When I think of losing four members of my family in a 6 year period it puts me in a place that can only be described as a place that is empty, lonely, and solemn. In addition to the losses of my brother, mother, father, and nephew, I tragically lost my oldest sister not much more than a decade earlier.
I had no experience in dealing with death. Other than my grandfather dying when I was 12, I had never experienced anyone in my life dying, especially anyone that I was close to.
In my dealings with the deaths in my family, there was a pattern that I saw that I never really realized at first. Had there not been so many deaths to grieve I most likely would not have noticed it. But the pattern for me remained very similar to the one before. I noticed that how I was coping now was very similar to the way that I had coped before. The amount of time that it took to mourn was at or similar to the one before. I also noticed the time span between recurrences of grief and waves of sorrow that I felt were similar.
In every loss that occurred regardless of how it happened, I eventually got past the hurt, pain, and sorrow. Do I still miss them? Yeah. But getting to the point where I was finally able to get it out of my mind took a while. No wonder, that with each death in my family, which averaged one death every 1.5 years for 6 year span, there seemed to be numbness as time went on. It was very hard to imagine that this would be happening to anyone let alone the reality of what my family was going though. We relied a ton on God and each other and we helped one another to get through it.
Death and grief are hard to overcome. It is nearly impossible to get through alone. Each time as I drove away with my wife and kids on the long drive home from Texas to Florida, waves of loneliness would come over me. I relied solely on God as a refuge, for comfort, and for strength. It was the absolute time for me to rely totally on Him for the things that I could not bring to my own understanding. God’s paths in life are far better for me than my own.
Overcoming grief in your misfortune is not something that is easily attainable. Due to it’s complexity it is really in two part. One part of the complexity is needing to understand why bad things happen to such good people. The other part of the complexity is understanding why he or she had to die. Why now? Why could it not have been someone else?
Beloved, God in his infinite wisdom, has a plan that has been set forth before each one of us even before the beginning of the ages. Every breath or action that we take, He already knows how many remain before our last. Nothing takes Him by surprise. God doesn’t say- “I didn’t see that coming!”
The very fact that God has such a plan, I took time during those years to do a lot of reflecting about my own life. Where I had been and where I was going. I decided to live each day trusting the way of my savior because I know that He knows much better than me. And although I don’t have all of the answers, my trusting that I have in Him comes with my being intentional about the relationship that I have with Him.
God knows and cares about every grief that we have. The Bible is full of verses that show how much God cares and loves us. I hope you find them useful.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “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 receive from God.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Psalm 18:28 “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
Revelation 21:4 “ ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Psalm 119:50 “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 22:24 “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
Psalm 27:4-5 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
Psalm 30:5 “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Lamentations 3:31-33 “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.”
Romans 8:31-39 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:52-57 “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:3-9 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” NIV
Live Your Dreams- They Will Surely Pass You By….. If You Don’t
Whether you are ready or not, change most often has to happen in order for growth to occur. It is a difficult thing, because a lot of times when we think of change, it makes us uncomfortable, and it often brings pain.
The pain that change brings comes about because we have to take a closer examination of where we are and where it is we want to go. We get so comfortable in the chair of the present, we are afraid to get up out of it to grow.
What in life do you want to change?
We have a God-given call in life and passion that we desire, but the fear of change and growth brings too much discomfort. In order for change to occur, get rid of the easy chair.
I encourage you to pursue your passion. Take the steps necessary to overcome the fear and doubt. God has great plans for you to be in His will.
Many people sit idly by and spend too much time thinking about what if. But when you do this, life will assuredly pass you by.
Don’t get caught up in the what ifs. You need to have a method to get to where you want to go.
What is it that you want to do? Do you have a big dream that gives you that fire in the belly. Is it something that wakes you up in the middle of the night that stirs you so much that you can hardly stand it?
You need an action plan. One that will take you where you want to go.
One of the exciting things about life, is God gives each one of us that fire in the belly. That desire to make an impact on life.
Take action today on achieving your dream. Write down your goals, put together an action plan. How are you going to get there? Get yourself an accountability partner. This is someone that will speak honestly to you, and push you to grow.
When you set the wheel in motion to attain your dreams, you will feel so much like you have found your calling. The calling that you have had all along, but one that would not start rolling until you first got out of the easy chair.
Joy In The Juncture
The question is often asked of Christians, “How do you stay so happy during this difficult time?”
As a husband and father who is trying to put all of the pieces back together myself, I struggle at times with the uncertainty and finality of things. I want to get there now.
But I know that God wants me to share what he has told me in His word.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
After my brain tumor surgery, I awoke and could not see much of anything except for a little light and shadows. I was totally blind. It nearly scared me half to death. For the rest of the day I had physicians coming in and out of my room asking me if I could see.
By nightfall, and early into the next morning as I was being constantly observed, my vision got to the point that I could barely see light. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.
The nurse on staff quickly paged the surgeon who wanted to take me back into surgery.
I pleaded with them to wait. I wanted to make sure that my family and friends would be praying for me during the next surgery.
Although I am still considered legally blind, God did something that night. He miraculously allowed me to obtain some of my vision back. I continue to work through being legally blind today.
But as tough as it has been to be considered blind and to get it back together, I have to remember that God didn’t send the Jews to the dessert for a weekend retreat. Nor will he solve all of my problems in a weekend.
It is up to me how I choose to look at my circumstances. I can look at it the way that the world does and dwell there and miss God working in my life, or I can choose the positive, which is to look at my circumstances the way God would have me look at it, and see God working in my life.
It is in the work of God that gives me joy, and wherever God is working He wants us to take pleasure.
Isn’t it it great to see God working rather than not working? Isn’t it good to know that God has chosen you for the blessing of suffering?
In suffering there is ample opportunity, which includes “joy in the juncture”, to shine for Jesus and to let the world know that no matter what the peril, you continue to look upward to your heavenly father. That you accept the opportunity to bless others with your unmoved and unfaltering faith that comes from knowing Christ.
The question asked should not be “Why do bad things happen to good people.” The question should be “What are good people of faith going to do with the blessing and opportunity that they have been given?”
Besides, in life’s ups and downs, when you are on that upside, you know that there is bound to be a downside.
Joy in the juncture cannot be of our own doing. If left to ourself and on our own, we would self destruct in the hard times.
Be Free To Live With Joy In The Junction
What enables us is the power of God allowing us to be free from ourselves and to not lean on our own understanding. As believers in Jesus Christ we have a higher calling that is so much greater than ourselves.
The hard times that we face, whether it be overcoming a job loss, recovering from the loss of a loved one, debilitating health problems, divorce, or financial hardship are not pleasant. But in the midst of all the striving, Jesus gives us peace. Through Christ we have overcome the world. Your faith overcomes anything that the world can throw at you.
Many times as Christians, we relinquish our faith and try to overcome the challenges on our own. When this happens it is because we were already leaning more on our own understanding rather than leaning on the understanding of God’s will for our life. This is where we often make painful mistakes along the way. These mistakes will cause us grief one day when we realize that we didn’t give Jesus our everything. We will one day soon come to the final realization the He gave everything that he had to give and we did not reciprocate. The knowledge of this will be regretful.
Joyfully however, for those who continue to prepare for the battle ahead, and put on the full armor of God, will be rewarded in simply knowing that through it all, they were faithful and gave Christ everything they had in return.
In the difficulty there is opportunity…
What will you do? Will you lean on your own understanding, or move forward in the direction of Christ and receive the reward and blessing in knowing that you gave Jesus everything that you had to give.
Though blind, I see what God sees.
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Why Your Faith Overcomes The World
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14 ESV)
What the world says about being an overcomer is wrong. All you need is to abide in God. Because of your faith, you have strength to overcome. Because of your faith, you continue to be strong and an overcomer.
“Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
When God’s power is in you, you are an overcomer. This is great news!
When I learned that I would need surgery, I felt God’s power in me more that I can ever remember. I knew this was something that I had to do.
When I decided to go through with the surgery, I felt a sense of peace that came over me. I knew that I would be alright no matter the outcome.
I took refuge in Christ. He helped me to get through. He reminded me of his love for me. How he had always carried me before. How he would not let go of me now.
When my sky darkened with the news of a brain tumor, yes my heart sank, but Christ lifted me up, and told me to not fear.
He gave me a verse that is my favorite one to this day. It is my family’s favorite verse. It goes like this:
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
As we retreated to the beach before the surgery, we all read this verse out loud many times until we each had it memorized. We knew everything would be alright.
God wants you to grasp all that he has for you. Whether in the best times or the worst, the power of God and the faith that He gives will allow you to rely solely and entirely upon him.
Today, make a decision to grasp everything that he has for you.
In the midst of what Christ has for you today, reach out and grasp.
With the unfortunate passing of Percy Sledge today, who was well known for his great hit song “When A Man Loves A Woman” I suddenly stopped and reflected on the words of this song. It made me reflect on just how much that I love my wife. I would lay down my life for her.
The song resonates within my heart as I think of how much I love my sweet wife. I reflected on how I first laid my eyes on her as the doors were opened the day she began her walk down the isle on our wedding day. That was more than eighteen years ago. We had no idea what lie ahead. But we were more than ready to do life together.
I hope you are finding that life together with your wife, although it may be challenging, is also rewarding and fulfilling at the same time. In the heat of the moment it is easy to want to bail out, but when you wait and cool off in the rain, you will happily return to your vows again.
But the most important thing is to always remember that you may not consistently feel the same feelings for her that you had for your wife on your wedding day. But you did vow to love her unconditionally. That was a decision and not a feeling. For that reason alone, your choosing to love her is just that. Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling.
When a Man Loves His Wife
There is something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined about doing life together with my wife, my best friend Edie. She is absolutely amazing in all the ways that I can count and more. When I think of her personality, I think of Mary from the Bible. While Mary sat calmly at Jesus’ feet listening, Martha was busy with all of the preparations.
My wife is a Mary in every sense of the word. Calmly listening, calmly caring, and building on the better things in life. The things that matter the most- relationships.
I am blessed to call her my wife. I am blessed to call her the mother of our three children, Kaitlyn, Grant, and Mandy.
Don’t regret later what you don’t dare to do today.
Be ready to do life with your wife.
The Tired But Selfless Dad
I am challenging all Dads to step up and finish strong. We are being attacked. I Daddy Dog Dare You!
Being a Dad is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
Just the name DAD has so much resonance.
The name DAD is probably the best thing that can happen in a lifetime. Second to marriage and being a husband, it brings more purpose and fulfillment into the life of a man.
As a man we purposefully pursue the dream of becoming a husband and eventually a Dad. Although we all have our own ways of doing things, being a dad pretty much means the same thing- responsibility, caring, raising of a child, nurturing, provider and many more.
You are the Top Dog- The Daddy Dog
But somewhere along the line life got hard. You grew older and more tired of the day-in and day-out and the daily grind- the chastising boss, and the weary wife and mom of your kids.
Did I mention the crazy kids?
Being a Dad means to carry the burden of all those things. It means toiling over the soil of whatever occupation that you’re into. It means coming home at night, shrugging off the incessant dust and cobwebs of the day, and putting on the face of Dad.
We all need reminders…
You see, they don’t know what you go through. They don’t know that you were tried and tested today. They don’t know that you wonder how it got this way. They don’t know how tough this has gotten for you. Like a dead-end job or how an ensuing financial hardship has you on the brink.
They just see the face of Dad.
But as tough as those hard times are, you are called to be brave, you are called to be strong, and most of all you need to have Faith.
You had your turn as baby, toddler, child, student, husband. But now it’s your turn to be DAD, and their turn to be baby, toddler, child, student, etc.
“It is time to live the life that is expected of a father, and to fulfill the honor of being called a Dad.”
The name Daddy Dog Dare came to me as I was thinking of how to communicate something to all the dads out there. The dads that are so topped off, they feel that they can’t take it anymore.
In one of my prior blog posts, Being Dad In The Storm, I mentioned how tough that life can be at times. And that in life we have to do hard things.
“We know that we have to sail the ship right into the eye of the storm without abandoning ship.”
“You’ll never dare to steer the ship if you never grasp the ship’s wheel.”
It will take all of the courage you can muster. Especially when you don’t know what is waiting on the other side.
All you see are the rocks, all you hear is the crashing of the waves, and all you taste and smell is the salt in the air.
Although your life may be in a state of disorder, there is a beautiful rainbow on the other side just waiting for you and your vessel.
If we as Dad’s will stick with the plotted course before us, we will eventually be rewarded when the storm has passed. But as any sailor knows, he will be on the lookout for the sunshine along the way. That is what makes the journey as Dad worth it all.
Take the Daddy Dog Dare today and commit to it every day.
Getting To The Other Side
Getting to the other side requires humility. The humility that is willing to die for the self and to completely recognize the higher calling that God has for your life.
When things are going smoothly and we achieve that goal or get that job, we usually rely on our self. You did it Dad!
When things get hard, we cry out to God. This is usually the way that it goes. We are creatures of habit.
But what we have failed to do is to completely rely on God in all of our circumstances. Both good and bad. And when fortune and that dream job or goal is attained, we give all honor and praise to our Heavenly Father. We rely on Him for our provision and blessings.
In relying on God during the good and the bad, it prepares us for the storms in life ahead- the faith reserves. We are storing up our harvest getting and ready for the hard days ahead.
But if the hard times come, and there is nothing in the faith tank, enduring the tough journey ahead makes us want to abandon the ship.
This is one of the main reasons that so many Dads are leaving their families today.
It is because the Dad who became so self-reliant fails, he cannot face his failure or his wife and family because he has spent so much time building his own image of Dad.
God never intended for the image of Dad to be a worldly image. He created us to be in His image.
When Jesus walked the earth, He gave us the perfect image to follow. An image of sacrifice, meekness, humility- the life of a servant.
Take the Daddy Dog Dare
As a Dad, we have to start each day this way, the way that Jesus himself lived. Anything other than that will only take our eyes off of Jesus, and instead we will see the rocks, we hear the crashing of the waves, and we taste and feel the salt in the air, we taste fear.
I Daddy Dog Dare you to take the challenge today. If you are tired and spent I ask you to do this: Stop what you are doing, pause the worry and the anxiety. Take on the power of God.
Do not abandon ship, but stand firm in your faith living sacrificially for your wife and your children to show them the true love of a Husband and a Dad. It’s not the money and things in life that they want, all that they want Dad, is you.
Your helplessness in not being able to change your circumstances is getting you nowhere. Only the power of God can do this. The Armor of God…
The Whole Armor of God:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)