Bad Day Syndrome

Some mornings we wake up and we suddenly realize it’s gonna be one of those days. I call it BDS (Bad Day Syndrome). I recently woke up with a severe case of BDS. My alarm went off at 5:30 on a Sunday morning so I could get up and begin my morning routine. I didn’t get up. I stared at it and said, “NO!” I reset it for 6:30 and again it went off and again I said, “NO!” What I was really thinking was, “Not today Satan!” But of course, it wasn’t Satan trying to get me out of bed to pray.

When I finally got out of bed I stumbled into the kitchen to fill my cup with water and my roommate chose that morning to walk up behind me and give me a scare. The joke was on him, I turned around threw my water at him and stormed out of the room. I did immediately come back apologize and tell him it was a rough morning.

Finally, I tried to open my Bible and read, but for whatever reason this day all motivation was gone. I had no energy to begin reading His precious Word. I knew today was gonna be rough. I didn’t have the energy to pursue a fresh word, but I knew where I could find something to keep me going. I opened my prayer journal and began to skim writings from the past few days and I came across this scripture.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I knew I was in a moment of very real weakness. I knew if I tried to go through that Sunday in my own strength, I would fail and end up in a bad situation. I kept this verse on my mind every moment that day, reminding myself that my strength is from Jesus. Letting Him be my strength I made it through the day with a good attitude.

We naturally want to hide our weaknesses, but in doing so we actually increase their power in our lives. We have to admit when we’re weak and surrender those weaknesses to the Lord so that He can demonstrate His power through those weaknesses.

I am not where Paul was that I can take pleasure in my weakness, however, I can recognize that by not trying to cover it up I gave God an opportunity to work in my life!

What are you going through in life? Maybe you are feeling weak, persecuted, chewed up and spit out, or maybe you’re just plain at the end of your rope. Wherever you find yourself today, I want to encourage you not to give up. Rather, lift your head up. Look to God in the midst of all your weakness. Don’t try to put on a brave face or a strong mask. Be vulnerable. It is in our brokenness that He is able to work the best.

Psalm 34:18-20 (NLT) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

The Danger of Contentment

The goal of humanity is contentment. Everyone wants to be happy rather than sad, angry and depressed. We want to be full of peace and we don’t want to endure suffering. That is basic human desire. However, I find that in the midst of lacking struggle, in the midst of contentment we are often in the most danger. It is in times of ease and comfort that we are tempted to rely on human effort rather than God’s gentle guiding hand.

Psalms 63:1 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

We have all related to this scripture at some point in our lives. During those moments of heartache, loss of direction, confusion, we find ourselves full of a diving desperation. We begin to seek out the Lord’s help when things aren’t working out like we expected, hoped or feel we deserve. We are very aware of the fragility of humanity and how great our need is. The problem is our need for God is just as great during the good seasons as it is in the bad season. Yet, during the good, we are less inclined to turn to the Lord.

Isaiah 31:1 (NLT) What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

During seasons of contentment, we sometimes lose sight of God and begin looking at our own strength, or the strength of our neighbors. When tragedy begins to strike who do we run to first? Sadly, many times we run to God as a last resort. We turn to our neighbors first and when their strength fails we remember the Lord. He should be the first person we turn to not the last.

Psalm 63:6 (NLT) I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.

This scripture is particularly challenging to me as I continue to challenge myself in my daily devotional life. I have a love for His word that is stronger than it has ever been, yet in some seasons and I crave it more than others. When was the last time I lay awake at night just thinking of the goodness of God?  Dwelling in His presence and loving Him? Last night I did a devotional, prayed briefly and then watched shark tank til I went to sleep. I missed an opportunity to just dwell in His presence.

What about you? Do you think upon the Lord with that level of passion and consistency? Is He continually in your thoughts? I would bet during seasons of hardship He is in your thoughts more often than seasons is ease. More and more I find myself looking back with gratitude for difficult seasons that drove me deeper into the presence and Word of God. I would rather have a difficult life, full of reliance on the Lord, than a life of ease where I neglect my Creator.

The goal of humanity is contentment, but we have slightly missed the mark. Our goal should be contentment in Christ. Too often we want contentment from a life without struggle. We want to have plenty of money and live a worry free life. Those aren’t bad goals, but if we are seeking contentment from possessions rather than Jesus then our goals are wicked.

I pray that we wake ourselves, search our hearts and renew our desire for the Lord. I pray you would develop a greater reliance upon Jesus. Regardless of the season, let us dwell upon the Lord day and night! Our need for Him is constant, so should our reliance upon Him be. Let us remain desperate and dependant upon Jesus in times of difficulty and especially during times of contentment.

A Broken Computer

I love having the latest technology before everyone else. I’m an apple user and last year I enrolled my phone and both my computers in their beta program and had the latest operating system months before everyone else. It was awesome. A few months ago I did the same thing, only this time it wasn’t awesome. The trouble with downloading beta software is that it will be glitchy and this year the glitches were huge, especially for my 2010 MacBook Pro, which I use to do all my writing. It was almost unusable, certainly not conducive to my writing process.

I had loaded software onto my computer that wasn’t ready yet. It is good software, but it wasn’t the right time. It was broken. Today as I am officially relaunching daily pursuits it has me thinking, how often do we rush to add things to our lives that we aren’t ready for and it ends in disaster? In the same way I ended up with a broken computer, many times we end up with broken lives.

Proverbs 16:25 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

I wish I would have waited to add that software to my computer. Not only was the software not ready, but I hadn’t prepared my computer. When using beta software you are supposed to backup your computer beforehand in case you need to downgrade. I didn’t do that. Which means to fix it, I had to lose everything on my laptop. Thankfully, I didn’t lose anything important, but it was a huge inconvenience.

Just because something seems right at this moment, doesn’t mean it is. Maybe it’s for a later moment? The biggest example that comes to mind is love. How many of us got ourselves into trouble because we rushed into relationships at a young age? Yet the Bible says this…

Song of Solomon 2:7 (NLT) Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.

The same thing is repeated in Song of Solomon 8:4. Love is beautiful and amazing, yet when awakened too early it often leads to heartache and a myriad of other issues that we have to deal with later in life.

We also have a tendency to rush big decisions. We have a consumer mentality, “This is a great deal, but you have to accept it right now or it goes away.” We feel this tug to make decisions quickly, but sometimes we need to slow down. A decision made quickly is often a decision we didn’t pray about.

The reality is the software I added to my computer, wasn’t necessary I just wanted it. Many times we add things to our lives, that we feel like we need, but we don’t. Sometimes it is material things that we spend money on. Other times it is just in how we spend our time.  I know for me when I feel overwhelmed, I need a down day. The issue is when I feel like that I feel like I need to just rest, watch some tv or play some video games and a little of that is nice. However, if that’s all I do then I’ve missed out because my true rest comes not from those things, but from the presence of Jesus.

Many times we add things to our lives, but we add the wrong things, or we add the right things at the wrong time. Either way, the solution is to get into the presence of God and seek His will and direction for our lives.

What are some things you’ve recently added to your life that hasn’t benefitted you? The good news is that regardless of mistakes we have made God doesn’t make it difficult to make things right.

Today find some time to get alone and go into your prayer closet. Fill your life up with the presence of the Lord. Dig into Word of God. Give Him an opportunity to speak to you. Simply say, “God I want to hear Your voice, please speak to me, guide me and fill me.”

He will do it.

Are You Truly Alive?

What makes you feel alive? Is it the thrill of racing 100mph on the backroads of a small town? Risking it all (or at least your lunch) by riding the rides at the fair? There is something about having a brush with death that truly makes us feel alive. Could the reason be that if we want to really live we have to die?

1 Corinthians 15:35-38 (NLT) But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

Of course, here Paul is talking about the new bodies we will have in Heaven and that is a very important lesson. We love to tell adrenaline laced stories of moments that got out heart racing, but there is more to life than simply the beat of your heart. The question of life isn’t whether or not your heart is beating and if you have a story to tell, it’s will you still be around to tell your story still in eternity.

As Paul continues to write I believe he reveals a powerful principle that not only echoes into eternity, but also has significant meaning for us today.

1 Corinthians 15:45-46 (NLT) The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later.

In order for the spiritual to have life, the natural has to die. Before those with active minds run away from me, (sorry I know it’s too late for some of you) let me clarify. I am NOT suggesting a literal death to your physical body, but a death to your sinful passions and thought patterns. As we learn to live in the Spirit we must put to death who we used to be. It is this surrender that allows us to experience all that God has for us.

I’m one of those crazy people who fully believes that life should be AWESOME. That we should have exciting stories to tell and I believe that God is wanting to empower us to live in such a way that we always have an amazing story to tell! I believe in the supernatural power of God, healings, words of knowledge and He longs to demonstrate it for the purpose of building His Kingdom and reconciling the lost with their Heavenly Father.

It starts when we surrender our natural lives and exchange them for His supernatural life. We must remember that we have victory in Jesus and are empowered to be fully surrendered to Him. We have victory!

1 Corinthians 15:55-58 (NLT) O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

My closing question for you today is what are you doing for the Lord? The question for some of you might be what should you be doing for the Lord? I believe the one thing we all should be doing is bringing people to Jesus. There is nothing we should be more enthusiastic about than showing people the love of the Savior who laid down His life so that sinners might be saved.

Let’s die to the natural so that we might be fully alive in the spiritual! Let’s shake off the chains of sin. Let’s put on the boldness of lions. Let us believe that God’s word is true and let’s share the good news! Let’s seek God for miracles. Let’s trust that He is faithful to His Word. Our lives can be a threat to the darkness of sin,  depression and disease. When we let go of our natural lives and embrace the super natural, we will have a story to tell.

What’s your story?

Rules Vs Relationship

Likely, we are all familiar with the expression, “Christianity is not about rules, but a relationship.” It rings true, but why is it true? What is the difference between following a set of rules and having a relationship with God? I started thinking about this when I read the following scripture.

2 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT) He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

In case you’re not familiar, the Bible is made up of  two covenants (or Testaments) God made with man. The Old covenant was between and God and Israel when they left Egypt, the second between Jesus and all humanity. The old Covenant is often referred to as the covenant of law and the new covenant is the covenant of grace. The question that haunts me is, “Did God always intend for the old covenant to be so filled with rules?”

Exodus 29:45-46 (NLT) Then I will live among the people of Israel and be their God, 46 and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God.

This scripture reveals that God brought them out of Egypt with the intention that He Himself would live among them and He did. However, those who could come into His presence were limited by the law. Only those from the tribe of Levi were permitted to come into the Holy of Holies.  This wasn’t His intention. In fact, in Exodus 19 God reveals Himself to all of Israel.

He instructed them to prepare and gather around Mt. Sinai and in one glorious moment, He reveals Himself to them in a cloud filled with thunder and lightning. The Lord descended in the form of fire and smoke billowed into the sky.  The whole mountain shook violently! It was scary. Still, it is important to note God’s first instinct was to reveal Himself to His people. He wanted relationship with them and they rejected Him.

Exodus 20:18-19 (NLT) When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

It was once the people made it clear they did not want direct contact with God that Moses went to the mountain and the Lord began to give him a very complex set of rules for which the people would be governed. If they would obey all the regulations contained in the law they would be right with God, but of course, no one could ever do that. It was not possible. So God instituted a sacrificial system by which to be made right with God.

Then when the time was right God sent Jesus. The divine Son of God stepped down from Heaven into humanity. He fulfilled every requirement of the law. He knew no sin. The people rejected Him, called Him a blasphemer and called for His death. They nailed an innocent man to a block of wood. As He hung there, this man who had fulfilled the law and knew no sin suddenly too upon Himself the sins of all mankind. He paid the price for our salvation and through Him, a new covenant was forged, not of rules, but of relationship with God through Jesus.

God no longer is hidden and we are no longer cut off from Him. He has restored our relationship with Him and He once again dwells among His people.

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

Why is this important? We sometimes still focus so much on rules that we forget about relationship. We condemn ourselves when we fall short and we love to throw stones at the faults of others. I’m not saying we should abandon rules, I’m saying if we would get our relationship right then the rules wouldn’t be necessary. Out of love for Jesus, we would begin to instinctively live the way He desires. Rules become a mandate only when there is a lack of relationship.

Today, I just encourage you to focus on building a strong relationship with God. Take your focus off yourself, your faults and your shortcomings. Find joy in glorious relationship with the creator of the universe.

Do You Love God?

Do you love God? That’s an interesting question. Growing up in church the natural response is, “Of course I love God!” Still, I feel this question deserves more probing than our initial positive response. It’s ok to ask ourselves, “Do I really love God?” Or “Does the way I live my life reflect my love for God?” Let’s look at love in the context of human relationship.

Imagine a husband and wife relationship in which the wife works hard to take care of the kids and meet every single need within the house, but never spends any time with her husband? A different couple spends several weeks together, inseparable, completely devoted to each other, but once a month they go and sleep with other people. I’m not suggesting that you are so directly guilty of these things, however, I find that these two scenarios occur within the church context all too often.

Many of us are very focused on the ministry of God’s house, being sure to provide for all the needs of the church. We are faithful to fulfill our ministry roles, going above and beyond the call of duty. Sometimes we are so busy with our work and ministry that we neglect our very relationship with Jesus. Our prayer life declines and we never have time to really study God’s word. God is always first and foremost concerned with your relationship with Him than He is your service to Him.

In the same way, many Christians are faithful to God most of the time, but every now and then they take a personal day to live however they want. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes they just grow tired and become weak. However, if we are the bride of Christ we should be His bride all the time, not only when it is convenient. I want to look at love through the context of 1 Corinthians 13.

This is a very common portion of scripture, read by Christians and non-Christians alike at wedding ceremonies. It’s a beautiful depiction of love. Let’s be sure not only to read it in the context of relationships but in the context of our love for God, God’s love for us and God’s love for all of humanity.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Do you love God like that? It’s easy to be wowed by the simple fact that love like that can exist. It’s incredible to think God loves me that way! But How am I doing at loving others that way? Do I love God with a love that doesn’t demand its own way? Does my love for the Lord never give up or lose faith? I can’t say that is always the case.

This scripture is the standard we should strive to hit when it comes to loving people. This is real love, not just how a marriage should look, but friendship and ministry as well. We must grow in love for people if we hope to lead them to the truth of Jesus. In order to accomplish that we must grow in a love for God.

I have long believed that a mark of maturity in the life of a believer is growing in love for people. I am convinced that as we truly grow in love for the Lord, He puts within us a supernatural love for others. Love is the natural byproduct of spending time in the presence of Jesus and that love is reflected in the way we live.

True love for the Lord is evidenced in our ability to obey His commands. Again I ask the question, “Does the way I live my life reflect my love for God?” In my weakest moment do my actions still reflect my love for Christ? I’ve had some weak moments lately. Some of them have reflected Jesus and some of them have not. When we find faults within us, we should run into His presence and learn anew to love Him with an undivided heart.

The world is constantly threatening to pull our affections away from the Lord and when it begins to happen we will see disobedience and sins slipping into our lives. We shouldn’t be ashamed, but we should be quick to identify it and repent. Let us bring our lives into the light of Jesus and through His sacrifice on the cross turn from sin and truly live in love for Him!

Camp Experience Vs Real Life Experience

I recently took a group of students to summer camp. It was an incredible week as they were all engaged completely from night one. Each student had God do a work in their life. Even for myself, it was a powerful week. Now that it’s behind me I can’t help but reflect on something so many of us have encountered and witnessed many times.

We go to a camp, conference or some kind of powerful service. We feel as though our lives have been transformed and we leave determined to live out a new life filled with supernatural power. Fast forward a few weeks and nothing in our life has really changed. Sometimes we fall back into old sin habits.  Other times we are just discouraged because we don’t feel His presence like we did at camp. What went wrong?

I’ve pondered that a lot this week and this is where I’ve landed. What if nothing went wrong? I’m not saying it’s ok to fall back into old habits, but we do sometimes have the wrong expectation that every day for the rest of our life will be exactly like that camp experience. That’s not real life. Do we sometimes have unexpected powerful encounters with God in our daily devotional life? Absolutely, yes! However, that doesn’t mean there are not seasons that feel so completely dry you wonder if God has forgotten you.

What do we do? How do we sustain the life transformation we felt at our “camp experience” and maintain a passionate relationship with God? The first thing I would recommend is to evaluate if what you experienced was God’s transforming power or His revelation. There are moments when He absolutely heals hurts, brings freedom from addictions and does a true transforming work in our lives. However, there are many other times where we have a powerful encounter with His presence and what He did was reveal areas in our lives we need to surrender and live out the change.

The responsibility many times relies on us to recognize what the Lord spoke to us and dedicate our lives to living out the truth of His word. The camp experience is fast, filled with emotional charge and clarity of God’s voice. Real life often moves much slower, doesn’t see instant results and often depends upon self-discipline rather than a driving emotional force.

Another thing that makes real life more challenging to live our than our camp experience is that many times we come home from camp to find even though we felt change wihin us, our home life and our life circumstances have not changed. At camp we are taken out of our usual routine, associations and assignements. We are completely set apart to pursue God. When we go home all of that is still there. Our families are still a mess. Our financial situation hasn’t changed. Our social status isn’t suddenly elavated. The same temptations we faced before are still there.

It’s easy to pursue God whole heartedly when we remove all distractions, but once we are back in our routines it’s all to easy to fall into the same old lifestyle we lived before. We have to intentionally purpose in our hearts to make actual changes to help us keep a godly mindset. We may have to change how we spend our time. We must make time to spend with Jesus and maybe decrease our video game, tv, entertainment time. We may need to distance ourselves from friends who influence us to do wrong. We may need to work harder to live in peace with our parents. We may need to work to change our negative attitudes into positive attitudes.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

When we come to know Jesus the Bible says we are set apart as holy. That doesn’t just mean we sepearate ourselves from the world. Anyone can do that. I could could go find a cave to live in, cut off all tv and interenet and avoid everyone. You wouldn’t call that holy, you’d call that crazy. To be holy is to seperate yourselves unto the Lord for His purposes.

We need the camp experience. We need seasons where we get away and just chase the Lord free of distraction. We also need to learn what it means to truly pursue the Lord within the context of our daily routines. True life change doesn’t happen in one glorious moment. It is a daily decision to continue living out the change we experienced. Too often our eyes are opened and after a few weeks we close them again. It’s easier to ignore our shortcomings than to try and change them.

My prayer for you today is that you would honestly evaluate times in your life where you  had a camp experience and it didn’t last. What do you think went wrong? Let’s purpose in our hearts to seek the Lord wholeheartedly!