I’ve been thinking about how when God spoke to Moses about leading the Israelites out of slavery, Moses complained about what he lacked: I’m not smart enough, I don’t have favor with the Israelites, I don’t have Pharoah’s ear, etc. In reply, God told Moses to check out his hands & God did some really cool miracles: leprosy on Moses’ hand that God healed & Moses’ staff turned to a snake. While our hands may seem kind of trivial, lets never minimize what God has given us. God’s gifts are always supernatural 🙂
In the Bible, there are all kinds of things that happened because of faith (blind eyes healed, miracle provisions, raising the dead, family restoration, giant killing, etc). Whenever I read Hebrews 11, I’m always really stirred up and motivated in my faith because the chicks & dudes in this chapter are AMAZING!!! But here’s a simple essential to make our faith effective: genuine love.
In Galatians 5:6, Paul says that faith works by love. So whenever I’m not seeing the results of faith in my life, the real question doesn’t always rest on the quality / quantity of my faith, but moreso the reality of my genuine love. Perhaps the evidence of our faith is directly related to the sincerity of our love 🙂
There was a woman in Jesus life whom He treated gruffly, He even called her a “dog”, which isn’t quite in the realm of chivalrous behavior. Here’s what was happening: this chick was harassing Jesus’ disciples because she wanted Him to come & heal her daughter but Jesus was ignoring her. When His disciples got fed up with her efforts, they asked Jesus to do something, to which He replied to His disciples that He wasn’t called to help dogs, i.e. this woman. What a slap in the face! He ignores her & then insults her! I know lots of people, myself included, who would sulk away insulted by this kind of treatment. But this chick held on & wasn’t deflected by how Jesus treated her. Her faith was stronger than her feelings & the goal (her daughter getting healed) was the main goal. Lets learn some great lessons from this chick that our faith stays stronger than our feelings & that we keep our eyes steady on the goals that conform to Jesus’ will 🙂
Have you ever felt like you’re on your last straw? Sometimes we go through challenges, seasons & struggles that are well beyond our natural abilities & wisdom. If you’re like me, I can find myself getting quagmired in these things at the expense of trusting God. There are times when I get stuck in what seems impossible & I can get discouraged. Ever feel this way?
This morning I was having this kind of conversation with God about a few issues & I was reminded of a verse that is really helping me:
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.
So lets remember that God is more than adequate for the various “last straws” that may be happening in our lives 🙂
Over the last few days, I’ve been reading about Jesus’ mom, Mary and how Gabriel came & announced Jesus’ birth to her. Mary was an AMAZING chick!! She wasn’t married, lived in a male dominated society & became pregnant out of wedlock, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. According to the religious & traditional norms of her day, she should’ve been killed. But she was brave and courageous. She spent a few months with her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, who was miraculously pregnant in her old age and I think these months helped both women:
- Mary – who was young, vulnerable & probably somewhat naive when it came to issues related to pregnancy
- Elizabeth – elderly, toward the end of her pregnancy & probably tired, like we get in our third trimester
Mary, the mother of Jesus, a teenage girl, pregnant without being married – carrying in her womb the Savior of the world. Let’s live like Mary: Luke 1:45 “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
I had the honor to speak in our church for Father’s Day & although it was difficult (my 1st Father’s Day without my dad), I’m thinking that God always has good stuff in mind for us, even in challenging situations. Yesterday, I talked about how Abraham was a man of faith & miracles – a father to us in our faith. I also threw in a few stories about my dad with his faith & life.
Here’s a fun story: one time my family took a Christmas vacation to Europe, using a book called, “Europe on $10 a Day”, endeavoring to do the tour thing on a tight budget. During that vacation, we visited Italy & I quickly learned that Italy is a bastion to all things beautiful, high style and fashion. This became uber obvious through my dad who had a unique sense of fashion that could be considered “counter-culture”. He had this bright yellow jumpsuit that he wore with white tube socks and black shoes as he walked through the streets of Florence, Rome and Venice. The best part of these strolls was to watch the Italians get whiplash in their necks as their heads spun to fully take in my dad’s fashion bravado. Even though my dad wasn’t in step with Italian fashion, he sported his yellow jumpsuit with dignity & poise, showing me that being a strong individual isn’t only important in fashion, but moreso in faith. So be encouraged to be strong in your faith and weak in your doubts 🙂
I took my son to the eye doctor today to see what corrections he may need & guess what?! His eyes have changed – ALOT! Basically, his long distance vision is blurry at best & more often non-existent. Thankfully, the eye doctor is extremely good & very patient, as my son can be kind of engergetic. He’ll get some glasses in the next week or so and will probably be really amazed at the significant improvement that he’ll see.
I think that sometimes our walk with God can be a little bit like our natural vision: we can be near-sighted or sometimes far-sighted. But no matter where we focus best, we can be totally certain that God is always with us regardless of what we see or where we focus 🙂
In my mind, working hard & believing strong are an essential winning combination. I have some friends who are hard workers but kind of weak believers & it seems like they just can’t get a break & have some results that exceed their hard work. On the flip side, I have some friends who are strong believers but lame workers – they can be ethereal but impractical. The worst arrangement is when a person is a weak believer & a lame worker – that’s lethal! So my friend lets cheer for each other to be strong believers & hard workers!! 🙂
Sometimes I like the journey of faith & sometimes I don’t. I like faith when things are smoothy groovy but I tend to not like faith as much when things don’t seem to be going very well. Nevertheless, whether things are smoothy groovy or rocky bumpy, faith keeps going – we walk by faith & not by sight. I think that maybe some of the purpose of faith is the decision that I want live a life that’s pleasing to God & I can’t do this without faith. So I make the daily choice to believe, trust & have faith in God no matter what I see, hear of feel. Lets encourage each other to be believers & not doubters 🙂
I often have questions about God that are perplexing. One of my friends mom died & I don’t know why. She was a very beautiful, faith filled, godly & loving person. But she died & wasn’t even 60 years old. Her death has been really hard on her family & I don’t understand why she died. There are many other situations like this that I don’t understand – and you probably have had some similar experiences & questions. Why don’t people get healed when we pray for them? Why do godly people die what seems to be prematurely? Why do we go through hardships & struggles when it seems like we are doing all the “right things”?
These questions & more are really difficult. But something I do know, is that regardless of my experiences, questions or frustrations, I make the decision to believe & trust in God. I chose to be a person of faith. I may still have questions & frustrations but I chose to not allow these things to be stronger in my life than my faith in God.
The first time I visited Angola with Saving Moses, our host quickly explained that although the civil war in Angola was finished, there are still more than 10million active landmines scattered throughout the country. As we were driving, they explained that whenever we saw a tree with red painted on the branches or trunk, that the field or area behind that tree had not been cleared of landmines. If the tree had white painted on it, the field had been cleared. To add to the excitement, most of the terrain through which we drove had neither red nor white marked on the trees so I guess we were just supposed to figure it out!
Sometimes our lives feel like they have lots of landmines – places of conflict, explosive potential and unseen danger. And like my experience in Angola, it’s not always possible to know where these landmines might be in our lives. With that being said, here are some helpful point for navigating possible landmines in your life:
- keep your eyes on Jesus – let Jesus be your guide as you walk through life, directing your decisions, thoughts, interactions and more
- ask for wisdom from God – James tells us that God gives us wisdom when we ask with faith
- trust God – Ps 23 says that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we won’t fear evil because God is with us
When I bought my first car, I didn’t understand the importance of changing my oil consistently which of course led to some big problems. I also didn’t understand (before doing this “experiment”) that it’s not possible to “toast” whipped cream under a broiler. There are LOTS of other examples of things that I haven’t & still don’t understand.
But here’s something to consider, it’s not necessary to understand everything to do what is right. Here are some examples:
- I may not understand why a person is being stupid rude (maybe they had a rough day, or got some bad news, etc), but my lack of understanding doesn’t have to prevent me from being kind.
- I may not understand why something bad has happened to me, but my lack of understanding doesn’t have to sabotage my trust or faith in God.
- I may not understand why God has chosen a particular path for me, but my lack of understanding doesn’t give me the license or permission to be disrespectful of God’s choices for me
There are some things that we will never understand on this side of heaven & perhaps that is exactly the test that God has chosen for us – so let’s not base our behavior solely on our understanding 🙂
For whatever reason, I woke up feeling very perky at 4am today. Obviously it was still dark when I came downstairs to get the morning coffee brewing. And as I sat on the couch with the lights off, I looked up at the window & noticed the bright & beautiful half moon. I started thinking about the moon & how I could only see half, but knowing that the moon merely reflects different amounts of the sun – a sliver, quarter, half, 3/4, whole. Nevertheless, no matter how much of the moon we see, we absolutely know that it’s a whole object & not only the part that we see. Furthermore, the longer I sat & observed, the moon was soon blocked by our house as the earth rotates toward the sunrise.
So from my early morning observations of the moon, here are a few take-aways:
- just because we only see parts & slivers of God’s work doesn’t mean that God isn’t wholly working & doing things throughout our lives – even in the seasons when we can’t see any direct evidence
- sometimes situations “block” our ability to see God & in these instances, we can trust that God loves us & is continuing to shine & work in our lives 🙂
I recently read about when the Jews left their slavery in Egypt & I came across an interesting verse, when they were being chased by Pharoah. At the end of Ex 14:12, the Jews are complaining to Moses & they say something like, “It would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt than to die here in the wilderness.” I started thinking about this & it really hit me that they only saw 2 options: slavery or death.
Unfortunately, I think we make the same mistake when we exclude God from His involvement in our lives. Truly, without God’s participation & involvement in our lives, we face the same kinds of options that the Jewish people saw at that time. In contrast, it seems to me that the more we involve God in our lives, the greater the adventures, miracles, shock and awe!! So let’s make sure to include God more & more in our lives 🙂
Sometimes it seems like my life is filled with impossibilities – things I want to accomplish, but they seem almost stupid to consider because of the difficulties associated with these things. One of these things is my dream with Saving Moses to see Night Care become a multiplied reality throughout all of Asia (Night care is the care & oversight for infants & toddlers during the evening hours while their moms are working in prostitution. On this topic, please do not judge the importance of this project, based on the profession of these moms). Nevertheless, many of these dreams & goals seem more than lofty – they seem impossible, when I only look at them.
However, when I look at these dreams in the context of my loving Heavenly Father, I sometimes feel like my dreams are too small, based on the immensity of my Father. So in this conundrum, I find myself taking one day at a time, making a little progress here & there, but knowing in my heart that no dream is impossible with God, including yours!!
This morning, my kids & I were reading in James about how faith without action is worthless & it was an interesting conversation. We can tell alot about what we believe by looking at our actions. In actual fact, our actions have greater volume & visibility in our lives than our intentions. In addition to faith, we also talked about how faith works by love & that love is a decision & not merely a warm, huggy feeling. Maybe some of our faith is dysfunctional because our love is inert or tainted with self-deception. Whatever the case, I was challenged from my conversation with my kids to let God’s love flow through me so that my faith will have effective & productive feet 🙂
Here’s something fun to watch: call to action ,)
I took my son to the eye dr today because he’s been a bit challenged with a few things. When they checked his eyes, they were super thorough & examined his vision for both distance & close up. This eye dr visit is a whole new thing for me because I’ve never had any issues with my eyes. Nevertheless, it made me think about my focus as it pertains to faith. Myopic vision is vision that can see pretty well up close, but not so well far away. The opposite is true with far-sightedness.
I think that the same is sometimes true with our faith. Sometimes, it seems like I can have strong faith for what could be an immediate & up close challenge, but struggle in my faith for what seems far away (like some concerns about the future or places where I may be traveling, etc). Or maybe the opposite is more true for you – maybe you struggle with your faith in the immediate day-to-day challenges, but the stuff that’s more distant is much easier for your faith. Whatever may be your challenge, we can trust that God is the best vision Dr & can help us to keep our eyes on Him for both the up close & immediate stuff, as well as the things that are farther away & distant. So like it says in Hebrews 12 – let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith 🙂
Lately my kids & I have been trying some exercise at a climbing wall. We go & put on the harness, the elf-y looking shoes & I’ve even thought of trying some of the chalk stuff. We’ve learned how to strap into the safety rope & we’re enjoying trying to scale different walls. Frankly, I don’t think I’m any good at this sport – my upper body strength is super sad, among many other challenges. But its fun to laugh at myself & try to get better than the last time.
I recently had an interesting chat with the supervisor for the climbing wall. We were talking about listening to God & following His voice. The supervisor guy is really nice & has a great heart. I’m amazed listening to him and hearing how God is directing his steps. Here’s a few take aways from our conversation: following God requires faith, my friend sometimes has a hard time trusting that he’s hearing God. A second take away is that following God isn’t always about the long-term destination. It seems to me that following God is often more about the one step at a time rather than the 5-10 year strategic plan, complete with SWOT analysis [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats]. Like learning about the climbing wall, I have to have confidence / faith in God and take one step / hold at a time 🙂
These truths will help us to climb higher in God.
Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this blog for a few days because I’m wanting to encourage you & your faith in God. I think we all need encouragement to our faith at various times. For example, today I was running some errands & talking with God about some struggles that I’m wrestling with & I was just expressing some honest discouragement to Him. You, as well, might be able to find an area in your life that has some discouragement – maybe even more than 1 ,)
Anyways, I felt like God encouraged me that walking with and obeying Him require faith. In my “better moments”, my faith is solid & I’m confident in God. But I don’t always have, “better moments.” So for those “non-better moments”, here are a few verses to consider praying each day for the next month to strengthen your faith & fuel those “better moments”:
- 2 Chron 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
- Matt 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, ” With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- 2 Cor 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant,
- 2 Chron 20:12, For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
- Rom 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose
Be encouraged my friend – God is working in you, as well as on your behalf 🙂
Last weekend, i had an exciting time snowboarding. it was really overcast & i couldn’t read the snow on the ground from the air above it, no contrast (no line on the horizon) & so i couldn’t tell what the ground was doing. i couldn’t see if it was rising or falling, if the snow was bunched up or iced out. initially, it was pretty scarey to ride this, not being able to really see where you’re going very well, or determine what the snow’s like. but i discovered a trick – if i didn’t use my eyes as much, i could focus on how my board felt, how the snow felt under the board & how the board & i worked together. so i’m trying to learn how to ride without my eyes as much & more by feel.
This goes along w what Paul says in 2Cor 5:7 – we walk by faith & not sight. if we let our eyes tell us where we’re going, then the world is in a sad state of affairs. i like what Bono says: vision over visibility.