Yesterday, Luke Smallbone, one half of Christian artist For King & Country, published this message on the band’s facebook:
“If you gave me a choice to redo the last few years of my life and eliminate my struggle with illness, I’d choose to walk through it all once again, because today I send this message to you as a man more full of joy and hope than ever before. Sickness has transformed my perspective on life, marriage, God and music.
The following video documents this story which, as you’ll see, is one of the most raw and personal songs I’ve ever been a part of. My hope is that through my journey and my struggle, you’ll be truly impacted and encouraged. Here the story behind “Without You (feat. Courtney).” Stand strong and carry on. – Luke”
Luke is a living testimony of the truth found in James 1:2:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
I think that’s one of those verses we kind of blow off. We read it and think something along the lines of, “oh, that’s not for me!” We think it’s for some sort of spiritual super star, not mere mortals like us.
But the truth is, we become spiritual ninjas only in, under and through the fire.
It’s never easy while the storms are raging, but if we find the strength to trust that God is refining us, that he’s got us, our faith will be rewarded on the other side.
Think Joseph, Mary and Martha, and David. Just a few examples from God’s Word of people who went through terrible, almost unimaginable trials only to find great joy in the morning.
“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off of the goal.”
– Henry Ford
A goal worth pursuing is, by definition, not going to be without some challenges.
If you’re climbing a mountain, it maybe the rocks or felled trees in your path, the thin air, the fatigue or steep inclines that try to steal your attention or shake your resolve. Don’t lose sight of the view from the top that’s waiting past the pain..
If it’s a restored relationship you’re fighting for, it may be the disappointments, the let downs, the hurt, the frustration, the waiting or the pain in the eyes of people you love who are also hurting. Don’t give up. Remember the promises of Luke 15, and how God never gave up on you, no matter what.
If it’s a health issue, remember, the road back is sometimes long and difficult, but recovery is worth it.
Whatever challenges you’re working through, remember that anything worth attaining takes effort, and that the hard work is worth it. Each road bump, thunder bolt and obstacle you get past brings you one step closer to your fulfilling your mission.
In some cases, you may not even be aware of the goal, or where it’s all leading. You may be facing a series of difficult circumstances that seem completely random and pointless.
But consider King David. As a young shepherd boy, he fought off a lion and a bear. I’m guessing that rescuing a sheep from the jaws of a lion or bear was never the driving purpose in his life, but it’s how he made it through those challenges that determined the extent to which God would use him.
For many, one such feat would be the crowning achievement of their lives. Today, they’d write a book, sell the movie rights, do a TedTalk and hit the speaking circuit.
But God had so much more in store for David.
Only the confidence gained and lessons learned in those situations could provide David with the real world courage to fight Goliath, while seasoned soldiers shook in their armor on the sidelines.
Our scariest days, and the giants we’re facing right now, are preparation for what God is ultimately working toward in and through us.
So even if you don’t know exactly where he’s taking you, trust that He’s got a plan and that, in the end, it will all make sense.
And, never take your eye off of the prize!
Pastor Sean taught from James 1 this weekend and there was a ton a great stuff in this message.
One thing that stood out to me was the warning about divided loyalties–the question of what we have chosen to live for.
And that’s the thing, it is a choice.
“…Be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”
– James 1:6b-8
Choose wisely, my friend…
I heard a great message by Kyle Idleman this week in which he made a great observation on pride.
You may be familiar with the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.
In verse 11, the Pharisee prays, “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!”
We read that and think, ‘Man, can you believe that guy? I would never pray like that!’
Jesus often flips the script and takes what we think we know, and what we’ve been taught, and turns it on it’s head. His teaching in this passage is so much deeper than what it seems.
See, he’s not talking about the Pharisee. He’s talking about US.
Think about it. What we’re saying or thinking when we read that is, “Thank God, I’m not like that guy.”
Kyle points out that, “pride lets us put other people under a microscope and let ourselves off the hook. Pride blinds is to our own weaknesses and magnifies where others are weak.”
A couple of years ago, my friend Jason and I were talking about some of life’s challenges when he said something profound.
“Life is hard. God is good.”
He told me that was the quote that he was living by and something he tried to remember no matter how dark a particular day might be.
I honestly can’t count the number of times those words have echoed in my mind in the years since we had that conversation. Maybe every single day. And each time, they not only ring true, but ring through the noise and help hit the reset button in my mind.
Those words seem to be a pretty good summation of Lamentations 3, which I encourage you to read.
I also encourage you to remember that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be right now, God is faithful!
They said, ‘I got you’
But what they did was they forgot you
And yeah, it’s hard to press on but ya got to.
Clenched fists will never fix a hurting heart
It takes forgiveness
Truth is, the bitterness will tear you apart
So love instead of this…
(Love instead of this)
There will be trials in this world you’re living proof
But take heart I’ve overcome, that’s the truth
Don’t forget what I told ya
It is done–finished
In the end ya gotta know we gonna win this
The right now is what’s hard I know
So your heart ya gotta guard and let go
All the anger and the hurt and the pride
And hold on to the one who never left your side
They said they’d never let you down but they dropped you
If you forgot to forgive then it’s got you
Clenched fists will never fix a broken heart
This stress and bitterness’ll tear you apart
(Ya gettin this?)
Jesus never resists a desperate heart
Believe and you’ll receive a new start
(He’ll pick up the pieces of a broken heart)
(A new start)
(A new start)
(A new start)
If you see more then what’s in front of you
You might see more of heavens view.
It’s kind of ironic that I’d choose this song for our SOTD.
Today doesn’t feel beautiful.
I mean, the sun is shining where I am at the moment; but if I’m being honest, life is anything but blue skies and butterflies right now.
We’re facing scary things. Giants, mountains, aches, worries and other challenges. It feels impossible sometimes. It seems like there’s just no way.
But as much as that FEELS like reality, the truth is, we’re loved by the God who created this universe. A world of minute details and intricate systems.
As we stand here, we are spinning around in space at 1000 miles per hour, in perfect safety, thanks to something we call gravity. A scientific principle so reliable and dependable we call it a “law.”
I was talking with my daughter about this last week. If we could see this ride, we’d never get on. Stepping onto the earth, would feel dangerous and unsafe, like jumping onto an escalator moving 500 times faster than we’re used to. (Avg escalator speed is less than two miles per hour.)
In truth, we’re not going to fly off the planet. But if we could see it spinning as we stepped on, our minds wouldn’t believe it. We’d have a hard time trusting in the gravitational force that we couldn’t see, explain, or really even comprehend.
I think that’s part of why Jesus tells us to fix our eyes, not on our circumstances, or the swirling seas, but on Him.
I’m filing this one under #NoteToSelf.
It seems we go through seasons where we need constant reminders of God’s promise that he will never leave us or forsake us. Sometimes it seems so hopeless and we feel so alone.
But no matter how dark these days and nights may be, God’s Word says that today is beautiful.
“This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24 (NLT)
As we hurdle through the time, space and challenges of each day, there’s another truth we can absolutely rely on: God’s got this.
He is able.
He is on our side.
Today IS beautiful.
Today Is Beautiful
Album: “Crystal Clear”