What I’ve Learned in My Adventure with God

“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

In this article, I will share some of the lessons I have learned as I have journeyed with the Lord in my “adventure” with God. These truths are not earth-shattering revelations. They really are simple truths found in the Bible, but they have become more real to me as God’s word and timing has tested me and proved true in my life (see Psalm 105:19).

God is Faithful Even When I am Not

Sometimes the darkest moment is right before the dawn of the light of God’s fulfilled promise. There was a season in my life where I began to doubt God’s faithfulness because it seemed like He was not coming through on His promises to me. I got angry with God. After a few years of what was probably the darkest period of my life, I reaffirmed my faith in God in a moment of intense emotion. As I recall, it was not long after that when God began to bring about the fulfillment of some of His promises. My life began to change for the better. God was faithful even when I struggled in my faith. In my weakness, He showed Himself strong. God does not demand from us perfect faith, we only need to not give up. If we will not give up, we will see the harvest.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” -Galatians 6:9

God is More Patient, Gracious and Longsuffering than Am I

At times I have really struggled with a sense of condemnation, feeling guilty a lot. I don’t nearly struggle with this as much as I used to. As I have walked with the Lord, I have certainly made my share of mistakes and dealt with temptations. These struggles have actually helped me to accept and receive God’s grace. When we feel overwhelmed by guilt, we can cry out or we can cave in. I have had times of doubt and indecision and I have struggled to overcome temptations, but God has never given up on me. He’s been merciful when I have felt most unworthy. He has never counted me unworthy. In fact, there have been a couple of distinct moments in my life where God made it clear to me that I passed the test. I might not have given myself a passing grade, but He did! Thank God, His mercies are new every morning and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

God Knows More Than I Do

This one should seem obvious, right? There have been many times in my life where I have questioned God’s timing. I still question it sometimes, it does not always make sense. Why does God seem to wait so long for some things? When I was about 25 years old I began to have a strong desire to be married. But I didn’t marry until I was 34, about 9 years later. That was not my plan! Then, we waited another 5 years to have children and Leslie had 2 miscarriages during that time. I was 39 when our first boy was born. Again, not my plan. When I was younger, I pictured myself married by at least age 30 with 4 or 5 kids. But God had a different plan.

When I reflect, I am grateful for God’s plan. The delays have worked to refine my character and deepen my walk with Him. I am a blessed man, not because I got everything I wanted when I wanted it, but because I have allowed the Lord to add to my life in His timing. His blessings have enriched my life. I am learning to lean not on my own understanding, but rather to trust Him with all my heart, knowing He will direct my steps (see Proverbs 3:5-6). He will bring His purposes to pass in my life (see Psalm 37:5-6).

God’s Perfect Plan includes Setbacks and Disappointments

Setbacks, disappointments, personal struggles, even failures, are not an enemy of God’s plan. They may in fact be set-ups for better things. God wants to use these experiences to propel us into greater things. I imagine Peter in his boat, fishing all night. Jesus does a miracle and Peter hauls in a huge catch. Peter feels so unworthy, but Jesus says, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (see Luke 5:1-11). Peter might have settled for the life of a fisherman, but Jesus called him to be something greater. God will use setbacks to propel us into greater places of influence, authority and purpose for His Kingdom. But to reach that destiny, we may need to walk through some valleys.

In my next article, I’ll share more of what God has taught me as I have lived out my “adventure” with Him. Blessings!

How to Grow as a Christian – Part I

IMG_2119Have you ever felt frustrated, feeling like you are not growing spiritually? At times in my life, I have felt like I am either not growing at all or I’m actually getting worse. The reality is this: there is a way to grow in the Lord every day without feeling frustrated, condemned or constantly discouraged.

First of all, growth rarely happens quickly. It is usually a slow and steady process. It’s easy to get discouraged when we look at ourselves and lament what appears to be a lack of growth. The first thing we need to do is be patient with ourselves and with God. We grow in grace, not by placing upon ourselves unreasonable demands and expectations that only lead to frustration and condemnation.

II Peter 3:18 (NIV) says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

If you are prone to introspection, like me, you may tend to spend a lot of time gazing internally and finding things wrong with yourself. Then, you become frantic, trying to put out numerous fires at one time – I need to change this, that, and this, and that, and this, and that. This leads to feeling overwhelmed. When I feel overwhelmed like this, I get discouraged and want to give up.

A better plan of action is to implement disciplines in your life that will facilitate daily growth while, at the same time, understanding that you live under the covering of God’s love and grace. This covering gives us the freedom to be honest with ourselves about our sins and flaws and also the freedom to fail. God’s grace permits us to enjoy our lives while we are growing, even though we are not perfect. Discipline keeps us from using our freedom in Christ as an excuse for sin or unrighteous living.

Titus 2:11-12 (NIV) says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”

Grace is not the enemy of discipline. Discipline is not the enemy of grace. The two are not opposites. Grace is not only God’s kindness to sinners, it is God’s empowerment to live righteously and victoriously. When we discipline ourselves, humbly depending on God every day, we position ourselves under His grace and His grace empowers us to live holy.

James 4:6 (NKJV) says, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'”

The narrow road with Christ is both a road of discipline and a road of grace, which leads to abundant life. Perfectionism is an enemy of discipline. Condemnation and accusation are enemies of grace. The narrow road is not a road without stumbling, setbacks or mistakes. The narrow road is walked by imperfect people who enter through the gate of Christ and press on with Him in their earnest quest to be like Him.

Abraham provides an excellent example to illustrate my point. Through faith, Abraham received God’s grace. God’s grace to Abraham came through a promise, a promise that he would have a son and be the father of many nations through which all people would be blessed. But Abraham made some real mistakes. He messed up, but none of his sins cancelled out the grace of God.

God said of Abraham that he “obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions” (Genesis 26:5, NIV).

Despite Abraham’s mistakes, he obeyed the Lord. Abraham lived a life of both grace and discipline. The result was that he walked in the blessing of God while he stretched out in faith to inherit the promise of God. Likewise, by God’s grace, when commit ourselves to a life of discipline in the Lord, we will continue to grow in His grace.

Stay tuned for Part 2. In my next article, we’ll get more practical about how we can grow every day in Christ, by His grace! Blessings!