Going Slower Once in a While Helps Us Go Faster in the Long Run

Relax and Have Faith…Fear and Worry Won’t Solve Anything

There was a military study done to see how long soldiers could go without a break. It was determined that on the seventh day their output and performance was significantly less, even though the soldiers themselves didn’t see any difference.

Slowing down and resting is important. Even God rested on the seventh day after working hard for six. And we were made in His image after all.

We were designed to rest one day each week.

Most are familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with five small loaves of bread and two fish. As is the case with all the Bible there are some great life lessons in this message.

Don’t stress – Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we get enough food to feed these people?” This was a text because Jesus already knew what He planned to do. Philip began stressing…he said, “We would have to work months to buy enough food for every person here to have a little piece.” Philip forgot who he was with. Jesus had this. Too often we forget who we’re with.

Trust in Jesus – Andrew on the other hand spoke up and told Jesus, “Here’s a boy with five loaves and two fishes. But, this isn’t enough for so many.” Even though Andrew didn’t know how…he knew Jesus did. He believed.

Sit down and be fed – The crowd was told to sit down, and they did. Jesus gave thanks for the food they had and passed it out. After the crowd had eaten all they wanted, there was twelve baskets of leftovers. If we will take time to sit down with God, in His Word and with other believers, we will be fed more than we can hold. Enough that we will have leftovers to share with others.

Make Jesus a priority – This crowd had walked a long distance without planning for the trip, just to be near Jesus and learn from Him. They were willing to put forth the effort just to be in His presence. Are we willing to make this kind of commitment to be near to Him?

Give everything we have to God – The small boy gave everything he had to Jesus and God expanded it to enough to feed the boy as well as everyone else that was there. He wasn’t stingy holding on to it, afraid that if he gave it up, he wouldn’t get any. He gave freely of what he had. Do we share our skills and abilities with others by giving them to God first?

God will fill our cup so full it will run over if we give everything to Him first!

It doesn’t do us any good to stress and worry about things. God has got this if we will just remember to slow down ‘once in a while’ and give everything to him.

When asked the definition of abundance, a 10-year-old boy answered, “It means…

We have everything we need, even if we don’t have everything we want yet.”

It’s Not About the Storms…It’s About Our Faith When Going Through Them

No Matter How Dark the Clouds Get, the “Son” is Shinning Behind Them

Most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus asleep in the boat when the storm comes up. The people with Him were scared and worried. In their panic, they wake Jesus up and ask Him, “…don’t you care about us?” He stands up and commands the wind and waves to stop… Then He asks them,

“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

We face storms of different kinds. The important thing is to remember to have faith.

No matter how dark the storm clouds get, the Son is always shining.

Pastor Lee told a story about a family that moved to Florida. The kids decided to go snorkeling in the pond in their backyard. While swimming an alligator decided to go swimming too. The mother yelled at them to get out. One boy was under water and didn’t hear her. The mother rushed out to get the boy, but before she could get him out the alligator had the boy’s head. She got a hold and started pulling. Because of the snorkeling gear the alligator let go. As they were swimming to get out the alligator bit the boy’s foot. Once again, the mother pulled against the alligator. It turns out that he didn’t like the taste of the flippers any more than the head gear and let go again.

The boy had some cuts on his head and feet, but no major injuries. The family was grateful, found a church and started going. The mother said, “That close call gave us a new perspective on life and God.”

We’ve all had situations where life hits us in the head and we adjust our priorities.

Having faith doesn’t mean we won’t have storms…it means we don’t have to go through them alone. Having faith gives us the peace to curl up next to Jesus.

He’s got your storm…whatever it is.

This week’s message reminded me of the TobyMac song, Help Is on The Way. This was the first song of hope he had written since the death of his son.

TobyMac said in an interview,

“I was walking through that valley and kind of went downstairs one morning and turned to Psalms. I read this scripture that said, ‘God is rolling up his sleeves,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that in the Bible.’ What beautiful imagery, when you think of the God of all creation rolling up His sleeves on my behalf – on our behalf. And I just thought, ‘What promise.'”

This song speaks to going through storms and the assurance that God has our back –

I heard your heart, I see your pain
Out in the dark, out in the rain
Feels so alone, feels so afraid
I heard you pray in Jesus’ name

Sometimes it’s days, sometimes it’s years
Some face a lifetime of fallen tears
But He’s in the darkness, He’s in the cold
Just like the mornin’, He always shows

Well, I seen my share o’ troubles
But the Lord ain’t failed me yet
So I’m holdin’ onto the promise, y’all
That He’s rollin’ up His sleeves again

It may be midnight or mid-day
He’s never early, no, never late
He will stand by what He claimed
I lived enough life to say…

Help is on the way
Roundin’ the corner
Help is on the way

Have faith. No matter how dark the storm seems, help is on the way!

Extraordinary Things are Done Every Day by Ordinary People

You’ve Been Given Everything You Need to be Extraordinary, It’s Up to You to Use it

This past Sunday was Pentecost. This is the Christian commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, celebrated the seventh Sunday after Easter. The coming of the Holy Spirit happened suddenly and came in a strong wind and fire, Acts 2:1-21.

The people who were together when this extraordinary thing happened, were just ordinary people. These followers of Jesus were feeling lost and alone after Jesus left. They no longer had their leader. How would they go on?

This small group of ordinary people are the beginning of our Christian faith. They are the core of the Church today.

These ordinary people did extraordinary things.

They didn’t think they had what it took to do the mission before them, but they did. Most of us feel this sense of inadequacy when we look ahead to our own missions.

It is amazing what long-range effect the little things we do, both good and bad can have. We rarely know what long term affect we will have and how those things will affect the future. Seemingly irrelevant things can make a huge impact.

In the book, The Butterfly Effect, Andy Andrews tells how the decisions you make and the way you treat others impact the world. This short book is a powerful story about a decision one man made over a hundred years ago, and the ripple effect it has on us individually, and in the world, today.

God will not ask you to do anything more than He knows you can.

Just like Jesus’ followers, we’ve been given the things needed to accomplish our mission. –

  • Power – Nothing is impossible with God. We’ve been given the strength needed to do the things we are supposed to. The power has been promised to us. It is available…not delivered. It is up to us to access it and use it.
  • Purpose – Just like the disciples were given their purpose on Pentecost, we’ve been given a purpose. Like power, this doesn’t work without our participation. We need to open our ourselves to God’s vision and do something. Without a vision the people parish, Proverbs 29:18.
  • Presence – The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in our lives. This is us inviting God in, to be an active part of our everyday lives. Once again, we have a responsibility, if we aren’t open to It and accepting of It, we won’t get It.

It is up to you every day to use your gifts and abilities doing ordinary things, letting God turn them into something extraordinary.

Fear is Easier to Deal with When You’re Not Alone

We’re All Afraid of Something…What is it That You’re Afraid of?

Fear and anxiety are a part of life. It comes in a variety of places and levels for each of us.

A lady who was afraid of flying was on a plane. This fear was amplified when the plane was delayed a few times before takeoff. While in the air, the cabin lights began to flicker. The lady asked the flight attendant if she could please do something to fix the lights. The attendant went and turned them off. The person across the aisle leaned over and said, “Whatever you do…don’t say anything about the engines.” 😊

I don’t know, but I doubt that turning off the lights did much to help the lady’s fear.

In John 20:19-31 we see how Jesus’ disciples were afraid and hiding from the Romans. Their world had just been turned upside down with Jesus being killed.

Jesus’ followers, except Thomas, were meeting behind locked doors when Jesus shows up. This helps to subside their fear…for a little while. The group kept telling Thomas how Jesus had shown up.

He wasn’t going to believe until he saw for himself.

Then a week later, the followers were meeting again. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus showed Thomas the proof of the holes in His hands and side. Jesus told Thomas, “You believe because you have seen…blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.

Believing without seeing is hard.

Whether it’s flying in a plane, spiders, roller coasters, not having enough money, being stranded in the middle of the ocean, snakes, letting people down, there is something we’re afraid of. For some this fear can be debilitating. For others it’s more of a nuisance. Regardless the fear is real.

A class of seminary students were shown a picture drawn by a boy that was sick and dying. The boy had not been talking since he went to the hospital.

The picture was fairly typical of pictures drawn by children. It was a picture of the boy’s family. It had a house, dad, mom and his siblings standing in the front yard. The part that was different was him standing by himself off to the side facing a tank that was about to run over him.

The class was given copies of the drawings and asked to make changes to the picture that might help the boy cope. There were several changes that were shown to the boy. The one that got the boy to open up and talk was the one that had a picture of a person simply standing beside him in front of the tank.

We all need someone to stand beside us when we’re facing tanks.

Jesus will stand beside us when we’re facing tanks…if we will just ask Him.

A Journey of Faith Takes Time and is Scary

It’s Much Better When We Have the Support of Others

We had another faith Sunday at church the past week. It is amazing and wonderful to hear about people’s faith journeys. Each one of us in our own unique place in our journey through life.

It’s easy to be consumed by all the things going on in our own busy lives and forget those around us. We often feel that we are going on this journey alone. We forget that there is help when we need it.

Isolation is one of the most difficult things we will ever experience.

We need to remember that everyone deals with the same struggles we do. Being willing to support those around us, even in small seemingly insignificant ways, can be live changing. The simple act of noticing people can be one of the biggest.

Being noticed validates our worth.

Both the needing and helping sides of the journey were evident in the stories shared. There were stories of the church as a whole or individuals giving support in difficult times when there was struggling. We’ve all needed this type of support in our own lives.

As I was reading The Traveler’s Gift there was an example of what a faith journey is like. In this book David Ponders traveling through time meeting with various people who give him wisdom and insight into the seven decisions for determining personal success.

David meets Christopher Columbus on the Santa Marie as he’s crossing the ocean. As the two men are talking, Columbus’s First Officer confronts the Captain, explaining that the men have had enough, and they are going to turn around and go back.

Columbus explains that they have been at sea for 64 days and only have 10 days of food and water left. Turning back would be futile. These men did not have the vision or faith that Columbus did.

It would take a lot of faith to get on a boat and set sail for an unknown destination at an unknown distance…but Columbus had a vision and faith. He believed and trusted God.

We need to believe and trust in God as we go on our journey.

It took years for Columbus to get the expedition organized. It took support from other people. It wasn’t instantaneous and he didn’t do it by himself. And neither will we.

Get support when you need it. Give support when you can. Believe in God and yourself and continue your journey.

Faith is Not for the Weak of Heart

You Have to be Intentional and Use It

Once again, this past Sunday technology wasn’t playing nice. The internet at the church did not want to cooperate. Life is full of things not going as we plan.

This morning my truck decided to be unagreeable and was not accelerating properly. My mechanic is only a few miles away, so I turned around and went to see him. When I got there, I found that he was closed. With a little checking I found that his family was headed to a wedding in Wyoming and won’t be back until Monday.

I have things to do, places to go, people to see.

This changed everything. At this point I had some decisions to make and I made them. First was to give this situation to God and believe that He would take care of this. Then, I went back home, made the necessary changes to my schedule, got some other transportation and continued moving forward. Then, as I was driving to town, I looked at the fuel gauge and it was on E. It was another faith moment…God this is in Your hands. I made it to the gas station before running out.

No this isn’t what I had planned for today, but most days don’t turn out like we plan. Life is full of unseen situations. Like the woman in Matthew 15:21-28, she was dealing with a daughter who was suffering. She was faced with choices just like us. She could live with it or she could be brave and take it to Jesus. This was not an easy thing for her because she was a Canaanite not a Jew.  

Her courage and faith made the difference.

Her daughter was made well. We can choose to put our trust in tools, equipment, technology, other people, etc. These things will let us down. We need to trust in God and believe that He will do what He says.

Have a brave heart and put your faith in God!

What Does It Mean to Have Faith?

It Means the Willingness to Step Out of the Boat

Faith is the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. This is much easier to say than to do. Saying it doesn’t require the level of commitment that doing does.

In Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus’ followers are alone in a boat in the middle of the night and there’s a storm. They see something on the water and think it’s a ghost, but it’s Jesus. Peter says, “…if it’s really you, then command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says, “Come.”, and Peter gets out of the boat and walks to Jesus. Then Peter gets scared and starts to sink. Jesus reaches out and catches Peter and says, “Your faith is small.”

How big is your faith?

I think this story of Peter getting out of the boat is a great example of our humanness. Faith is easier in the beginning when you’re still close to the solid comfort of the known. The real test is when you get out in the middle. The goal still looks far away, and we begin to doubt ourselves and our decision.

It requires faith to step out.

Imagine standing on the edge of a wide and deep canyon. It is scary, standing there you can’t see the bottom or the other side. You know that on the other side is something important. It could be a person, a business, a home, the life of your dreams.

The only way to get there is to go across a swinging rope walkway. Some of the boards on the walk are missing and some are broken. The rope is frayed and looks to be unwinding. You can’t even see the whole bridge, so you have no idea what condition the part you can’t see is in. This fear is what keeps most people stuck in the mediocrity. It’s too scary to step out there on the bridge.

What if the thing on the other side is the thing that God wants for you? To have it you just need to have faith and go get it.

We want to have faith. We start to have faith. Then we quit.

The loss of our faith gradually happens as we mature. As we go through life, we become more and more cynical. We witness discouragement and heartache and we lose our faith. In Matthew 18:3 and Mark 10:15 we are told to enter the Kingdom of God; we need to be more like children.

Andy Andrews talks about a childlike faith in his book The Traveler’s Gift. In the Persistent Decision, one of the seven life principles in the book, he speaks to faith. He says, “How long must a child try to walk before he actually does so? A child would never ask the question, for the answer does not matter. By persisting without exception, my outcome – my success – is assured.” A child would not think twice about running out on that bridge over the canyon.

We need to have the faith of a child.

Faith requires that we put our complete trust and confidence in Someone other than ourselves. If we ask God to walk on the water and He says, “Do it”, we can be sure that it’s safe to step out of the boat.

My Hope Is in God…Not in the World

This Includes Technology 😊

The world around us is amazing. The things we can do with computers and smart phones today was the things of imagination fifty years ago. But these things are limited, like every other worldly thing.

If we put our faith in worldly things, we will be disappointed.

This past week’s church service had some “technical difficulties”. This left some gaps in the message, which I think speaks directly to the message. We so often put our faith in the things rather than God.

This doesn’t mean that we should let the difficulties of the world get us down. This pain we go through is like the pain of childbirth. The reward on the other side of the pain, makes the pain worth it. Romans 8:12-25

We can choose whether our focus will be on despair or hope.

There was a family that had a father and son both working in a coal mine. There was an explosion, the father was killed, and the son maimed. The family choose to focus on hope rather than despair. They were so serious about this that they changed their last name to Sperondeo, which means, “my hope is in God”. The son went on to do amazing things with his life.

Faith in God is more than blind hope. It is trusting in something bigger than yourself. It is the act of believing and trusting God. This kind of hope is like breath is to life. As long as we have hope, life is worth living. We are not alone. Hope in Christ is the secret ingredient to life

Put your hope in God…not in the world!

Have Faith, God is Bigger Than This

It Doesn’t Matter What “This” Is

Life can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Being scared or not is a choice. Nobody said it would be easy.

Choosing not to be scared is bigger than we are.

Not being scared is about having faith in God and knowing that He has our back if we’re doing things He approves of. I’m constantly reminding myself of this. It’s easy for me to get scared when attempting to do something I’m uncomfortable with. Things that are outside my comfort zone are what God is calling me to do. These are the things that make us better.

Just like Matthew 14:25-33, when the disciples were afraid in the boat during a storm. They saw Jesus walking toward them on the water, Peter said to Jesus, “if it really is You, then command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus’ answer was, “Come”. Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. When Peter’s focus left Jesus and he started thinking about the wind and the waves, he became frightened and began to sink. Peter shouted, “Lord save me!” Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. Jesus told Peter, “Your faith is small. Why did you doubt?” We are so much like Peter.

Peter let his faith be overcome by fear.

This doesn’t mean we should do crazy dangerous things. Before Peter stepped out on faith, he asked Jesus and got His approval. He did fine until he took his eyes off Jesus and got scared. We are so much like Peter.

Having faith doesn’t mean everything is going to go wonderfully. It means that the outcome will be. The troubles along the way make us stronger and prepare us for the future problems. In Romans 5:1-11 we’re told to enjoy our troubles, because troubles produce patience, character and hope. And hope will never disappoint us.

We are not supposed to be afraid.

God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, 2 Timothy 1:7. Don’t worry or be afraid, because God is with you, Isaiah 41:10. Where God’s love is there is no fear, 1 John 4:18.

When fighting a war, the losing side is either defeated or surrenders. If we’re fighting on God’s side, we’re going to win. There’s nothing out there that God can’t defeat. He’s bigger than everything.

The more we focus on Jesus the less we’ll be scared.

I Say That I Believe…But Do I Really?

It’s Easy to Say, But Hard to Do

What does it mean to believe? The words believe, trust, and faith are thrown around a lot. They’re used in all forms of motivational situations. You may have seen the Geico commercial in which Pinocchio is portrayed as a bad motivational speaker. (use a picture from the commercial)

In the commercial Pinocchio’s nose begins to grow when he tells people that they have potential. This commercial shows us the real problem with believing…we don’t. It presumes that Pinocchio is lying when he tells people that they have potential. The lie is in what Pinocchio is telling himself. He doesn’t believe that he or anyone has potential.

Every one of us has potential!

The words, believe, trust, and faith are often used synonymously but have subtle differences. Faith is a noun only. Trust is both a noun and verb. Believe is only a verb. We know from English class that a noun is a person, place or thing. A verb is used to describe an action.

We use these words as nouns. As a treasure that is out there for us to find. The problem is that two of the three are verbs, and we should be taking action. This means that we need to do something.

If I believe that I’m doing what God wants me to do…why doesn’t it appear to be working?

A few days ago, as part of my morning Scripture reading, I read Mark 11:20-24. In this message Peter asks Jesus about a fig tree that the day before Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And now, “it is dry and dead.” Jesus replied to Peter, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, God will do it for you. So, I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you.”

As I contemplated this Scripture as it related to my question, I realized a few things.

When the scripture says, “…say to this mountain, ‘Go fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts…it will happen”. That sounds great, but really, do I think the mountain is going to just move. Think of the chaos that would ensue if we all did this. I would move the mountain over there and somebody else would move it somewhere else. Maybe my believing is about doing. I could move the mountain with a bucket, by developing a machine, by designing a system, or by employing a team. The scripture isn’t about magic, it’s about believing that I can do it.

“God will do it for you.” I don’t doubt for a minute that if He chooses to move a mountain from here to there in one big piece He can. But more likely, His way of doing it for me is through ideas, plans, methods, help, etc. We are made in His image…we’re not Him.

As I pointed out earlier, believe is a verb. This means that if I believe, then I will need to do something. I can’t just say that I believe and wait for the miracles. I need to do my part. My belief needs to be accompanied by action.

I can say I believe, but if I don’t act then I don’t really believe.

My problem is that I’m looking forward to the mountain being moved and getting distracted by the enormity of it. I need to trust that God will show me what each next step is. Pastor Lee shared about Bill Irwin, (use picture from this link) a blind man that in 1990 hiked the Appalachian Trail alone. God didn’t magically take Bill from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in north central Maine. Instead Bill walked 2,168 miles over nine months without maps or GPS or assistance one step at a time.

Bill believed and with God’s help, moved his mountain. It’s up to us to believe and move ours.