So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God….so let us do our best to enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:9-10 – NLT)

From a Biblical perspective the word “resting” is one of the most important words for a follower of Jesus to understand. Because of His death, burial and resurrection, we can now enter into a rest that wasn’t possible before the cross.

Matter of fact, resting  is more than a word, it is a principle.  Grace allows us to enter a rest that enables us to say “it is ok” when things seem to be falling apart all around us.  It is an inner rest that God gives us when we are in the midst of circumstances that we can’t change or fix.

Resting is an act of trust and absolute dependence upon the Lord.  It is trusting that He will lead and guide you during and through a crisis.  It is the act of placing you “in mid-air.”  You have nothing to stand on or hold onto but HIM. 

I have heard many well meaning believers say to someone who was going through the fire, “ God won’t put on you more than you are able to bear.”  That’s not true, God will sometimes allow things to come our way that is more than we can bear.  It may even throw us into a state of despair. We may even feel that God has forsaken us and thrown us under the bus. But we must remember that all of God’s brush strokes on the canvas of our life are necessary to complete us,  His masterpiece.

In 1 Corinthians Paul addresses how to deal with various temptations, specifically the temptation not to trust God. The implication is that when troubles/temptations come our way,  instead of letting them defeat us and send us into despair,  we are to look for the way of escape.  Notice what Paul says in the passage.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” ( 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

This scripture is not saying that you will be delivered from the problem, but it teaches us that in the problem “he will show you a way out so you can endure.”  The emphasis is not necessarily deliverance from the problem all together, but a way to endure while in the midst of the problem. 

Bottom Line

Resting is about trusting God in the midst of your turmoil.  Do I ever pray for out-right deliverance?  Yes, absolutely.  But I realize that sometimes God’s greater purpose is not a miraculous deliverance but a test to see if I will practice “resting” and trust Him.

Resting is about three things:

1. Can I trust God to see me through this crisis if my circumstances don’t change? Am I willing to take my hands off the situation and wait on God to give me His solution? (The Lord really does have the best solution.) 

 2. Is Christ enough?  At salvation we have been given the life of Christ. We also have  been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16 ).  So learn to wait on God, trusting that He can give us “His mind” about the matter and it will be the perfect solution. Maybe the greater miracle is not solving the sitution, but the work He does in your heart.

3. Can I lay down my dreams, desires and plans at Jesus’ feet and learn to rest?  This is the real issue here.  Will I trust Him enough to surrender every aspect of my life to His control and guidance?

God’s intended purpose in teaching us to rest is getting us to the point of surrender and abandonment.  Are we willing to allow the Lord to do anything with us, to us, for us and through us?

I am reminded of an old gospel song written by a singer, song writer Lanny Wolfe over 40 years ago entitled “Whatever It Takes”.  I have included a YouTube link below to the Lanny Wolfe Trio singing the song. I know it’s an old style of music, not the comtemporay style of today,  but listen closely to the words of the song. If you are passionate about your walk with the Lord, I believe this song will bless you.  I like to think that the words of this song is the prayer for my life.


Surprised by Brokenness

“He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

Years ago I went through some of the darkest days of my life. What I thought was going to be the greatest and happiest time turned into days and weeks of deep hurt and disappointment.

During the middle of this situation I was an emotional wreck. Matter of fact, my wife was concerned that I might be having a nervous breakdown. Like Jacob in the scripture, I was wrestling with God. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. I had done nothing wrong to merit such treatment.

As I continued my argument with God, as to why He was letting this happen, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a sincere prayer that I had prayed months earlier. Leading up to this moment, I had been reading a book where the author asked the question “What means more to you than Christ?”. The Holy Spirit captured my attention with this question. It so occupied my thoughts that a few weeks later I preached a sermon around that question. After the sermon I gave an invitation for the congregation to exam their lives. Nearly the whole church responded to the invitation with tears and sincerity.

In the closing prayer I prayed a prayer similar to this; “Dear Lord, show me the things in my life that mean more to me than Christ, and then help me to have the strength and courage to surrender those things so that you may become my life in that area.”

As the Lord brought that prayer to my mind, I continued my argument with God, “Lord what means more to me than Jesus? I had surrendered my life to preach and teach the gospel. I was a faithful witness for Christ and I was doing the best I could serving as a pastor. What could possibly mean more to me than you?”

Then the Holy Spirit pressed my heart with this question? “Why are you such a basket case about your situation?” I responded, “Because I could lose my ministry.” Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. my ministry was my life, and I was about to lose the thing that was life to me.

Surprised by Brokenness

Beginning that day I had a new appreciation for crisis and trouble. I now knew what it meant to come to the end of myself and be broken. I discovered a new fullness of Christ’s life. Jesus desired to be more than my Savior, He wanted to be my very life. In my zeal for ministry I had let the work of the ministry replace Jesus as my life.

In hindsight, even if someone whom I highly respected had pointed out that ministry was my life, I would have denied it. It took being surprised by brokenness to bring me to the end of myself so that the Holy Spirit could reveal how I had slowly, but intentionally, allowed ministry to replace the Lordship of Christ, and the fullness of the Spirit.

Brokenness is your best friend
What I had considered my biggest hurt, had become my greatest blessing. God loved me so much that He allowed me to be deeply hurt. He knew what it would take to bring me to the end of myself. I was in a situation that I couldn’t fix or make better. God opened my eyes to the real need, and that was total surrender and abandonment.

Are you in a struggle with something you can’t change, fix or pray your way out of? Then take note, it could be the Lord attempting to get control of something you are not willing to surrender. The more you worry, the deeper your despair and the greater your self-induced unhappiness.

Can a person make Jesus their life without experiencing brokenness? Yes, it’s possible, but not very probable. Most of the time God uses our circumstances to bring us to the end of ourselves, so that we have no place to go but Him. Have you heard anyone say, “Well things have gotten so bad, all I have left to do is pray.” That’s pretty sad isn’t it? Prayer should be the first thing we do. If you are like me, I haven’t said those words but the way I lived reflected that attitude.

The flesh is a very strong component of our life. It fights every attempt of surrender and utter abandonment. So God in His mercy, and His long-suffering, allows us to get to the point where we can’t change or fix our situation. The only place for us to turn is to Him. We must lay down our rights and our expectations and give God permission to take control. Then acknowledge that whatever He allows to come our way as OK. That’s the work of brokenness, and it’s your best friend.

I often tell people that brokenness is both an event and a process. It becomes an event the first time your realize that brokenness has come to your life in order for Christ to take control. Secondly, brokenness becomes a process when your realize that you will have “little brokennesses” all along the way in your walk with God. These events will be reminders that there is an area of your life where God is not in control. This becomes your cue to identify and surrender, in order that Christ might become life in that area of your life.

Bottom Line
At the turn of the last century, missionary statesman Watchman Nee wrote a book entitled
The Normal Christian Life. In the book he teaches the principle that brokenness and surrender is the normal Christian life. In other words, brokenness and surrender are to be a normal part of our walk with God.

God’s intention for us is to live in complete surrender of every aspect of our life. Do you have the courage to ask the Lord if there is something in your life that you haven’t been willing to give up control to Him?

Remember this principle: God seldom takes anything away from us that He does not replace with something better. That’s because when you are in God’s will you are in God’s hand.

Overcoming Fear

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love and good judgment. 2 Timothy 1:7”

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can cause us to make drastic decisions or cause us to shrink into indecision. It can cause us to lose sleep, lose reason, lose our appetite and lose our hope. Like any powerful emotion, fear can control us to the point of becoming something we do not want to become.

Are you gripped by fear of what will happen in the near future? Are you at a major crossroad in your life that causes you to doubt yourself and your ability to make good decisions? As fear begins to slowly encompass you, remember that this fear is not from God, it’s from the enemy. The enemy desires for you to abandon your hope and cease trusting God.

The reality of trusting God only comes into play when you are faced with overwhelming circumstances and fear. Then you have to choose and take control. Will you acknowledge that this fear is from the enemy and cast it aside and trust God? Or will you let the enemy get into your head and render you useless?

Paul told Timothy (paraphrased) “The fear that you are feeling right now is not from God, it is from the devil. Instead of believing the lies that fear produces, believe God. He has given you a spirit of power, love and a sound mind”. That means that Christ has given you the power to overcome the fear, the love of God to assure you that He is in control, and a sound mind to make good decisions, even in the midst of doubt.

The key to overcoming doubt and fear is to have more confidence in the Lord’s ability to lead you than you have in the devil’s ability to deceive you. Trust the inner peace and cast aside the doubt and fear.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20)

Living In the Moment

One of my greatest weaknesses is a lack of patience. I believe the older you get the more patient you should become. I think I may be a slow learner in that area.

Recently I was in a checkout lane at the local Wal-Mart. Not many lanes were open but there were lots of people standing in line to be checked out. I immediately thought, “20 checkout lanes and only 3 lanes open? I can’t believe it, why don’t they hire enough employees? Don’t they know I don’t have all day long? This is ridiculous.”

Reflecting back on that moment, I was not only ashamed of my outburst of anger and lack of patience, but I was also reminded of how often I neglect living in the moment. If God is fully aware of our every moment, and all our circumstances, then wouldn’t it be to our benefit to take every moment and redeem it?

Maybe the Lord intended for me to be stuck in that long checkout line so that I might turn to my fellow shopper behind me and make a new friend. Maybe that person needed encouragement or maybe I needed to hear their story so that I could say to them, “How can I pray for you?”

Some of the most effective and God appointed moments have been an unplanned encounter with someone while running a shopping errand. I am learning that every moment cannot be measured by a clock or a yardstick. A time and space mentality will cause me to miss the moment. Besides, from eternity’s standpoint all we really have is the moment.

If the “moment” we are living in is uncomfortable or unpleasant it’s natural to look forward to a time when things will be better. But when we fixate on the future and focus on getting out of this season of life, we miss the nuggets of wisdom and grace that God may have for us. This is wisdom and grace that comes only as we learn to live in the moment.

Living in the moment helps us to realize that life is short and you can’t recapture the past and you can’t live in the future. All we have is the present. Psalm 39:4-5 reads, “My life is no longer than my hand! My whole life is but a moment to you.” (Living Bible)

When we fail to capture the moment we have a tendency to live without self-discipline or self-control. Our whole life is controlled by “when things get better”, rather than “God teach me what you want me to see, to know and to feel in this moment of life.” We often miss the value of suffering and what God desires to teach us in the context of the moment.

Whether your moment in life is smooth sailing or your moment of life is unpleasant and uncomfortable, I want to challenge you to live in the moment. Look for God in every moment of your life and expect to find nuggets of His grace.

I want to encourage you to consider a statement that I have recently taken to heart:
“Recognize the value of each moment. Each moment is precious because it will never come again. Wherever you find yourself, look for God in each moment and in each situation.”

Learning to Rest

Like many virtues in life, the most valuable and beneficial things come at a cost. We mess up, make mistakes and through the school of hard knocks we finally learn the lessons we wished we had learned years earlier.

One such lesson in the Christian life is the lesson of learning to rest.  God intends that the first step of every new believer is to learn to rest.  I know, that is opposite of what most of us experienced.  Most of us jumped in with both feet, with eyes wide open attempting to “do all we can do for God”.  It didn’t take long for us to experience burnout.  When we couple a little weariness with church problems we come to the point where we say, “There has got to be more to the Christian life?”  At this point, the result is sometimes church burnout.

Why does this burnout stage occur? Some would say that we took on too much too quickly.  Others would say there were spiritual maturity issues; we needed to grow more before we attempted to do church work.  Those may have been contributing factors, but I think the main problem is we neglected the resting stage.

It is instinctive to human nature to begin the process of “doing” as soon as we have a meaningful spiritual experience such as salvation.  We have heard the good news of the gospel, it has impacted our life, now we must get busy and tell someone else.  We are correct that we should tell others, that is a mandate for all committed followers of Christ. However, the first step in the Christian walk is not doing but rather learning to rest.

The principles of Scripture teach that our degree of success in ministry is directly connected to how much we learn to rest. The Apostle Paul so eloquently portrays that truth in Ephesians:

“…He(God) raised Him(Jesus) from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in heavenly places far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion…(1:17-21)

“And raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus… (2:6-9)

Notice that God first made Jesus to sit, then his made us to sit with Him. As Watchmen Nee writes in his book Sit, Walk and Stand, “Christianity does not begin with walking but with sitting.”
Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father because his work was finished. He paid the debt for our sin once and for all.  No more sacrifices, no more burnt incenses, no more entering in the Holy of Holies once a year to apply the blood to atone for sin.  Man’s futile attempt to keep the law was now fulfilled in Jesus.

We first see the principle of resting in creation.  God made everything in six days. At the end of the sixth day He made man.  On the seventh day God rested. That means that man’s first full day on earth was a day of rest.

Why is our first duty as a believer to learn to rest? Why is resting so important to God? Listed below are five key reasons that resting is important to every committed follower of Jesus.

  1. Resting is an indication that we understand that our salvation is a work of God’s grace and not our self-effort. Our good deeds, learning the catechism or being baptized will not get us to heaven. Salvation is only received as a free gift, we can’t earn it. It is only through accepting by faith Jesus’ finished work on the cross, in our behalf, can we receive this free gift of salvation.
  2. Resting is the acknowledgment of our absolute dependence upon Him.  Apart from the living Christ within us, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Our ability and power to be fruitful is directly related to being connected to the true vine, which is Christ.
  3. In resting we realize that our power to bear spiritual fruit comes from a higher source. Our talent and ability is practically useless unless it has been empowered by the Holy Spirit. The scripture teaches us that we are to be filled with the Spirit of God for effective and fruitful ministry. (Ephesians 5:18)
  4. Resting is a time to realize that the same Holy Spirit that drew us to Christ has formed a union with us. He is our companion 24/7. He leads and guides us toward truth, He goes before us and prepares our daily path, and He opens the hearts and minds of those we come in contact with. He prepares their heart for what He will lead us to say to them.
  5. Resting prepares our heart to have fellowship with the God of the universe. It is in those quiet moments of resting that we hear His tender voice and we receive those gems of wisdom and sense His overwhelming love.

As you can see, resting is an important step in preparing us for effective ministry. If we “hit the ground running” we can get so busy doing good that we may miss God. Make no mistake about it, the Lord wants us to be proactive in the kingdom, but not before we learn to rest. You can be more productive in five minutes with the power of God on your life, because you have spent time resting, than you can in five years of working in your own strength.

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter into that rest…”(Hebrews 4)

For more on this subject of resting, I suggest you purchase a copy of the little booklet by Watchman Nee entitled, “Sit, Walk and Stand.” You can find copy at most Christian bookstores or you can order from Amazon. It is available in Kindle format.



I once spoke in a church on the subject of Self-Condemnation.  Before I spoke, I asked the congregation if anyone had experienced self-condemnation the preceding week. Most all raised their hand and admitted that they were in some way involved in self-condemnation. One lady even acknowledged that she was struggling with condemnation that very day.
Do you struggle with condemnation?  Are you frequently beating up on yourself, thinking you are not good enough, holy enough and worthless?  Have you been told or made to believe that you are not important? Do you have a sense of being useless or unimportant? When we choose to believe those false messages we set ourselves up for a sense of condemnation.
When I speak of condemnation, I am not referring to a sense of guilt or conviction because of unconfessed sin. Holy Spirit conviction is a good thing; it drives us to repentance and restoration of broken fellowship with our Father. 
Condemnation is defined as “the act of giving disapproval; to judge yourself unfit for use or service.”  It is a by-product of our flesh and it never comes from God.
Condemnation is one of the devil’s most effective tactics. He capitalizes on our emotional weakness and insecurity, then using little effort, he pushes us toward condemnation.  Actually, we do most of the work for him – all he does is gives us a little nudge.
Condemnation is a by-product of the law of sin and death
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:1; “That there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”   When someone becomes a follower of Jesus he is no longer under the sentence of condemnation.  Matter of fact, in the next verse Paul even indicates that condemnation is a by-product of the law of sin and death.  In other words, there is never any room for condemnation in a believer’s life or vocabulary.  When the law of sin and death was conquered at the cross, it was replaced by “the law of life in Christ Jesus.”  To accept and even verbalize self-condemnation is to acknowledge that Jesus’ death and resurrection has no supernatural power, and leaves us without hope of victory.
The truth is, because of the resurrection, we have received a power that trumps the power of sin and death and all its by-products, such as condemnation.  Our identity is no longer tied to our performance. We are no longer a sum total of our failures but we are now an expression of the living, victorious Christ within.   His life is now our life. What defines us is Christ’s life within which is characterized as holy, righteous and victorious.  We are all these things regardless of how we perform or how we appear in other’s eyes.  That’s because our identity is not tied to our performance or emotions but to who we are in Christ.  It is important to remember;
“We are who we are by birth (spiritual birth in Christ), not by our performance.” 
That’s the reason we don’t live in the past. We can’t change or fix the past, we can only live in the now, one day at a time, trusting the living Christ within us for today. If you fixate on the past, you can never provide hope for the future. The past and all its baggage becomes your life. You are bound to repeat the past over and over again.
What’s the key to dealing with condemnation?  (1) Acknowledge that your thoughts of condemnation are sin.  Until you acknowledge that this pattern of thinking is sin, condemnation will dominate your life. Repentance of wrong thinking is just as important as repentance of wrong deeds. (2) Stop believing the lie.  Since condemnation never comes from God then its source is not trustworthy and is built on deception and lies. Condemnation is not the real you. (3) You must affirm the positive. That means practice the positive affirmation of your identity in Christ. Just as you rehearsed thoughts of condemnation, now rehearse thoughts of your identity in Christ. The power lies in verbally acknowledging the truth about who you are in Christ.  Because you act out what you think, you must practice setting your mind on truth. Why is that important? It’s because the truth is what sets you free! Setting your mind on God’s truth is a supernatural action that heals the mind of constant condemning thoughts.
You now have a choice
Picture it this way.  In the left hand you have condemnation and all its baggage.  In the right hand you have the truth of your identity. Which will you chose to believe? The left hand that promises nothing but misery and destruction, plus new negative emotions that will soon be piled on top of what is already there?  
Or will you choose the right hand which offers truth, victory and rest? This is a belief system and lifestyle that was designed and given by God himself as a gift to you.  By applying the truth of your identity you can now experience the release of “trying to measure up” to unreasonable expectations and constant thoughts of condemnation. 
God does not dwell in the land of condemnation.  He dwells in the land of rest for the weary. The more you entertain the condemnation cycle the more it will dominate your life.  Instead, enter the “rest cycle”.  There is a rest for the people of God and we enter that rest when we make a decision with our will to lay all our anxiety, all our condemnation, and all of our fear at the foot of the Cross.  Those things you bring to the cross are put to death. After you bring it to the cross then choose to believe what He says about you.  You see – it’s really about allowing the living Christ in you to be basis of your identity.(Colossians 2:10)
That reminds me of the lyrics from a song sung by Christian artist Larnelle Harris;
“It’s not in trying but in trusting
It’s not in running but in resting,
Not in wondering but in praying,
That we find the strength of the Lord.
Because of Christ,