More than YOU can handle

Sometimes you’re at a loss about what to pray, but you know you need too. You don’t know exactly what kind of help you need from God, but you know you need it. The stuff going on around you may be overwhelming and in some ways you’re just throwing your hands up and saying, “OK God, I got nothin! Help!” So maybe you look to His Word (as you should) and maybe the ever popular Romans 8:28 is given to you. Maybe by a friend or you remember hearing it somewhere. Its a great verse! Don’t get me wrong. But its also a VERY misquoted and misused verse. Check this out:

Romans 8:28 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

And the motto of this verse is usually something like this: “God will never give you more than you can handle because you are His!”

That sounds encouraging! But it’s not necessarily true. Now…Let’s look at scripture properly and in context. One of the biggest steps in putting a verse in context involves looking at the verses around any given verse. Most people don’t do that.

Look at the 2 verses before it verse 28.

Romans 8:26-27 NIV
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Here’s the deal. God always gives us MORE than we can handle, so He can show you just how much you need Him. And just when you think you are over your head, you need to realize something. You are! Let Him help you handle it. If we could handle everything, then we wouldn’t need God now would we. But we can’t handle everything. We can’t control everything. There is only so much we can do about any given issue or situation. Those are the moments that we lean on Him the most. Those are the moments that He shows who is really in control and those are the moments that you realize (again and again) just how weak you are…and thats ok, because you are exactly where He wants you. He wants you on the chair, holding onto Him for dear life. Then it all makes sense and everything becomes clear.

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A Tire By Faith

God shows up in the weirdest ways sometimes. Yesterday I met my wife Valerie and the kids for lunch at Hamburger Station…don’t judge; its good! Best onion rings ever! Anyways, I showed up first, so I ordered the food and I waited for her to get there. Two minutes later she pulls in to the parking lot so I went out to help her get the kids. It was raining. As I approach the back of the van I hear a loud “hisssssssss”. I’m thinking, “Oh please not right now!” Sure enough, the back left tire was slowly deflating. Wow. Great timing (As if there is good timing for a flat tire). We have 4 kids with us; its raining; I have a meeting in an hour and the spare is not easy to get to at all! What now!?

God had it handled though in more ways than you can fathom right now.

I would love to say I stopped and prayed. I should have, but I didn’t. I got on the phone with a tire place down the road to see what they could do. They basically said if you can get it to us we can take care of you. Just then a large white van pulls into the spot next to our van. The man driving it gets out, looks at our tire and comes into the restaurant. He immediately asks us if that is our van and if we know that the tire is almost flat. I tell him our situation and then he says this….are you ready for this?!

“I have a car jack, a tire plug and repair kit and an air compressor in my van! Do you want me to plug your tire and get you going?” Are you serious right now?! I had to take a step back and breathe. Then it hit me. God sent this man. No doubt in my mind. I said, “Sir. If you would be willing, that would be great!” Sure enough, he plugged the tire and filled it with air! I told him how much I appreciated it and how I truly believe that God sent him to Hamburger Station for lunch that day! He chuckled, but what a God send! I tried to give him some cash or pay for his lunch, but he wouldn’t take it. He said he just hopes someone would help him when he needs it someday. I found out he was a believer and we talked for a few more minutes before he went on his way. His name is Kevin. If you think of it, pray for a blessing on his life during this season.

We drove the van with no problem down to the tire place. The plug held like a champ! When we got there we had to get a new tire anyways because the puncture was close to the side wall. It was a potential safety issue. So we had to drop some money for a new tire all the same, which didn’t excite me very much, but at least it was fixed. You would think the story would end here, but God STILL wasn’t finished!

The tire was replaced in about 15 minutes. Val drove off to get the kids home for naps and I headed back to church for a staff meeting. In the beginning of the staff meeting I get a text from Val that says this:

“Thank God we weren’t home! We would have been dealing with a worse issue with the van. One of the shelves fell off of the wall in the garage. It would’ve hit the van probably dented it and probably broke out a window!”

The window that would have broken would have been the huge one on the drivers side sliding door. Right where Wilson (our 1 year old) usually sits. That would have cost A LOT more than a tire. Or what if it would have fallen while we had him in his seat! Or while the sliding door was open with him buckled in his seat! Good grief! Ok God! I hear you now, and I definitely see your handiwork!

What are the chances? I mean…all of it! Too many things could have gone very, very wrong and too many pieces of this story fell into place a little too perfect for it to be anything other than God. If this was not an example of His ways being higher than our ways or the evidence of things unseen, then I don’t know what is.


Gratitude & Generosity

Remember the last time I wrote a blog post?! Yeah me neither. I am going to try and do better from now on. I want to be more generous with my time and invest in the things that matter…we all should, but life gets in the way sometimes. And that is a poor excuse if I’m being honest. Which is ironic because isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t the christian life supposed to be about investing in others for The Cause of Christ?

If you haven’t read the passage in Philippians yet, go ahead and do it.

While it may not seem like the most appropriate passage for Thanksgiving, trust me; it is. This was not the first time that the church at Philippi had met a need of Paul’s. They were consistently generous with him, and this was a unique among the churches that Paul started. None of the other churches supported him like the Philippians did. All of the churches knew that Paul needed help in prison, but they didn’t do anything about it. The Philippians were incredibly generous. Not because they HAD to, but because they wanted too.

And as much as Paul appreciated the gifts that met his immediate need, and as generous as the Philippian church was the moment they heard about Paul’s need. It wasn’t about that moment. Paul knew that it was about so much more! It was about the future. It was about the churches that would be started because Paul made it through that tough time. ABT and Connect HSM would not exist if Paul hadn’t made it through prison.

Let that sink in for a minute.

On the surface, gratitude and generosity seem like two things that are almost forced out of us. Like when I won’t let Lincoln have a cookie until he says thank you, or when the Salvation Army bell ringer stares you down with a stink eye until you put something in the bucket. So often we think that gratitude and generosity are all about what God wants FROM us, but that isn’t the case at all. They are all about what God wants FOR us!

God wants us to say, I can’t do it on my own strength (vs 13), but thanks to God I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength. He wants us to be generous, not just so that we will meet a momentary need, but so that a lot more will be added to our account and to The Kingdom. It’s not about what he wants FROM us, it’s about what he wants FOR us!

Don’t just be thankful today. Be grateful. Be generous. Stay on the chair.

Psalm 100:4
Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.


The Bus pt.2 – Adhere to The Lord

Proverbs 3:5-6

The word “adhere” is a verb. It means to stick too or to believe in and follow the practices of something. When you adhere to the Lord, you stick by Him and stick close to Him.

It’s easy to stick near to Him when you have no one else to turn too. When a situation seems hopeless, everyone looks to God for hope. But what about the mid-range problems? The stuff that’s not life or death, but still stinks. Just think how much better out relationship with Him would be if we were clinging to Him just as tightly in those circumstances as well?! How much more faith would we have? How much better would our overall perspective on life be?

That is what I saw from our students. They clung to The Lord in what could have been a complete nightmare. We were stranded and all we could do was wait 3 1/2 hours on another bus. But their attitudes were phenomenal!

A few minutes after we made the decision to wait for a bew bus, I walked over to the bus that was not broken down to check on them. Before I walked in the door I could hear them singing “Oh how He loves us” by David Crowder Band.

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How He loves…

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Adhere to The Lord and you’ll stay on the chair.


The Bus pt.1

 
Ok here’s the scenario. 56 high school students and 3 leaders on 2 buses driving an hour and a half from home after an amazing week of camp. The lead bus starts smoking so badly that it looks like the Black Pearl sailing down the road (from Pirates of the Caribbean. If you didn’t know that, go watch it!). We have to pull over and we quickly determine that the bus is toast. There’s not enough room to put everyone on one bus and we’re too far away from home to shuttle everyone. Our only option is to wait for a rescue bus.

The sounds like a recipe for disaster. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t exactly pleasant. But it could’ve been a nightmare. Where is God in a scenario like this? How do you come back from a week at a Christian camp where God was so clear and so obvious and end up sitting on the side of I-71 stranded? What a loving and great God!

Like I said, it could’ve been that. The attitudes could’ve gone down the toilet, and rightfully so from a certain point-of-view. But as believers, our point-of-view is different…or at least it should be.

This is where God comes in. At camp our speaker Tony Nolan spoke about a “problem solving procedure” from Proverbs 3:5-6. This scenario could not have fit any better. It’s a 3 step process based on the verses.

1) Adhere to The Lord
– We we’re stranded. We had no one else to cling too! Isn’t life like that?

2) Avoid your own logic
– We think we have all of the answers, but we don’t. Our logic isn’t trustworthy unless it comes from Him.

3) Acknowledge The Lord (with your heart and with your hands)
– He is in control. Complete control. The sooner that idea makes sense to you, the sooner your “tough circumstances” don’t seem so tough.

Memorize this verse. Drive it deep into your soul. When problems come up, and they will, you will have back up!

We’ll dive deeper into these tomorrow and we’ll finish the story. Until then, stay on the chair, because the enemy is gonna try and knock you off.


The Center

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”
If you took the entire Bible and laid it out so you could find the absolute center you would end up in the book of Psalms. In fact the verse that would be consider the middle of The Bible would be Psalm 118:8. Interesting enough, the center word of The Bible is “Lord”.
The content of the verse itself is enough to freak you out a little after you know its the central verse! It tells us to put our confidence in Him as opposed to thinking we can do it ourselves. If He put enough thought into THIS verse being the central verse of The Bible, how much more thought do you think He has put into you and your current circumstance?! I think He can handle it.
Not to be outdone though, the central word is “Lord”! Of course it is! I mean it all centers around Him! Why wouldn’t THAT be the word that is in the exact middle?!
It just goes to show that when we put our focus where it should be; when we keep Him in the center of it all; everything becomes clear. Maybe not in our timing, but always in His. Let this mind-blowing knowledge help keep you on the chair.

Wisdom for Life

James 1:5-8

I really love the book of James. Its short, blunt, to the point! I also love the way James gives advice in a very “duh!!” kind of way. Read these verses and you’ll see what I mean.

Our expectations of God are jacked up sometimes. Weather we want to admit it or not, we treat Him like a genie in a bottle …I’ll give you a minute to stop singing that song in your head…go ahead, get it out of your system.

We should look to God for wisdom in every situation and every circumstance. Not just the big ones and the high drama. Our trust should be in Him alone and that whatever comes of that situation is OK because He is in control. Its OK to ask Him for the answers, but its not OK to kick Him to the curb after you get the answer. Verses 7 and 8 are pretty clear that if we go back and forth that we are flirting with trouble.

wis·dom (n.)
1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.
2. Common sense; good judgment

Is there a situation in your life that makes you feel like you’re at a loss? You got nothin. No clue what to do or how to handle it. Have you asked God for wisdom? More importantly, have you asked God for wisdom in the right way and with the right heart?

Maybe before you ask God to give you the wisdom to handle it, check the mirror and see if you’re still on the chair.