How to Reclaim Your Rights

I am so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. The outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. There are over 50 new subscribers a day. The site just past 104,825 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

I have a new promotion. The person who is the 105,000 will win some nice prizes. We are only 175 away from the next goal . It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more updates about the new book. 

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+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor recently. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂

Some incredible endorsements have come in. I will be sharing some of those in my next post on Monday. 

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Happy to say this is another wonderful guest blog by Taylor Wilkins, of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Taylor always hits the mail directly on the head. 

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Reclaiming your rights

Do you ever feel bad inside even when your external reality isn’t all that bad? Or how about the reversal of that– feeling good inside when everything around you is falling apart?

We have been created as complex beings! We have the ability to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste– while simultaneously experiencing internal senses such as imagination, memory, instinct, and so on. I believe the roots of all of these things are good. God created us out of his own nature when he made us. But something happened at the fall of man that twisted God’s perfect plan and spotless creation. God formed man out of clay and breathed life into him and the enemy immediately sought out to destroy it.

Unfortunately when the enemy made his first strike against humanity it was a successful one. He caused a ripple effect that echoes into our world today. It blows me away that one lie created this whole mess. It was the greatest and most strategic move in any villain has pulled off– but the story never ends with a triumphant villain! 

Where there is an evil villain an even greater hero is always near!

And like every good superhero story there has to be a damsel in distress! As Christians we are the princess awaiting the heroic prince. That’s weird for me to say as a guy, but it is difficult for me to find a more accurate depiction of what Jesus did for us. Now I could try to think of some other creative ways to explain this but I believe the best explanation comes from Colossians 2:

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Colossians 2:13-15

Now Colossians 2 is the truth about our redemption, but one thing I know is that whenever God gives us the truth the enemy will feed us a lie to try and replaced the truth. Often times feelings begin to speak louder in my life than the story of redemption. The difficulty is when the feelings come they are real! They make me feel worthless, tired, frustrated and anxious. When Paul tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ I believe he is talking about the thoughts rethink when feelings start to overwhelm us. As Christians we have been given the kingdom of heaven. The truth is whether I’m feeling it or not God has made me royalty and his kingdom and because of that truth I have a greater hope for the future!

   Today this is a Sign of Hope, that no matter the circumstance you are in, or the breakthrough you need, God is for you and He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 


Taylor Wilkins

Greater Salem Area Director
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
(503)754-3783
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do…” John‬ ‭14‬:‭12‬
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Reality Minus Expectations = Esteem

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 102,600 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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Have you fallen into the trap of high expectations, and feel sad because you can’t achieve them? You aren’t alone. Too many people are on the same boat with you.

The neighbor has a new boat; now you want one. Mary has a better job, now you want a better job. You saw a guy drive by in a souped up hot rod, and now you want one.

It can go on and on. We seem to always want more than we have. We expect to be recognized as the most successful person in the neighborhood.

What this leads to is disappointments, depression, anxiety, etc. We have to face reality, and realize that maybe we can’t have that boat, job, or car that the other people have.

What we need to do is accept the spot where we are, and live a good life, of serving God to our fullest.

If we really live with that in mind that leads us to esteem. People see us as we are, and accept us as we are. They look up to us, because we aren’t trying to climb over people to get where we want to go.

So, Reality, (The way we are) compared to expectations, (Where we want to be) should look like this math problem solver.

Reality – Expectations = esteem. Simple math. Just face reality, and quite trying to reach such high expectations, and your esteem will be much higher.

If you are wallowing in the muck and mire, because you feel you are a failure. It may be because you expectations are above your reality that is right for you.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give  up!

 

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Expectations

He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” Psalm 10:6

There is no such thing as a trouble-free life. This is naïve, presumptive, and proud. Pride instills false confidence and unrealistic expectations. A man thinks himself immutable and omnipotent to conclude he will always be free from adversity. Jesus said just the opposite. He taught that we are not of this world, therefore the world will hate us (John 15:19). This is not an invitation to a life of ease. It is a guarantee for conflict. The naïve boast of an out of control optimism not based in reality. His house is built on sand, and he will experience loss when the first winds of suffering blow over his life. Pride sets us up for a fall (Proverbs 16:18). There is no way to totally shield ourselves from pain.

We who feel overly secure are never safe. There is no opulent home or outrageous bank account that can keep us from the inevitable suffering. Wealth sets us up for disappointment. Boastings are not buttresses, and self-confidence is a sorry security. Our confidence is in Christ, not in our ever-changing life of uncertainty. He has a perfect purpose outside of ourselves. He has a much greater and more massive meaning. We can expect great things from Him because He is great. He is immovable and immutable. We vacillate. We change. We struggle. We doubt. We fear. That is why we cast our lot with the Lord. When life happens and the bottom falls out, we have a solid foundation in our Savior.

Pride, on the other hand, brews naïve expectations. This is the ruin of fools. When they succeed, their confidence bloats out of control. There needs to be a dose of humility to bring them back into the realities of everyday life. Indeed, in your success do not seclude yourself from ordinary people. Make sure you engage with those who are still clearing their career path and muddling their way through marriage or struggling to raise kids. Engagement in the lives of others leads us to a more fulfilling life. It is in our success that we are set up to serve others. To give back is to govern like God. This is what He expects. Godly expectations lead us down the road of service and selflessness.

So instead of insulating our lives from all danger and risks, we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. We ask questions like, “What does God think?” “Will this opportunity contribute to my spiritual growth?” “How does my spouse fit into this plan?’ “What is best for my family?” “What will give me the most leverage for the Lord?” We seek to align our expectations with eternity. It is an ongoing process of dying to ourselves and coming alive for the Lord. So do not become disillusioned in your discomfort.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13)”. It is not a life of ease that we need to expect, but a life of obedience. Moreover, do not expect money to be a cure-all. More money applied to naïve expectations sets us up for bitter disappointment. Instead, expect great things from God. Trust Him in and with your troubles. These are expectations for the mature of faith. Wisdom aligns our expectations with His. Expect this.

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The Other Side (of the Wilderness)

This week our guest is Christopher Wolf, again we are blessed by his one of his post. He is a Pastor, author, and a great friend. He has been in the desert and is come full circle of a prayer he prayed at the beginning of his ministry. He has seen his share of droughts, and is now beginning to see the raining down of God’s blessings as never before. Please take a moment to read and be blessed as I always am by His post…

The Other Side (of the Wilderness)

I have never physically been in a desert or wilderness.

I flew over one once in Africa.

 I have read about them.

 But I have been in the wilderness. I know the wilderness. And I suspect many of you do too.

Let’s talk about the wilderness…

 In the Bible, the wilderness is an arid, dangerous, isolated place. But it is where God’s people are sent to be refined, challenged and taught to depend completely on God. The wilderness is this unlikely place that no one really wants to go – but it’s where people truly meet God.

Likewise, today, although not a Middle Eastern desert, you and I have known wildernesses. Sometimes it’s a failing marriage or a divorce or a loss of a loved one. Sometimes it’s a diagnosis. Sometimes it’s a faith crisis or loss of faith. Sometimes it’s treatment for a disease or an addiction. Sometimes it’s a job change or loss. Sometimes it’s just being a tween or teen. Sometimes it’s after graduating high school or college. Sometimes it’s when you are caring of an aging or troubled parent or child.

I can’t show it to you on a map. But you know when you are there. It’s a season of life when you wonder if you will be intact at the end of it all. Everything seems out of control. What used to work doesn’t anymore. It seems like the end of certainty and confidence. Our sense of direction is all messed up – what was once up is now down. What was once east is now west. You really understand disorientation in the wilderness. And God feels so far away.

The wilderness is the place where you think it’s all going to end…but it’s actually the beginning…

 Because in the wilderness, while we are stripped of much of ourselves, it’s what’s left that matters most. Like a refiner’s fire, all that’s left is the gold. All the dross and impurities are burned away. This is the purpose of God allowing us to enter into a wilderness. After it, we will be different but closer to what He is shaping us to be. In the wilderness we learn things that we would never learn in any other way. In the wilderness we find strength that we never knew we had; clarified purpose; a trust in God we never thought possible. In the end, we get much closer to seeing who God really is and who we are in God’s eyes – and we are given a choice…

Listen, I know the wilderness is hard. No one wants to be there. Maybe you are there now. I want to share with you what I have learned from my own wilderness over the last two years to encourage you. I want to show you and assure you that there is an other side to this. And I want to tell you the most important thing about the wilderness…

What I learned because of the wilderness…

 Now I know what it is to keep going on when everything inside you wants to quit – this is faithfulness.

 Now I know what Paul meant when he said I no longer live, Christ lives in me. The wilderness strips away your ego, pride and sense of self from a “success” point of view. You really learn in the wilderness that it’s not about “me.” I am a vessel and channel.

 Now I know what it is to be at war with Satan and to face him head on. He is relentless and his goal is destruction. If you are trying to follow God with any kind of passion and faithfulness – he will be there opposing you – via doubt, fear, temptation, playing on your weaknesses, discouragement and he will use willing people too. Though scarred, I know now that he is beatable.

 Now I know that sometimes victory isn’t overcoming – sometimes it’s remaining standing and enduring.

 Now I know that when people try to tear me down and try to tell me I am a failure and I shouldn’t even be in ministry – I know to ignore it. When you stand for something, when you are leading, people are going to oppose you, but don’t believe their lies. We can do very little about their ignorance and blindness, but the worst thing you can do is to entertain foolishness, fears and agendas. Now I know to trust what God says about me more than anything else.

Now I know fully and with certainty who I am in Christ. I suspected it, I had hints of it. But this is it, “It is a matter of sharing and bearing the pain and puzzlement of the world so that the crucified love of God in Christ may be brought to bear healingly upon the world at exactly that point (N.T. Wright).”

 Now I know that I’ve spent twenty years trying to accomplish things and being very driven. Now I understand God wants me to be Christopher and through that He will accomplish what He needs to accomplish. I’ve never had to fight to be myself. I was always just Christopher. Most things had always come naturally to me. But when this was relentlessly tested, for the first time I had to choose. There is an unprecedented choice in the wilderness. Sometimes it’s a choice between living and dying; sometimes it’s choice between being faithful and not; between quitting and enduring; between moving toward God or away; between depending on yourself or depending on God. I had to choose, consciously, to be who God was calling me to be or not. I could have turned away from it. But I didn’t. There’s a choice in the wilderness.

 Now I know that God had us the whole time. Even when it seemed the worst, God never let go – and never will!

 Now I understand beauty in a new way – there is such beauty in brokenness. Too often we are hiding it. It’s much more beautiful than some manufactured façade.

 Now I know the difference (vast) between His strength and my strength.

 Now I know what it is to be fearless, to be at peace, and to know that they can’t take away what matters most – they can’t take away the gold within us that is of God.

 Finally, the most important thing to know about the wilderness is…that it is not permanent. It will end –

 And, now I know that on the other side of a wilderness, on the other side of all the challenge, loss and pain and struggle and discouragement – is a promise and its fulfillment – a promised place, a promised state – a new life! I can testify to you today that God has kept His promises and we have been blessed beyond what we could have imagined.

 I want you to be encouraged today by my testimony. The wilderness will end and it will end with goodness and blessings. There will be a day when you look back and will be able to say that it was worth it and that the blessings outweigh the pain. Take heart and never give up. Let this be a time of depending on God, finding joy in His strength – remember – draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8)! I promise you that God knows what He is doing and it is for our good.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.

 Rev. Christopher B. Wolf

Isaiah 42:7

cbrianwolf@gmail.com

www.christopherbwolf.com

 Christopher B. Wolf is the author of Giving Faith a Second Chance: Restarts, Mulligans and Do-Overs (2007) and the forthcoming, With You: Every Step of the Way (2011).

 

“It is a matter of sharing and bearing the pain and puzzlement of the world so that the crucified love of God in Christ may be brought to bear healingly upon the world at exactly that point.” N.T. Wright

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