To Die For

To Die For

My oldest son, Trey, was on the way to a career in pro baseball. Then in one game, with one snap, that career was gone. I walked with him through disappointment, surgeries, tears, all the while stuffing my own ragged emotions. (You know how we hate to see our children hurt.) Two years after the event, I was still full of such regret for how life had turned out for Trey that I had to do something. I decided to write God a letter. If I Were God I told Him I was angry. I told Him how unfair He was. I told Him I didn’t like His plan. And then I said this: “God, if I had been You, I would have thought long and hard before taking away Trey’s chances at baseball. If I were You, I would have honored the little boy who wore a scripture verse on his cap, who worked tirelessly yet gave You all the credit, who was noted for carrying the cross in his pocket. If I were You, God I would have…” You get the idea. Then God said to me, “I hear you, Kim. But if you had been me, would you have given your son to a hurting and dying world…because that is what I did.” Love Breaks Through You’d think, after the way I had blasted God, that He would blast back. Here I was accusing Him of not being the perfect kind of God I expected Him to be. Imagine what He could have said about my imperfections! Instead, He reminded me of how much He loved me, and Trey, and you. He reminded me that though we are not perfect—and though we sometimes accuse Him of terrible things—He still thinks we are to die for. God gave His only Son over to a horrible death to redeem what was lost. And God still breaks through our losses today because of what His Son did on that cross. Just as Jesus walked out of the tomb, we can walk out of our prison of pain, knowing that, having died for us, Christ now walks beside us, ready to redeem every loss, heal every hurt, restore what is broken. Sight Restored What is in your heart today? Are you disappointed in how your life has turned out? Are you questioning how God could really love you when He lets such painful things happen to you? Take hope in this great truth. God redeems everything. Let it comfort you despite the losses you may be carrying. He whispers into your darkness what He whispered into mine: I love you. I am here. I see you. Yes, as dark as our worlds can get, God can still see us. And He will give us just enough light to be able to see Him too. As we draw toward that light—tiny though it may be—we begin to see His love more and more clearly. Hope returns. Another Letter Let’s be people who are always looking for the light of God in every situation. And let’s go one step further. Imagine if each of us whose darkness has become light could shine a small beam into someone else’s darkness. With the message of the cross, we could open their eyes to the...

read more

The Power of Thankfulness

The Power of Thankfulness

Counselors, therapists, pastors and Oprah tell us that gratitude is good for us physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Yet thankfulness does not always flow easily. Perhaps we simply are not familiar with the language, having been raised in an environment where expressing thanks was uncommon. Our words of gratitude sound forced and awkward to us. Perhaps we are wired to see what needs fixing, rather than what is already worthy of appreciating. We “improvers” make an important contribution to the world around us, but if we aren’t careful we risk missing out on the joy a thankful spirit can bring. And perhaps we simply can’t find much in our lives for which to be thankful. No Thanks This was the case with Mary and Martha. Near the tomb of their brother, Lazarus, we see these sisters pouring out their grief and disappointment to Jesus. Jesus had been performing miracles of all kinds, including restoring sight to a blind man. Why hadn’t He healed Lazarus? Why had He let down this family who loved Him so deeply? We read in John 11 that their sorrow touched Jesus deeply. He wept too. Then He approached the grave and asked some onlookers to roll aside the stone that sealed the tomb. Imagine the anticipation of the crowd that had gathered! Imagine the hope welling up inside them as they waited for something spectacular to happen. An Unexpected Path to Power What Jesus did next was far from spectacular from a human perspective. “Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me’” (John 11:41, NLT). First, He looked up. And then He gave thanks. Lazarus was still in the grave when Jesus gave thanks. The sisters were still mourning. The onlookers were still questioning whether this itinerant teacher could really live up to His reputation as a miracle worker. Yet Jesus gave thanks. First, the upward look of belief. Next, the words of thanksgiving even when all seemed dark. And then, the miracle. “Lazarus, come out,” shouted Jesus. And Lazarus did just that. Miracle in Waiting Often, the same circumstances that are making it nearly impossible for us to express thankfulness are the circumstances through which God intends to work His next miracle. And we can unleash God’s miracle-making power by looking up to Him in belief that He hears us, and then by proclaiming our thanksgiving. If nothing else, we can begin—as Jesus did—by thanking Him for hearing us. From that humble beginning, we can grow our capacity for thanksgiving. Here’s one way to help that growth happens. You will need a journal if you use one. Or you can use a bowl or jar (simple mason jars work great) and some slips of paper. Now ask yourself, What month is it? If it is April, the fourth month, then let’s come up with “4 Reasons to Give Thanks in Month 4.” Let’s write those in our journals or on four slips of paper that we place in a bowl or jar. Then let’s do this for every day in April, until it’s time to move on to May, and so forth. Have fun with this. Above all, let’s not get perfectionistic. We can dig into our journals or jars for inspiration on days when we simply can’t...

read more

Fight and Feed

Fight and Feed

No matter how clearly we know in our heads that God is loving and His plan for us is good, belief sometimes eludes us. Difficult circumstances, intriguing but unnerving opportunities, others’ opinions, and even our own thought patterns may crack open the door and enable doubt to creep in. If not confronted, doubt has the potential to lead us into discouragement and despondency. We cannot ignore doubt and hope it will go away. Doubt demands a decision. Will we become faith-fainters or faith-fighters? The apostle Paul urged his protégé Timothy, who had some good reasons to faint, to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). How do we fight for our faith? We fight for it by feeding it, thereby making it stronger. Here are several effective ways to feed our faith. Pray. When believing is a challenge we can’t depend on ourselves to get our act back together. We need to ask Jesus for help. That’s what the demon-possessed boy’s father did when he needed to believe in order to see his son healed. He pleaded with Jesus, “Help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Let’s never underestimate the power of the simple prayer, “Help me, Lord.” Walk through Hebrews. To remind ourselves of how God worked out His promises in the past, we can read the inspiring testimonies in Hebrews 11. The God we see in Hebrews is the same God who fights for us today. Recall your own God Stories. In this step, we take what we discovered in Hebrews to a more personal level. There are times when I know, without a doubt, that God showed up for me or a family member or friend. If He can do it once, He can do it again—and He has. If you struggle to recall such a story, call or email someone whose faith you admire, and ask that person to tell you a “God Story” from his or her life. Remembering how God acted on behalf of someone close to us can be the perfect remedy for faltering faith. Hold your thoughts accountable. Doubting expresses itself in different ways. For me, it might say “What’s the use?” or “God doesn’t care.” When we hear these and similar messages, we can isolate that thought and hold it up to Christ’s truth for comparison. For example, if our thoughts tell us “God doesn’t care” we can remind ourselves of 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (emphasis mine). When doubt leaves us feeling lost and uncertain about what to do next, let’s personalize the truth of James 1:5: “If we lack wisdom, we should ask God and He will give generously.” Memorize God’s truths. For the above step to work, we need a certain familiarity with what God says is true. That’s why, whenever I encounter a faith-feeding truth in the Bible that confronts my most common doubts, I memorize it. Memorization makes God’s truth handy—right inside our minds and hearts—for when the “stinking thinking” sneaks back in. We can intervene immediately by replacing those thoughts with God’s thoughts. Remember, though doubts will invade our minds, God has not left us unarmed and defenseless in the fight for our faith. With each battle we fight, our doubts will...

read more

Web Design by Accent Interactive