Sleep-deprived and fighting a three-headed monster

I had a sleepless night last week.

There were three tough scenarios playing out in my head. There was a work problem, a family concern and a situation that a friend was facing. I couldn’t clear my thoughts.

I was facing this three-headed monster and felt powerless to fight.

After much tossing and turning I got out of bed and tried to analyze these situations on paper.

But the problems looked even more daunting when written down- and I had no idea how to begin unpacking these complex thoughts.

I recalled some great words from the book of Romans that gave some comfort.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

We have a clear promise. God hears prayer. This verse lets us know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Even when we don’t know how begin or focus our prayers, God knows our pain….our concern…our hurts.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Prayer is a mighty sword. It’s a protector. It’s a source of comfort. It’s available to us for defense against the concerns of the world.

And we don’t even have to know exactly what to say when we use it.

My prayer this week is to be more mindful of the care that God has for us…and to take my concerns to him immediately.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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One extra hour

We experienced a time change earlier this month. Most of us enjoyed the extra hour of sleep that following Sunday morning!

What did you do with that extra hour?

In Acts 8 we read about how God used Philip with an Ethiopian leader who was traveling from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah, and Philip- prompted to intercede by the Holy Spirit- asked if he understood what was written in the scripture. The Ethiopian leader asked for help, and Philip engaged him in study.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts‬ ‭8:35-36, 38‬ ‭

It was a gentle nudge by the Holy Spirit that led Philip to engage someone…and the results brought another soul to Jesus.

It was unplanned and it didn’t take long.

I’m easily distracted during the holidays. There’s always something that’s keeping me from focusing on what’s truly important.

My prayer this week is to slow down and listen…listen to what the Spirit is whispering.

It may only take an hour.

Please let me know how I may pray for you. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Flat

I’m flat right now.

Tired.  Exhausted.

Maybe it’s work.  Perhaps its the weather.  Maybe my schedule has created conflict in my attempts to be a good family member and friend.

I’m just in a bit of a funk.

Life contains peaks and valleys.  If you are like me, you don’t tend to embrace or celebrate the good times enough…but really dwell in times when life’s circumstances are kicking us in the shins.  Or the seat of our pants.

I have much to be thankful for each day.  My family.  My health.  My job.  A great circle of friends.  But the trials of life can diminish the good and cause me to dwell on the negative.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

I sometimes forget that I have a loving God in my life.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.  This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.  Psalm 34:4-7

Pride sometimes keeps me from seeking God first.  I think that I can fix anything on my own.

Life soon reminds me that I can’t.

The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

My prayer is to have the humility to let go…and let God lead me when my spirit is weak.  He’s always willing.

Let me know how I may pray for you this week.  God bless.

 

 

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Where are you from?

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“Where are you from?”  It’s a question often asked when people meet for the first time.  “Home” is one of the hallmarks of our identity.  It helps define us.

Hollianne and I have several places to call home.  We were both born in rural West Tennessee. We still have family there, so it’ll always be a special place for us.  On the other hand- all three of our children were born in Knoxville, so East Tennessee sure feels like home too.  And southeastern Ohio holds a special place in our hearts as well….as that’s the area we first lived as a married couple right out of graduate school.

Hollianne and I have lived many places over the past 20 years, but one thing is for certain:  if I’m with her- anywhere feels like home.

Isn’t that what “home” really is?  It’s where we feel safe and comfortable.  Where we feel refreshed and alive.  Home isn’t a building or structure, it’s more about the emotion.

As Christians, we have the promise of the ultimate place to call home.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  2 Corinthians 5:1

God has granted us a pathway to reach an eternal home.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—  1 Corinthians 2:9

Heaven has been described as “paradise” (Luke 23) and a place of no pain, sorrow or sadness (Revelation 21).  Can you imagine that?  No tears in Heaven.  A place of eternal happiness.  The ultimate home place.

Let’s commit to preparing for a journey to our eternal home.  I’ll pray for you-  and I hope that you will pray for me too.

God bless.

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Afraid

Back to school

Several years ago one of my son’s favorite questions was:

“What are you afraid of?”

JT was thinking about the sorts of things that most kids fret over. Storms. Godzilla. Bigfoot. The dark space under your bed. I would assure him that he would outgrow these fears as he got older.

I wish that were completely true.

The truth is that maturity and age only present a new set of items to fear. Tornados and monsters in the closet are replaced by concerns about career, health and relationships.

There are at least three situations that make us afraid as adults.

  • Rejection
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Past experiences

Rejection is the scariest for me, as the fear of being embarrassed or viewed as incompetent can be paralyzing. Even the slightest chance of being rejected can keep us from acting on an opportunity.

The fear of the unknown is equally difficult to overcome, as it can keep us in the realm of “what if something bad happens” instead of the better state of “what can the possibilities be.”

And the pain of past experiences might be the worst of all. We’ve all experienced prior hurt and disappointment. Since experience is the greatest teacher- these hard lessons can be hard to overcome.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I need help remembering that I have a big brother…a loving Father that can give me strength when I am stricken with fear and doubt.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Our futures are safe and secure. Our worries and cares can be offered up to a compassionate and loving God.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

No matter the size of our fears, we need to remember that we’ve got an even bigger God.

Please pray for me to release my fears this week, and let me know how I may pray for you. God bless you.

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Secrets

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Our youngest, Britton, loves a good secret.

Let me clarify that statement.  Britton (a.k.a. B) loves to tell a good secret!  If you have something in our house that needs to be kept under wraps…birthday gift, family surprise or a trip location…it’s best to not let the big guy know.  With B there are NO secrets.  If he knows something, he tells it.  If he’s feeling something, you can see it in his face.  He’s one of the most transparent people I know.

How many of us have secrets that we don’t reveal?

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

Hidden pieces of our character and our human nature that we don’t want others to see.  It might be anger, greed or jealousy.  I have them.  There are secret rooms in my heart that I need to address.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  Mark 7:20-23

We all need to realize that there are no secrets with God.  He knows our thoughts and every weakness.

Secrets can consume us and keep us from walking with Jesus.  The best way to deal with secrets is to shed light on our problems.  Confess our weaknesses and ask for help.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

We have the ultimate Counselor.

Please pray for me to rid my heart of secrets.  And let me know if I may pray for you.

And don’t tell B what you’ve purchased anyone for their birthday.

God bless.

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Imposter

Naples

I spent three days in Naples, FL this week.  My conference was set near the beach, and it was a struggle to sit in the sessions while looking out at the gulf, the sunshine and the palm trees.

The reality, however, was that it was still January in South Florida.  The temperature was unseasonably cold.  There was a 35 mph wind gusting off the gulf.  It was miserable.  Appearances can be deceiving.

There are times in my life when I’ve felt the same way. This usually happens when I feel insignificant, tired and defeated.  Times when I wonder why I’ve been so blessed with family and friends.  Times that I feel like I’m barely holding it together. When I’ve felt like this, it’s typically because I’ve been comparing myself to others.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Isn’t that what we do?  We compare our insides to what we see on the outside of others.  This will always lead us to unhappiness.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

We need to focus on our heart health.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  1 Timothy 1:5

God cares about the condition of our hearts- not outer appearances.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

Pray for me to be diligent in a continual search for a pure, clean heart.  And let me know if I can pray for you.

God bless.

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