Tag Archives: focusing on Jesus

When Things Don't Go According to Plan

In preparing for today’s post, I had a strong sense that the Lord wanted to re-share this message with His beloved. May we always continue to look to Jesus in setting our agendas and establishing our plans.

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16

From our rational human viewpoint, God the Father’s decision to send His only begotten Son to be born in a manger is strikingly underwhelming. More precisely, the scene is a run down barn filled with the noxious stench of farm animals and mule manure. He isn’t born in a lavish palace, as some expected, nor is He carried inside the womb of a wealthy, highly-respected, and well-known woman. Nope. Jesus, the King of the Jews, who many believed would rescue His people from the oppressively diabolical Roman Empire, is birthed in the middle of nowhere to a nobody (according to society’s standard). Needless to say, in comparison to the expectations of humanity in the moment, this just feels like a huge let down.

Interestingly, the same people who deeply love God, cling to His word, and resist the temptation to serve the foreign gods loved by King Herod, still never expect God to carry out His prophetic words the way that He does. I can relate to this. When the Lord spoke to me last year about throwing the HDD Launch Party, I expected it to end with a big, holy bang. I expected hundreds of people to attend and celebrate Him. But that had been my standard for success, not His.

Because He spoke both His Daily Dose and the Launch Party into existence, He could boldly contradict my assumptions and carry out His plan just the way He wanted it. The evening was humble, gentle, and sacred. He sent who He wanted because it was about Him, not about me. This was simply beautiful. Talk about humility at it’s finest. And I am exceedingly grateful for it.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

You know what I find so deeply intriguing about how God operates? If He had allowed His Son’s birth (or any expectations we may try to build onto His promises) to transpire just the way we expect, then our trust would remain in those very circumstances. Or even more so, they would rest on our own understanding, rather than in God. In His radical and abundant love for us, He allows events to unfold differently than what we expect. By doing so, we can witness that His ways are much higher and better than anything we could ever muster up on our own, and that we desperately and deeply need Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

“What has been will be again,what has been done will be done again;there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

As His beloved, may we give Him the space and the respect to be who He is: the God of the universe, our Creator, and our Sustainer who holds all things together.

“He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:17 NLT

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

May you understand and rest in the knowledge that we will never figure God out. If we could, we wouldn’t need to trust Him, and we’d have plenty of room to lean in on ourselves. If God gives you a promise or a prophetic word, lay it immediately back down at His feet. Building extraneous assumptions of how it all should go is entirely too easy, and always opens the door for a disappointment He never intended us to experience.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Maybe He is speaking a country to your heart. If so, let Him show you when you are to leave. Just because He is speaking it now does not mean the time is now.

Perhaps He is speaking to you about a future spouse. Surrender it fully to Him. Don’t try to manipulate the circumstances in causing His prophecy to take place. That is not faith, beloved, that is control, which is always a product of not trusting Him.

Maybe He is asking you to leave your job in faith, or to speak to someone about a decision. Give it back to His hands. If He is entrusting this knowledge to you, pray for the time when He decides to open the door.

Whatever it may be, allow Him to be your Lord. Allow Him to guide your paths and trust that He is for your good, beloved.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

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Slowing Down to Make Gratitude our Attitude

Today’s post will detour from this week’s focus on health science and our faith, but I strongly feel that another specific message needs to be shared today. Let’s talk about slowing down and making gratitude your attitude.

This morning, I sat in a oversize chair tucked away on a hilltop overlooking the Chattahoochee river. Sipping on my hot green tea, I watched leaves fall gently from their soon-to-be barren branches. With an open Bible and a heart hungry to hear from the Lord, I stilled myself and began to read His word found in 2 Chronicles 16:8-9:

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!”

Because I had a throbbing headache, accompanied by a feeling that all joy had been sucked out of my life, I was sitting numb before the Lord and full of despair and discouragement. Yet God wanted me to give thanks instead of doing what I felt like (nagging and complaining).

In an effort to produce excellence in my “extra-busy” workload over the past few weeks, I had become disgruntled with my life. I had just been “getting by”. Some of you are likely in the exact same place, and for that reason I believe I am to share what the Lord reminded me of this morning.

God doesn’t want us to just merely “get by”, even in the hardest of times.This is precisely what makes our God so radically astounding. Even when we seemingly have nothing to enjoy, He gives us the ability to enjoy life. This isn’t self-help; this is God-help.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 ESV

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13ESV

By focusing on what wasn’t going right and being resentful that I had to endure (rather than enjoy) life, I was failing to give God praise and focus on the positive. Unbeknownst to me, I was falling into a deceptive trap by willingly choosing to complain and meditate on the wrong things. At the same time, I was expecting God to enable me to enjoy my day.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 ESV

 Yet, we cannot expect to live righteously by thinking unrighteously, just as we cannot expect life-giving emotions (happiness, joy, contentment, humility) to be produced by death-filled thoughts (criticism, discontentment, slander, complaint). In this particular case, we get what we give.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” Luke6:43 NIV

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7 NASB

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 ESV

What I needed today was God’s help, and God may also need to help you today, beloved. To fix what isn’t going right, let’s lean on Him instead of our own reasoning, life plans, self-talks, or inner meditation. Allow Him to be your dependency and your Lord. You will not be disappointed.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Also consider that word “enjoy” for a moment. What stands out to you? Perhaps the root “joy”? By definition, joy is an emotion evoked by great success or well-being; a state of happiness or felicity. However, the word “enjoy” means to take pleasure in something (to have a good time, to relish, to adore, to delight, to groove, to fancy, to revel, or to savor).

Joy is the noun, but enjoy is the verb.

When we are “in joy“, we choose to take pleasure in something (such as savoring a moment). This choice is ours to make. God will not make you enjoy something. If we pray for God to give us joy and expect it to simply plop into the depths of our hearts, we are not being realistic. We can certainly pray for Him to give us joy, but we must make the choice to enjoy life. Because we are made in His image, He has given us the freedom to choose.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 ESV

Focus your gaze back on Jesus today – the very Author and Finisher of your faith. Give God the praise that He deserves and repent of any sins of complaint, fear, grumbling, or distrust. Allow Him to refresh your heart (just as He did mine) with His perfect peace, a renewed hope, and a deeper trust in His goodness as our Faithful Provider. May your hearts be encouraged, and to God be the glory!

“Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. ” Jeremiah 15:16 NASB

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 NIV

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Hot tea in hand, I open the Word to Matthew 14:29-33. And something simply delightful catches my eye.

A pattern I hadn’t quite seen in the past. Let’s take a look.

“‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith, he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’.”

Stepping out of the boat. And walking on water.

And no floaties are needed.

The story begins with His voice. He asks us to do something. Not just an ordinary something. A radical something. A something that goes against all logic and rationale. And many times against our own emotions and perceptions.

Start a ministry. Leave your job. Write a book. End the unhealthy dating relationship. Go to counseling. Go to rehab. Make new friends. Pray with your boss. Or even better, just sit still and abide in Him. He asks us to do these things at times.

“My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NLT

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Look at the example here. Peter understood gravity made no exceptions: you step out onto the water, then you sink. This is logic. And I’m pretty confident everyone in the boat knew it too. Yet, Jesus went against the limitations of the human mind and demonstrated His sovereign power.

And He will do the same for us when we follow after Him. Regardless of what others in our boat are thinking.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Despite the irrationality of the situation (or so it seemed), Peter responds. And asks the Lord for confirmation.

Jesus is faithful. So, he gives Peter the confirmation he’s seeking in one simple word: “Come.”

I interpret this as:  “Yes, you’ve heard me correctly. Do what I am asking of you. Trust me, I am leading you.”

Then the scene shifts.

Peter gets distracted. The wind’s blowing. He’s feeling some opposition. This act of faith becomes more challenging than he thought. And he takes his eyes off of Jesus.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” Proverbs 4:25 NIV

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV

In looking at the waves, Peter begins to sink while Jesus is standing just a few feet away.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6 NIV

Just grasp that for a second.

How many times have we done this? We’re following Jesus in faith in what He’s asked us to do. And “Bam!”, an unforeseen challenge arrives on our doorstep and we begin to doubt. I believe if Peter would have kept his eyes on the Lord, those big waves and that strong, powerful wind would have felt more like a summer breeze. It’s when we focus on our troubles and not on Jesus that we become afraid. And we feel overwhelmed.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 ESV

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV

Yet, check out the mercy of Jesus in this situation. In despite of Peter’s mistake, Jesus takes him by the hand, and pierces his soul. “Why do you have such little faith?’, Jesus asked. He didn’t pat Peter on the back and say “Don’t worry, just forget that ever happened.”


Because He loves us and He knows in order for us to have a life of greatness, we’ll have to live a life of faith. We have to follow Him, completely.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:3

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

It was Jesus that calmed the storm in Peter’s life. And it’s Jesus who will calm yours as you fix your eyes on Him. Remember with Jesus; no floaties are needed.

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When Faith Sustains, No Floaties Are Needed

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