Posted in Bible Study

Devotion part 2: the right focus

Part 1 of this blog talked about how we can easily make our time with God something that is a checklist item…something we do because we feel like we have to or because we will feel like a failure if we don’t. That is not what God wants. God is more concerned with our heart, life, and devotion than whether or not we do the right rituals and check them off our list each day.

So how do we move beyond spending time reading God’s Word and praying because we feel like we have to or so that we don’t feel like a failure? How do we move it to where we are focused on doing it out of our devotion to God and a desire in our heart, because we want to learn how to live our entire life for him?

Here are a few practical steps that can help us change our thinking and focus when it comes to having a time set aside that is devoted to hearing from God and speaking to God.

1 – Start somewhere – Don’t assume you have to go from struggling to have a consistent devotion time to having the greatest devotion time ever. It takes time to grow and build. Just like any relationship, you start small and grow. So start somewhere. Figure out when and how long you’ll set aside and begin with that. It doesn’t have to be hours long either…start somewhere and be consistent. It will grow over time. And if you miss a day or two, let it go and work to make sure you have it the next day.

2 – Make a plan – Plan when you’ll have your time, what you’ll read, and how you’ll pray. It may seem a bit unnatural at first, but making a plan will help you be consistent. At first you’ll have to work to stick to the plan, but over time it will become natural. Pick a time of the day you know you’ll consistently have the ability to devote some time to reading and praying. Pick a devotional book or book of the Bible to begin reading through, and each day do some reading. Pick up a journal and write down some prayer requests, and when you pray begin praying through those items.

3 – Ask for help – Find a friend or someone you know whom you would consider a strong Follower of Christ, and ask them for help and advice in getting started. Ask them where they suggest you begin reading in the Bible, or what devotional book they would recommend. Ask them to share with you how they go about having their time with God. Let them share with you their struggles and victories as they were developing this time in their life. And allow them to keep you accountable by asking you from time to time how you are doing.

4 – Embrace God’s grace – We are not perfect, never will be. God knows that. Jesus died for us because we aren’t perfect. God’s grace is incredible, and we need to learn to start embracing it and living according to it. That doesn’t mean we intentionally do what is wrong because we presume upon his grace (Romans 6)…but it does mean we stop thinking and acting like we must be perfect or else we are a failure. If you miss a day or two, let it go and just focus on making it a priority the next day.

5 – Realize it’s an all-day thing – Yes, we set aside a time during the day to focus on reading God’s Word and praying. But, that doesn’t mean the rest of the day we don’t think about or focus on God and his Word. No! All day long, think about and pray for what you last read. When a verse pops in your head that you’ve read before, think about it for a moment. If someone or something pops into your head, pray for that real quick. Always be focused on God’s Word and prayer, and you’ll find out it becomes a lot easier to give God your heart, life, and devotion.

6 – Help someone else – As you develop a strong and consistent time devoted to reading God’s Word and praying, and your devotion for God grows in your heart and you seek to live your life for God, begin to help others who are struggling themselves. Give them pointers. Share verses with them that mean a lot to you. Encourage them. Help them…and watch how you continue to grow yourself as you help them as well.

The ultimate reality is that we will devote our time and energy and focus to what we care about. But the hard part is that it’s often not known how to best go about devoting time to read God’s Word and pray. It takes work, especially in the beginning. Like any relationship we value, we have to put the time into it. So make sure to do that.

Follow these steps here, continually pray and ask God to develop in you a love for him and his Word, and it will help you get to the place where it is no longer be about a checklist you must keep so you don’t feel like a failure. Rather, it will become something you love and long for and crave and honestly miss when you don’t have it one day. It will become a part of your life, something your heart desires, and something that you will want to be devoted to.

God wants our heart, life, and devotion. He doesn’t want to just be reduced to a ritual we check off our list.

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Posted in Bible Study

Devotion part 1: the wrong focus

Devotions. Quite Time. Time with the Lord. Reading my Bible and Praying.

Whatever term or phrase you use, it is referring to the idea of a time we set aside to read either a devotional book or the Bible and then pray. A time during the day where we put everything else away and devote time hear from God as well as speak to God through prayer.

As Followers of Christ, having this time is important. If we want to be able to live for God, we have to know what he tells us in his Word. And prayer is how we communicate with God about what we are thinking/feeling as well as ask him to help us with things such as applying what we’ve just read in our devotion time. So having a time set aside that is devoted to hearing from God and speaking to God is obviously important.

HOWEVER…

Far too often, it can easily become something that we can feel we are either expected, forced, or obligated to do. We may have been told that we have to do this to be able to truly follow Christ, that we must make sure we have this time in our life each day if we want to grow closer to Christ, or that we have to do it because it’s part of being a Christian.

I’m not saying all of those ideas don’t contain some truth. There is truth in each of those ideas. But when all we hear is what we must do, what we need to do, and what we have to, eventually we can begin to believe that if don’t then we aren’t a good Christian. It starts to put into our head the thought that if I miss one day…just ONE DAY…then we are failing God and aren’t being a good Follower of Christ, so maybe we need to repent and try harder to not miss a day. But then when we miss another day down the road, we begin to beat our self up, and we feel like less of a good Christian and more of a failure in our relationship with Christ.

That can quickly become a vicious cycle of making sure we can check that off our list of things we must do to be a good Christian.

Each time we can check it off, we breathe a sigh of relief for not being a failure…and each time we can’t check it off, we sigh for feeling like a failure that day. The entire focus of our devotion time becomes “don’t be a failure”.

THAT’S NOT GOOD!

Being a Follower of Christ should not be reduced to a checklist of things to do or things to avoid each day. Being a Follower of Christ is so much more than that. It’s about living our entire life for Christ, our Lord and Savior. Not just certain times of our day or aspects of our life…ALL of our life.

A checklist of what we need to do today or not do today reduces it to something less than what it should be. It reduces it to being more about following certain rituals or doing certain things each day out of obligation. Whether it’s having a devotion time each day or praying at certain times each day, or whatever feel we need to add to our list, reducing our relationship with God into a checklist at all is not healthy.

God himself even tells us that is not what he wants…

And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

‘To obey is better than sacrifice’. The Israelites had several sacrifices they were to make for different reasons (won’t get into details here). They were aspects of living for God at that time, things that they knew they needed to do, rituals they had. And while those sacrifices were given to them by God and were important for them to do as God intended, we see here that God cared more about their obedience…living their lives according to his Word…than them only doing the rituals they were supposed to do. He wants our life.

“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

‘But the Lord looks at the heart’. We as people often focus more on the external than the internal. We want to look good, do the right thing, and give off the appearance that all is right and we are successful and doing well. That is one main reason we can easily allow ourselves to make our relationship with Christ a checklist type of relationship. We want to feel like we are succeeding…and appear to others as though we are succeeding. But as we see here, God is much more concerned about who we are inside than how we appear outside. He wants our heart.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”(Mark 12:41-44)

‘She…has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’. This story is not so much about money, but really more about devotion to God. Jesus does not say that those who gave a lot because they were rich did anything wrong, he simply pointed out that they had a lot to give. The widow, however, did not have much and yet she gave all she did have. She, more than the others, showed her total devotion to God, because she gave all she had. He wants our devotion.

Is having a time set aside to spend reading God’s Word and praying important? Absolutely! It is how we learn what God says and what it means to live righteously and how we grow closer Christ. But God wants it to be done out of our devotion to him, out of a desire in our heart to hear from him and speak to him, because we want to learn how to live our entire life for him.

We shouldn’t have in our heads the idea that if we do it today we are not a failure, and if we miss it today we are a failure. That’s putting all the focus on ourselves and how we think we will appear (to ourselves, to God, or to others), and that is not the right focus.

Question is, how do we get past the thinking that it’s a checklist item we must do each day or we will feel like a failure that day? In part 2 of this blog, I’ll share practical steps that will help us have the right focus…

Posted in Bible Study, My Thoughts, Parenting

What I want my kids to know about hate

White Supremacy. KKK. Free Speech. Violent Protests. Hate.

Those words have been seen and heard all over the media this past week since the events in Charlottesville, VA on August 12. You can’t turn on the news without it being talked about, can’t visit social media sites without seeing someone posting their thoughts about it, and honestly can’t be anywhere that the media can be accessed without hearing about it. It’s all around us.

Today there is a rally/protest planned in Boston. I was actually driving through Boston early this morning, and I started thinking about what it might be like to be in Boston during that time. If I had nothing going on and nowhere to be, perhaps I would have ventured into Boston to observe and see what would happen. But, today I get to see my kids. First time in a week since I’ve seen them…so that takes precedence for my day today!

As I was driving and thinking about that, I began to think through what I would want to say to my kids about what is happening in our society right now. My kids have TV, and my oldest is on social media, so I guarantee they’ve heard at least something about Charlottesville, White Supremacy, KKK, Free Speech, Protests, or Hate this week. They might not understand much of what is happening, but I’m sure they’ve at least heard about it.

So what would I want my kids to know about all that is going on? What would I want to tell them and teach them regarding this? I want my kids to know right from wrong and to live to do what is right…so what do I want them to know about all of this hate?

I want my kids to know that acting in hate toward other people simply because they are different than us is NEVER right. 

I want my kids to know that believing you are better than someone else…anyone else…is NEVER right. 

I want my kids to know that every human being is valuable, so treating them as inferior or believing they are less valuable than you is NEVER right. 

That is what I want my kids to know about hate. That is what I want to teach my kids as they grow up.

But I want to do more than just tell them this…I want to teach them to be able to know why this is true. I don’t want to just give them the ability to simply recite truths that I passed on to them (yes, I do want them to listen to what I say…and I’d be proud if they every quoted me), but I also want to instill in them the ability to think critically about things and understand the why behind something being right or wrong. I want them to grow up knowing how to know if something is right or wrong on their own, because I won’t always be here to tell them what is right and what is wrong.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” John 3:16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love… If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:7-8, 20-21

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:14-18

I want my kids to know and understand that God loves everyone, regardless of whether or not they believe in him or love him, what they look like, or where they are from. I want them to know that God loved all of us so much that he was willing to send his son to die for all of us…not just certain people. I want them to know and understand that God calls us to love others, and that we are even told in 1 John that if we hate someone but say we love God, we are a liar. I want them to realize that we are commanded to love our neighbors, and that we are even told to love our enemies. I want them to begin to put into practice now the fact that we are challenged to not be conceited but rather put others before ourselves. And I want them to strive to live peaceably with all people, seeking to promote peace by living in harmony with others.

When my kids know what God says in his word about how we are to treat others, they will be able to understand that they are not better than other people who are different, and that will lead them to realize that any form of hate toward another person for that reason is NEVER right.

What do I want my kids to know about hate? I want them to know that hate is wrong, including why it is wrong. I want them to know that treating others who are different in any way that is degrading is wrong. I want them to know that thinking they are better than others who might be different is wrong. And I want them to know that anyone who promotes hate toward a group of people that are different is wrong.

Posted in Broken Thoughts, My Thoughts

When God allows our dreams to die

This Sunday is a big day. This coming Sunday my second child will start going to the Jr High youth group at church. My son has been in youth group for a couple of years now, and now my oldest daughter has also reached youth group age. So starting this coming Sunday, I will officially have 2 kids involved in the Student Ministry!

I have always loved Student Ministry; my youth pastor was one of the biggest influences in my life, I had some incredible experiences and memories from my years in youth group, and for 13 years I was a youth pastor myself…so I have a huge passion for Student Ministry. And because of my love for Student Ministry, I am excited for my daughter to begin this next chapter in her life journey.

But…

While I’m excited, I’m also struggling. I’m not struggling so much with the fact that I’m now old enough to have 2 kids in the Student Ministry, nor am I struggling with being worried that my daughter might not enjoy her experience. Rather, I’m struggling with the reminder that a dream of mine has died. The dream of getting to be my kids’ youth pastor.

When I was 12 (the age of my son and only 1 year older than my oldest daughter) God developed in me a passion for Student Ministry. I knew from the time I was 12 that I wanted to become a Youth Pastor, and I did what was needed to direct my life in that direction. After I graduated from Bible College, I started my first full-time job in Student Ministry, and for 13 years I was living my dream.

When I had kids, another dream developed. The dream that one day I would get to experience youth group with my kids because I would be their youth pastor. They would get to see my passion for Student Ministry first hand by being involved in my ministry, and I would get to watch first hand as the Student Ministry provided them with experiences and memories of their own.

But…

God allowed my dream to die. I’m not blaming him or anything like that, don’t get me wrong here. I just know that God is sovereign over all and ultimately in control, so he knows what will happen and he allows things to happen for a reason…even if we don’t understand those reasons.

When my life took a left turn and I was suddenly thrust into the world of divorce, my life as a youth pastor also came to an end at that time. My son was starting to attend youth group when I stopped being the youth pastor, and that was hard for me because I didn’t get to be my son’s youth pastor. And now 2 years later, I’m being reminded of that feeling again as I watch my daughter start attending youth group.

My dream of being a youth pastor is not dead…I know that. It has just taken a break, but I am still just as passionate about Student Ministry as I was before, and I know that at some point in the future I can be involved in Student Ministry again. So that dream has not died. But the dream of being my kids’ youth pastor has.

It has died because when I do become a youth pastor again, it will be at a different church than the church my kids call their home church and where my kids are involved in the Student Ministry. Even if they occasionally attend my youth group in this scenario, they will do so as visitors and I still won’t be their youth pastor. At best, I will be their dad who is a youth pastor.

So that dream has died. When God chose to not miraculously save my marriage, which I spent countless hours begging him to do, he was allowing my dream of being my kids youth pastor to die.

But…

I also know that God is sovereign and in control, and he has a plan for things that I don’t see or understand. God allows things to happen in our life that we don’t understand, even really difficult and bad things. Yet he does so for a purpose that we don’t know in that moment.

God is at work. God is in control. God has a plan. God is doing things in my life to prepare me for the plans he has for me. I may not always get it or know why…or even be happy about it…but I can still trust that God is at work. I can know that, while my dream might have died, his dreams and plans for me are even greater than my dreams for myself.

Consider Joseph. He had no idea why he went through everything he went through (and man did he go through a lot!), but God had a plan for him that so much bigger than Joseph could have even imagined.

Do I wish I could be my kids’ youth pastor? Yes. It was a dream of mine. But I know that God is faithful and in control, so I can also trust that if he let that dream of mine die, it is because he has a better plan…both for me and for my kids. All I need to do is to continue to trust him and follow where he leads, and I can have full confidence that his plans are greater than any of my dreams.

When God allows our dreams to die, it is because he has something bigger and better planned.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:19-20

 

Posted in Bible Study, Broken Thoughts, My Thoughts

Some dates just carry more weight than others

Recently I’ve posted some pretty open and honest blogs concerning my life. I’ve shared all that I’m struggling with in terms of what I have lost in the past couple of years, and the loneliness I had been feeling because of the loss. I’ve also shared what I have learned from the loss and pain that is associated with it, and even why I’ve chosen to not forget my past as I move forward.

Forgetting the past…at least attempting to…is often the normal response to painful experiences. There was a time I wanted to forget everything and start over. I will be totally honest and even admit that at one point when I was really hurting, I wanted to just walk away from everything and everyone and start a new life somewhere else. I’m SO GLAD I didn’t, but I admit it was a consideration at one point.

I know that painful memories are not fun, and we want to get rid of them whenever possible. I get it, I really do!

Today for example, is a date that brings with it a lot of memories and pain for me. July 19th. A date that I’m sure I’ll never forget, and a date that I’m sure will always bring me more pain and reminders of the past than most other dates. Some dates just carry more weight than others, and this date is one of those for me. This date was my wedding anniversary. But not only that, it is also the date that I first realized that my marriage was in serious jeopardy of coming to an end (and it eventually did end).

For many years this date carried with it good memories. Memories of another year being married to a woman I loved and had a family with. In more recent years, however, it has carried more painful memories with it. Memories of the pain of loss and rejection. There are both good memories and painful memories associated with this date, which is why it carries so much weight.

But despite the pain, I don’t want to just try to forget the memories associated with this date. As hard as it has been, I want to learn to accept all memories as part of the journey that I have been through in my life. I want to learn from the memories of my past as I move forward into the future. And I want to learn to continually trust in God and rely on his strength in my life, and painful memories help me do just that.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

If I try to push away or forget the difficult times in my past, then I’m trying to live my life in my own strength, and I’m trying to act as though I’m not vulnerable to pain and hurt in this life. But when I choose to remember the difficulties of the past, then I’m constantly reminded that I am weak and vulnerable, which reminds me that I need God.

I need God’s grace in my life. I need God’s strength in my life. I need to remember that difficult circumstances help me to look to God for his grace and strength in my life. I need to remember that it is because of his strength that I am able to do all the things I need to do as well as what he has called me to do in this life. And I need to remember that trials and suffering in this life serves as the catalyst for me to grow deeper in my faith, gives me the ability to endure and remain steadfast, creates in me a stronger character, and ultimately leads me to hope.

July 19 is a painful day for me…but I know that it’s also just another date on my journey that God is using to produce faith and strength and character and hope in me.

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To anyone who has certain dates or memories that are very difficult and painful…

May you be able to find rest in God’s grace. May you admit that you are weak so that you will allow his strength to be your strength. May you continue to seek him each day as he produces stronger faith in you. May you remain steadfast and endure the trials with full confidence that God is at work in your life despite the pain. And may you find hope again for your future because of all that God has done in your life through the trials and pain.

Posted in My Thoughts

God’s faithfulness is CRAZY!

*I’m giving fair warning up front…this blog is going to be a very honest blog. Not inappropriate in any way, but definitely very honest*

It’s no secret that I’m divorced, so I can talk about aspects of that life which I am now living. However, I chose a while ago to not share all the details of why it happened…partly because that’s personal and people don’t need to know all the details, partly because I have no ill will toward my ex and do not wish to share anything that could potentially hurt her…and by extension my children, and partly because I honestly am still not completely sure myself of exactly why it was allowed to happen, or even all the details of the why for that matter.

But, I have been and am fully willing to share about my life now as a divorced man. My struggles, hurts, thoughts, lessons learned, journey moving forward, and even joys. And that is what this blog is going to do in a very honest way.

This morning I sat down to write this month’s child support payment check (it’s no secret that a divorced man pays child support). I wrote the payment with, honestly, less money in the bank at this present moment than the amount I pay. Sounds crazy I know. I admit that I’ve never been a financial guru of any sort, but at the same time I do know this is backwards. I get the concept of having enough money in the bank to cover bills. And I would LOVE to be in that position for sure!

However, this is the reality of my current position.

What is even more crazy is the fact that I’ve been doing this since the divorce a year and  a half ago. Not every month, but most months. The divorce and loss of job that happened all at the same time sent me into a terrible financial downward spiral, and I’m still working to be able to begin recovering from it. No job that I’ve had since losing my job when my divorce happened has been completely adequate enough to cover all my bills. They’ve provided me with money, and I’ve been able to use that money to never miss a child support payment…but I’ve paid it or other bills several times with less money in the bank than the amount needed at that moment.

At this point you may be saying to yourself “then you should cut down on your bills”. That is a great idea…and I’ve already done that as much as I can. I don’t have my own place, I live with friends who graciously gave me a room in their house. Literally, since moving out of the house where I lived with my family in November of 2015, I’ve lived with 3 different families. I tried to have my own apartment for a while, but that just sent me into more financial difficulties. I don’t have cable, don’t pay for internet (thank you to the family I live with for letting me use their internet), do hardly any grocery shopping apart from making sure I can feed my kids and that I have basic needs met, and do not even have any insurance at this time.

However, the reality of my position is still the reality at this time. I live week-to-week figuring out how to make ends meet.

But the craziest part of it all is that every month since my divorce, without fail, I have been able to cover all my bills. That’s CRAZY!

And since my divorce and the beginning of my financial struggles, I’ve even been able to still do 2 mission trips as well as take a few trips to visit friends and family. I’ve been able to take my kids out to eat or do other special things with them from time to time. I have not run out of gas money yet, despite all the driving around I do. And even this past week I was able to take a few days to visit with and be a tour-guide to one of my best friends from High School, as well as drive to 6 Flags and have an awesome time with some great friends as well as my awesome girlfriend Megan (thank you to my good friends who gave us free tickets for admission). I’ve yet to have to starve because I can’t afford groceries, and I’ve still been able to have a small social life as well.

Yet when you look at my bank account and my life, you see that I probably shouldn’t be able to do any of those things. I work extremely hard for all the money I earn, and I have not once asked for any financial help from other people. So how am I able to pay my bills and enjoy life this much?

God

God has proven to me over and over and over and over and over and over and over and (you get the idea) just how faithful he is. Most of the trips and big things I’ve been able to do are a direct result of the generosity of other people. Even though I haven’t asked for help, God keeps laying on people’s hearts to help me, and it’s always just the amount I need at the time it’s needed. Personally, I have always hated taking money from people…but I also know God provides through people, so I’m not going to turn down the help I obviously need either.

God’s faithfulness to me has been CRAZY! Crazy in that I’ve been able to live the way I have lived despite my current state. Crazy in that I have not been asking people for help but have been constantly getting the help I need. Crazy in that I currently live in a way that is just that, crazy…because yes, I know that making less than what my bills are is not financially smart (I’ve been looking for a job in my career of choice again for a while now, so I’m doing what I need to try to find better employment). And crazy in just how faithful God has been on such a consistent basis during this difficult time in my life.

God’s faithfulness is CRAZY!

This morning I was reading Matthew 6:19-34, which is a great passage and served as a very important reminder to me of putting God first in my life and trusting in him to provide my needs. After reading that passage I read in my favorite devotional “Moments with the Savior”. At the end of my reading today, there was a portion of the closing prayer that was just perfect.

It is not easy to continually trust God to provide the things I need but can’t currently cover. I never want to miss a child support payment, because I want to do all I can to care for my kids as best as I am able to in my new way of living…and I’ve had to rely on my Heavenly Father to take care of me in order for me to be able to take care of my children.

What a beautiful picture of God caring for me so I can be care for my kids. What an amazing lesson in continual trust and dependence. And what a crazy display of God’s INCREDIBLE faithfulness.

I share this for 2 reasons. One, I want to praise God and give him all the glory he is due for all that he has done in my life. And two, I want to encourage anyone who is struggling to trust God with something in their life. God can be trusted, because God is faithful. Simply continue seeking after him, and he will take care of you.

Posted in Broken Thoughts, My Thoughts

The beauty of the scar

Scars. A mark that indicates where a wound once existed. A wound that was deep enough to leave a scar.

I have a small scar on the middle finger of my left hand. The scar is there because my finger was cut by the blade of a running lawn mower back when I was in High School. The wound was deep enough that my finger bled for quite a while. It may not be an overly big scar, but it’s still visible. That scar serves as a reminder of the wound I received.

There is a lot of beauty in a scar.

The beauty of a scar is not that it looks cool…although I will admit that some scars do look cool. The beauty of a scar is not that it reminds us of a deep wound…wounds deep enough to leave a scar hurt. The beauty of a scar is not even in the fact that it can serve as a reminder of what not to do…like remembering to not stick my hand near a running lawn mower blade.

The beauty of a scar is that it indicates healing. A scar forms when the wound has healed over. When a scar forms, that means that the wound has closed and the bleeding has stopped. The scar will be a visible reminder of the pain that once existed there, but the scar indicates healing has taken place. That is the beauty of a scar.

Everyone has been wounded. Some wounds are physical, and other wounds are emotional. In this life we will be wounded in some way…it’s not a fun message to hear or share, but it’s a true message. This life brings with it difficulties and pain and sorrow. It is a symptom of living in a fallen and broken and imperfect world. As we go through this life, we will be wounded in some way.

Wounds lead to scars. The deeper the wound, the longer the scar will take to form. But eventually, a wound will become a scar. A mark that indicates where a wound once existed. A reminder of the pain that once existed as well as a reminder of the healing that has taken place. A beautiful scar.

As I’ve journeyed through the past couple of years living my life in a way I never expected to have to live it, I’ve come to recognize the beauty of a scar. I was deeply wounded, in a way I never saw coming and in a way that left me in complete shock and excruciating pain for quite a while. The wound was so deep that it took a long time for the bleeding to stop.

But the beauty of it all is that the bleeding did stop. The scar eventually formed. The wound has closed. There will always be the reminder of the wound that hurt so deeply and bled for so long, and the memory will bring back the feelings of hurt and pain that I experienced from that wound.

However, I know those are now just memories of a past wound. I can find rest in the present and into my future knowing that the wound has closed, the bleeding has stopped, healing has taken place, and a scar has formed.

A beautiful scar.

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

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)

Praise God for his healing! Praise God for his peace! Praise God for the strength he provides! Praise God for his compassion on those who are hurting! Praise God for his comfort! Praise God for the beautiful scar!