Let God turn your Mess Ups into His Set Ups

images-65One of my fond memories as a young boy was on the coast of Oregon in the shadows of the sand cliffs as the Sun set on the ocean in the cool of the evening. My parents had started a campfire and we were cooking hotdogs on the beach. It was such a soothing and refreshing moment that I imagine each time I read the story that we find in John 21:6-15.

The passage is of Peter and some of the disciples fishing after Jesus had been crucified. They were devastated and beyond discouraged which drove them back to their old profession of commercial fishing. And to add salt to their emotional wounds, they were catching no fish.

Out of their hopelessness they obey a person they don’t recognize, who tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. That’s as audacious as if a quarter back in the NFL would take instructions from a fan in the second tier of the stands. Yet they obeyed and caught a net breaking catch of fish. John cries out it is the Lord and the radically spontaneously actions of Peter confirms his agreement. He grabs his cloak puts

Peter was pushed to the point of quitting and going back to his old life style of fishing after the shame of feeling like a failure. –  Tweet  

it on and jumps overboard to be the first one to the shore where the resurrected Jesus has a fire prepared for them. As they all get there with their catch of fish, Jesus begins to cook breakfast for them and pointedly asks Peter three times if he loved Him. Once Jesus gets Peter to confess his brotherly love for Him, Jesus confirms the commission that was on his life, to feed the followers of Jesus.

This story all by itself stirs me, but when we understand the past events in Peter’s life it comes alive with the very mercies and love of God. You see Peter had just royally blown it! In John 18:16-28 we read in the midst of Jesus being falsely accused and on trial, instead of defending Jesus, Peter denies Him three times as he warms himself by a fire outside.

I believe it was this event and a whole list of other mess-ups that finally tipped Peters emotional wagon. He was the one who had gotten his eyes off of Jesus and on the waves beginning to sink. (Matt 14:23-32) Remember he also was the one who cut the ear off the High Priest’s servant (Jn 18:10-11) and at the mount of Transfiguration put his foot in his mouth. (Matt 17:2-7) We can’t deny the blooper when he rebuked Jesus for talking about His death. (Mark 8:31-33) Then who can forget about Peter and the disciples sleeping through the prayer meeting even after Jesus woke them up three times in this most crucial time. (Matt 26:41-46)

So you can definitely understand how Peter once he saw the evidence that Jesus was raised from the grave (John 20:6-8) could have become overwhelmed thinking he was a failure! Pushing him to the point of quitting and going back to his old life style of fishing. (John 21:3-4) That brings back to where we started, on the beach with Jesus cooking breakfast. Peter was devastated and convinced he was the all time failure. Yet Jesus was setting Peter up, wanting to take his mess-up and use them as a set-up for his come back. There on the beach was a fire and then three times Jesus had him say that he loved Him to replace the three denials and commissioning him to feed God’s sheep. In Acts we see Peter was then used to preach the Gospel message where three thousand came to believe in Jesus! (Acts 2:14-15)


Are you living your Life in the Rearview Mirror

images-61The holidays were right around the corner and the memories were beginning to be made without me, as my family was already in Chicago waiting for my arrival. I was rushing around trying to get the office closed and get home so I could pack and head out of town to be on time for the family annual gathering.

Even though it was mind boggling because of everything that needed done, yet some how I had locked the office door and was now in my car driving away. Then out of nowhere came a thought like an enemy arrow that pierced my already tired mind, “I hadn’t turned off the lights in my office”. I began looking in my rearview mirror trying to see if I could tell if they were on or not. Needless to say, I

You cannot go forward as long as you’re looking behind you!

wasn’t looking forward any longer. It’s amazing how a person might think he could go forward safely and be looking in the rearview mirror. Well, it doesn’t work! Ahead of me was a line of cars waiting for a train to finish crossing the road. When I finally looked ahead, I immediately tried to swerve but ended up crashing into the stopped cars.

I learned a valuable lesson that day that has helped me throughout my life. You cannot go forward as long as you’re looking behind you! Paul says, in Phil 3:12-13, “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”. Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi to not look behind. They were like so many people in our day that are so fixed on the past that they are hindered from going forward in their lives.

Whether it was a bad decision when they were young, maybe an abortion, a bad marriage and act of violence or possible many different things. One thing for sure is that not dealing with the past will keep our eyes looking behind us and hinder us from going forward with our lives. In verse 14, Paul continues by saying, “I

Only when we have rightly dealt with the past can we face tomorrow with confidence and triumph.

press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He is saying that he keeps his eyes on the things ahead and where God’s blessings abide. Paul pushed forward to achieve the very reason God had apprehended him. Unfortunately, many of us can’t go forward because our past failures are holding us down. But that is a plot of the enemy in your life: To make you dwell on your failures and not move on. He wants to keep you in bondage to your past so you are useless for what God has for you in the present.

How we deal with our disappointments will determine whether they destroy us or make us stronger. It’s natural to examine ourselves and deal with areas of our lives. (2 Cor 13:5) But, it is totally wrong to be held in bondage to our past. We must bring our failures (1 John 1:9-10) and successes before the Lord and ask Him to forgive where it’s needed and be Lord over even the things we have achieved success in. (2 Cor 10:5-6)

Only when we have rightly dealt with the past can we face tomorrow with confidence and triumph. We must be about His business. But, you can’t go forward by looking in the rearview mirror.


Thoughts to Ponder:

1.)    Do you have times when you are bombarded by things in your past? Or maybe you have a friend that seems to be in bondage to some events in their past? Explain?

2.)    Paul was accustom to the Greek athletic races and therefore used them to bring out what point in Phil 3:12-14 that applied to a believers life? Explain how 2 Cor 10:5-6 can help those who seem to always allow the past failures or successes to hinder what God may have for their present lives.

3.)    What things would you say to anyone that was living their life in bondage to  their past? What does 1 John 1:9-10 exhort those that are followers of Jesus?


What has Robbed your Passion?

images-26When the new wears off and normal comes into play many lose their passion and fire. As most of us have experienced over the years in our own lives, our passion for different things comes in and out almost as often as the Sun rises and then sets hours later. I remember my siblings and I having thoughts of making big money shoveling driveways every first snow. Yet, halfway through with a mountain of snow still in my shovel the enthusiasm and passion quickly faded and before long we gave up and were all back in our warm home.

In reading the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 -19, we see his passion and zeal for the God he worshipped and served. He had just been used by God to turn the hearts of Israel back to Him. Through his obedience and faith, God had showed His power

Don’t run from God into what you think is a cave or safe place, when the enemy means it to become your tomb.     (tweet)

and might on Mount Carmel in front of Baal‘s prophets and Jezebel’s chaplains, as well as the nation of Israel. Elijah’s boldness and eradication of the prophets and chaplains after God worked a great victory through him demonstrated his fire for God.

But then there is a drastic shift in the story as we see in 1 Kings 19:4 where Elijah is asking God to let him die. He says, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” He compares his life with those that had turned from God even after seeing God work mightily in there midst. This mighty prophet of God goes from a mountain top experience to the valley of discouragement. One moment he has a fiery passion for the things of God and the next he is nothing more than a smoking wick of a lamp. The fire had gone out in his life and there was only a faint stench of smoke. Elijah even sinks to the depth of despair by running into the wilderness and hiding in a cave. What happened to this bigger than life passionate prophet? What made him lose the fire of God? What made Him hide in the pit of life? A cave is nothing more than a tomb waiting to be shut!

What has robbed you of your passion for the things of God! Remember back when you had your first encounter with God? It was just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when Jesus joined them and talked with them. (Lk 24:13-32) They said “did not our hearts burn within us?” God starts His fire with in us! But then as we go through life we allow things to quench that fire! We lose our passion for the things of God!

Elijah allowed fear to come in when the evil queen Jezebel threatened his life. He began to isolated himself and have a pity party. He believed the lie that he was the only one serving God. He forgot what God had done in his life already. (1 Kings 19:1-10) Therefore, he ran from God to a desert place, into what he thought was a cave or safe place, but the enemy meant for it to become his tomb. God never left Elijah even when he was running but sustained him, empowered him, spoke to him and guided him all the way to victory!

As Matt 12:20 says, God isn’t going to let your fire go completely out even if its just smoking. He will intervene and draw near to you. But will you respond to His whisper? Letting Him rekindle your fire?




I Have Fallen and Can’t Get Up

images-11Have you ever gone through a tough situation and cried for help and no one responded? It can be very discouraging. How about when you cry out to God and it seems He is not hearing you. You might feel a sense of despair and all alone.

David recorded many of his emotional valleys in his Psalms to the Lord. In Ps 39:12 he says, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears”. I believe many people can relate to his cries for help. David like many others have come to a place that they are desperate for God to hear their cry for help. It reminds me of an incident I heard where I grew up.

A adventurous hiker was hiking up a rugged Idaho creek some years back. He was going down the path all by himself enjoying his journey when the rock he stepped on shifted and sent him tumbling down the steep rocky ravine. As his body slammed up against a tree and settled in an outcrop over-looking the creek, He knew

God hears the cry of His children and as a earthly parent responds how much more will your heavenly Father answer!         (tweet)

that his leg was badly broken. Unable to walk and being much to far to even crawl he lay hopeless in the back-country of the Rocky Mountains with the curtain of the day closing.

Barely surviving the frigid cold night he began to yell for help until he hardly had any voice. His journey had come to an abrupt stand still and his future was becoming more hopeless as the day went on.

Then, across the creek and up the ridge came the noise of a chain saw cutting wood for the soon coming winter. The man collecting the fire wood was getting frustrated at his kids who were constantly interrupting him as he cut the fallen tree, shutting off his saw he began to scold them. As his children defended their case they said, “we thought we heard someone yelling for help”. He listened and heard nothing so he continued with the chain saw.

The hurt and almost lifeless hiker knew this was his only hope and began to scream even more. The wood-cutter’s kids knowing they heard a cry for help risked getting in trouble and interrupted their dad agian. Seeing the urgency in their eyes he stopped and walked to the edge of the ravine. He listened and moments before he gave up he heard the faint cry for help.

Though this story ended with a good ending it is unfortunate that in our society there are multitudes of individuals that are crying out for help. Many have gone down a path in their life thinking they are fine and then abruptly interrupted by tragedy. These circumstances will bring the most independent person to cry out for help in desperation. But will there be a answer?

We read in Ex 3:7-8, where God speaks to Moses saying, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people … and have heard their cry … I know their sorrows.” God had heard the cry of His people and understood their sorrows, for they were in bondage to the Egyptians as slaves. God sees the oppression of those that are in desperate situations. In this passage God says, “So I have come down to deliver them”. God hears the cry of His children and as a earthly parent responds how much more will your heavenly Father answer! (Lk 11:11-13) If you’re in that place now, hang on for He hears and will deliver.

He Just Wants Us To Be By His Side

images-5My mother always had me dressed up with a little bow tie and suspenders as well as my hair being slicked back with a gigantic wave in front. I looked like every mothers dream little boy as she took me to Sunday school. I would sit on the small bench with a handful of other kids hearing stories about how much God loves me and that He had a plan for my life. Those flannel graph lessons planted seeds of faith that have grown and bore fruit in my life.

Scripture says in Rom 8:39, that nothing, “shall be able to separate us from the love of God”. Paul gives us a list of things in the earth and outside the earth that clarifies that there is nothing that can separate you and I from His love. Many years

God has always been forthright in showing His intent of being with His people.   (tweet)

later, though I might not be wearing suspenders or a bow tie with a wave in my hair, those foundational truths of God’s love have become an anchor in my life. Yet, His love is so much more than a one-time story that inspires us.

From the front cover to the end of the Bible we see God’s intent and love. In Gen 3:8-11, we read the first story of mankind where we see God walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the midst of the garden. It was a perfect scenario, God wanting to commune and be with His creation. Then at the back of the book in Rev 21:3 where John’s revelation of Jesus gives us a picture of the end of the age we read, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people”. From the beginning to the end of time itself, along with thousands of years in between God has always been forthright in showing His intent of being with His people.

But unfortunately, when sin entered the world through the disobedience and self-will of Adam and Eve in the Garden it separated us from God. Sending all of mankind in a tailspin in need of a redeemer. At the end of this story in Gen 3:21 we see

One of the greatest truths of Scripture is the fact that God desires to commune with His creation.   (tweet)

God’s heart in the midst of mankind’s epic failure by His immediate covering of them with the animal skin, foreshadowing the shedding of Christ’s blood for our sin, as they were banned from His presence. God began at that very moment to passionately Continue reading

Deal with your Rebellion before it deals with You!

169372603In the midst of the quiet night my wife shot out of bed with a crying scream, “I am in so much pain”! Those who have experience a dry socket will immediately remember the excruciating pain it can cause. It was after my wife had finished getting a wisdom tooth pulled that she was released to go home and recover with the needed medication. Well, at the crack of dawn I was rushing her back to the dentist’s office because of the unbelievable pain she was in. It didn’t take long for the diagnosis of a dry socket to be made and dealt with.

Once the initial tooth distraction was done and the open wound began to heal on the surface, a small piece of chipped tooth was left and produced infection that quickly spread within the socket causing pressure and a throbbing pain that can bring

Too often people allow their hearts to be defiled and conceive a spiritual cancer that spreads throughout their lives.   (tweet)

a grown man to his knees. The solution is to open the wound and clean out the infection and apply medication down deep so that it can heal from inside to out, instead of healing just on the surface, leaving a festering infection on the inside.

In 1 Kings 11-13, we are introduced to Jeroboam who had a similar problem. We see that because of his giftings and abilities that he was one of King Solomon’s upcoming leaders. In verse 29-39, he is given a word through the prophet that God Continue reading

Who Left the Gate Open?

The unprecedented news quickly exploded through every news outlet of the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision favoring same sex marriage. The highest court has single handily redefined marriage, opposing the words of Jesus (Matt. 19:1-9). In spite of this country’s Godly heritage, it now seems that America has opened the gate to turn away from being one nation under God.
Different opinions spread on social media such as, “Love Wins” making it look as if this was a debate of love or hate for the gay community. This decision is not about love and hate, but about keeping the statues of God so that we can live a protected and blessed life (Ps. 33:12).
The Bible teaches us that Jesus died on the cross because He loved mankind and wanted to redeem us. (Jn. 3:16-17) It goes on to say that He didn’t come to condemn but to save us. In other words Jesus didn’t go to the cross because He hated certain individuals, but on the contrary it was because of His love towards them! Yet, many people interpret His purpose and message as hate and condemnation. Let me try and explain this with a story.
When my children were young we lived in an older part of Chicago where the streets are narrow and very busy. I had given my sweet little toddler a kiss and slipped out the back door to start mowing the yard not realizing that the door hadn’t latched behind me. Once I was finished in the back I moved to the front yard leaving the gate open making it easier to get the mower back to the garage. Unbeknownst to me this made for a perfect storm.
Moments later I looked up in complete horror to see my daughter getting ready to step out into the busy street. She had innocently gone through the uninhibited doors and gates unaware of any danger. My fatherly instinct provoked me to yell with urgency “Stop”. Causing my naïve toddler to uncontrollably cry thinking I was upset at her. She misinterpreted my love and desire to keep her safe for a dissatisfaction and anger towards her personally. My yelling was out of desperation to keep her from proceeding into a dangerous road where she would most assuredly get hurt. I had been so preoccupied with the work at hand that I left the gate wide open giving opportunity for her to possibly get seriously hurt.

Real love won on the cross over two thousand years ago (tweet)   

In like manner, this debate is not about God or God’s people hating certain ones, but about maintaining the boundaries He has set. Making sure that there isn’t any gate left opened in our society. Real love won on the cross over two thousand years ago. In 1 Jn 4:7-8 it says that God is love and those that follow Him need to reflect Him through love even while we stand for truth. Jesus went to the cross to free mankind from dangerous actions and lifestyles that would bring bondage. God is not a “Cosmic Kill Joy” wanting you to miss out but a loving Heavenly Father who wants to protect us and give us abundant life. He has set healthy borders that will produce a life of blessing if we follow them and will insure that we don’t begin down a slippery slope leading to destruction. God loves the person but came to deliver them from the works and deception of the evil one. (1 Jn. 3:8)