Archive for January, 2016

I was frustrated. It was hopeless. The harder I tried the worse things got. Why couldn’t I be like other guys and find the right girl and get married? It’s not that I hadn’t tried. I had dated about 150 different girls in the prior six years. But the relationships never worked out. Many ended after the first date.

Waiting on God

So, when I was challenged to give up the search to focus on developing my new relationship with God, I was relieved. I needed a break. I had felt pressure for many years to get married because nearly all my friends had. But I had grown to question if I had what was required to be happily married.

Therefore, it was easy for me to give the project to God to bring along the right one when I was ready. I was confident that God could do a better job than I had at finding the right one. The original plan was to take a two-year break from dating, although I knew it could be longer. And it was.

Four years later, I still was going nowhere in meeting, courting, and marrying the right one. Had God forgotten about our agreement? I was past thirty now. During this time my focus had become getting to know God better and getting ahead in the ministry organization that I was a part of. However, I still wanted to get married some day if the right one came along.

The Wait is Over

About this time, I was approached by the local leadership of the organization to consider marriage. I thought that this idea was reasonable, but I wasn’t that excited about it. I was more excited about becoming a leader in their organization.

Nevertheless, I began reading books the leaders suggested that would help me gain God’s perspective on courtship and marriage. I found out that God’s perspective on romance and marriage was night and day different from the way I had approached it in the past. I learned that marriage was more a giving thing, not a taking one. I also learned that a wife was not going to take all my problems away. I still needed God.

As I read and discussed these books, I came to realize that God’s ways seemed to make a lot of sense. As a result, I became eager to try some of these ideas out on a real girl.

But I continued to wait for God’s go ahead and to read the suggested books and began to add a number of my own choosing. I would then discuss what I was learning with my mentor to help me to change my thinking, feelings, and actions.

The Journey Begins

Finally, I sensed that I was ready to start dating again after a break of 4 and 1/2 years. But I had a problem. I didn’t know anyone. Despite this, I was able to generate a list of three girls that I knew well enough to ask out on a date.

One girl on the list was Adele, who a friend at work had been trying to get me to date for nearly a year. I was ambivalent about her thinking that she was “stuck up” and not particularly attractive. However, I did agree to an elaborate scheme for me to drive her home from a Halloween party that we both would be at so that I could get to know her better.

The night of the party, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her. She was beautiful! And then I heard a voice in my head say, “This is the one I have saved for you.” I immediately put the thought out of my mind and proceeded to participate in the Halloween party. However, I stayed focused on where she was and what she was doing that night. As I drove her home I asked if she would be interested in going on a date sometime. Her response was not enthusiastic, but she did say yes.

That night began a long journey with God in which he led and I followed in developing the relationship he wanted me to have with Adele. I didn’t know where the relationship would go. I felt like Abraham when God told him to go but wouldn’t tell him where it would end (Genesis 12:1).

As I look back, God had told me where the relationship was going, but I was too scared to believe it. Adele was the one that he had picked for my wife. Now, it was my job to follow him and trust him to enable me to make it happen.

Next week we will continue to describe this journey with God in facing my fears and insecurities and the other challenges in possessing the land that God had given me (Deuteronomy 1:8).


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Many of us measure our importance by silly standards. For example, if we have the greenest yard in the neighborhood, we are more important. Last week, I consulted with someone who had a far more prosperous writing ministry than I have. His grass was greener. Through a three-year process, I had grown humble enough to receive counsel from this man. Basically, he encouraged me to be faithful to help the few who were benefitting from my writing ministry and not be upset that it wasn’t as prosperous as his. He advised me to focus on helping the precious people who read what I wrote and not focus on comparing.

So What That Our Grass Isn’t as Green?

Most of us want to be important. We want our life to count. But we often believe lies about our importance. We believe that green yards measure our importance-and they don’t. If we can’t do one thing apart from God’s help that will stand the test of God’s judgment, how can we take credit for results as an indication of our worth (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)?

God says, “You look at how green your yard is, I look at why you strive for the green yard” (1 Samuel 16:7, paraphrased). Are we striving for the green yard to gain worth or to be faithful to God to take care of what he has given us?

And if it’s not as green, so what? God looks to see if we are using his knowledge, skills, and opportunities that he gives us. He promises us rewards if we use them wisely. He consoles us too by saying, “To whom little is given, little is required” (Luke 12:48, paraphrased).

Another problem that we have in striving after the greenest yard is that we are never satisfied. It’s built into our DNA that if we are using green yards to measure our worth, we will never feel consistently important (Ecclesiastics 6:7). There will always be someone with a greener yard that will make us feel unsatisfied.

A lesson I’m still learning is that green grass is not God’s goal for me. His primary goal for me is that I would allow him to help me water, weed, and fertilize the lawn. He wants to be my companion and helper through all of life, including striving for a green yard (Matthew 7:23).

How to Live Without Having the Greenest Lawn

An important way we can avoid frustration and discouragement is to not compare lawns. This often leads to pride or despair. When we “measure ourselves, by ourselves, we are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12, paraphrased). Instead, we need to accept God’s free gift of importance and quit trying to earn it by have the greenest yard.

As mentioned, we are not wired to be content. Not only this, our society doesn’t want us to be content so that it can sell us things we don’t need. So, how can we be content when someone has a greener lawn? God says we can’t by ourselves. But we can with his help. Paul says,” I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

A final thought about how to live without the greenest lawn is to stay focused on the truth. We are precious, no matter what our lawns look like (Isaiah 43:4). Greener lawns or better results will never increase our worth to God-it’s already sky high (Psalm 103:11). And God is not interested in us being the Green Lawn Person anyway, but in being the person he created us to be. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).




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We all have been rejected for one reason or another. it’s painful isn’t it! Probably the greatest fear I had from childhood was the fear of being rejected. I learned early how bad it felt to be rejected. Why does it hurt so much?

In my case, I believed the lie that I was what people thought I was. If they thought I was a dud, I was a dud. If they thought I was something special, I was something special.

But in recent years, I’ve learned that I will never be rejected- by God anyway. He says to me, “I will never reject you” (Hebrews 13:5). But people can still reject me – but, whose opinion counts the most? I am learning that God’s acceptance of me trumps people’s rejection.

But do people really reject us? Are they even capable of rendering an accurate assessment of us? The answer is no.

Recently, I have been trying to start a small group with people at my new church in which I am not well-known.  I have had four or five refusals so far and only one acceptance. I feel rejected. I feel like they don’t respect me, and I feel challenged to believe that I have a lot to offer- even though God has used me extensively in this ministry for many years. Nevertheless, I feel like quitting sometimes and not putting myself out there to be rejected. But I would be disobeying the Lord if I did.

Why Rejection Is Hurtful

We want to feel accepted and respected. Therefore, it hurts when it seems like we’re not. The truth is, as God’s children, we have nothing to worry about. God has accepted and respected us for all time (Hebrews 10:14).

But we don’t believe this. It doesn’t make sense to our worldly minds. If we aren’t accepted by our peer group, we aren’t acceptable. If we aren’t highly respected by our church, we aren’t highly respected. People become the determiners of our worth – and that is dangerous because it’s a lie.

Many of us fear the opinions of people more than the opinion of God. God warns us that this is not good when he says to us, “The fear of man brings about a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). Certainly God uses the respect and acceptance of people to help us realize how much he accepts us- but not as a substitute for depending on his acceptance.

Because the old thinking is still a part of our lives, we can feel devastated when people reject our offers to serve, befriend, or lead. We believe the old thinking that their approval is necessary for our importance.

How to Face It

When facing rejection, it helps to realize that we will never be rejected.  We can have our qualifications rejected by people, but we are always accepted and special to God (1 Peter 2:9).

When we are hurting, we need to identify the lies that we are believing. In my case, is it true that leading a small group is necessary for fulfilling my calling of helping people connect to God in deeper ways? Or is it true that if I don’t lead a small group I’m not doing important work? Or is it true that if God does not use me to lead a small group now, that he never will? I have identified all three of these beliefs as lies.

A final thought about how to have the courage to face rejection is to focus on doing God’s will. If we discern that he wants us to start a small group, take on a new responsibility at work or cut back on activities outside the home to focus on the family, we need to do it. You may say, “But I will be rejected by people who are important to me. People who I look to to tell me who I am.”

But comfort is not our goal. “Well done, good and faithful servant” is. Rejection hurts. But God says, “Rejection will hurt for awhile, but your obedience to Me is producing for you an eternal reward far greater than the cost of rejection” (2 Corinthians 4:17, paraphrased).


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Facing the Pain

Nobody likes pain. It’s amazing to what great lengths we go to avoid pain. Diets that promise that we won’t suffer, pain-killers that kill the pain but ignore the root problem, and various anti-aging creams that promise to shield us from the pain of losing our looks. But is it wise to avoid pain? Do we lose out in the long-run by running away from the cause of our pain?

I experienced considerable pain in my childhood home. Pain from low self-esteem, fears, and hurts. I ran from the pain by ignoring it, compensating for it, and staying busy. I finally began to face this pain head-on when I was forty when the feelings began to boil over. I know a person who has a drinking problem. She is using alcohol to run from her pain. Until she is ready to face the deep pains within, she will continue to struggle with the temptation to anesthetize herself through alcohol.

Before we discuss some good ways to deal with our pain, let’s discuss what’s not helpful.

What’s Not Helpful

Pain is often used by God to get our attention that something is wrong. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67). To run from pain is to often miss developing a long-term solution to our problems.

Sometimes it’s wise to delay facing the problem. Running from my childhood hurts was probably the wise thing for me to do until I had more maturity and resources to face them. Running from a toothache by taking Motrin is wise until we can get to a dentist and deal with the source of the problem.

But if we continue to run, it’s often not helpful. Alcohol, drugs, pain-killers, and idols are all ways we can use to avoid facing our pain. Pursuing anyone of them creates an even greater pain in the long-run. For example, many of us run away from the pain of low self-esteem. So, we compensate for it by pursuing the idols of achievements and the approval of others. This often drives us to overload and the fear of not measuring up–both situations can create considerable pain. It would have been better to face the original pain of low self-esteem and apply God’s solution to it–his gift of worth to each of us. “You are precious, you are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4, paraphrased). Notice the preciousness we get from God is not conditional; we are always precious to him. It’s because we don’t believe this that we have the pain of low self-esteem.

What’s Helpful

What’s most helpful in facing pain is getting to the root cause. This may need God’s help. We can pray, “Search me Oh God, try me and know my anxious thoughts…and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139: 23,24).

Facing the root cause of the pain can be tricky. Several years ago I had a toothache and went to the dentist. Before the pain went away, I had to have four root canals and a tooth pulled–and it still didn’t stop the pain. Finally, I discovered that the source of the pain was stress. In treating the stress, the pain went away in three months after I had chased after a dental solution for over a year. This is an example of the value of defining the source of the pain.

A final thought regarding facing the pain. God promises to help us face our pain. We run often because we are afraid-afraid that we will be overwhelmed by the pain. But God promises otherwise. God says, “I am faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Let’s not drown our pain in pain-killers, idols, and alcohol. Relying on God’s promised help, may we face the root causes courageously. The pain is God’s call to action as we can expect God to restore, strengthen, and establish us through facing the pain (1 Peter 5:10).


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