Guest Post by James Watkins: Why? Why? Why?

A three-year-old’s favorite word is why.

“Johnny, hold my hand while we cross the street.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to run out in front of a car.”

“Why?”

“Because if a car hits you, you’ll be hurt or killed.”

“Why?”

“Because if it’s a contest between a thirty-five-pound boy and an SUV, the three-ton vehicle is going to win every time.”

“Why?”

“Because the laws of physics state that mass plus momentum equals—Just take my hand, Johnnie!”

And on it goes—right into adulthood!

Why didn’t God heal my friend?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do I still have acne at 60?

But like the popular game show, Jeopardy, the answers are often in the form of a question.

 

What can I know?

I can know the truth of Romans 8:28:

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 (NIV).

For instance, our group health insurance had very few maternity benefits, but had great “major medical” coverage. At the birth of our first child, my wife had complications and spent five days in Intensive Care. But, because the birth was now “major medical,” every penny of our daughter’s birth was covered. Sitting in ICU for five days waiting to know if my wife was going live or die was not good, but it did work for good.

However, it took me nearly thirty years to realize that Romans 8:28’s “purpose” is revealed in the following—and usually ignored—verse:

. . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. . . .

I may never know the answer to why, but I can know what is the purpose to which God is working all for our good. To be like Jesus! If you look for it, you’ll find throughout the New Testament. For instance:

 

And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18b, author’s emphasis).

 

How can I grow?

Jesus promises . . .

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:1, 4-5 NLT).

Our spiritual lives depend on this intimate connection with Christ. His life flows into and through us causing us to become organically one with his character. That connection is strengthened through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers. And suffering!

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT, author’s emphasis).

When I think back to my “successful” years—award-winning author and editor, world-traveling conference speaker, denominational executive, and co-pastor of a growing church—I certainly didn’t resemble the Christ I was trying to follow. It has only been during my “failure” years—years between book contracts, estranged relationships, being voted out of a church, and having to borrow money to make a living writing and speaking—that I have come to derive my self-identity and self-worth from simply being a loved child of God.

Who can I show?

Finally, 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 has become one of my favorite passages in encouraging me while I’m going through terrible times:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer (NLT).

I now believe that God is more than willing to answer those questions and how they relate to living a life conformed to the image of His Son. Even why I still suffer from acne!

From God, I Don’t Understand, Copyright 2017, 2019 James N. Watkins. Available at Amazon.

Jim is an award-winning author of over 20 books and 2,000 articles, who has spoken across the United States and overseas. He has served as an editor and editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, an editor with the American Bible Society, taught writing at Taylor University for 15 years, and has guest-lectured at Liberty, Regent and other universities. He is currently writing and speaking full-time as well as consulting in book development. His most important roles, however, are being a child of God, husband, dad and “papaw.”

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

“Depend” Acrostic: 2019 Theme Word Refresher

Last year I wrote an acrostic as a refresher and enjoyed the exercise so much I decided to do the same again this year for my 2019 theme word—depend. I should have done this at the half-way point, but we’re two-thirds through the year now. Better late than never is a motto that will surely prove true for this tardy effort of mine today, though, don’t you think?

Below you will find some thoughts (in acrostic form) that came to mind as I contemplated the various aspects of depending. I also hope the above photo from my summer trip to Colorado will give you a visual of depending on God and of using laser-focus to keep your eyes on him.

Depend

Dare to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Empty yourself of pride and admit that you need God as well as others.

Place all your concerns into the hands of God and enjoy his peace.

Endure whatever trials of life come your way as you count on God to see you through.

Name the characteristics of God and give thanks that he is able and trustworthy.

Dig deep in your faith in God and resist the impulse to take matters into your own hands.

I hope this depend acrostic blesses you and offers help for a current situation you’re facing. I encourage you to try your hand at an acrostic as well—whether with your word for the year or for another word you need some further insight or encouragement regarding. May God bless all our efforts to grow in our walk with him!

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” Lamentations 3:25 NLT

*What aspect of depending on God is most challenging for you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Trust In Him: A Poem to Encourage You

Poetry, like music, can minister to weary or hurting hearts and it’s a real privilege to be able to write a poem that ministers to someone going through a heartbreaking or agonizing time. I’m always thankful to be able to offer a bit of comfort in this way.

I wrote the first variation of the poem below for some friends many years ago. It flowed from my own experience of a dark and difficult time. I pray that it will encourage and strengthen someone in a special way today and remind all of us that we can always “Trust in Him.”

Trust In Him

When times of crisis come your way
You know you can trust in him,
When the burden is more
Than you can bear,
Continue to trust in him.
When you don’t understand
All that is happening to you,
You know he does—
Trust in him.
When you feel like the joy
Has gone out of your life,
He still wants you to trust in him.
And when you finally feel
Like God has forgotten you,
He’ll show you he hasn’t—
Trust in him.
Then one day
When you look back on this time,
You’ll be glad you trusted in him.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4 NIV

*When have you looked back and been glad that you trusted in God?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*I hope this slightly revised post from March 2011 blessed you today!

*My photo

Guest Blogger Debra Butterfield: Are You Fully Convinced?

What does it mean to be fully convinced—of anything?

It means to be absolutely certain, have no doubts, that something will be accomplished.

Are you fully convinced the sun will set tonight? I’d say so. You probably didn’t even give it a thought, otherwise, you’d be in a panic.

Stop and think about what being certain of something does for you.

You have no doubts. You have confidence in its occurrence. You have peace.

Are you fully convinced you’ll overcome any tough situation that might come your way?

Your certainty may have vanished before you finished reading that sentence.

When I landed in a hospital bed for six days back in December 2017, I came face to face with my anemic faith in God. I lacked any kind of certainty—beyond my salvation—in God’s Word. It was time for that to end!

I am a soldier. I had a soldier mindset before I joined the Marine Corps, and my time in the service fine-tuned that mindset. Now I am a soldier in the Lord’s army. Often when God teaches me something new, He does it through military analogies.

When Marines go into battle, they know they are not fighting alone. Every Marine in their unit is fighting alongside them. Additionally, they know they have the fire power of US tanks, warships, missiles, fighter jets, and bombers to back them up.

And when they fight, they fight intent on winning.

In Jesus’ day, Roman soldiers were told to come home a winner or don’t come home at all! They went into battle determined and convinced they would win.

We can enter any situation being fully convinced we’ll win!

“How?” you ask.

By knowing what the Bible has to say. But we can’t read a Scripture just once and be fully convinced. We must know that we know that we know. That’s what being convinced is.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV, emphasis added)

To be fully convinced we must know what God’s Word says and spend time renewing our mind in that truth.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NKJV). The New Living Translation puts it this way, “but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

We are the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:27)

God’s power dwells in us. (Eph. 3:19-20)

Is there any power greater than God?

No!

Can God lie?

No!

Has He made promises?

Yes! And in Him all His promises are yes and amen (1 Cor. 1:20). If He failed to keep His promises, He would be a liar and would be breaking His covenant with Jesus.

We are not alone in our battles. God is always with us. And we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

Meditate on God’s Word so you can become fully convinced.

“I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me” (Psalm 16:8 NLT).

*What do you need to be fully convinced of today?

Debra Butterfield’s newest book is Unshakable Faith: Living Strong in the Kingdom of God, a Bible study designed to help readers leave their doubts behind and live a bold, confident life for God. She writes a blog for writers at DebraLButterfield.com, and is the editorial director of CrossRiver Media Group, LLC, a publishing house. You may also find Debra on Facebook and Twitter.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Courage

My monthly blog series featuring sentence prayers that invite God’s power continues today with a focus on courage.

I don’t know about you, but rarely a day goes by that I don’t need courage in one way or another. Whether facing a dreaded task, dealing with a difficult person or situation, starting something new, or facing the fear of an unknown future, I need a power and strength beyond my own to move forward. I need the Lord. And I bet you would say the same.

May the following sentence prayers help express your heart as you call on God’s power for living a life of courage. Be blessed and encouraged, my friends!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Courage

  1. Lord, help me not to fear what the future may hold but to trust you to walk with me through every age, stage, and situation. (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 6:34; Philippians 4:6-7; Acts 2:25)
  2. Lord, give me courage to follow your leading and do the work you’ve called me to do. (1 Chronicles 28:20; John 4:34; Colossians 4:17; 2 Timothy 4:5)
  3. Father, grant me courage and perseverance to press on in the face of setbacks and hardships. (2 Chronicles 15:7; Proverbs 24:16; Luke 13: 31-33; Galatians 6:9; Philippians 3:13-14; Hebrews 12:1-3)
  4. Father, give me courage and boldness to live as a light for you and to share my faith with others. (Matthew 5:14-16; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:8)
  5. Lord, empower and embolden me to speak the truth in love and to take a stand for you and the teachings from your Word even when it’s unpopular. (Daniel 3:9-30; Acts 4:1-20; Ephesians 4:15, 25)
  6. Father, give me courage to admit when I have sinned against you or wronged others as well as the courage to ask for forgiveness. (Psalm 25:11; 51:1-12; Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 15:11-22; 1 John 1:9)
  7. Father, grant me strength and courage to fight temptation and to stand against the attacks and schemes of Satan. (1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:10-11; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

Friends, may God shine through us and be glorified in this world as we seek to lead lives of courage!

“‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’” Joshua 1:9 NIV

*What task, trial, or situation do you need to face with courage today?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by prodigy130, Creative Commons License