Death Hurts the Living

It’ll feel so much better when it stops hurting.
A friend, whom I’ve known since childhood, is about to go home. He might already be there by the time you read this.
It was this friend whom the Spirit used to invite me to hang with a group of Jesus believers who showed me His love. It was because of his faith that I chose to put my faith in Jesus Christ for life then, now and into eternity.
When he steps into eternity, he will experience love and joy like never before. He will see the One He’s loved all these years face to face. His pain will be over.
The hurt will then begin for his wife, his children, his grandchildren and his friends, myself included. We are going to experience the absence of his smile, sense of humor and just plain making others around him feel good. Death hurts the living.
Up to this point, the Lord used my friend in our lives. The gap that will come through his absence, though, can be filled with and by Jesus.
This is nothing but another painful life lesson for us all. Scripture tells us repeatedly to die to self – our dreams, our plans, and our way of handling life. Death hurts the living.
As we do, there will be gap. We can choose to let Jesus fill that gap or we can fill it with something else that will have to be removed later.
Yes, death hurts the living. But it can also be a time of joy as we choose to let Jesus be God and do what only God can do…replace our temporary character with His eternal character.
Death hurts, yes. But as my mom used to tell us kids, “It’ll hurt a lot less when it quits hurting.” Let your hurt cause you to turn to the Source of Life Changing Healing – Jesus.

It’s Worth It

The destination is worth the process getting there.
Our hiking Go-Group (Matt. 28:18-20, doing what we like to do with those who don’t know Jesus…yet!) went to the mountains above Malibu, CA. There were parts of this trail that my wife and I had never taken before.
We were told that at one point in a certain loop there would be majestic views of the Pacific Ocean both to the south and to the north of us.
The map showed this view existed. People who’d taken this trail before said this view existed. But did it? We’ve never been there before. How’d we know?
We couldn’t, but we kept walking, even as the trail took us through high brush and spider webs. It led us over a stream with slippery rocks…twice. It looped through recovering fired burned areas. And, crawled up and down for an elevation gain of over 1100 feet.
Was it worth it? YES! The overwhelmingly awesome view existed and was worth every step when we took it all in.
The ultimate map, the Bible, says it’s worth walking with Jesus today. Others who’ve walked the same path as you, say the view is worth it.
Keep going, no matter how hard each step might be. It’s worth it. Keep walking, no matter when the cobwebs of doubt cross your mind. The view will be magnificent. Keep moving forward, no matter the number of bends or ups and downs your everyday path might have. Your breath will be taken away. This is a living Jesus faith.
Be encouraged. Loving and become like Jesus are worth every step we take now and forever!

Timely Directions

When we need it, not always when we want it.
My wife and I took a wonderful hike to an awesome waterfall this past weekend.
The trail for the first 2.5 of the 4 miles up to the falls was not always easy. Nonetheless, the trail was easy to follow. We had all the directions we need to enjoy the hike.
Then all of a sudden, the trail literally turned into boulders that had to be climbed over, down and around. As we couldn’t see what lay ahead, we had a hard time knowing where to go next…until they showed up.
The “they” in this case were arrows painted on various rocks pointing us to the next step. It was uncanny how the next arrow always appeared right when we needed it, though, not always when we wanted it.
Our Jesus walks will be smooth at times. While at others, because we live in a fallen world, it will require slowing down to climb over life’s boulders.
As we slow down, Jesus, in an uncanny manner, will always give us the next step, often just before we need to take it.
We’d like more advanced noticed, but that is not faith. Faith means sticking to the direction He’s already given us until He gives us where our next steps should be.
Therefore, resist getting in a hurry! If you do, your anxiety levels along with your blood pressure will rise quite rapidly.
Instead focus on the truths that will keep your BP low: His promise to always be with and to guide you one step at a time, right on time…His.

Man, I Needed This!

Slowing down doesn’t mean stopping.
I enjoy walking the hills around my house. The trails through these hills, however, are shrinking due to fewer hikers using them.
This lower usage is allowing the plants to grow back, effectively making the trails much harder to use.
As you walk the path Jesus has for you through meditating and acting upon the truths He gives from His Word, you’re laying down and strengthening new neural pathways (“trails”) on your brain or what Scripture calls “renewing your mind.”
And though hard at first, the more you keep walking on this trail, the easier it will be to walk on it in the days ahead.
Yet if you stop walking on this trail, the vegetation of your old unfulfilled life will creep back.
So, when Scripture says to slow down and know that Jesus is God, it does not mean to stop and do nothing!
All it means is to keep walking on the trail He’s laid out for you at the pace He wants for you at the moment. He’s in no hurry, so why should you? Enjoy the journey. He’s walking with you!
Man, I needed to hear this!

Keeping it Real

Unmet expectations lead to frustration, so what are your expectations?
Understand that God never promises to meet our expectations, only His.
Thus, if our expectations don’t match God’s Word, we are going to be frustrated much of the time. And Jesus didn’t come to frustrate us, but to give us life – now and forever.
Think about this expectation: If I just get through this task, life will be good and I can slow down. Sounds good doesn’t it?
But it isn’t true in at least two ways. First, there is always another task at the end of the one I’m finishing! Right?
Second, we love an eternal God. And with each character quality God has, He wants to transform our lives into that quality as only Christlike character makes it from this life to the next.
Therefore, this side of heaven, there will always be another hill to climb and a valley to walk through. The Spirit uses these hills and valleys to shave off our temporal character and replace it with Christ’s eternal character.
This is real life, whether we like it or not. So slow down and enjoy Jesus today, in the moment. The next hill will come soon enough.