When The Sun Sets

Have you ever watched the sunset? 

I’m not talking about a time where you just happened to see the sun go down. I’m not talking about a time where you were driving somewhere and happened to look out the window and say, “oh that’s cool.”

No. I’m talking about a time where you intentionally chose to pause for a few minutes and do nothing but simply look to the horizon. It’s a powerful and moving experience to stop, slow down, and reflect on the day. The added bonus to this reflection time is, usually, you are treated to an incredible show. 

God, in His immense creativity, has created wonderful shows of beauty for us to enjoy. Sunsets are one of those spectacular treats that we are blessed to indulge in. 

Each sunset that I watch rush my mind back to Psalm 19:1. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” 

How neat is that? Creation itself, boldly and gloriously proclaims the spender of our creator God! He is unmatched in all that He does and all that He is. 

I think, for me, one of the reasons why I enjoy watching the sun sink below the horizon is because it is a consistent reminder of the natural rhythms of life. No matter how busy the day is, nor how pressing the issues are, the sun always will go down. The day will always end. With the ending of each day comes the promise of a new day. The sun is just a few hours away from peaking out from the East. 

And this constant reminder is good for me because it reminds me that I am not in control. I cannot make the sun standstill. No matter how hard I work, no matter how hard I try, no matter how important I think I am…the sun will always set. I cannot stop that process. It is out of my control. And so, the only thing I can do is rest.

Rest is a biblical concept introduced by God Himself in Genesis chapter 2. We need to rest. We need to take a pause and reflect on the goodness that God has shown us that specific day. We need to watch the sunset.

It is right as the sun finally disappears that I usually am overwhelmed with a sense of great expectation for when the sun will once again rise bright in the sky.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have great expectation for when Jesus will, once again, return to gather all of those who are His. The Son will come again!

So, while we wait, let us be sure to be busy telling others about Jesus and His love. And after the day is gone, when the sun is setting, let us reflect on His goodness and find true rest. 

When You Can’t…God Can

I oftentimes will reread my past blog posts. I enjoy reading them, not because I am narcissistic, or at least I hope I am not. No, I enjoy reading them because I have treated my blog as somewhat of a digital public journal. I can remember what I was going through at the time of writing and it has been incredible to see how God has worked in and through my everyday life.

Recently, I revisited a post from January of 2018. Two years later, I can say that this post has certainly remained relevant today. So, instead of writing something brand new, I have chosen to just simply post that old entry for today. I hope you enjoy and realize that truth and wisdom from God’s Word will never grow old.

“When You Just Can’t Even”

From January 2018

Okay, I know the title of this sounds like something a teenage girl would text to a friend after finding out that there is homework due the next day, but hang with me for a moment.

From all that I have been able to deduce, the phrase “can’t even” can be equated to saying, “I’m emotionally dumbfounded.” In fact, according to the internet, the phrase is used when a person has so many emotional responses to a situation that they just can’t even comprehend what is going on.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of many different situations where I have been left emotionally dumbfounded. Life is full of circumstances that are hard and confusing and, if we allow them to, they weigh on us so much until we can’t even stand it anymore. Often times we allow our anxieties and stresses to rule over us.

So, what do we do when we just simply can’t even?

We need to trust that when we can’t, God can.

Jesus literally gives us the answer here in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Additionally, 1 Peter 5:7, reminds us that we ought to be, “casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

Why should we go to Him when we are burdened? Because He can give us rest.

Why should we cast our cares and anxieties on Him? Because He cares for us.

Why should we lay our burdens down? Because He can carry them with ease.

Another thing that we need to realize and remember is that emotions can be tricky things. Emotions are good things that help us connect to events and to one another. I feel as though I can’t overstate this, emotions are not bad, it is ok for you to feel how you feel. However, with that being said, we need to understand that emotions can be very misleading. So, when we are in the midst of a highly emotionally charged situation it is good to take a step back and refocus on the truth that we know. Emotions can change from day to day or even hour to hour, but the truth always remains.

God is true, and His Word is truth. Next time you feel like you just can’t even, take a moment to step back and run to the Bible for help, support, and direction. I use the word “run” because I want to convey the urgency in which we should be going to read our Bibles. 1 Peter tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. All the answers and wisdom we need can be found in His love letter to us. His Word is literally a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105)

In addition to running to God’s Word, we should remember that we can talk to God faster than we can text a friend or update our status. Prayer is so much more than a list of rote phrases that you repeat for different occasions. Neither is prayer a performance where you try to wow others by your “talking to God skills.” No, prayer is much deeper and much simpler than that. Prayer is communication with God. That statement is so very simple and yet incredibly complex. The God of the universe who holds galaxies in His hands and breathes life into being- is the same God who cares enough about you to listen to your smallest and silliest requests. To Him, your request and burdens matter because you matter.

I thank God for Philippians 4:6-7 for summing everything up so perfectly. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We are promised that when we take our burdens to God, the peace of God (which by the way, surpasses any and all of our understanding) will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That is incredible! When we are emotionally dumbfounded, when we are at the end of our rope, when we just can’t even, God can and will give us peace.

So, next time that you feel overwhelmed just remember; when you can’t even move forward, find the answer, deal, cope, reason, feel, or understand…

God can.

Find your rest in Him.

Proper Vision

I must have eaten a lot of carrots as a kid because I have always had good eyesight. My 20/20 vision has always been something I’ve been proud of. Many of the people I know have glasses or use contact lenses. Not me. I have never needed them. The only glasses I use are the sun-kind. That bright ball in the sky is quite harsh on my baby blues so I try my best to protect them.

But with that said, as I am writing this, I am wearing glasses.

Let me explain.

Recently I purchased a pair of “blue light” glasses. The claim of these glasses if that they will cut down on the harmful blue light that screens give off. I spend a tremendous amount of time looking at my computer or phone screens and I was finding myself getting a ton of headaches as a result. So now, I wear them when I am looking at a computer screen for an extended period of time. It has only been a few days, so it’s still to be determined if they will actually be a help.

So, as I fiddle with new glasses on my face, I have been finding myself thinking more and more about vision. And boy, do we need to see clearly at this time.

I can’t help but think of the irony that just a few months ago many pastors, including myself, were turning phrases such as, “2020 is the year of clear vision for our church.” Little did we expect that we would be hit with something none of us could see coming.

But we still need vision. We still need to keep looking forward. We still need to pray that God would give us clear eyes.

Because we need His vision moving forward as we move to figure out how and when to reopen our churches, how to celebrate birthday parties, how to do weddings and funerals, and how to connect and love our neighbors well.

Just as I am trying to use these new glasses in order to take away the harmful “blue light” we need to pray and ask God to help us see things through His lenses. When we allow God to take away the things that might causes us harm (our pride, presuppositions, political bent, fear, etc.) that is when we can see clearly and then act with discernment.

As we walk into these next few weeks and months let’s consider the following;

  • Is what I am about to post on social media honoring to God?
  • Is what I am about to post on social media going to help or harm the cause of sharing the Gospel?
  • Do my words and actions reflect the heart of Christ?
  • Am I willing to extend grace to people who view things differently than me?
  • Am I willing to admit if I am wrong?
  • Will I help where needed, or will I just point and blame?
  • Will I complain about my circumstances, or will I allow God to use me in spite of them.

The road up ahead is anything but clear.

We need to pray for God to guide us, to give us wisdom, and to see things the way He wants us to see them.

Somebody Is Watching

Do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you?

It’s because they are. There is someone in your life that is watching you and evaluating how you act and react to situations. They are learning how you live your life.

That is incredibly exciting, and terribly frightening.

As a dad I am highly aware of the huge responsibility that I have. Not only to provide for my son and keep him healthy, but even more so, to raise him to, one day, become a good man.

Right now, he imitates me when I stick my tongue out. But in a few years will he imitate me when I get angry? Right now, he tries to replicate my funny noises. But when he gets older will he replicate my pride?

He will spend his life watching me, but I don’t want him to watch me. I don’t want him to turn out like me. I want him to be better than me. I want him to be like Jesus.

You don’t have to be a parent to have influence over someone else’s life. No matter how young or old you are, my guess is that right now you could name at least one person who looks up to you. And there are probably others that you don’t even know about. We all have someone watching us.

So, let’s be sure to give them something worth their time.

Matthew 5:16 says, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

But how do we let our light shine? How do we make sure that our light isn’t dim?

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

You see, it is the Spirit of God who molds us and transforms us. He is the one who changes us to be more like Jesus. He is the one that helps ensure our life is worthy. Unfortunately, far too many Christians have grown accustomed to quenching the Spirit and His work in their lives. Far too many of us have grown accustomed to trying to do things on our own power instead of leaning and relying on Him.

Ephesians 5 tells us that we need to be imitators of God. But that can only be done when we are connected to and trusting in the Holy Spirit to grow and transform us.

So, if someone is watching you, which they are, then be sure to be an imitator of God. Because if you are like Jesus, then the person watching you and trying to be like you will also begin to look like Jesus as well.

Paul even said that himself in his letter to the Corinthians, imitate me as I imitate Christ.

Someone is watching you.

So please, be careful how you act. Be wise in how you react. Love like Jesus loves. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Be humble and direct all the praise to God.

Because one day, someone else will be watching that person who watched you.