Tag Archives: help me

You’re Not BER (Video)

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

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Encourage One Another

When I was younger, there was a Christian group called Prism. All their albums were named after colors. On their “Yellow” album, the had a song called “We Will Always Be With The Lord”. They created the lyrics for that song out of I Thessalonians 4:18. Paul had just described what happens to the dead in Christ and what will happen to believers who are alive when He returns. The Church was under severe persecution when he wrote this letter to them and he wanted to encourage them in their struggle. While most of the Church today isn’t being persecuted for their faith, it’s still a good practice to encourage each other.

It was just a few verses later in I Thessalonians 5:11 that Paul again reminded the believers to encourage each other. He wrote, “So encourage each other and build each other up. (NLT)” He knew that each one of us have a deep internal need to be encouraged. It’s our responsibility to encourage each other as believers and to not tear each other down. If another believer needs encouragement, they should be able to find it within the Church. They shouldn’t have to go looking elsewhere.

A few months back, our small group used one of our Wednesday nights to enact something I learned from Brian Tracy’s “New Psychology of Selling”. It’s called the “20 Idea Method”. You take any problem you have, convert it into a question and come up with 20 ideas as to how you can answer it. This method ignites the creative side of your brain and gives you new ways to do the things you’ve always done. Most people never implement new ideas and therefore get the same results their whole life. You can’t expect growth or progress doing what you’ve always done. 

We asked the question, “What are 20 ways we can encourage others?” The first few answers came easily, but as we got closer to 20, we struggled. We pushed ourselves to keep going until we did. Many people in the group wrote them down or took a picture of the white board we used. Coming up with ideas is great, but the real power is in implementation. When we began to put into practice these simple ideas of encouraging others, it changed us as well. When you encourage someone else, it turns out you get encouraged as well. It’s mutually beneficial. I think that’s why Paul was so clear in his desire for believers to encourage each other. 

If you need encouragement today, try finding someone who is having a more difficult time than you and offer them encouragement. If you are riding an emotional high today, spread the wealth and give out encouragement like you’ll explode if you don’t. There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t love being encouraged. Each one of us have the need to hear, “You’re going to make it through this and I’ll help make sure of that.” Don’t just look at someone who is struggling and say, “Take courage! It’ll all work out.” Go over to them and offer tangible help. Pray for them. Give them a verse that has helped you. Offer to carry their load. Be a person who listens instead of gives advice. Buy their lunch. Words often fall flat, but actions build up.

I’d love it if you wrote in the comments one way you could encourage someone today. It will give others different ideas on how they can encourage someone who needs it.

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Changing Your Pity Part Perspective

As things in my life went downhill over ten years ago, my brother helped me to keep things in perspective. Over the course of a few months an employee of mine died in a crash with her husband and one of their children, I got pulled into the legal fight for the remaining child, my now ex-wife had an affair while I was distracted by the legal battle, she then left me for another man, my business went under and I filed bankruptcy. While I was having a pity party one day, my brother looked me in the eye and said, “Believe it or not, someone else has it worse than you do. You can be thankful you’re not them.”

No sooner than his words hit my ear, they pierced my heart. I had been feeling like my life was worse than what Job had experienced and the truth was that my life wasn’t as bad as it could have been. When my thoughts of pity changed, my perspective changed. I quit trying to find others to feel sorry for me and started to find reasons to be thankful. When I started doing that, my situation didn’t change. In fact, it continued to get worse. What did change was how I saw myself in the storm and the purpose of the storm.

Instead of asking, “Why me, God”, I began to ask, “What am I to learn from this?” Being thankful changed me from being a victim to a student. Even in my darkest hour, God had something to show me. It turns out He was desperately trying to get my attention. I had been stubbornly ignoring His call and not living how He wanted me to. I had ignored His gentle warnings and signs to change and now He was getting louder and louder in His attempts to get my attention. God wasn’t content to let me live my life my way. He wanted me to live it His way. I’m thankful now that He didn’t leave me in the life I was living.

The theologian Albert Barnes said, “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” In my life I’ve always remembered that someone always has it worse than anything I will ever face. I can always be thankful for that. When times are tough and life isn’t going the way I think it should or I feel I’ve been dealt a bad hand, I no longer pretend I’m the victim. I now know that even when things appear bad or that they can’t get worse, God is there in the storm with me. He hasn’t left me or forsaken me. He’s there enduring it with me and wants to use the experience for His glory.

If you’re in the middle of a storm in your life where you feel like things can’t get worse, I challenge you to find something to be thankful for. Are you still breathing? Then you have something to be thankful for. Your life isn’t over and God can rebuild your life from the ruins of where you are now. Lose the victim mentality and become a student of what God wants to show you. To change your perspective, you have to change your mindset. A changed mindset begins with a thankful heart. Things may not get better right away, but being thankful will give you a purpose in hard times. That purpose, combined with a thankful heart, will pull you through.


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Dead Ends


On September 25, 2003, my life hit a dead end. My now ex-wife had left me for someone else, my house was about to be foreclosed on, I was facing bankruptcy, and I lost my business because of some bad decisions. Everywhere I looked I saw a dead end. There was no way out. My world was closing in fast and I didn’t know what to do. As I thought about the only option I felt I had, God reminded me what He had spoken to me only months earlier. He said, “What seems like an end is only a beginning.”

I was definitely at the end. I felt I had no reason to live. There was too much pain. Too much failure. Too much disappointment. As I laid there on the floor contemplating everything, I prayed, “Lord, I give up. I can’t do this anymore.” He spoke back, “Finally.” I had to come to the end of myself before I realized I truly needed Him. I had to come face to face with my own insufficiencies before I could see His sufficiency. I had to feel my weakness in its full effect before I could experience His perfect strength.

In II Kings 3, Joram had just begin to reign as king of Israel. King Mesha of Moab decided to quit paying tribute to him as he had paid it to his father. Joram became upset and decided to go to war with Mesha. On the way he sent word to two other kings and asked if they would join him. All three kings and their armies decided to take a round about way of getting to Moab to attack. The route went through a desert. After seven days, the armies were thirsty and were facing death before they even got to the battle. They were at a dead end.

When they realized there was no way out, they decided to seek God’s help. Their men were going to die unless God intervened. They sent someone to get the prophet Elisha. He showed up and told them to dig trenches. He said, “You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill. This is easy for God to do.” The men in the army were dog tired from walking through the desert. They were dehydrated and without hope, yet God asked them to pick up a shovel.

They dug all night until they couldn’t dig anymore. The next morning, a flash flood filled the valley with water. As it passed through, it filled the trenches with water and the army regained their strength. They went on to face the army of Moab and defeated them. God had done exactly what He said He would do even though they thought there was no way He could. He made a river in the desert.

What seemed like an end for them ended up being a new beginning. When they felt like giving up, they worked hard and then God came through. He is faithful to meet our needs in our times of trouble. Your dead ends are really just an opportunity for God to come through. It’s His way of showing us that He can get us out of the mess we got ourselves into. What seems hard or impossible to us is easy for God. He may ask us to dig trenches in the night when we have no strength and it doesn’t make sense. When we do, we will be ready for the fulfillment of His promise.


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Out Of Control

I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of a control freak. I love being in control of what’s happening in my life, where I’m going and how things are going to happen. I like to think through every possible scenario before any situation so that I’m prepared for whatever happens. I don’t like it when other people are in control of my situation. There are too many variables. I don’t like it when I don’t know what’s coming next or how to prepare. It can be overwhelming when I’m not in control of my destiny or immediate future.

Brian Tracy, a sales minded motivational speaker, teaches that we feel good about ourselves to the degree to which we are in control of our lives. When we have everything under control, we feel great. When our lives are spinning out of control, we feel horrible. Each one of us have something different that we associate with control. For some, it’s money. When we have it, we feel freedom and in control. When we don’t, we feel helpless and out of control. We tie our self worth to control.

That’s not how God wants us to love though. I’d like to change it up a bit. I think as Christians we feel good about ourselves to the degree to which we allow God to have control in our lives. Each of us choose how much we trust God and how much control He has in our lives. Some of us only trust Him with our problems. Our prayers only go up when life comes down on us. Some of us trust Him with our money. We can’t take it with us so we might as well invest as much as we can in His kingdom so He can multiply it. Some of us trust Him with our whole lives. We look at everything that happens as an opportunity to grow.

When we trust in money, relationships, our parenting skills, our possessions or anything other than God, we are putting ourselves on an emotional roller coaster. We are putting our happiness in things that we can’t control. When we have money, others pay attention to us, the kids are behaving or we have lots of things, we feel great. But when our bank account is empty, others take us for granted, the kids won’t listen and we don’t have much, life gets pretty overwhelming. We feel about an inch tall and our lives seem out of control.

Don’t put your hope, happiness and self esteem in the hands of anyone but God. Ultimately, He’s the one who is in control in a chaotic world. He’s got a plan for your life if you’ll just give Him control to enact it. Your self worth shouldn’t be tied to your bank account, how others treat you, how your kids treat you, how productive you feel or what you have. Your self worth comes from God and when He looks at you, He doesn’t see a mess. He sees His child whom He loves. He sees His precious creation whom He designed to need Him and not to do things on their own.

He wants you to know that He’ll take care of whatever is eating at you today if you’ll just give it to Him. Whatever you’re holding onto today, so that you can feel in control, is what’s making you feel the way you do. The more you give control of your life to God, the better you will feel about your self and your situation. I Peter 5:7 says, “Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns) once and for all on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” God sees how you’ve allowed other things to control how you feel about yourself and wants you to give control to Him. You’ll feel better about yourself, your situation and your life.


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A Life In Limbo

I have a friend who recently mentioned that they were struggling with all the outside forces in their life. All of their external circumstances seemed bent on crushing them. They didn’t want to give up or go back to a past that’s gone, but didn’t really know how to move forward either. They were stuck in this limbo of life with no good alternatives. It’s a scary place to be when today’s problems are so consuming that you can’t see a future for yourself. It’s hard to know where to go or what to do when you don’t know which way is forward. I can only share some of the things that helped me.

The first advice I give is to fill yourself with God’s Word. When the outside forces are greater than what’s in you, you’ve got to put something more powerful in you. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. The way to get more of God in your life is to spend time in His word. You have to make it a priority to read it. Mark Batterson says, “Reading is how you get through the Bible. Meditating is the way to get the Bible through you.” You’re not only going to have to read it, you’re going to have to think about it, chew it up and talk through it in order for it to fully strengthen you.

The second advice I give is to pray. God is not intimidated by your honesty in how you feel. In fact, I think it’s refreshing to Him when we are honest with our struggles, fears and thoughts. He gets enough surface level prayers every day. The ones where we cry out in desperation get His attention. The ones where we seek Him honestly draw Him in. The ones where we admit we can’t do it on our own cause Him to rush to our side. God knows we can’t make it through storms on our own. We weren’t created to. They’re meant to cause us to draw on His strength instead of being stubborn and trying to stand on our own. Prayer is how we communicate that need for God.

The next piece of advice I give is to surround yourself with other believers, especially those who know you and love you. Yes, some of your circumstances may be embarrassing, but trusting your family of God is what you need. Their prayers will be more passionate because they have a relationship with you. They won’t forget to lift you up in prayer. They’ll follow up with you and check on you. They’ll be that safety net you need in case you fall. They’re not there to condemn you. They’re there to help you. God placed them in your life to be a support. Let them be that for you.

If life has you in limbo or is pushing you down to see how low you can go, doing these three things will help you. If you’re life is going great and the sun is shining, these three things will help you. We never outgrow our need for God or to have His strength in our lives. We all need the inner strength that comes from a relationship with God. If we don’t need it to keep us from getting crushed, we need it so we can help someone else who is getting crushed. If you’re not in limbo right now, look for someone who is. They need your help more than you know.

What advice do you give to someone like I described?


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From Bitter To Blessed

Each of us have things go wrong in life. Each of us have those periods where it seems nothing can go right. It can get to the point of ridiculousness that all you can do is laugh at how bad things have gotten. There’s also that temptation to just give up because no matter what you do, you fail. In those periods of life our response matters. They can create good things in you like perseverance, patience, endurance, strength or they can bring out the worst like selfishness, resentfulness, anger or bitterness. Our reaction is our choice.

In the book of Ruth, we see the story of Naomi who was Ruth’s mother in law. She had been going through a rough time. Due to circumstances, she had to move her family away from their home. Some time after they arrived in their new country, her husband died and left her to raise two boys. They grew up and married. After ten years of marriage, neither of her sons were able to produce an heir and both of them died. She was left with two daughters in law to care for and no means to do it. She decided to return to her homeland, but knew there wasn’t enough to sustain all of them. She encouraged her daughters in law to stay behind in their land and to remarry. One stayed and one clung to her side and wouldn’t leave.

When they arrived back in her hometown, the people were excited to see her. They asked, “Is that really you, Naomi?” Her response was, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter… I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t.” She allowed her circumstances to make her bitter. She was so bitter that she asked them to call her Bitter as her name. She felt like God had abandoned her and that He didn’t even know her name. She felt alone and hurt. I wonder what would have happened to her if Ruth hadn’t made the trip back with her.

The good news is that Ruth saw the bitterness and struggles in her mother in law and refused to leave her. She became a support person for her. It wasn’t long after they arrived back in Naomi’s hometown that Ruth met Boaz. After they were married, God gave them a son. Chapter 4:14 of Ruth says, “The town women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life.” Naomi loved that baby so much that the neighborhood women started calling him “Naomi’s boy”. His real name was Obed. He would become the grandfather of King David and also part of the lineage of Jesus.

Whatever your circumstances are today, you have a choice to make. Will people call you “Bitter” or will they call you “Blessed”? While Naomi went through a time of bitterness, ultimately everything had to happen that way so that a line of future kings could be born and ultimately our savior. I don’t know what difficulties you’re facing in the present, but I know that God can use them to create an amazing future. Difficult times and periods of life are not without purpose. God has a plan for you and the future of your family. This rough patch is simply getting you into position to change you from bitter to blessed.


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