Recently I sat down with a few people over lunch, the conversation was pretty neutral, they were going on about how someone that they knew was, long story short, doing things they shouldn’t really be doing. It’s interesting because they went on to start talking about the devil, saying the devil this and the devil that, and while I do agree that the enemy wants to destroy our lives and does try and influence our thoughts, the devil can’t take anyone as a believer anywhere they don’t want to go. “Well Terry what do you mean, I have experienced this situation that was clearly not from God and I have been struggling with these thoughts”. That’s fair, with that considered let’s go to the ultimate source of wisdom the word of God,
James 1 “But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”
Can I be as bold as to say we as Christians should be at war with ourselves and with our own desires almost as much as we are with the devil and his demons. It sounds weird doesn’t it? But those thoughts that we might entertain as innocent, do you know where they end up? In death. Think about the times where you have gone to really low places or did things that you knew were not right, did you just wake up praising God saying, today is a great day to sin, no of corse not, it happened slowly over time. The guard was let down, slowly thoughts turned into desires which turned into sin which if not dealt with leads to death. Let me encourage you we need to stand strong and come against things that would try and take us out, not giving place to the small things or thoughts but taking all things captive in accordance to Christ Jesus as the Bible says. It’s like the famous analogy of an affair that someone might have. The person didn’t kiss their spouse goodnight and then wake up in bed with another person. It started long before anything ever happened, maybe with a few comments that turned into a few thoughts that turned into an idea or a few hangouts. See, the things in our lives that are full blown problems for the most part didn’t start out the way they might be now, they started out small and probably seemingly insignificant. We need to be aware of what’s happening, if we stay on top of the small things giving the enemy no room in our hearts or minds, we will see things change and God’s will come to pass in our lives.
When I was younger I loved health class, learning about cells the different functions of the body and a whole bunch of random things that aren’t really useful for me to know as a radio host. I remember in elementary school I used to read the textbook for fun. I never wanted to be a doctor, but let’s say that I became one, and I’m in the room with the other doctors discussing a patient before we go into surgery and I say, guys, I have this great idea, there simply isn’t enough strength in this persons current heart, let’s take it out. Problem solved! Obviously you don’t have to be a doctor or a medical professional to know that ripping someones heart out Indiana Jones Temple Of Doom style is not a great idea. Without the heart, without that central organ nothing else is any good. You could have the best muscles, the best abs, the greatest mind but if you don’t have a heart baby you are headed for a funeral.
Is it really any different with our spiritual lives? We go around and we stress about looking a certain way, or we study and study to increase our intellect or even strive for great success in our business or relationships, but we end up easily forgetting God, the one that our strength our passion our ideas and our energy comes from. Remember that bible story from when you were a kid, the foolish man build his house upon the sand but the wise man built his house upon the rock? We all know and understand that analogy, but how many of us actually are building our lives upon the foundation of Jesus Christ? Let me encourage you as a friend, the bible says the fruits of the Spirit are love and joy and peace and patience, not the fruits of business not the fruits of money or fame or looking good. The bible says, trust in the Lord with all of your heart, don’t lean on the way you understand things, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and then as a result He will make your paths straight. HE will, not security or a strict work out routine or 5 million in the bank. Is your path feeling a bit crooked recently. Let’s go back to the beginning and remember to make God our source.
This is a transitional time for a lot of people, especially students, there’s graduation, leaving the familiar for the unknown, the pressure of post secondary education, the fear of the unknown. I think it’s easy to get lost in that type of flow. Have you ever tried to make things happen over and over again only to end up thinking that there is something wrong with you because no matter how hard you try, you don’t seem to be getting anywhere or accomplishing anything?
My nature is very much “try hard and make things happen”, I don’t like sitting still, I love progress, sometimes though, in my motivation I lose the most important thing, an eternal perspective. I was visiting a church recently and the pastor brought up Psalm 127, at the very beginning it says:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
We can spend days and sleepless night thinking and scheming, “how will I make this happen how will I do that, if I go to the university, if I marry the person, if I get the job, if I get the money, if I buy that thing”, but unless you and I are men and women who say, God your will above my own, your ways are higher than mine, take control and guide me in what to do, we can very easily find ourselves at the end of our lives looking back saying, it was all in vain. I don’t think any of us want that. Let me encourage you, people throw around words like hustle and grind all the time in todays day and age, but it’s the Lord that establishes, He has lent us breath of life, each one of our leases will run out one day, what are we all going to do with the time that God has given to us? Will we live for ourselves, or will we choose to live with eternity in our hearts at the front of our minds?
When you think you’ve figured things out in an area of life, you’re usually reminded that…well, you haven’t. A few weeks ago I was sitting down taking some time to go over a few different projects that I have on the go, there was one in particular that was going to be expensive. I sat there and was crunching the numbers, thinking of the different ways that I could make it happen. I know it sounds a little bit strange, but I thought to myself, “I’m not worried”. Sure it was a decent amount of money, but I honestly wasn’t worried about where it was all going to come from. At the same time I wasn’t experiencing peace in the situation. That’s when the Holy Spirit taught me a lesson. There’s a difference between not worrying, and trusting in God.
Somehow over the years I made up this default thought pattern in my mind that I didn’t even realize I would think, “If I’m not worried, that must mean I’m automatically trusting in God.” The more I thought about those two things being (wait for the university word…) synonymous (what a word) the more I realized that it really isn’t the case at all.
When I get into the word one theme that stands out in all the great stories is the fact that faith, the real type of faith that moved mountains and cultures and situations, was not passive but active and intentional. When we think to ourselves that not worrying automatically means that we are trusting in God, it’s almost like we are walking in passive faith. Faith that says, I’m not doing this, so that automatically means that I am doing that, which isn’t even close to the case. Let me encourage you, worry will get you nowhere. However not worrying is only half of the battle. We need to not just say no to worry we need to at the same time stir up our faith and actively, not passively bring all of our cares and concerns to God and place our trust in a source that is greater than ourselves or our ability to change the things that we face.
Some of the hardest things to walk through are the things we can’t control. Recently there were a few friends of mine who experienced a loss in their family, if that wasn’t hard enough it seemed to come out of nowhere. It is a very natural thing to grieve after someone passes away, but I feel like there is a preparation that as Christians the Holy Spirit can walk us through when we see someone not doing so well as their health declines over time. It’s the sudden, the unexpected, that really has the opportunity to take us out. I spoke about it in the past, how things can be building momentum in a good way, we can be moving forward in our faith, feeling good about our family lives when all of a sudden the unexpected comes and takes that momentum away from us.
I think momentum is something that we don’t talk about enough in the church. When it’s there, there is a lot of joy and energy so we don’t really think about it that much. But when it’s suddenly taken from us, it’s very hard to get back. My question, what are we supposed to do when something suddenly comes and takes our breath, energy or even reason for joy away? Romans 8:6 says, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” There are times to mourn and grieve about different difficult situations, but it’s not a place that we are called to stay in. When we keep living in a way that calls up our past over and over again it leads only to discouragement, but when we stop the cycle and remember that God is for us, and has amazing things for our lives and for the lives of the people around us, life and peace rush in.
Let me encourage you, there are things that are terrible that we’ve walked through, some harder than others, some that you’re probably facing right now, even still God is good, just because there is a devil does not mean that there isn’t a God that is good. Don’t forget that. Seasons end, keep your eyes on God as you walk forward one step at a time and the peace that surpasses all understanding will be with you.
Each day, at the time I’m writing this, I drive back and forth to and from the studio where I work. It’s not a horrible commute by any means at only about an hour of driving per day. Over the years though it’s become one of my favorite parts of my day because during my drive I put on a podcast to learn and get inspired. The other day as I was heading into the studio I put on a show called “Focus On The Family”, if you’re not familiar with the people at Focus, they bring in guests with the main goal of helping families and the body of Christ. I forget the guest’s name but I heard him say something interesting so I thought I’d share it with you. He said, “There comes a time where we need to stop telling God about our mountains, and start telling our mountains about God.”
Isn’t it easy to get stuck in the mentality of “God fix this, God you need to move this situation, God are you even listening”. I don’t know about you but even as I type that out it really does scream anxious and desperate, neither of which the bible calls any of us as believers. The truth is, millennia ago Jesus died, paying the ultimate price so that we could overcome anything that would be coming against us. Somewhere along the way though we stopped building our relationship’s with God and instead started to build a relationship with our emotions and thoughts instead. I think that’s where a lot of us get into trouble. Let me encourage you, don’t be a “God you need to fix this right now” type of Christian. Let’s be men and women who know who we are in God, in confidence knowing the power that has been given to us. So when the trails and mountains and situations come we can speak hope into them knowing that the same God that got us through in the past is good and faithful to do it again!
I enjoy this time of year, it’s not to hot and not to cold, perfect for putting on a coat and going for a nice walk. This morning as I was out walking I noticed these two dead trees that were just over halfway down my driveway. They didn’t just die today, I’ve noticed that they have been dead for awhile, I just never addressed them. You see I have a long tree lined driveway so if I cut them down they’d leave a big empty space. So I keep putting it off. This morning as I was looking at them as I walked past I had this thought, why am I calling what’s dead alive? Why am I convincing myself that these dead trees don’t need to be cut down?
I think that can apply directly too many areas in our lives. There are sins, things that we have done in the dark, relationships that are nothing but draining, habits that bring us down that we keep persevering in, when really we need to let them go. Let me ask you, what in your life is dead that you’ve been calling alive? What things have been bringing you nothing but pain or habits that have done nothing but crushed your spirit over time that are so comfortable that you’re willing to live with them instead of cutting them out of your life? I’ve learned something a long time ago, freedom comes when truth is allowed. These things don’t bring life, they bring death. It’s time we stop putting it off, and cut them down.