Wednesday, May 22, 2024

There Is No Easy Button

 YouTube Channel Video Devo


“There Is No Easy Button”

Luke 9:23 NLT

Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”

 

Remember many years ago the commercial for Staples store with a button that says, “That was easy”?  We actually have one of those buttons at my work on top of the corner of a cubicle.  One of the IT guys usually walks by and hits it and we laugh.  I remember through the years talking about that commercial and how so often it would be nice if certain things were easy.  Don’t we all feel like that?

 

As a parent, I often hear my kids make comments and complain about how they wish life were just easier.  As much as I lecture them about this, I have to admit I do feel the same way many times.  There are times in life when I just wish things could be easier.  Why can’t raising kids be easier?  Why can’t my job be easier?  Why can’t marriage be easier? Why can’t school be easier?  The list could go on and on. 

 

As I think about how we’ve become so accustomed to comfort in our lives and finding the easiest way to do things, I can’t help but think about how this is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us about life.  He came and lived anything but an easy life.  Pretty much everything He did was the opposite of easy.  People around Him often complained about how hard things were.  But He taught so often that “hard” is good.  It teaches us and creates character and perseverance in our lives.

 

Jesus was very clear to us about how we need to carry our cross daily.  If we want to follow Him, we cannot expect an easy life.  We cannot live daily wishing that everything was easy.  Even though we would often want this, living easy does not produce growth in our lives.  The challenges I experience in my life are often not wanted or easy, but they definitely help me grow as a person and in my faith. 

 

Friends, we must stop holding on to the “easy button” and wishing so much in life was easier.  We must remember the life that God called us to live should be anything but easy.  God’s call and challenge to us is to grow and be stretched in our faith every day.  Through the pain and trials of carrying our cross daily, we learn what it truly means to live a life that Jesus calls us to. 

 

There is no easy button for our lives in Christ.  We were meant to live a life that is full of challenge and growth.  An easy life will not produce growth and character.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Get Back Up And Go

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/IX3nc34KMuQ?si=cchc6NtP-Mpe-gLU


“Get Back Up And Go”

James 1:2-3 NIV

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

 

Last week, I shared how I was moved by the numbers on the scale and I decided to get it in gear and start walking and jogging regularly again.  Well, one of the days I got home from work and went for a jog, I must have stepped into a groove on the sidewalk at just the wrong time.  Next thing I know, my body shot forward and I hit the ground.  I ended up dropping my phone and breaking part of it (I don’t know why I didn’t just have it in my pocket!), skinning my left knee, left thigh, left elbow and right palm.  It hurt bad, but I got up, took a little bit to regain my composure while limping.  After a bit, I thought, “I think I can still do this”, and I started jogging again.

 

I was actually questioning myself in my head why I chose to continue to jog after I just got injured.  I have motivation to keep jogging and getting exercise and I didn’t want the injury to stop me.  I mean, if I had broken something, I probably would have stopped and limped my way home.  But, I was determined to see how it felt to keep going.  I got home, wiped my cuts off and went on with life.  The next day, I was very sore and it hurt a lot to move my left leg.  I was limping a bit for the next day or so, but got better soon.  I’m still sore and healing from the wounds, but I’ve been out almost every day still jogging and walking.  When I come to that place I fell, I go a bit slower and try to be more aware of the sidewalk so I don’t do it again!

 

Friends, we all have had numerous experiences where we fall in life.  Sometimes, it’s just figuratively speaking with a bad decision we’ve made, or it could literally be physical where we experience an injury to our body.  Either way, when we fall, it’s often scary and difficult in some ways to get back up and go again.  We might think, “What if it happens again?”  Well, the only way to know is try again.  We can either be filled with the fear of it happening again or be confident that we’ll do our best to not let it happen again.

 

We all experience trials and hard times.  God uses these times to strengthen us and help us to continue to live life.  We gotta pick ourselves back up and keep going.  Maybe not the same way we chose before, but we keep going again.  I used to tell my girls years ago about how the gymnasts experience setback after setback and mistake after mistake for many years and you never see that.  And, even though they become professionals in many ways, they STILL mess up!  And, so will we! 

 

We will continue to fall down, but how we handle that means everything!  We gotta make the decision to get back up and keep going and let God guide us.  I hope that we can all strive to move forward, regardless of the falls we experience in life.  We will have them, but it’s our choice how we deal with them.  Let our motivation for life keep us going!

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Numbers

 You Tube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/hN7-tfMeKwI?si=nN0tIhiUgy59lYhT


“Numbers”

Hebrews 12:11 NIV

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

 

About a week and a half ago, I decided to get on the scale one morning because I hadn’t weighed myself for a long time.  I just stood there and looked at the number and said, “You’ve got to be kidding!”  I was not happy about it.  I thought about all the days that I’ve laid around doing nothing when I should be moving around and then all the times I probably overeat with meals and snacking.

 

As much as I did not like what I saw, it was the reality that really hit me!  The numbers stared me right in the face.  I couldn’t say, “Well, the scale is broken!” or “batteries need changing”.  I knew they were right and I just felt fat.  I was ashamed I had let the numbers get so high.  I hadn’t really been taking care of myself as I ought to.  That has changed since then.  I’m starting to eat less at meals and not snacking so much.  I’m also getting back out to walk and jog again.  That feels great!

 

Numbers have a way of showing us reality.  Scores from a school test.  Numbers from blood lab work.  Numbers when we get a bill we didn’t expect.  So many different ways we are told numbers that leave us in a state of shock.  It’s reality and it has hit us.  There’s no sense in arguing about it or trying to make excuses.  We have to own up to the reality and start making changes or just facing the reality of what we might have to live with if we can’t change the numbers.

 

Numbers can be a powerful way for God to get our attention.  When we aren’t taking care of ourselves, the numbers we see on a test or a scale can slap us upside the head back into reality. Maybe we shouldn’t eat out so much.  Maybe we should have ice cream so often. 

 

I did not like what the scale showed me.  And, you know what?  That number isn’t going down fast.  I have to work at it.  I have to be diligent.  I have to stay consistent with being mindful of what I eat and getting out for exercise.  We have to make a conscious effort to change things when we don’t like what we see.  We cannot keep on living how we’ve lived and expect things to change. 

 

Friends, when we don’t like certain numbers we see, we need to practice discipline.  It’s hard to do.  Numbers often do not lie.  I’m not saying every test is 100% accurate, but the numbers should jolt us into thinking better than we usually do.  We need to be more disciplined in life and take better care of ourselves and be mindful of things before they spiral out of control. 

 

God definitely disciplines us in life and we often need it.  Let’s heed God’s discipline when He’s trying to wake us up to reality.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Stop Running

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/tEF7fZt8tkQ?si=eux4PAq_xqwfHh53


“Stop Running”

Jonah 1:1-3 NIV

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

 

Since I was a young boy, I became fascinated with the show “Cops”.  All through the years at various times, I’ve kept watching it whenever I flipped through channels at home or when we’d be at a hotel.  That show always captured my attention.  In the past several years, there’s been “Cops:Reloaded”, “Live PD” and now “On Patrol Live”.  I have to admit we watch “On Patrol Live” regularly each week.  My youngest daughter, my wife and I mostly watch it and I’ve gotten them addicted as I am. Haha! 

 

There’s something captivating about watching people do the things they do and how people react to police.  We often find ourselves shaking our heads and saying, “What were you thinking?  You actually thought you could outsmart and outrun the cops?”  I’m often amazed and impressed with how cops can easily spot when someone is lying to them and how they can spot different things throughout the stop. 

 

As I think about these people who often run on foot or speed away in the vehicles, it surprises me that they actually think they won’t get caught.  They run or speed away from what they need to face.  When I consider this, I cannot help but think of Jonah and how we so often relate to running away from things we need to face in our lives.  Jonah clearly disobeyed God and ran away.  He said, “NO”.  That wasn’t very smart at all!  But before we shake our fingers at Jonah’s situation and say, “Shame on him, he knew better!”, we so often know better as well. 

 

Friends, just like Jonah and all the people on police shows, we make decisions to run from God in various ways in our lives.  We don’t want to face what He wants us to deal with and we just decide to speed away, thinking we will get away from Him.  We all know we won’t.  God will continue to pursue us and we will get where we need to go one way or another.  But why do we want to experience more pain?  So often the cops will say to the people who run, “You would have just been dealing with a simple ticket, but now you ran and you’re going to jail!”  People don’t think.  Well, often we don’t either.  We run without thinking and somehow think we’re ok.

 

Let’s try to be mindful of our situations when we get the impulse to run away.  It’s probably better to have a heart to heart with God and get things figured out.  We need to stop running and start facing what God leads us to through life. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

20 Years

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/wVQsux16GoI?si=fV5W6DE7z_mSXpOR


“20 Years”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

 

A little over a month ago, my wife and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary.  We decided to take a trip to Waco, TN to see all things Magnolia.  We had a great time and it nice to get away and just enjoy some time just the two of us. 

 

As we passed that 20 year mark, I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about how 20 years can really change a person’s life.  So much can happen after 20 years. 

 

Just a little over 20 years ago, I moved to MN and met my wife.  I look back and wonder where I would be if I hadn’t met her and ended up with 2 beautiful daughters.  I also wonder what habits would still be with me if I hadn’t met her.  We’ve experienced ups and downs like any married couple does.  We’ve had great times together and very challenging times as well.  When we hit the 20 year mark, I thought often to myself, “How in the world did she put up with me for so long???”  Haha!  Some of you that have known me in the past many years would probably say she had her hands full!

 

20 years of being married to my wife and 20 years living in MN.  MN is not the greatest place to live in the winter and it can get VERY brutal.  But, I’ve put up with it.  I have wonderful in-laws and my wife’s family is a family of faith, which I am so thankful for. 

 

I’ve had just shy of 20 years to watch my girls grow up and it’s been a great learning experience.  It seems just like yesterday they were little and now they are growing up way too fast.  I wish I could slow time down.  I am very proud of both of them and I love them so much. 

 

20 years of many changes while we’ve been married and lots of learning experiences.  I wouldn’t go back and change anything or trade for anything.  I am very blessed and very thankful I have a Godly woman who has challenged me and taught me so much about God’s love and been SO VERY PATIENT!

 

I share all of this with you to simply say that it’s important for us to be grateful for what we have and the precious time we have with people we love.  Don’t take it for granted.  God has indeed blessed me way more than I ever expected and I am grateful for a loving family on my wife’s side and on my side.  They both support and love us and I am grateful. 

 

I want to give thanks for all of this with a grateful heart and I hope that you all will do the same for all the blessings you have in your life!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Be Still: Let God Speak

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/XL3xtWwqd3s?si=CRkq9ueG04om2Zkf


“Be Still: Let God Speak”

Psalm 46:10a NLT

Be still and know that I am God.

 

Last week, for our small Bible group study, we were looking at the idea of asking God to speak to us.  This passage was used and it’s a powerful passage with only a few words. 

 

How often do we carve time out of our day to just be still and do absolutely nothing?  Through our study, we were encouraged and had discussion about taking time to be quiet and do nothing.  We discussed how we so often take so much time each day to surround ourselves with noise.  There’s even times we will come to God and bring Him our requests and petitions.  We pray for others and ourselves.  This is all good, but when was the last time we just came before Him and did……NOTHING?  When was the last time we sat down with God and just…..listened?

 

The other day, I was taking a walk by myself and talking to God.  I kept saying, “God, I want You to speak to me”, but then I kept walking and started talking again.  I kept saying that I was sorry and I wanted to hear from Him.  Yet, I kept thinking of things to talk about.  It was hard to just be quiet and listen.  It seems our minds are not programmed well to stop and just listen. 

 

When was the last time you sat down and just listened to someone and didn’t say a word until after the person stopped talking?  How about a family member or friend that needed to “bend an ear”?  Did you take the time to listen and not say anything to interrupt?  It’s hard, isn’t it?  We’re not at all accustomed to just taking time to listen. 

 

In our small group study, we were studying about 1 Samuel 3 where Samuel was called by God to listen and confront Eli.  Samuel said, “Speak God, for Your servant is listening”.  Can we be like Samuel who seriously asked God to speak to him? 

 

In our small group time, I shared how I’ve kept a consistent daily devotional time during the work week every morning.  However, as much as I enjoy that time each day, I was convicted that I so often just spew words out each day, asking God for this and that, but hardly ever just sit and listen.  It’s hard.  I have so much on my mind to bring to Him.  Again, nothing at all wrong with bringing prayers to God, but we also need to take time to just listen to Him.  He will speak to us in some way, but are we quiet long enough to actually just listen?

 

I want to challenge all of us this week and weeks beyond to carve time out of our day to take time to just listen to God somewhere quiet.  Let’s be challenged to take on this challenge of “Be Still: Let God Speak”.

Monday, March 4, 2024

God Uses ANYTHING And EVERYTHING

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/a0vTGUca0FA?si=J1sfJL2BgEQj5Qyp


“God Uses ANYTHING And EVERYTHING”

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.

 

On Sunday, our pastor was preaching a sermon regarding having joy in the midst of trials in our lives.  He spoke about how we God uses all things in our lives to bring about His glory, no matter how painful they might be.  People often get mad at God for things He allows to happen in our lives and people often question the goodness of Him and His love since He allows certain things to happen.  It can be very confusing at times and leave us wondering where God is.

 

As I was sitting there listening, a scene came to mind from the 2011 Movie “Soul Surfer”, which tells the true tragic story of Bethany Hamilton of how she lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003.  When Bethany comes back home from the shark attack, her youth pastor asks her how she is doing.  Bethany responds with a quick, “I’m ok, yeah I’m doing ok”.  Her youth pastor says, “Bethany, you don’t need to be like that with me.  Tell me how you’re really doing”.  Bethany then breaks into tears and shares how her family is trying to be helpful and encourage her, but she’s really struggling to understand why God would allow such a thing to happen.  Her youth pastor then says to her that she doesn’t understand why this happened, but says somehow and in some way, God will use this in a great way. 

 

That scene has stuck in my mind since I saw the movie and it explains well how so many people struggle to find value in what has happened in their lives when terrible things happen.  However, we must realize that God does work in ALL things, good and bad, and He works in ways we’d never imagine and does absolutely incredible things beyond our imagination.  Bethany goes on to touch people’s lives in ways she never dreamed because other girls and surfers look up to her for having the courage to go back out into the water after such a vicious attack.

 

Friends, some of you out there either hurting from an attack in the past or are currently hurting and questioning why God would allow something so horrific to happen.  Whatever you might be hurting from, please do not turn your back on Him.  As painful and frustrating as it may be, God has a plan through that pain and He will never waste it.  He will use it somehow and in some way in the future.  Just don’t give up.  Trust in Him. 

 

I had to learn this many years ago when I experienced a very deep and painful hurt in ministry.  It’s been over 8 years since then and I’ve watched God walk me through a lot of emotional recovery and helping me to understand some things I experienced by sharing with others. 

 

We all need to remember that God always works things out in some way for His glory. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

It's Time

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/f_vPT7q2_xM?si=sKCL0PtZX2l_2EeC


“It’s Time”

Matthew 26:39

Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

 

 

All of us have had numerous moments of hearing the phrase, “It’s Time”.  We can take days, months and even years to prepare for a future moment, but when it finally comes, the words “It’s Here” can still rattle us in many ways.

 

We study for days and months so we can be prepared for a big test in school.  When the teacher says, “It’s Time”, we still often feel the gitters and are very nervous, no matter how much we have prepared.

 

A couple who spends days, months or even years planning a wedding definitely can feel the stress and excitement when the person officiating the wedding says, “It’s Time”. 

 

 A first time homebuyer spends hours, days and even months planning for the move in.  When the closing day comes and the agent says, “It’s Time”, we are both excited and nervous at the new adventure.

 

A teenager spends days and months learning to drive with a permit.  Finally, the driver’s license test and driver’s test comes and the teenager feels nervous when the instructor says, “It’s Time”. 

 

If we find out we need surgery, we take the time of many days or months to prepare for that.  When the doctor/surgeon comes in and says, “It’s Time”, we can be nervous about the procedure.

 

An Olympic athlete trains for years, makes many mistakes and then learns and prepares for the big event.  He or she still feels the nerves when they hear, “It’s Time”.

 

So many situations we face in life where we hear the words, “It’s Time” and we hope we have prepared enough for what is about to happen.  We hope and pray that we have taken the appropriate measures to prepare.  We do our best to do what we can to prepare ourselves. 

 

No matter how much we prepare, the words “It’s Time” can startle us, make us sweat, make our hands shake or get clammy.  We feel a mix of emotions when we hear those words and we just have to pray that God will guide us and give us the peace and strength needed to move through the experience.

 

I cannot help but think of what Jesus went through as He knew it was time for Him to give His life.  He experienced more than any human being will ever go through.  He even pleaded with God in the Garden to take the cup if it was possible, but He wanted God’s will to be done. 

 

When we come to the moments where we hear, “It’s Time”, know that God is with you and He will bring you through.  Trust Him.  God’s got this. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

This E-mail Is Important

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/U2Qlam1m2cA?si=GpiUYvpPfA-VS-n6


“This E-mail Is Important”

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

 

Just recently I saw an e-mail that had the subject line “This e-mail is important”.  It kind of took me by surprise.  Of course, the sender of this e-mail wanted to make sure to grab the attention of whomever received it.  As I looked at the e-mail sitting in the inbox, I got to thinking about all of the e-mails that we receive on a daily basis.  Not just personal e-mails at home, but at work as well.  Our inboxes at home get flooded daily with different advertising from lists we’ve probably subscribed to.

 

I’ve often thought about getting off the lists, but then I think, “What if something they send one day is REALLY  important and a great deal?”  I also think about all the e-mails that not only I get at work each day, but so many others at work receive as well.  So many of us have to weed through hundreds of messages per day prioritizing what is really important.  Co-workers, vendors and other messages screaming for us to respond and devote time and answers to them.

 

Friends, it’s no surprise that we are constantly flooded with messages all day long that scream “This is important”.  What is really important?  How do we sift through all that’s not important and get to what’s really a priority?  That’s a hard question to answer through our day.  As we try to push our way through the constant messages every day, whether at home, at work, riding in the car listening to the ads on the radio, we must be diligent and intentional about what should be important. 

 

Through it all, we must remember what is most important.  We need to quiet ourselves before God and ask Him to show us what really matters.  We gotta clear the noise in our lives and let Him show us what is really important.  Not everything can and should be a priority. 

 

This passage is a great reminder that we are to love God first and foremost each and every day.  That is our greatest priority.  That is what’s most important.  When we come to Him and ask Him to lead us and give us wisdom, He can guide us to what’s really important in life.  Our family, friends, job, church.  These are all good things, but we must learn to better prioritize what’s really important as we live our daily lives. 

 

I often find myself overwhelmed by texts, e-mails, social media and other media telling me what’s important.  I want good deals for sure but I need to remember what’s really important in my life.  I want to focus on what God has given to me and appreciate His blessings.  Not everything can be a priority and not everything can be important all day long. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Proof Is In The Pudding

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/ol-3AZAxl7A?si=QkW3rtXdvi1cLWaO


“The Proof Is In The Pudding”

John 14:23 NIV

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

 

Think about some of the ways we prove our loyalty and dedication to people and situations.

 

If we want good grades, we prove that we want to pass by studying diligently.

If we want to get a job, we do our best to prepare for the interview.

If we want to date and marry someone, we will go to great lengths to show and prove our love and devotion to the person.

If we want to get on a sports team, we will practice and show our determination to get better.

If we want to be a good student in school overall, we will listen to the teacher and obey what is taught.

 

We could think of many other ways in which we prove our loyalty or devotion to a situation or to someone because we want to show our devotion.  We have to work hard at proving we are serious about something or someone by showing we are devoted.  I think of the saying, “the proof is in the pudding”.  If we are real, authentic and genuine about what we want to do and who we want to be devoted to, it’s going to show. 

 

Jesus is very clear about the devotion we need to have in our relationship with Him.  If we truly love Him and are devoted to living a life of service to Him, we will obey Him.  It’s as simple as that.  If we are not devoted to Him, we won’t obey Him.  It’s either one way or another.  The proof is definitely in the way we live our lives. 

 

Do we really love Him enough to completely obey His teaching, no matter what it takes.  If we want people to believe we are truly devoted to someone or something, we must prove it somehow.  Being loyal to someone and working hard at something shows our devotion.  If someone told you they loved you over and over again, but didn’t treat you that way at all, you’d probably finally say, “Okay, see ya!”

 

If we really, really are devoted to Jesus, we will obey His teaching, regardless of what that entails and what challenges it brings.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

We All Need Fresh Starts

 YouTube Channel Video Devo

https://youtu.be/nds1rdIXsJY?si=n4zj-zSLRrH1FDAG


“We All Need Fresh Starts”

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

 

This past Sunday at church, we played and sang one of my new favorite worship songs from River Valley Worship called “Ask, Seek Pray”.  I want to share the first verse of this song as we embark on a brand new year.

 

Give us clean hands give us pure hearts
Show us that's where the miracle starts
Beyond what I want beyond what I see
The change for my world begin it in me

 

As I listened to these words yesterday as we played this on praise team, I was thinking about how we came to the end of a full year and looking to begin a brand new year.  Our pastor had an amazing sermon on sadness as he talked about how so many struggle with this time of year and things that have happened to leave voids in our lives.  Many enjoy this time of year while others struggle with losing loved ones or remember hard times from the past for this time of year.  There can be many reasons why people struggle during Christmas.

 

During response time, after the sermon, as we started playing “Ask, Seek, Pray” people were invited to come and ask for prayer through their hard times of sadness.  As I sat there playing on stage, I watched so many people come forward and it was so moving.  As we all start this new year, whatever we might be struggling through or trying to recover from, let’s ask God to help us begin a new year seeking Him and relying on His strength for each new day. 

 

Let’s pray that God would start to do amazing things through us so that we can love on others as He has called us to do. 

 

“Father give us clean hands and hearts as we begin this new year.  Forgive us for all the ways we have been so selfish and consumed with only what we want.  God, please give all those who are experiencing hurt and sadness Your strength and comfort.  Surround them with people who can relate and show comfort through these hard times.  Help us to ask, seek and pray for Your will to be done in our lives so that we can see past the things we want and focus on how we can help change people’s lives in a positive way with Your love.”

 

Happy New Year to you all!  May we all experience a fresh, new start to the year.