Determination

Determination

My 91-year-old dad took off on his scooter to the local grocery store about half a mile from their house. Take a mental picture of this and let yourself smile.

Why? Because he needed some medicine for dizziness that wasn’t available the day before and mom wasn’t there at the time.

So . . . a man who can barely see battling dizziness rode his scooter beside a busy street to get to the remedy he needed. It’s a wonder he made it there at all! It had to have simply been God’s protection. He’s been known to run off the curb before getting to the end of the ramp!

But he was on a mission and determined to get the needed meds.

On a mission

Think for a moment of the story written 2000 years ago where a woman risked everything to seek healing from Jesus. When she heard Jesus was nearby, she tore through the crowds — on a mission — to get healing from the bleeding she’d suffered from for 12 years! She had spent all she had on physicians but not one was able to help her. She only touched the fringe of Jesus’ garment and was instantly healed. Luke 8:43-48

Surely there were many types of people in the crowd that day. With determination, she ran past the onlookers – those who were just there to observe. She ran past those with casual curiosity, as well as those looking to find fault.

But not this woman. She was there for a life change. And that’s what she got. The moment she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing, she felt His power heal and change her. And He felt that same power leave Him.

A driving force

I want to be that driven to get to Jesus.

The woman plunged into the crowd, found Him, touched His hem and received the blessing — the healing — she sought.

Do we really seek Him? He is not hiding. He’s right here with us, waiting for us. He wants to bless us and He wants us to know how much He loves us.

I gently told my dad, “Now you can’t be riding down to the store like that. It’s not safe,” to which he responded he wouldn’t do it again. But with a look of mischief on his face, he continued . . .  “unless I need something.”

Let’s be driven to get to Jesus. Let’s stay focused as we run past the many distractions that demand our attention and steer us astray.

Seek Him. Know Him. Be changed by Him.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

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Don’t know Jesus? You can.

It would be my greatest honor to take your hand, introduce you and walk you through how to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and how to have a personal relationship with Him.

Find out more here.

 

The Answer in Front of Us

The Answer in Front of Us

As I walked the grounds of the Louisiana Book Festival to set up my booth, the early morning fog completely hid the Louisiana State Capitol from view. Not familiar with the layout of the city, I didn’t even know it was there.

A few minutes later, I could see the base of the 34-story building. And as the sun burned off the remaining fog, the entire building appeared.

Many times, an answer is right in front of us, but we can’t see it. Kind of like a brain fog — that feeling of confusion, the inability to focus or put your thoughts into words.

Years ago, my family and I toured that building after I competed at the State Social Studies Fair during my junior high years. I’ll never forget those 50 steps leading to the entrance. Everyone in the family had gone up and walked the tour, except my dad. I was so excited that after the tour, I came back and talked him into walking up with us. With two prosthetic legs, walking up 50 steps on crutches was not so easy.

But for him, the answer was clear. No distraction would keep him from walking up. We wanted him there and he did it! With grit and the determination to not disappoint, he made it to the top and completed the tour. (There are many other obstacles my dad has conquered, but those are stories for another day.)

What are you “not seeing?”

What is the thing that you cannot see? Is there an obstacle facing you right now? A distraction? Is there an answer you’re seeking but a fog keeps you from seeing it? Are you unable to focus?

In the well-known story of Mary and Martha, Martha was worried about many things. When the answer to those “many things” was standing right in front of her. Jesus.

Jesus just wanted her to rest at his feet. I wonder how many times I’ve missed something because I was distracted with my “many things?”

Can you rest today?

The song Breathe by Johnny Diaz comes to my mind. It reminds us to stop for a moment to breathe and rest at Jesus’ feet. When the day is wild and chaos calls, all we need is just to breathe and let our weary spirits rest in Him.

Maybe that’s what we need to do today. Look beyond the fog. Step away from the distractions and see the goodness, experience the peace and find rest in Jesus.

 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

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Don’t know Jesus? You can.

It would be my greatest honor to take your hand, introduce you and walk you through how to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and how to have a personal relationship with Him.

Find out more here.

 

 

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Photo credit: Unsplash

 

 

Careful what you wish for

Careful what you wish for

Have you ever wished for something to have it backfire on you when you got it?

When our boys were younger, we visited a local park for a family outing. We took our dogs – both large – with us. The two younger boys begged to hold their leashes and walk them. We finally gave in and gave each son a dog to walk. A few moments in, the dogs saw a squirrel and bolted, dragging both boys through the woods.

I can still see it in my mind playing out in slow motion. In hindsight, it was quite comical. . . something you’d see in an old western movie with a spooked horse on the run dragging some poor soul.

We caught up to them and rescued the boys with, thankfully, no serious injuries!

The simple desire on their part took them much quicker than they wanted to go and down a path they never intended.

Game day guidance

On another occasion, while playing football in elementary school, my oldest son’s coaches encouraged him on several occasions to step it up and be more aggressive.

He was a big boy, so coaches naturally thought he’d be aggressive. He was not.

They had that same talk while warming up before a game one Saturday morning. As they ran plays, my son Connor did what they asked. The downside? He nailed our own quarterback!

That blow during warmup kept the quarterback out the entire game. The coach got more than he bargained for that day.

From honor to disgrace

In the book of Esther, Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and also a court official sat faithfully at the king’s gate.

One day, King Xerxes realized Mordecai had never been thanked for uncovering a conspiracy to assassinate the king. He asked his second-in-command, Haman, to tell him what to do for the man the king delights to honor. (Esther 6:6)

Haman assumed the king was referring to himself. His answer included all the things he wished for.

The tables turned

Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.” (Esther 6:10)

Let’s review the events that led to this. Haman devised the plan to annihilate the Jews—all because Mordecai wouldn’t bow to him. This filled Haman with rage, so one day he went home and built gallows to hang Mordecai. That next morning, he showed up at the same time the king sought advice.

Haman got more than he bargained for that day. Instead of hanging Mordecai, he was the person responsible for parading Mordecai throughout the city in a position of honor. Verse 11 tells us that Haman recited “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

Haman wished for a hanging on the gallows he built, confident his enemy’s life would end there. He just didn’t know it would be his own life that would eventually hang.

A God-Guided Life

Haman’s passion and hatred for Mordecai set in motion the event to destroy the Jews. His self-guided life and pride cost him his own life.

Esther’s passion and sense of purpose exposed Haman’s evil plan. She didn’t let anything hinder her from helping her people. She allowed God to guide her life.

Mordecai also followed God’s lead. Because of his strong faith, his leadership, his submission to the Lord and his unwavering convictions, the Jews were rescued from Haman’s evil plan. He didn’t allow circumstances or self-preservation to dictate his value system.

Mordecai went from camping outside the king’s gate in sackcloth and ashes, wailing loudly and bitterly, to being second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews. He worked for the good of his people, speaking up for the welfare of all the Jews.

What about us?

While we may not take pride and selfishness to Haman’s level, we also run the risk of letting pride inch into our lives and take us on a downward spiral.

Are there some things in your life that you haven’t released to God?

When we embark on our own without God’s guidance, we may travel down an out-of-control path leading to destruction. Or our pride could hinder the very goal we are trying to accomplish.

Think of a time when you followed God’s guidance. How was that experience different from when you let your pride control the outcome?

Let’s commit today to live with God as our guide. Let our passion and purpose shed light in the darkness, let our convictions be unwavering, and our submission to God lead others to His rescue plan.

 

There is so much more we can learn from Esther and Mordecai. For the full story, read the book of Esther in the Holy Bible.

 

 

A Bold  Move

A Bold Move

J. R. R. Tolkien once said, “courage is found in unlikely places.”

That’s what we find in the story of Esther. Hers was not a “commander of an army” type courage. Nor one accompanied by physical strength and stamina.

Her courage was a quiet, “I’ll risk my life for my people” type of courage.

Esther had been queen for about three years before she had the test of a lifetime. Haman, second in command of Susa, had devised an evil plan to destroy all Jews throughout the kingdom and convinced King Xerxes to sign it into law.

Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, challenged her to step in and use her position to change this course of action. A task not easily done.

There was no knocking on his door to ask a question. She had to be invited. And thirty days had passed since Esther had been summoned by the king. Approaching him without an invitation was against the law. However, she risked her life for her people. Her response to Mordecai must have been a chilling one.

When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16.

How do we prepare for courage?

I believe several things contributed to her courage, and ultimate victory, to make such a bold move.

Even before this time, God had prepared Esther for that critical moment.

  • She was adopted by Mordecai who treated her like his own daughter. He taught her that God was always in control.
  • She was one of the virgins chosen as a potential queen, winning the favor of Hegai, the king’s eunuch and overseer of the king’s harem. He even moved Esther and her maids to the best place in the harem.
  • Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.
  • She won the king’s favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.
  • She had an accountability partner. Mordecai challenged her to do the right thing.
  • Esther reported an assassination plot to take out the king.
  • Before she acted, she called on people to fast and pray, putting her faith in God first.

After being seized from her cousin to become the possession of a cruel king, Esther could have become bitter. Instead, she demonstrated courage, patience and wisdom. She did this not only in her gracious appeal to the king, but through offering a solution that gave the Jews the chance to survive.

And that is the way with us, too. Sometimes our trials springboard us to a place of courage and boldness. God also prepares us for our “moment” through a consistent, everyday walk with Him. Obedience in the “little things” could be just what gets us through that next obstacle.

What do we do with the sting of pain?

Life is hard. Difficult times happen. Pain will come. When it does, do we turn TO God or FROM Him?

You may be thinking, “I do not have the courage of Esther.” But consider this. Esther took one step at a time, allowing her trials to shape her into a courageous young woman.

She didn’t settle for less than God’s plan for her. She strove for the best, whether she suffered for it or not.

And we can too. We CAN find the courage when courage seems in short supply. We CAN pray boldly and act boldly. We CAN live in victory.

Do you have a decision to make? A plan to implement. How has God prepared you to be bold? Draw upon those experiences that have made you into who you are today and take courage in your moment of decision.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

Everybody needs a Barnabas

Everybody needs a Barnabas

Everybody needs a Barnabas in their life.

Paul (formerly Saul) had led the great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, dedicating himself to destroying Christians. Newly converted, he offered to help those he had recently persecuted. Those leaders, in turn, refused to accept him as a brother in the Lord. In fact, they were still hiding from him.

Except for one.

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. Acts 9:26-27

Barnabas vouched for Paul. He bravely brought Paul in and introduced him to the brothers.

How did Barnabas know he could trust Paul? No doubt he had heard from believers who had suffered under Paul’s persecution.

Focusing on the future

While the other disciples focused on Paul’s past, Barnabas looked beyond to Paul’s future. He saw God’s work in him and how he could be used to accomplish God’s purpose.

Barnabas had a godly reputation, being described as a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” (Acts 11:24) He had compassion for the poor, was a man of faith, and was obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. His character displayed a grateful, compassionate and loving heart.

Recently, I have been working day and night getting ready to launch a book. I have learned so much but at the same time, I still know so little regarding this process. Fortunately, I have people in my corner — my Barnabas band — that I can call on. Although they probably want to run and hide when they see me coming, they stick around. I am thankful for their presence in my life.

Transformed by brotherly love

Sometimes opening up to someone new is risky. If we get too close, we run the risk of being hurt or rejected. Barnabas didn’t think like this. He saw the best in the situation and welcomed Paul in. Paul may have been transformed spiritually on the road to Damascus, but he was also transformed by brotherly love. Barnabas played a role in starting Paul’s ministry.

Strong in his faith, Barnabas practiced what he believed. He was a respected leader and engaged in the ministry of the church. Barnabas’ ministry gave Paul an “in” into the disciple circle. Paul’s ministry changed the ancient world.

We need people like Barnabas in our lives. Not only that, but we also need to be a Barnabas to someone else. God has a plan to use us too, I’m sure of it. Let’s be a Barnabas and reach out to someone in need today.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:7

Finish what you start

Finish what you start

Unfinished Business

Completion. How many times have I started something only to leave it unfinished? Baby books, photo albums, workout programs, diets (I usually bail around week 2 of a diet), etc.

One day, I’m going to finish them.

I can work cleaning one room of the house, leave it to take something to another room, just to get distracted and never make it back to complete the task I had originally started.

Not so for Solomon. The Lord gave Solomon the task to build a temple for Him. David wanted to build it, but God said he wasn’t the person to do it. God appointed Solomon.

“All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the Lord upon me, and he gave me the understanding in all the details of the plan.”

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord, my God is with you. I Chronicles 28:19

These words ring true today as in the days of Solomon. I need to hear them because I don’t feel strong and courageous most of the time. But these verses remind us to stay strong, to have courage and to finish what we start.

They remind us that the Lord is with us. We can put our fear aside, along with the discouragement, and live with purpose. We can live with a determination to complete the work.

Complete the task

It took 20 years, but Solomon built the temple of the Lord and his own palace, as well as rebuilt many villages and cities in his kingdom. I’m sure there were difficult days, setbacks and maybe a few distractions, but Solomon completed the work.

All Solomon’s work was carried out, from the day the foundation of the temple of the Lord and was laid until its completion. So the temple of the Lord was finished. 2 Chronicles 8:16.

Others completed their work as well.

  • Noah finished the ark.
  • Moses got the Israelites to the promised land.
  • Jonah delivered his message to the Ninevites (although he learned a lesson along the way).
  • Ruth stayed with Naomi.
  • Paul finished his race.
  • John completed the task of writing the last chapters in the Bible.

Would you pray with me?

For months, I have written and re-written thoughts to include in a book I believe God has called me to write and share with others.

I hope that I am close to doing just that. At times, I have listened to my own negativity, tempted to quit. But I am committed to finishing the task, hoping to help someone else along their journey.

Would you pray with me in that? I would be grateful if you would walk alongside me until the work is complete.

Is there something you need to complete today? I pray that today is your day of completion too.

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Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man. Colossians 4:23

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