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For those of us in the business of serving people we know all to well the meaning of the word ‘burnout’. Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”

Burnout is the culprit in the demise of many relationships from families to ministry to any other service related activity. It is , I believe, the reason many pastor families break up; the suicide rate is so high in the armed forces, and emergency personnel (police, fire, etc). Could it be a major contributing factor to substance abuse as well.


The Apostle Paul describes two types of people in Galatians six, those empowered by human emotions and those empowered by the Holy Spirit of the Living God. Living by the power of the Holy Spirit gives us two things (maybe more). One is the strength to do good when we are unappreciated and expectations exceed our ability to meet them. Secondly we live in the constant reminder that God will eventually reward us for our efforts.


Feel overwhelmed and under appreciated? Remember it’s not your strength or power, but God working through you. He’s never held us responsible for results, he only promises to reward our efforts in his time. Press on mighty warrior!


The important things in life are those things that last longer than you do! Whether it be athletics, science or social involvement, the things that really count live for generations to come.

How ironic then that most of us spend our time and energy on today. There is always one more toy to buy; one more book to write; one more deal to close; one more obstacle to conquer.

Regardless of the motive behind the action, reality is, few of us will accomplish something great on a global scale. Even if we do, as we’ve seen in recent days, there is nothing that guarantees our accomplishments of today won’t be snuffed out in later generations because something we did or said will be scrutinized and attacked.

Jesus said to strive for the eternal. Paul states it plainly. Everything you do will be tested by fire. Work then for things that will last.

The noble deeds of many are long forgotten, but the things Jesus did have been remembered for centuries. Why? Because his efforts were not to bring a better name to himself, they were to better the lives of mankind. 100 years from now people won’t remember how many toys you had or how many likes you had on some social media post. What they may remember, however, is how you made life better for others.

Build for tomorrow, not for today. Don’t be content to stay where you are. Move forward!


Then I will shout all day, “Praise the LORD God! He did what was right.” Psalm 35:28 (CEV)

Three seconds left in the second overtime of the state championship game. The moment all of us athletes (armchair and otherwise) dream of. He’d probably pretended to make this shot a million times in his backyard. The only difference then was that this time three seconds was really three seconds and there would be no second chance.

The ball was thrown in; he dribbled to half court and let it fly. As it flew through mid-air the final buzzer sounded. By the time the ball slipped softly through the net, the game was officially over. The only difference and it was a major difference, was that when the ball left his hand his team was down by two points. Now, they were the champions.

The crowd roared. On the one side? A ‘roar’ of anguish and disbelief. On the other side? A roar of amazement and celebration.

There are so many analogies we can make to the athletic field and life. Even the Apostle Paul makes athletically based references to this journey, this race we call life. All run, few are rewarded the champions crown. All serious athletes train diligently. None enter the contest hoping to come in second. Yet only one is left standing.

Before the ball hit that gymnasium floor that day, the ‘hero’s teammates surrounded him. His name is still in the record books these 20 years later, but relatively few remember the joy of those fleeting moments. And only those of us who experienced it really understand the euphoria.

When David reflected back his life he saw the ruins of broken relationships, the scars of battles lost and the oasis’ of encouragement from his followers. But one thing reigned supreme. His God had not failed him. Ever.

David had failed. Miserably sometimes. Others had turned their backs on him and thrown him under the bus. But God had always remained faithful. It was God who walked him through the dark, lion infested fields as he tended sheep. It was God who directed the stone that day as he faced the giant. It was God who protected him from the angry outbursts of a jealous King Saul.

Our journey on earth if full of various types of battles. Some we win, some we lose. But when those battles are done there is cause for rejoicing. Even in the darkest part of the night when the storms rage we can praise Him because we know he will bring us through and we’ll be stronger because of it.

Make every day a day of praise. Celebrate the fact that good or bad, even if you don’t see the good right now, your Heavenly Father always does right.

PRAYER: Father, it’s easy to celebrate the victories of our lives, but remind us to praise you in the midst of the darkness as well because we know you always do right. Amen.


“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

What gives you victory in life? At the end of the day, when you look over the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory, what do you attribute to the gold medal hanging around your neck?

For some people it might be that you finally made it a whole day without a cigarette (or a whole week or month or some other milestone). Others may mark it as a victory because even though the words were on the ‘tip of the tongue’ no foul language made it through the lips. Maybe you were actually at the computer and resisted the temptation to visit ‘the sites’. Perhaps you bask in the glory of the fact that you didn’t kill your teenager with words.

We all like victory over some of the bad habits we struggle with daily. Unfortunately those victories can be few and far between. Rather than putting notches in our belts for ‘making it through another day’ we sigh and wonder if we’ll ever be able to break that habit. Seems like the more we fail the harder it is to pick ourselves up, brush the dust from our clothes and move on. “Why try, really? You just know you are going to fail again. And, where is God in all this.”

You look to heaven, maybe even shake your fist and say (sometimes even audibly), “Where were you. I thought you were going to help me? I thought you loved me. I thought you’d never leave me. I thought…”

It might seem strange to you. It might be hard to understand, but God uses the struggles in our lives to make us stronger. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us fail any more than we do. Yet he knows, in all his wisdom, that today’s failures make us stronger for tomorrow’s crisis. It might be that God refuses to remove the habit we struggle with so we will rely on him more and us less.

The warrior overcomes his enemy be rendering him helpless. The athlete overcomes his enemy be defeating him in the arena. The Christ-follower overcomes the struggles in life by reliance on God and believing that someday victory will come, even if it comes through death.

Rather than focus on the battle, focus on the one who has already defeated the enemy. Rather than dwell on your failures, remember that Jesus knew the day he went to the cross that you would fail once again. He went anyway.

Today, just for today, dwell on the fact that God lives within you. He’s walking where you walk. Seeing what you see. Feeling the temptation and frustration and anger you feel. Hearing the critical words hurled at you like a nuclear missile. Be patient with others and more importantly yourself.

Do your best today as you go to battle. Try to rely on God’s Holy Spirit who dwells within you. The one who wants to guide your thoughts and your actions in every situation. Do what you know is right. And no matter what happens, remember that whatever you do, God will do what he does best—extend his grace in your life.

PRAYER: Father God, there are days when I feel like such a failure. If I were to look up failure in the dictionary I’m sure I’d see my picture right there. I try so hard and fail. I blame others. I blame myself. I even blame you from time to time. Help me, during the frustrating times of life when I’m tempted to go against what I know is right,  to remember you are right here with me to help me. Thank you for the grace you extend when I fail. Help me to remember the failures of today build the strength for tomorrow. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:23 (NLT)

Most of us don’t remember weak people, we remember the strong, the victorious. We admire the athlete who overcomes all odds to cross the finish line first. We applaud the one who endures pain to finish the race or the one with determination that continues to try even when defeat is obvious.

The person who tries to overcome their weakness is sometimes looked on with favor as well. We look kindly on them as they scrape and clutch for every inch as they pull themselves up the rochy muddy walls of the hole they’ve fallen into. Tenacity and determination are qualities we can admire in a person if at least some progress is being made.

But we seldom remember the weak. If we do remember the weak person we remember them with disdain. We question how they got there. Why they don’t seek help? On a rare occasion we may give them some lame words of encouragement, but often those words are condescending and really meant to make us feel better for having tried.

The Psalmist reminds us that our Father remembers us while we are still in our weakness. He doesn’t ask how we got there or why we haven’t tried harder. How we got ourselves into the situations we are in isn’t as important to God as how we will find victory and he knows the only way we can find that victory is through his son Jesus.

Weakness can show itself in many ways. For some of us our weakness shows up in addictions to anger, drugs, sex. For others our weakness shows up on doubt, worry, and fear. Weakness can also show itself in how we feel about ourselves in our relationships. We put ourselves in ‘love’ relationships that are really demeaning because we don’t feel we are worthy of being treated well.

Weakness is seen as a flaw to us humans, but God sees weakness and an opportunity to make us strong. Anyone who has ever worked with wood knows that the strongest part of the wood is the knot. The knots in wood come from injuries that the tree has ‘healed’ and from branches that need the support of the trunk to grow.

Weaknesses in our lives are like knots in wood. They are places and situations in our lives that we can use to make ourselves stronger through faith in Christ and the grace he freely offers us. Don’t let your weaknesses leave you defeated. There is one who wants to take your weaknesses and use them to make you stronger, and that person is Jesus Christ. Jesus never looks down on us for being weak. Jesus welcomes the opportunity to uplift us in the midst of our weakness.

PRAYER: Father God, it seems like everyday I fail myself, you or others in some way. I say things I shouldn’t say. I do things that are hurtful or fail to do things to lift others up. I’m looked down upon and scoffed at for not being able to succeed. Some days I just give up because I don’t feel it’s worth trying anymore. Thank you for loving me in the midst of my failures. Thank you for wanting to help me overcome my weaknesses so I can be strong in you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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