Monday, January 28, 2013

These people are rebellious and evil.  Let's do everything we can to frustrate and discourage them.  We'll even write a letter of accusation against them and bribe some people to help us stop them!  What their doing is wrong and can't continue!

This sounds like some pretty awful people doesn't it?  Well it might surprise you to know these are things that were being said and done against the Children of Israel when they were released from captivity and sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God.  You can read about it in the Book of Ezra.

I mean these people were DREAMING.......AGAIN!  Let me share Psalm 126:1,2 again.  "When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream!  We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy...."  While writing this I can sense their excitement.  Maybe they were realizing their true identity.  They were now beginning to understand that they were not "children of captivity" but they were children of the Most High God!

Yet immediately they faced opposition.  They experienced negative words spoken against them trying to remind them of their past.  Words trying to identify them as someone other then who God created them to be.  I can only imagine some of the inner personal struggles they must have faced in overcoming their past but now they had to overcome the words of others!  

When you experience failure in any area of life such as a failed marriage, business or even a moral failure you not only have to overcome your own negative thoughts and emotions but sometimes you have to overcome the words and actions of others.  Even Christian brothers and sisters.  And sometimes  these negative words and actions come from others simply because we're not doing what they want.  It happens!  Friends there's nothing new under the sun.  It happened to the Children of Israel and it will happen to you and me.  ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO REBUILD AFTER A FAILURE!

For the Children of Israel it even got to the point they were so discouraged and fearful that they were forced to stop rebuilding the temple.  And this is were many people are that have set out to rebuild after a tragedy.  You've faced much opposition from the words and actions of others on top of your own personal struggles and now you're just surviving instead of living life with value and purpose.

BUT TODAY I HAVE GOOD NEWS!  I love Ezra 5 because it tells us that God sent His Prophets to encourage the Children of Israel so they started again to rebuild the temple of God!  CAN YOU SEE IT? PLEASE DON'T MISS THIS.  WHAT THEY NEEDED WAS SOME ENCOURAGEMENT  NOT DISCOURAGEMENT!

I know there are times in my life I need to encourage myself and that's very important but in a season of rebuilding it's also vitally important that you have people around you who will encourage you.  

As I'm writing this I just heard the following words in my spirit.  "It's not a sign of weakness to have people around you to encourage you.  In fact it's pride to think you can do it on your own."  Let me say it again, we need each other!  It's interesting!  We need each other but no-one can take the place of God in your life.  He's the ultimate encourager!  In fact He wants to encourage you through others.

That's why you need to IGNORE those who are trying to discourage you.  Jesus had a gift of ignoring those who were trying to accuse and discourage Him and we should do the same.  Circle your life with people who believe in you and will encourage you.

Just a little side note.  The Bible identifies Satan as "The Accuser of the Brethren."

In closing this blog post let me challenge you with a few things.  When necessary encourage yourself in the Lord.  Build an inner circle of people who are for you and will encourage you.  Distant yourself from those who discourage and accuse you and others.  AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO IS BE AN ENCOURAGER!

Here's what I've discovered.  When I know for certain that God is for me and not against me and I can encourage myself and others and have people around me that are encouraging me, these are the ingredients for DREAMING.......AGAIN!

Stay Tuned, more to come! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quitting is not an option!  I've had to settle this in my heart.  Have there been times that giving up and living the "easy life" was something I thought about?  Most certainly!  Have I thought about just getting a simple decent paying job and moving to some small town and my wife and I just hide out for the rest of our lives?  Yes I have!  Well, Jeanie won't let us move to a very small town so let me say a "medium" size town. 

But friends listen to this.  If we did that we'd be living the rest of our lives as victims of our tragedy and that's just something I refuse to do.  Look at the following verse God spoke to the Children of Israel while they were still in captivity. 

Jeremiah 29:11- "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." 

Now does that sound like "victim" living to you?  No way!  God says I've got a great plan for your life.  I don't want to sound to strong here but I've got to say what's on my heart.  There comes a time we've got to stop whining over our tragedy and "get back in the game."  Please, I'm not trying to be harsh and insensitive, and people who know me know that's true.  My desire is to encourage!  But quitting and just living as a victim the rest of your life is not God's plan for you.  He loves you and me and wants us to step into the new day He has prepared for us. 

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I felt the Spirit of God was telling me that there are many "wounded warriors" out there who have just quit because of some tragic event or circumstances that discouraged them to the point of giving up.  My challenge to you is to "get back in the game!"  God still has a great plan for your life and He wants to use your pain for His purpose. 

Several years ago a great woman of God by the name of Barbara Wentroble prophesied over my wife and I and said that God was going to give us the ability to pull people from the "trash heap" of life and make them men and women of God.  Little did we know that this ability would be developed and come from going through our own "trash heap!" 

Friends let me say it again.  God wants to use your pain for His purpose.  The tragedy, difficult circumstance, or whatever you want to call it, God wants to use it to reach and bring healing to others.  I can't wait to see all the people God is going to allow us to minister to out of our tragedy! 

There are times I still struggle with fear of failure and rejection but once I get into God's presence and hear His voice the fear and rejection leave and I'm encouraged to continue moving forward because I know God has great things in store for our future! 

The same can be true for you.  Will you still have struggles from time to time?  Absolutely!  But when you're living life as a victor and not a victim you can move forward and overcome every obstacle. 

So here's my challenge to you today:  "Get back in the Game" and DREAM.......AGAIN! AND NEVER FORGET THAT GOD IS FOR YOU!

Stay tuned for more


Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm worthless.  I'm a failure.  God is punishing me for my mistakes.  Nothing good will ever happen to me.  My spouse thinks I'm a failure.  My children think I'm a failure.  Everybody rejects me.  Why even try again it will just fail.  I don't have what it takes.  God is done with me.  I hate my life.  I'm  not good enough.  Everybody thinks it's my fault.  God's promises don't apply to me.   I'm just a loser!  

Don't kid yourself!  When you've been through devastating situations and you're working to rebuild, the biggest battle you'll face is going to take place behind your two eyes and between your two ears!  If you haven't figured it out yet I'm talking about the battle that's going to take place in your mind.  And if the above is just some of the thoughts you've been battling with please allow me to caution you and encourage you at the same time.

The Bible tells us "that as a man thinks in his heart, SO IS HE."  If you allow these thoughts to rule your mind and heart you are destined to live out these negative, destructive thoughts.  I can't tell you how many times, in my low moments, I looked at my wife and asked her the following question.  "Why would you want to be married to me, I'm just a loser!"  Now, I have the most incredible wife in the world. She has stood with me through some very difficult times and encouraged me when she was down herself.  I thank God for her everyday!

But there came a time I had to stop allowing these kind of thoughts to control my mind and therefore control my life.  How did I overcome these destructive thoughts?  Well I didn't, but God did!  Let me quickly explain.

I've been studying the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Bible.  The purpose is because these books record the events of the Children of Israel rebuilding the temple of God, rebuilding their city and rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  Basically they were rebuilding their lives after being taken captive and being held in captivity for approximately 70 years.  I'm not going into great detail at this point.

But here's the interesting thing I've noticed.  When they were released from their captivity and allowed to return home to rebuild the temple, rebuilding the temple was not the first thing they did.  The first thing they did was build an altar and offered sacrifices to God.  Simply put, they put their focus on God!   They began to worship Him!

Stop and think about it with me.  When I'm thinking all those negative, destructive thoughts, my focus is on ME. And I can't fix ME and YOU can't fix YOU!  But God can and will but we've got to focus on HIM!

Here's the cool thing about all this.  When I begin to focus on God I begin to think about me the way  God thinks about me.  And my friend, God has nothing but good thoughts about you and has a great plan for your life.  I love the following verse.  Oh by the way, it was written about the Children of Israel after they were released from captivity.

Psalm 126:1,2-"When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream. We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.  And the other nations said, What amazing things the Lord has done for them."  

Can you see it?  When you begin to focus on God, you begin to think about you the way He thinks about you.  And when you think about you the way He thinks about you, YOU will begin to DREAM.......AGAIN!

Oh by the way, God's not rejecting you because of your failures.  His grace is much greater then you might realize.  Focus your heart and mind on Him and experience His unconditional love!

Much more coming, stay tuned!  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sometimes the wisest person can give you the wrong advice.  Please allow me to expound.

In this blog I'm going to be a bit vulnerable but I think it's necessary to make an important point.  If you've read my previous blogs you know that Jeanie and I are in a season of rebuilding our lives after seeing our dreams fall apart.  I'm not going to elaborate right now but we faced devastation in many areas.

When you've walked through failure one of the most asked questions is the following one. "If you had it to do all over again, what would you do different?"  This isn't about condemnation but it is about reflection and learning from past mistakes.

It might surprise some to know that I believe my "biggest" mistake was not in the process of planting the church, although there were some things we could've done different and would now.  But my biggest error in judgement came in the season we were trying to decide what to do when "things" began to deteriorate.

Let me be honest.  My family was an emotional and spiritual wreck.  For a solid year we fought battle after battle many times feeling as though we had been abandoned on the field of battle.  When in this condition it can at times be difficult to make the right decisions and you are more vulnerable then you might realize.

So if I had it all to do over again here's the one thing I'd do different.  Now if you've faced tragedy in your life and your hopes have been crushed you need to hear this.  I'd shut out the world and get alone with God and not take another step until I heard His voice giving me His clear direction!  If it took one day or one month I'd be certain to hear His voice and then respond with His instruction.  There's nothing that brings peace like the voice of God!

God paid a great price with His Son Jesus Christ for you to hear His voice and He wants you to STOP and LISTEN!  Because even the wisest person can give you wrong advice if what their telling you isn't what God desires for your life.  Jeanie and I had many "voices" speaking to us during this time and we were extremely vulnerable.  Let me add these were well meaning people who loved us and I thank God for our many friends who have supported us during this season.  And please don't misunderstand me, we need each other.  WE NEED EACH OTHER!  I love relationships and believe they are needed in the Body of Christ.  But there should be no voice greater then the voice of God in your life!  And when He speaks, He calms the storm!  The Bible tells us that we are HIS sheep and HIS sheep know HIS voice.

If you've faced a tragedy in your life let me encourage you today.  Our Heavenly Father wants to speak to you.  He wants you to hear His tender voice of love and comfort.  Oh, and there's something that will happen when you hear His voice.  You'll begin to DREAM.......AGAIN!

I'm so thankful God's grace is greater then our mistakes and He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him!  With this in our mind and heart we can REBUILD AND DREAM.......AGAIN!

Stay Tuned