faith, Family

God Wants To Bless You – A LOT!


I want to share a story with you. It comes from a devotional book I’ve read several times called The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. This story resonated with me greatly. I hope you will find it meaningful as well.

Mr. Jones Goes To Heaven

What if you found out that God had in mind to send you 23 specific blessings today, but you got only one? What do you suppose the reason would be?

There’s a little fable about a Mr. Jones who dies and goes to heaven. Peter is waiting at the gates to give him a tour. Amid the splendor of golden streets, beautiful mansions, and choirs of angels that Peter shows him, Mr. Jones notices an odd-looking building. He thinks it looks like an enormous warehouse – it has no window and only one door. But when he asks to see inside, Peter hesitates. “You really don’t want to see what’s in there,” he tells the new arrival.

Why would there be any secrets in heaven? Jones wonders. What incredible surprise could be waiting for me in there? When the official tour is over he’s still wondering, so he asks again to see inside the structure.

Finally Peter relents. When the apostle opens the door, Mr. Jones almost knocks him over in his haste to enter. It turns out that the enormous building is filled with row after row of shelves, floor to ceiling, each stacked neatly with white boxes tied in red ribbons.

“These boxes all have names on them,” Mr. Jones muses aloud. Then turning to Peter he asks, “Do I have one?”

“Yes, you do.” Peter tries to guide Mr. Jones back outside. “Frankly,” Peter says, “if I were you…” But Mr. Jones is already dashing toward the “J” aisle to find his box.

Peter follows, shaking his head. He catches up with Mr. Jones just as he is slipping the red ribbon off his box and popping the lid. Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition, and he lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before.

Because there in Mr. Jones’s white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give to him while he was on earth…but Mr. Jones had never asked.

“Ask,” promised Jesus, “and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). “You do not have because you do not ask,” said James (James 4:2). Even though there is no limit to God’s goodness, if you didn’t ask Him for a blessing yesterday, you didn’t get all that you were supposed to have.

That’s the catch – if you don’t ask for His blessing, you forfeit those that come to you only when you ask. In the same way that a father is honored to have a child beg for his blessing, your Father is delighted to respond generously when His blessing is what you covet most.

Perhaps you think that your name is just another word for pain or trouble (like Jabez), or that the legacy you have been handed from your family circumstances is nothing but a liability. You just don’t feel like a candidate for blessing.

Or perhaps you’re one of those Christians who thinks that once you’re saved, God’s blessings sort of drizzle over your life at a predetermined rate, no matter what you do. No extra effort required.

Or perhaps you have slipped into a ledger-keeping mindset with God. In your blessings account you have a column for deposits and withdrawals. Has God been unusually kind to you lately? Then you think that you shouldn’t expect, much less ask for, Him to credit your account. You might even think He should ignore you for a while, or even debit your account by sending some trouble your way.

This kind of thinking is a sin and a trap! When Moses said to God on Mount Sinai, “Show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18), he was asking for a more intimate understanding of God. In response, God described Himself as “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (34:6).

Incredible! The very nature of God is to have goodness in so much abundance that it overflows into our unworthy lives. If you think about God in any other way than that, I’m asking you to change the way you think. Why not make it a lifelong commitment to ask God every day to bless you – and while He’s at it, bless you a lot?

God’s bounty is limited only by us, not by His resources, power, or willingness to give. We can be blessed if we simply refuse to let any obstacle, person, or opinion loom larger than God’s nature. And God’s nature is to bless.

If you read the Jabez story in this little devotional book, you will learn that God’s kindness is proof that it’s not who you are, or what your parents decided for you, or what you were “fated” to be that counts. What counts is knowing who you want to be and asking for it.

A couple personal notes:

This story does not at all imply that God will give you a Cadillac, a million dollars, a perfect spouse, or freedom from prison for being a serial killer or money launderer. To understand this concept of “asking & receiving” we need to understand something. Yes, we can get what we ask for, when we ask according to God’s will for us. Too often we pray like the people James is writing about in James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Our job is to be close to God, walking with him and obeying him and loving him and loving others well. What we find is that when we live like this, our requests change. Our desires and needs change miraculously to be more aligned with God’s will for us than our own selfish plans and schemes. Then we see answered prayers everywhere. God will knock the socks off those who are faithful to him. Does that make sense?

I’ve spent most of my life living in a ledger-keeping mindset with God. Trying to be a do-gooder, comparing myself to others, making ridiculous rules for myself that I could never keep, beating myself up when I fail, it’s all very exhausting. And wrong. I’m a work in progress, but I can tell you that the incredible freedom of recognizing how much God loves me has compelled me to change my mind. And I now see his blessing more than ever before.

One more thing. God is God and we are not. God can choose whom to bless and we may not ever understand it. That’s between each person and God. His blessing for you will likely not be the same for me. But this I know: God’s blessing for me is EXACTLY what I need, it is what is best for me (and ultimately better than what I could come up with), and it is meant to serve His purposes. I’m blessed to be his child and part of his glorious plans!

faith, Family

The Most Important Choice You’ll Ever Make

flow final

A theme I share often in Quadzilla is the idea of “choosing your hard.” Most people like to put off the hard work today and deal with it later. Procrastination. For physical health, that means we can expect life to be hard later. Everyone knows someone who is in really rough shape, a “victim” of “hard living.” We say, “It’s a shame they didn’t take better care of themselves.”

If we procrastinate about our health, our future self will likely have poor health, be overweight, stiff, over medicated, and spend way too much money and time on doctors and drugs, etc. The wise alternative is to do the hard work of taking care of ourselves today to maintain good health now AND later which reduces risk of the poor health and related pains and expenses that go with it. Follow me?

In the Bible we read about the same idea regarding our spiritual health.

Check this out from Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

The narrow, unnatural, unpopular, difficult path leads to life forever with God in Heaven. The wide, easy, natural, popular path many prefer to take today leads to death, destruction, and eternity in Hell separated from God. Everyone faces the choice of which path to take.

Will you choose the easy way today and ignore God, do whatever pleases you for this short life on earth, and spend all eternity suffering the consequence of that choice? Or will you take the narrow and unnatural path today, drawing on the power of Jesus to help you live a different way today (and a very healthy, fulfilling, peaceful, and joy filled way) so you can live in Paradise with God for all eternity where there is no pain, sorrow, or suffering?

I don’t know about you, but to me the choice seems obvious. Do the hard thing now, go against the flow for the short time we have to live this life here on earth and receive God’s blessing now and for all eternity. Don’t wait.

Now is the time to choose Jesus. No one can do it for you. Your good deeds and “I’m better than the next guy” comparison won’t cut it. You must acknowledge with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and the only one who can save you from your sins. This is the most important choice you will ever make.

Note: If you have questions about the choice I’ve described, I’d LOVE to talk with you about it personally. Just click HERE to start the conversation.

faith, Family

The Genius of Pain

Pain Concept.

Our bodies are incredible. Consider for a moment what your body does that you don’t even think about. Breathing, digestion, circulation, healing, etc. I don’t have to get all sciency to prove it. We are incredible machines. One part about our body that doesn’t seem awesome, however, is pain. No one likes pain.

Pain is a pain.

But pain serves an invaluable service. Pain tells us that something is wrong. We should pay attention.

There are lots of different kinds of pain. Obviously there is physical pain. There is also emotional/ mental pain. Pain in our mind or heart can lead to physical ailments. Think stress. Mental stress from work, strained relationships, finances, and life can do painful things to our body. Headaches, muscle tension/ soreness, digestive issues, skin irritations, and compromised immunity to name a few. These symptoms are cues to alert us that something is wrong and it needs to be addressed. This is the genius of pain.

I injured my shoulder many years ago in a mountain biking crash. Even though doctors said they couldn’t find anything really wrong with my shoulder, I had intense pain every time I tried to throw. Over the years I saw different doctors and chiropractors who could not identify what was wrong except that I should get more expensive tests and likely have surgery. Instead of pursuing surgery and relief to my pain and the limitations to my life because of the injury, I decided to put up with it. I didn’t really NEED to throw stuff, and besides, many people have far worse problems than a bum shoulder so I shouldn’t fuss over it.

I gave up. I chose to live with the pain and the limitations that came with it instead of dealing with the issue directly. We do this all the time whether we have a physical pain like my shoulder or an emotional/ mental pain of some kind. We assume, “It is what it is;” and suffer through life carrying our bags of pain and burden we were not meant to carry. The emotional burdens of stress, low-grade depression, pent up anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. keep us from reaching our full potential. It doesn’t have to be like that. I want to encourage you that there is a way to relieve your pain. You are not alone.

There is hope.

If you know me at all, you will not be surprised to hear me share that my hope (and the only real solution for pain) is in Jesus. Jesus is the antidote to pain. Whether you believe it or not, God is in control of everything. We are not. Yes, there is pain in this world and in our life. Some pain lasts our entire life and it really stinks. However, since I have entrusted my life to Jesus*, I know that all pain is temporary. My life on earth is just a blink compared to eternity. Knowing with full confidence that my future will be awesome – free from all pain forever, I can endure the pain and trouble of today. And I know that Jesus is always with me and for me to help me get through whatever I’m facing.

If I didn’t believe God is in control and that he has given me all these amazing blessings as gifts for today and all eternity then my pain would be exceedingly horrible. I can have no hope. Or my hope would be foolishly misplaced in something else that could never satisfy the pain.

So here is the bottom line: Pain leads us to Jesus. Pain drives us to find relief and hope for relief of pain and true hope is Jesus. This is the genius of pain. When hope is sought in anything other than Jesus, it will leave us disappointed. The wanting and searching for hope is where addiction comes in. Chasing relief in something we can do, or take, or think, eventually gets us into big trouble. The empty “solution” provides temporary relief at best, so more and more must be done to get more temporary relief and round and round we go. Addiction. Not just drug addiction though. Addiction could be to gambling, porn, high risk activities, hoarding, work, etc. Nothing will really satisfy except Jesus.

I don’t know the pain you live with, but I do know the Great Physician. If you don’t know Jesus, I would love to chat with you about how you can know Jesus today. If you do know Jesus, I encourage you to trust him with your pain. Surrender your pain to Jesus and let him help you. Jesus is near and he knows your pain. He is for you and he is with you always and forever. I had never really thought about pain in this way before. Pretty cool, huh? You’re welcome. Press on!

*Entrusting my life to Jesus means I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I acknowledged to Jesus in prayer that I am a dreadful sinner in need of salvation to bring me into right relationship with the only holy and perfect God to whom I will give account of my life when I die. Without salvation I am condemned to eternity separated from God. Thankfully “For God so loved the world, (you and me) that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him (Jesus) shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 Salvation is the best gift we could ever receive, but Jesus gives us so much more. You’ll have to receive him to experience it for yourself, but I can assure you that life is way better with Jesus!