a veiled attempt to boost our view of ourselves.  In todays post I want to share one example of how off we can get sometimes in what we think is great.

In China there is an aquarium who has two dolphins. They are now older and wiser then in their young years, but when these dolphins where young their curiosity got the best of them and they chewed off a good chunk of the plastic lining surrounding their part of the aquarium.  Due to the length of these mammals and the fact that their stomachs were squeezing down on the plastic, their caretakers did not have any available means of removing in from their stomachs. With no options left it was not looking hopeful for the dolphins.

Then the “crazy man” in the back spoke up….”Why don’t we get a really tall person and have them reach inside and grab it?”  “Say what?” I imagine the scholarly and more educated thought and potentially even voiced. “Get a tall man? Uh…next idea?”  But there were no more ideas. So for the sake of the dolphins they “got a tall guy” (Insert eye roll and pile of skepticism here). They called up Bao Xishon, who literally held the tallest man in the world title at one time. Well, he used his three foot long arms to reach down, grab the plastic and pull it out. Both Dolphins were now able to continue their curious lives and the saying that curiosity killed the cat was not updated.

“Find a tall guy” that was the man’s contribution. What if he let the craziness of the suggestion keep him from making it. Also I’m wondering when Bao was being made fun of as a child if he ever retorted “you know one day my giant arms are going to be the only solution to save dying dolphins?”

I encourage you. You have value, your are made to be unique. There is nothing more wonderful then being confident in the gifting that the creator created you for.

It all begins with know God.

We have a Hope

From the virgin birth, to the cross and from the resurrection to the return of the King. There is a story of unspeakable importance playing out through the generations. A King, a father, a friend – the God of all the universe is contending for the ones He loves.

When the disciples were staring into the sky as Jesus ascended into Heaven an angel spoke to the them and asked…

Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said. “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Christ is going to return. There is volumes of books and articles discussing this topic, but I just want to highlight two ways this impacts us.

First…. those who are in Christ have a hope that is out of this world. Not only did Christ pay the price of our sins, but He let us know that He went to heaven to prepare a place for us.

John 14:3-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

There is a literal heaven and those who believe in God (The God of the Bible) have the assurance that He will return and He will take them to be with Him.  There is no greater hope. Death has no hold on those that are His. The Apostle Paul said it like this…

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—  for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

We have this hope that when the Lord returns we will be with Him. That even if we leave our earthly bodies before His return we will join Him in Heaven. Man that is good news! Not only does He come and redeem us from death through our sin, not only does He bring blessings in this life and the next, but He is creating a place for us in Heaven. A place that we will be with Him.

Second…It’s important that we are ready for His return. What does it mean?  We know from scripture that no one knows the day or hour.

Matthew 24:36But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[a] but My Father only.”

This means we can’t keep saying, tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll get right with the Lord. Tomorrow I’ll make Him Lord. Tomorrow. The scriptures lets us know that tomorrow is promised to no man.

James 4:13-14  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will[a] go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

So we have to be ready. Jesus is coming. Ready means you’ve made Christ Lord of you life. Lord is not a phrase we use much these days. But it means He’s in charge. It means we understand that we were lost in sin and that through His great love for us He sent His Son to die and pay the price for our sin. But He didn’t stay dead. Three days later He rose from the grave. Defeating the enemy and purchasing our freedom.

Ready is living our lives for Him. It’s a great trade. Our sin filled life for a life full of God’s greatness.  It all starts with giving our lives to Him.

Follow the link for more details on starting a relationship with the Lord

Soon

Growing up knowing the Lord I became very aware that not only had Jesus died for me, then rose again but that He will also return.  I remember hearing the preachers talking about how soon His return was going to be. We’d go to bible study and the Christian adults around me would talk about how soon it was going to be. Now for perspective I was maybe four or five when I began to pay attention to these conversations. At this point in my life I’d ask my parents when we were going to arrive at my grandparents house and they would say “soon”. They usually meant within an hour or two.  Now I knew they didn’t mean Jesus was going to return today but I knew soon wasn’t that far off either. Right?  It was soon.  I couldn’t help but think. “But I want to learn to ride a bike before He returns.” or “What about growing up?” or “I’d like to get married and have kids”, “what about traveling and having fun?”.  These were the thoughts that went through my head when I would think of Christ returning “soon”.

I remember one day specifically when I was out in our small swimming pool just hanging out and talking to the Lord about life. I was floating on my back and watching the clouds. It was a warm overcast day. I was in mid thought when the sun broke through a separation in the clouds.  It caught my eye and I focused on the clouds proceeding the opening. They were in the shape of what appeared to be a man riding a horse. I shot out of my relaxing float and took another look. Could it be? The bible says he comes back riding a white horse. My heart starts beating fast. “Uhm….but” my mind spins. “Am I ready for Him to return?”  But I didn’t mean, have I done enough on earth, I meant the most important thing, am I right with God? The clouds then went back together and my senses rationed that they were just clouds the same ones I thought was in the shape of Barney the purple dinosaur a few minutes earlier.  I had a laugh at myself, but the question of being ready stuck with me.

It all starts with knowing Him

First, Know Him

Imagine sitting in a room full of people and everyone is talking about you. Some were saying how nice of a person they heard you were and others where sharing stories that were just plain untrue. Sitting there you watched as one person’s description would be retold to someone else only the details would change a little. By the time it got around the room there was little resemblance of the original story.  Now imagine what it would be like to have everyone start talking to you and telling you what you’re like. Even arguing with you when you try to set them straight. For so many of us this is how we learned about who God is.

What we’ve heard, what we think may be true and deluded stories passed around form our image of God. My encouragement to you is to get to know Him for yourself. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s ok to learn from each others experiences with God. But it just cannot be a substitute to you knowing Him personally.

In Philippians 3:8 Paul says “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”

We see in Ephesians 3:18-19 the prayer that we “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The main ingredient missing in most people’s journey with the Lord is getting to know Him. We are caught up in religious rituals and miss the God we are worshiping.

John 17:3 “now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” You want eternal life?  Know Him the one and only true God.

I encourage you today to not let God be just someone you heard people talking about, but someone you know. He left his Word, the Bible, as a letter to us. Explaining who He is and who we are to Him. It’s the best place to start to move closer to knowing Him.

Learn more about knowing God here

Love Copies

This story occurred while I had been working in the Austin airport as a security screener. I was about a year into the job and I was constantly looking for ways to share the good new of Jesus to my co-workers. Some would be open to hearing he gospel and others would just give me a hard time about being a Christian. I remember my friend (who was also a Christian) and I would tell them that living for God was the best life one could live. God blesses those who live for Him. They would usually respond with a “Sure whatever”. But God would always do things in our lives that we would share that would be a testimony of a blessed life that comes from living for God.

One such event started just like any other day. Lots of work and very little staff. I was supervising and needed to make some copies for the staff so I went to the office to use the copier. I walked up to the copier and started making copies. I don’t remember the exact number but it was around twenty-five. After the copies were done I grabed my copies and turned to leave. In doing so I noticed that the entire office staff was staring at me, several with their mouths open in shock. “What?” I asked curiously. “Um, there is no toner in that machine” one of them replied. “There must have been some in the bottom of the toner cartridge” I suggested “No,” he said standing up and walking to the copier. “We’ve been knocking at it for weeks and it finally ran out today.” He flipped open the front panel of the copier. “And look we removed it completely” I looked down at the copies in my hand. They were perfect and had no sign of a toner shortage. I thanked God and then said to my co-workers. “I’m trying to tell you guys, when you live a life for God, you can’t help but be blessed.” It was amazing that God will even make copies to get our attention to tell us He loves us.

Read more about how you are loved.

HOPE

Today let’s “chat” a bit about the term HOPE. Most of the time when we use this word it is very ambivalent. On a scale of “nope” to “defiantly” we’ll see hope close to “probably not”. If you mom says, “I hope we have time to get ice cream.” you know the odds are not in your favor. So when we read verses like Romans 11:1 that says “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It paints a picture of passivity. Maybe what God said is true, maybe not. Maybe He’ll show up and help me out maybe not.  But this is not the scriptural use to the word Hope.

Hope

Hope in the Hebrew and greek is an indication of certainty. It creates confident expectation. Like when a child sees their parent pull the top off the cookie jar. They are not wondering if they are getting cookies, they know. They are filled with eager expectation even though they have not yet seen a cookie. Even if there has been no verbal communication. They know that what they hoped for will occur. This is Biblical Hope.

Understanding Hope in this context changes everything. It helps us understand why it’s so important. Why it can save our very lives.  Hope is active. When you have certainty in your Hope it gives birth to faith.  When a farmer who Hopes with certainty that the seeds he has in his barn will produce a crop he moves with purpose to prepare the fields. He tills the ground, gears up the tractors and mobilizes the team. He plans for where the harvest will be stored. Why? Because he Hopes for things he cannot yet see, knowing it will come to pass.

Hebrew 6:19 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” What is this Hope? It is Jesus. God made a covenant with us that through Christ paying the price for our sins we could experience eternal life. This is the hope that we have as an anchor of our soul. This Hope, this certainty that we are Christ’s forever.

Hold onto this Hope and share it with others.

 

As always it first begins with knowing Him. Click here to learn how.

Sweet Sixteen

It was my sixteenth birthday and I had high hopes for an awesome sweet sixteen. The only problem was that my family was low on cash and all we could afford was a “Happy Birthday, I love you” and a heartfelt apology for not being able to have a “real” celebration. I prayed and asked God to let there be an awesome surprise. I knew He could do something. He could make money fall out of the sky, have a random person come by and say “Here I made you a cake!” or have my dad’s boss give him a “your daughter is having her sweet sixteen birthday bonus.” Or something, anything! I held out hope until I fell asleep late that night, but not so much as a card came for my birthday. I awoke the next morning determined not to be saddened by yesterday’s lack of events. “Ill read my Bible” I thought to myself “that should keep my focused on God and not on how I feel let down about my birthday.”

I had just started reading when my mom came in and said she had a surprise for me. I told her I’d come as soon as I finished reading. She acknowledged and left the room. My curiosity quickly got the better of me so I put my Bible down and ran into the kitchen. When I arrived my mom was doing the dishes. “You have a surprise for me?” I asked not letting onto how exited I was.

“Here” she said while wiping her soapy hands on her blue jeans. She then reached over and grabbed a plastic license plate cover from the corner of the counter.  “What’s this?” I asked “Is it for my bike?” Knowing that if they couldn’t afford a cake yesterday there is no way this wasn’t more then a hopeful “I wish we could get you this” type of gift.

“Now, I wasn’t suppose to tell you until your dad got home, but I couldn’t wait.” my mom began “your dad was given a car today from his old boss and he’s giving it to you.” My eyes got big and my mouth dropped. “Where is it?” I asked as I quickly glanced out the window at our driveway. “He’s bringing it home tonight.” She replied. My gazed dropped down to the license plate I had looked at with disappointment earlier. I noticed for the first time what it said. “Blessing from God!” WOW! He did move mountains for me! This is much better then some random person bringing a cake. He brought a car! The love of the Lord never ceases. He even cares enough to step into our everyday lives and talk to us in ways we can understand. To express to us His great love.

 

Read about the the day I understood His love