When bad stuff happens, remember these 3 things…

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Bad stuff happens.

Everyday bad stuff like rejection, pain, sickness, loneliness, bullying, accidents, failure, unmet expectations, difficult relationships, misunderstandings…

And, then there’s the bad stuff that doesn’t necessarily happen every day, but we still live and deal with…cancer & other terminal health issues, deadly accidents, broken relationships, loss of job, persecution, natural disasters, mass shootings/violence.

(I could go on, but I think you get the point).

This world is broken.

And, because this world is broken, bad stuff happens.

But, it won’t be broken forever…and you won’t feel broken forever.

Truth is the brokenness of this world won’t last forever even though we may feel like it’s never going to get better.

So, whether you’re dealing with big, life-changing bad stuff in your life or you’re just having a bad day, remember these 3 things…

Jesus has already overcome the world.  (John 16:32-33)

You cannot be separated from God & His love.  (Romans 8:35-39)

God is creating a place where bad stuff doesn’t happen.  (Revelation 21:1-4)

The sickness and pain may not go away, but God is bigger.

The rejection and difficult relationships may not go away, but God is faithful.

The hurt may not go away, but God is good…

And He loves you enough to give you an eternity of no pain or sadness or hurt with Him…an eternity where no bad stuff ever happens again.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

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The Problem of Disconnection in a Connected World

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Connection.

We need connection.

We were made for relationships with people.

And, the connections that we can make with each other today are endless.

(Just think of how far we’ve come with the introduction of the cell phone and the Internet in the past 30 years).

We were created to be connected to our Creator.

And, the connections that we can make with Him are practically endless too.

(Just think of how technology has made the Bible more accessible and readable to more people today compared to 50 years ago).

The problem is that even though we have endless ways to be connected to each other and to God, we can just as easily be disconnected from both of them…and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I was reminded of this recently with my computer…

Today, I can’t connect to my printer.

Last week, I couldn’t connect to the internet.

This is not a good thing.

I feel disconnected…and frustrated and anxious and helpless and angry.

And, I end up wasting a lot of time, because I can’t do all the things that I normally do.

But, it got me thinking…

I need connection.

I need people in my life who will encourage me, challenge me, laugh with me, cheer with me, cry with me, hang out with me, check on me…

Without those connections, everyday life is hard (and often frustrating…).

I also need God in my life, because He is my strength, He is my peace, He is my hope, He is my wisdom, He is my purpose…

Without my connection to God, everyday life leaves me feeling anxious and frustrated.

And, I end up wasting a lot of time, because I try to do things (or control things) alone.

And, that’s a problem.

The bottom line is this…

You need connection.

Now might be a good time to ask yourself these two questions…

Who are the people in your life who you need to be connected to?

What are you doing every day to stay connected to God?

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

When forgiveness is hard, remember this…

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Forgiveness is hard.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been falsely accused.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been rejected.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been slandered.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been bullied.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been lied to.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been betrayed.

Forgiveness is hard when you’ve been hurt.

We’ve all had this stuff happen to us.  Unfortunately, it’s a part of living with broken people in a broken world.

But, have you ever stopped to think about why forgiveness is so hard?

Why do we like to hold onto our pain so tightly?

Do we really think that not forgiving someone is going to make the pain go away?

Think about this…

Jesus came to earth to not only forgive us, but to show us how to forgive.

If you’ve read anything about Jesus’ life, you know that he was falsely accused, rejected, slandered, bullied, lied to, betrayed, and hurt by some of his own friends and the people who were supposed to be his biggest supporters.

Believe me, Jesus understands forgiveness.

And, he knows that it’s hard.

But, that didn’t stop him from repeatedly forgiving people then…

And, it doesn’t stop him from repeatedly forgiving us now.

Truth is we’ve all hurt Jesus with our sin, but he chooses to forgive us over and over and over again.

Forgiveness is hard, because we often forget how much we need forgiveness ourselves.

Jesus paid the ultimate price to make forgiveness possible.

And, he showed us how to forgive.

So, the next time forgiveness is hard for you, remember this…

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  (C.S. Lewis)

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)

Another school shooting & the questions we should all be asking ourselves

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It happened again last week.

Another school shooting…this time in my home state of Oregon.

Death….and apparently a choice was given.

A choice to live or die.

“Stand up if you’re a Christian!” the shooter was quoted as saying.

This isn’t the first time that Christians have been singled out in a school shooting.

There really is nothing new under the sun.

But, it begs the question…

What would you do?

When death is staring you in the face, what would you say?

In that moment, what are you most afraid of?

Death?  The afterlife?

The shooter?  God?

Choices like this expose who we are and what we’re really living for…

What we value the most in life.

So, what is it for you?

What are you living for?

When death is staring you in the face, is it worth standing up and dying for?

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.”

Jesus in Luke 12:4-5 (NLT)