Trials are Actually Trails

James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Etymology is the study of the origins of words, so if you look carefully at the word “Trial”, if you switch the i and a, you come up with “Trail”. And if you study this further trials are actually trails.

It dawned on me today as I took my dog for a walk on a trail, that trials are trails. The premise is getting from point A to point B on a trail as well as a trial in your life. I have ignored this trail for a couple of weeks, because of the snow we had. Once we got on the trail, it was easier than I thought it would be. And we do this with various trials in our life as well, the same premise from getting from point A to point B. Some trials/trails are going to be easy, some will be VERY difficult.

Which leads me to the next word “try” which comes from the word “trial”. A criminal is tried in court, where prosecutor describes a trail, point A to point B of which the criminal committed. Or when faced with a trial in our life and we gave up, the response might be “well, I tried”. The trying is our action in the trial/trail.

And my personal opinion is that when faced with difficult trials/trails in our life, women have a much better “try” than men. Men think of a trial as a competition, women think of it as a completion. I think of a woman I know who had her third operation now for breast cancer. Her trail is a mud ridden swamp in the analogy, quicksand. On the other side of that swamp are her children who she will never give up trying to get to. I think of my Mom, faced with a terrible car accident and financial difficulty, never giving up on that extremely difficult trail which is like climbing a hill in 20 feet of snow. I think of the women with Jesus, faced with immediate persecution did not give up trying and were there with Him at the Cross as He died, while every Apostle except for John were cowering in their homes, and probably regretted this for as long as they lived.

Sometimes on a trial/trail in your life, where that be a relationship, financially, a death, a crisis, a serious health issue, you will look behind or look back and see that you had no trail behind you, no footsteps, and that is when God literally CARRIED you on that trail. Sometimes during a trial, the enemy whispers “just give up, you’ll never make it”, and sometimes he wins.

One thing about trials/trails is they don’t vanish. You can’t ignore them thinking “just go away”, they remain and we are tasked to go on them. The key is to completing ANY trial, whether it be easy or difficult is that you turn to God to help you through it. Sometimes He’ll give us a trail as that mud ridden swamp or 20 foot of snow to trudge through so that we have NO PLACE OTHER TO TURN, than to Him.

As James mentioned, “count it all joy” because the trial/trail produced something, your faith and patience. I am the type of person who at times when given a trial, I get so obsessed in the completion of it, that sometimes I miss that part about patience. And if you aren’t patient, frustration will come on the trail.

Some trails like a trail my dog and I go on will be difficult every day. There is one which gets snow blown in every day and we have to trudge through it making it new again. The same can be said for our many trials. We might have thought the trial was over, only to realize it wasn’t over and we must do it all over again. “Count in all joy”, and learn that you already completed the trail, so you can do it again.

Thanks be to God for the trials/trails we complete! If not for Him, we’d still be stuck at point A instead of ever even attempting to get to to point B, the completion.

Lastly, I think of Jesus Christ’s trial/trail. Born in a lonely manger, His trail was leading to His ultimate death on the Cross. And even He faced much difficulty, as He asked that this trial be removed in my estimation NOT because He feared death, but because He would be seperated from the Father and Holy Spirit while He took on our sins so that we could be forgiven. So yes, God understands your difficult trials, He can empathize with every tear and heartache and anxiety you are feeling. Turn to Him, and turn to Him alone and He will help you through the end of the trail!

Are You Ready to be Enlightened

When I was reborn, Scripture suddenly was understood. The words were literally jumping off the page. There was a newness as I kept asking myself “HOW DID I MISS THIS?”

The only way this occurred was that my mind was opened by God. His enlightenment was awesome. Before this time, I really didn’t understand His word outside of importing my own presuppositions mainly from what I was taught by the Roman Catholic Church. A presupposition is our personal conditions placed on a teaching, preconceived notions as to what that teaching in Scripture is supposed to say. And if that presupposition is WRONG, you can find yourself in a juggernaut. Many parts of Scripture will not make sense, and it is disjointed.

I recall the person witnessing to me as she said “maybe we shouldn’t read Romans, it is a very hard book, very convicting”, as if I was not ready to be enlightened. Little did she know, that was all that was needed for me to say “no, let’s READ IT NOW”. And she was correct in one respect, it was very convicting for me personally because of what I had been taught and believed before this enlightenment. Each time I was tempted to import my personal presupposition, I stopped myself, only by the grace of God.

The only correct presupposition to have while reading or studying Scripture is that this is God’s holy word, His revelation, His inspiration, and that He is God, all knowing, omniscient, sovereign, omnipotent. Without that correct presupposition, again Scripture will turn into a gobbly gook of misunderstood doctrines.

I have viewed many testimonies of the saved, and they all mirror my own. There was a point in time when Scripture started to make total sense!

Are you ready to be enlightened? Only you and God would know the answer to this question. But I can say if you aren’t ready, you will continue to be closed minded on your invented presuppositions. When that day comes for you, and I pray it did, or will come, you will be totally AMAZED, totally FLOORED, at just how BEAUTIFUL Scripture actually is and you will then see a systematic tie from Genesis all the way to the end of Revelation of ONE person, His name is Jesus Christ. If you aren’t seeing that tie, you are still importing false presuppositions.

Does Prayer Need Perfection?

Thinking about the Almighty God and our prayers this morning, it dawned on me that many don’t pray because they were taught, told, or believe that there is some secret formulation of words to God that must be said, or God won’t listen.

The number one thing you should understand, is God knows everything. And part of this knowing everything is that He knows you are an imperfect human being and your prayers no matter what you say, are never going to be perfect. God isn’t some snot-nosed teacher red-lining your grammar, no, He is a God of pure love. And in this love He accepts your prayers no matter how long, how broken, how convoluted, how short, how disjointed, and yes your bad grammar as well, because He understands your heart, your intent, what you actually are trying to tell Him well before you thought He did.

So when Paul said “pray without ceasing”, the only way this could be possible is if God does accept imperfection in those prayers. To me, prayer is COMMUNING with God, you believe you are speaking to Him right with you each and every step. God doesn’t take appointments on just Sundays as is the mindset by some, His office is ALWAYS open, day and night. So when for example one says “please pray for”…you can do so instantaneously, you don’t need to wait until work is over, or when you get home, or this coming Sunday, pray NOW.

And it doesn’t have to be well thought out, again God knows what you are asking, He can discern your intent. It is more important in my view that you are communing with Him instead of placing conditions on non-existent things God might demand.

Now this doesn’t mean we should pray frivolously or with any disrespect, it means don’t overthink your prayers. God knows your thoughts, He knows everything, so tell Him, talk to Him day and night! He is never going to be too busy, His light is always on!

The more you pray, the more your relationship GROWS with God! If you talk to Him once a week or once a year for some, don’t expect that relationship to be a close one. Grow your relationship by praying without ceasing!

Newness of Life

The Psalmist implores, “SING A NEW SONG”, meaning the Lord desires NEWNESS. That “new song” for you could be a repentance of sin, a new way of walking in your life. The old worn out tired prayers need a newness from you. If something has shown that it wasn’t working such as a sinful lust, rid yourself of it! Try something new!

I recall Phil Robertson’s testimony, he said when he was reborn a preacher came and told him the Good News. He asked “now what do I do? I am such a sinful person” The preacher said “well, try something new for a change, try to be good”. And Robertson’s response was “gee, you’re right, I never tried that before”. The old ways were getting him nowhere, so he’d try this “new song” and his life has been spent 40-50 years now sharing the Gospel each and every day.

I can relate as well in my own testimony. My old song was Roman Catholicism, trying to be moral and pious once a week out of guilt wasn’t working. The rest of the week I was ungodly immoral. My walk was granted a NEW song by God in 2011 and I never looked back. I left Roman Catholicism and my evil ways and tried this new walk. I have been in joy and peace ever since!

So if you haven’t done so, try a NEW way! Out with the old, and in with the NEW. Have you ever played the same song over and over again? After awhile it gets worn out, it lacks luster and appeal. That is the analogy towards sin. It might give you temporary fleeting joy, so you play it over and over again. Over time there is no joy, it is boring.

I think of political figures who repeat the same old song at their rallies and speeches, over time it gets boring and worn out and people lose interest. Again, TRY A NEW SONG!

Forget about useless New Years resolutions which last a day, a week, a month, and sing the Lord a NEW SONG. Repent and follow Him. Try reading and studying His word and making that your FIRST and LAST priority, and I promise a peace without total understanding will come to your life!

Stricken with Grief

Psalm 23:He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

I will guarantee you that when David wrote Psalm 23, he wasn’t on top of the world, rather he was stricken with grief and sorrow. David suffered the death of his infant son and another son of his sought to murder him, and instead of castigating God, he turned to Him. David realized a peace without total understanding.

We are ALL subject to extreme grief as we live in a fallen world filled with sin, instant loss, failed promises, failed relationships, and all sorts of sorrow. Grief is one of the ways we know we are human beings. We feel the darkness and pain to our very core. But I am here to tell those who are going through the horrors of sorrow and grief, there is a LIGHT which shines and this is God.

During these times of grief, the devil swoops in and tempts you to read God the riot act or to try to get you to believe “there is NO light, just give up!”. And sadly that sentiment wins at times, usually with those who weren’t turning to God before this grievous circumstance enveloped their life. At which point, even though there is a light shining, they ignore it for the darkness and sadly some will never believe they’ll come out of that darkness and take their own lives.

When your loved on is grieving, pay attention! Don’t pass it off, don’t tell them to “suck it up” because it is a serious situation. It can’t be cured with drugs and alcohol which only numb the grief and darkness, but it won’t heal the sorrow. Listen to the grieving, be there for them in any way you can. Lectures on life or the Bible are probably not going to be well received. Just simply exhort them to turn the Master, the God Almighty and keep turning to Him. Telling them where they went wrong will only bring the darkness in more. Rather you has a healing agent must exhort the LIGHT which is there.

When dealing with the grieving, understand there is a VAST darkness they are going through. It seems endless. They’ll tell you this by their tears, their anxiety, their lack of sleep, their depression. So YOU must be that agent of LIGHT by simply reminding them that there is a light of God. And remember, it isn’t YOU who is going to be the healer. You are there to simply help by being there in any way you can for this grieving person. If they ask, give! If they tell you things, LISTEN! Hardly any grieving person will be in need of worldly advice, so don’t give it unless they ask.

Grieving is a process, and that timing is known to God. Some will spend days, some months, some years. There is NO set time by mankind, although mankind believes they can prompt the hand of God.

Grieving also has a PURPOSE from God. Some will need to look back during that time to see what those purposes were, and many times it is NOT what we thought or expected.

Grieving is a way God does commune with His children. The distractions are all removed. And the enemy knows this, so he will try to also commune. I can speak from experience, that during the times of extreme grief it is a minute by minute communing, and if you are turning to God, that peace will overcome the sorrow.

Lastly, no one is above such grief, not even God Himself who grieved the death of His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross. So never think you are more powerful, that your flawed willpower will be able to ignore this grief. Turn to God alone, He will see you through!

A True Guardian

Today, I remember Samson, my sister’s dog who passed away recently. He was 18 plus years old and lived a long life. We hear of “guardian angels” from some, but I do believe dog’s like Samson are also a blessing from God as a true guardian, one we can communicate with, see, touch, feel.

Samson was my sister’s true guardian. He was by her side all of his life. He didn’t beg, he didn’t sulk, he didn’t ask that she do things so that he’d get things. He was content on just one thing, being hers and being her stalworth. Those who haven’t owned a dog might never come to realize in this lifetime just how awesome this type of relationship is. No matter the day whether it be good, bad, ugly, they do not change their love and devotion and loyalty towards their owner. And sadly some only come realize it when the dog passes away, speaking from experience.

Dogs, pets, are not to be taken for granted. Because they are lower in the creation order from God does not mean we get to treat them like expendable garbage. To her credit, my sister realized her blessing from day one with Samson and never took him for granted. She treated him as a true family member and Samson treated her and her husband as his family members.

We can learn so much from our pets! As again, I believe they are sent by God to teach us many things such as patience, true love, obedience, self control, kindness, and true unconditional giving. If they could talk, they’d without question or hesitation give up their life for their owner and this type of love Jesus spoke about as “no greater love”. And this is the love my sister had with Samson. This type of relationship is truly unique and it is actually the biblical relationship we ourselves should have for our owner who is God.

This is why it is so hard when they pass away. We are not granted a lifetime with them and those reasons are known to God alone. Maybe it is to teach us to count our own days and realize our blessing of our own life. Maybe it is because that God Himself experienced the loss of His Son, Jesus Christ, at a young age and we get to feel a snippet of what He felt. Maybe it is to teach us very quickly on that owner/servant relationship our dogs have with us, and how we should be with our owner, God.

The empty house and broken heart are things we go through when they go, the time is mighty sorrowful and hurtful and hard. But be assured, God has promised to “wipe every tear away”, which means I personally believe their lives were not lived in vain, we will see them again in the Kingdom, that is for those who have placed their faith alone in Jesus Christ, saved by Him.

Which leads me to this, if you truly would want to see them again, do not waste another day in unbelief! Repent and follow Jesus Christ now in a full heart, cling to Him during these times and you will surely be comforted. Samson for example was a true guardian to my sister, but Jesus is the ultimate King, the ultimate guardian by which all good things flow! Trust in Him, turn to Him! Say this prayer “I trust in you God alone” until you begin to actually believe it!

Two Christmas Celebrations

There are actually two Christmas celebrated in this world. A Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ each and every day, and a singled out day in December celebrated by most everyone else of which I call the Secular Christmas.

The secular celebration comes complete with Santa Claus and his fictional reindeer, Christmas trees and lights, gift exchanges, family get togethers, a feast, Hallmark cards, and of course a couple of days off from work. Some don’t even call it “Christmas”, it is a “Holiday”. Once this day is over, the CC bills are a headache, the celebration ends as quickly as it started, those presents gave and received with the cards are forgotten, the tree gets burned or put in the closet with the lights, and all that “goodwill” gets put in the closet until next year. It is also engrossed in superstition, “the miracle of Christmas” in the secular mindset is a worldly gain.

You can see this in real time on Facebook and other social media, where Christmas is something wholly different to the poster as Christ is removed from the equation.

Whereas the true meaning of Christmas was the gift of salvation that God granted through His Son Jesus Christ. A birth of the God-man Jesus of which He left His eternal throne not because man was inherently “good”, but because we are inherently BAD. And by “bad”, I mean bad to the literal bone! The mere baby depicted in the lonely manger of Jesus had ONE mission, and it wasn’t to show us how to be better people. It was to SAVE us from our sins!

Yes, that mere infant Jesus started the death clock as soon as He was born. He was to fulfill all the prophesy of the Old Testament Messiah and march to His death on the Cross. By which He would redeem His children by His death, and three days later rise from a tomb which confirmed He surely was who He said He was, the eternal God incarnated. THIS IS WHAT ACTUAL CHRISTIANS HUMBLY CELEBRATE.

It is sad when I see professing Christians caught in between and caught up in the secular celebration and the divine celebration. They desire both, when there is just one TRUE celebratory birth of Jesus Christ that is IF He paid your sin debt. Without this incarnation, all would be condemned to hell, not a one would go to Heaven. Something to ponder if you haven’t done so. And do NOT be deceived who is behind the secular Christmas, it is Satan himself. Santa Claus for example replacing God in every respect is a way to indoctrinate children into that secular Christmas. The fictional Santa did not die for any sin! So why in the world would any Christian parent even teach that nonsense of “Santa Claus’? The removal of Jesus from His own birth is and will be the goal by a degenerate fallen people.

Yes, Jesus was born of a virgin just as promised. He came to save sinners who are born hating Him! “Goodwill to men” should now give you a different notion than useless coffee grinders, and other presents you get. Because there is NO GIFT you will ever receive that is even CLOSE on the scale of your salvation!! We thank a merciful God who by His grace alone saved His children through the person and work of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!

Merry TRUE Christmas!

A December to Remember

In 2019, my dog Leo and myself embarked on a perilous journey by the grace and mercy of God. We uprooted our lives in Minnesota and hastily and temporarily moved to Colorado so that Leo could receive possible lifesaving cancer treatments.

As I look back on that time, it will always be a month to remember because it was a total surrender to God’s will and purpose. I had to leave all doubt in my mind, and completely trust in Him that He’d help us survive the month. Why a dog, you might ask? Well in my case, Leo was the symbol to my new life God granted me, a true blessing. And I wasn’t going to just trash that blessing for selfish means, God was leading me. God made it known to me that Leo was not to be taken for granted as I have done in my former life with a previous dog.

The feeling of putting all this trust in God was pretty much like driving blindfold without your hands on the wheel. It was ALL Him or we would crash and after the initial natural anxiety, you settle in and enjoy the ride. You see, some SAY they trust God, but this is only realized when He puts you into a situation where you put up or shut up!

2 Chronicles 20 comes to mind. The Israelites surrounded by their enemies from all sides were put to that test. God told them they couldn’t help, all they could do is cheer Him on with song and instruments. Joshua and his congregation before Jericho for example, they would march around the gates of an enemy deadset to kill them because God told them to trust Him. Peter walking on water, and then sinking because he started to doubt is another example.

Now I am not saying I am some sort of awesome Christian, that I by myself exerted this trust. The fact is, my natural tendency was to grasp the wheel, to pull the blindfold off and help drive the car so to speak. So that trust didn’t come from me! It came from God. I cannot for a second take ANY credit or applause for trusting God. As is also the case in those biblical examples I mentioned, it wasn’t the Israelites, it wasn’t Peter, it was ALL God by His providence, mercy, and grace to give this supernatural trust to people totally UNDESERVING of it.

And without that trust in the December of 2019, where would I be? I would be a broken miserable person, regretting everything. And let me tell you something about this trust He grants, when and if you receive it, as Psalm 23 states “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”. These WORDS ARE FULLY REALIZED DEEP IN YOUR CORE, YOUR VERY SOUL!

Until you do walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will not know if you fear or not fear evil. Again, that TEST of whether you trust God where you truly do not fear or yourself where you are totally fearful. So pray for this trust from God! Without it, you WILL surely fail. Do not EVER think, “I can do this on my own” or in my analogy “I will drive the car without that blindfold and help God”, because He will leave you up to yourself and again, the battle is lost before it even started!

Although at the time, I didn’t know what God’s purpose was, I know now it served as a witness to others! That unconditional and total surrendering yourself to His Dominion will never fail you!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me

Staying Positive in God’s Will

John 16:22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

In the past month, I decided to sell my home and move to a different state. Or at least that was the plan. I put my trust in God that if this was His will, it would all work out. So I priced the home aggressively, and got it ready to sell. If you ever have done this, you do realize the amount of instant stress which incurs.

While listing the home, I was also looking at different properties in a couple of states. And recently went to view many of them. The Lord reminded me yesterday of 3 years ago, as I drove to Colorado with my severely ill dying dog Leo in a blizzard to try and help him, and the extreme terrible wind/cold, as I faced off the same type of conditions while viewing properties on Friday and then proceeding home. The same rest/calm encompassed me as I drove through white-out and terrible roads.

While in North Dakota and viewing a home, a realtor mentioned a town he was from, and I just so happened to have a friend who grew up there as well. I had not talked to her for sometime, and he mentioned that her brother just passed away. Small world I thought, but at the same time, I probably would not have known this if I had not went there to see this particular property. You see, it was my plan to possibly buy a place at this moment in time, but God’s will was something totally different.

So based on the lack of selling my home, and the properties I viewed not to my liking, I decided to take down the listing for a later date. The aggressive timeline and sale price weighed on my mind, along with the winter being a brutal time to achieve this endeavor. But if it was God’s will? I would being moving.

In my former life, I probably would be upset with God, and asked “Why didn’t You help me!”, much like the thief on the cross Jesus didn’t save when he said in defiance, “save Yourself and us”. But now, I understand, that even though it wasn’t to my finite understanding, God’s will in this was not wasted, He DID help me!

If you trust God, trust in His will, you will ALWAYS see the positive aspect of it! I literally drove 400 miles in a blizzard/white out yesterday without a hitch, just as I did 3 years ago with Leo to the day. This was ALL by God’s protection! I was also able to reach out to a friend in need whose heart was broken by the passing of her brother. So the time was not wasted.

It is ALWAYS better to thank God, than to ask “why”!

A Thanksgiving

What is being genuinely thankful? Is it buying things for another? Possibly. Is it expressing your thankfulness with words or writings? Possibly. Why just possibly, you might ask. Well, because genuine thankfulness comes from your heart and it is always unconditional. Being born fallen in nature, we are not programmed to give genuine thankfulness to others and least of likely to God.

Thus many “thank you’s” are hollow and meaningless. We inherently know we should be thanking another, so we naturally mouth the words with our heads, not our heart. It is “I better thank them, or they might get mad at me”, done out of guilt, the words are given and we believe we fulfilled the appreciation. And most of the time, the recipient knows whether the thanking was genuine or given from a guilt position.

Now think about it, if we can’t genuinely thank other human beings naturally, how in the world can we give any appreciation to God? The answer is we DON’T! Any thankfulness to God is hollow, meaningless, and done out of guilt. One may know He is the sustainer of all things, so He’ll get a half hearted thank you when He gets them through a misery.

Instead of asking God for things constantly, we should be THANKING Him constantly! For all those things He is doing that we take for granted. You woke up this morning for example to see another day, did you immediately thank God? Or was your first thought on other things, namely yourself.

If saved by Jesus Christ, every moment you live since you were reborn should be in GENUINE thanksgiving to Him! People have asked “how do you know you have been born-again?” My answer would be the discernment in thanksgiving. Because if you fully realized who Jesus is, and what He did on your behalf, indeed every minute of your life should be spent in thanking Him. Am I being too dramatic? If you think so, you probably have NOT been saved nor realized who you are in God’s sight, a dreadful rotten sinner who deserves Hell, not eternal life.

You see, if you have been saved by Jesus, He gave up His life so that you might live! He paid a debt on your behalf you could never in a zillion years pay and satisfied the pending WRATH from God all for you. And what did you do to deserve it? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! He chose you in spite of your rotten self and pardoned you, not based on who you are, but who He is!

The analogy to this is if a person or persons helped you unconditionally with a dire financial debt. You most likely will appreciate these people for as long as you live. Whenever they are present, you will have a genuine feeling of appreciation for them. The same holds for those saved for Jesus, who paid the ULTIMATE debt in your life. So if saved, your appreciation coincides, He should MEAN something to you now, just as those people I described. If He doesn’t? Well you were deceived, not saved. Because those not saved have really nothing to be thankful for in their minds and hearts.

So as you gather around your family and are asked “what are you thankful for?” Really THINK on this question, don’t mouth the words they want to hear, but what is in your heart. What are you truly thankful for?

The ONLY THANKSGIVING DAY which truly matters, is that day of redemption of Jesus, the day He took away your sin debt and proclaimed YOU ARE MINE!