Don’t be afraid to ask God for something impossible

When was the last time you asked God for something impossible? I’m not talking about asking for a million dollars or asking for a dream vacation. I’m talking about something out-of-this-world extraordinary. Something no person on Earth has the capability to achieve. Like the restoration of a broken relationship, the redemption of a lost soul, or the healing of a broken body.

We get so caught up in our material wealth in this country that we lose sight of what is truly impossible. We live buried in debt that we can’t get out of, so our idea of impossible is being independently wealthy. But what about the things that really matter? The people we care about, the lives around us, the hurting hearts?

When was the last time you asked for something truly impossible?

Nothing-is-IMPOSSIBLEToday’s verses are Jeremiah 33:2-3.

This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

Yes, this is God inviting you to ask. Throughout the Bible, God invites His people to talk to Him, to get to know Him, to have a conversation with Him, and in every instance in Scripture when someone gets closer to God, they change from the inside out.

Can you imagine what it’s like to encounter God like Moses did? Or like Joshua? Or even like the prophets Elijah and Jeremiah, who heard God’s voice clearly? After you’ve experienced God like that, how could you ever doubt Him?

Granted, they all had their bad days, when the struggles of life overwhelmed them, and then God had to remind them who He is. And, fortunately for them, they listened.

But what about us? What great God experience do we get? Well, I guess that depends on how closely you’re paying attention. No, we don’t get to see oceans parting and or city walls collapsing, but we do experience divine appointments–those moments that only God could have coordinated. We get to witness Him working in our lives and in other people’s lives. We get to see the miracles of nature that God has created.

Everything is a miracle.

And just because we don’t see crazy ridiculous “miraculous” events here in this country doesn’t mean they aren’t happening elsewhere. There are all sorts of reports of impossible things happening around the world–the dead being raised, impossible prayers being answered, God intervening in ways that are obvious.

Just because it’s not happening in America doesn’t mean it isn’t happening in other countries. Sorry to burst your bubbles, friends, but America isn’t the bastion of hope and light that we used to be.

But that doesn’t mean God won’t do the impossible if we ask. I’ve seen Him do impossible things, just in my own life, and I can think of several impossible things that I’d like to see Him do right now. I bet you can think of some too.

So why don’t we ask? Are we afraid He’ll say no? Are we afraid He’ll tell us that He can’t do it or that He won’t do it?

Don’t be afraid.

You know who God is, right? God is good. Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, God is inherently God. He’s the only one who is. So whatever God does is good.

Maybe it doesn’t seem good to us right now, but that’s because we don’t understand it. That’s where trust comes in. Maybe He’s withholding something that’s good right now in order to provide us with something better later on down the road. You just don’t know.

He won’t strike you down for asking. The Bible is full of examples of people who asked God questions we might think are impertinent, and Jesus never rebuked them. If it were an honest question from a heart genuinely seeking, Jesus never turned anyone away. And God is the same.

What is that impossible thing in your life that you desperately wish would happen? Who is that one person you think will never change? What is that relationship you’re afraid is doomed to fail?

Don’t be afraid to ask for the impossible. God is in the business of the impossible, and there is nothing beyond His reach. That doesn’t mean He’ll always do what you ask Him to do, and there are uncountable reasons why He might say no. But we should always remember that if God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want, that just means He’s going to answer them in a better way later on.

God never ignores us. Not ever.

So ask already.

I know what I’m asking for. How about you?

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Accept who God made you and stop making such a mess

I rarely used to state my opinion out loud. Sure, I’d think it to myself frequently, but I’d never say anything that could come back to bite me. I never wanted to upset anyone. I never wanted to reveal any sort of weakness.

Not a very good way to get to know people. Not a good way to be a witness for Christ either.

I was afraid to speak out, for fear that I would be wrong or that people wouldn’t like what I had to say. So it was just easier to stay silent. But in recent years, I’ve come to grips with who God made me and why He made me. Now, I can sit and have a conversation with someone and share openly about my life–my successes and my failures, without fearing judgment or condescension. Doesn’t mean I don’t experience it, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

I had to come to grips with who God made me as a person and what His plans for me look like. When I did that, I didn’t have to be afraid of who I was anymore.

A-Bull-in-a-China-Shop-57223Today’s verses are Psalm 139:14-16.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Now, some people will barrel through life like bulls in China shops, hooting and hollering and being loud, and they’ll just tell people they were born loud. God made them loud. So that gives them an excuse to run over people.

Sorry, folks. That’s not the case. God never made anyone with the purpose of running other people down. Sure, some of us have a bigger set of lungs than others, but that doesn’t give us the right to disturb someone else’s peace or say things about others that are untrue.

God made you for a purpose. He created you for a reason. But until you accept that purpose and reason for your life, you’ll just be a bull in a China shop, breaking things and making trouble for others. Or you’ll be the quiet one in the corner with a brain full of knowledge but not enough courage to speak out when you need to.

It comes down to how you see yourself, how you see others, and how you see God. Your perspective on those three subjects will determine how you behave.

If you think you’re all that matters, that’s how you’ll live. You’ll make decisions that only benefit you, regardless of how you hurt those around you. Other people won’t matter. And you’ll have the ability to twist God’s words into permission for you to get what you want out of life.

But if you’re focused on God, you’ll have life straight. Maybe it won’t feel like it all the time. Maybe most of the time it’ll feel like life is slipping through your fingers. But you’ll have your priorities correct.

You don’t have to be loud for people to hear you. You don’t have to make noise to get people’s attention. You sure don’t need it to get God’s attention. You already have it, and He’s been trying to talk to you forever. You just aren’t listening.

So knock it off. Quiet down and listen to Him for a change.

And for you quiet folks, don’t be afraid of your opinions. If you’ve got your eyes on God and you’re following Him, He will tell you things in His Word that He might not reveal to other people. Seriously, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for because they’re quiet enough to listen to God when He’s speaking.

Be open. Be honest. But speak the truth in love. God never reveals truth so that we can use it as a sledgehammer. He reveals truth so that we understand how much He loves us and how desperately we need Him.

Some people hide behind loudness and noise. Other people hide behind silence and curtains. But everybody hides, usually because they think they aren’t good enough.

But God made you who you are, with your foibles and quirks and eccentricities. He knew you’d have your strange propensities before you were even born, and He thinks they’re wonderful. So if God isn’t ashamed of them, why are you?

Don’t shoot rabbits from a motorboat

Ever hear a law that someone had to come up with when they were smoking something? Spend a little time on www.dumblaws.com and you’ll wonder. There’s actually a Kansas law about not shooting rabbits from a motorboat.

Seriously? Does it have to be in the water when you shoot? Because if the boat’s in the water, I doubt a rabbit is going to be out in the water with you. There are tons of these crazy laws out there, and it makes me wonder why they exist. Because there had to be a reason for creating them.

Spend enough time searching through Kansas laws on this website, and you’ll see what I mean. Because Overland Park, Kansas has a law against picketing funerals. For anyone living outside of Kansas, that sounds dumb. Who would picket a funeral? But if you live in Kansas, you know there’s a horrible group of people in Topeka who used to protest at soldier funerals, and this law in Overland Park was designed to protect families.

That law sounds dumb until you understand why it exists. That’s the tricky part about laws. Sometimes at first blush, you don’t think they make any sense, but once you understand why they’re there, it changes your perspective.

No rabbits and not a motorboat ... but you get the idea

No rabbits and not a motorboat … but you get the idea

Today’s verse is Psalm 119:144.

Your laws are always right;
    help me to understand them so I may live.

No, that’s not a typo up there. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, coming in at 176 verses. But it’s an easy read. If you’ve got time, you should check it out some morning. It’s a beautiful chapter.

The central theme you’ll see repeated over and over in Psalm 119 is God’s laws and how keeping God’s laws brings life and joy and blessing. What I love about this verse is that the writer is asking God’s help to understand His laws.

Human beings are just all screwed up. We’re turned around every which way, upside down and inside out. If left to our own devices, we live life backwards. We place value on things that don’t matter in the end. We focus on things that don’t last.

That’s why God’s commandments seem confusing if we look at them through the world’s eyes, because the world is backward.

God has given us rules and laws for a reason. Not to squash our fun. Not to prevent us from achieving our goals. But because He knows what’s best for us. He knows the troubles that we’re facing, and He wants to help us succeed and thrive in this life. But we have to do it His way.

If we try to do it our own way, we’ll end up lost and confused. Because that’s what we are without Him.

So if you run across one of God’s rules that you don’t understand, ask Him to help you understand it. That’s one of the great things about God. He wants to hear from us. He wants us to talk to Him, and part of getting to know Him better is learning to understand why He asks us to live according to His rules.

The rules that don’t make sense are usually related to the cultural differences between modern day America and ancient Israel. But what God said back then is just as relevant in today’s world. You just have to understand His reasoning and His purpose behind it.

So when you’re struggling to understand, just ask. God has a habit of revealing answers to you in ways you won’t be able to ignore.

And, make a note to yourself. If you’re ever passing through Kansas on a motorboat, don’t shoot any rabbits.

Sacrificing for the right reasons doesn’t feel like a sacrifice

I’ve heard it said that the best definition of love is sacrifice. If you love someone, you’ll sacrifice for them. But what does it mean to sacrifice?

In American culture, the concept of sacrifice has such a negative connotation. If you sacrifice something, that means you’re giving something up, and everybody knows giving something up stinks. But I have a problem with that definition, especially when it comes to the concept of sacrificing for God.

When you sacrifice for God, is it really a sacrifice? Have you ever thought about it that way? Because when I sacrifice something–my time, my energy, my focus, my finances, etc.–for God, I always get back more than I’ve given.

See we think of sacrifice as giving something up and never getting anything in return, but that’s not the case. Well, maybe it’s the case if you’re sacrificing for selfish reasons. Nothing done with selfish motivation ever pays a return–not really.

But turn that around. When you sacrifice for selfless reasons, you’ll be hard-pressed to see your choice as a sacrifice. I know tons of people who sacrifice every day. They sacrifice their time and their emotions and their money. They sacrifice possessions and privacy and personal desires. They sacrifice all kinds of things, but because they’ve got their perspective straight, they don’t see it as a sacrifice at all. They see it as an opportunity to do something kind for someone else.

desertToday’s verse is Hebrews 11:24-27.

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

Just about everybody knows the story of Moses, whether it’s The Ten Commandments version of his life or the Prince of Egypt version. And we all like to focus on the fact that Moses talked to God and went before Pharaoh and said things like “Let my people go!” and brought the plaques on Egypt, etc. etc. etc. (no, wrong Yul Brenner quote…. so let it be written, so let it be done).

But how often do we focus on the fact that Moses had every right to stay in Egypt and claim a position of lordship? Moses might not have been born Egyptian, but he’d been raised in the palace. He could have stayed. He could have claimed title and land and riches and status. But he didn’t. He chose to walk away from it, and he ended his life doing what God had called him to do.

Talk about sacrifice, right? Walking away from a life of privilege to herd sheep at the hind end of the desert? Releasing his rightful claim to comfort and security in exchange for a barefoot conversation with a burning bush? But if we could talk to Moses today, regardless of all the crap he had to go through leading the Children of Israel, I don’t think he’d say that he sacrificed anything. On the contrary, he had a front row seat for some of the greatest miracles in recorded history.

Perspective is everything.

Are you in situation right now where you feel like you’re sacrificing and no one is recognizing it? Well, I hate to be the rain on your parade, friend, but sacrifice has absolutely nothing to do with recognition. If you sacrifice, you aren’t necessarily going to get to see your name up in lights. If you sacrifice for someone you love, they may not even notice. But if you’re sacrificing for the right reason, it won’t matter.

If you give up something you want expecting something in return, that’s not sacrifice. That’s bartering.

If you keep seeing your sacrifice as something you “had to do” for whatever reason, you’ll never move past it. If you keep bringing it up, you haven’t sacrificed anything. You’re still holding on to it. And you can’t walk that line. You can’t say you’ve sacrificed something if you’re still clinging to it.

But if you let go of what you want, especially if you’re letting it go for God’s sake, and you don’t pine after what could have been, you’ll be surprised at the turn your life will take. Maybe at the beginning, it’ll feel like you’re walking away from the best dream you’ve ever had, but when it’s over, you’ll be standing on a mountaintop talking to God like He’s your closest friend.

Just because you give up something you want doesn’t mean your life is going to be unhappy. It doesn’t even mean that you’ll end up losing out. In fact, you might even end up with more than you had to start.

Dandelion at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Get excited about what God is doing

When something great happens, don’t you want to tell everyone? I got some great news the other day, but it’s not time to talk about it yet. I will soon, but I have to stay quiet for a little while. And it’s so hard! I just want to scream it at the sky and run around in circles and dance or something–anything–because I’m so excited.

When was the last time you felt that way about something God did in your life?

Dandelion at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Dandelion at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 1 Chronicles 16:23-27.

Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and joy fill his dwelling.

God does awesome things for us every day. Did you realize that? He does things for us that we never asked Him for, things we don’t even know how to ask for. And He does them just because He can.

That sunrise this morning. God did that. The rainbow after the storm the other night. God did that too. God is in the habit of doing miracles every morning, every afternoon, every evening, and most of the time we’re just too busy to pay attention.

Slow down.

The world isn’t going to end if you take a few moments to look around and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Listen to a bird sing or a child laugh. Feel the wind on your face or marvel at the color of the grass (or the wheat, if you’re in Kansas). Smell the lilacs or the roses, whichever floats your boat. And take a moment to recognize who is responsible for all the beauty around us.

And you don’t have to live in the country to enjoy the miracles God does every moment. You realize your cup of coffee is a miracle, right? You can taste it. You can enjoy it. Both of those gifts come from God. And, man, let me tell you I think coffee is a wonderful gift.

There’s nothing better than drinking a cup of hot coffee on a brisk spring morning and watching the sun come up. And that’s something anyone can do, whether you work full time or not. Maybe you work a different shift. If that’s the case, marvel as the sun sets when you’re on the way to work.

The point is that we need to get excited about the things God does for us every day. Maybe they might sound small, but even the smallest miracle is still beyond our capacity. It’s still impossible for us to do. So why don’t we celebrate?

Celebrate the tiny things, the small victories, and tell everyone who did it. Shout it at the sky. God did it! And He did it for me because He loves me!

You want something that will change your perspective on life? Give that a try. After a few days of rejoicing over daisies and lattes, then you’ll start recognizing how many huge things God does for us too.

Why should I be afraid?

Psalm 27

DSC_4924The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.

Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

It’s good to recognize a job well done

I don’t like it when people make a fuss over me. Quiet acknowledgements are nice. Low-key congratulations are great. All the same, any sort of recognition is nice, even if it requires a whole room of people to turn around and stare at me.

It’s nice to know that people recognize an accomplishment or an achievement on your part, regardless of if they make a big deal of it or just whisper quiet congratulations with a handshake as you pass. And, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Personally, I don’t work for accolades or recognition. I don’t need acknowledgements or shoutouts. But when someone takes the time to acknowledge a job well done? That means a lot to me.

Part of the job I was working at the beginning of this week was the audio/visual coordination for my old company’s national sales meeting, and that included a large awards dinner on Tuesday night. It’s a pretty big deal. Swanky. And it’s neat, becuase a lot of the sales guys from the organization are recognized for their accomplishments. They aren’t driven by accolades, but it’s nice to be acknowledged.

viega_nsm2015Today’s verse is Proverbs 3:27.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.

It’s common sense, isn’t it? If you know someone has done a good job, don’t hesitate to acknowledge them. Sometimes we don’t. It can be because we’re shy or scared or because we think that we don’t have a place congratulating someone. Maybe we think they don’t know us. Maybe we think they don’t care what we think.

But I can tell you from personal experience, regardless of how well I know someone, I always appreciate it when they take the time to mention their thoughts or feelings on something I’ve done. Granted, it’s nice if it’s positive feedback, but constructive criticism is good too.

If someone in your life has done a good job, tell them. If you see someone working hard, recognize their efforts. It’s good to acknowledge a job well done, and you never know how you might encourage someone else.