After a While You Get Used to It 

A friend of a missionary was in a coffee shop in Beirut, Lebanon with three other people who had lived in Beirut a very long time. Without warning, a bomb went off nearby. Frightened, his friend jumped out of his chair. Thankfully, the explosion was a few hundred yards away from them. But, what surprised him most was that when the loud noise and shaking occurred, the other three men just sat there motionless. They weren’t alarmed at all. When the friend asked the three of them why they didn’t jump, they said, “After a while you get used to it.” Fascinating! It made me think: what sin or compromise have I gotten used to, and what blessing or privilege should I never take for granted? It’s a question I’m now asking God to show me on a regular basis. And I absolutely believe He will. 

God’s Hidden Provision

Don’t be surprised if you and I don’t recognize God’s provision at first. When the Israelites first saw the food God had provided for them in the wilderness to eat, they called it manna, which means “what is it.” It made me realize that what God provides to sustain us may, at first, appear to be unrecognizable. It will take eyes of faith, and a heart of trust to believe that your future is bright because you know the One who wrote your future and He only does wondrous things, (Psalm 72:18) God regularly tells me, “Francis, look again, and this time with eyes of faith.” Only then do I see He had my back the whole time. “Jesus, I want to trust You sooner. You promised to ‘…never fail me or forsake me,’ and You never have.” (Heb. 13:5)

Vitamin Grit!

One of the most common responses to the struggles of life is to blame others for our poor choices. I’ve done this many times. The truth is, I am responsible for my weak character and choices, and no one else. Only when I accept this reality, can I begin the process of allowing God to give me what I perhaps need most. I call it, Vitamin Grit. Grit is defined as “an indomitable spirit. Incapable of being overcome, subdued, or vanquished; unconquerable.” That’s what I need to add to my diet every day, Vitamin Grit. In moments of temptation, I need the grit to find God’s way of escape. In my weakest moments, I need grit to receive and rely on God’s strength. “Jesus, make me the unconquerable man you envisioned me to be. For that alone is my destiny.”

Doing Good Won’t Remove Guilt

There was a time in my life when I thought if I did more good, it would cover the bad I had done. It was a foolish concept. In the Book of Genesis, the brothers of the patriarch Joseph couldn’t rest in his generosity because they still felt guilty for selling him into slavery. The only Person Who can cover my bad, my sin, is the God Who died for me. He was willing to be judged in my place, so I can live guilt-free; debt-free. He paid a debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay. If I choose to, I can still suffer the punishment for my sins and be separated from God forever. Or, I can receive what Jesus accomplished when He died for my sins and rose again. “Thank You, God, for Your free gift of forgiveness and everlasting life, purchased for me with the blood of Jesus.” 

Conquering Disappointment and Failure

What if one of the principle goals of life’s journey is learning to conquer disappointment and failure? God created us to be “…more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) Conquer means “to gain control of, to overcome, to reach the summit by climbing.” Oh, how I long to be a conqueror; an overcomer. I have so little respect for me when I wallow in my weakness; when I feel sorry for myself. God has never pitied me. He has always seen me through the eyes of His original intention: strong, bold, humble and brave. God doesn’t make junk. We do that to ourselves. But, the moment our eyes and heart are opened to His heart for us, we leave the selfish land of “poor me” and journey into the “overcoming land” of shattering disappointment and forgetting our failures.    

God Only Does Wondrous Things

One of the most encouraging and, yet, mystifying scriptures in the Bible is Psalm 72, verse 18. It says that “God only does wondrous things.” Really? Most, if not all of us, have seen God do amazing, even wonderful, things. What I don’t believe any of us have ever seen is God always and only doing wondrous things. That requires something more than what we personally know. It takes us beyond what we can see and presently experience, and into the realms of faith and trust. Into believing that some of God’s promises will be fulfilled in the future, even in eternity. The very thought of being unable to apprehend on Earth what God has promised can easily lead us to doubt the infallibility of Scripture and even the  integrity of God. The Christian life only becomes an adventure when I choose to believe God’s Word. 

Believe Everyone Likes You

A pastor I highly respect taught his children to believe that whenever they walked into a room to assume that everyone liked them. For a long time, I thought it was a crazy idea, and wondered if it would produce more pride than promise. But, as I watched his son and daughter grow up to become great and godly leaders, it caused me to reflect on the impact of his recommendation. Then I had the revelation, after over 30 years of being a Christ follower, that God didn’t just love me, He really liked me. It radically changed my life. What if each of us not only knew that God liked us, but we trained our children to believe the best of everyone they met? Even that others liked them. Perhaps it would encourage relationships that were filled with hope and anticipation, and not insecurity and hesitation.

Overreacting to Concerns

One of the greatest challenges of the Christian life is the frequent feeling that what we have been promised and are believing for, is slipping through our fingers. If we overreact to this concern and move in our own strength, we can create Ishmael’s and even golden calves. We can give in to fear and not believe God in faith. God will never allow you and I to put our trust in the way we think our life should be sequenced. He intentionally keeps us in relational dependence upon Him. Jesus affirmed this when He said, “without me you could do nothing.” True wisdom and lasting favor can only come from God. They are not things we inherently possess, but must be received as gifts from God, and will be tested in moments when we mistakenly believe God is not coming to our rescue.

Saying Goodbye to Those We Love

When I lived on Maui, before I met the Lord, I knew someone who had the opportunity to go on a sailboat with three brothers and sail around the world. She mentioned she was leaving before dawn early one morning. Just to encourage her, I showed up unexpectedly to wave goodbye as she sailed into the mist and out of sight. It was a full, yet hollow, experience. Filled with warmth and love, waving and expressing my best wishes for her, but then being left with the lonely silence of realizing I would never see her again. It reminds me of one of Earth’s saddest realities: saying goodbye to those we love. But, the great silver lining is that, for those I love who know Jesus, we’ll certainly meet again, and have eternity to enjoy sweet fellowship with one another and our loving Creator. 

Working a Job 

One of the biggest wastes of time any of us can ever experience is called, “working a job.” While the vast majority of us work for a living, it’s said that 70% of us don’t like our jobs. If that’s your situation, you have two options: change jobs or learn to love your job and the people you work with. As a young Christian, I had a few menial jobs with bad bosses, including as a dish washer, janitor, even a maid. Though I had a college degree, I believed my ultimate call was full-time ministry and, so, I didn’t pursue a career. What I did pursue was intentionally not working for man, but I focused every day, throughout the day, on wholeheartedly working for the Lord. Over time, that level of commitment allowed me to see value in my jobs, and even enabled me to impact difficult bosses.  

Where To Find Encouragement 

Are you looking to others to encourage you? Short term, it may help, but long term, it’s a dead end. When faced with impossible situations, David encouraged himself in the Lord, Jacob wrestled with God, Daniel opened his windows wide and prayed as he always had, and Esther acknowledged, “If I perish, I perish, but I’m going to do the right thing.” At the end of the day, unless we find our support and acceptance in God alone, we will eventually be disappointed. Jesus is always the last Man standing, and only those who stand with Him will be the ultimate winners. The psalmist challenged his own soul to trust in God, saying, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” (Ps. 42:11, NLT)

Aliens Communicating From Deep Space?

I don’t know if you’re as excited as I am to recently hear on the news that aliens from 500 million years ago may have been sending out radio waves. WOW! Wouldn’t that be life changing? HA! I’m always amazed at how excited people get about absurd speculations over actual realities. The reality is that Jesus Christ has transformed hundreds of millions of lives today, mine included. He proved that everything He said was true by rising from the dead. Hundreds of people saw the resurrected Jesus, including those closest to Him. How do I know that’s true? Because they gave their lives affirming the reality that they had seen the resurrected Jesus. No one would do that if Jesus was a fraud. Today, ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, and be the Lord and God of your life.