Hurricane Season is Upon Us

Last year we learned a lot about hurricanes. We experienced Irma up close and personal!

I remember listening to the wind howling outside our boarded up windows and the creaking of the wood when the strongest gusts came. It went on for hours.

During hurricane season it isn’t uncommon to see pictures of people in the path of a hurricane. The meteorologists stand in hurricane force winds and their clothes are whipped and pulled by the gusts as they report on location. They may have trouble standing as the blasts of wind bear down on them. If you‘ve ever walked outside in strong winds you may have some idea what they are experiencing. And if you are trying to walk, you may have to lean into the wind to be able to make any progress at all.

Sometimes it might feel like that in our everyday lives too. We may feel like we are walking through life against a strong wind. We may feel like we aren’t making any progress at all, maybe we’ve even been knocked down a few times. We might even feel like we just want to give up.

But it may be time to lean into the wind.

The Bible has some encouragement for those times when we feel like we are overwhelmed and about to lose our footing.  In 1 Corinthians 15:58 we are told to “…be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” Sometimes we just need to plant our feet and hang on. We know God is able to keep us from falling. To be steadfast means to be determined to stay put, to not give up even in the most difficult times.

The beginning of verse 58 says “therefore.” It refers to something said in the previous verse. What does verse 57 say? It says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is why we can be steadfast! Christ has given us the victory!  But there’s more!

We don’t just have to stand there and be assailed by the winds of opposition. We can move forward with confidence! You may be facing gale force winds today. Be encouraged, God has promised to help you. He will not allow you to be overwhelmed.

 “When you walk your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.” – Proverbs 4:12(NASB)

What If You Had to Just Pick One?

I went to a conference a few weeks ago. During one of the sessions the speaker asked us to think of something or someone we wanted to pray for. She listed several categories and prayed for each one.  As I was listening and thinking of all the things I could pray for I suddenly stopped and thought, “if I could only have one prayer answered what would it be?”

I had gone through a long list of things as the speaker talked. I hurt my knee several months ago and it would be wonderful to walk again without pain. Our finances could use some boosting. There are some relationships I would love to see mended. The list went on and on. That’s when I stopped and asked that question.  What WOULD that one thing be if there could only be one?

Immediately I began to cry as I asked God for the one thing that mattered most. I prayed for my husband Randy to be healed of liver disease. It was the most important thing in the world at that moment. I believed I could lay everything else aside if only God would answer that one single prayer.

But, you know what? That is totally wrong.

God isn’t like a genie in a bottle that gives you three wishes and that’s all you get. I don’t have to choose which prayer to ask as though eventually God will run out of answers. Mark 11:24 DOESN’T say,”Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. But you only get to ask for three things.”

God has enough answers for every prayer you pray. I don’t have to choose my husband’s health over relief from my own knee pain. There is no trade-off here.

The trade has already been made. Jesus made the sacrifice so we could say with Paul, “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

So ask away! God wants to hear about everything that you need. He wants to show you that He loves you and since His love is endless, so are the answers to your prayers.

You cannot run out of answered prayers.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24 (CSV)

Tell Your Story

Everyone enjoys a good story. We especially love to hear stories with happy endings. We want good things to happen to good people. We want to hear how making that critical decision changed a life.

Some stories don’t start out so good. People may make some bad choices and struggle with consequences of their actions. The Bible is full of such stories. They don’t always have a happy ending but they DO provide encouragement and instruction to us concerning how we live.

Have you ever considered that you have a story? If you are a Christ follower, you have a story with a happy ending. Your story has the potential to help change someone else’s life.

But not if you keep it to yourself. In order for your story to have impact, you have to tell it. You have to share where you’ve been and where you’re going. Others cannot be encouraged by the lessons you’ve learned if they never hear about them.

Jesus said that we should tell others what has been done for us.

 “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. – Luke 8:39 (NASB)

Tell your story! Others are waiting to be encouraged by the unique story that God has given you.

 “Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.” – Psalm 66:16(NASB)

How to Ride a Bicycle Uphill

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Have you seen those cartoons where the guy is riding his bicycle up a very steep hill? He’s struggling, doing his best but running out of steam. Then a vehicle comes by him headed in the same direction and the man grabs onto the back of it and the rest of the ride up the hill is easier.

In my life, there have been many occasions where I’ve heard people say that “religion” in general or following Christ in particular is for weak people. Those who can’t make it on their own and need a crutch.

Recently I injured my knee. At first I could barely walk on it. Then the doctor suggested crutches. I winced, remembering the many weeks I’d spent on them when I had hip surgery several years ago.  I finally gave in and pulled out the crutches. Suddenly I had much more freedom to move about. It didn’t hurt to walk with the crutches. I needed them and they served a purpose.  Why do we feel resentment about having a problem and needing help to deal with it? Why do we see that as some kind of weakness?  Don’t we all have things we would do better if we had a little assistance?

Back to the man on the bicycle. He may have made it up the hill on his own. No doubt having to walk his bike for part of the journey. But his decision to grasp on to help that presented itself wasn’t a sign of weakness to me. It was a sign of him having a healthy perspective of his own limitations. He let go of his pride and grasped a better solution. And just because he did so doesn’t mean he’s coasting or being lazy. As you can imagine, if he let go of the handle bars and expected a completely free ride, he would have ended up in the ditch needing a few bandages.

Following Christ doesn’t mean surrendering your responsibility.  He expects you to cooperate with His plan. He is there to be everything you need but he also wants you to follow through with the things He tells you to do. The scriptures are full of examples where man came to the end of himself and stretched out his hand to God. God took his hand and led him forward to live and serve for the rest of his days.

Perhaps you’ve seen that poem that talks about the footprints in the sand and ends with one set of footprints where Jesus is now carrying you.  Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes we have completely collapsed and God picks us up and carries us. But other times, I think God chooses instead to walk alongside us and let us lean on His strength. He says, “I’m here with you, lean on me.”

We still have a responsibility to keep holding on and to keep moving forward. Just like my crutches. They give me the freedom to keep moving even when all the parts aren’t working right on their own. It takes letting go of pride and latching on to the greatest source of help around. A loving Father who wants to see you at the top of that hill.

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. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)