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Desire. It’s really the driving force in all we do. It’s desire that drives our relationships. It’s desire that keeps us going through the tough times. When we lose desire we lose the will to go on. But desire is a cruel taskmaster. It often drives us down the road most easily traveled rather than the way best for us. It entices us to grab for the things that hurt rather than nurture; that poison us rather than help us. Jesus came to show us desire in its purest, most excellent way.

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Adam and Eve hid in the bushes. Jonah tried to escape by ship. David committed murder. Today people still try to cover up those things they are ashamed of. Some try drugs and alcohol. Others try sex or new relationships. Others may spend their lives trying to control others or live in anger, bitterness or resentment. But the best way to deal our bad choices is confession. Confession before a loving God isn’t admitting we are a failure, it’s admitting our need for a savior. All of us fail. Sometimes, multiple times a day. Confession releases us from the guilt. Confession is like a small candle which defeats even the darkest night. Live free of shame. Live free of the shame. Confess your failures to God through Jesus Christ. 


As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Psalm 119:143 (NLT)

20140825_073143My family and I love to camp. One of our favorite spots to spend a few days is in extreme northern Minnesota. Just miles from the Canadian border, we are without electricity except for our camper batteries, have no cell phone signal and are 50 miles from the nearest hospital. We enjoy taking the boat out, playing games, taking naps and just getting away from all the stress of the ‘real world’ in our hidden paradise.

The only connection we have with the world outside is a weather radio that we listen to each morning so that we know what to expect weather-wise in regards to going out on the lake or taking hikes through the forest.

Last summer, on the day before we were going to leave, we listened to an ominous forecast on our weather radio. Severe weather was bearing down on us from the west. There were reports of damaging winds, funnel clouds and torrential rains. Maps we had with us verified that we were in the path of the oncoming storm.

Knowing the storm was at least an hour away, we made sure to put away anything that might become destroyed and packed away everything we could in preparation for the oncoming storm as well as our journey home in the morning. Then20140824_195154 we climbed up on a rock and watched the sunset and approaching clouds.

We were nervous. The unknown frightened us. We made contingency plans for the possibility of having to evacuate the camper due to severe weather. Fortunately, the worst of the storm went south of us and we got nothing but plenty of loud thunder, bright lightning and heavy rain.

The oncoming storm reminds me of stress. Stress is, I believe, really as symptom of other emotions. We become stressed when we worry about financial struggles. We become stressed when we are discouraged about the doctor’s report. We become stressed when we fear the consequences of poor choices or relational breakdowns.

We see the storm clouds on the horizon. We know the possibilities of disaster even though, in reality we are uncertain of the exact outcome. We take every precaution we can and then do the only thing left: wait.

When the uncertainty of life bears down on us and we are unsure of the outcome or whatever it is we face, we have a place where we can go for cover. That place of refuge is God’s Word and his many promises to us.

Sometimes, when people are stressed they look for temporary fixes. That’s why airports often have bars close to the gates. Alcohol doesn’t take away the fear, but it deadens it for a while. For some new relationships, shopping, taking a trip or watching porn is an escape. There can be all sorts of things you can do to try to deaden the impact of stress on your life. But they are all temporary fixes.

Dealing with stress

  1. The next time you are stressed, take some time to reflect on exactly what the basis for your stress is. Is if fear? Is it guilt? Is it worry? Is it procrastination? What is the cause of stress in your life.
  2. Secondly, go to God’s word or, if you are unfamiliar with God’s word or don’t know where to start, find someone who can help you in this area.
  3. The third step to dealing with the storm of stress is to give over whatever is stressing you to the promises of God.
  4. Lastly, seek Godly wisdom on how to deal with the storm. Sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens, like we did in our camper that night. Other times there may be things you need to do like confess a sin, re-focus your lifestyle, ask forgiveness, etc.

True joy comes when we rest in the promises of an all-loving, all-powerful God whose desire is for each of us to live in peace. Jesus said “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27(NLT)

PRAYER: Jesus, I thank you for the many promises you have given us through your word, the Holy Bible. I thank you for the fact that you know exactly what I’m going through and for the promise that you not only know the outcome, you will walk me through it. I give this stress over to you based on the promise of peace you have given me. Amen.


This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

discouragedA friend of mine is a pastor in a small rural church. While the church has been in existence for over 100 years, it had fallen on some hard times and had even considered closing its doors. My friend was a ‘last hope effort’ to survive.

Chris, as I’ll call him, prayed for months that God would raise up some of the men to become the leaders the church needed to be an effective witness in the community. One day, his prayers seemed to be answered. A man we’ll call Thomas visited the church a couple times and then came up to Chris one Sunday after church and asked if they could have lunch. Later that week as they sat a table in the local café, Thomas shared his testimony of how he’d found Christ. Then he asked Chris the $64,000.00 question: “I have never been disciple and don’t know that much about the Bible. Would you be willing to meet with me to help me learn how to do that?

You can imagine the excitement Chris felt over the next months. Thomas continued to grow in his faith and became more and more involved in ministry both within the church and in the community. Then came the heart attack.

I looked at my friend Pastor Chris as his countenance fell. “It took the wind out of my sails big time”, Chris continued, “the hopes I had for ministry seemed to come to a complete stop. I found myself trying to fill the gaps Thomas had left behind. I told God he could take me out of this ministry anytime. I was finished.”

Chris shared with me how discouraged he had been over the next months. There were some small glimpses of joy in the ministry, but most of it was gone. Looking back he realized he’d built his ministry more on a person than on Jesus.

Discouragement can come to us in many ways, as it did with my friend Pastor Chris. It can sneak up on us completely unaware and knock us off our feet. Many of the things we once hold confidence in lose their allure.

Usually discouragement is completely irrational. For example, you may do a project for school in which 100 kids evaluate you. If you get 99 high grades and 1 low grade it’s easy to focus on the one low grade and not the other 99 high grades. It’s the way we are wired. We tend to see the negative far more easily than we see the positive.

Discouragement happens when we lose confidence in ourselves and our enthusiasm disappears. It can be the result of personal attacks, failures on our part or the death of someone important to us. Whatever the reason, discouragement leaves us disheartened.

Imagine what it must have been like for Joshua. Joshua was a Bible Character and assistant to Moses as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. As they neared the Promised Land, Moses died and left Joshua in charge.

Imagine how Joshua felt. Moses was the only leader he had ever known. Moses was the one that stood by him, trained him, and encouraged him. Moses made all the difficult decisions. Joshua followed his lead. Now it was his time to lead nearly 1 million people into a land known to be inhabited by fierce and powerful enemies. In the midst of this overwhelming challenge, Joshua receives assurance from God that God would be with him every step of the way.

Discouragement comes when we focus on our own ability and see the solution to our circumstances as being dependent on our own power. When relationships fail we tend to be discouraged because we think we are the only ones at fault when, in fact, relationships can only prosper if all parties are working together.

When we fail because of sin in our lives discouragement sets in because we get the notion that being morally perfect is possible and that God is disappointed in our actions. The fact of the matter is we will never be morally perfect and God is never disappointed or surprised by our actions. He not only knows our weakness, he is ready and willing to forgive us and help us through our weakness and use those weaknesses to make us strong.

We can lose confidence in life situations, or ministry (as Pastor Chris did) or our jobs, or classwork because we’ve neglected to seek God’s help or place too many expectations on ourselves. Confidence is also robbed when we compare ourselves to others rather than reminding ourselves that we are created in God’s image as his masterpiece.

Are you discouraged today? Remember that no matter what you are going through, God knows where you are, how you got there and the best way out.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, right now I find myself in a situation I see no way out of. Please forgive me for not trusting you. Please empower me through your Holy Spirit to see the way you have for my escape. Help me to focus on you rather than my circumstances. In your name I pray, Amen.


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

Sometimes we get the idea that ‘Bible People’ were somehow a different species of animals. Not really human, not really susceptible to the same emotions, struggles and trials we have. They were from a different time with fewer struggles, they had a closer handle on life and faith…and God. Some of us even write them off as good characters from some novel. Not real, even though realistic.

Fact of the matter is, the stories of the Bible are stories of real people with real struggles surprisingly like our own. Sure, they didn’t have internet or electricity. They didn’t have to worry about a global economy. High gas prices wouldn’t be developed for centuries. But don’t let that keep you from the realization that these are real people with real problems.

They still struggled with relationship issues like divorce and dysfunctional families. There were still time issues and disease to contend with. Politics were just as dangerous as they are today, maybe even more so for some. There was worry and racism and gossip and religious intolerance.

So how did they manage? How did people like the Apostle Paul deal with the issues in his life of several near death experiences, enduring the verbal attacks of people who he sought to love and extend the Grace of God too? Where did he turn when tempted to lash out or lust attacked, or disappointment set in? What encouraged him when he was afraid of the future?

Paul tells us that he learned the secret. There were times in his ministry when people around him supported him emotionally, physically and spiritually. During those times he enjoyed the comfort and contentment of having a warm place to sleep and a full stomach.

There were other times when the hunger was unbearable. The only thing that hurt worse were the accusations, the harassment and the lies that were told about him. There were times he felt completely alone and wondered if his work of ministry was worth the pain.

So what was this secret of Paul’s stability? He learned that in times of need or times of plenty it was his reliance on Christ that kept him strong. The human soul was never created to endure life struggles alone. By our very essence we need a helper to keep us strong during the tough times. Sometimes that strength comes from leaning on others, but there are times when the only solace we have is in Christ. He longs to comfort you, embrace you and lift you up.

Regardless of what you are struggling with; or what others have done to you in your past; or what worries you about the future, Jesus Christ came to strengthen your heart to endure. He didn’t come to remove the trials; he came to walk through them with you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the power you have to support me. During the trying times may I remember that it is you, only you that I need to make my way through life. Amen.

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