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Splinters won't go away on their own

In December, Catherine I went on a date to Board-n-Brush in downtown Denver where we created a some wooden signs for our home. We sanded, built, painted and stained our projects in just a couple of hours. It was a great date night. 

While sanding the boards, I got a splinter in the palm of my left hand. As of today (February 6th), it is still in my hand. I have tried on several occasions to play doctor and remove the splinter that is very deep in my palm. Every time I performed the surgical procedure, I would eventually stop digging when I got close to the splinter. It got so painful that I could not continue. I have actually touched the splinter a couple of time with my knife and tweezers, but the pain it shot pain through my hand that was so intense that I was not willing to continue. 

I am assuming that eventually, the splinter will fester up and get infected and I will have to go to a real Doctor. He will dig and get the splinter, he will see that it is causing me great pain, but he will also see the value of removing the foreign object so that my hand can heal.

I have learned that there are times that we experience emotional splinters. Whether it is due to a bad driver next to us on the road, an unrelenting boss, a horrible work environment, hurtful words with spouse, or whatever. We get these splinters in our heart that just wont go away. When we try to address them, we often times give up due to the pain it causes when we get close to the problem.

I want to encourage you today with this: time will help, but Jesus will heal. Time helps,  Jesus heals. Friends, we must remember that we have a Savior that knows pain, he knows rejection, he knows betrayal, he knows the sting of hurtful words. He is able to sympathize with your hurts.

It is good that we have friends to talk to and process these things that are stuck deep in our heart. But it is best to take them to Jesus and allow the master physician do what only he can do.

Do you have a splinter in your heart today? Are you hurting inside? Let me encourage you to take it to Jesus today. Don't put it off. He is waiting for you to come. He is able to handle your circumstance with care and compassion. He is gentle and able. He is strong and understanding.

The Great Physician is waiting today. Will you come to Jesus?

Bible Study:  Matthew 8:14-17

Can you think of other Scriptures that encourage us to take our hurts to the Lord?


When Life Throws you a Curve

Have you ever had something come along and totally knock you off your feet. Everything seemed to be going just as planned, and then all of the sudden... BAMMMM. How do you handle it when something happens that is totally unfair or unexpected and you are left on the side of the road wounded and hurting? You and I both know people that have been wounded by someone, that have experienced loss, been in an accident and are hurting, betrayed by a close friend, etc. I want to give a few words of encouragement today to the hurting and also to those that God wants to use to help the hurting person in their life. In Genesis 37 and following we find the story of Joseph. He was the favored son of Jacob and hated by his brothers. His brothers hated him to the point that they contemplated killing him, instead they sold him into slavery. (Thanks a lot!) Joseph ended up in the house of one of Pharaoh's officials named Potiphar. That made a bad situation better until Potiphar's wife falsely accused him of trying to sexually assault her. He was thrown in jail. (Thanks a lot!) While in jail, he was treated kindly by the jailer and made some friends. That made a worse situation better until his friends were released from jail, though they had promised to put a good word in for Joseph with their boss, the King of Egypt, they forgot. (Thanks a lot!) Over and over, Joseph seemed to get the raw end of the deal. But Scripture records something that we all need to remember. In Genesis 39, it says, "The Lord was with Joseph" four different times. Here is what I want you to hear today, even though circumstances might be horrible, and people may betray or hurt you, be encouraged that the Lord is with you. The Bible says that God will never leave nor forsake those who have placed their faith in Jesus. Your circumstances may not change. Joseph was accused wrongly and was imprisoned; but the Lord was with him. Joseph stayed in jail for a long time; but the Lord was with him. Joseph was forgotten by his friends; but the Lord was with him. Your hurt may remain, but be encouraged today that the Lord, who comforts, encourages, and strengthens us, will always be with you. Keep your eyes on Him and not on your circumstances. Today, I want you to trust in the Lord and bank on the fact that He will see you through what you are going through. Action point: Go to Psalm 23 and read it in light of your hurts, disappointments, and regrets. Meditate on your Shepherd's great love for you. LGLO, Joel

Grace: The God who Stoops

Hello Friends,

What a great discussion last night.  I am still so impacted by the idea that grace is something that happens to us.  I appreciated all of you comments last night as we started this journey of growth.

As a result of never making it to chapter 2, you encouraged me to start a blog discussion about the chapter during the week, so here we go.

I don't know about you, but I love the idea of God stooping down to me.  Who am I that he would stoop down for me? In Max Lucado's opening story in the chapter about the woman that was caught in the very act of adultery, he makes the statement on page 18, "No one would speak for her.  But someone would stoop for her."  One of the big things that I hope we went away with last night was the fact that "grace is everything Jesus!"

"Grace is something that happens to us, it has a drenching about it, there is a wildness about it, riptide, turn-you-upside-downess about it.  Grace comes after you."

In chapter 2, on page 19 Lucado makes a statement I would like for us to discuss today:

I wonder how "Grace is a God who stoops," applies to us today?  How does it impact your life that Grace is a God who stoops? What would you say?

There are many accusers out there and there is one who is the master.  Will you listen the one who stands up in front of everyone and screams his accusations or will you listen to the One who stoops?


Lavished Children

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God."  
1 John 3:1

Every time I come across this verse, I am attracted to the word "lavished." As I have studied the word, it implies being soaked by something.  Can you picture that? Being soaked by God's great love. Not a normal love, but a great love.  A love that is everlasting, a love that is unconditional, a love that is personal to you and personal to me.

I imagine that it is like standing in the shower being soaked by water. There is not a dry spot on me. It keeps on soaking and soaking.

Let me encourage you to meditate on God's great love for you every morning this week as you stand in the shower. I can't think of a better way to start the day than to remind myself of how much God loves me.

Remember these words?

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and Yellow Black and White
All are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves all the children of the world.

Blessings today.

Reckless Living

Today, I am reminded of the power of our Lord.  I am reading and meditating on the story of Balaam. (Numbers 22:5-24:25)  I am struck by how far the Lord will go to get our attention.  God used a loyal animal to get Balaam to finally see and hear God.  Once his eyes and ears are opened...

"The angel of the Lord asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me." (22:32)

I am forced to consider my own path this morning.  As I look at the path I am on, I don't see it as sinful, uncaring, world focused, harmful to others, etc.    But is it reckless? defines reckless as utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless.  The angel was warning Balaam that he was doing life before God in a way that was utterly unconcerned about the consequences of his actions.    And God opposed that!

As I think upon my "path," I wonder if I am unconcerned about the consequences of my path before God? Am I living before God without caution?  I don't think so, or at least I hope not.   I know that my perspective can be skewed.  My perception of my reality is easily tilted in my favor.  But, I am afraid that I am living way too safe at times.  It is part of my personality makeup to play it safe, and God is reminding me today that He opposes me choosing "safe" over "obedience."  There are times when my obedience will appear to others as being unconcerned about consequences.  They will potentially look at a decision and say, "Joel, don't you know what will happen if you do that?  Don't you realize the impact that is going to have on the church?  On your schedule?  On your family?  But there is one thing that I can be sure of: when I walk in obedience, God takes responsibility for the consequences.  I know without a shadow of doubt, that God will never leave me and never forsake me.  Jacob's life is a great example of this principle.  We may look at being sold into slavery, being thrown in jail for false allegations as being forsaken.  But God took all of his faithfulness and obedience and worked it out for His good and glory.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28)

Balaam was living in such a way that was unconcerned about the consequences of his actions before God, and God opposes that.  In my case, my inaction is reckless before God.  My decision to not do something that God wants me to do is behaving in a way that appears to be utterly unconcerned about the consequences.  God opposes that!

Whether God wants me to do something, or not do something: the key lesson for me today is to be obedient!  To do otherwise is to live recklessly before my Lord and He opposes that.

Lord, help me walk in obedience.  Please forgive me when I walk as though I am not concerned about the consequences of my obedience.  Thank you for not giving me what I deserve and also for giving me what I don't deserve.  Amen

What are you looking for?

Last week I started a series of messages looking at people who had an encounter with Jesus when they weren't looking for Jesus.  I have discovered a couple of things in common with these stories.  The first is that Jesus notices people that are hurting.  I know that we have all seen the footprints in the sand illustration, but I really think it is true.  So I wonder why so many people start entertaining thoughts that God has left them during their hardest days of life.  Friends, I just want to remind you that Jesus notices our hurts.

The next thing that I have discovered in these encounters is that Jesus has something for these individuals to do.  "Go wash..."  "Get up..."  "Go and tell..."  Friends, when we are touched by Jesus, we need to go and do something with a grateful heart and we need to go tell someone about our Jesus touch.

Tomorrow, I can't wait to teach on the widow who was on her way to bury her son.  She wasn't looking for Jesus and she may not have even known who Jesus was, but then all of the sudden... there he was walking up to her.  He knew her need and he met her need.

This has been a powerful word of encouragement in my own life this week.



Making Wise Choices - ANGER

One of my favorite SNL skits has Chris Farley eating at a fine dining restaurant.  It shows him drinking coffee and at the end of his meal he is let in on a secret.  He has been drinking Folder's Crystals coffee rather than high priced coffee.  He then goes on a rage and terrorizes the whole place.  He is finally subdued by employees that beat him over the head with frying pans.  Later, after he had been bandaged up, he was interviewed and asked how he felt.  His reply:  "ANGRY!"

Our anger can make us do stupid things, say stuff we don't want to say, and ruin the day of those around us.  Why is it that we usually take out our anger on those that are closest to us, those that we care the most about, those that care the most about us?  Anger.

Proverbs 14:29 says, "Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."

I want to encourage everyone this week to slow down.  Don't be in such a hurry to blast the guy in the car in front of you that simply changed lanes in front of you.  This past week, I mentioned that I had to make the conscious decision years ago to drive the speed limit.  I had to make up my mind to not get bent out of shape over the way others drive around me.  If I didn't make that choice, I knew I was going to be angry every time I got in the car and I was going to ruin everyone else's day that was in the car with me.

I wonder... What was it about the other guys driving that got me so angry?  All he did was change lanes.  We know that anger is a secondary emotion.  What was the primary emotion that led to anger?  Did he scare me when he changed lanes?  Did he violate my space?  Was I scared of him? NO!  What was it that led to me getting angry?

I want to throw out the challenge: SLOW DOWN. It just doesn't matter how that other guy is driving.   Ask yourself:  Why do I get so angry at other drivers?

Friends, let put 1st things 1st when we get angry.  Let's take it to the Lord.  Ask Him to take those thoughts captive.  Claim the verse that tells us to take all of our anxieties to him because he cares for us.  Will you believe that God can help you?  Will you?

James 1:19 says, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

SLOW DOWN and take it to God.  SLOW DOWN!