Month: January 2014

Storm Warning

Last night, as I drove home in the midst of the 3rd winter storm in the past two-weeks. I found myself complaining out loud in my car. I was giving Mother Nature a tongue lashing.  I am sick of the storstorm-warningms and I am already tired of this winter.  As I drove my car through the drifts of snow, I realized that all my complaining and tongue lashings were not going to help.  I was complaining to God about something He already planned to happen. I believe that God allows storms in our life to teach us. Storms are an intended part of our lives.

One author said, “we are all either just leaving a storm or about to enter one.”

So why are we so surprised by their presence in our life?  No matter how much we prepare for them they always seem to be unexpected, unpredictable, unwanted, and they always produce fear.  The only answer I can think of that addresses the question of why we are so surprised by them is because the storms in our life remind us that we are not truly in control of our lives and that scares all of us!

I am reminded of a story found in the book of Mark, chapter 4. It is the story of a storm in the lives of the disciples.  A storm that was planned by God to teach them, help them and illuminate them.  It’s a fascinating story and there is so much in the story that captivates me.  As I read narratives like this I imagine I’m in the boat with them, wet, afraid, struggling, and then I look to Jesus and He’s asleep!  How could He be asleep?  Doesn’t He realize what trouble we are in? Doesn’t He care?

We all feel this at times in the midst of the storm.  When storms come in our lives, just as Job asked in the midst of his storm, we all ask, “God, don’t you care?”  What they missed (and honestly we miss it too) is that God was in the boat with them!  If they go down so does he!  Doesn’t it strike you as strange that Jesus was asleep?  Don’t you wonder at times in your own life, “is God asleep, has He forgotten about me, doesn’t He care?”  You may have actually said it out loud, 

“God, WAKE UP!  I’m in trouble.”  

But what we and the disciples miss is that God is with us.  Do you realize how big those words are? God is with us.  It means He’s in the boat too! It means He’s invested in you, in your life, in your storm.  It means “He’s got this!”  It means, if you are in the storm and He’s with you, it’s part of His plan.

Ok, so I ask as I write that, how can a storm be part of His plan?  Because in the storm our senses become alive, StormSignsharp, focused and we can see more clearly than we ever do in normal days.  In this storm the disciples feared the storm, but in just moments their fears were redirected to Jesus.

Storms bring clarity.  They focus our passions, our desires, our lives on what’s most important.  In a recent storm in our area the news crew interviewed a woman who had lost everything in a fire in her home.  As she stood in front of her devastated home, nothing left of all she had, she said, “we are so blessed, no one was hurt.”  And suddenly clarity comes to her life.  The stuff can be replaced and in that moment, in the midst of losing everything, we discover that we have actually lost nothing at all!

As you face your next storm realize two things, 1. God is with you.  This didn’t happen without His presence or permission, and 2. He has a plan and purpose in the storm for your life.  

In the midst of your next storm will you discover it?  

Will you see that all of life is about knowing Him and trusting Him?  

Will you discover that He has never left you, He’s with you….even in the midst of your storm.

Turn the Page

I love turning the page.

To be honest, I always have. I try to make as much noise as I can turning the page of a book – or a pad TurnThePageof paper – or a calendar. I love the cracking sound. It sounds like progress to me. It feels like I’ve accomplished something, and my reward is that now I get to see what happens next. 

The same can be said of when I turn a page in my life. I can’t help but see our lives as stories we’re writing and telling as we go through life. Page by page we fill up the chapters of our life because I believe that each morning we wake up to a blank page and fill it throughout the day with our thoughts and actions. Both the good and the bad. And as I look back on the chapters of my life – and forward to the unwritten page before me, I can’t shake the question, “What kind of story am I writing?”.  Is the journey in this life of mine a love story? A how “not to” book? A mystery? A tragedy or maybe even a comedy?

Sometimes when I look back at some of the drivel I have written over the years, I see each of these aspects in my writing. There are flashes of a love story. A love story of how the love of Jesus Christ has brought me through some difficult times. Definitely the pages that I have filled with words are (at times) a warning of how “not to” do certain things. I also see aspects of mystery because I won’t share everything or name names when I could have and at times should have. I am glad that I have not called out certain people for how they have treated me over the years. However that does not mean I still don’t struggle at understanding how some people hide behind their Christianity. Smiles on Sunday morning but disdain and judgement on others throughout the week. That being said, I am glad that each morning I get to turn the page and see a blank sheet staring front of me. I get to start over and dwell on better things.

Probably the best words to describe my words may be linked to them being both a tragedy and a comedy.  A tragedy because of the years wasted at life. I single-handedly destroyed my ministry.   I did it to myself. By my own hand.  There is no one to blame but me. There is tragedy found in what could have been.  But what about the comedy? Yes, I still see comedy in the words that I have penned. I have experienced many things in this life that when taken in context are hilarious.  There are things that have happened to me that if I did not personally experience them firsthand I would not have believed them myself.  I have honestly been asked if some of the stories I have told are true and I am here to tell you that every word I have ever written is the truth of what has happened to me.

Yes… it’s been all of these descriptions at times, and more.  But more than anything, as I look to the future of adventurewhat I want my story to be, I want it to be an adventure. Who wants to read a story where the same thing happens page after page? No plot twists. No great success. No failure that leads someone to find to a better part of himself. Nothing out of the ordinary or unpredictable. Who would want to read that story?  Who would want to live that story? Not me. I want to live my life to the absolute fullest.  I want to open my eyes to be all I can be. I want to travel roads not taken. I want the life that I live for my remaining days to be an adventure.

How about you?

Here is where we stand.  Some chapters of your life have now been written. For some of you, those chapters are filled with struggle and hurt. For others, the greatest success and happiest moments of your lives. But one thing we all have in common is… it’s in the past. A new year of blank pages is before all of us, ready to be filled with the greatest adventure we can dream up. A new year of second chances. A new year with another chance to get it right.

You have a story to tell and you have to face the unwritten page each day. That can be harder to face than itWe-all-have-a-story-to-tell sounds.

There are all kinds of obstacles in your way, tying your pages together, boarding up your heart, building walls around your dreams – doing anything and everything to stop you. It can seem easier to put yourself up on a shelf than to write a new chapter. But regardless, whether you intend to or not… your history will be written.

Even if you don’t get out of bed, your story continues. Even if you do exactly what you did yesterday, your story continues. Even lack of thought will fill the page. Even if you’re unaware that you’re creating your history in every moment of every day, with every choice and every thought your having… you are still writing your history.

Don’t let what has been dictate what will be. You have choices. Just because something has been a certain way for some time doesn’t mean it must continue. Just because you chose something yesterday doesn’t mean you have to choose it today. Even if you can’t change your circumstances, you can change your thoughts and actions. You can absolutely change the story you’re telling.

What if you would approach the new year as a blank page waiting to be filled with the greatest story you can tell? What if you would lay down your past experiences, expectations, mistakes, successes – and start fresh?  What if you would reassess the importance you give all that fills your lives and choose again?  What if you would walk forward knowing that if you’re still here there’s something beautiful waiting for you to discover? What if you would turn the page of the story you’ve been writing and face the unwritten page before you?

As a wise man once said:

“A person unfamiliar with their own history are destined to repeat the mistakes of their fathers.”

Welcome to your new chapter. Live it beautifully.

Now… turn the page and write it well.