Going Higher

Note: Clearly Spiritual Post

Hang in there! Don’t give up! The Lord impressed on my heart this morning that someone needs to know He hasn’t let you down… He’s just setting you up for something greater!

You may feel like God has forgotten about you. You may think He isn’t doing anything about your situation. You may have even asked where He is and what He is up to.

So, He invited me to be a part of letting you know that He is at work on your situation. He loves you. You matter to Him. He values you. He is putting all the pieces together in the right order for you to be the best you can be.

I know it may be a struggle to hope or believe. But you ARE going higher.

Now help a brutha out… If this is for you and your situation today, would you comment, message or text me to affirm that I heard clearly from the Lord? I’ll pray for you.

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Tension On The Line

One of my all-time favorite kids carnival games is “The Fishing Game.” That’s the game where you hang sheets up over a frame of some type, and tape fish to them on the outside. An adult sits behind the sheets with bags of goodies. Kids walk up to the “pond,” and are handed a broom handle or other stick with string tied to the end of it, which acts as their “fishing pole.” Tied to the end of the string is a clothes pin to serve as the “hook.” The kid then tosses their “hook” over the sheet “into the water,” and the adult behind the sheet clips a prize of some type to the clip. Then the adult pulls the string, putting some tension on it, thereby letting the child know that they have “caught” something. The child pulls back and lifts their prize “out of the water,” over the top of the sheet and cheers with excitement over their “catch.”

The thing I love about this game is that you are guaranteed to catch something good every time you play. It’s fun for the kid. It’s fun for the adult sitting behind the sheet creating the sense of joy for the youngsters. No matter how many times you do it, it never gets old.

I was reminded of this game the other day as I was digging around some online study tools while looking into a familiar verse of Scripture, one of the most famous promises in the Word. The verse is Isaiah 40:31, and the first part of it reads…

But those trust in the Lord will find new strength.”

Some versions say “wait on the Lord.” And it was the word “wait” or “trust” which got my attention. In the original language, it is a word picture of a rope or cord… especially one which is under tension.

That’s what waiting and having to trust the Lord to come through for us feels like, isn’t it? Tension. If we aren’t getting what we feel like we need or want, we tend to get tense… concerned… worried… stressed. We can begin to wonder if the rope we are holding onto is going to hold. If it does hold, is there anything good at the other end. Tension on the line.

This is where the rest of the verse kicks in. That phrase, “new strength,” refers to a rope that has been braided for extra strength and is guaranteed to hold up under the tension. In other words, when we hold onto the rope knowing the Lord is on the other end of it, the tension tells there is something to look forward to, and we can be sure it is strong because He has braided the rope so that it will hold up under the tension. It’s just like the “fishing game.” When you feel the tension, and you know someone good is on the other end, you know something good is coming.

Perhaps you have thrown your line over the sheet today in life. You can’t see what is on the other side. You hope you come away from this season of life with something good. If you feel the tension, that’s actually a good thing. It means God is on the other end giving it a tug, showing you it’s strong enough and that He is sending something good your way! Accept the tension. Give it a lift even. You’ll win every time… if you just trust in God!

Forget The Forecast

It’s raining outside at our house at this very moment. Why is that important? Well, when we checked the weather app this morning… like less than an hour ago, it showed that there is zero percentage chance of rain today. In fact, it showed that our weather would be sunny and the temps would get up to 102 degrees today. Yet, when we looked out the window, we saw clouds. And then the rain just started falling about ten minutes ago.

We decided to ask Google if it was raining where we are. The AI device’s voice replied, “No, it is not raining where you are. It is sunny and 84 degrees.” We tried two or three times, even using a zip code closer to our house than where it thinks we live. Same answer every time.

And yet, we stood at the door looking out at rain. Rain… on what is supposed to be a zero percent chance day. Rain… when there is no rain reported. It rained today.

PR31 and I both went to each other simultaneously with the same thought… God can make something out of nothing. God can make something happen when the predictions and forecasts say it isn’t going to happen. God can make something happen even when reports around say it isn’t happening. He doesn’t need prognosticators to agree with Him. He doesn’t need reporters to agree with Him. He can do what He wants to do… when He wants to do it… out of nowhere.

That spoke to me today. I am reminded of the God written about in Romans 4:17 who calls things into existence that do not exist. He can do that in my situation. He doesn’t need a prophet or a preacher to say it’s going to happen. He doesn’t even have to have anyone else notice it’s happening. He can make happen in my life what I need Him to make happen… even if it doesn’t exist yet.

And the good news is… He can do it in your life, too! Don’t give up because others say it isn’t going to happen. Don’t give up because others don’t recognize it’s happening. Keep holding on to Him! Keep having faith! The God who calls things into existence which do not exist just made it rain at my house… and He will make something great happen in your life as well!

I Do

Note: Personal Post

The double doors at the back of the church’s sanctuary opened, and there she stood… dressed in that gorgeous white gown that didn’t hold a candle to her beauty. Her dad walked her down the aisle, handed her off to me, and minutes later we both said, “I do!”

It was 23 years ago yesterday and, next to accepting Christ so I could be accepted into God’s family, that was the best decision I could have ever made. Scripture says that a guy who finds a wife finds a good thing and favor from the Lord. Amen to that!

Angela has been, is and will always be the best wife I could have possibly hoped for… in fact, better than I could have hoped for. It is my honor, joy and privilege to be her husband. I love that we have spent the last 23 years together, happily married… and I’m looking forward to spending the next 23 years with her… and the 23 years after that… and the 23 years after that. That would make us each over 100… and that would be a good start!

If you were to ask me what makes a great marriage work, I would say it comes down to what Jesus said in John 15:13… that the greatest way to show your love for someone is to lay down your own life for them… not dying physically, but setting aside your own selfishness to prefer them, help them succeed, bless them, meet their needs.

Angela exemplifies that. She lays down her life daily to make sure our marriage and family works. It’s how she tangibly shows me that she loves me. And it makes me love her even more. It makes me want to do the same for her… times 100!

I’m sure there are a lot of other great reasons that I feel like we have a great marriage, but she is my best friend… my closest confidant… the person who knows me better than anyone other than God… and still loves me anyway… just like God. She lays down her life in love each day to make my life great. Love is not a feeling… it’s a choice… it’s a commitment to give… to serve… to prefer someone else over yourself… to help… to share. To love is to lay down your life for someone else.

I talk a lot publicly about how smokin’ hot she is, and how she is the Proverbs 31 Woman (aka PR31) who does it all, but what makes her incredibly attractive is this crazy, ongoing, relentless effort she puts into sacrificing herself out of love.

Yes, I totally realize how blessed I am to be married to her. I’d marry Angela all over again, every day of the week and twice on Sunday. And I plan to lay down my life for her every day, too.

If you have the privilege of being married to someone like this, why not celebrate them in some way today to let them know how much you appreciate their selfless sacrifices for you. If you’re loving spouse has passed away, but they lived and loved like this, take a moment to reflect on how awesome they were and thank the Lord for the time you had together. And if you’re not married, you can apply this principle to your friends, neighbors and co-workers to make a huge impact also.

Choose today to say, “I do,” to living a life of self-sacrifice. It’s the best way to love! Just ask this guy!

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Yesterday, Alex turned 10… We have a kid in double digits, what?! On top of that, I ate too much cake. How could I not? Like the climber who climbed the mountain, I ate it because it was there. And because I LOVE food!

Our seven year-old, Austin, is the opposite equal of me when it comes to food. He eats to live… I live to eat. I like to think about what I’ll snack on and what I’ll have for lunch while I’m eating breakfast. Meeting someone… How can we work food into this? Celebrating something… What kind of food will make the celebration better? Road trip… What kind of snacks will I take, and where will I stop to get something for a meal?

I wouldn’t say I’m addicted… I think I control it pretty well. Of course I love sweets and crunchy snacks, but most of the time, I am just as happy to eat PR31’s roast, carrots and potatoes… or a plate of sliced bananas and berries with little honey drizzled over them. Okay, I may have to take a break while writing this blog.

Of course, if I eat something, then I get thirsty. And my beverage of choice is strong, black coffee throughout most of the day. Except when I’m hot and tired from exercising or working in the yard… or when I have something salty to eat. Then I crave water. Cold, clean, refreshing H2O, baby. Nothing else quenches thirst like water.

Hunger and thirst are cravings which are part of our existence as humans. They some of our deepest, most basic needs. Give me food and water, my life is a lot happier.

But there are desires in each of our hearts which long to be satisfied. They are much deeper than what job we will do or even who we will marry. They even surpass my… I mean, our… cravings for food and water.

We all long to belong. We crave to be loved. We deeply desire to be wanted. We each need to know we have purpose and meaning.

Too often, we try to satiate these deep longings with surface supplies. We feel our heart rumble for love, and we turn to a human. We feel parched in our soul to belong, and we join a club.

Yet these deep-seated desires and cravings can only truly be fulfilled by One Person. In Psalm 145:16, we read that when God opens His hand, He satisfies the cravings and longings and desires which reach out from deep within us to find fulfillment.

Stop and ask yourself right now… What is it that I really long for? I’ll hazard a guess that… if you’re truly honest with yourself and God… it’s much deeper than the simple requests we make of Him for finances or fiancĂ©es. And if we will ask Him to see those cravings, He will open His hand to satisfy them. And when we get real with Him about those longings, He never lets us down.

So, whether you choose watermelon or apple pie as we head into this midsummer celebration of our freedom here in the good ol’ US of A over the next week, let each scrumptious bite remind you that there is One who is ready to open His hand and satisfy the deepest desires of your heart. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Now, maybe Austin has left something I can snack on…

Everything Else

I don’t know what you need, but perhaps you looked to this blog today hoping to find answers… or hope… or the key to making more money… or wisdom for a decision you have to make… or how to connect with someone of the opposite gender with whom you could spend the rest of your life. I wish I could just hand those things through the screen to you… but sadly, I cannot.

However, I know the one to whom you could look to find what you need. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans about the fact that, since God was willing to sacrifice His only Son for us to be free from sin and adopted into His family, we can trust Him to meet all our other needs as well. He knows what we need. And He loves to bless us with those things.

So don’t give up hope. He is ready, willing and able to give you “everything else.” Turn your heart toward Him today and just ask Him. You can ask with confidence. He knows exactly what you need and when you need it. He’s not a celestial vending machine, but He cares way more for us than we can possibly imagine.

So, go ahead… Ask Him for “everything else” you need today. You won’t regret it!

Why, Lord?

Maybe you’ve been wanting to add children to your family and haven’t been able to… for a long time… even though you’ve asked the Lord to bless you with them. Been there, done that.

Or maybe you or a loved one is battling a health or emotional issue that you haven’t been healed of yet… even though you’ve asked the Lord to heal you.

Or perhaps you’ve asked the Lord to open a door for you to fulfill your dreams and purpose, but every door you knock on seems to be locked up tight… even though you know His Word says He’s guiding your steps and He has a great plan for you.

Could be that you long to be married, but even though you’ve asked the Lord to bring the right person into your life… it just hasn’t happened.

When we come to times like this, it’s easy to wonder, “Why?”

– Why won’t You answer my prayer the way I want, Lord?

– Why is it taking so long?

– Why can’t I seem to have the blessings others have?

– Why aren’t you coming to my rescue, Lord?

The good news is that you are not alone. The man who might have been the Lord’s best friend records a story about some other friends of Jesus… two sisters and their brother… Mary, Martha and Lazarus who encountered their own “Why, Lord” moment.

Lazarus got sick, and so his sisters did what lots of people had done… They asked Jesus to come heal him. They were good friends of Jesus. He loved them, and they loved Him. So they assumed He would come immediately when He heard Lazarus was sick and would heal him on the spot. Why wouldn’t He?

And soon that became their actual question… Why didn’t He? Jesus chose to wait two days before making the two-day walk to their home in Bethany. That’s four days. And by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already died. In Mary’s and Martha’s minds, Jesus was too late… and He didn’t have to be. He could have come earlier. He could have healed Lazarus. Why didn’t He come? Why didn’t He answer their request?

Why, Lord?

When they asked Him that question, His answer sounded odd… To give God more glory. What? How was their brother dying going to give God more game and recognition and praise? How would his death instead of his healing cause more people to think God was amazing?

Then Jesus showed them. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Their pain was eclipsed by their joy. And John records that MANY people believed in Jesus because of this miracle.

Then they understood. But they couldn’t understand till then. It didn’t make sense. It baffled the sisters that Jesus didn’t do what Jesus normally did in the way He normally did it. And their hearts were flooded with that one emotionally draining query… “Why, Lord?”

You probably know the weariness of that question. I know I do. And yet, each time, Jesus comes through and joy swallows up my weariness as it reveals the understanding that God’s plan is so much bigger and more amazing than I had the capacity to grasp before.

So, why do I still ask, “Why, Lord” anymore? Because in each new situation I face, it doesn’t seem like the situations before. And even though I know the Lord loves me… even though I know He is working everything together for my good… even though I know He has also come through for me before… this time seems different.

And still He loves me. Still He is gracious and kind to me. Still He is patient with me. He lets me ask “Why, Lord” all I want. Then… at the right time… in the right way… in the way that will cause the most people to be drawn to Him… He answers my prayer in a way I didn’t even know to ask Him.

The only reason I can imagine He hasn’t answered your request in the way you want… on the schedule you want… is the same reason He didn’t for Mary and Martha… God has a better plan. Just keep in mind how John laid it all out… Jesus loved Him, but He did it differently than they expected.

When you can’t understand why, you can at least rest in the truth that He loves you… and He has a better way.

Hang in there. He will show up and be there to go through it with you… all the way to the miraculous end!

Unknown Paths

I have a friend who has worked for a major U.S. corporation for a number of years, and several months ago the company announced that they were moving his entire division to another country. All the jobs would be given to people from that country, and everyone working in that division would be let go before the end of this year. However, there would be three transitional jobs which would last for about a year and a half to help wrap everything up for the move which people working for the company could apply for. So, my friend applied for the three jobs… along with about a hundred other employees.

The company had said they would be meeting with people by the end of this month to let them know if they still had a job, and yesterday was my friend’s meeting. We, and plenty of others, had prayed that God would give him favor and bless him with one of these jobs. Going into that meeting, he had a 3% chance of getting one of those jobs.

But he didn’t get one of those transitional jobs. When he went into the meeting, the three people across the table from him began talking to him about work that he wasn’t exactly familiar with. It sounded like they were talking as if he already had the job. Finally, they said something, and he asked what they meant. They then told him that the company didn’t want to lose him, and so they were transferring him to another division… an up and coming division with great promise. On top of that, his pay would remain the same and he would retain his benefits. And instead of the job being a transitional, year and a half job, this would be a job with their typical four-year contract. Interestingly, my friend only needed to work three and a half more years to lock in healthcare for he and his wife in their retirement years.

In case you think you misread this story, you didn’t. God gave my friend a job he never applied for, lost no pay and kept all the benefits. God took his 3% chance, added 97% plus to it and did something for him that he didn’t even know to ask for.

When I think about that, I think about how Psalm 77:19 reflects on how God parted the Red Sea to give the Israelis a way of escape from the pursuing Egyptians who wanted to take them back into slavery. The water parted and stood up like two walls creating a completely dry path for them to cross through. The Psalm writer calls it, “… a path no one knew was there.”

Maybe you’re facing a situation today that seems impossible. Maybe you only have a 3% chance of success. Maybe no one gives you any hope. Listen, God has ways to answer your prayer that you haven’t even thought to ask Him about. He has paths no one knows are there. He has medical treatments or healing you didn’t know existed. He has people who will cut you a check and put it in the mail who didn’t even know you needed finances. He has the right person waiting to meet you who will be the connection you needed.

The verse of Scripture our boys are memorizing this week says that some things are an impossibility for us as humans, but with God all things are possible. Even getting a job you didn’t apply for.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear and doubt. Instead, today give your situation to God, and trust Him to come through for you… even if He needs to make a path no one knew was there!

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