Five Reasons We Should Always Choose to be Grateful

First, it is God’s will for us. People want to know God’s will for their lives, and when people ask about God’s will, they’re typically thinking about what they should do next in a particular area of their lives. But God’s will is, first and foremost, that we learn to give thanks, regardless of the circumstances. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18)

Second, because a grateful heart honors God & honors people. Anytime we thank someone we are honoring them.

Third, because gratitude creates fellowship and always builds deeper relationships between you and other people. Do you want to rebuild your relationship with a friend, with a parent, with a spouse, with people at work, even with people whose path you cross during the week? Whoever you want to feel more connected to, express gratitude to them. Just tell people how grateful you are. A grateful heart brings us all closer together.

Fourth, gratitude develops our faith. Can you thank God when life stinks? That’s the test of whether you’re a shallow Christian or a deep one. Can you thank God even when life stinks? When everything is going wrong? If you’re going through tough times, don’t look at what’s lost. Look at what’s left. No matter how bad things are in my life, there is always, always, the fact that I can be thankful to God just for being God.

God has promised to see me through life’s most difficult situations; to help me out, to strengthen me, to care for me, to do miracles, to answer prayer. He’s always promised that even when things don’t go my way, he can work it out for good in my life. So ultimately, his plan is in action, and it takes a growing faith to recognize that.

Fifth, gratitude serves and raises the value of others. Radical gratitude actually serves others. It becomes a ministry. We’re saved to serve others, and you can have a ministry of appreciation.

If you’ve ever bought a car you know the meaning of the word “depreciation”. The moment you drive that vehicle off the lot it’s worth less than you paid for it. Even if it’s brand new, if you take it back, it’s worth less. Depreciation means to decrease in value.

To appreciate means to “raise the value”. And this is a ministry. When you appreciate your husband, you raise his value. When you appreciate your wife, you raise her value. When you appreciate your kids, you raise their value. When you appreciate your co-workers, you raise their value to you and to the company. When you appreciate your boss, you raise his/her value.

Everybody in our life needs massive doses of encouragement. We all have a need to be affirmed, to be loved, to be appreciated. And so, does everybody else. If you want to be used by God here’s a little secret: affirm everybody. Appreciate everybody. Show gratitude to everybody.

What a great world it would be if we all just oozed gratitude from a full and overflowing grateful heart.

What Are You Grateful For?

My last blog post asked “Who are you thankful for”?, and challenged you to take a few minutes to intentionally express your heartfelt gratitude.

In this post I want to ask you a similar question; What are you thankful for this year? Scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6). There is a difference in saying “Thank you” and truly being thankful. Heartfelt thanksgiving should flow from a general heart of gratitude. Anyone can focus on the frustrations of life, but gratitude is a choice. People who really understand the heart of God realize we have so much to be grateful.

Some people seem to look for reason to complain. Maybe we should spend more time being grateful than complaining. Maybe we should spend more time presenting our requests to God immersed in a thankful heart instead of being anxious and stressed out. If we all focused on all the reasons, we have to be grateful and allow a thankful heart to dominate our thinking, our lives would have much less stress and anxiety. We should be consciously aware of how blessed we truly are; being grateful affects our entire outlook on life.

Being grateful refocuses your minds and hearts on God’s faithfulness and blessings. It stabilizes our thoughts and emotions in a positive place instead of the slippery slope of negativity. Being consciously aware of all we have to be grateful for makes us more understanding, sensitive, kind, and patient. It also has an on-going deepening effect on our personal relationship with Christ and our spiritual development journey.

Sometimes we say to ourselves, “I’d be more thankful if…” Have you ever had that kind of thought float through your mind? It would be so much easier to be grateful if my circumstances were better or if my health was better, or if finances were better, or of my relationships were better.

It is so easy to allow our gratitude to be governed by our circumstances and emotions or by what we are unhappy with rather than by all of our blessings. Pick the topic; health, relationships, business, finances, etc. No matter how tough it is for you, there are others enduring far more over-whelming circumstances.

So, let me ask you that question again. What are you thankful for this year? Maybe you should take a few moments to get your head and heart right in the area of gratitude by focusing on all you have rather than on all that frustrates you. Being grateful, choosing to walk through life with a grateful heart and mindset really will change your entire outlook on life.

Who Are You Thankful For?

Who are you thankful for, and how often do you say, “thank you”? We all know that it is polite to say “thank you” after someone says or does something kind for us. But I am I talking more about a proactive “Thank you” where we say thank you intentionally and proactively to someone for the routine role they play in your life.

For example, saying thank you to your children’s school teacher, or volunteer coach, or to the check-out clerk who always has a smile for you, or to a volunteer fireman, or to a solider home on leave, or someone who volunteers at the local food pantry, or your wife preparing supper for the family, and so on.

There are so many things that happen every day that we have a tendency to take for granted. Little things. Routine things. But things that are necessary and appreciated. Many times, we just don’t think about it, other times we think about but fail to follow through. Saying “thank you”, writing a quick thank you note, or in our day and age, sending a thank you email, or text message really does not take much time.  

It doesn’t take long to say a heartfelt “Thank you!” and show your gratitude. PLUS it is much healthier for you than complaining.

Maybe you should take a few moments this week to communicate your gratitude by intentionally speaking or writing words of gratitude and kindness.

Who Cares? The Painting that Focuses Me.

This past Sunday I used a picture entitled “Who Cares?” as an illustration. This picture was created by artist Mauricio Palacio as an illustration of General William Booth’s vision depicting the Church’s apparent lack of concern over the fate of lost souls.

This picture, which hangs in my office today, has challenged me and helped me stay focus in the mission since I first saw it in the early-mid 1990’s.

Please spend a few minutes looking at this picture. It is clearly dated with mullets, style of cell phone, and a boombox, hahahahahaha but even if your do not take time to read the long article below of William Booth’s vision that inspired the picture, I’m guessing that just processing the picture will open the door for the Holy Spirit to stir you toward the mission.

William Booth (1829-1912) and his wife Catherine founded The Salvation Army in 1865 in their home country, England. His passion for the lost, especially those who were considered “irredeemable” by the established church, was legendary. His whole life can be summed up in his own words, “Go for souls – and go for the worst!”

Following is a written version of William Booth’s vision that inspired this picture.

Who Cares?
by General William Booth

“On one of my recent journeys, as I gazed from the coach window, I was led into a train of thought concerning the conditions of the multitudes around me. They were living carelessly in the most open and shameless rebellion against God, without a thought for their eternal welfare. As I looked out the window, I seemed to see them all – millions of people all around me – given up to their drink and their pleasure, their dancing and their music, their business and their anxieties, their politics and their troubles. Ignorant – willfully ignorant in many cases – and in other instances knowing all about the truth and not caring at all. But all of them, the whole mass of them, sweeping on and up in their blasphemies and devilries to the throne of God. While my mind was thus engaged, I had a vision.

I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightning flashed, and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.

In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed, they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.

And I saw out of this dark, angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with its summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those, who were already safe on the platform, were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.

On looking more closely, I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats, and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of this sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of all the consequences, in their passion to “rescue the perishing.” And I hardly know which gladdened me most – the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks, reaching the place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole beings were wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.

As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different “sets” or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.

But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have for gotten all about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these people did not even seem to have any care – that is, any agonizing care – about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes… many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and even their own children.

Now this astonishing unconcern could not have been the result of ignorance or lack of knowledge, because they lived right there in full sight of it all and even talked about it sometimes. Many even went regularly to hear lectures and sermons in which the awful state of these poor drowning creatures was described.

I have already said that the occupants of this platform were engaged in different pursuits and pastimes. Some of them were absorbed night and day in trading and business in order to make gain, storing up their savings in boxes, safes, and the like.

Many spent their time in amusing themselves with growing flowers on the side of the rock, others in painting pieces of cloth, or in playing music, or in dressing themselves up in different styles and walking about to be admired. Some occupied themselves chiefly in eating and drinking, others were taken up with arguing about the poor drowning creatures that had already been rescued.

But the thing to me that seemed the most amazing was that those on the platform to whom He called, who heard His voice and felt they ought to obey it – at least they said they did – those who confessed to love Him much and were in full sympathy with Him in the task He had undertaken – who worshipped Him or who professed to do so – were so taken up with their trades and professions, their money saving and pleasures, their families and circles, their religions and arguments about it, and their preparation for going to the mainland, that they did not listen to the cry that came to them from this Wonderful Being who had Himself gone down into the sea. Anyway, if they heard it, they did not heed it. They did not care. And so the multitude went on right before them struggling and shrieking and drowning in the darkness.

And then I saw something that seemed to me even more strange than anything that had gone on before in this strange vision. I saw that some of these people on the platform whom this Wonderful Being had called to, wanting them to come and help Him in His difficult task of saving these perishing creatures, were always praying and crying out to Him to come to them!

Some wanted Him to come and stay with them, and spend His time and strength in making them happier. Others wanted Him to come and take away various doubts and misgivings they had concerning the truth of some letters He had written them. Some wanted Him to come and make them feel more secure on the rock – so secure that they would be quite sure that they should never slip off again into the ocean. Numbers of others wanted Him to make them feel quite certain that they would really get off the rock and onto the mainland someday; because as a matter of fact, it was well known that some had walked so carelessly as to lose their footing and had fallen back again into the stormy waters.

So these people used to meet and get up as high on the rock as they could, and looking toward the mainland (where they thought the Great Being was) they would cry out, “Come to us! Come, help us!” And all the while He was down (by His Spirit) among the poor struggling, drowning creatures in the angry deep, with His arms around them trying to drag them out, and looking up oh! so longingly, but all in vain to those on the rock, crying to them with His voice all hoarse from calling, “Come to Me! Come and help Me!”

And then I understood it all. It was plain enough. That sea was the ocean of life – the sea of real, actual human existence. That lightning was the gleaming of piercing truth coming from Jehovah’s throne. That thunder was the distant echoing of the wrath of God. Those multitudes of people shrieking, struggling, and agonizing in the stormy sea were the thousands and thousands of poor harlots and harlot-makers, of drunkards and drunkard-makers, of thieves, liars, blasphemers, and ungodly people of every kindred, tongue, and nation.

Oh, what a black sea it was! And oh, what multitudes of rich and poor, ignorant and educated were there. They were all so unalike in their outward circumstances and conditions, yet all alike in one thing – all sinners before God – all held by, and holding onto, some iniquity, fascinated by some idol, the slaves of some devilish lust, and ruled by the foul fiend from the bottomless pit!

“All alike in one thing?” No, all alike in two things. Not only the same in their wickedness, but unless rescued, the same in their sinning, sinking… down, down, down… to the same terrible doom. That great sheltering rock represented Calvary, the place where Jesus had died for them. And the people on it were those who had been rescued. The way they used their energies, gifts, and time represented the occupations and amusements of those who professed to be saved from sin and hell – followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The handful of fierce, determined ones, who were risking their own lives in saving the perishing, were true soldiers of the cross of Jesus. That Mighty Being who was calling to them from the midst of the angry waters was the Son of God, “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” who is still struggling and interceding to save the dying multitudes about us from this terrible doom of damnation, and whose voice can be heard above the music, machinery, and noise of life, calling on the rescued to come and help Him save the world.

My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters. You are on the rock. He is in the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go? Look for yourselves. The surging sea of life crowded with perishing multitudes rolls up to the very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the fact – a fact that is as real as the Bible, as real as the Christ who hung upon the cross, as real as the judgment day will be, and as real as the heaven and hell that will follow it.

Look! Don’t be deceived by appearances – men and things are not what they seem. All who are not on the rock are in the sea! Look at them from the standpoint of the great white throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God is, through His Spirit, in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And He is calling on you to jump into the sea – to go right away to His side and help Him in the holy strife. Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet and place yourself absolutely at His disposal?

A young Christian once came to me and told me that for some time she had been giving the Lord her profession and prayers and money, but now she wanted to give Him her life. She wanted to go right into the fight. In other words, she wanted to go to His assistance in the sea. As when a man from the shore, seeing another struggling in the water, takes off those outer garments that would hinder his efforts and leaps to the rescue, so will you who still linger on the bank, thinking and singing and praying about the poor perishing souls, lay aside your shame, your pride, your cares about other people’s opinions, your love of ease, and all the selfish loves that have kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of this multitude of dying men and women?

Does the surging sea look dark and dangerous? Unquestionably it is so. There is no doubt that the leap for you, as for everyone who takes it means difficulty and scorn and suffering. For you it may mean more than this. It may mean death. He who beckons you from the sea, however, knows what it will mean – and knowing, He still calls to you and bids you come.

You must do it! You cannot hold back. You have enjoyed yourself in Christianity long enough. You have had pleasant feelings, pleasant songs, pleasant meetings, pleasant prospects. There has been much of human happiness, much clapping of hands and shouting of praises – very much of heaven on earth.

Now then, go to God and tell Him you are prepared as much as necessary to turn your back upon it all, and that you are willing to spend the rest of your days struggling in the midst of these perishing multitudes, whatever it may cost you.

You must do it. With the light that has now broken in upon your mind, and the call that is now sounding in your ears, and the beckoning hands that are now before your eyes, you have no alternative. To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty. Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your ease in sharing their pain, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going into the very jaws of hell to rescue them.”

Heartfelt Gratitude is Rare

We can find reasons to complain every day of our lives. After all, we live in a broken, messed up world, and life doesn’t seem unfold like we wish it would many times. People, including family and friends will wrong you, good health will elude us, authority will exploit you, flat tires tend to happen when we are running late, there never seems to be enough money, well, and then we can talk about politics, taxes, healthcare, scandals, etc. 

Some folks seem to just like having something that gives them reason to complain. Simply listen to the conversations around you; there’s a lot of complaining going on.

But I would say there is far more to be grateful about if we pause for a few minutes to count our blessings. There is a difference in saying “Thank you” and truly being thankful. Heartfelt thanksgiving should flow from a general heart of gratitude. Anyone can focus on the frustrations of life, but gratitude is a choice. People who really understand the heart of God realize we have so much to be grateful. 

For example, aren’t you grateful for your next breath? Even on our really tough days, we have so much to be thankful for compared to the majority of the world’s population. Maybe we should spend more time being grateful than complaining. Maybe we should spend more time presenting our requests to God immersed in a thankful heart instead of being anxious and stressed out. (Phil 4:4-7) 

Maybe, just maybe God REALLY meant it when He inspired Paul to write Phil 2:14-16, “Do EVERYTHING without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” THEN you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. 

If we all focused on all the reasons we have to be grateful and allow a thankful heart to dominate our thinking, our lives would have much less stress and anxiety. I think it is important to be consciously aware of how blessed we truly are; being grateful affects our entire outlook on life.

Being grateful refocuses your minds and hearts on God’s faithfulness and blessings. It stabilizes our thoughts and emotions in a positive place instead of the slippery slope of negativity. Being consciously aware of all we have to be grateful for makes us more understanding, sensitive, kind, and patient. It also has an on-going deepening affect on our personal relationship with Christ and our spiritual development journey.    

Sometimes we say to ourselves, “I’d be more thankful if…” Have you ever had that kind of thought float through your mind? It would be so much easier to be grateful if my circumstances were better or if my health was better, or if finances were better, or of my relationships were better. 

It is so easy to allow our gratitude to be governed by our circumstances and emotions or by what we are unhappy with rather than by all of our blessings. Pick the topic; health, relationships, business, finances, etc. No matter how tough it is for you, there are others enduring much more over-whelming circumstances.

So let me ask that question again.  What are you thankful for, even now, in the chaos that is 2020?  Maybe you should take a few moments and to “count your many blessings, name them one by one, and you’ll be surprised what the Lord hath done”.

Faith Needs to be Fueled by a Grateful Heart

The only truly lasting motivation for Christ-follower to continue following Christ is because we want to please Jesus Christ out of a deep heart of gratitude for all He has done for you.

Fear of hell is not a lasting motivator. People who choose to “follow” Christ because they don’t want to go to hell are usually not very good at actually following Him in obedience, surrender, humility, etc. Only those with deeply felt gratitude consistently will lay down their agendas, opinions, etc to follow Christ wherever He leads them.

Now, I don’t deserve to be saved, much less be in ministry. All that God does in us and for us and through us is by grace through faith. So out of a deep, abiding, heartfelt gratitude for the fact that I have a personal relationship with Christ, I want to actually give my life to Jesus Christ, and I want to serve Him in any way possible. Surrender is made easier when there is deeply felt gratitude.

I know that your heart is like my heart, and my life goal is to one day stand before Jesus Christ and have Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” At that point He says that it will be worth it all. You won’t be in heaven five seconds and you’ll say, “Why didn’t I serve more? Why didn’t I give more? Why didn’t I love more? Why didn’t I obey more?”

Hebrews 11 is the classic chapter on faith. Verse 6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  If I’m not walking in faith, I’m not pleasing God. The Bible is even more specific when it says, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” If I’m not walking in faith, I am walking in sin. That’s strong stuff!

Faith is visualizing the future in advance. It is seeing the future in the present. Every great achievement began when somebody saw it in advance. We didn’t put a man on the moon until one day JFK stood up and said, “Let’s put a man on the moon.” When he said that, the technology had not even been invented.

Faith is believing when I don’t see it. Some things have to be believed before they can be seen. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” God says, “Believing is seeing.” You have to see it in advance.

Faith is obeying when you don’t understand it. Abraham is a classic example of obeying when he didn’t understand. He was about 75 years old, and God asked him to give up all his security. God said, I want you to leave. Pick up everything and get ready for the greatest adventure of your life.

The scary part of it is God gave Abraham no details. Abraham says, “Where are we going?” God says, You’ve never heard of it. “How long is it going to take?” You’ll find out. “How will I know when I get there?” I’ll let you know.

Sometimes God will tell you to do something and you’ll think, “There’s no way this is going to work!” Yet, God says, Do it! And guess what? It works!

Life is like the Morning Fog

Scripture says, “The plans of man are many, but his steps are ordered by the Lord”. We are a people who are constantly making plans. We plan in good faith, as if we have some certainty about the future. We discuss details and made plans, yet none of us know for sure what tomorrow holds.

We presume upon that which belongs to God. We are not in control of tomorrow. We only have right now, today, without any assurance of another sunrise. We are so sure of tomorrow that we begin early to teach our young folks to plan for things they only hope they will see. There is nothing wrong with planning; as a matter of fact it is a necessity. I believe in long-range strategic planning, but at the same time we must remember only God truly knows tomorrow.

There once was a man named Herb, who proudly showed his wife some very special lures he had just purchased. These very special lures were going to help him to catch big fish in a Canadian province. He had a brochure of where he was going and took special care to describe how the trip was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to fish for Musky in Canada. The very next day, Herb had been found dead after working in a neighbor’s woodshed.

We have all heard those type stories; the seemingly healthy 55-year-old man retires early to enjoy is hobby, then dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, or the victim of a freak accident, or the disease that comes out of no where who reek havoc on someone’s life. Based on our life experiences, we all know we have no guarantee of tomorrow. We might live in denial of that fact, but we all know it to be true.            

Life is very uncertain. There are no guarantees. Life is just a vapor; here one minute and gone the next.  Scripture says, “Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit. How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog; it’s here a little while, and then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that. Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

I would encourage you to resolve the unresolved or tying up any loose ends while you can. “I’m fixin’ to” or “I’m about to” never got anything accomplished in the history of mankind. Easy thing or hard thing, bad thing or good thing, relationship thing or health thing, financial thing or spiritual thing; resolve it or start resolving it today.       

Is there something you need to say to someone or something you need to do?  Is there a habit you need to start or stop?  Do it today, because just with Herb, or the stories of people you know, we have no guarantee of tomorrow. 

Does Christ Know You?

Matthew 7:21-23 is pretty scary. I am worried about many people who consider themselves Christians. Jesus clearly says that there will be some people who consider themselves Christ-followers who will spend eternity in hell. The actual quote is “Not everyone who says to be ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (v.21).

Then He follows that with this statement, “Many will say to me on that day ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and perform many miracles? Then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evil doers!” (v.22-23).   

Those verses should cause any Christ-follower to pause and consider their eternity. Jesus also makes it clear who gets to spend eternity in heaven when He said, “but only he who does the will of my Father” (v.21). 

Scripture is consistent throughout; obedience as evidence of the indwelling saving work of the Holy Spirit is the primary test for loving God and having a relationship with Christ (John 14:15-21).

Praying a prayer, being baptized, attending church faithfully, giving money, going through confirmation, nor any other work or deed alone can save a person. The greatest evidence of a personal relationship with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit in you evidenced by an obedient heart. 

Obedience seems to be a key defining mark of a Christ-follower. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” The word “only” is deafening! “Only” the person who obeys God will be in heaven.    

Plastic Christians are killing the church. There are two disturbing issues; first, people who have a personal relationship with Christ, but are so bogged down with religion they are not authentic Christ-followers, and secondly, those who claim to know Christ, have been through all the motions of religion, but in reality they do not know Christ.

The second is much worse than the first. The first group is killing the redemptive potential of the local church, but they will go to heaven. 

The second group are not only killing they redemptive potential of the local church, but they will know spend eternity in heaven. Knowing the facts about Christ is different than actually “knowing” Christ. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul tells us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”.

In other words, if you have a personal relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit will indwell you, and He will work in you to want to obey and to actual follow-through with obeying God. Therefore, if you find yourself not wanting to obey, or unwilling to obey God, Paul would say “with fear and trembling” you had better figure out if you truly have experienced the life-change that comes with a personal relationship with Christ. 

Because, you see, the real question is not, “Do you know Christ?”, but rather “Does Christ know you?”

Feel Like a Failure? God ALWAYS has a Plan

Failure. Have you ever experienced the kind of failure that you thought you would never be able to recover from, or maybe even where those closest to you told you could never recover? And maybe, it was so devastating that is changed your reality, and circumstances. And furthermore, maybe you are still paying a high price for your failure.

There is rarely a week that goes by I don’t receive a message from someone who has messed up in some huge way. One of the first things I always remind a person is that “everything Satan wants to use to destroy them, God will use to make them the person He wants them to be”. God is not done with them. And God is not done with YOU either.

We all need to deal with the issues and failures we are facing. We are personally responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices. Taking personal responsibility is the first step on the path. God being willing to forgive, heal, and restore does not remove consequences or the need to take personal responsibility, it just means that God is wants to restore you.

Each of us has had those days when all needed to be reminded that the Bible is full of messed up people who God used for great things.

Noah was a drunk.

Abraham was too old.

Isaac was a daydreamer.

Jacob was a liar.

Leah was ugly.

Joseph was abused.

Moses had a stuttering problem.

Gideon was afraid.

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer.

Rahab was a prostitute.

Jeremiah and Timothy were too young.

David had an affair and was a murderer.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Isaiah preached naked.

Jonah ran from God.

Naomi was a widow.

Job went bankrupt.

Peter denied Christ.

The Disciples fell asleep while praying.

Martha worried about everything.

The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once.

Zaccheus was too small.

Paul was too religious.

Timothy had an ulcer.

AND Lazarus was dead!

So today I’m sure there is someone reading this article and you think you are done because of something you’ve done; that your failure is beyond forgiveness or recovery. YOU are not done because God is not done. Do not walk way. Do not give up. God ALWAYS has a plan. It might be a painful journey, but God always has a plan.

I just wanted to remind you today that God is for you. God will use every single thing the enemy wants to use to destroy you, to make you the person He called you to be, if you will just let Him. Surrender to Him. Trust Him. I’m for you. They are many people rooting for you. This is not the day to give up. This is the day to dig in, come clean, get honest, embrace the pain, and begin your journey toward hope, healing, and restoration.

Be Light in the Darkness

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; so that it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16)

Summertime in Illinois is sure to bring with it little creatures we call lightning bugs. During those few weeks a year, some fields are literally full of little, blinking bugs that intermittently flash with fluorescent light. Small children have captured them and put them in glass jars for generations. The children hope that placing enough bugs in the jar will provide a natural flashlight.

Most of us have tried to catch lightning bugs. It seems so easy when they are lit, but then their light goes out they are hard to see. Recently, it came to me that many Christians are like those bugs. Instead of giving off enough light that our works become evident to those who look on, we blink off and on without providing adequate illumination.

We live in a dark world! Darkness is crowding out most everything that believers hold sacred. The success of darkness is NOT due to its strength. Light will always displace the dark. Darkness succeeds due to the lack to consistent light. We are like those little bugs, going through life blinking on and off without ever shining brightly.

We need a true spiritual awakening! Just because someone attends a church and calls himself or herself a Christian, does not make them an actual follower of Christ. Many people consider themselves to be a Christian but demonstrate little evidence of a life-transforming personal relationship with Jesus. The point is that being a “Christ-follower” is much more than merely calling yourself a “Christian” or attending church or adhering to some religious code. Being a true Christ-follower implies you are actually following Christ, embracing His attitude, and committed to carrying out His mission. The problem is people calling themselves Christians but not evidencing their faith by walking out what they say they believe.

Our Lord has told us to shine so bright that our good works become evident. If we keep blinking every so often, the darkness will continue displacing us. If ever we needed to shine, it is now. As Paul said in Philippians 2:14-16; “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….”