I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Finding Joy in the Pain - Building a Frameword of Hope: Part 9

In Part 7, we explored HOW our response to tough times (and even our victories) illustrates our level of trust in God. 

Throughout Scripture, God tells us that trials are to our benefit…and yet so often we try to avoid them, or rush through them, with little thought of how they can benefit us.

 If in the midst of a trial our only questions are “why” or “how long will it last” we will miss the lessons.

Instead, we must train ourselves to find the value in the storm, the lessons to be learned. 

We should be asking, “God, what do you want me to learn?”

If our focus in solely on the pain we are in, and how to get out of it, we will miss God. We will miss the JOY He brings and the HOPE we have been promised.

Have you ever the phrase, FOCUS DETERMINES REALITY?

If you are focused only on the circumstance, or the pain you are experiencing, your reality is limited to that. You will miss God. You will miss the blessings. You will miss the lesson.

If your focus is on YOU and YOUR abilities, you will miss God in action. 

Shifting our focus from self, and our circumstances, is not easy. 

But when our focus is on “SELF”, we are unable to see God. We are unable to TRUST God. And our HOPE is limited to what SELF can do. Instead of all that God can do.

When our focus is off God, we start to doubt Him.

Is God really good?

Does God really love me?

Is there a God? If so, why is He allowing this?

When my dad died I began to doubt God. Not because of his death, but because of the suffering he endured before dying. I began asking if God is truly loving. These doubts led to great anger with God. 

In the end, they also brought a closer relationship.

You see, God is big enough to handle our doubts, fears, anger and questions.

The KEY is to bring them TO God. 

God is a great teacher. 

Bring Him your questions.

Bring Him your doubts.

Bring Him your frustrations.


Don’t let trials drive a wedge in your relationship with Him.

You see, when I brought my concerns TO God, He changed my focus. 

I started out focused on me and my feelings. But in coming TO God with this, He changed my focus

That shift in focus, changed my entire perception of the trial.

Before I knew it, my doubts were gone.

My anger had melted. 

My relationship with Him was stronger…as was my faith.

I grew in that trial.
You can grow too if you stop relying on self to get you through. If you stop focusing exclusively on the circumstances. If you turn TOWARD God.

A slight shift in focus can go a long way in helping you through the storm.

Suddenly enduring doesn’t seem so bad. Hope springs new. And peace that transcends understanding takes root.

I pray you’re starting to realize the challenges you face in life are not meant to defeat you, God allows them FOR your good (and so you can help others).

Refection Questions:
1.       In the middle of a trial, what are you focused on? Is that drawing you closer to God or pushing you farther from Him?
2.       How can shifting your Focus change your Reality?
3.       Next time you’re in a trial ask yourself: What does God have to say about this storm? What is He trying to teach me?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Do I Believe the Bible? - Building a Framework of Hope Part: 8

I was hit by a 2x4 the other day.

(not literally…but it still felt that way)

I was listening to a sermon by Francis Chan and I felt God ask me, “Do you believe my Word is true?”

My automatic reply was, “Of course!”

But I paused.

If I truly believed His Word is the final authority on EVERYTHING, why did I doubt Him?

What Chan said really drove this point home.

 Paraphrasing Chan, he said that if anything he believes doesn’t line up with the Bible, that he automatically assumes he is wrong—not the Bible. 


I’m guilty of looking for Scripture to align with what I already believe to be truth. And if I find something I don’t like, I sort of ignore it. (Did I just admit to ignoring parts of the Bible?) 

Yes, yes I did.

The Bible tells me to forgive 70x7. I want to hold onto my hurt and justify it by saying I’ve already forgiven that many times. I want to write that person off. I don’t want to be hurt again.

The Bible says to love our enemies. But what does that really mean? Can’t I avoid them? Maybe pray for them? Do I have to LOVE them (1 Cor 13 type love: patient, kind, long suffering, etc.)?

You see, if I truly believed God’s Word is truth—that His Word is Final—then my life style, thought patterns, and decisions would change.
As long as I view His Word as negotiable, I won’t grow in my walk. 

Yes, we will all mess up. That’s what 1 John 1:9 is all about, but overall I need to decide if I really believe the Bible to be absolute truth…even when I don’t understand some of the things it says… even when I don’t like some of the things it instructs me to do…even if it contradicts things I thought to be factual.

You’re turn:

Is the Bible True? 

If it is, how does this dictate your life?

We’ve been talking about Building a Framework of Hope: Are you building using God’s TRUE blueprint (BIBLE)…or your own version of religion?

Are you open to hearing God’s Word even if it’s something you don’t want to hear?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Doing things HIS way - Building a Framework of Hope: Part 7

How do you normally handle tough times? 

Are you someone who meets challenges head on… or do you prefer to stick you head in the sand and hope the problem goes away?

When you are met with failure, do you beat yourself up… or look for the lesson to be learned?

When things go wrong, do you blame yourself…or someone else? Are you able to see that sometimes you need to accept responsibility and sometimes things are out of your control? 

When you are successful, do you pat yourself on the back and tell everyone how great you did…or do you realize you couldn’t have accomplished it without God’s help? 

How you handle these things tells a great deal about your relationship with God and how mature you are in your walk with Him. (Hint: no one handles these things perfectly. No need to beat yourself up, just acknowledge your tendencies and be intentional about growing in Christ).

You might be wondering what this has to do with Building a Framework of Hope…

As I mentioned in the previous post, to have hope, we must learn to endure hardships. 

How we handle difficult times (and achievements) says a great deal about our maturity.
James 1:2-4 puts it this way:

“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.
Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

To grow and mature, it’s important that we pause from time to time to look back at where we’ve been, analyze where we are, and identify where we are going.

It’s my prayer that the tough questions I pose will help you accomplish this.

I also endeavor to help you recognize any areas, or ways, you are trying to make God fit into your life instead of you conforming to His. 

I know I’ve often prayed with the motive of trying to gain God’s favor, or change His mind about the answer He is giving me.

It’s taken a great deal of self-reflection, honesty, and asking God to reveal the planks in my eyes for me to realize that I don’t trust Him enough to wait for His timing and His will to be done. I want things done my way and in my timing. I’ve tried forcing God to be whom and what, I believe I need. This has hindered my walk with Him, my growth in Him and my fellowship with Him. 

I’m guilty of trying to build upon the foundation He laid for me MY way, instead of His.

I’m guilty of trying to make God’s Word compatible with my lifestyle, and personality, instead of allowing Him to refine me through the fire. 

I’m guilty of wanting to dictate my relationship with Him. How much I’m willing to follow and where I’m willing to go. What I’m willing to give up and what I want to hold onto—regardless of what He says. At times it’s like I’m a toddler sticking my fingers in my ears so I won’t hear Him. 

Truth is: Trials refine us. They get rid of sin in our lives. They point us toward our need of God. They mature us. They increase our faith. They build our hope. They help us endure. They give us joy.

Reflection Questions:
1.        Are you trying to dictate what is being built upon the Foundation of your Salvation or are you open to God’s plan, even if it’s includes pain?
2.       Going back to the opening questions, does your behavior indicate you’re growing closer to God or keeping Him at a distance?
3.       Are you trying to make God fit into your life or are you conforming to His Character AKA becoming “Christ like”? Remember, sins (even “small” sins) inhibit our fellowship with Him and make it hard for us to see the planks in our eyes. Ask God to show you any planks you’re unaware of.