Category Archives: Trust

Honest to God!

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” ~ Matthew 28:16-17

Jesus had been arrested, crucified, buried and raised from the dead. He had appeared to hundreds of eye-witnesses after His resurrection. He ate and drank and cooked fish. Can you imagine a more significant demonstration of God’s existence?

But it’s time for Him to return to the Father. So the disciples meet Him on a mountain. Understandably, they worship Him. But did you catch those last three words? “…but some doubted.” They what? They doubted!

But they weren’t the first. Consider these others who walked by faith choosing to trust God and yet still battled with occasional doubts.

  • Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s promise for a child.
  • Abraham doubted God’s plans and on two separate occasions lied about Sarah telling others that she was his sister.
  • Elijah went toe-to-toe with 500 priests of Baal and watched God demonstrate His power and yet doubted God and ran from one angry woman – a queen – who made a threat against his life.
  • John the Baptist declared “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” when he saw Jesus. But not long after that he was in prison and sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the promised one or if they should look for another.

Or consider that 60% of the Psalms are laments with people screaming out, “God, where are You?” As Lynn Anderson observes, “Normal faith is allowed to beat on God’s chest and complain.”

But my favorite demonstration of faith and doubt co-existing comes from an account in Mark chapter 9. A crowd has gathered as a father tries desperately to get help for his son who is demon possessed. Here’s a portion of the dialog between the father and Jesus…

“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief! ~ Mark 9: 21-24

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever find yourself facing a difficult situation where you trust God to be in control yet struggle with a few doubts? If you do then welcome to the club. You are not alone. In fact, you are in rather good company. And nowhere do we see God chastise any of these people!

“Lord, as we head into a new week with untold challenges and adventures around every corner, we profess our trust in You, but help us when we struggle with doubts.”

PS - Yesterday’s sermon “Is God real?” is posted on the sermon/audio page – check it out!

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Filed under Doubt, Encouragement, Faith, Trust

Why are you so afraid?

Have you ever heard someone ask a question that made you scratch your head and wonder what in the world they were thinking? The following questions are purportedly true and were asked by lawyers in a court of law.

  • Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
  • The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
  • Were you present when your picture was taken?
  • Doctor, how many of your autopsies have been performed on dead people?

As ridiculous and confusing as these questions are, I wonder if the disciples didn’t feel the same way about Jesus’ question to them in the boat. Read Matthew 8:23-27. The storm was so fierce that Matthew used the word seismos - the term we use for measuring earthquakes – to describe it. The disciples genuinely believed their lives were in danger. So they wake up Jesus who promptly asks them…

Why are you so afraid?

There are only two possible explanations for this question from Jesus. 1) Jesus was so sound asleep and out of it that He didn’t realize how bad the storm was; or 2) Jesus was aware of something that the disciples didn’t know about. I’m betting on the second one.

If you consider only the physical storm then Jesus’ question seems a bit out-of-place; even clueless or cruel or insensitive. So why would Jesus ask such a question? Because He was aware of a bigger reality. He knew that our heavenly Father was in control and could be trusted.

So what are we lacking? What is keeping us from having this same kind of assurance in the midst of lifes’ storms? FAITH!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. ~ Hebrews 11:1-3

The One who formed the universe by merely speaking it into existence is still in control and can be trusted!

Yesterday we began a new sermon series called Fearless that will explore the various areas of life that trouble us the most. If you missed it you can listen to the message on my Sermon/Audio page. If you missed yesterday’s blog check it out and give me your feedback on your “Top 5 Fears.” If you wrestle with fear at all – and we all do on some level – imagine being in the boat with Jesus as He asks the question…

Why are you so afraid?

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He guards you always!

Psalm 121

A Pilgrim Song

 1-2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
   No, my strength comes from God,
      who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

 3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
      your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
   Not on your life! Israel’s
      Guardian will never doze or sleep.

 5-6 God’s your Guardian,
      right at your side to protect you—
   Shielding you from sunstroke,
      sheltering you from moonstroke.

 7-8 God guards you from every evil,
      he guards your very life.
   He guards you when you leave and when you return,
      he guards you now, he guards you always. 

          ~ From The Message

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I can’t help but wonder…

When I started blogging back in January of this year I really didn’t know what to expect. I was looking for an outlet to share some things God had been laying on my heart, but it felt very risky. You know that feeling of uncertainty when you first join Facebook and wonder if anyone will respond to your friend requests? Starting a blog was 100 times worse because you’re not joining a group, you’re doing your own thing and wonder if anyone will show up to share the journey.

Blogging has been both rewarding and challenging. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter how many people show up on a daily basis but I am encouraged by days when a lot of people stop by. I still don’t have any expectations and tend to just share whatever God has laid on my heart, but I can’t help but look for patterns in how frequently people view the blog posts. Do certain days of the week make a difference? Does the length of the blog or including pictures make a difference? Do certain topics tend to draw more attention?

I write the blogs ahead of time and schedule them to post early the next morning. So one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning is check the blog to make sure the new entry got posted. Yesterday I posted a blog entitled “Recognizing the end of the rope.” When I checked it in the morning I was surprised to discover that within a couple of hours of being posted it had already been viewed 72 times, about twice the daily average. Hmmm?

Periodically throughout the day I contemplated why it struck such a nerve; why it got so many views that quickly. (Feel free to offer any perspective you might have by leaving a comment). I concluded that the most likely reason was because it dealt with God’s grace and our common need to be embraced by it. But then later that evening I realized that perhaps people read the title and thought I was going to share some big news about reaching the end of my own rope! Ha! Who knows.

I enjoy that God has wired me to look for the flow of patterns or currents below the surface; the motives for why we do what we do. While I’m usually pretty good at discerning these types of unseen dynamics in various settings, I have to admit that after eight months I haven’t figured out much in regard to blogging. But that’s OK. It serves to remind me that God is the Storyteller and life is His epic story. I don’t have to understand how it’s all fitting together. I just have to be willing to do my small part, whatever it is on any given day, and trust that God is weaving together a story that will ultimately bring Him glory.

Thanks for sharing the journey!

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Parent Teen Extreme Entry #2: Small dark spaces

It is, without a doubt, my least favorite part of the adventure! Spelunking. Caving. Crawling into small dark spaces. If God had intended for us to be comfortable  in small dark spaces He would have had us start life in… oh, never mind.

I did it the first two years. Eli and I tolerated it together while Sam loved it. But last year they changed caves and the spaces got even smaller so I opted out. This year Kyrsten joined me in staying above ground while Mykaela joined the rest of the group going subterranean.

There are some highlights to caving. Being underground is much cooler even on a hot, sultry summer day. It is fascinating to see even this portion of God’s creation. There is the bond that you build with others as you work together covering sometimes difficult terrain. And there is something special about sitting in absolute darkness while you sing praise songs to your Creator.

The down side is the small dark spaces, lots of them. The most challenging part is what they call the “blind crawl.” It’s where you move or crawl from one part of the cave to another part without any lights on and without talking to one another. They do it in spaces that are safe so there is no chance of falling into a bottomless pit or getting lost down a wrong turn. But still, it is the most unnerving thing I’ve ever experienced.

I found myself immediately and constantly talking with God; asking for grace to stay calm. The experience of total darkness and the sense of being alone is simply indescribable. All of your other senses suddenly awaken. And that moment when you reach the other end of the crawl and find yourself in the company of others is utter euphoria!

Like Sam, Mykaela enjoyed the caving part of the adventure. The chance to squeeze into small spaces and learning to trust one another to accomplish the journey. I suppose that’s a part of why God’s has us travel through life together.

But in the dark and quiet when it’s just you and God the reality of your faith in God gets clarified. Do I trust Him enough to take the next step forward even when I can’t see where it is I’m headed? Life is that way more often than we’d like to admit. And difficult situations clarify our faith in God. I don’t particularly enjoy such moments but I know that they are necessary for growing my faith which in turn pleases God.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

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Filed under Camp, Faith, intimacy with the Lord, Trust

Are you confident that God is with you?

Pete Wilson is the lead pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. I really enjoy reading his blog posts because they are so timely, insightful and relevant. You can check them out at http://withoutwax.tv

He was recently interviewed about the new book he’s written, Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up The Way You Thought He Would? This video clip introduces the whole message and uses bits of that interview.

On Pete’s blog post that has this video clip he writes…

It’s embarrassing how often I jump to the conclusion that God has abandoned me when my life isn’t turning out the way I had hoped. I wonder how many times I miss out on incredible opportunities because in the middle of my fear I don’t make decisions based on the reality that God is with me?

Are you and I living life as if we are absolutely confident that God is with us?

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Filed under Surrender, Trust

A father’s delight is behind all this

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
   Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
   your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
   give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
   your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
   don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
   a father’s delight is behind all this.
     ~ Proverbs 3:5-12 (The Message)

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Tsunami or Nuisance?

They sometimes start like a rumor. “Small, furry, brown rodent spotted in the family room.” But coming from Susan made it more like a very reliable, all-points alert.

Then a day or so later the cats began to collect around specific pieces of furniture in the family room. They would crouch down and stare and not move. A telltale sign of critters among us.

Then on Monday afternoon I got a picture text from Susan. I couldn’t make out why she sent a picture of the treadmill, until I read the message.

“He is fearless and I want him out of my house!”

A second look at the picture detected a little brown lump standing on the treadmill as if he were ready for a workout.

Living in an old farmhouse makes rodents an inevitable reality. And while I don’t much care for them, they don’t bother me the way they do Susan. To me they are no threat, merely a nuisance.

I wonder if God doesn’t look at those things in life that weigh us down and feel the same way. To us they can seem like a tsunami ready to capsize our whole world. But to God they are no threat, merely a nuisance.

I recently saw a quote that grabbed my attention.

“Don’t tell God how big your problem is,
tell the problem how big your God is.”

I like that. It sort of puts things into perspective doesn’t it?! It reminds us of where our attention should be.

What tsunami of life are you facing that needs to be surrendered to a God bigger than all of it? 

PS – The very next day Susan accomplished a capture and release of our little uninvited house guest. Her first ever! We now know that MOM stands for Mouse Ousting Mother!

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Can God trust us?

I was reading a blog the other day and was startled by what the author asked based on this verse from the Old Testament.

“But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust.” ~ Numbers 12:7 (NLT)

His question was very simple: “Can God trust you?”

I’d never thought about it that way before. I dwell quite a bit on our being able to trust God but I’d never been asked if God can trust me.

It’s pretty sobering and humbling to consider whether or not God can trust me. And to be perfectly honest I’m embarrassed that I’ve treated the whole “trust” issue in such a one-sided manner.

Trust is dependability – a deep confidence in someone.  We tend to trust people who are reliable and consistent. People who don’t change with the season or with whatever direction the wind blows.

Here are some “Trust Breakers” we can ask ourselves:

  • Do I doubt God every time circumstances don’t go the way I want them to?
  • Do I put myself at the center of my relationship with God rather than allow Him to be the focus? (Life is HIS epic story, not mine!)
  • Do I segregate God to a certain portion of my life or keep Him on the periphery of my life?

Moses was far from perfect; but he was honest and real and direct in his relationship with God. And God trusted Him. And his journey with God was absolutely spectacular!

Have you ever considered that God is looking to see if He can trust you?

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A false sense of security

After months of having my books boxed up and stuck in a closet they got relocated to my new office a couple of weeks ago. And today Susan helped me get the last of them unpacked and on the shelves.

Ahhh! Everything is in its place. Not that it will stay that way but there is a certain sense of calm and peace and security that comes from having my office space in order.

The same thing happens when I pick the car up from the mechanic. Everything is working as it should, at least for the moment, and I have a certain sense of security.

I’m guessing that I’m not alone though I’m sure it’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s having the garage in order or the kitchen all cleaned or the yard mowed. Maybe it’s when everything at work is OK for the moment or everyone in the family is healthy.

It’s certainly not a bad feeling but it is a false sense of security. In a moment, in the blink of an eye everything can change.

The job can be lost. The doctors’ office can call with the test results that are not good. Relationships that seem solid suddenly explode. The income won’t stretch far enough to cover the bills. Without warning, the bottom can drop away.

Let’s be honest. This life can be indescribably good and enjoyable but it offers no real security. Everything we enjoy here today can be gone tomorrow. That’s why Jesus said…

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21 (The Message)

God gives us every good and perfect part of this life for our enjoyment and to make us a blessing to others. But He never intended for us to give the things of this world first place in our heart.

That spot in our heart labeled “Most Important” is reserved for Him alone. And only in Him can we experience the kind of peace and security that will stand the test of time.

So… where does your sense of security come from?

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