Known

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It’s funny how some of the best moments in our weeks happen in unconventional places. There have been times where I’ll be having a tough day and suddenly someone will surprise me during my break with a visit, or I’ll bump into a friend at the grocery store and just talking with them for 5 minutes will completely encourage me. Well, recently I had one of those moments in my car, by myself.

I’ve had some really amazing days in my life, but I’ve also had some really dark ones. I think for me what makes a situation even harder is when I can’t put words to what I’m feeling. The feeling of knowing something is wrong, but you don’t know where that feeling is coming from. I thought being emotional and not knowing why was reserved for pregnant people, but last time I checked I’m a guy so I guess pregnant women aren’t the only ones to have that honour.

Anyway, back to my car. I was driving into the studio and just feeling off, I don’t know what was causing what I was feeling, I just knew that I was feeling off. So I started to have an honest conversation with God. I told God what was happening around me, I started talking about this situation and that situation that was happening in my life and just getting really honest with how I was feeling. I started thinking about my health, because I had been previously under the weather and how I had been feeling drained because of that and then I began to tell God how I was trying to keep things moving forward in all areas of my life. As all of these thoughts were rushing through my head, I heard that familiar friend of mine, that still small voice say two words, ” I know”. Immediately, I started to think of different situations, almost trying to justify what I was feeling, but one by one God showed me how He never left me through anything I had gone through. He was there when I was misunderstood, He was right beside me as I was recovering from some health complications, He was there when I was having those great unplanned moments and He was there all along when I was going through the hardest points in my life. Do you know what hearing that did for me? It took so much pressure and weight off my shoulders. I think it’s no mistake that in the Bible it talks about people sharing in the same temptations and struggles as others, because there’s something that happens to a person when they feel like they are the only ones going through something. The truth is, we are never the only ones. So today, wherever you are, not just geographically but also emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually let me encourage you, God knows. When you think in your mind that no one could ever feel as violated or as hurt as you are, God knows exactly what you are feeling and He cares for you very much. I hope that whenever you read this, it encourages you as you realize that in whatever you face today or tomorrow, you are not, and will never be alone. He knows.

Known

The Storm Before The Calm

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Sometimes I just smile to myself. Do you ever go through so many things in a day that just seem so crazy and chaotic that you just smile and think “Are you kidding me”? It’s probably not a bad thing because it means I’m not banging my head against a wall. And I hear that smiling releases things that make you actually happy.

I wanted to talk about a famous saying that I have probably heard countless times throughout my 23 years.

“It’s the calm before the storm”

Well I think in my life it’s pretty much flipped. The storm before the calm. Do you notice that there are times where life will be good, things are great but you’re not really growing? Then all of a sudden a massive storm hits, suddenly you’re getting things thrown at you from every angle. Struggle after struggle, trial after trial, times where it seems like there is literally nothing good happening in your life. Times where there seems to be more darkness then light. But then you keep moving forward, you keep persevering in prayer, you don’t give place to the devil, you pull a James 4:7 and resist him. And light starts to break through, the clouds start to lighten up, the sun starts shining again and then you move to a higher place of authority in the areas that you are called to. You see that storm, was a furnace, refining you to live at a higher level because God had something even greater in store for you. The most patient people that I know are the ones who have had the greatest reasons to be impatient. The kindest people are the ones who usually have been treated the worst but in spite of that have kept a smile on their face. Wherever you are in your world today, whatever challenges you are facing, don’t see them as random problems, see them for what they are, chances for a victory.

I think joy and hope can’t be forgotten in these tough times, that’s what I want to encourage you with. The battle can’t be won with retaliation and anger and irritation and bitterness. The battle needs to be won with faith. There are things in your life that need to be moved, so move them with faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7

“We walk by faith, not by sight.”

The Storm Before The Calm

I Choose To Keep My Peace With Me

Peace

A few weeks ago I was doing some work away from my home and by the time my day was over I was pretty hungry, so rather then do the financially responsible thing and wait to eat at home, I stoped at Subway. It was around 11pm at night and as soon as I walked in I noticed the only employee left just sitting on the counter with nothing to do. So, we started talking. It must have been a really long day with no customers because as soon as she began talking she didn’t stop. She talked about how she has to work over 12 hours because the people who were set to work called her and told her that they were not coming in. Then I believe she started talking about her boss and how they don’t really care what happens, and that the responsibility all falls to her sometimes. As she was talking I could tell that she was getting more and more worked up, almost as if the sound of her thoughts coming out her mouth was making everything even more “real”. I waited for her to finish and then I said, “I know this is going to sound really new age, but do you want to know what I do when I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed?”. She said sure. I told her how I imagine peace as a tangible thing that surrounds me, and then I see these situations in my life that are stealing my peace, weather that be a personal situation, stress at work, finances that just aren’t there or whatever, and imagine that when I get stressed or overwhelmed, the peace that is supposed to surround me is released and given to these situations. So now, I told her, when something comes up that stresses me, I visualize my peace leaving me and going to these situations, and then I have to make a choice, will I let my peace go, or will I choose to keep it with me. She told me when I was done speaking that she never looked at it like that before. I payed for my sub, and I left.

What that woman does not know is who I partner with or what I’ve been through to develop that mindset.

James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

People have asked me throughout the years why I am a Christian. I remember someone even told me that I would be such an amazing person if only I would give up my beliefs. I’ve spoken with people who only see Christianity as rules, red tape, as something that is only about controlling the fun they could be having. But they never stop to ponder the things that they are forfeiting.

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace etc… I would give up anything that those people would offer me for the peace that I now have. You see I have lived long enough to know that tough times are inevitable, there’s no getting around them. But when they come, I don’t feel fear like I used to, I don’t feel like my whole world is coming to an end like I used to. I might still feel the adrenaline or even some nerves, but I rest secure knowing that I am surround by a peace that surpasses all understanding. I know that things will come against me, some directly from the devil and those who serve him intentionally or not, and others that will come just as a part of the world I live in. But when I allow peace to rule in my life, I can see things with my eyes that should scare me, I can hear things that are going on around me that should rob me of my sense of security. But when I allow peace to rule in my life I know that I will get through them all, and win, because I’m acknowledging that I can’t do things on my own, I need the one behind the fruits of the Spirit to take me past the end of myself.

Let me ask you a question, what situations in your life do you give your peace away to? More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

I Choose To Keep My Peace With Me

For Granted

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I wonder who or what you take for granted?

I’ve been going to the same church for as long as I can remember, people have come and gone throughout the years but the pastor (as far as I can remember) has been the same guy. A few years ago I remember going to church and just being so bored, I would look around, write notes to people sitting next to me and strategically plan my water breaks so I could break up the sermon. It’s sad to say, but this went on for awhile. I didn’t know I was missing out on anything, it was just my reality. Well, I remember when I was 18 years old (I’m 23 now) I realized how ridiculous my lifestyle was. I called myself a Christian, I knew the talk and the mannerisms of a Christian (or so I thought) but I held onto fear and my lifestyle choices. I didn’t fully give my life to God, sure I said that I did, but I didn’t. So there I was, 18 years old, jumping right into whatever God had for my life. My life has never been the same since. I remember I went back to church one day, and it’s like I heard my pastor speak for the first time. At the end of the message I turned to my mom and asked her honestly, “When did he start speaking like that!” She looked back at me and told me that he always spoke and taught on the word of God like that. You see it wasn’t the  pastor or his message that needed to change, it was my heart. As soon as I opened myself up to be able to receive what he was saying, I did.

So many of us walk around empty. Today I know more than ever that an empty life is not what God had planned for any of us. We take the little things, the constants for granted. I think of someone I know, he’s a good man with a good heart, always wanting to help people out. I remember this person was talking about his latest project that he was working on, he went on and on about this key person who showed up at the last moment that helped him accomplish what he set out to do. He then brought up another person and situation and another one. I remember noticing something though as this person was talking. You see as he was talking about these different people, he showed me a picture or two, what stood out to me wasn’t the people that were highlighted in the photos, but another person that in all of the situations and photos was in the background. It got me thinking about the constants in our lives. For example it’s amazing how much we take our health for granted until we get sick and vow to never eat junk food again. It’s sad how we put so much effort into pleasing our employers but then neglect the ones that are the most important in our lives. We walk around feeling empty, defeated, looking like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. In doing so, we take for granted the countless amount of blessings that are already in our lives. Just like when I was younger, I wanted to grow in my faith, but my heart wasn’t in the right place.  Week after week I could have had the opportunity to grow, but instead I stayed dry because I took what I had for granted. Or like that man, he poured his time and resources into projects and people that failed him but in the midst of it all there were people that were in the background working hard to help him all along.

Well, here we are, the beginning of a new year. It’s an interesting time of the year, a time where the majority look for things that they don’t have that they want to get. Well maybe, the things that you need have always been right in front of you all along. What are you taking for granted?

For Granted

Grab It

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The calling was always there, you just have to grab it.

I remember when I was younger, I always loved people, I loved being around people, I loved interacting with people. I thought I was just a people person. When I was younger I always loved to talk, I always loved to ask questions and learn and figure things out. When I was young and in elementary school I was so good at talking, that I remember guys would come to me and ask me to talk to the girl they liked to figure out if she liked them back. Why am I bringing this up? Well, when I was younger it seemed like I was just a kid who loved being around people, a kid who loved speaking and talking with people, a kid who loved to ask questions and figure things out. But now that I am a man, over a decade later, I can clearly see my calling through the lens of my past.

I remember working at jobs that paid me next to nothing, doing hard work, early mornings followed by late nights, day after day after week after week. I remember doing things that seemed so far removed from my calling that if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit clearly instructing me I would have quit a long time ago. But what I didn’t see, is my faith being tested. I didn’t see the character being build up in me. I saw boring tasks that seemed meaningless, God saw perseverance. I saw hardships and trials, God saw the development of long suffering and endurance. I saw a lack of purpose, God saw the beginnings of a great and lasting calling.

Today let me encourage you by reminding you that God has a plan for your life. It doesn’t matter if you are fifteen or fifty-five. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, what the world would deem as attractive or unattractive, if you have everything together or nothing at all. God has a great plan for your life. Just like when I was younger, I thought I just loved talking to people, but God was preparing me to be able to speak to tens of thousands on a nightly basis. So today let me encourage you by saying, maybe your calling isn’t as far off as you think, maybe your calling isn’t ten years down the road, maybe it was always right in front of you all along, you just have to see things for what they really are.

You’re calling was always there, you just have to reach out and grab it.

Grab It

God Knew.

Untitled-1.pngSometimes I can be selfish, I can get into the word, read something that blows me away, and then keep it to myself. Today I’m going to choose not to be selfish but share with you the good news that God gave me during my morning devotions.

Exodus 2:23-25: “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remember His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.”

There’s so much that I can take out of this small paragraph at the end of Exodus chapter 2, but this morning as I was reading I was blown away by the three small words that end chapter 2, and God knew. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew. Sometimes we separate ourselves from the truth. If the truth sets us free, then the opposite must give us the opposite effect of freedom. The truth is that God made us a promise, He will never leave us or forsake us. The lie is that He is distant and He doesn’t see what we are going through. Now, I think one of the coolest things about scripture is how even though it was written thousands of years ago, it still can be applied and can still directly speak to a situation in my life right now. In Exodus chapter 2, God saw the people of Israel and God knew. In 2016, God sees you at your job where you don’t feel valued, He sees you at your school when you cry to yourself in the washroom after being bullied, and He sees you at home when your trying so hard to keep the peace but everyone around you is going crazy, and He knows.

One of the benefits of living a Christian life is all the trials I have the opportunity to go through. I only say this half jokingly, because sure trials develop character and help me become a better person but trails at the end of the day wouldn’t be trials unless they tested you and pushed you to the limit of your abilities. There have been times that I have poured my heart out to a loved one, and there have been times where in return I heard them say, “I know what you’re going through.” Has that ever happened to you? Now, I appreciate what they say, but the truth of the matter is, in that moment they don’t know what I’m going through. Isolation adds to the pain. I don’t know if maybe I’m taking three words out of the old testament too far, I don’t know if maybe I’m stretching them beyond how they were meant to be interpreted, but there is just something in knowing that God sees me, He sees my situation, He sees my struggle, but not only does He see me and my situation and struggle, He knows. People around me can see what I’m going through, but God knows.

I’m a busy guy, but I try to put things in place that would keep my healthy, I don’t really have a lot of time to do so now, but I used to go to the gym. As part of starting up they gave each new member a 1 hour personal training session with a personal trainer, they even had a bulletin board with all of the personal trainers pictures on it, one by one I could look at the different trainers pictures and choose what one I wanted to work with. You know what would have been stupid? It would have been stupid for me to go to the bulletin board, look at all the pictures, and see a bunch of out of shape people. Sure they could tell me how to be fit, but they don’t know how to be fit because they had never done it themselves. When I go to the gym I want someone working with me who is not in worse shape then me but in better shape, why, well because they understand what it takes to get to the desired result. With that in mind, let me encourage you but reaffirming it in your mind wherever you are at, God doesn’t just see or understand, He knows and is putting things in place to deliver you from your troubles in due time. All we have to do is keep faith, and a steady pace as we walk according to His will for our lives.

 

God Knew.

Help Is Coming

Desert .pngMatthew Chapter 4. The chapter where Jesus is led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted of the devil. There’s so much to talk about and learn from the beginning of Matthew Chapter 4. Rather than talk about temptation or overcoming temptation, I wanted to encourage you by taking a look at verse 11 after Jesus overcame the devil.

“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Jesus was born into a sinful world just like you and I, He had to face the same problems and  the same temptations that you and I have to face every day, but Jesus overcame them all. If it was easy for him, Matthew Chapter 4 would not begin with, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”. For example, I don’t smoke, if someone came up to me and offered me a cigarette, I’d say,”No”. It’s not something I like, therefore, it would be easy for me to say no, but if that same cigarette was offered to someone who had battled with trying to overcome smoking for years it would probably be a different story. All this to say that I’m sure the devil was very mindful of what he was tempting Jesus with, especially when he had so much to gain if he was successful. The good news is that Jesus overcame all temptation, but once again, that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Read the second part of that verse, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. The devil left, the angels came. We don’t know this for sure, but it seemed like almost immediately after the trial the angels came to Jesus. When I read this it jumped out at me because rather than separate the devil tempting Jesus and the angels then coming to minister to him, I see it as part of the same story. There was a lot riding on Jesus overcoming the devil throughout those 40 days.  I imagine when I read this verse that all of heaven stood still just watching to see what was going to happen, cheering when Jesus overcame time and time again. These angels just waiting for the devil to completely be defeated and overcome so they could rush to his aid and potentially provide him with food to strengthen and encourage him.

Today, I want to encourage you, here on earth, in your situation you may only be seeing the devil coming after you, you may only see the problems that are all around you, the bills that can’t be paid, the boss that seems to only be coming after you or the constant reminder of your failures, but be encouraged. In heaven God has a different view of your circumstance. You may see another trial as just the world beating on you once again, but for all you know, just like Jesus, it could be the last trial until the devil flees and all heaven cheers as God steps down into your situation and changes your life completely. Stand firm, knowing that for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than your ways and God’s thoughts higher than your thoughts. Know that the devil doesn’t attack you randomly, he comes at you and hits you in your areas of weakness for a reason. He wants you to quit, he wants you to give up because he is desperate and running out of time. Stand strong knowing that God is watching, He will never give you more than you can handle and He is good at the right time to release the help that you need. The story that you see unfolding in front of you on earth is being finished in heaven. Don’t give up. Stand strong.

Help Is Coming