Unusual, but Effective.

The Lord arranged for a fish.

Jonah’s story is interesting. It shows us the power and patience of the Lord, and it illustrates God works in seemingly unusual ways.

Jonah, while running from God, gets on a boat. The boat encounters a storm, and after much effort, the conclusion is reached the only way to stop the storm is throw Jonah overboard. The sailors throw Jonah overboard and the storm stops. The boat’s crew witnesses the Lord’s power, and worship the Lord.

Meanwhile, Jonah is in the sea, but God makes arrangements.

Jonah 1:17 remembers, “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”

Of all the ways the Lord could have helped Jonah in the moment, he sent a fish. He could have used drift wood or a piece of wreckage. He could have allowed Jonah to be close enough to shore to swim. He could have miraculously carried Jonah to shore, but God does not choose any of those methods. He uses a fish; an unusual way which may have not been the most appealing to Jonah.

Jonah’s lifeboat would have been smelly and dirty. Traveling in the digestive system of a large whale would not be the most ideal, but it saved Jonah’s life.

While we’ve not been swallowed by a great fish, we may be able to relate. God helps us in some unusual ways. They may not be ideal or our first choice, but they do provide the help we need.

When we find ourselves in Jonah’s place, how do we respond? Do we grumble because we are being helped in an unusual way, or do we thank the Lord for the resources he is providing?

Please share this post.

Failure Creates a Mosaic

Success takes time.

It took years to construct. The structure was made of only the finest gold, silver, and cedar. The construction had to be solid, and the furnishings had to be beautiful and perfect. Solomon used only the most skilled craftsmen to perform the work. The temple Solomon built for the Lord was a masterpiece. He commented in 2 Chronicles 2:5, “This must be a magnificent temple because our God is greater than all other gods….”

We are God’s temple.

The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 6 that we are the Lord’s temple. In the same way it took time to build the temple Solomon constructed, it may take time to build our lives into the magnificent mosaic the Lord desires. When you feel like a failure, keep in mind…

The temple of our lives is a masterpiece.

Please share this post.

3 Steps to Turn Failures to Successes

An F can serve as the foundation for an A+.

Babe Ruth, Robert Frost, Oprah, Winston Churchill, and many others, including you and me, have something in common. Failure has been a part of the life experience. Perhaps some on the list have reached great success, but it has not occurred overnight. It has taken much work and times of failing to reach the level of success now enjoyed.

Everyone experiences failures in life, and how these moments are handled is up to the individual. Here are 3 action-steps we can take to turn our failures into the starting point for the path to success.

Be honest about the situation.

Be honest, especially with yourself, when failure occurs. This will give you the proper perspective to move forward.

Take advantage of the failure.

Exploit the moment; pick it apart to learn everything you can. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding to help learn from the failure. The most valuable lessons we can learn come from the mistakes we make.

Never use failure as an excuse not to try again.

Keep trying may be the best approach. At one point in his career, Babe Ruth had struck out 1,316 times, but he did not stay in the dugout. It may take several job applications before you are noticed or it may take multiple attempts to run the marathon before you cross the finish line, but success can only come if you keep trying.

Charles Kettering suggested we must learn to fail with intelligence. He commented, “Once you have failed, analyze the problem and find out why because each failure is one more step leading up to the cathedral of success. The only time you do not want to fail is the last time you try.”

What steps are you taking to turn moments of failure into the launch pad for success?

Please share this post.

Are we running after the right ambitions?

“It’s about the people that you love and the places that you saw. Finding peace in the chaos, and beauty in the flaws.”

What are we running after? What are we trying to achieve? Are we always comparing ourselves to the neighbor next door? Beauty in the Flaws by Sophia Scott reminds us it is not the amount of money we make or the status we gain that matters.

The people and places we impact matter. The peace we can find matters. If we spend all our time chasing after money and prestige, we will find ourselves longing for more.

The Bible says Solomon was the wisest person to ever live, and he pursued the meaning of life. He pursued it within money, prestige, hard work, and partying. At the end of the pursuit, he writes these words.

“That’s the whole story. Here, now, is my conclusion: fear God and obey his commands for this is everyone’s duty,” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Neighbors First

a high angled shot of a neighborhood

Neighbors first mindset is modeled by Jesus.

Thursday of Passion Week has two events where we see Jesus placing others first amid much tension.

First, Jesus and his disciples are in the upper room partaking in the Passover meal. They are about to eat, but no one has washed feet. This was a dirty job reserved for the lowest servant in the household, but none of the disciples bothered to do it. Perhaps because they were too busy arguing about being the greatest. It could have been the disciples were so involved in themselves they forgot about washing feet. Jesus, on the other hand, did not.

He wrapped a towel around his waist and washed his disciple’s feet. This would have been upside down logic in the disciples’ minds. They should have been the ones washing Jesus’ feet. Nevertheless, Jesus serves them. He places their needs above his own.

Jesus would have had a lot on his mind in the upper room. He knew what was getting ready to take place. He knew of his betrayal, his arrest, and his crucifixion, yet he served his disciples. Though carrying a heavy load, himself, Jesus was concerned about the needs of his disciples. Jesus had a neighbors first mindset.

Second, Jesus was praying in the garden. He requested some of his disciples keep watch, but they kept falling asleep. In his anguish, Jesus could have scolded the disciples, but he didn’t. He told them to pray for themselves. Jesus had a neighbors first mindset.

We know this was an excruciating time for Jesus. The Bible records Jesus sweating drops of blood as he was agonizing over the cross; however, his mindset remained neighbors first.

You and I find a challenge in these events. We should strive to have a neighbors first mindset. This Easter season may be different than any other in our lifetime. Many of us our carrying heavy loads as we navigate through an uncommon time. This is more reason to have a neighbors first mindset.

By having a neighbors first mindset, you and I can help one another get through this historical time. We can check on one another, pick up supplies for one another, and encourage one another. All this can be done while maintaining social distance, and a neighbors first mindset does make a difference.

Just ask Amy McDonald. Amy was headed to the store a few days ago, and she stopped to check on an elderly neighbor. The neighbor needed groceries, so Amy obtained the list. She stopped at two stores and returned with the requested items, but something seemed wrong.

Amy spent some time with her neighbor, and it turns out the lady was having a heart attack. She was having what is known as the “Widow Maker.” Amy was able to call EMS and the neighbor’s daughter. A life was saved because Amy had a neighbors first mindset.

Here’s more folks with a neighbors first mindset.

We find in the events of Passion Week’s Thursday a challenge to adopt a neighbors first mindset. This mindset makes a difference. Amy’s neighbors first mindset saved a life. What will your neighbors first mindset do today?

Please share this post with your friends.

 

Confidence, Peace, & Promise

Psalm 91 offers encouragement in uncertain times.

Life is uncertain. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Thankfully, we are not alone. Psalm 91 offers confidence, peace and a promise.

Confidence

Verses 1-3 encourage, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: he alone is my refuge. My place of safety. He is my God and I trust him. For he will rescue you from any trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Our confidence comes in trusting the Lord. He has our back, and he is going to protect us. Our confidence can give us peace.

Peace

Verses 5-6 say, “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday.”

Along with having confidence in the Lord, we can find peace in him. The Lord will help us through whatever life throws at us.

These verses do not mention specific adversities. As Christians, we can insert the difficulty which we are experiencing. Lost jobs, financial struggles, a struggling economy, and any other adversity can be inserted. The Lord will help us through it. You and I can find peace in the Lord’s promise.

Promise

“The Lord says,” records verses 14-16, “I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

The Lord’s promise is to anyone who trusts him.

As we face the uncertainty of today and the unknown of tomorrow, we can have confidence and peace because of the Lord’s promise.

 

 

Going through Hell?

“If you’re going through hell, keep on going. Don’t slow down. If you’re scared, don’t show it. You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”

Songs have a way of encouraging us in the darkest, weirdest moments of life. The Lord uses lyrics to drive encouragement right into our hearts.

If You’re Going through Hell by Rodney Atkins is one of those encouraging songs. It reminds us to keep on moving through the hard times of life.

BUY If You’re Going through Hell at Amazon

If you’re going through a hard time, keep on moving. Don’t slow down. Unfortunately, hard times are a part of life. Difficulties have a way of creeping into life. Fortunately, they only last for a season, and it is a season the Lord is with us. We can keep moving during those times with the confidence the Lord is our shelter and refuge.

We may be scared, but the Lord says we can take courage because he is with us.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,” encourages Ephesians 6:10-11.

Patient Endurance Pays Off

photo a sky at night in the desert

Don’t give up. Patiently enduring today’s struggles will pay off with tomorrow’s successes.

Frank wasn’t known for his patience. While he was working, Frank’s wife called him. She was speaking kind of slowly, and her mood was somewhat down.

Irritated by this, Frank barked, “Get on with it. What do you need? And, be positive!”

She was silent for a moment, and then chipperly reported, “I found out today the airbags in our brand-new BMW work very well.”

Patience can be hard. We live in a well-connected world with virtually everything at our fingertips, so when patience is required, you and I may struggle a little. We want what we want when we want it, but sometimes patience is needed. Having patience may seem grueling to us, but the reward will be worth the backbreaking work.

Hebrews 10:36 implores, “Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s will, then you will receive all that he has promised.”

Moses serves as an illustration of someone who had patience. He patiently endured the struggle of Israel wondering in the desert. Moses led Israel out of Egypt and wanted to take the people into the promised land, but the unbelief of the people forced Israel to stay in the desert the rest of Moses’ life. It would have been easy for Moses to give up in this situation, yet he remained faithful.

Moses patiently endured his circumstances. He knew something better was ahead. Moses knew what was ahead would be worth the wait. For him, it was Heaven, and for Israel, it was the promised land. Patient endurance will lead to a reward worth the wait.

Two frogs fell into a bucket of cream. The sides were slippery, and the frogs did not have an immediate way out of the bucket.

One frog immediately gave up. He said, “there’s no way out. We’re going to drown.” So, he stopped swimming and sank to the bottom.

The other frog said, “I’m going to keep swimming and see what happens.” He kicked and paddled; he swam and churned. Eventually, butter formed a platform under the frog. He was able to jump out of the bucket.

Right now, life may be in a season of adversity. Achieving goals, realizing dreams, and fulfilling purpose may be a struggle. Don’t give up. Tomorrow’s successes will be worth enduring the hardships of today.

Patient endurance will be worth it when we find success.

You are working hard. Your hard work uncovers more work needing done. It shows you more practice is needed or more connections made. You see the goal and dream, but you are beginning to doubt its obtainability.

Michael Jordan can relate. Jordan may be one of the best NBA players to ever touch the court, and he had to patiently endure missed shots, game losses, and letting the team down on his way to success. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games; 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed,” Michael Jordan once said.

The work you and I are now doing is helping us find success. It will be worth it when our goals are achieved, and dreams realized. Don’t give up. Patiently endure the struggles of today to enjoy the successes of tomorrow.

Patient endurance will be worth it when our purpose is fulfilled.

You’re trying to fulfill your purpose. It seems you have to overcome a barrier each step of the way. Your suggestions are ignored; your ideas fall on deaf ears. And, life seems to always pose an interruption. You’ve determined your purpose, but the present trials are causing you to doubt. Are you really the right person for this purpose?

Moses was ignored. His requests to the people fell on deaf ears. He endured all of this as he faithfully fulfilled his purpose. Moses wondered if he was the right person for the job; he doubted leading Israel was his purpose, but God said it was.

We, too, may wonder and doubt, but God gave us life and our purpose. Like Moses, we will experience struggles. The reward of fulfilling our purpose will be worth patiently enduring the struggles.

Patiently enduring this life will be worth it in the next.

The struggles of this life will be worth it in the next.

  • James 1:12 says, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
  • “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever,” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says. “So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Acting

Don’t give up. Today’s struggles will be worth tomorrow’s successes. Ask the Lord to help you patiently endure the struggles of today.

Please share this post with a friend.

 

 

What is your biggest weakness?

Our weakness could be a strength.

Job interviews are a necessary evil. Sitting across from a stranger answering a series of questions can be an anxious time. Providing the answer, the interviewer wants to hear is our challenge. Some questions are easy, other questions are hard, and there is the one dreaded question. It seems to find its home in every interview. What is your biggest weakness?

This is a hated question. If we truly discuss our weaknesses, we may lose the job. If we lie, we may lose our integrity. Answering this question is tricky, so much advise has been offered.

Don’t say something like, “Those eyes of yours.” Experts recommend giving a skill-based weakness and immediately following up with an improvement plan. We dread discussing our weaknesses because society views them as a problem. However, the Lord takes a different approach. He takes a better approach.

For God, our weaknesses are an opportunity.

God gave Moses the ultimate job interview. Moses was tending sheep and noticed a bush aflame, but it was not consumed by the fire. Curiosity pushed Moses to investigate, and the Lord started his interview.

God was calling Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt to the promised land. Moses, however, believed his weaknesses would keep him from accomplishing the job.

Moses stuttered. In his mind, this meant there would be absolutely no way he could speak to Pharaoh concerning the Lord. Moses attempted to convince the Lord he was not the right man for the job, but God responded, “I gave you the mouth you have, so it will be fine.”

Differing Viewpoints

Moses’ stuttering was viewed from two perspectives. This made the difference.

Moses’ Viewpoint

Moses viewed his stuttering as a problem. It would keep him from completing the assignment. No one would listen to him because he couldn’t speak clearly.

Can you relate to Moses? You know your goals, dreams, and purpose, but you believe your inadequacies will prevent achievement and fulfillment. I believe this is a struggle for most people. We feel unqualified, and that feeling paralyzes us.

God’s Viewpoint

God viewed Moses’ stuttering as an opportunity. Stuttering did not prevent Moses from leading Israel; in fact, it enhanced his leadership. It provided an opportunity for the Lord’s power to be displayed, and it kept Moses reliant on the Lord.

Like Moses, our weaknesses cannot prevent us from fulfilling our purpose. Our weaknesses may even be a benefit.

Weaknesses can become a strength.

Our weaknesses can become a strength.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Lord says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

The Lord’s power works best in weakness; when we are weak, he is strong. The Lord’s power can be magnified in our weaknesses.

Just ask Joseph, Peter, and Paul. Joseph found himself in a heap of trouble, but with the Lord’s help became the governor of Egypt. In a moment of weakness, Peter denied the Lord, but was forgiven and used to launch the church. Paul struggled with an undisclosed weakness, but the Lord used him as a missionary and author of much of the New Testament. The pages of Scripture are filled with accounts of weaknesses becoming opportunities for the Lord’s power.

We can be encouraged by knowing the Lord has a plan, and he works in moments when we are weak. In weakness, we request help, and with power, the Lord responds.

He did for Moses. Moses had a weakness in speech, so the Lord provided Aaron as a spokesperson. Weakness did not prevent Moses from accomplishing God’s calling, and weakness will not prevent us.

Acting

Challenge yourself to change the way you view your weaknesses. Try viewing them as an opportunity for the Lord to work. Share the adventure in the comments below.

Please share this post.

 

Count Your Blessings

“Always take time to count your blessings.”

Song lyrics can present the Lord’s message to us in a melody which goes straight to the heart. We are reminded of timeless truth which can change our outlook and attitude.

Blessings by Florida Georgia Line has those lyrics.

BUY Blessings at Amazon

We are reminded of our blessings. “It sure ain’t hard to count your blessings,” the chorus says. An inventory of our blessings won’t fit on one hand or even two. Thinking about our blessings helps us see we have an abundance. A comprehensive list of our blessings can move us from discouraged to encouraged.

The old hymn Count Your Blessings suggests we name them one by one.

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings. Name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings. Name them one by one.

Count your blessings. See what God hath done.

Count your blessings. Name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

It is not hard to count your blessings. Every good and perfect gift has come from the Lord above. Share how the Lord has blessed you in the comments below.

Blessings Is available at Amazon.