Power!

We all have needs.

We come into this world needy, and we never live a day of our lives without need. And though there are basic physical needs and even some emotional and psychological needs that can be met through our relationship—marriage, children, family, friends… we will struggle immensely if we fail to recognize that this world we live in—and everyone in it—is just as needy as we ourselves. We cannot put our dependence on anyone or any material thing, like a job title or a car or house. The One who made us is the only One qualified to meet the needs that He planted inside each of our hearts and minds.

Instead of looking to a job, a marriage, a child, or any other earthly thing to meet our needs, we instead can learn… one day at a time… one moment at a time… to depend on God alone to meet the needs He already knows we have, and that He desires to meet.

Here, when we can come to Him, our weakness becomes emboldened with His POWER. This is the place… the only place where our frantic “I can’t do this anymore!” can become a calm “I’ve got this.”

He says to each of us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my POWER is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Won’t you exchange your weakness for His POWER today? His peace awaits. #peacejourney #truthandgracewriting

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Road Closed Ahead

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As we begin a new year, don’t we wish it was as easy as this, a road closed sign blocking our intended path, to know when God was warning you to stop, turn around and go another way?

We’ve all been there.

You’ve prayed about this situation so many times. Maybe it’s about a career move, a relationship beginning or ending, a crossroads. There are no new words that can be said about it to God that you have not already voiced. You’ve asked Him countless times whether to go this way or that. Or maybe you were going along just fine, and suddenly there is a decision that must be made. Perhaps you know which way you want to go, but you want God to bless that road and He’s not. You have this feeling like your feet are stuck in quicksand because of a conviction deep inside warning you not to proceed. Or are you are torn because there’s part of you that wants it both ways?

There are two questions that we face at times like this: Do I trust Him to know what path is best for me? Am I willing to stop, wait and pray until I feel certain I know which path He would have me to take?

Even the most committed Christians sometimes struggle with one or both of these questions at times. Newer believers or seekers who don’t know God as personal Lord and Savior may have no idea how to deal with these two questions. One thing we all have in common is that we want to make good decisions that increase our peace and joy, and evade guilt or sorrow.

His ways are higher. His thoughts are pure. Look up! He knows what path is ultimately best. If he has put up a road closed sign, it is because there is danger on the other side of it. There are other roads that we can take to reach the destination He has in mind for us without the danger.

Do we instead imagine that there is some pleasure or relief on the other side of that road closed sign? Do we wrongly perceive God as a gatekeeper who is blocking us from enjoying life? Our independent human nature – the same human nature that plucked fruit from the one forbidden tree in all of the garden full of harmless trees – pushes us to go beyond the safeguards He has graciously provided to protect us. The reality is that He only puts up a road closed sign where there is danger ahead. He knows what lays wait on the other side. We must learn to watch for these road blocks and heed them.

Sin could be described as not doing what God has told us to do, but what it boils down to is that sin is anything that is going to hurt us. That’s why he says not to do it! He will withhold no good thing from us, and yet in His endless mercy, He knew we would stubbornly persist beyond the warning signs, so He went another huge step further and gave us His Son as Savior. Because He doesn’t want us to hurt. If we will stop at the “road closed sign” (when we feel that uncertainty in the pit of our stomachs — his Spirit warning) and if we will pray and ask Him which way to go rather than ignoring our conscience to willfully persist down the path we desire, we will live the joy-filled and peaceful life that He wants for us as much as we want it.

This life that we all seek is found as simply, and as difficultly, as giving ourselves over to knowing His Word and choosing His will over our own. Why do we complicate it so much? Next time that we see a road closed sign – when we feel that gut-wrenching conviction to stop, wait and pray – let’s heed that warning and seek the road that God will bless.

Read Psalm 84:11, Malachi 3:10 and wherever else the Lord leads you in His Word.

What’s Eating YOU?

It’s two days until January… again. Didn’t we just do this? Raise your hand if you made a resolution a year ago to do something better for your health. What has that resolution brought you today? I hope you can say noticeable change! If not, rather than give up, let’s look at the missing ingredient that will help these habits stick.

As we focus on better health, we concentrate a lot on what we eat. America offers way too many unhealthy choices. According to http://www.infoplease.com, 74.1% of us are overweight or obese as a result of the American way of living. Convenient, cheap and tasty options too often win out over healthy choices.

Making healthier choices is in part common sense – eat less and move more. BUT! There’s a lot of information out there, and as many conflicting opinions on the right way to get healthy, as there are people trying to accomplish it. This whole weight thing is – pardon the pun – very heavy on our minds. If it feels like food choices are almost all you think about every day, you may not be far off. Cornell University researchers concluded that we make more than 200 food decisions a day. So this begs the question, what if it’s not just about what we’re eating… but what’s eating us?!

An effective health plan that yields lasting weight loss and maintenance will always require us to discover why we became overweight in the first place. What good does it do to diet and exercise ourselves into the perfect pant size if we don’t figure out why we ended up too many sizes above to begin with? If we’re going to struggle through new healthy eating challenges to achieve a new look and better health, don’t we want to be sure it’s really a new us, inside and out, so we never have to do it all over again?

Poor eating habits and lack of activity are certainly key, but I believe they can be merely symptoms of another, often overlooked, factor that lies deep within – the feelings we have about ourselves.

Food was given to us by God to be used as fuel. If we are eating for fuel, we eat those things we know are good for us in the quantities that we know are good for us, and we use moderation with any indulgences outside of that. We can complicate this, but it really is that simple.

We don’t eat fast food without knowing its bad for us. When we eat 6 cookies in one sitting, we know we are not doing our bodies a favor. We do these things in spite of what we know, and I believe because of our emotions. Whether we are bored, lonely, tired, sad, happy, angry, excited, pensive or lazy, these feelings have us neglecting exercise that we know will make us feel better, and eating foods that we know are bad for us. Sometimes we even eat because we’re depressed about being overweight. Now that’s emotional eating!

For many people, these emotions go back to childhood, so they are deeply rooted and may be buried deep. They’re not easy to face, and usually involve important relationships with parents, spouses, and children. When our most important emotional needs have gone unmet whether as a child or an adult, we may begin to believe lies about ourselves. The truth is found in God’s Word. He dispels all the lies we tell ourselves when He tells us that we were worth dying for and that we are loved with an everlasting love; that no height nor depth can keep us from His love. When we believe lies, we must seek comfort. If we seek it anywhere other than God, we end up in the wrong places, like wrongly believing food will ease our pain when it only brings more.

If we want to do more than just make another resolution we won’t keep… if we want to get and stay healthy… the real, underlying issues must be addressed. We have to turn to God for the real answers. Maybe it’s starts with praying and journaling to answer “Why did I allow myself to gain all this weight?” and “What do I have to stop doing (or start believing) to get where I need to be and be certain I never go back again?” Maybe it means finally taking the hard step of reaching out to a Christian counselor who can teach you the tools to discover how to get rid of your emotional fat in 2015, for good! That’s good health. The pounds and inches comes off naturally when we get our minds in the right place. So, yes, we should watch what we eat to make choices like whole, clean, unprocessed foods. We should get more active, even if we have to start small. These are important steps to take as we look forward to a new year full of possibilities. But as much as what we’re eating matters, what’s eating us matters more.

A Dangerous Prayer for Change: Lord, Please Keep Making Me

Today, Lord, I pray for the opposite of what may seem more normal to pray. I pray that you would make me BROKEN. I know in the most real way possible that I cannot be healed until I know I am broken. Where my eyes have failed to see, and my mind has failed to recognize, where I have chosen my own destructive ways over your blessed ones, break my heart, Lord. The day-in-and-day-out battle that we call modern day life makes it so easy for me to become so calloused that I can’t even feel the emotions you created me to feel. At least not very strongly. I want to run to You with my arms wide open, with wild abandon. I want to care about nothing else in comparison to my desire to be with You, to know You, to feel You at work within my heart in a new way.

Father God, my heart and mind and life are so full! I don’t have enough hours in the day to do it all. And I want You more than any of the activities or things, or even people, in my life. So I need You to make me EMPTY so that You can fill me with only those things that are healing to my body and nourishment to my bones as You’ve promised to do in Proverbs 3:8 if I will empty my life of the evil of self-reliance. I keep holding on to MY will, and I’m not complete until I am with YOU.

I want You to be my one desire, my ONE TRUE LOVE! The breath I breathe, my everything. Lord, please keep making me until I am all of these!

God, You can even make me LONELY, so that I can be Yours completely! Do whatever you have to do until I want no one more than You! Because in the darkness, I KNOW You will hold me. There’s nothing that could bring me more comfort and joy than to be held by You. So make me lonely if that’s what You have to do.

Lord, I trust You. I know that in the end, I could never be broken, empty or lonely because I have You! Let me set aside all the temporary never forget that. No matter how busy I get. No matter how frustrating and painful life can be. No matter what! You, Lord, have my permission and my attention and my desire to see You work in big ways inside my heart, my mind, and my life

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This prayer was written from the heart of someone whose life has been touched by the Sidewalk Prophets’ song “Keep Making Me.” (Well, every single song on the Live Like That album actually.) All credit for the words within this song goes to them! Give it a listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI1obeb3A9c. I think you will be glad you did!