Author: Jan Grace

As an ordained minister for over 30 years, I have pastored two churches and have spent time on staff as a worship leader. I have been married to Phyllis, the wife of my youth, for over 45 years and we live near Des Moines, Iowa. We have a son and daughter-in-law, along with 2 grand cats. My wife and I attend Lifehouse Community Church in Urbandale, Iowa. I've published 10 books, all available at jangrace.org

It can be hard to trust God…

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord GOD is the eternal Rock.” (Isaiah 26:3 – 26:4 NLT)

I love that passage, but I must say it can be hard to trust God when my chaotic world appears to be closer to me than He is. 

Of course, God IS closer, but it just doesn’t always seem like it. 

Know what I mean?

Whether we’re dealing with health issues, family relationships, financial burdens, or whatever; the one that has the loudest voice will be the one that captures our attention if we’re not prepared. 

And many times, so many times, God doesn’t seem to make as much of a racket as those things that keep us at our wits end. 

But nevertheless, God meant what He said when He told Isaiah, “I will keep those in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on Me.”

Perfect peace? What could that possibly mean?

The Hebrew word “shalom” is used here and it means completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, safety, soundness (in body), welfare, health, prosperity, peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment, friendship, etc.

Just think what is possible for the one whose heart and mind is fixed, locked in, on God and His Word.

And yet, it can still be very hard to trust God when all hell seems to be breaking loose and flying at you at the speed of sound.

God knows that and gave us some things which can help; if we’ll make use of them. 

The first thing is to learn (by practice) the art of focus. How? Setting and maintaining God and His Word as our life’s priority. Settling it in our heart and mind that God is not a liar, He only speaks truth, so whatever He says is more important and more reliable than any other voice in the world. 

There was a situation, recorded in Numbers 21, that illustrates perfectly the importance of focusing on God’s Word. As you read the story, understand God’s remedy for your situation and mine is wrapped up in His Word. 

“Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’, they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!’ 

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.’ So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord told him, ‘Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!’ So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed.” (Numbers 21:4 – 21:9 NLT)

Focusing wasn’t an easy thing for them to do. Imagine what they were going through as they tried to keep their eyes on the pole and not on the snakes slithering around their ankles. Wow!

You may know what that feels like!

But some of them got the message, did what He said, and found their wholeness, their remedy, in the words He had spoken to Moses. 

Hard to do? Yes. Impossible to do? No. 

The second thing is to remind ourselves often of God’s faithfulness. When things are going well, and our life is calm and peaceful, remind ourselves by speaking these words out loud (so OUR ears can hear them):

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1 – 103:5 ESV)

“I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2 ESV)

After all, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

In other words, prepare our heart for any and all situations BEFORE we’re bombarded by the things life can throw at us. Resolve to stay strong when we’d rather give in to doubt, worry, and fear. 

Because it can be hard to trust God when we’re not prepared.

Stirring the Pot


There is a theory being circulated in the Body of Christ, and while it’s nothing that hasn’t been propagated before, I want to weigh in on it. 

The gist of the theory, or teaching, is that God Alone watches over His kids and corrects them if and when they need it. In other words, keep quiet and don’t tell anyone they’re wrong. 

If that were true, why did Paul and others write the things listed below? (Remember, they wrote as they were instructed by the Holy Spirit). 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

“I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,” (2 Peter 1:13 ESV)

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,” (2 Peter 3:1 ESV)

“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” (1 Corinthians 14:3 NKJV)

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

“And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling
them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22 – 1:23 NKJV)

Of course there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about stirring up the brethren. Like Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Considering yourself, or in other words, don’t become prideful but keep your mind and spirit guarded by humility.

The New Testament teaches we all have a responsibility to watch over each other and do what we can to help one another grow in Christ. It’s not an easy thing, because sometimes we don’t want the help or we feel like we shouldn’t be interfering in someone else’s life. 

But if we don’t, who will?

Over the last few years I’ve written over 800 posts, each with some reference to Jesus and His work in us and the world around us. Some have been kind of “in your face”, but most were written to be a source of encouragement to whoever would read it. 

Today things are changing. No, I’m not saying it’s “no more mister nice guy”, but I am saying I intend, with God’s help and direction, to “stir the pot.” 

I’m not going to rant, talk right wing (or left wing) politics, or anything just to make people mad. I AM, however, going to focus on issues some, of not many, believers consider to be gray areas when the Bible shows they’re black and white.

Why am I going this direction? 

Because I believe we’re running out of time. If someone is going to make a difference in this world, it might as well be the church. But if the church isn’t standing for righteousness, or God’s way of doing things, our example and voice will be either muted or nothing more than a loud irritant.

That’s why I’m changing the name of the web site. You’ll still find encouragement, hope, and comfort in the things I write (at least I hope you will), but there will be a more direct approach on some subjects I address. 

(At times, I may even step on my own toes. And that’s a good thing!)

“Stirring the Pot – one post at a time” is not intended to be the final word on anything in the Bible. I’m open to having nice, considerate, dialogue so we can stir up each other. I hope you follow the posts and comment often. 

Explore the rest of the site while you’re at it. Some parts are still under construction, but I think you’ll find the material on each page encouraging and helpful to your walk with Jesus. 

Amen

He Watches Over His Word


And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” (Jeremiah 1:12 NLT)

The Lord showed Jeremiah a vision, and then asked him what he saw. After Jeremiah answered, the Lord said, “Yep…and you can trust I am watching and fulfilling all my great plans.” 

And so it is today. 

He is watching over each person who hides His word in their heart; to make sure not one promise goes unfulfilled. 

After all, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)

It’s not that God makes sure every cloud has a silver lining. That’s isn’t exactly what Paul was getting at. Rather, it’s more like the Lord is working behind the scenes, in ways we can’t imagine, watching over the word He has established in Heaven and earth. 

He is faithful Who promised!

Like Abraham and Isaac, climbing the mountain because God told them to. Abraham had quite a test; to offer to God the very one who was God’s answer to prayer. The very son who was promised by God some thirty years prior. 

Though things looked like God WASN’T honoring His Word, or watching over it to see it fulfilled, at just the right moment the answer came. 

In the form of a ram, climbing up the back side of the mountain. 

God, working all things for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. 

There are so many voices around us today; each one having a different opinion about God, His Word, and life in general. But it’s not so much a matter of everyone else’s opinion…

What do YOU think of God and His Word? 

Are YOU hiding His Word in your heart? Are YOU supplying your spirit with the refreshing, powerful, life-giving promises of God? 

Are YOU trusting Him to watch over you as He watches over His Word?

As time rapidly approaches the “end of all things”, making way for the “new beginnings”, many false prophets, preachers, naysayers-people who have NOT developed a faith relationship with Jesus-will have many things to say. They will try to discourage you and I from boldly proclaiming our complete trust in the Lord and His Word. 

Don’t let it rock your world or shake your faith. Remind yourself, and others, that because God is watching over His Word, He’ll make certain not one promise fails!

…Not one word has failed of all his good promise… (1 Kings 8:56 ESV)

Amen! So be it!

Leave Me Alone, God!


Sometimes I’d just like to yell at God, “Leave me alone!”

Without a show of hands, how many of you can understand what I’m saying?

I mean, there are times when I get sick of people. I’m frustrated with how things are going, and I’m wanting to be left alone – by everyone.

Including God!

But since He’s working all things for my good, and He’s promised to complete what He’s begun in me, I can’t escape His Presence. 

He will NOT leave me alone. 

He’ll remind me how much He’s already done in my life. 

He’ll remind me of certain scriptures, certain promises, that He’s made to me in the past. 

He’ll point to attitudes of my heart and actions that aren’t pleasing to Him; things which run crosswise with the faith He’s trying to build in me. 

And I’ll sense Him say, to the deepest part of my soul, “Do you REALLY want to act or think that way? Don’t you remember what I’ve delivered you from?”

Maybe you’re not like me, but there are times I’d really like to tell the whole world off; even cheer them on as they run as fast as they can to the eternal lake of fire.

I’m sorry, but I’m simply being honest here. 

It’s not that I hate people, or I don’t love God. 

It’s just that sometimes I love myself far too much. I want my way, in my timing, on someone else’s dime. I become so wrapped up in my puny little world, the moment it’s interrupted I go to pieces. 

THAT’S why He won’t leave me alone. 

And honestly, I’m so thankful He doesn’t.

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.” (Psalm 138:8 ESV)

Where is the power of God?

Throughout history people have witnessed the miraculous power and provision of God. People who were backed into a corner with no way out.

No way out but God, that is. 

As in the case of Zerubbabel, a governor in Judah. When those who had been taken captive to Babylon began returning to their homeland, it was Zerubbabel’s responsibility to watch over the rebuilding of the temple. 

And to Zerubbabel, it seemed an impossible situation.

But not for God. 

The prophet Zechariah received a word for the governor.

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

Thinking about this, and remembering many of the biblical accounts of the miraculous, I find myself wondering, “Why don’t we see those same kinds of miracles today?”

Like the parting of the Red Sea. Or, the water pouring from a rock. The sun stopping dead in its tracks for almost 24 hours. Water turned to wine. Fish and bread multiplied.

Miracle after miracle by the God Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

And since He’s the same today, where are the miracles of old?

Why aren’t we seeing the miraculous signs and wonders Jesus said we’d see?

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”” (Mark 16:15 – 16:18 ESV)

The early disciples witnessed the miraculous. 

And while it’s true there have been some in today’s world who have experienced the miraculous power of God, it seems to be the exception rather than the rule. 

Oh, we know the scriptures. We know when to say “amen”. We have church planting down to a science. We can craft sermons with the best of them. 

No, I’m not saying we shouldn’t know the scriptures, shout amen, plant churches, or craft great sermons. 

Not at all!

But where is the power of God?

Where is the “but by My Spirit…” earthshaking power of the Living God?

I have only one answer. 

We aren’t the people of yesteryear. 

What do I mean?

We have become so good at planning, we never find ourselves backed into a corner. Nothing looks impossible to us.

“Oh, come on, man. There are plenty of things which look impossible.”

I agree. But when those moments happen, what do we typically do? 

Go with our backup plan. 

And then claim it as God’s will. 

Well, maybe you haven’t, but I know I have. 

What if we allowed ourselves the luxury of having no Plan B, no extra door to use if God seems to close the one in front of us, and no memorized excuses as to why our Red Sea’s aren’t parted today?

What if we welcomed those moments when we find our backs against the wall? 

What if we learned, like Paul, to boast in our weaknesses (and our impossible moments) knowing that when we’re weak, were great candidates for His strength?

Or, like James, found a way to count it all joy when our way seemed blocked by temptation or struggles; knowing that the trying of our faith works patience. 

And patience never disappoints. It always has God’s signature on the final product. 

Us.

I’m just wondering out loud. Of course, I can’t answer for you. But, with the Lord’s help, I’m going to fix my eyes on Jesus. 

And when I see a mountain in my way I’m going to expect to see it removed by the Spirit of God!

After all, He’s in the mountain moving business. 

Still.

You Are Framing Your World


Have you ever stopped to think about what God’s most powerful, creative force is?

I’m referring to His Word.

In Genesis we read the story of creation, how He spoke our world into existence.

Out of the abundance of His heart He speaks…

He created mankind, using Himself as the pattern, and breathed into them the breath of life. 

His Word. 

And believe it or not, He has given that creative force to man… 

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” (Proverbs 18:21 NLT)

What shall we do with our words? Where will we allow our words to take us? 

“We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” (James 3:3 – 3:5 NLT)

What kind of world will we create (or frame) with our words? 

“By faith we understand that the universe was created (KJV-framed) by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3 ESV)

I love watching home remodeling shows, where someone completely guts an old house and frames in new walls. The framework makes it possible to finish the house, and it is the defining factor of exactly how the house will look and function. 

So it is with our words. Whether we believe it or not, our words frame the kind of life we’ll have. They determine our direction and disposition, and decree what will or will not be allowed to attach itself to our life. 

In a house, doors and windows cannot be added unless the framework allows for them. No extra lighting or electrical outlets, either; not until the framer says so. 

What are you saying about your life? What are your words creating? 

Are you and the Living God on the same page? 

Do your words agree with His?

If the Kingdom of God operated according to the words YOU speak, would God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven?

Remember, it was Jesus Who said, “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34 ESV) 

God demonstrated just how powerful words can be when, out of the abundance of His heart, His words framed the world as we see it.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We live the way He has designed when we are continuously feeding on what He is saying (in His Word and by the Spirit). As His word brings life to our inner man, our heart, it then follows that out of the abundance of our heart our mouth speaks; creating and framing a God-minded, God-favored kind of life. 

Our tongue will steer us through life’s channels, and will keep us from becoming shipwrecked. 

So, what kind of world are you framing for yourself, your family, and those around you? 

Are you enjoying the life you’re living? More importantly, is it the kind of life which invites God’s Presence and help? 

And where will you eventually end up?

It is so very important we understand our greatest power, and frame our world as it should be. 

Full of life, and pleasing to God Almighty.

What are YOU looking at?

“Oh, be careful little eyes what you see…”

Although it seems impossible to live a trouble-free life, since the unexpected crops up from time to time, there are some troubles we can and must avoid. 

It takes is a heart for God, vigilance, and diligence in controlling what we allow our eyes to focus on.

Scripture records the first time trouble entered mankind’s world. 

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:5 – 3:6 ESV)

“…a delight to the eyes…” doesn’t necessarily make something evil. But when God says to leave something alone, we’d best heed His instruction. 

The things we keep before our eyes will be the things we ultimately gravitate towards. 

Good or bad. 

So what are you looking at? Where is your focus?

Instead of giving you a long list of things NOT to look at, here are a dozen things God’s word tells us TO focus on.

1. Look to the remedy God has prescribed for total cleansing and forgiveness. “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:8 – 21:9 NASB) See also John 3:14-16

2. Look to the Lord for your Source of safety, strength, and salvation. “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever. (Psalm 121:1 – 121:8 NASB)

3. Look continually to God’s Word for direction, comparing your path with His. Make corrections as needed. “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” (Proverbs 4:20 – 4:27 ESV)

4. Look to the Lord by faith when praying. Expect Him to hear and answer. “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 ESV) See also 1 John 5:14,15

5. Look at God’s prophetic nation, Israel. “And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:29 – 21:33 ESV)

6. Look to yourselves; self-examination. “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21:34 ESV)

7. Look beyond the “right now”, the temporal. Look to the eternal for true perspective. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 – 4:18 ESV)

8. Look continuously for the Blessed Hope. “…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:13 – 2:14 NASB) See also 2 Peter 3:12

9. Look to the Founder and Perfecter of your faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1 – 12:2 ESV)

10. Look after one another. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT)

11. Look continuously into the mirror of God’s word; the perfect law of liberty. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:22 – 1:25 NLT)

12. Look for the mercy of God. For yourselves and others. “…keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:21 NKJV)

It is a proven fact...if we spend our time looking at the things we should look at, we won’t have time for our eyes to focus on things we shouldn’t. 

So be careful, pay attention; don’t live a sloppy life letting your eyes lead you around. YOU take control of YOUR eyes.

And you can believe God will help you, if you’ll only ask. 

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

A Talking Turtle Named Wayne


Have you ever met a talking turtle? No, I’m not kidding. Have YOU ever met a talking turtle?

There’s an old cartoon character you may recall-Touché Turtle. I used to watch him and his pal Dum Dum after school. 

Then, of course, there are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

But that isn’t what I’m referring to. 

I met one the other night. His name was Wayne. 

Wayne the talking turtle. 

It happened like this: I had driven out to a place in West Virginia, somewhere in the country, to see my wife who had been visiting her mom and siblings. 

As I pulled up to the house I was greeted by a rather large turtle, who had somehow managed to perfect two skills I’ve never known a turtle to do. 

Stand upright and talk. 

Yes, talk. 

As soon as I opened the door of my car, there he was, just as informative and polite as could be.

“Hello, you must be Jan. I’m Wayne, the talking turtle. I was asked by Mrs. Lloyd to meet you when you arrived and walk you to the garden where she and your wife are.”

Crazy, huh? 

And what’s just as crazy? I thought nothing of it. It made perfect sense at the time. 

Just like all dreams. 

Of course, when I awoke the dream faded and I realized there truly was no Wayne, the talking turtle. 

Too bad. I could have really gone somewhere, knowing a talking turtle and all.

As I thought about the dream, some scriptures about dreams came to my mind; especially the one in Acts 2. The one where Peter is quoting the prophet Joel:

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” (Acts 2:17 ESV)

Realizing I’m no longer a young man, the part that excited me the most was God’s plan for His “old men” who are filled with His Holy Spirit to dream dreams. 

The word “old” does not refer primarily to one’s age. The Greek word for “old men” is “presbyteros”; specifically an elder, overseer, bishop, etc. In other words, the Lord doesn’t spend a lifetime building a person’s character, wisdom, etc., to simply turn them out to pasture when they reach a certain age.

This was very good news for me. 

It’s so easy to regard myself as too old to matter anymore. Too old to live an exciting life, a kingdom of God kind of life. 

Too outdated to believe something as nutty as a talking turtle. 

I do understand dreams the Holy Spirit wants to give elders probably have nothing to do with talking turtles. Though that’s not saying he wouldn’t or couldn’t do that. Stranger things have happened. 

Nor does one have to be sound asleep to receive a dream from Father God. 

But we need to be very careful not to shrug off God’s dreams like they’re as ridiculous as a turtle who talks. They may seem just as impossible, but if God is their author, they aren’t crazy. 

We’re being foolish if we don’t pursue them.

Ecclesiastes 5:3 says (in the KJV) that “a dream comes through the multitude of business (or much work)…”. Though other translations read much differently, the KJV really speaks to me about pursuing whatever dream God gives. 

It is extremely important we do our part, as we are enabled by God, in not only dreaming the dream but in seeing it come to pass. 

God gives the dream and gives us the tools and His Spirit to do what we must do. To do our part in seeing the dream fulfilled. 

Yes, even those of us who may dream up such bizarre things as Wayne, the talking turtle. 

People who sincerely want to see His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as in Heaven. 

Why Am I Me?


So, tell me…have you ever wanted to be someone else? Have you spent time wondering why you are you? Has your life been frustrating at times, all because you ARE you, and not some other person?

Like many people, I’ve had my fair share of questions. Such as, “Why was I born into my particular family?” “Why didn’t I get a better lot in life?” “What did I do to deserve the parents I was given?” 

Or maybe, “Why couldn’t I have parents like so and so has?”

I remember as a kid wishing my good friend Bob’s mother was my mom (usually immediately following an argument with my parents).

Right or wrong, it was a wish. (Though I’m not at all saying I was squeaky clean…)

There have been other times throughout the last 60+ years I’ve asked similar questions. 

But I’ve recently learned something. Maybe it will speak to you as well.

God had the complete and final say regarding all the things in which I had no say. 

Everything.

Even though bad things sometimes happen, things which aren’t His will, we’re placed into our specific families. 

God, Who knew me even while I was in my mother’s womb, had the final say. 

It was God who gave me, and you, life in the first place.

So, with that in mind, I’ve had to move on and not let those “why”, “why not”, and “what if” questions drive me crazy.

In John chapter nine, the disciples asked Jesus a question about a man who was born blind. I can almost imagine the blind man pulling Peter aside to see if Peter would ask Jesus the question he had been wondering about for quite awhile. 

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins.” (John 9:1 – 9:2 NLT)

Somewhat like the questions I’ve had throughout my life…”Why?”

To read Jesus’ answer (in many translations) it can appear that God doesn’t mind seeing just how bad He can make someone’s life become. 
That doesn’t sound like the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

It doesn’t sound like my Savior, either.

So this time, read it from “The Message” translation:

“Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.” (John 9:1 – 9:3 MSG)

“You’re asking the wrong question…” What a great response! 

For them, and for me. 

And, quite possibly, for you.

The Lord doesn’t want any of us attempting to find out why we got the short end of the deal when we were born. He’s not exactly pleased with the way some parents have treated/raised their kids. He’s not happy about the child abuse some kids endure. Or how many people have to find a way to cope with all the scars well into their adult life. 

We’ve all been given a life to live. And we can’t live it to the fullest when we’ve buried ourselves beneath the rubble of “Why me?” questions.

Blaming someone never corrected anything. No matter who is to blame, we must still look at what God can do. 

“With Me, all things are possible.”

Maybe you’ve accumulated a lot of baggage, maybe tons of garbage, growing up in your not-so-perfect world. I did. But my life need not, better not, be consumed by looking for someone to blame. 

There’s too much life to live to waste time doing that. 

So, to end this post on a positive note:

God uses less-than-perfect people from less-than-perfect homes, who have less-than-perfect parents, siblings, and circumstances. Why not let Him help give us purpose, direction, and, where needed, the emotional, mental, and physical help we may have missed while growing up.

Let’s get away from the blame game, and instead, get on with life; the life God has in store for all who will embrace His ways and thoughts.

“Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:7 – 55:9 NLT)

Selfishness 


Selfishness can be a very subtle thing. It can manifest itself in many ways, although the one acting selfish may not realize what they’re doing.

Some ways it may appear are-

  1. The need to be seen – the center of attention
  2. Manipulation
  3. Depression, pouting, anger, mood swings, etc.
  4. Monopolizing a conversation
  5. Interrupting someone else’s conversation
  6. Overachieving

Something I witnessed about myself the other day.

At a funeral, of all places. 

Sitting in the sanctuary, waiting for the service to begin, I saw a number of fellow ministers in attendance. Sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit, I feel out of place, unknown and overlooked, and desperately in need of some kind of recognition. 

Is it wrong to want to be liked? 

No. 

But as I got out of my seat to greet a minister I knew (though not very well – I had to remind him of my name), I sensed the Holy Spirit speak to my heart about selfishness. 

In other words, my act of greeting was more about me than him. It was about being seen with a well known minister. It wasn’t about my investing anything in the other person’s life, but trying to look important by association. 

Selfishness.

Ugly, worldly, selfishness.

Oh, what can be done about such an ugly thing?

First, I needed to acknowledge it as sin, whether anyone else noticed it or not. God knew it, and now I do.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3 ESV)

Second, I must stay on guard against such desires. One of the best ways is to remind myself who God has made me, in Christ. 

I’m not inferior, or superior for that matter. I am me. I was created on purpose, for a purpose. I belong to God, and He is the Lord of my life. 

In the above scripture, sober judgment can refer to being honest with myself, God, and others. I should find out what God has done, is doing, and has promised to do in me and get busy with that.

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1 ESV)

See, Peter wrote to people who had obtained a faith of equal standing with himself. Really? Faith as important and potentially powerful as Peter’s? Yes!

It’s something God has done for every one of us, through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Third, selfishness cannot manifest itself if I’m concerned about how to make others feel encouraged, important, and edified. If I’m not adding to a relationship, at least desiring to, then I’m probably taking from it. 

In a word? Selfishness.

I’m working on it, though I’m certain I haven’t mastered it yet. 

How about YOU? Do YOU recognize a bit of selfishness showing in YOUR life?

If so, what are you going to do about it?

It’s the little, insignificant things in our lives that determine the kind of person we are. 

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