In the Midst of a Crisis, God is There

1 Kings 8:57 “May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us”

Every crisis in life is met with a test of faith. Some attend a church religiously every week, sing praises and adulation to God, but when a crisis comes their faith is exposed. The trust in that faith is tested. Are you turning to God and resting in His purpose and will, or are you abandoning Him to seek answers from the world is that test. The cover comes off on religiosity, as are you practicing what you are preaching?

I can say that only by the grace of God I passed that test two years ago in a crisis which happened this very month. So many things all at once were thrust out of my control, and it would have been easy just to abandon my faith in my former life of sin. If certain things didn’t transpire, I would have doubted God for example. But in my new life as being born-again, I knew that by trusting God and His plan and purpose, and COMPLETELY submitting to this, that I could rest easy.

It is our fallen nature to doubt God, we are born doubting Him, more so rejecting Him. Humanists who call themselves “Christian” will try to balance the fence between God and the world, never giving glory to God alone, and never completely trusting in His plan. An example would be if a bad event occurs, God cannot be involved with it. Or if something doesn’t transpire to our liking, God isn’t involved. To humanists, He can only be involved with the good things of which He shares the glory and boasts with man. The humanist justifies this in their brain by claiming man though is responsible for the bad things.

In every crisis, God is there! It is a matter of faith. Could God rectify the crisis in a blink of an eye? YES! So what does it mean when He isn’t doing this? It means that He is working ALL things, good, bad, indifferent, to the GOOD of those who love Him, those who are His children.

Devastation in an Instant

On Friday night, folks in the mid-south region of the U.S. were greeted to utter devastation by a large band of tornados. The sheer power of the storm destroyed entire towns in an instant. And while most tornados don’t touch down for more than a few miles, this one stayed in force for over 200 miles.

People just going on with their lives, probably planning Christmas celebrations, working, going to school, suddenly saw their life turn upside down in an instant. Everything they owned was destroyed.

Some may ask honestly “why God?” And the answer is always we live in a fallen world and this world is slowly passing away. This is not the eternal end, but to show us that clinging to this world and all that is in it is a futile endeavor.

Those without God will be in a perpetual daze after such destruction, trying to make sense of this. Those who delusionally were using God as an ATM machine, hopefully understand there is no such machine. Bad things which happen are not discriminatory. The rain falls on God’s children as well as the unbelievers.

Bad things happen to all! The difference is those with God have Him there to comfort them and move forward. Those without Him are left to their own devices.

What we should be praying for when things like this happen? That by such a major event, those who have gone through it see God’s light! That they TURN from their lawlessness and then turn to God. It is a solemn reminder that you won’t take your worldly possessions and worldly life into the after-life. So cling to Jesus Christ instead of things which will be destroyed in an instant.

What is Repentance

“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Ref Luke 3:8)

Repentance simply is the complete changing of mind and heart from sin, the turning away from that sin in full commitment. It involves no excuses, no rationalizations. It is also a process by which you do not commit sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, this process becomes fruitful.

With this one needs to understand that reformation is not regeneration. Reforming of oneself comes by self will-power. Regeneration comes only by the Holy Spirit. Reformation will be a temporary fix, regeneration is an eternal fix.

Those not regenerated are delegated to reformation, self will-power. An example would be a criminal or a drug addict who receives some sort of punishment, and by this alone they commit to reforming themselves in actions only, not in thoughts. Ask any drug abuser who went through a program, although they may quit cold turkey, the desire in their heart and mind remains. A thief who was busted may spend time behind bars, but still schemes of ways of another theft. This is not repentance.

Repentance is a gift from God, it is when not only your actions stop sinning, but also your thoughts and desires for that sin. Remember, Jesus said your thoughts are also sin, such as being angry and also being a murderer. Meaning just because you didn’t carry out the act, doesn’t mean you didn’t sin in thought. The same goes for lust. Just because you didn’t commit adultery overtly, doesn’t mean your thoughts didn’t convict you of adultery.

Regeneration brings on repentance, it is the change of mind and heart in the innate desire to sin. So now, not only your actions of sin are not conducted, but also the thought and desires to sin are vanquished. Yes, this is repentance. It is not just making a claim not to sin, it is an internal process of the removal of the desire to sin. You cannot do this by self-righteousness or sell will-power. The only way a fallen sinner could repent is by the power of God.

If regenerated, you will know that repentance is also a process. Some sins are easy to repent of, some are not. The harder the repentance the more power from the Holy Spirit comes. He will convict you over and over so as to remove that desire. He may bring back memories of your former life to show you how very stupid and disgusting you were, speaking of experience on that one! He may remove certain individuals from your life as to help you in this process. He may have you quit a job, move to another place, etc. all in this process of leading you to repent.
The confusion from some out there is if repentance is a one time deal or does it continue. A pastor may have taught you that when you were saved, you repented and that’s all you need to do. The only correct part of this, is you did repent at that time to turn to the Lord, but the process of repentance will remain while you are still in the flesh. Romans 7 teaches us this, that our flesh still holds sin, so the process will continue. The Holy Spirit will continue to convict so as you do repent.

The desire for repentance will grow as well! You realize FULLY what Jesus paid on your behalf on the Cross, and that sin you just committed in deed, action, inaction, or thought sent Him to that Cross. So the natural desire is now to repent! Being regenerated, you stop making excuses and rationalizing why you are sinning, and instead confess and repent. If not regenerated, you will see yourself as self-righting, and fail miserably always in repentance, the boast will always be in yourself that you stopped doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Those who actually repent, will only boast in God for granting them true repentance of sin.

Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

A Cold December Morning

On this day in December of 2019, before all this upheaval of the pandemic, I sat next to a frozen city lake in Fort Collins Colorado with my dog Leo who just started chemotherapy for his deadly lymphoma.

It was a quiet morning where ducks and geese were coming and going as we watched. I found a little church in the yellow pages, and decided we were going to attend, both of us. As I watched Leo taking it all in, I wondered if he really understood what laid ahead of him.
As the words of Jesus encompassed me, “don’t worry about tomorrow, take care of today”, an appreciation of God came to light. Leo was still with me! His prognosis of not making it through November came and went. He was also eating again, and things were peaceful.

I think it was those words, which then helped me from looking forward with Leo, but just appreciating each day he was still alive with me. We went to the little church for the first time, it would be Leo’s first time ever in a church. I was pleasantly surprised that they took us right in, and no one asked “why is this dog here”. Rather, they greeted us as if we had been going to this church for decades. This was God’s provision.

I could not help but focusing on those words from Jesus “take care of today”. No longer would I worry about when we could return home some day or if Leo would make it, it was all about slowing down and just appreciating each day.

By the church we attended, God reminded me He was always there with us, so what was there to fear. Although by worldly standards and expectations, it would have been seen as an ordinary day. But to Leo and I, it was an extraordinary day by the grace of God, a great day!

God also taught me by this experience, it was ok to be sad that Leo would be leaving me some day, but the sadness would never incapacitate me because God never would leave. So I should not dwell on being sad, but the comfort from God instead of which He was handing out.

On the bleakest of mornings, God will show you His greatness!

Leo at his first church service Dec. 8, 2019.

Feeling Empty and Alone

Psalm 23:4 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.

To get to the straight point, without God there is always going to be emptiness, the threat of emptiness and aloneness, the anxiety of being all alone in this world. We know that friends come and go, family members perish or leave, our pets are here for just a short while, your children leave when they become adults, careers might end at any moment or you retire. Nothing in the world can remain a stable constant, and despite mind tricks and denial, there is no way around it.

All throughout the Bible, God teaches that “all in this world, indeed this entire world, will pass away”, but He remains. It is right there always, God is going to be the only stable constant, reliable always, never changing One. We never need to worry about Him passing away because that will never happen. We don’t need to worry about Him leaving, because He can’t. So without God in your life, you don’t have any real stable constant relationship which you can always count on. One where you can rest at ease.

Without God in your life, the anxiety of emptiness comes. You feel very alone because of the worry as you know people leave, things change, nothing can remain constant. People take their own life each day, because this feeling of emptiness and aloneness becomes overwhelming. The rich and famous are not immune to it either. They can every have every worldly pleasure and thing they ever dreamed of, but still fell mighty alone and pure empty. Why? Because they are without God.

I think God decreed the Christmas season to exemplify this feeling of aloneness. Because no other time of the year really hits home to individuals without God. The birth of Jesus is supposed to be the reason for celebrating, yet those without God cling to the world instead and know this is all temporary and fleeting or suddenly they are without a family member and become saddened. Thus the feeling of emptiness comes in like a tornado.

God said to Moses in Exodus 33:14, And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” What an awesome promise! And this “rest” God gives is not a euphemism or a cliché. It is a peace knowing that He is always there with you no matter WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS LIFE! The Creator of everything is with you, He remains stable, unwavering, so that peace comes like a powerful river which never ceases.

By having God in your life, and I mean REALLY having Him in your life, there is nothing to fear as Psalm 23:4 above states. It is not as if we won’t grieve losses in life, because we definitely grieve and mourn the loss of loved ones or a job for example, but what it means you are never going to be alone or empty with God there with you.

Are you clinging to others to FILL that emptiness and aloneness? That is like taking an aspirin for a headache which comes back time and time again. It is temporary peace which really isn’t any rest, because you know in the back of your mind this is all temporary. And what happens when you run out of that aspirin so to speak? The aloneness and emptiness is overwhelming!

Now try clinging to God first and foremost. Psalm 23:5 states “My cup runs over”. Which means you are going to be FILLED, not empty with God no matter what life deals you. You are able to function, move forward, get through a terrible circumstance, and never fearing because God remains with you. His promises never change, they are unconditional, and never waver. You THEN can live your life in that peace and rest! You shall not want, the Lord is your Shepherd now!

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

A Special Journey

Often times we miss God’s blessings through the fog of the world. Our limited brain capacity doesn’t allow us to totally comprehend the big picture in things.

And often times the last part of a journey is the longest. Two years ago for example, I was on a trek to Colorado with my dog Leo for his lifesaving treatment. We just entered the eastern edge of Colorado on a bright and sunny morning, with only 2 hours or so to our destination. But those two hours seemed to take forever as the closer we got, the more thoughts on what was to transpire took over my mind.

I think that is God slowing us down, to realize what He is doing, as that last part of a trip seems to be taking the longest. He wants us to realize that He got us there by His hand and no other! Despite this slowing down, we still may not realize this so looking back I found is important.

I am constantly seeing things I didn’t see before, and kick myself at times to say “why didn’t you see it earlier!”. I believe growth in this can only come by abandoning the world which is a process. Only then you might see what God is doing WHEN He did it and realize it was by Him alone.

God is indeed GOOD, and works to the good for all those who love Him. And in this work, it is not just the big things, it is the mundane little things. The fact that I didn’t get sick on the road on our trip to Colorado, or that we didn’t have an accident or vehicle breakdown or many other things God was doing.

We often think it “was me, myself and I” who accomplished the task. We proudly boast, “look at me and what I did”, when the only boast should be “look what God did for me!’.

His Last Thanksgiving

Today I write on Thanksgiving to reflect on my dog Leo’s last Thanksgiving which was just two years ago. God gives us these pets to learn many things.

Leo, 7 years old, was given a death sentence of lymphoma just days prior. I decided by the grace of God that we were going to journey to Colorado to possibly extend his life or a possibly a provided miracle. So there was a literal whirlwind which occurred as I had to get everything ready.

Looking back, to his credit, Leo never let my frantic nature during the time get in the way of his love for me. My Mom just returned home from her terrible car accident, and wanted us to see her on Thanksgiving. Leo was quite ill, he wasn’t eating anything, but girded up the strength to just do what he had to do.

But when I look back now, it was IMPORTANT that we went on that particular Thanksgiving to see my Mom, because it would be Leo’s last. They had a special relationship, and she helped him in many ways through his illness. So it would have been easy for me to say “no Mom, Leo is not feeling well so we are just going to stay home”. But we went instead where she and Leo could spend one last time together such as this on a special day in November. Frankly, at the time I was not thinking about it that way. I was just trying to cover all bases, as I wanted to make sure she would be OK while we were gone.

When we arrived at her house, Leo as he always did went straight to the kitchen to find her. He greeted her and then went back to couch in the living room where he laid down. I empathize with him, as most humans in his same condition would have been in an ICU. He didn’t cry, he didn’t complain, he knew what he was doing was in love and important to my Mom. He wanted to give one last thank you to her for all that she did for him in his lifetime, no matter how ill he felt.

It was God teaching me that no matter the circumstance, there is no excuse to be inconsiderate or selfish. And my thoughts now turn to Jesus Christ, who probably at many times agonized on being separated from the Father and Holy Spirit if for just a moment to pay for the sins of sinners who did not care one bit for Him. Through that time, if you read the account in Scripture, Jesus never was inconsiderate or selfish. Would anyone have blamed Him if He just avoided the people around Him for awhile, from just relaxing a bit from all the requests and questions, while the atonement approached? Not in the least. However, He did what He promised to do. The torture and death did not change Him, His love for His children carried through!

What a mere dog can teach you!

Saving Faith = Letting Go and Trusting God

There has been many definitions and explanations as to what faith is or what true faith is. Some over explain or complicate it in my opinion, but it is simply letting go of yourself and placing complete trust in God and His promises.

We read of several instances in the Bible where God made this letting go aspect known. The march around Jericho is one of my favorites as well as 2 Chronicles 20. In these instances God made it known to the Israelites what His plan was and what they were to do, which was nothing. They were forced at that point to either trust God or face their ultimate end.

The analogy of above instances would be if God told you to go unarmed in the face of an angry violent mob of people armed and threatening to take your life, and just trust in what God would do to them. And if you didn’t? You’d be left on your own without God. Another example would be David facing the fully armed and dangerous behemoth Goliath, armed with a silly slingshot. And what David said next is truly inspiring of faith!

45 “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. “

The total trust, the belief, comprised David’s declaration of faith, leaving him NO DOUBT as to what would happen. The Almighty God was with him, and there was nothing Goliath could possibly come up with to turn the tide.

Do you have this type of faith? Sooner or later, that faith will be tested.

Now when I say “tested” does NOT MEAN you are the one doing the testing! God said “do not put Him to the test”, which means you are not to test His power. An example would be those who do not seek medical attention because they are awaiting a miracle from God, that would be putting Him to the test because after all He provided you providence already to seek medical attention. So don’t confuse faith with delusions!
Rather God does the testing of your faith in Him by a circumstance that you cannot solve by ordinary providential means. You may have tried everything you could, so now it is time to only trust in God alone in this. Surely God could work any miracle, but it would always be according to His will and purpose alone, not to your request on it. And the TEST of your faith comes when you realize that whatever the outcome might be, you KNOW without a doubt that this was God’s plan all along and are at peace with it.

God Sends Them

Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

During times of crisis in our lives, often what is missed are the intricate details of things that cannot be explained outside of a Divine loving power, the Almighty God. Sometimes it takes months, even years, to see and understand these things which God was doing on your behalf, and somethings will probably never fully understood in this lifetime.

God sends His provision, His blessings, and is doing things during that crisis that only He could do. Looking back on a crisis in my own life a couple of years ago, I am still discovering these provisions and blessings. One of the things I could see at the time was that He sent unexpected people in my life to help me through the crisis. People I expected to possibly be there, were nowhere to be found.

However looking back, it was much more than those people He sent. It was the overall providing and protection He gave which allowed me to survey and get through the crisis the best way I could. It was basically and LITERALLY threading a needle, as I needed to get to Colorado to possibly save my dog’s life. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I do now! That if not for God, it could never have happened. The various plans and things through this had to all line up for it to be successful, and that’s what happened.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

And the ENCOURAGEMENT He sent through others was amazing! They didn’t have to be believers nor did I need to test their faith in God in order for that encouragement to be accepted, because it all was! Whereas the discouragement also came, and from the least expected sources as well. Showing me that God was sifting through my friends list so to speak, and demonstrating to me that it would be by His will power, not my own.

I think much too often the mistake among believers, is that there is an echo chamber and limitation when it comes to God’s provision. The idea is God is limited by our subjective mentality in that He can only work through the church or believers to accomplish His purpose. Not so! He will send often times unbelievers or things we wouldn’t dream of to accomplish His will. Would you for example test the faith of a paramedic BEFORE they could perform lifesaving duties? Most would say “NO!”, but in general I see the mentality at times.

By His omnipotence, God will send them in your times of crisis to make manifest that He alone is God, He alone will get the glory. And again, sometimes we need to look back at the intricate provisions He performed to make this possible. The big things are easy to see, the miracles which are shown to all, but the miracles you do not see at first, the small details are something we miss during the crisis.

I am still discovering things from 30 years ago that God was doing, things I missed, things I wasn’t aware about myself and how rotten and selfish I truly was. As we get closer to God, the more He shows us! And how do you get closer? BY FAITH ALONE! Believe in Him, believe He is PRESENT and WORKING in absolutely everything. Believe in His POWER! And you shall get closer to Him!

Looking Back

Sometimes we need to look back on life to see God’s hand in it!

On December 1, 2019, I packed up my truck and my dog Leo who was diagnosed with lymphoma to venture to the state of Colorado where he could possibly receive life-saving treatment. This was no mere easy venture, as this all came suddenly on me, and had to basically plan on being away for 2-3 months.

I not only had to quickly pack up my life, my business, get my house in order, but also try to keep Leo alive and healthy enough to get to Colorado. Combined in this was my Mom who just returned home from a devastating car accident by which she broke her back and neck, so also making sure her home was in order and she would get the help she needed while I was away was also on my mind. My house looked like it was hit with a literal tornado, as I frantically tried to get things we needed packed up, as well as tying up all the loose ends before we left. This also combined with Leo’s oncology visits in MN before we left and making sure his meds were secured for the trip.

So what I did? I placed it all in God’s hands. It trusted that if this was His will, it would be just fine. In my former life, things would have been MUCH different. I probably would have most likely thought of my well being first and all of the above I described would have been much too burdensome. Leo’s life would have been secondary while I complained and begged for sympathy from others.

The day we left for Colorado was MISERABLE, weather wise. We arose very early, Leo not feeling well at all as I packed him in the truck where he quickly dozed off. The roads were icy and snowed over for the first 150 miles. I kept thinking “if we go in the ditch, that is God saying this is not My plan”. As I listened to a Hank Williams song on the radio, another thought came to mind, “what if Leo died just like Hank did, in the backseat on a cold dreary morning”. With each mile I clung to God even harder as I knew He was present and would make it known either way.

We got to the first gas stop in Iowa where the roads finally eased up, they were clear, but the weather was still terrible. It was still dark and dreary, cold and windy. Leo mustered up enough energy to take a bathroom break. He wasn’t eating dog food, so I went to a Subway in the Truck Stop which was just opening up to see if I could just get some roast beef for him. The manager hearing my plight, gave me a cup of roast beef on them, God’s blessing.

We eventually made it to Nebraska and stopped for the night. The weather was cold and windy all the way there, as if tempting me to just give up, but we trudged through and made it to the motel. Leo, still feeling really ill, seemed to be at ease. He was still alive and believe he thought we were going hunting as we stayed in motels on our trips, so it sparked his life a bit. How we made it there in one piece is a miracle only by God’s hand!

Leo’s appointment was just a day away as we headed for our final tract to Colorado the next morning. We stopped in Sterling Colorado, where I took Leo for a little walk along a frozen stream. The weather was cold, and wondered if God could ease this up for us, but hey, we were almost to our destination, just a couple of more hours, Leo was alive, we didn’t break down.

As we arrived in Fort Collins, they had just been hit with a foot of snow! The roads were terrible! It was as if again tempting me to think this was not a good idea. But I dashed that from my mind, and clung to God. We got to the place we were going to stay for the next couple of months, Leo seemed to be in good spirits which was my indicator from God that this was all worth it.

I will just end this with the exhortation to those going through a crisis or turmoil of life, that clinging to God, trusting in Him, is imperative to get through it! Your faith will be tested, you will be tempted at every turn to JUST GIVE UP, but don’t! And then some day look back, because you will be amazed as to HOW you made it through it, and it wasn’t your will power which did this, it was ALL by the omnipotent God!