Trust God to Lead You Out of Tough Circumstances

Trust God to Lead You Out of Tough Circumstances!

Some circumstances in your life – such as financial problems, marital difficulties or serious illness – might leave you feeling trapped. But no matter how hopeless your situation might seem, God can and will lead you out of it if you trust Him.

Remember that nothing is impossible for God. He even parted the waters of the Red Sea so the Israelites trapped between the sea and a crowd of hostile Egyptians could emerge victorious from tough circumstances.

Here are some principles to keep in mind when you feel trapped:

  • “Realize that God means for you to be where you are.” Either God led you into your current circumstances, or He allowed them to occur as the result of some choices you made. Remember that His goal is a good one – to build your faith. Also remember that He promises to always be right beside you, no matter what your circumstances.
  • “Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief.” When you’re overwhelmed, stop asking how you can get out of your situation. Instead, ask how God can be glorified in it. This will change your perspective so you can see the potential in the situation. Consider what you can do in the midst of your particular situation to bring glory to God, in ways such as thanking Him for ways He has answered your prayers in the past, and praising Him for His character. Understand that God’s plan for how He will deliver you from tough circumstances may be different from what you expect, but that He will do so in the best way.
  • “Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.” Be aware that you will often have to contend with evil spiritual forces who would like to see you trapped forever, but that you can always overcome them by God’s power. Focus on God rather than worrying about evil. Choose to obey God in even the smallest decisions in your life, striving to be honest and faithful, rather than giving into deceitful temptations that will ultimately make things worse, not better.
  • “Pray!” Pray frequently and specifically about your circumstances, and expect God to answer your prayers.
  • “Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.” Rather than wasting time and energy trying to solve a problem by yourself, be patient, and trust God to act in His timing. Know that He has a good reason for waiting whenever He chooses to do so.
  • “When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.” Know that God often guides moment by moment, giving you just enough information to take only the next step forward. Then He often waits to see whether you will take that step before revealing more of what He wants you to do. So show God that you take His guidance seriously by acting on what you already know He wants you to do.
  • “Envision God’s enveloping presence.” Take comfort in the fact that God can transform your past, present, and future. He uses your past failures to help you grow, loves you in the present, and guides you wisely into the future. Visualize God with you right now, and remind yourself that He was with you yesterday and He’ll be with you tomorrow.
  • “Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.” Know that God will choose the best way to deliver you from your current circumstances. Expect Him to act powerfully, working as He often does through ordinary people and events, or even through a supernatural miracle.
  • “View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.” Choose to believe that God will actually do what He has promised.  Ask God to use your current experiences to build a more mature faith in you, that will serve you well in the future.
  • “Don’t forget to praise Him.” Thank God for what He has already done for you, and demonstrate confidence that He will continue to act in love and wisdom.

Spring Clean Up in Amish Country

This past weekend I got outside for a run for the first time in many months. It was so nice to be outside in God’s creation running along a quiet country road.

I came across a group of Amish as I was running. An Amish man with about 10 children out picking up trash in the field and along the road. I’m sure they were part of the family that owns the farm, and clean up is a part of every Spring for them. They can’t use those fields if it’s full of trash.

It’s amazing to me how many people through bottles, cans and junk out their windows, and litter our neighborhoods, streets and roadways. I guess that’s part of living in this world,  if you’re a land owner part of what needs to happen is cleaning up your property, even if the mess was caused by someone else.

It’s like that in our spiritual and emotional lives as well. Sometimes people litter on us emotionally or spiritually. Maybe it’s saying something hurtful, or doing something abusive to us. Maybe it’s leading us away from our relationship with God, or getting distracted by other things. The reality is our lives are often quite messy, some of it we bring on ourselves, and some is thrown out the window by others, and it lands on us.

So how do we clean up and get rid of the litter? Well, let’s learn from this Amish family.

  1. Acknowledge that you have a mess to clean up – They saw the mess and decided to clean it up. This can be the hardest step because most of us want to bury the mess. The problem is, those buried things keep popping up in our lives. Sometimes it’s buried so deep we need some help uncovering it. Emotional and spiritual hurts that are buried can never heal properly unless they are picked up and thrown out. Pride is often the reason we don’t take this first step.
  2. Build a team – They knew it would go faster with more help. Life is hard, and it’s even harder when we do it alone. Find some people that care about you, and are willing to walk with you through whatever you need to clean up. This should be a small team and you need to be careful, because there are a lot of people that might mean well, but are not helpful. When adding to this team ask these questions. Does this person want what’s best for me? Does this person have a relationship with God that is growing? Will this person keep things confidential? Will this person lift me up or pull me down? Ask God to help you as you surround yourself with the right people.
  3. Get Started – They had to pick a day and just start cleaning.  At some point we have to start making some changes. We can get great counsel and have some great self-awareness, but if we never make any changes or try something new or different, nothing will change. Sometimes we need to just start picking up the trash and throwing it away. It’s in this process that a lot of the growth and healing will happen. It’s having that difficult conversation, asking for forgiveness, forgiving someone else, reading a book, seeing a counselor and doing the homework. If we just keep doing the same old thing, we just keep getting the same old result.
  4. Keep God in the center of it all – This is God’s creation, let’s keep it beautiful. Those first three steps are things we can do to start improving our lives, but this step is really the key to lasting life change. The spiritual side of our lives is the most important, and often the most neglected part of our lives. We try to fix all the junk and yet still feel empty and broken. When we plug into God He transforms, heals, buildings, shapes, restores and renews us. When we bring God into every part of our lives and fully surrender it all to Him it leads to freedom, fulfillment  and wholeness. When we trust God completely, He is faithful and brings the needed transformation in our lives. He is God and we are not.
  5. Once you’ve picked up the trash, choose to throw it away – Once they picked up all the trash it went to the dumpster.  We can actually get comfortable with our junk. Throwing something away can be hard, especially if we’ve been carrying it for years. That’s why having God involved helps so much. The more we trust God the less we rely the junk we’ve held onto, making it easier to pitch it in the trash and not pick it up again.
  6. Stick with it – I’m sure they have to do this once or twice a year. There will be more trash thrown at us, and we need to keep cleaning up every year. If our spiritual lives are thriving, most of the time there is less clean up to do. When we are healthy spiritually and emotionally we have better boundaries in our lives and are much more resilient when things go wrong or get hard.

It’s so helpful to remember that God is for us and He is in us. That combination is amazing, and it leads directly to less trash to pick up. So focus on God and build that level of trust and closeness to Him. Doing that will lead to breakthroughs in other areas of our lives.

If you are ready to start cleaning up, a good place to start is a growing, thriving local church. Find a place where you can connect with God, and other people. Step out of your comfort zone and take some risks to grow spiritually, that’s the best way to clean up the junk and change your life.

 

The L-factor in Leadership

It’s difficult to have influence or get much done if people don’t like you. You might be able to push people, or bully people into doing things, but if they want to do it, the quality and excellence levels go way up. People will do more for someone they like than someone they don’t like. They will do extra, go farther and stay longer.

As a leader, the more approachable and likeable you are makes a difference in your level of influence, and ability to move a vision forward.

Likeability is the ability to create positive attitudes in other people. It is bringing a sense of joy, happiness, relaxation or rejuvenation to the people around you.  It’s bringing relief from depression, anxiety or boredom. You gain more success if people like being around you. If you are all business, and all bottom line, it can drag the rest of the team down over time.

This does not mean you never disappoint people, or make tough decisions that might upset or hurt people. Leaders must make difficult decisions that can have negative impacts on people. However, if you have this quality you can ease some of the pain because people know your motives and intent is for the best, and that you genuinely care about them.

Elements of being Likeable and approachable:

  • Friendliness – Communicating welcome, expressing a generally positive feeling – I’m happy to see you, I enjoy your company, I want to hear what you have to say, you’re important.
    • Do you increase the stress level in people when you enter a room or decrease the stress level in the room?
    • Traits of friendly people:
      • Upbeat positive personality
      • Smiling
      • Really liking most people
      • General happiness
  • Relevance – You are relevant to someone when you connect to someone’s sweet spot, that area of their hearts and minds in which they are passionate or what they truly care about.
    • Can you help someone make progress or complete a task
    • Mutual interests
    • Sharing your life experience in connection with something they are going thru
    • Connecting with peoples wants and needs is they key
    • Genuine interest in what they care about
  • Empathy – the ability to perceive another person’s internal frame of reference with accuracy. Understanding another persons situation, feelings and motives
    • People feel validated and less alone when you empathize with them
    • Builds on relevance by going beyond interest in them to understanding them
    • This builds incredible trust with people
    • It also can lead to helping a person change
    • An empathetic leader makes people feel special, know they are valuable
  • Realness – someone who is genuine, true, and authentic – sincere
    • Honesty
    • Consistent in how you treat people at work at home in a restaurant
    • Being clear, frank in addressing issues – candor.

So start to work on your L factor to improve your leadership. Start with your family, then at your work. This can be hard for some people because of how they are wired and their personality, but you can improve.

Lead On!

What’s on Your Bucket List?

What’s on your bucket list? A lot of people have a list, either mentally or written down, of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. For most people it’s places to go see, like the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower. Or it’s an experience, like drinking coffee in a cafe in Venice, Italy or skydiving in Hawaii. Or, it might be meeting a famous person like Denzel Washington or LeBron James.

But let me ask you a question. What kind of person do you want to be, or be known for? How important will all those things on your bucket list be at your funeral? What are you doing that will have lasting impact after you are gone? What’s more important, going skydiving or mentoring a 16 year old boy? Talking to LeBron for 5 minutes or serving with Eight Days of Hope after a natural disaster?

Now there is nothing wrong with having a bucket list. We all need to dream about things we’d like to do, see or experience. I just think it’s important to have a second bucket list, for the kind of person you want to be, and the impact you want to have before you die.

Think about what relationships in your life are not where you want them to be. What if you put that relationship on your bucket list and started being intentional about improving it? What ministry, church or non-profit could you get involved with, that is making an important difference in the world around you? What if you put on your bucket list an amount of money you want to give away before you die? What are the character qualities you want to be known for, and to be talked about at your funeral? And finally, how many people do you want to share your faith with before you die?

Everyone can make a difference in the world by simply becoming a better version of you. When we focus more on how we can love and serve the people and world around us, we grow, stretch and are much happier and healthier.

So start working on a new kind of bucket list. Take some time to think about some of the questions I posed and develop a list that will have lasting impact on the people around you. Then go and do it!

 

Love and Serve

When a natural disaster hits, peoples lives can change in an instant. Hurricanes, tornado’s, floods and winter storms are all fairly common, and it can seem like it’s not that big of deal ,unless your in the middle of it.

I’m part of an incredible organization called Eight Days of Hope,  that helps in these times of disaster, and brings hope into people’s lives when they are feeling hopeless. When you look into the eyes of a person that just lost everything it breaks your heart. Many are still in shock and are overwhelmed with the thought of what do I do now?

Eight Days of Hope started after Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana. Since that first trip in 2005 they have done 16 major rebuilding events all over the country.

Eight Days of Hope has successfully restored or rebuilt 2,760 homes following natural disasters since 2005. Volunteers from all 50 states and ten countries have worked over 1,067,425 hours during the first fifteen rebuilding events alone. To date, Eight Days of Hope has completed over $44.8 million dollars of work – for free!

Eight Days of Hope comes in after much of the clean up has happened, and works with local churches, government agencies, and non-profits to help people in need. Many people don’t have insurance or enough insurance to rebuild, that is where 8DOH helps.

They also started an emergency response division that goes immediately after a disaster to clean up, and bring immediate hope to a community. This involves cutting up trees and removing debris and even gutting homes. The first trip was in Buffalo NY after a major snow storm. Volunteers went and shoveled snow and dug people out. The Rapid Response team has traveled to 19 different communities and has blessed 1,870 families within three days of the disaster! .

Thousands of people have been impacted by 8DOH. The thing that is most important to know about 8DOH is that they focus on bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the people they serve. There is an emphasis on praying with homeowners and taking the time to listen to their stories and show them love and respect. Many people have come to a relationship with Christ or renewed their commitment to Christ as a result of people loving and serving them.

The people that volunteer with 8DOH are from all over the country and from all kinds of churches. That is the beauty of 8DOH, it’s Christians from all over the country coming together to be the church to people that desperately need some hope.

That is why Eight Days of Hope exists, to show the love of Jesus Christ to people that are feeling hopeless and helpless. To love and to Serve.

You can be a part of 8DOH by volunteering to go on a trip or by making a donation to support the ministry or one of the full-time missionaries.

Watch the year-end summary video to learn more about what 8DOH does.