I was having a conversation with a Christian friend tonight about the trials we are both going through. As business owners, we are seeing some very tough times. I personally cannot seem to get off the ground and he cannot sustain consistent revenue. It would be easy for either of us to question God. We go to church, we read our Bible, we pray every day, and we live our lives for Jesus. Here is where I quote Jeremiah 29:11 (below). So why isn’t God hooking our businesses up? Well when it comes to Jeremiah 29:11, the translation that’s often quoted isn’t really accurate. Let me show you a comparison.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. NIV 84
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ESV
We all want to quote the NIV because it sounds so much better. “Plans to prosper”. Prosper relates to success which we relate to finances. The problem is, that that translation just isn’t accurate and gives us a false sense of who God is. God loves us and God provides for us. But providing doesn’t mean abundance of wealth when it comes to God. The better translation shows more accurately that God wants to give us peace and comfort in Him, in spite of what our success looks like.
Once I begin to understand who God really is, I see that His purpose is to show me that my life is amazing regardless of my success. And even greater, when I don’t have success and all the goodies that come with it I have more time to focus on Jesus. All my “stuff” used to bring me joy, now my Jesus brings me joy.
Without a doubt, I’m better off this way!
It’s not really what you think:). This blog post isn’t about bad breath but rather the fire that we have the ability to breath. In the Book of James, Chapter 3 it talks all about taming our tongue due to it’s powerful nature. Let me share a couple verses with you.
James 3:5b-6 says “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
That’s pretty powerful stuff. A spark from a tiny match can burn thousands of acres. In the same regard, one word can turn someone to eternal damnation.
Recently a series of events happened due to something that I said. Now, nothing I said was at all negative or an attack on others. It didn’t challenge anyone or anything. But it still ended up causing a stir and hurt. It made me realize that I need to always consider what I say and to who I address things as to be as sure as possible that no harm can be done. Especially as Christians, we say things at times (discussion of sin, Bible truth) that do not make sense to or may even offend non-believers. Now I am not suggesting that we don’t speak the truth. But if our call from Jesus is to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19), then we need to make sure we aren’t pushing people away. That means we must hold back when we aren’t sure what the outcome may be. We must always lean on the side of love. I believe that in doing so, God will handle the rest!
At the age of 6, my parents divorced and I began visiting my dad on weekends and extended holidays. Though I didn’t see him as much as a child should see his father, I have fond memories of spending time together. Memories of being in the desert for his birthday (and many other times) riding motorcycles, burning Christmas trees and just laughing like crazy. Other memories include vacationing to the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead. We had a great time.
In the middle of high school, I moved in with my dad wanting to know more about him and experience life with him every day. I have fond memories then too. He worked with me to get my driver’s license and taught me to drive a boat as we were out in the ocean fishing.
But as the years passed and I started becoming an adult, the fond memories faded as the negative ones came front and center. I began to feel the hurt from years passed and they were strong. In 2001, I severed all ties with my dad and it stood that way for almost 10 years. They were years of complete silence on my end. I had hardened my heart so much that when he would call to talk, I would ignore all attempts. Thankfully, God began to lay on my heart the need to reconcile with my dad. God said that not only did I need to forgive for what I was angry for, but I had to ask for forgiveness for my wrong doing as well.
I thank God every single day for burdening my heart for that. I’ll never forget the day I walked into BJ’s Restaurant in Temecula, nervous as I had ever been in my life. I wasn’t expecting much, but when I saw my dad and the emotion on his face I knew that the restoration process had already begun. As we talked, we shared with each other that during the time apart we had both come to salvation in Jesus Christ. It was amazing.
It’s been about a year and a half since that day at BJ’s and our relationship is the best it has been in the 34 years I have been alive. I see things in my dad I never saw before. I remember all the great times we had from when I was just a little boy. If I died today, I know that God has already redeemed every single minute we were apart.
I am not good about sending cards and didn’t send my dad one for Father’s Day. Instead I choose to write this blog so everyone reading it would know what God did for me and my dad. And I write this as a gift to my dad so he could hear maybe for the first time ever how grateful I really am. For what you say? Here are a few reasons:
- For running up and down Walnut Street as I learned to ride my first bike without training wheels.
- For giving me opportunities to enjoy vacations I may never be able to provide for my kids
- For instilling in me a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in all I do
- For teaching me to fix things that are broken and improve things that need it
- For being the strongest dad a little kid could ever know
- For accepting every fault I ever had and still loving me the same
- For reaching out to help when my pride tried to stand in the way
- For giving me an excuse for being loud, for being outspoken and for getting into a new hobby every other week
- For waiting patiently when I wouldn’t give in
- For accepting Jesus Christ into your life so we will spend eternity together in heaven
- For loving me
As a Christian I hear from people all the time that the church is full of hypocrites and haters. Really? Full of them? In the context of which they are making the statement, I actually agree. Yup, I said agree and I am a Jesus loving, Bible believing Christian that attends an amazing church. By full I know they don’t actually mean full to capacity like every-single-person-in-the-church full, just full in the context that they are all over the church. Let me share why I agree.
A hypocrite is defined as “a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue” or “a person who acts in contradiction to their stated beliefs”. Sound familiar? If I am honest with myself, I tend to act that way at times. It is tough to admit but it happens. I cry out when others act in such a way that is shameful to God (Christian or not) yet I sin daily. The difference is that when I sin I downplay my sin based upon the size of it. Kind of like the idea of a “little white lie”. Not a big deal right? WRONG!
Hate is defined as “to have a strong aversion to : find very distasteful”. Can you think of things that Christians talk about with such disgust? I can.
So why bring up this negativity? Because I believe that as Christians we need to look at ourselves more carefully, examine scripture more precisely, and then act in a way which would bring all glory and honor to God.
It is so easy to point the finger anywhere but the mirror (hypocrite). Until we run out of things to work on in ourselves (see definition for the word “never”), we must be very slow to point out the faults of others (James 1:19). And when we point at non-believers of this world, it is wrong for us to expect that they would follow the commands of the Bible anyway. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.“
Be careful how we view others we disagree with (hate). We know that God’s hates sin (a whole topic on it’s own) but I just don’t think we as humans can do as God does in this instance without always making it a negative. James 5:20 says “let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” Our goal in rebuking the sinner is to lead them to Christ, not away. We must approach every person, every sin, and every situation in such a way that leads to Jesus. All else is folly.
I write this not claiming to have all the answers (or even one for that matter).
I write this in hopes that we open our eyes because God does.
When it comes to my faith I do my best to study what I hear and not just follow something or someone because they say so. Especially because now a days there is a lot of variety out there. What drives me nuts is when I get put into a box because I share some beliefs with another denomination or movement.
Believing predestination and total depravity doesn’t make me a Calvinist. It makes me a Christian who believes in predestination and total depravity.
As well, aligning myself with much of the reformed movement doesn’t mean I see Martin Luther’s word as gold.
We have to be so careful as to not throw labels on people in the church because of things like this. We criticize each other on many small issues and miss the big one. We are called to make disciples (Matt 28:19), not enemies. We need to seek ways to better work together. If we believe in the Trinity of God, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and the inerrancy of scripture we are playing the same team.
So that box over there, put something else in it because I don’t fit!
Last night I witnessed the sovereign work of God in what some wouldn’t ever really think twice about. An awesome worship session finishes, we all take our seats and listen to what at first seemed like a joke. “I was back stage thinking about how awful it would be if my message wasn’t on my iPad. Then to my horror I came out on stage and my message isn’t on my iPad”.
But it wasn’t a joke. The pastor was serious. He had studied the topic of guilt. He had prepared what I am sure was to be an awesome message on guilt. Everyone was there to hear about guilt. Number 7 in an 8 week series on important life changing topics couldn’t be preached. So now what? Does everyone just go home? Not hardly.
What transpired was exactly what God purposed well before the night got started. The pastor shared his heartfelt and powerful testimony. The crowd got something the didn’t expect. And when it came time to share the gospel, people made decisions to follow Jesus.
Too often we are so dependent on our finite minds and finite plans that we forget we serve an infinite God who does indeed “work ALL things together for good for those who love Him” (Rom 8:28). He doesn’t need a pastor’s message. He doesn’t need a church’s program. But He wants us to trust in Him. He wants us to quote Jeremiah 29:11 from the depths of our heart.
The next time you (and I) are frustrated because things aren’t working out like we had planned, just know that God’s plans are better.
I was recently listening to a message from a great pastor out of Arizona and he said something that I wanted to share as well as add to. His statement was…“God will accomplish what He wants regardless of what you do. The question is, do you want to be a part of it or not?“
The first part is something we as Christians should all believe. God being sovereign means He is in control of everything. But the second is where we struggle. Not with belief, but with application.
How often do we watch the World Series, the Super Bowl or the Grammys and think “Man I wish I could do that at that level.” But most of us are stuck watching instead of participating. Witnessing a great play or the winning putt is awesome but it’s just not the same as actually doing it.
As children of God, we have the blessed opportunity to participate in the greatest victory ever. We don’t have to sit on the couch and watch. We don’t have to worry about not being good enough.
The invitation has been given. The victory WILL happen. My question to you
Are you coming out to play?