The Difference of a Word

From an early age we seem to be drawn to wanting more, or wanting different. We say or think the phrase, “I wish _____”. As kids we wish for a new toy, for something different to eat, to be able to do whatever we want, or even to be someone different. We live a life pursuing an alternate reality. Given Eden, man wants to become God. Our hearts are desperate wanderers. Even in the best of circumstances, we still long for something more or different.

He never promised you the job, the education, the spouse, the marriage, the kids, the church, the city, or the circumstance of your dreams.

Garden City Publishing

I think a lot of us actually feel like God did promise us these things. I say that by how we are all so guilty of taking these things for granted. Myself included. Instead of finding overwhelming gratitude and contentment, we see what we perceive as missing in our lives. The ‘haves’ in life are drowned out by the ‘have nots’, and we’re left reeling for more. The pity party begins rather than the praise party which should be a constant in our lives.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul was a man who gave his life for the mission of God. A mission that all of God’s children have. And life was by no means easy for him. Prior to speaking these words the man had been beaten, left for dead, ridiculed, shipwrecked, bitten by a serpent, mocked on trials, and yet, with the same breath, he said rejoice always. Not sometimes or in the highs of life. But always. Why? How could he say this? Because there is always something to rejoice about. There is a God Who loves us. A God Who made and designed us for a purpose. A God that has woven value into every single one of us. A God that has pursued us every moment of every day. Even when we didn’t know He was there. And even when we were running away. A God Who paid the ultimate price so that our sins wouldn’t be the final chapter of our story. A God Who has prepared a home for His children to be welcomed into a glorious eternity.

This is so much greater than anything we could wish for. Instead of saying “I wish” let’s start saying “I have”. Dreaming and hoping for things is not a bad thing. But if it wrecks our hearts or sours our souls, then we have lost sight of all that we have so graciously been given already. A heart that requires nothing else is a heart that has found peace. In the midst of Job’s darkest days, he never forgot to praise his maker. Wherever we find ourselves today, in abundance or in trials, let’s make our lives a worship song.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Peace in the pursuit


Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

I once heard it said that our level of faith can be measured by our level of contentment. Contentment is one of those things that may seem pretty allusive at times. But perhaps that’s because our faith wavers at times. With the highs and lows of this life, we can sometimes have a difficult time maintaining this steady sense of calm. That’s usually due to the fact that our calm is based upon the conditions we find ourselves. When we allow our emotions to be on a roller coaster our actions will most definitely follow suit. The game-changer for all of us is that God will come through in our hardest times and in our greatest times. It may not look the way we expect or plan for ourselves. God remains the same despite our circumstances and when we live from a place of trust in Him then we can remain in that steady calm sense of satisfaction. No matter how much we have or how little, no matter how hard things are or how easy, God loves us. Through life in Christ, we can have all the riches of His grace. Praise God for that!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:12 ESV

Paul could say this with confidence because he had lived it. He had gone from a wealthy man of power in the priesthood of Israel, enjoying the comforts of that life, to walking the missionary path. He had to work hard to continue each journey. Along the way, he got beaten down, ridiculed, and imprisoned multiple times. Paul lived a life of extremes. And through it all, he kept his eyes of God. His path on the way of pursuing Jesus mattered more than what obstacles popped up along the way. For me, that’s where I hope to be. Despite any health problems, stresses with bills, the burdens of work, or any other trials that may come up, I want to maintain that steady peace that comes in the pursuit of Jesus.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

The War of More

It doesn’t seem to matter what store we are in, my kids ask for something. They don’t even need to know what it is for them to beg and plead for it. It’s frustrating. Very very frustrating. I’m sure I did it as a child. In fact, I remember wanting to go to the stores with my grandma because I knew she’d get me something. My kids are the same way. As are the rest. Because humans are that way. Young and old, we want stuff. Most of which we don’t need. But stuff is fun, attractive, and entertaining.

I can’t despise my kids’ desires for things, because I have it too. Anyone that says they don’t is not being honest. I told my wife on the way home one day, “I don’t blame our kids for wanting new toys, because I have a list of things in my mind that would be fun to have.” The difference between being an adult and a child is that you have to get those things yourself and money is not always available. Also, you’ve learned to live without and the difference between need and want. While indulging still occasionally takes place, maturity overcomes most whims.

I had a serious talk with my children (one of many) about wanting things. I tried to explain that it’s a perfectly natural emotion, but it needs to be managed by wisdom. I also said that they wouldn’t be getting anything new until they were content and grateful for what they already had (which is a ton). They tried to ensure me that they were grateful, but their behavior far overshadowed any words they could speak. When the begging ceased I softly said, “you will know that you are content when you no longer feel you need anything new.”

When the Bible speaks of contentment, uses some extreme examples. Examples that are very convicting for child and adult alike. Here are some of those examples.

Food and Clothing

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

1 Timothy‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

In our current situation

Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our weaknesses and being insulted for the cause of Jesus

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

With what we have

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭NASB‬

it honestly feels like a war most days. The pull to want change or new things, or to no longer have to deal with our weaknesses, or for people to just love Jesus and stop hating on Christians. But for those who love Jesus, nothing more can be given to us than that which we already possess…new life. The Christian is free, alive, new, and filled with hope and purpose. The Christian has been given the gift of eternal life. God has paid the ultimate price for humanity but all humanity wants is more.

There is nothing greater we can be given than what God has already done for us. We are so consumed with the temporal and material that we struggle to see our true need which lies in the spiritual. Once my kids get one thing that they feel they can’t live without, their thoughts are on to the next. Christians cannot be guilty of the same. The one thing we can’t live without has been given to us…Jesus…and our minds should remain on Him. That’s what I want to teach my kids. But first, as the war rages on, I have to make sure I’m living it too.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Wherever you find yourselves, may your hearts be at peace brothers and sisters.

Look at your own bubbles

Today I was blowing bubbles for both my girls in our backyard. They absolutely love it! I will shower each  of them one at a time in a barrage of bubbles as they try to pop them before they hit the ground. As the fun went on both of my daughters kept starring off at the bubbles that I blew for the other. Because they kept looking at their sister’s bubbles they would miss their own. 

I couldn’t help but to catch the picture of what was happening and think of how most people, no matter the age, can be guilty of the very same thing. As we get older we look at things a lot different than bubbles but the problem is the same. We can so easily miss the great things right in front of us because we are too busy looking at what others have. 

Today I’m going to take the time to be thankful for all the people and things in my life. Most of all, I’m going to be thankful no matter the bubbles that others have because I have Jesus and nothing could ever beat that! God bless my brothers and sisters and may you see all the beautiful bubbles in your life.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain,”

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Trees in your Garden


The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV)

There is something innate in all of us that wants the one thing we can’t have. We don’t have to look any further than the Garden of Eden to know that humanity lacks thankfulness on an epic scale. For that is what leads to seeking that which we do not have. We can have the world, and all the goodness therein, and yet be lured into wanting the one thing that leads to our destruction.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said to be thankful in ALL things (5:18). That has to be a typo right? How can I be thankful when my car breaks down? Well, considering that only 55% of those living in Russia, 35% in Mexico, and 6% in India own a car, I think I can find thankfulness in even owning a car. Or how about when a loved one passes away? If they were a believer in Christ, it was the best thing that could have ever happened for them! How about losing a job? That happened to me too. It turned out to be a sweet divine redirection in my life. I had my whole life mapped out, problem was, it was not the path the Lord knew was best for me. Thank you Lord for not allowing me to walk of course! How about that crippling physical injury that derails your life? Check! I have battled a near debilitating back injury for near 20 years now. It ended my competitive sports career and plagues even the most menial activities in my life today. Could it be worse? Absolutely! No matter the curve balls in life, we can find thankfulness in them all.

What causes ‘want’ in the human spirit? Being discontent. I know people who are never happy no matter the job they have, the person they’re with, the amount of money they make, the place they live, etc…I’m certain they would unhappy living in the Garden of Eden. I think most all of us would be. Why? Because we don’t know the art of being thankful in ALL things. We have lost touch with the garden that God has placed us in. If you know thankfulness in all things, bless you! It is definitely possible to have but hard to grasp. Until we can be happy with little or nothing, we will never be happy with plenty. No matter our abundance, it won’t be enough. Even if we had the whole world, and all the goodness therein, we would want more.

Adam and Eve had the best this world had to offer, before corruption existed. After God created it all, He said that it was good. Two people, with dominion over the entire Earth, full of goodness, still fell into the trap of wanting what they did not possess. I have an amazing wife, wonderful children, and live in one of the most affluent nations in the world. My garden is lush. Yet at times, I find myself wanting that which I don’t have. It can be subtle and it can be blatantly obvious. But it only happens when I am not as thankful as I should be. When I’m not being thankful, I complain, I want what I don’t have, I stress, I get worn down, and I don’t treat others as I should. With a picture like that its fair to say that the unthankful person is not a pleasant one to be around. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

In the book of James it says that godliness with contentment is great gain. That’s because contentment exist in those who are thankful and it is the thankful person that can carry out his/her mission of loving others and loving God well.  The thankful person does no wrong to another. The thankful person cannot covet. The thankful person won’t steal. The thankful person would dare not murder. The thankful person loves the sovereignty of God in all it’s outcomes and would wish no different. If there are trees in his garden, that God says don’t touch, the thankful person praises the Lord for making the danger known, and joyously avoids them.

Our enemy is after our joy. He wants to point out all the things God is ‘withholding’ from us as if God doesn’t love us enough to let us have them. He wants to keep us striving for more, wanting different, looking for those greener pastures. Satan never wants us to forget about those trees in our garden. And our gardens will go unnoticed by us if all we see are the forbidden trees. We all have different decks that we’ve been dealt in this life, all of which we should be thankful for because God allowed it to be so. I know that will rub some the wrong way because really hard things happen in life, but it is still true. In his book, Holiness day by day, Jerry Bridges makes the suggestion that our faith is measured best by our level of thankfulness towards God.  I think that’s a fair assessment. After all, how can we claim to believe in a holy, good, just, and loving God who would go to the lengths of dying for us on a cross and not be thankful for all He allows in our lives.

We can feel pain in thankfulness. We can suffer tears and maintain a thankful heart. Three years ago, the Lord took my father home after he suffered a traumatic stroke. That hurt to go through! Bad! But I am so thankful God did not allow him to suffer through the remainder of his life without the use of half of his body. And I am so thankful that my dad is enjoying the fruits of his salvation in Christ. Are you hurting? Are you battling fear and doubt? Are you discontent? I challenge you my brothers and sisters: find the good in all that you’re going through. The silver lining always exists because God really does work ALL things to the good for those who love Him and live for Him like the book of Romans assures us. Our God is sovereign over us and He is good. He has a love for us that we cannot fully understand. He made us, He died for us, He’s walked with us through our lives, and He has prepared a home unlike anything we can possibly imagine. For the sake of all those things, we can be thankful in everything. Bless you brothers and sisters!

…I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)