Tag Archives: change

Just Keep Praying

PrayerI just want to take a minute to encourage you. If you’ve ever dealt with a long-standing problem; had an illness that you’ve battled what seems like forever or you’ve had a persistent need that you feel you’ve been praying about for so long and have never gotten an answer from God. Don’t quit praying and faithing.
I don’t always understand why God works the way He does or in the time He does, but He does work. And because you didn’t get an answer or a touch yesterday, doesn’t mean today’s not the day. Give each day an opportunity to be the miracle moment, through continual prayer and faith.
I want to share a quick story with you. Please know that my sharing this is not done to draw attention to myself or to celebrate anything “I’ve” done, rather to encourage you to continue to trust God in the moments that you want to give up praying the most.
Yesterday, at a church, I had a woman come up to me after service that had been trying to find me for 3 months. That long ago, in this same church, I had a chance to pray with this lady. When she came to me that morning, 3 months ago, she began telling me that she had been suffering from severe headaches, daily, for 2 years. Now, if you know me personally and what my wife has been through with migraines, you know the irony in God sending this lady to me to pray for her. I remember, as she shared her struggle with me in that altar, laughing at God under my breath; certainly not at her struggle, but at the fact God would send this headache laden lady to me, to pray for her, while my own home couldn’t even conquer the same issue. 
Anyway, she had tried everything the doctors directed; she was taking tons of medication to attempt to function in life, but really had no life and was losing all hope in her prayers. But she didn’t give up and took one more chance at an agreement in prayer. 
We prayed together that morning in that altar and by her words yesterday, she told me as she left that altar she knew God healed her. Since that morning 3 months ago, after 2 years of debilitating headaches, she has not dealt with another one. She’s not taken another gram of medication and she is enjoying life again.
God answered her persistent step of faith that morning. She came broken, hurt, in pain, tired, wondering if God would ever respond and if her life would ever be normal again, and because she didn’t give up in her prayers and in her faith, God touched her life. In a moment it all went away. 
I tell you that just to say, don’t give up on your prayers and your faith in the Almighty. I know you’re tired of dealing with whatever it is you’re having to go through; I know you want answers, I know you need help and yet each day seems as if nothing’s changing. Be strong. Don’t lose hope in God and your prayers to Him. He is Alpha AND Omega; which means that He not only saw the beginning of your struggle but will be there to see you overcome your struggle. Keep praying today. Keep believing today. Because today could be the day that it all changes in moment.
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Fishing and Frustrated

Abandoned BoatA short time back I got a phone call from a friend that owns his own business. He had taken on a job that required an extra hand, so he called me to see if I’d be interested in helping him for a few days. I, of course, agreed and made the appropriate plans to be with him on his job site. He’s very knowledgeable and skilled in his craft, whereas I, on the other hand, was there simply to offer whatever assistance he needed. 
Over the next few days, while I worked to the best of my ability, I often found myself frustrated and empty, even though I worked hard and got paid. I would listen to some of his instructions and would still not get things exactly how they needed to be; I’d watch how to use a certain tool, and still have trouble making it work when I got the opportunity. While he’d breeze through a task, the same one would take what seemed like forever to complete. For a person like me that wants things to be done right and excellent, those few days were filled with aggravation, frustration and fatigue. 
And then God reminded me, “relax, your frustration comes because this isn’t what you were built to do.”
This is the life of so many and I have no doubt, it’s why so many work hard, make good money and live completely tired, frustrated and incomplete.
In Luke 5, Jesus was taking a stroll by the lake, teaching, with throngs of people following almost too close for comfort. On His way around the shore line, He passed some fishermen, who at the end of a days work had left their boats stranded and were making their way to clean their nets, minus one tired and frustrated fisherman who was still left in his boat, pondering a day of despair and unfulfillment. Jesus, putting a little distance between Himself and the load of people following, stepped over into this fisherman’s boat, sat down to rest His feet and continued teaching to those on the shoreline that were eager to listen. 
As He finished teaching, He turned and addressed the boat owner, some guy named Simon, who in spite of this great teaching and the presence of the One that was in the boat with him, was still caught up in the despair of his day. Simon said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing..”  What Jesus did next, is just what Jesus does next when you encounter Him. He changed his life and charged his purpose.
Jesus graciously, allowed him to see that the frustration and lack of fulfillment that he was experiencing, wasn’t from having the wrong tools or equipment or even a desire to succeed, but simply that he was spending his life attempting to succeed in a job, trying to make ends meet, that he was never built to succeed in. (That oblivious chase gets tiring.)
This is the picture of humanity. Working the same routine that I worked for several days, trying to succeed at a job that your personal gifts and abilities were never meant for. God never intended for you to be a slave to a dollar or an accepted routine. He never intended for you to pursue life with so much gas in your tank for success but never any impact. 
My grandfather worked over 50 years as a carpenter; which was a very rigorous and laborious profession. There were times in the summers that I would help him out when I got a little older and I remember him always telling me, “work smart, not hard.” The smartest work you can do, is to listen to the Master and discover that dream, that purpose that He’s built you for, and then work hard to develop it. Don’t be so caught up in the despair of today’s labor and the dream of a paycheck, that you can’t hear God talking to you from inside of the boat, because you’re already plotting on how to pursue tomorrow. It would have been a shame for Simon to be so focused on the day’s failure and the dread of tomorrow that he never heard Jesus telling him he wasn’t even supposed to be on the lake!
Because a frustrated fisherman, listened to the Master, obeyed with an act faith and cared to pursue his purpose, we find something different just a short time later in Acts 2.  A broken, unfulfilled fisherman who spent his days of hard work and caught nothing became an empowered voice of impact, who with his first message had a “catch” of three thousand lives. 
How will you respond to that teacher in your boat?
When all this is said and done, you want to be as Paul was; your life poured out as a drink offering. Not because you’re empty from trying to keep up in a race you weren’t supposed to run, but because you’ve given away every gift of purpose that was in you. 
Put down the net and get out of the boat. Don’t wait any longer. Pursue what’s in you, not what’s around you.
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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

What I’m about to post will challenge some people, especially those tied to a system, a program or a tradition. I want to challenge you to do something simple, yet necessary; reevaluate your house of worship and it’s leader/s. We will often spend hours and days evaluating purchases, insurance providers, business decisions, doctors offices, etc etc, but it’s never even crossed our minds to evaluate our church body with the same diligence and with the expectation that if it’s not matching the biblical charge of a church, we make a change. Why? You have a right and a responsibility to ensure that your church body and it’s leaders are operating, not as you desire, but by the direction of God.

I want to peek at a passage of scripture that’s used quite frequently by the avid churchgoer and pulpiteer, alike, when referencing the command to attend church.  Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as is the manner of some.” It is, of course, saying that we have a responsiblity, as believers and followers of Christ the head, to not forsake the gathering of the church which is called the body.  This verse, while very true, has been used in countless tactics of manipulation to coerse the non-believer or non-attender into getting in church. This passage makes something very clear in it’s meaning; we need each other. But what do we need each other for? This is where I believe your evaluation needs to come in.

When that scripture has been mentioned, never have I heard anyone finish what the scripture says or even quote the verse before, when commanding people to not forget to attend church. The continuation of verse 24 says, “but exhorting one another;” The word exhort means to strongly encourage or urge to do something.  Verse 24 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” This brings me to a very brief but distinct point and challenge.

The body of believers that you are assembling with and the leader/s that you are assembling under are important; attending church regularly is important, but that assembly is necessary to encourage you and challenge you to become something more in Christ, on your way to pursuing God’s vision for you as a Kingdom citizen.  Take this quick litmus test:

  • Does your pastor and the circle of people you are closely connected to in your church, urge and excite you to become more than you are?
  • Is it a place that your gifts are being discovered and stirred?
  • Do they refuse to allow you to sit, comfortably, in a church service each week without falling prey to mediocrity and just being a part of the crowd?
  • Are your leaders and church partners a regular source of joy and encouragement, stirring up love and support as you grow and develop?
  • Are you challenged to become more because of the body you’re connected to?

My suggestion is that you reevaluate; make yourself answer these questions and be honest with the results. Dissension, division, pain, aggravation and insecurity unfortunately, find their way in many of our churches and leaders, and if we’re not careful we’ll subtly find ourselves dying in their influence because we remain connected out of our loyalty or comfortability, but God has an incredible plan for you and wants to connect you with the right people that can shape you to achieve these dreams. If you’re not being encouraged and challenged to grow, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re connected to!

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