God Will Make Us Mighty Warriors

We often are sitting, waiting for God to move or for Jesus to come save us from some predicament, to perform some great miracle while we sit here and wait. But God is always moving, always performing miracles. He is always saving us. Sometimes these come through miracles, but more often than not he uses circumstances and common people in his work.

Look at the ordinary people that God used to bring us Jesus. Mary, just a common young teenager of no import, used to carry the baby Jesus into this world. Joseph, way down the line of David, but just a common carpenter who cared for Mary and stuck by her side and believed when so many would have abandoned her. The shepherds, who came to worship at the feet of the baby Jesus to show us that Jesus came for all, not just the powerful. The wise-men, to show us how Jesus came for the gentiles and the rich and powerful as well. h

Where are you God?
Look back throughout the Bible and you’ll see that God used the common and ordinary to perform the extraordinary. One of my favorites comes in the book of Judges 6, the story of Gideon. Back story is the Israelis once again had done evil in the eyes of God and for 7 years, they had been given over to their enemies. In verse 11 we find Gideon, who was threshing wheat in a wine-press to keep it from the Midians. This was less than ideal and a very inefficient way to thresh wheat, but because of his fear of the enemy, Gideon hid from sight.

But then the Angel of the Lord came to him and says these words.

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior

Judges 6:12

I can imagine him looking around, thinking who is this angel talking to…it couldn’t be me. But when he finds no one else, he challenges the angel;

“Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hands of Midian.”

Judges 6:13

Wow, he definitely does not sound sure of what the angel said. In fact he sounds a angry, bitter and full of doubt. “Where were you God when we really needed you? We trusted you to be there with us…but no, you just let them take over.”

So on the first point God is making in verse 12, “The Lord is with you,” Gideon is full of doubt. The Lord then says to Gideon;

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Judge 6:14

So despite Gideon’s questioning, God says to him, “Am I not sending you?” God came to Gideon to send him. What God puts in motion will be completed. I think of this post I wrote two years ago during a Thanksgiving series.

God is saying to Gideon, “Yes all these things have happened to you. You’re asking me why didn’t I fix this or what am I going to do to free Israel from the Midians. Well I am, aren’t I sending you?”

What are you waiting on God to fix? What situation is it that you feel God may have abandoned you in? Could be that God has equipped you to take action, God could be wanting to use you, not from your own strength but from that which is given to you from above.

God has made you a strong warrior
The angel of the Lord called Gideon a mighty warrior. That probably confused him as well. He was cowardly and lacking of faith. He goes on to ask God;

“Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Judges 6:15

Gideon still had no faith that he could do what the Lord was asking. He had not faith, because he looked at his situation from his human eyes. He was from a lowly family in the weakest of the Jewish tribes and he was low in his family. How is God going to use him?

The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Judges 6:16

God answered him very matter-of-factually, “You’ll save Israel because I will be with you.” That’s all we need to do anything God asks of us. When God is with us and he promises that he always is, we can accomplish anything that God sends us to do.

Gideon is still not convinced and asks the angel to give him a sign that it is really God speaking to him. After doing so, Gideon is finally convinced that he has heard from the Lord himself. The Lord eventually asks Gideon to tear down an alter to Baal that was near his father’s house. Gideon obeyed, though you can still see that courage was not a virtue of his as he did it under cover of darkness.

So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

Judges 6:27

Many times what God asks us to do seems difficult if not impossible and usually takes a lot of courage. Many times if I feel led to do something, the level of discomfort for me is one of the signs I use that it is from God. Each time we show a willingness to obey, despite our fears, we grow in our faith.

When the Midianites gather to attack, Gideon gathered some 32,000 men of Israel to battle. But despite that great number, he still doubted that he was the right man to lead. Again his faith faltered and again he demanded a further sign that God would be with him as seen in verses 36-40.

Testing the Lord is not something that is recommended and Gideon could have been punished, but because of his lack of faith and courage, it allowed God to fully display his power through the weakness of Gideon.

After a series of back and forth with God, the number of men heading into battle against Midian was only 300. But despite being outnumbered greatly, Gideon led the men to a great victory by finally trusting in God and being led by Him.

When we face times of trouble, God will use our weakness to display his power. Whether it’s sickness or financial hardships or relationships or whatever we face, God will shine through our weakness. God will use us and our weakness to do what he wants done. We may be fearful or lacking in trust, but God is always faithful and will give us the courage and the strength when we need it.

What an exciting thing to know that He works in that way. We never face our “Midians” by ourselves. We may think we need an army behind us, but all we need is God.

When I Called

In our time of deepest need we will call out to God for his help. Help for healing, help for clarity and maybe help for strength. I can remember at my time of deepest need, when I called out to God, I received all three.

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.

-Psalm 138:3 (NLT)

As soon as I began to pray, He gave me strength. He gave me courage. He gave me clarity. He began to heal me.

What a great joy that he responds to our prayers immediately. We may not get a full answer right away or even get the answer that we want….but as soon as we pray, He is in motion in our lives and will give us what we need in that moment.

When we call on Him, He is faithful

The Spirit Knows

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Romans 8:26

What a great gift that God has given us by sending the Spirit to live in us. The spirit that lives within our very soul and knows us better than we know ourselves knows what are needs are long before we do. The Spirit is already interceding with God for us, before we become aware of it. What a gift.

God has been preparing me for my journey my entire life. Looking back over the last 6 years I see ways in that He interceded in my life, nudged me in the correct direction, put the right people in my life at just the right time. Looking back in hindsight many of those moments are quite obvious to me. I’m sure thought that there are thousands of other moments that are not as apparent.

But the great thing is, the Spirit knows. The Spirit sees from the beginning to the end. He knows where we are going and the best path for us to get there. He is aware of the hurdles that will come before us and aware of the path around us. He sees how the enemy will try and thwart His goals and he knows how to guide us around those obstacles.

The Spirit, being aware of all these things, prays for us in ways we can not even imagine. We must still walk the path along the journey, we can know that he is right there beside us at all times.

Time is a Great Gift to Share

Daylight saving time 2020 ends Sunday: 8 things to know about “spring  forward, fall back” - Vox

Over the years I’ve talked many times about how the small things we do throughout our lives really make a difference. God uses these small things in big ways. One of the original posts I made on this was entitled, “How to Change the World Today!” Today I intend to change the world!

I’m leaving soon for another round of treatment. I always have a strange feeling about treatment day. I dread it and look forward to it at the same time.

Why would I even be excited about it? Well it’s about the small things. I get to meet new people. New nurses, new patients, new friends and family of others. Some I will meet just in passing and may not get much more than a smile and nod of my head in hello. Some I may get to strike up a conversation with. Others I may spend the entire 6 hours I’m there with them. These are all new opportunities that God has put before us. These are paths we cross, not randomly, but purposefully placed there by God. These small interactions can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

I also get to see people that I’ve seen throughout the process the last 6 months. These are people I’m building relationships with. The doctors, the nurses, the lady that checks us out at the cafeteria, other patients that have similar appointment schedules as I do. These relationships that are being built over time have opened doors for new friendships and have blessed others as well as myself in so many ways.

Regardless of whether these encounters are new or have been built over time, they are all ordained by God for his glory. I could easily stay within myself and ignore these people. The good Lord knows I have plenty to keep my mind occupied. But instead I choose to be aware of those around me.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:2-6

Be always watchful and thankful for the opportunities that God sends your way regardless of the situation. And we know from scripture that this is important.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2: 14-18

Sometimes the deeds that are necessary in the cancer treatment centers are simply spending time with others and showing that you care and love them. That is often enough to get them through their treatment for the day. I know it works on me when others have struck up conversations with me.

Don’t miss the opportunities to show others that you care. Time is often the greatest gift you can give to someone else and truly shows the love that Christ has for us. Christ spent the time with the least of us to show how much he loves us. We can easily do the same for others.

2021 Was a Great Year, 2022 Will be Even Better

This year has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting at home on New Years Eve wondering what 2021 would bring and hoping it was better than 2020. Wow, 2021 was not what I expected at all. Looking back on 2021, many would say that 2021 was an awful year. If I reflect on my own personal life, I suppose I could say the same. But I can’t do that. If I’m being honest, 2021 was a year full of opportunity, growth and revelation. To me that sounds pretty awesome. Let’s dig in and see the good that came from this past year.

Going into the year, I was not in the best of health. According to the doctors at the time, it was nothing too serious and actually somewhat normal for people my age. I’m not one to go to the doctor at the earliest onset of any type of symptoms, so I went for my normal checkups and just kept living and working the best I could.

My work was still all remote, so that made it easy to continue to work at a high level and it enabled me to work through my troubles where I might not have been able to otherwise. If I’m being honest with myself, I was getting worse, but I was denying it and playing “tough” and just kept moving forward.

Fast forward to May and my daughter’s wedding was fast approaching. What a beautiful day that was. The wedding was awesome, my daughter was beautiful and it was a moment in time that I’ll never forget. But it was a struggle for me physically. Again, I powered through it as I didn’t want to take away from my baby girls special day.

My yearly checkup followed just a few days after the wedding and while I got a relatively good bill of health, I didn’t feel any better. My blood work came back that I was anemic which triggered a whole set of appointments and tests that eventually led to where I’m at today.

Sprinkled in amongst all the doctor visits and whatnot, the summer brought a septic tank issue that forced us from our house for a bit while it was getting fixed. So let’s just say that the summer was a whirlwind of one bad thing after another.

Then the end of August hit and it all came to a head and I was diagnosed with colon cancer. At this point my year could have gone from bad to worse, and I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if I felt that way. However, this is when I view the year changed drastically for the better.

Why the better? Many could have taken this as the icing on top of an already bad year. Trust me, it wasn’t the way I wanted it all to turn out. However, we know that God will take the bad and use it for his glory.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Immediately after my diagnosis, a Godly peace came over me and the fear disappeared. I did ask God, “Why me?” I heard him tell me, “It’s not about you.”

So that’s how I lived the rest of 2021. In a spirit of obedience, no fear and with eyes wide open looking for those opportunities that I know God puts in front of me every day.

People have commented on my positivity and how that has encouraged them in their troubles. I don’t know any other way to live through this and indeed it is not my own doing that has giving me this attitude, but it has been a gift from God. And while of course I have my moments when I do fear, I am instantly reminded that the fear makes it about myself again and God has already told me that it’s not about me.

So 2022 is here now. Here is just a few things that I feel will make it an even better year that 2021.

  • Opportunities Galore. God has provided and will continue to provide so many opportunities daily to tell my story and tell of the glory of God and how he is working through me. I see my disease as a positive thing. Without it, I was ignoring those opportunities. I was just living life, focused on me. Before the diagnosis, it was about me…. now it’s not.
  • Spread joy everywhere. My goal when I’m with others, is to make them smile. To garner a laugh from someone that may be having a bad day. To give a smile to some that may be feeling down. To lend and ear to someone that needs to talk. Every time I’m at the hospital for treatment, I try to get the nurses to laugh. Laughter is contagious and I believe that it can bring healing to the body and to the mind. I try to talk to people that may be sitting beside me in the waiting room or perhaps we share a treatment room. I’ve had the opportunity to pray for people and to just give them escape from their troubles.
  • Glorify God in my healing. Sure this makes it a bit about myself, but let me quickly turn it back around. Up to this point in my treatment, it has been working wonderfully. Tumors are shrinking and I’m feeling a 100% better. I’ve been blessed to have very few side effects from the treatment. I believe this is only possible because it brings glory to our savior.
  • People must know. People must know of the good news of Jesus Christ. Through this blog, through my opportunities and in fact just from living my life, I have been given a platform to share the news of Christ. I’m not here to convert anyone, in fact I can’t do that. That is not my job. Only Christ can do that. My job is just to share. To make sure people know.
  • To love on people. The Bible tells us that the world will know us by how we love people. We become more like Christ when we love people. When we love the least of those around us. Those that are sick and hurting desperately need the love that we can give them. The homeless and the destitute have need of our love just to get through each day.

I could go on and on about the things that will make this world a better place in 2022. My challenge to anyone that has read this far, make 2022 your best year yet. Make it the year that you grow your own faith, that you put your full trust in God. Make it the year that you show love to people, even those that are difficult to love.

Let joy flow through you and let it spread to those around you. Joy is contagious and it is healing, don’t keep it in, let it flow out from you.

Everyone Will Know

We’re just coming out of the Christmas holiday and this is the time of the year that people get generous and giving and show love to one another. But why don’t we do this all year long? Why are we so focused on the month of December that we often forget the other 11 months.

Is your church equipping you to love others? Are they showing you ways to go make a difference in your community. If we only love others inside those church walls, is our faith really alive? Are we showing the love that Christ has for us?

There are so many needs out there in any community. There may be homeless, or those struggling to feed their families. There may be people that struggle with mental health and those that are just lonely and just need someone to talk to.

What’s the best way to show the love of Christ? To go out and live it.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:35

Find a way to serve and love on others. Each of us have our gifts that were given to us from God. Those in need are all around us. I find so many that just need a conversation when I’m at the hospital for my own treatment. Just to bring a little humor or laughter to someones day can make a huge difference.

Don’t stay inside the four walls of the church. Go out and let everyone know…that you are a disciple of Christ.

What am I Thankful For?

November Classroom Activities: Grateful/Thankful Reflections - Really Good  Teachers™ Blog and Forum | A Really Good Stuff® Community

It’s Thanksgiving week and while this has been a rough year (rough couple years really), with the pandemic, my health issues, and a lot of other stuff going on around the world, it’s often tough to remember we have so much to be thankful for.

I’m gonna list some of the things I’m thankful for. This list will be a bit different in that you won’t find the normal thanksgiving of family, health, job…. which of course I’m thankful for, but I wanted to list some of the things that I’m thankful for that might not be as expected.

  1. I’m thankful for the journey I’m on. Which journey you might ask? Well it’s the journey of having cancer. Why would I be thankful for having cancer? Well I’m not. I’m thankful for the journey this has started me on. One I couldn’t have taken otherwise.

    This journey has brought me closer to God. It has given me the courage and desire to speak open and honestly about my faith. I’ve met so many people that even in small ways, they can see Jesus working through me. And I’ve heard that there are many out there being moved to action because of my journey, whether that’s getting their own health checkups or being moved to share their own faith, or even to reevaluate the relationship with Christ.

    The journey has truly been a blessing and if it took getting cancer to move on with this journey, then so be it.
  1. I’m thankful that I’m going through this and not my children. Here’s the father coming out in me. My four children have always had relatively good health when I see so many other young children going through much worse than I even am. I pray that none of my children never develop this or any other sort of cancer. If me carrying this burden for them, so they can lead a long healthy life, is what it takes, then I’m all in.

    I’m also thankful that because of my diagnosis, they will get checked out sooner than I did because there is now a direct family history. I had no direct history. If anything it was back generations and we might not have even known what it was back then. But now my children can say, “Yes my father had it” and perhaps doctors will take a closer look or run a few extra tests so if anything is developing, it can be taken care of quickly.
  1. I’m thankful for the community I live in. I live, as most of my readers know, in a small community where everyone knows just about everyone. My wife and I have been here our entire lives. We grew up, went to school here, got married, lived here and raised our own children and they went to our alma mater.

    The community has rallied around us in so many ways I can’t speak to them all, nor could I thank everyone individually. But it’s not just us. Every time there is tragedy, illness, accident or whatever, so many individuals and organizations come together to help with the needs. I know this isn’t unique to our community, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
  1. I’m thankful for the little things. My journey has made me slow down and recognize the little things. I see and hear the birds more clearly. I see the sunrise and appreciate the warmth on my skin. I look at the night sky and appreciate the majesty of it all.

    The small moments with other people, even just a quick hello or wave are so much more meaningful. I see a lot of very sick and sad people on my days at the doctors. I’m thankful I’ve been given joy and happiness despite the circumstances and I fully believe God has built me my entire life for this moment. He has given me a good sense of humor that I can make others laugh and bring some joy to a sad place. If even one person finds their own joy then it is all worth it.

    I’ve said this for years….the little things matter.

I could go on and on about the things I’m thankful for, but let me end it here with one last one. I’m thankful for a God that loves me despite my failures. A God that loves me enough that he sent his son, Jesus, to die for me and cover my sins and failures. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit that resides in me know and gives the joy and keeps the fear away and gives me the power I need to not only make it through my own journey, but to bless those I meet along the away.

I hope everyone can find those things that they are thankful for this week and every week. God bless you all!

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

Healthy Yogurt Breakfast Parfait with Blueberries & Granola Recipe

As I write this it’s early Monday morning and in a few hours I’ll be back up at the hospital to get my next round of treatment. Up to this point it really hasn’t been that bad as I’ve been handling the chemo pretty well with few side effects, but it is a long and tiring day. However, I never look forward to going up there.

I have found though, something that gets me excited about this day. I first see the doctor and then they send me up to the infusion center to start the treatment. By the time I get rolling with that it’s usually around lunch time. My wife will run down to the cafeteria to grab something to eat. So what do I get excited about? Well you may have guessed it…. the blueberry yogurt parfait that I get each time.

It’s good, actually quite good, but at the same time, there is nothing special about it. But I’ve latched onto that as something I look forward to, something that makes the trip worthwhile and less tiresome. I can get my parfait.

I spoke in my last post about joy in the Lord. Joy in the Lord is not the same as happiness, however you can find happiness in the world, even in the little things. God has provided me this parfait as my point of happiness in these moments to help me get through them. Might seem silly, but those little things really matter.

God’s blessings are all around us and they aren’t always big…sometimes they are just a parfait.

Find your parfait in difficult situations and give praise to God for those little things!

Fullness of Joy

The Fulness of Joy Is More Than a Feeling

Where does my joy come from? A question I’ve asked myself over and over again. It’s hard to explain to myself let alone to others because joy comes from GOD, it does not come from within us. Joy is contentment despite whatever circumstances you may be facing.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

John 15:11

Joy is not happiness. We can manufacture happiness, however fleeting, but we can make ourselves happy. When we buy the new “thing”, we can be happy. When we have the recognition we desire in the workplace, we can be happy. But that is not joy. Joy goes far deeper than emotion.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

Happiness comes from fulfilling our needs. Our hunger and thirst. Our desire for things. But the kingdom of God is not these things.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

Let us not think that joy is always happy. Bad things still happen to followers of Christ. However the key is, if you stay focused on Jesus, you still have your joy because joy comes completely from him and not our present circumstance.

So where does my joy come from despite my current situation? Well it comes from the one who saved me. The one who takes this broken body and broken mind and fills me with the fullness of Christ’s joy.

Keep focused on Christ and let him fill you full of joy!

Let Down Your Nets

Let Down Your Nets! | ChristLife | Catholic Ministry for Evangelization

I’ve come across some trying days the last few months. Days that I wish would never come and I know there will be trying days ahead of me. I was reading through the book of Luke the other day and read in chapter 5 the story of Jesus when he calls his first disciples.

He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. Luke 5:3

So here’s Simon, who just came in after a long night of fishing that produced nothing as we will soon find out. He’s tired, he’s probably hungry and most likely discouraged. But here is Jesus and he steps into his boat.

Isn’t that like Jesus. He inserts himself right where we need him, right when we need him whether we realize it or not. I’m sure Simon was aware of who Jesus was, but wasn’t aware that he was the Messiah yet.

I’ve been aware of Jesus my whole life. There have been times when I’ve drawn close and times when I’ve distanced myself from him. But time and time again, Jesus comes and inserts himself into my life in ways that I’m unprepared for and in ways that I really don’t want to happen.

A few months ago, hours after hearing the words that I have cancer, Jesus inserted himself in a big way. He didn’t just climb into my boat, he climbed in, shoved me to the side and said “I’m in control now.”

I didn’t want this, but I had no choice….Jesus was driving the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5

Jesus finishes speaking and then turns to Simon, because he already knows what is troubling Simon. He knows the hardships that he has been through the night before and he knows that he’s ready to give up.

But Jesus was having none of it. Jesus knew what Simon needed to do. He needed to go out in deeper waters and put down his net.

Simon to his credit, did what Jesus asked of him, even though it didn’t make much sense.

So as I was laying in the hospital, waiting to get to my room, I was pretty mad. I didn’t want to go through this and I let God know that I was mad. I felt him speak to me in a still voice, that “This will be used for my glory.” And at that moment I felt a peace about me and as I was reading this passage from Luke, I imagine myself resigning myself to go to deeper waters and put down my nets.

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Luke 5:6-7

Simon, by following what Jesus had asked of him, was blessed beyond belief. Blessed beyond any logical comprehension he may have had. Jesus didn’t just bless them, he gave them an over-abundance of blessings.

Over the last couple months, God asked me to head to deeper waters and let down my nets. I’ve done my best, not always easy, but I’ve tried hard to follow and do so without question. It’s been through my writings here, through my discussions with people that I work with and meet in my day to day life. It’s even been in my own family.

But like Simon, it is through no effort of my own. I’m just letting down my nets just as Jesus instructed Simon to and he’s providing the catch, he’s providing the blessings. And I’ve stated many times, that if through my illness, through my trials even one person comes closer to God, then it was all worth it.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke5:8

When Simon saw the blessings that Jesus had led them to. He fell to the feet of Jesus.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Luke 5:10

Jesus told Simon and the others, that they would now be fishers of men. Jesus was going to use Simon and the others for his Glory and to bring more people to God.

God is using me, he has called me out to be his hands and feet. The sickness gives me a story, something I can relate to others. Something that others can look at me and see how I’m dealing with it and following Jesus.

Simon didn’t question Jesus when he said to go to deeper waters and let the nets down. I don’t intend to question it either.

I’m in the deep waters now, and the deep water can be dark and scary. But I’m here now. I’m letting down my nets and God is blessing me and others through my story.

%d bloggers like this: