Category Archives: Into Every Life

Into Every Life – A Transformation


We have spent the last month going through an exercise in uncovering disguised blessings and looking at some of the things that can trip us up on our way. We have worked at redefining our idea of good and shifted our thinking about the thorns in our lives. Today, to wrap this all up I want to really dig into the following passage and with the help of Matt Chandler’s and his Blessings and Woes message from February 2008, pull this apart.

Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. What sorrow waits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)

When did those four things become blessing? And then on the tail end, when did wealth, a full stomach, joy and being loved become what we should ascribe to? In every great success story, the key component in every book, everyone who was ever on Oprah is that they moved from here—poverty, rejection, hunger, despair—and they moved to wealth. Isn’t it? Isn’t every great success story marked by someone who moved from here to here? It moves in this direction. But Jesus shows up and goes, “No, no, no. It moves the other way.” But no one has ever made a success story built on, “He was born a billionaire…died decrepit and alone. Selah.” That is not how it works. It moves from poverty, rejection, hungry, sorrow, this way to joy, wealth. But Jesus is going, “Oh no, no, no. It better head the other way.”

So why? Why does it have to head the other direction? According to conventional wisdom this makes absolutely no sense! But this is what I have come to think of as “the burden of a blessing.” This is the refining and testing of our faith. Blessed, truly, deeply blessed, through and amidst grief and fear. Because when we are faced with tragedy, trials and struggling, and realize that we have nothing, that we are nothing, without God then we have begun to realize exactly what Jesus was teaching. This is where transformation happens!

We can learn even more about this passage from Luke 6 when we line it up with Matthew 5. It provides some additional insight and clarity. Whereas Luke 6:20 says “God blesses you who are poor…” Matthew 5:3 says “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” So let’s just jump right in…

Blessed are the poor in spirit, the spiritually bankrupt. Blessed is the person who realizes that he has nothing that he can give to God as a barter for His favor. Blessed are those who know it is not through works that we will find justification because we have nothing To offer God. Blessed are the ones who say, “I can’t figure this out on my own.” They have issues that haunt them and they know they can’t fix themselves. They have been trying and they just can’t get there on their own. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are those who are hungry for forgiveness, who are hungry for intimacy with God. Blessed are those who are hungry for reconciliation, who are hungry for wholeness. Blessed are the hungry for they will be filled with God.

Blessed are you who weep. Blessed are you who mourn. Mourn the fact that we are bankrupt and starving. Mourn the fact that we are sinners. Blessed are those whose hearts are overwhelmed at the darkness inside of them. Blessed are those whose hearts are repentant. Worldly sorrow says “I’ve made a mess of my life. I wish I wouldn’t have.” But that doesn’t transform souls – that’s just regret. Repentance that leads to transformation says, “I’ve offended and let down God. I’ll now submit my life to Him.”

Finally, blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you on account of the Son of Man. Blessed are you when you’ve become so transformed that people see Jesus. I would rather be rejected by 99% of the world and have 1% know me and love me! than be loved falsely by 99% and rejected by the 1%. Blessed are those who are reviled and excluded. Leap for joy, you’ve been transformed.

Woe to you who are full. Woe to you who think you have no need. Woe to you who think you have it all figured out. Woe to you who think you don’t need a power greater than you.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this series…into every life a little rain must fall. So what if His blessings do fall like raindrops and what if healing does indeed come through tears? I believe they do. This life doesn’t necessarily look the way we thought it would. Our prayers may have changed us and not the situation. But if in all of this mess this is really where the true blessings lie, would you recognize them?

Blessings…love, mercy, humility, spirituality, compassion, comfort, hope, forgiveness, grace

Into Every Life – Blessed Are Who?!

Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
“What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. What sorrow waits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)

I really want to dig into this deeper and try to pull some of it apart but in the meantime here is Matt Chandler’s “Readers Digest” version of these verses…

“Blessed, deep, full of life are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are those who mourn, for one day they’ll laugh, being set free from what haunts them. Blessed are those who know Jesus in such a way that it’s changed them, so that they’re excluded and reviled and at times hated, not because of their arrogance, but simply because of Jesus. But woe to you who are self-sufficient. Woe to you who are proud of your religious lineage. Woe to you who have figured it all out. Woe to you who have got it all right, for you’ve got the fullness of what you’ll have. And woe to you who are full, full and yet starving. What an empty place to be. And woe to you who laugh while your soul decays. And woe to you who are loved by all, because you haven’t been transformed much. The good news in all of this is Christ and the grace of Christ covers where we failed here. Because if we’re honest, some of us would have to say, ‘Hey listen, I’m not hungry, but I want to be.’ Okay then, that’s where we begin.”

Still Moments – A Biting Truth


So true…how many times this prayer has crossed my lips.

As I read this, two different passages came to mind. There is nothing quite like digging into the Word, God’s Word, to provide comfort, hope, and ultimately forgiveness and love for the many times I find myself falling short.

Maybe you too can identify with Paul’s words…
“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:21-23, 25 NLT)

And may you find hope in Jeremiah’s…
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:21-23 NLT)

My take away today…His love and mercies never end…no matter how many times I fail.

Into Every Life – The Blessing Of The Thorn


Let me ask you this question, what does a miracle look like? I know how I would have answered that question not to long ago but this passage written by Paul, has caused me to rethink what that answer is.

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 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. 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. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT)

Just after being diagnosed with Takayasu’s Arteritus, I kept telling everyone that I felt like I was awake for the first time in a long time. Why? My Christianity was in hibernation, only to be awakened in crisis. I have learned that if we don’t use our “faith muscles” everyday they will be sluggish and sleepy when we need them. We will have to dust off our Christianity like a long-forgotten tool and hope that we remember how to use it and pray that it will “start on the first pull.” I see so many people in the same place that I just was and want to scream at them to wake up! I have come to think of the Holy Spirit as caffeine for a drowsy spiritual life. Today, I am living my life steeped in God’s word and close communion with Him. But it’s only because it took a crisis to wake me up. The problem that I know I struggle with is that I get too easily complacent and self-sufficient. It becomes a slow fade from utter dependence to “Oh yeah, hey God I could use you today.”

Let me break down my walls of pride and tell you that God isn’t interested in my eloquence as a speaker or a writer. He is only interested in my surrendered life. I am no good to Him, my message holds no weight, unless He, and He alone, is the author of it. And if I am brutally honest, with myself as well as the rest of you, without a diagnosis of Takayasu’s Arteritus, and the continuation of battling an incurable disease (which means no miracle) my pride and self-sufficiency would still be running my life. And my fear is that with a miracle, those worldly crutches would begin to eventually, over time, creep back in to their supreme position.

Paul tried to get rid of the thorn. He even prayed three times that it might be removed. Three times he made a request for its removal. How many times has you prayed for God to remove whatever your “thorn” is?

Jesus said ask (keep on asking) and it shall be given unto you. He said knock (keep on knocking) and it shall be opened unto you. He said seek (keep at it) and ye shall find. We will get what we ask IF IT IS IN GOD’S WILL.

I John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything, according to his will, he hears us.

All prayer is answered. God either says YES or NO. Sometimes the YES is not always as we expect or want it. Many times God says, “If I do not rid you of the trouble, I will give you grace for victory over it”.

Denial of Paul’s request did not mean destitution but deliverance. The weight was not lifted but greater strength was given to bear it.

Life hurts sometimes, no doubt about it. When it does I have learned that I need to step past my pride and self-sufficiency and have the confidence in my weakness to ask for help when I need it and then have the humility to receive it on God’s terms so that his perfect strength can be displayed. I don’t need to understand it, I don’t need to agree with it. In fact, I don’t have much choice in the matter if I am going to be obedient.

The Lord gave Paul an answer to his prayer in 12 words.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness”.

Helplessness and weakness…I used to hate them but God loves them and because of them God is able to use me. Maybe this is my miracle…I know for certain it is a blessing!

Into Every Life…Oh, That’s Good. How Very Nice For You…


Yesterday I wrote about my beautiful niece Hannah, about the grace with which her parents have continued day after day through exhaustion, desperation, and helplessness. But they have also been the recipients of great joy as they have seen prayers answered in the very life they are able to hold and cuddle and treasure every day. (Into Every Life…The Good)

I can only assume in reading that there were some of you that felt the sharp pain of longing and the prick of reminder that your prayers were not answered. While Hannah’s parents have witnessed a miracle, you were the recipient of silence. And you find it an impossibility to find any type of the”good” that I was suggesting in that.

It doesn’t matter what you have prayed for, a child, an illness, a hurt, if God has remained silent, you can easily find yourself ambivalent, not only towards someone else’s happy ending but God himself. For some, ambivalence would be an improvement over how they feel about a God who doesn’t answer.

For those who don’t know let me share with you the lens through which I share life with you and more specifically yesterday’s story of good. We buried our infant son who never even took a first breath. Stillborn at 32 weeks, he could have had a shot at this life if only we would have know how wrong things really were. If only God would have intervened. We labored in prayer over that pregnancy and our son but God didn’t answer our prayer. I understand the raw pain of God’s seeming silence. I understand if you are not ready to see or even begin to look for the good in anything. But can I ask you one question? Isn’t it lonely in the pit you have dug for yourself?

I know the pit. I came dangerously close to camping out there in anger and bitterness 13 years ago. It was through God’s hand, holding out hope and rest and peace that I baby-stepped out. Brooding is exhausting, miserable work. I tried to ignore the disappointment. I tried to hide from the anger. I pretended, I masked, I denied but it wasn’t until I crashed headlong into it that I finally began to deal with my pit. Only then could I begin to heal, and begin to see the light that “good” can provide. But I had to make the choice, do I want to be bitter or do I want to be better. Do I want this mess to take me under or can it somehow be redeemed? I couldn’t do on my own though. I couldn’t make it better, I couldn’t make it “good” and the harder I tried the deeper my pit became.

It took me five years to get there, to have my eyes opened to see what I had become.  On this particular Monday I had come face-to-face with myself and the pain that I hadn’t let myself feel in a long time. The more I do, the less I feel; and the less I feel, the less I hurt. I thought I was doing just fine, that I had been handling myself in a healthy manner.  I didn’t realize that I had put up a major wall within myself, not allowing the emotion to spill over into the matter-of-fact way that I had dealt with our son’s death. I was afraid to be vulnerable, especially in the eyes of others, because in that I saw a weakness in myself. Repeatedly people had commented on my strength, but in reality, I tucked the pain and hurt away and never fully dealt with them.

Instead of fully allowing myself to feel the brunt of my pain, I had created a numbness and called it strength. I was afraid that if I felt the pain that I would also feel the anger, and I was afraid if I started down that road, I might not be able to come back. In my strength, I was robbing God of the ability to save me from myself and robbing myself of the knowledge and gift of true strength and dependence on God. God was longing to provide not the fake, plastered-smile, I-have-it-all-together façade that I was trying to convincingly pull off, but the glorious, holy power that brings with it pure strength.

Anger and bitterness are far more common than most of us would like to admit. Sometimes it just feels good to be angry, especially when we don’t have the answers or they aren’t the answers we wanted. It feels good to point fingers and place blame in order to try and make sense of things. We end up destroying our own soul when it becomes filled with anger, resentment, and hate; the one who has wronged us moves on, while we crumble under the weight of our resentment. It is hard to forgive sometimes, yet I have found it is even harder to carry the soul-crushing weight of anger and resentment.

Ephesians 4:26–27 says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”  We must choose to be honest about our anger and admit that we feel that we’ve been let down, that life isn’t fair, that we have been forgotten, passed over, and left for dead by those whom we loved the most. When we can take the first step in admitting these things, then we can begin to heal.

The question I asked you at the beginning of this series was this: how are you? I know how I used to answer it. Are you holding on tightly to your bitterness, to your anger, letting your hatred numb the pain and sorrow and disappointment of what you think should have been? Have you driven a wedge between yourself and others who have reached out their hands to help because your pride wouldn’t allow you to take it, wouldn’t allow for vulnerability and weakness? Have you written God off because He didn’t come to your rescue when you thought He should have?

Admitting that we are carrying this anger doesn’t mean that He’s guilty; God cannot commit sin. But when we admit and acknowledge our anger at God, we release our expectations of what we think God should have done to prevent our hurt or failure in the first place. When we acknowledge our anger at others and seek forgiveness for this anger, God creates in us a clean heart and renews our spirit, allowing us to begin living again.

This is not easy.  This is a choice.  Bitter or better?  Are you ready to see healing and redemption begin?  It most likely will not happen quickly but one foot in front of the other if we keep moving we will begin that baby-stepping journey out of our own personal pit. Reach out for the hope and healing that God is offering…begin your journey back to your ability to see the good.  My prayer for you even as I write this is that you don’t give up.


Into Every Life…The Good (A Hannah Update)


Mother’s Day is one of those mixed emotion days for so many. A day where broken hearts are too often unacknowledged, struggles silenced and ignored. A celebrated day, agonized over by many. As we are talking about blessings this month on Run and Be Still, I wanted to offer you an encouraging story today, one filled with rivers of tears and desperate prayers, but also filled with blessings.

I wanted to share one mother’s journey to this, her very first Mother’s Day as a mom. And what a special day it was…

For this child we prayed and The Lord heard our prayer.

Five months ago, in the wee hours of the morning, when so many people were recovering from their Black Friday Shopping experiences, a young father and mother, my brother and sister-in-law, were being rushed by ambulance to Rainbow Babies Hospital. Only 25 1/2 short weeks into their pregnancy the unthinkable happened and their baby was preparing to make a very grand entrance into this world. After years spent praying for a child, this dream pregnancy had been anything but. Complications included Amniotic Band Syndrome and unrelenting sickness that wasn’t just relegated to the morning. When the doctor announced just days before Thanksgiving that my sister-in-law was already two centimeters dilated and beginning to efface the natural questions you begin begging God for the answers to are “Why?” and “How much more of this can they take?” At this point you think you understand desperate prayer. You pray that God will still redeem this. You pray that the pregnancy can be extended. You pray that the doctors can stop the inevitable. You pray for a miracle…and God didn’t disappoint. He didn’t answer in the way that we necessarily prayed but He did answer! Three days later Hannah arrived, 13 inches long and just 2 lbs 6 oz, she magnified the miracle of life and the mighty and merciful God that we serve. The doctors soon nicknamed her “Little Tiger” for her very evident strength of spirit.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Plans for good. Not just for Hannah but for her parents, for her mother. But how can phone calls that jolt you from bed at night beckoning you back to the hospital be good? How can watching your child suffer helplessly be good? How can starting everyday knowing the odds are stacked against you be good? How can a breaking mother’s heart be good?

In the last five months, Hannah’s parents have learned medical jargon and terminology that is both technical and confusing. They held their breath every time a machine beeped or an alarm went off, but have learned what to do when it happens. Their lives have been shaken up, tossed around, and then pieced back together to look like something they would never have planned. I am in awe of the strength and grace that they have displayed through every step of this journey. They have been doing the dance of two steps forward and one step back, all the while being pulled ever closer towards God’s promise of rest and protection.

As a parent, as a mother, I understand the fears, and worries that can worm their way into your heart so that you feel at times like your chest is in a vice. And I also understand how it feels when you feel like God hasn’t answered but has instead left you hanging out to dry. I know how it feels when you think God isn’t listening anymore. But God promises plans for good and this is where we find the blessings in the midst of the storm.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them”. (Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:28 isn’t a promise that the bad will go away, or even that you will be protected from the bad. Instead it is a promise that everything in our lives, the good and yes, the bad, will come together for good. You may be asking, how can God take what I am going through and make it good, there is no way that this can end well. You don’t understand the depth of my loss, the magnitude of my hurt. I have been there and I would tell you that when you find yourself at that threshold of helplessness and hopelessness, if you choose to turn to God as your source of comfort and strength, your source of help and hope, you have found the good. If, in your losses you can learn to trust God for everything, you have found the good. The situation may not end immediately but in the very act of turning to God, you have found the good. In leaning on God and allowing His grace to carry you through you have found the good. This is a choice we must make, it is an all-in attitude. We have to understand God’s definition of good…

In Hannah’s short five months she has affected thousands of people. God is working through her story, through her parents, through your prayers. God is showing Himself in unbelievable, unmistakable ways, helping us understand “the good” even in the bad of life.

Today, Hannah is home with her parents. She is completely off of oxygen. She continues to exceed the expectations that the doctors set, making her parents so very thankful and proud. She has the most beautiful dimple and isn’t afraid to use it, her smile will absolutely melt your heart. Every time I hold this sweet little baby in my arms I cannot help but marvel at God’s goodness and mercy and grace. Hannah is a living breathing answer to many, many prayers.

I will never forget walking into the hospital after Hannah’s mom was finally able to hold her, days after she was born, and what her words to me were. “I finally feel like a mom.” I thought my heart would break. The journey to this first Mother’s Day, that began so very long ago, has not been an easy one. It was celebrated today with Hannah’s dedication to the Lord. Her first public outing, her formal debut, a celebration of life, a testament to God. I can’t think of anything more fitting and on behalf of Hannah’s entire family let me just say thank you for your prayers. They have carried all of us here.

If you are looking for the good today I hope that this story will encourage you and I hope that you would begin to see some of God’s goodness even in the bad. I will leave you with Max Lucado’s words.

“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless, it won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive, but don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.”

Still Moments – God as Comforter


I wanted to dig into the Word this morning and look at one of my favorite passages about comfort. God is the author, the well-spring, of comfort. There at His foot have I found comfort that no one else can offer because His comfort comes infused with rest, and hope. God’s comfort is bigger than a few hollow words uttered by someone who, although trying, has no idea what to say. And then, because I have “been there” and received comfort from the hand of Jesus, I can comfort others with His comfort from the heart of a fellow weary traveler.

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NLT)

Comfort is a blessing. That comfort which we receive and the comfort we in turn provide.

Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you…” (Psalms 50:15 NLT)

God will rescue you…with comfort for a broken heart, peace for a tormented soul, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Charles Swindoll said this, “When you accept the fact that sometimes seasons are dry and times are hard and that God is in control of both, you will discover a sense of divine refuge, because the hope then is in God and not in yourself.”

Into Every Life…God as Comforter


Ok…this concept from Matt Chandler blew my mind. The first time I read it I thought “nice quote.” Then, after reading it through a couple of times and allowing it to penetrate through the cliche part of my brain to something deeper I began to really get on board with what Matt Chandler is saying. Let’s call this the head to heart transition. Take a few moments and reread these words today. Allow their meaning to seep into your soul.

“Comfort is the god of our generation, so suffering is seen as a thing to be solved, and not a providence from God.” Matt Chandler

Suffering as a providence from God, a blessing maybe? Let me clarify and say that I don’t believe suffering is the blessing. The bad, the mess, the hurt is not the blessing. I will not ask you to swallow the “suffering is a blessing” pill.

But before we get to where the blessing can be found answer this question, where do you turn when things begin spiraling out of control?

When we are hurting, searching for an escape it is so easy to medicate, to mask, or to smother our suffering. Or at least to try anyway…with a drink, a pill, food, shopping. Understand that it doesn’t have to necessarily be the “taboo” things that are destructive. When we reach for “stuff” first, we will constantly find ourselves reaching, going back to the well for more, trying to fill the hole, trying to escape our suffering. This is shaky ground and I will just say this. Pretending “it” doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. The only place to find healing is digging all the way to the root and then laying it down at the foot of the cross. It WILL hurt, and it is most likely NOT going to change over night but everything that happens in this life happens for a reason. Of that I am confident and unwavering.

Let me share with you what I have learned first hand…

When we are hurting, we want someone to sit down next to us, take our hand, and tell us it’s going to be okay, even if he or she doesn’t really believe it. We want to pretend, at least for a little while, that everything is all right. That in that very moment in time, everything is fine, and all that has happened or is yet to happen will just go away—the hurt, the shame, the fear, the consequences. In the absence of being able to turn the clock back, in the absence of being able to change the course our life has taken, we want comfort. We want to be loved and assured. And many times, the last thing we want to hear is that our pain has a purpose. We want to wallow in our pain; we want to have a pity party for ourselves. We want to scream at God that He has made a mistake and demand that He fix it. God doesn’t make mistakes, and search as we may for an escape route, the nearest exit as it were, from our current situation, it is in these situations that we really begin to understand what God is really like. I have been there, desperately searching for the emergency exit, but though we may not want to accept it, what we are going through has a purpose—God’s Word tells us exactly that. If you are there today, I pray as I write this that God’s words will penetrate your heart and you will be able to see God through the haze of your pain…I have come to realize that sometimes bad things are going to happen. Sometimes terrible, unthinkable, unimaginable things are going to happen, but it is God’s will. He has not turned His back on me, and I can use these things to make me bitter or I can use them to make me better. I love what Charles Spurgeon says; maybe you too can identify with his words. “I bear my willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.” (An excerpt from Run and Be Still. )

When we are suffering what is the first thing we look for? Relief, an escape, a way to stop or avoid the pain. That is our human nature. We need to take a fresh look at Jesus in times of suffering, to understand better the promises He makes us when we find ourselves in the valley. Let me encourage you that in our suffering, God wants to be our comfort. Herein lies a major blessing if we can shift our thinking to see it as such. If you aren’t there yet please don’t give up. Just stick with me and keep an open mind. Know that on the bad days, God has not left you. He has not forsaken you.

I encourage you to look again at Jesus with the words from Laura Story’s song, Blessings.

What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise


Into Every Life…Day 1

20140501-111630.jpgHappy May Day! Today we begin to look at our blessings. First, what are blessings?

bless-ing noun : 1. a special favor, mercy, or benefit 2. a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.

Oh, I like those blessings. Who doesn’t like gifts that bring happiness? These are things that make me feel good. Bring on the good fortune and blessings!

So in what universe are death, disease, and struggles considered blessings? In Matthew 5, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor, the mourners, the hungry, the persecuted.” Wait! Back up! I don’t want one of those blessings, I want the gifts! I want the happy!

We will begin to really dig into this and what Jesus meant in the coming days but this should begin to shift our thinking. It isn’t the “thing” itself that is the blessing. The blessing, if you choose to accept it will most certainly be found in the aftermath.

In keeping with the theme of “Into every life a little rain must fall,” I believe this could go one of two ways. I could smile, give you a line like, “Everybody wants happiness and nobody wants pain but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” Oh how nice, a little gentle rain to make the flowers grow so just put up your umbrella and wait it out. This too shall pass. I could pat you on the shoulder and continue on my way, so as not to get contaminated by the mess you may find yourself in.

Or, we could get real. The “rain” that I am talking about is when the heavens open up and the sky appears to be falling. It’s when the sirens blare and we hear this warning…


Yep, that’s it.

Let’s get real. Let go of pretenses; let go of the canned answers. Forget what you think I want to hear when I ask, “How are you?” How many times do we plaster fake smiles on, swallow the lump in our throats, and lie through our teeth to people when they ask us that question? Today, for a second, be honest, at least with yourself, and answer that question. Grab a piece of paper and write down the answer if you need to. Drop the barrier between self and emotion and allow yourself to feel how you really are. Are you in the middle of a storm? Are you holding onto something from weeks, or years ago, claiming it as” your cross” and refusing to let it go?

I may not have a clue the extent or extremity of what you are going through but let me assure you that God does and I am not being cliche when I tell you that He can and will heal it if you let Him.

As we move through this I won’t tell you that you need to smile and with a stiff upper lip say “God is in control. Isn’t this wonderful?” I will roll up my sleeves and get dirty and stay in the trenches with anyone as long as they are working towards finding their way out no matter how slowly. If we are going to understand what a true blessing is we have to keep walking, keeping moving forward, keep the faith until the rain clears and we are able to begin to see the Son. (Ok, that may have been a bit cliche but I couldn’t help it.)

So think about it…How are you?

(As a side note, God is in control but life isn’t always wonderful. I have tried the “faking” it method, shoving and swallowing pain, looking for ways to forget it without dealing with it. It doesn’t work well for very long. Pretending isn’t living. We’ll get to that in the coming days too.)