There are several things that bring me joy. Truly bring me a feeling of happiness. My grandkids are four of those. Whenever we FaceTime them or we get to see them in person, it just brings pure joy to me. Hard to explain to somebody who doesn’t have grandkids. But Joy is a great word for it. And I think we are all looking for joy in our lives.
I also think we are all striving to find peace. True peace in our lives. And there are different ways for us to achieve that. One way for me is to be in the deer blind. Early in the morning. Or late in the evening. Even mid day. There is such a calm out there. That’s my time of healing. That’s my time of aloneness with God. That’s a time of peace for me. That’s where I find it. I was questioned a few years ago by one of our board members. What is it that every man is searching for? He says the answer is peace. And there’s a lot of truth in that answer.
Something even more powerful about joy and peace. Something that I read about both of them. Joy and peace are both signs of the kingdom of God. They lead to hope. I want to quote something that I read here: “Joy and peace are evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives! These words do not just describe a cheerful, contented emotional state. They point to something profound at the very heart of our Christian life and witness.” As much as my grandchildren bring me joy, and being in the blind brings me peace, nothing brings me more of either one than knowing I have eternity waiting for me with Jesus in heaven. Nothing! I don’t wanna take anything away from what my grandchildren and the blind do for me. But my true hope comes from the joy and peace that is provided through our Lord and Savior. Or should I say, our true hope. Because you can have it too. God will provide it. Because he loves us. Always has. Always will.
Last night we were having a conversation about investments and insurance. The different options we have for putting our money into. Made me think about what we are fully invested in. And I don’t mean money. I’m not talking about our retirement accounts. I’m talking about our hearts. I’m talking about what we are fully invested in spiritually. What is it that our hearts are focused on? Where do we find ourselves serving with all of our hearts?
I can tell you this: God is fully invested in his plan. 100%. No doubt. He is fully invested. He is going to see it through. He will never waver. He can’t be stopped. He won’t be stopped. Whether we are in tune with that or not, he is going to see it through. He has up to this point. He is doing so now. And he will continue to do so. It’s up to us to join in. That’s one of the most amazing things about being part of the creation. The choice. We get to choose. He gave us the ability to choose. And that’s awesome. Unfortunately, sometimes we choose the wrong choices. We make the wrong decisions. But FORTUNATELY, there is still time. We can choose correctly.
Seek God and he will show you what to do. Have a heart to do his will and he will show you what to do. Ask him to show you his will and he will show you what to do. We are promised that. And God keeps his promises. Fully invest your heart into his plan and he will show you what to do. Isn’t that awesome! We have a God who is so accessible to us that he will show us what to do. We have a God who loves us this much. But it takes us stepping out and fully believing in the plan. We must break our hearts and put all we have into serving him. And he will use us wherever we are to fulfill his plan. If we serve him, there’s no doubt we are where we’re supposed to be. And he can use our situations to serve him and to serve others.
Sometimes we go through periods of suffering. Sometimes we suffer physically. Other times emotionally. Even spiritually. I am sure there are other ways as well. But these are a few. Suffering is never good if it is just suffering. But we all go through it at some point. Then why does God allow suffering? After all, he’s a loving God. Why the suffering then? This is a tough topic. Believers, philosophers, theologians, have all struggled with this. There is no clear-cut answer.
God can use our suffering in a number of different ways. He can use it for good. Ultimately, he can use it to show others his glory. As difficult as it may be, we must have faith and be strong through times of suffering. We can pray for it to be removed. We can pray for it to go away. But instead, I would like to suggest that we pray to have the strength to get through it. I think we should pray for him to be there with us. To show us the way. Then we can show others how he did so. That is for his glory. Not ours.
We must know and realize we are going to go through times where we are shaken. There are gonna be times when we are tempted to throw them in the towel. To give up. There are going to be times where we want to know why. But we should also know and realize that God‘s hands are in everything. We must understand that suffering is part of his plan to defeat evil. And the Bible tells us that God works for the good of those who love him. We have been called according to his purpose. And let’s not forget the ultimate example of suffering. The crucifixion. We should learn from what took place on the cross 2000 years ago. Jesus went through tremendous suffering. All in order to show us the glory of God. That is magnificent and humbling! He did so because he loves us. Always has. Always will.
I have always been interested in history. I think that came from being raised in a military family. My parents made sure that when my father was home we would travel around Germany seeing the castles. My interest continued into college where I graduated and began teaching history in the school system. One thing I know is that history repeats itself. Maybe not exactly. But “maybe” exactly. Human behavior also repeats itself.
One way we realize that human behavior repeats itself is by simply looking at how we question whether we’re right with God or not. Thousands of years ago large crowds were following Jesus. They were questioning the same thing. The book of John shows us this. The crowds wanted to know how to be right with God. Sound familiar? Are you asking the same thing now? Maybe as you read this, you are wondering. But how do we know if we are right with God? That’s a great question.
You could quite possibly be strong in your faith. Be right with God. But lack peace. Or maybe you have both. You know you are right with God and you have peace as well. What an awesome place to be. Or maybe you don’t have either. You know you need God in your heart. You know you are not right with God. And you know you don’t have any peace at all. But the good news is you can have both. The key to having both is simple. It is clear. The key to having both is believing in Jesus. Do that, and you will be right with God. You will know it. And that can give you the peace that we all long for. So maybe today is the day for you to start believing in Jesus. Maybe today is the day for you to ask him into your heart. Maybe today is the day for you to start feeling that peace that only comes from him. It starts with us. He’s waiting. Because he loves you. Always has. Always will.
I remember years ago when I had to fill in on the 4 x 400 relay team. One of our premier runners had torn his hamstring a weak earlier. Our coach was brilliant. He put me at the third leg knowing that I would be the weakest. Ha. When I received the baton, we were every bit of 30 yards ahead of the second place team. I took off in a full sprint. My adrenaline was pumping. 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards, I was doing great. Then I came off the last turn. I hit the wall! Big-time! It was like it just popped up out of the track.
Have you ever done that in life? Ever have times when seems like everything you’re doing is going well? Things are smooth. And then all of a sudden: The wall. Ever feel like you’re doing a good job serving God? You are doing your best for God. Seems like you’re in a good place doing good things and then all the sudden it stops. All the sudden you can’t move forward. All of a sudden nothing you do is working. All of the sudden you feel lost. You begin to question why it is happening. You begin to question God. You need a sign. An answer. You need God to show you the way.
In the Bible we learn about Moses at a time like this. He was being chased by an army. All the way to the Red Sea. Now he was up against the wall. And he knew he needed help. We read in Exodus 33:18: “Please, show me Your glory.” Moses knew he needed to turn to God in that moment and ask for his help. He was desperate. Life will get that way for us too. We will get desperate. But never fear. God will hear your prayers. He will hear your cries. I’m not suggesting that he will part the Red Sea like he did for Moses. What I am saying is that he will provide you with what you need. At that moment. Whatever it is. He will help you overcome. Maybe today you should ask for wisdom and strength. Maybe today you should ask for guidance. Maybe today you need to ask God into your heart. Maybe today! Know this, he is there for you. Always has been. Always will be.
For those of you wondering: I came in about 20 yards behind the first place team when I gave the baton to the fourth leg. He was amazing. I even said I’m sorry as I gave it to him. He took off, passed the lead runner, and we won the relay. Or should I say…he won it.
Yesterday, Barbara and I drove down to Southeast Oklahoma to see some friends. It was 8 hours of driving for about 2 1/2 hours of fellowship. But it was well worth it. They own some property that we host events on for Charlie 22 Outdoors. Heritage River Camp. We are actually sending a team there in March for an event. Hopefully around 20 guests.
There were a couple of important reasons why we needed to go. First, to see our friends. Lee and Carol are part of our family. And the story how we met is simply a God story. There’s no doubt about it. Secondly, there was a team of volunteers there looking over a old cabin they’re going to renovate into an accessible bunkhouse. This will allow us to host more veterans there. As well as those with disabilities. Including myself.
Made me think about a verse in Matthew. Jesus was talking to the disciples. Told them to give up their own ways to follow him. That is the only way that we can be true servants. By putting him first. That’s exactly what Lee and Carol, and the volunteers, have done. And will continue doing. They have put their lives secondary to follow the command. So graciously opening up their property to serve others. Volunteers graciously giving up their time to serve others. And that is what Jesus did if you think about it. Gave up his life in heaven. Gave up paradise to come be with us. To live a life serving others and showing us how to serve others. Because he loves us. Always has. Always will.
Last night I had a phone conversation with one of our supporters. I also say he’s my friend. Even though we have built our relationship on the phone and through email. I can tell that we are like-minded. Both trying to figure out the best way to serve our Lord and Savior.
As we were talking, we were discussing Paul. How in Philippians, he talked about people knew that he was “there” for Christ. That people knew that he was doing all he could to serve God. We agreed that we hope that others think the same of us. That when people see us, or hear us, that they know that we’re serving God.
I often say if you give me long enough, I can mess things up pretty well. I also believe that if I get out of God’s way, he will do amazing things. If I just let him take control, lives will change. Including mine. In Proverbs, we see that God will lead the way. We can make all the plans we want. We can set up all the opportunities that we want. We can make all the preparations that we want. But only God can provide the steps to make it happen. And it will be for our good. And for the good of those around us. For the good of those that we come in contact with. And then, there will be no doubt that people will see that we are here for Christ.
August 26, 2023
The match will be a USPSA Level 1 match. 6 stages. Will require approximately 150 rounds. Start times 8:00 am and 1:00 pm. Check-in can start at 7:00 am. Lunch provided mid-day. Entry fee $30/division.
USPSA divisions are:
Pistol Caliber Carbine
Shooters can shoot one division in the morning and a second in the afternoon.
72 Shooters in each flight. Match administered by 2Alpha Practical Shooters.
To register: Operation 2Alpha USPSA (You will need to create free account first.)
Springfield Benchrest Rifle Club
646 Kastendieck Rd.
Billings, MO 65610
• For veterans/military personnel to assist with motor/transmission removal.
• Time of fellowship, camaraderie, purpose, etc.
• Located on West 20th Street, Joplin
• ALL TOOLS ARE PROVIDED
• The ministry is covering ALL expenses associated.
First night: Friday, February 10, 5-10 PM
• If you are interested RSVP by Wednesday, February 8.
Send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will reply with details.
Sometimes it is so easy for us to get caught up in the worldly things. So easy for us to put our priorities in the wrong places. So easy for us to lose sight of what truly is important. We catch ourselves longing for what we don’t have. We look around and we start comparing ourselves to those who have more. Wishing we did too. The world tells us success is built upon possessions. Success is built upon material value. Success is built upon financial wealth.
Now…I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things. I have said that before. Many times. God will bless us in different ways. For some it is financially. Because he knows that they can handle that type of success. He knows that they have worked to achieve it. And he knows that they understand what it took to get there. And they stayed humble along the way. Others of us are blessed in other ways. Maybe it’s a job where we get to serve dozens of people. Maybe it’s with a larger family. Where we get to raise children to be servants of God. Or maybe it’s a life lived alone. Because he knows it will grow our faith in him and show others who he is. There are so many examples. Too many to mention here.
Point I’m trying to make here is that whatever we are blessed with, we should stay humble. Whatever situation we are put in, we should stay humble. Whatever the world says about us, our status, we should stay humble. The Bible tells us to do so. If we do so, and we keep our eyes on the Lord, he will show us a glory we will never be able to comprehend. He will honor us. And he will bless us. Continually. I believe that is because that will be part of our witness. Our testimony. We will be able to show others who he is. We can show them what he has done. And what he will do. We will be able to witness to others in ways we never dreamed. Humility is a blessing. It truly is. Serving God is a blessing. It truly is. Be humble, and watch your life be blessed. Because God loves you. Always has. Always will.