What To Do When You’re Worried

The Cure for Worry

Earlier this week I posted Part 1 (A Game Changer for People who Worry About…Anything) of this 2 part series on Worry. You may want to read that before reading this one.

So, the obvious question is “Doesn’t everyone worry? Isn’t it just part of the human experience?”

Isn’t it just a Way of Life?

No!

2) Worry isn’t a Way of Life. In fact it’s the opposite of the life God wants us to live.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ Matthew 6:27 

Worrying doesn’t change the situation, it just causes you a bunch of stress and fear.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.- Corrie Ten Boom

Instead listen to this:

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. 1 Peter 5:6-9 (NLT)

Verse 6 says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God…”

Humbling myself under the mighty power of God…that sounds like what I do when I worship. I recognize my position and His power!

I believe you can worship away your worry.

When I worship, my attention is redirected away from what I see right in front of me to the object of my worship.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

There’s tons of context here but I want you to see the imagery of lifting my eyes off my worry and up to the hills to see the help coming.

Worship is a secret weapon for you. I realize not everyone is the same, but when I get worried, or stressed. When I’m facing temptation. Any number of things… I turn on worship music. It changes the atmosphere.

Taking that thought even further

Paul says this in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

No one can pray and worry at the same time.- Max Lucado

The translators of the Message say “Let your praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.” You have the power to turn your worry into worship. Telling God exactly what you’re worried about and focusing on Him, His goodness toward you, and His example of faithfulness throughout Scripture, history and your life.

Whenever you’re worried…worship!

Focus less on what has you down, and focus more on the One who can lift you up!

I’ve been praying for you this week!

A Game Changer for People Who Worry About…Anything

The Truth About Worrying

My son Cooper is 13 years old. I don’t know how much you remember about being 13, but it is a pretty tough deal. He has to deal with school, and tests, and his brothers and sister. He has to deal with his mom and dad who are constantly on him about something. He plays baseball against kids pitching pretty fast. He has friends, and then he has these girls he thinks are cute. It’s a lot to take in when you’re 13.

Cooper, as our oldest, is pretty cautious in general. He is also pretty nervous about trying new things. On his baseball team he hates to bat leadoff, the first batter in the lineup. He loves to bat 2nd. He needs to see another one of his teammates face the pitcher so he knows what to expect. He’s a very good baseball player, but almost every single game he walks up to me at some point to tell me how worried he is about facing this pitcher…even if it’s a pitcher he’s faced before.

Last year, when his school started their Standardized testing, I was driving him to school and he said, “Dad I’m worried about these tests.” I told him that I completely understood and that we would pray before he got out of the car. I also reminded him that he made good grades, is a good student and does really well picking up things he hasn’t learned yet if that happened, so not to be afraid. We prayed, but I could see as he was getting out of the car that he was still worried.

As his dad, I would have given anything to take away his fears and concerns but I couldn’t.

I would love to admit that worry is just something kids deal with, but we all know that isn’t true.

I asked a question on Facebook and Twitter a while back and got tons of great feedback. I just asked a simple question: “What do you worry about?”

Here were some of the public responses. I also got some private ones.

  • Not succeeding
  • Letting people down
  • Making decisions or taking risks
  • Getting older, unfulfilled dreams, children growing up
  • Career choices
  • The future
  • If you’re doing enough
  • Missing out on what God has for me

If I were to sum it up, the biggest things people seem to be worried about are success, money, health, family, and the future.

I realize there are probably things that you worry about that aren’t on this list, and that’s okay.

Jesus talked about worry in Matthew 6. Evidently He felt that it was important, because it’s pretty early on in His very first sermon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-27, 33-34

He starts pretty specifically and sums up everything we could possibly worry about when He says, “Don’t worry about your life…”

It’s hard to be much clearer than that.

But when you hear that, you might think, “Well how am I supposed to do that? Isn’t worry human nature?”…

Well kind of.

I don’t want to pscho-analyze you, but I want us to dive a little deeper into our worry and see if there’s something there that Jesus might be speaking to.

What do we think worry is?

1) We think worry might be a warning. We’ve heard those stories of someone who had a feeling or a premonition just before something bad happened, and so we convince ourselves that our “worry” is a warning that something bad is going to happen.

2) We think worry is a way of life. We think we are supposed to worry about our jobs and our future and our kids and…

So let’s address each of these thoughts about worry.

1) Worry isn’t warning. The reason I can say this with certainty is because Worry isn’t the voice of God. The voice of God is the voice of God. When I learn His voice I won’t mislabel it as worry! If God wants to warn me of something, He warns me of something. He doesn’t give me an obscure worry that causes me to doubt if it was His voice, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with what I’m feeling.

Jesus told us about a helper we would have after He left the earth.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:26-27

He said that the Holy Spirit is our Advocate. That’s someone who is on your side. Someone who is there to help you. And when Jesus said He was leaving the Holy Spirit for us, He said that it was a gift of peace for our hearts and minds so that we didn’t have to be troubled or afraid.

So worry isn’t warning. Warning is warning. If I’m unsure whether something is a warning I would ask 2 simple questions:

  • Is this a way God speaks (to me)?

Be careful not to interject that you think someone, somewhere, that one time felt something before something bad happened…has God ever specifically spoken to you this way?

  • How am I supposed to act in light of what God has warned me?

I believe if there isn’t a specific response that it’s just worry and not warning. A warning is “Get out of the way, a car is about to hit you”. A worry is “This is a dangerous world where bad things happen to kids.” There’s nothing I can do with that other than to just worry.

So worry isn’t warning. Warning is a warning.

 

Later this week I’ll unpack the 2nd part of our worries, and how we should deal with them.

Until then, try to evaluate your worry. Where is it coming from? What are the triggers?

Now spend a moment in prayer and thank God for clarity in the moments where He may be warning you, and ask for peace in the moments where you are worried!

Until next time…

 

 

5 Ways to Make Better Decisions

Immediately Improve Your Decision Making

Solomon told us that “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!” He went on to say that if you’re going to do anything else, “develop good judgment.”. Sounds easy enough, but you and I are smart enough to know, and have lived enough life to have learned that wisdom isn’t a given, and good judgement is often hard to find.

But you and I have decisions to make. We’re choosing things for our own lives that matter, and we’re making decisions as leaders that affect other people. So when we need wisdom to make a decision where do we find it?

The problem usually isn’t the things that we know we are supposed to do. Though we will fight it if we REEEEAALLLY want the other thing, if it’s a black and white issue, most people I know will eventually make the right decision. It’s the grey areas that we struggle with. Those decisions that don’t seem to be on the map. You know the map, right? “Turn right here.” “In 2 minutes get off this road.” Those amazing GPS apps on our phones have made it nearly impossible for me to drive anywhere without assistance. I just wish I had the same assistance when it came time to make decisions in my life and leadership.

So I want to give you 5 questions that I believe will help you make better decisions every time.

1. What does the Bible say about this issue?

If you don’t allow the Bible to speak into your life you’ve probably already skipped past this one. However, I believe the Bible to be an incredible source of wisdom. It even calls itself “a lamp” for our feet and a “light for our path.” There are a number of places in Scripture that you can find specific instructions to help guide the decisions that you are making. If you don’t know where to look don’t be afraid to look at the keywords in the back of your Bible or Google “What does the Bible say about ______?” Check several resources to insure that it’s valid. It’s not cheating. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and the Bible says “yes” or “no” then your next step is pretty simple. Just do what it says.

2. What is God saying to me about this issue?

I’ll start the same way this time that I started last time. If you don’t believe that God speaks to you then this may seem irrelevant. When I say “speak” or what is God “saying”, don’t get hung up on thinking about the audible voice of God. Perhaps you have heard God speak audibly. I never have. And yet God has spoken to me in many ways. Obviously I believe God speaks to me through His Word, which I talked about already. But He also speaks through worship, prayer, nature, circumstances, and more. You might call it an impression or a feeling. God promises that if we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask for it, and He will give it to us “generously.” 

It’s important that this comes after searching the Bible because the Bible is a timeless revelation of God’s Word to His people. It has stood the test of time, and God will not contradict Himself by telling you something that doesn’t line up with His Word. So check the Bible, then check yourself.

3. What are the wise people in my life telling me?

If you are the wisest person you know, you need some new friends. Proverbs tells us to “walk with the wise to be wise.” I want to surround myself with people who have wisdom in a variety of areas of life so that I can lean into their wisdom when I’m attempting to make decisions. I have wise people in my life in the areas of finance, real estate, parenting, marriage, leadership, pastoring, and more. I lean on them regularly.

One of the greatest ways wise people can help me is to determine if what I’m hearing from God (#2) lines up with what the Bible says (#1). Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

4. What are the possible consequences (both good and bad)?

If you still don’t know what to do, make a pros and cons sheet. Put all the possible good results that could come from this decision, then list the possible bad outcomes. Look them over. Does either column make your decision easier or clearer? Count the cost, even if money isn’t involved. You won’t regret it.

Finally, if you still aren’t sure. You’ve looked in the Bible, listened for God personally, talked to wise people, and counted the cost, here’s the tie-breaker.

5. What would the wisest, Godliest person I know do, if they were me?

Try to remove yourself from the situation. To the best of your ability, take the emotions off the table. Zoom out and view the situation from the outside looking in. Now picture the person you believe to be the wisest, Godliest person you know. Maybe you don’t even know them well. Maybe you just see them from a distance, but you admire them and their ability to make decisions. If they were in your shoes, what do you think they would do? If you have a relationship, or access to them, perhaps even ask them that question: “If you were me, what would you do?”

Two closing thoughts:

First, don’t allow the fear of making a wrong decision cause you not to make a decision. I’m not talking about taking your time or waiting for more information. I’m talking about the “paralysis by analysis” that so many of us are guilty of. We don’t want to get it wrong, so we do nothing at all.

It’s like a friend of mine. When they are sick they refuse to go to the doctor because in their mind “no news is better than bad news.”

Avoiding it doesn’t make it better. When it comes to decisions, many times avoiding it makes it worse, the decision harder, and the cost greater.

Second, don’t let what you “want” to do in your head overpower what you “know” to do in your heart. We can all justify what we want to do. You’re looking for the right decision, not just your preferred decision.

You’re a leader. People are waiting on you to make decisions. Use the wisdom of God, surround yourself with wise people who can help you when necessary, and make the call!

I believe in you!

The 1 Thing People Need From You

You Already Have it

This post appears as an article in the October edition of Around Canton. I write several times per year for this local publication and always enjoy the feedback I receive. I wanted to share it here in hopes that it will encourage you too.

 

Several years ago my grandmother gave each of her grandkids a small book that she had written and bound. Each page was filled with stories of faith that she had personally experienced. There were stories of answered prayers she and my grandfather had prayed over the previous 50+ years. There were stories of wonderful sermons she had heard or church services she had attended. Each page was different, and very powerful. When she presented these books to each of us she informed us of her motive. It was her desire that while she was still able to remember the wonderful things God had done, that she would make sure her family knew as well. What a thoughtful and forward-thinking idea.

Perhaps one of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 2:10 which says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” While that might not seem all that sad to you, keep in mind that the Lord had done some amazing things for Israel in the previous generation or two. He used Moses to lead as many as 1 million Hebrews out of the Egyptian bondage of slavery. They spent 40 years in the desert preparing to inhabit the land that was promised to their forefather, Abraham, 700 years before, all the way back in the book of Genesis. Upon entering the Promised Land they defeated enemies, inhabited new land, and established themselves as a new nation…and then they stopped telling their stories.

I can’t imagine that. These stories included frogs, locusts, darkness, water turning to blood, walking across a large body of water on dry land as God supernaturally rolled the waters back, defeating giants, and so much more. But eventually their children didn’t know.

So the question for us is this: “What stories do you have that need to be shared with your children and grandchildren?” Unfortunately there will come a day when each of us will no longer be able to share these stories. So we must be intentional to share them while we can. It doesn’t have to be in a book. Maybe it’s a time of sharing after the turkey has been eaten and the table is cleared. Perhaps it’s just an email or letter written and sent. No matter what method you use, don’t put it off one more day. You have a story to tell, and someone needs to hear it.

I Know Why You’re Disappointed

What You Can Learn from Middle School Basketball Tryouts

I’m all for evolving, stretching yourself and constantly trying to improve, and goal setting is a huge part of that process. So how is it possible to set a goal, reach the goal and still be disappointed?

My son recently tried out for the 7th grade basketball team at his school. His one and only season of organized basketball was in 4th grade, but when it came time to sign up he decided to give it a try. Before the tryouts he explained that the coach described the process as daily tryouts, beginning on Monday, with cuts at the end of each day beginning on day 2. He said his goal was to “just make it to Thursday.” He felt that making the team was unrealistic given that he hadn’t played much basketball, there would be nearly 50 boys trying out, and most of his friends have played basketball for the last several years. So we supported him and held out hope that he would make the first few cuts.

Wouldn’t you know it, he actually did pretty well early in the week and as he got in my car after Tuesday’s tryouts he told me that 21 boys were cut, but he was in the group invited back the next day. As I asked for a rundown of the day’s tryout he concluded his description with this line: “You know dad, I think I could actually make the team!” The amount of excitement in his voice was matched by the caution in mine as I responded, “that’s awesome, Cooper. I hope you do.” Then I added my obligatory parental disclaimer, “But if you don’t make it, it’s okay. Remember you just wanted to make it to Thursday, and you’re halfway there. Just keep working hard.”

Wednesday came, and he was invited back for Thursday.

Thursday evening I parked my car on the curb in front of the school and waited…

As he walked out of the gym I could see it on his face.

Disappointment. Embarrassment. Frustration.

He got in the car and the floodgates opened. I prepared my comments, but he didn’t want to hear them. He hadn’t made the team and his 7th grade world was CRUSHED!

 

Cooper made it to Thursday and was still disappointed. Why? Because early results opened up new, better possibilities that were previously unthinkable. Thursday is a great goal until you realize you were one day from making the team.

Exceeding your goal of losing 10 lbs can be disappointing if the scale shows a loss of 14.9 and you focus on missing out on 15 lbs.

Maybe you’re a pastor who set a goal of 500 people on Easter Sunday. Before leaving the church you got the news: 595 in attendance! You should be thrilled, but all the way home all you can think about is how close you were to 600.

You set a goal of 10 new sales leads this month and you ended the month with 12. Instead of cake you’re wallowing in your morning coffee because the guy who shares your cubicle set the new company record with 17 new leads.

Disappointment can often be the result of unmet, unrealistic expectations you set for yourself.

 

It can also be the result of giving your heart to new possibilities before taking the time to celebrate present successes.

Are you disappointed?

If so, is it because of unrealistic expectations, or

is your original successful goal no longer enough due to comparison or success in the process?

Go buy a cupcake, celebrate what you’ve accomplished and set a new goal!

Disappointment is Dumb!

Yawn Like Somebody is Watching

The Response to What You’re Doing

The other day I was driving down the road and passed a car heading in the opposite direction. I glanced over just before the other car passed by to see the driver yawning. In a flash they were gone…and I started to yawn.

Even typing the words, I actually just yawned. I just yawned again. I’m not tired, but I can’t stop yawning. Are you thinking about yawning yet? Have you yawned yet? How about now?

Maybe you are one of those rare people who can refrain from yawning even when you see it happening or hear about it. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I yawned several times while looking at Google Images of people yawning to find a picture for this post.

Yawning is contagious. If you’re ever bored at a restaurant, just find someone at another table and fake a yawn while making eye contact with them. They’ll start yawning. It’s hilarious.

I don’t really want to talk about yawning though. I want to talk about what I learned from my encounter with the yawning driver who passed by.

After she passed me, I imitated her behavior. It wasn’t a premeditated response, but it happened. She had no idea how her action affected me.

Have you ever thought about how your actions are affecting other people? If you have, perhaps you have attempted to alter behavior you didn’t want repeated. However, in the rhythm of everyday life sometimes we forget that people may be watching and we quit acting and just yawn…I mean live our actual lives.

If people mimicked the way you talk to your spouse, would their marriage be healthy?

If someone talked to their kids the way you talk to yours, would you think they were good parents?

If another Christian followed Christ the way you do, would they be growing closer to Him or falling further away?

I recognize that this might seem overwhelming. It may make you sweat. It might scare you, but it doesn’t have to. Their responses could be positive or negative things. Somewhere, someone is probably emulating some of your good behavior too.

The reality is, people are always watching. If you have kids living at home, they are for sure. You are consciously and subconsciously modeling for them what it means to be an adult. Even beyond kids, people on your job, people in your community, your neighbors, your friends, and total strangers. They are just passing by, observing your behavior and it has an affect on them.

What actions are you taking that may be causing a response from someone else?

Live like someone is watching. Because they are!

Taking the Necessary Steps

Learning how God answers some prayers

There is a famous story in John 2 about Jesus turning water into wine. I think it teaches us all something about the way God meets our needs.

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.  – John 2:6-8

I don’t know exactly how they filled the jars with water but it appears to me that they had 2 choices.

  • They could carry the jars to the well and fill them up to the brim and carry them back, or
  • They could go to the well with smaller pitchers, fill those up, walk back and fill the larger jars, and repeat that process until it was finished.

Either way, we’re talking about a pretty good amount of work.

I did some research and if you split the difference between the 20 and 30 gallons these jars held, you get 25 gallons of water, which would weigh about 200 pounds. So each of these jars, when full would have weighed 250 lbs or so including the stone jar itself.

So, they either carried six 50 pound jars to the well, filled them up and carried six 250 pound jars back, or they carried 1200 pounds of water one gallon at a time.

Often when I pray for God to do a miracle or answer a prayer I want it done RIGHT NOW. I’m looking for those “Suddenly” moments from Scripture, and He can do that. But what if God meets needs another way too?

What if the answer to your prayer looks more like a process and the miracle you seek takes more than a minute?

You pray and ask God to “fix” your marriage. You want it fixed by the time you say “amen” and open your eyes. But what if God is fixing it one counseling session at a time?

You pray and ask God to “help” your finances. You mean give me more money or lower my bills. But what if God is helping your finances every month you create a budget?

You pray and ask God to “give” you a promotion at work. You’re expecting the boss to offer you the job today over lunch. But what if God is teaching you some things in this job so you’re ready for that job 3 years from now?

Our miracles are usually the culmination of faithfully walking to the well time after time to fill up the jars, and carrying the heavy things because Jesus asked us to.

I think my favorite part of this story is when Jesus asks the servants to draw “some” out and take it to the master. Draw some what out? They had just put water in those jars, why would they give the master water? But they drew it out and the master tasted wine.

What you put in during the miracle isn’t what you draw out after the miracle.

Be patient. Don’t get frustrated. Do what Jesus is telling you to do and…

TRUST THE PROCESS.

 

3 Reasons Fast isn’t Always Best

The Power of the Process

My wife is an amazing “homemaker”. That’s probably not even the right word for what she does. Sometimes she is a DIY furniture maker. Other times she finds obscure antiques or knick-nacks and turns them into statement decor in our home. She is also the self-proclaimed “fastest painter in the world.”

She finds a color she likes, picks up a gallon, and we are moving furniture to the middle of the room that evening. We don’t obsess over color selection. She knows what she likes when she sees it. If we get it on the wall and don’t like it we can paint over it.

However…

We are both impatient. We like to paint the room, move the furniture back and take the “After” picture. The project needs to feel complete before we go to bed. While we are still passionate about the idea we want to leverage our energies toward completion.

I’ve adopted and love her get it done now mentality with painting. However, I have come to realize that I carry this same attitude with me into everyday living. Undone projects tend to eventually become the things we’ll get to “one day”. So I rush through to get the job done. After all, no one ever takes an almost finished picture.

The problem is, a lot of things worth doing can’t be done quickly. Financial responsibility starts with a decision and hard choices initially, but it’s never really “finished.” Weight loss or healthier living is ongoing. Educational endeavors take time.

So what do we do?

Stop comparing your “work in progress” to someone else’s “finished product.”

      The reality is they probably aren’t finished either. They just may be a little further down the road than you. It’s also important to view everything on social media like you do the objects in your rearview mirror.

While the mirror tells you “objects are closer than they appear”, social media should come with the caption “not as fabulous as presented.” The perfect Instagram picture of their clean house doesn’t reveal the dirty laundry hidden behind the door.

      The glowing Facebook post about their weight loss journey doesn’t show the lingering insecurity in front of the mirror.

If you allow yourself to be shaped by someone else’s well-crafted narrative you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary heartache.

Appreciate the benefits of “sleeping on it.”

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve painted a room, cleaned up, moved the furniture back and gone to bed, only to have the light of a new day reveal a spot we missed. Taking a little extra time gives you a perspective that finishing too quickly will rob from you.

My dad says he has two financial decisions he still regrets to this day. Both were made without walking away to sleep on it and returning the next day to close the deal. There are very few things that can’t wait an extra 12 hours.

Remember the original “why.”

Pastor Mark Batterson talks about the power of a picture in a cow pasture.

It’s not that the cow pasture has any power. It’s just that he originally felt the call of God on his life walking through that cow pasture. So he went back and got a picture of himself standing in the pasture and hung it in his office. On those days where his job feels “unfinished” he looks at that picture to remember his excitement for the original calling.

Why did you start out on this journey? Why did you originally go back to school? Why did you originally want to save money? Why did you commit to purity before marriage or faithfulness within your marriage, in the first place?

If you can remember WHY, you’ll eventually figure our HOW.

If you’re like us you love to finish the job and cross the item off your to-do list. But don’t be afraid to embrace the work in progress.

It’s where life is actually lived!

 

The Last New Years Resolution Post You Need to Read

4 Things to Focus on in 2017

We’re only one week into the new year, but I’ve already read about more resolutions than I care to remember. I’ve broken one resolution already, but I don’t want to talk about it.

So I won’t bore you with the same old things you’ve already read somewhere else…maybe.

This past Sunday I spoke at our church on “4 Things to Focus on in 2017.” If you’d like to listen you can CLICK HERE.

While there are a number of things you could focus on this year, I believe these 4 things will lay the foundation for everything else.

1.  Spend more time with God

Now I realize there’s almost no more cliche thing for a Pastor to tell you than to spend more time with God. But I wouldn’t tell you, if I didn’t believe it.

Pastor Chris Hodges tweeted recently,

“2017 will be the best year of your life if it’s the best year spiritually.”

I genuinely believe this to be true.

Pick a Bible Reading Plan and stick to it. Commit to pray daily. Be in Church. Surround yourself with people who are growing in their relationship with the Lord.

Look at this from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 14:22-23 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,

If Jesus knew it was important to spend time with the Father, you and I should too.

2.  Trust God More

It’s an amazing thing that God forgives our sins and saves us. I am so thankful that He is my Savior. But did you know that He also wants to be Lord of your life? He wants to lead and guide and direct our lives. Who better to do that, than the One who is writing our story?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Maybe the greatest thing you could do in 2017 is trust God beyond your ability to figure it all out.

3.  Forgive more

The 1st two really focused on you and God. The 3rd thing I think you and I should focus on more in 2017 is forgive more. Look at this:

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

I don’t think the point Jesus was making is that you have to forgive someone 77 times, but once they do wrong for the 78th time you can write them off. I think He was trying to make the point that we should be a forgiving people.

It has been said that “Forgiven people forgive people” but I’m not sure that’s always the case. I know a lot of “christians” who can’t, or won’t, forgive others.

Jesus tells a story later in Matthew 18 about a man who owes 10,000 pieces of gold. The king calls the man in to pay his debt, but the man says, “I don’t have it to pay.” So the king orders that his wife and kids be thrown into prison until he can pay it. He begs and the king relents and cancels the debt. The man gets up and goes outside where he bumps into a guy who owes him 100 bucks. He asks for it, but the man says “I don’t have it.” So he orders that the man be thrown in jail. The king is informed about this man who was forgiven much but refused to forgive and he has him thrown in jail and tortured. That story leads me to ask this question of me and you.

What if we could only receive as much forgiveness as we gave?

The last focus for this year is

4.  Pray Big Prayers

In the book of Joshua there is an amazing story.

The children of Israel have captured Jericho and defeated Ai. So the kings in the area get scared thinking that they might be next. So they band together to protect themselves and they attack the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites call out to Joshua for help and he leads them on a march all night to come to the Gibeonites’ rescue. When they get there, they attack, defeat the enemy and chase them down. Then we read one of the most amazing passages in the entire Bible.

Joshua 10:12-15 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

I know sometimes when we read the Bible there is a temptation to think, “well that was back then, this is now, that can’t happen anymore.” But what if you started praying big prayers just on the off chance that God could actually answer them?
Pastor Mark Batterson doesn’t call them Big Prayers, he calls them Bold Prayers. He says “God honors bold prayers, because bold prayers honor God.”

I know it doesn’t work like this, but I want to pray the kind of prayers that gets God’s attention in heaven. Prayers so bold He has to stop what He’s doing to make sure He heard me correctly. Again, I know that’s not even theologically correct, but it sure does illustrate how I want to live my life this year. I’ve been asking myself the following question to get me started.

What could I ask God for that makes me a little bit nervous?

Maybe you could ask yourself the same thing as you focus on

Spending More Time with God

Trusting God More

Forgiving More, and 

Praying Bigger Prayers!

Happy New Year!

Why I Got Mad at My Wife and You Do Too

Using My Mistakes to Make You Better

The other night my wife Corrie was doing laundry and discovered something that had a stain on it. After searching the laundry room she discovered that she didn’t have what she needed to properly treat the stain. So she asked me to go to the grocery store and pick it up.

I did. Walked in. Went straight to the correct aisle. Looked at the detergents, but couldn’t find the powder version she requested. They had powder in every other name brand, but not the one she wanted. So I found the liquid in that same brand. It said “Stain Remover” on the front. I paid for it, and returned home.

When I walked in, Corrie immediately noticed that I had liquid instead of powder. She said, “I don’t think this will work. I needed the powder.” I calmly responded, “They didn’t have powder. I looked ‘EVERYWHERE’. They had it in other brands, but not this one.” She replied, “I’m pretty sure they did, I was just in the store earlier today.”……

This is the point in the story where I started acting like a child. In no uncertain terms I told her it was insulting that she didn’t believe me when I told her it wasn’t there. I said if she was so sure it was there she could go look herself…(or something like that. I don’t exactly remember.)

She remained calm and just said, “I think you may have been looking with the detergents, but the powder would be with the stain remover. Did you look there?” (I had NOT looked there)

I grabbed the liquid bottle, walked back out the door, drove back to the store, told the guy I needed to exchange it, walked to the correct aisle, passed the detergents, found the stain removers…and there it was…right where she said it would be.

I came home, tail between my legs, and apologized to my wife for acting like an idiot. She was so kind the whole time it made my behavior even worse.

I don’t tell you that story to demonstrate my ignorance about detergents. That’s painfully obvious.

I tell this story to ask us all a question.

Why do we get so upset about being wrong?

I know Corrie loves me. I know she knows I’m not perfect. So why did I take a posture that she was insulting me for being wrong, when I was, in fact, wrong? She wasn’t even upset that I got the wrong kind.

Why do we lash out? Why do we lie to cover up our mistakes? Why do we get so angry?

Most of the time I think we act this way out of our insecurity. Other times it’s our pride.

What if you took 2 minutes and evaluated your recent similar reactions to the one I just described? Why were you so upset? Drill down beyond your behavior to the motivations that caused your reaction.

Maybe these 2 minutes will save you embarrassment, hurt, and a necessary apology next time.