Walking and Waiting

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I came across this quote in my devotions yesterday:  "Waiting is much more difficult than walking."  I heartily agree with that statement, and so does Barnabas.  In fact, he demonstrated this very principle on our morning walk.  

Our dog is all about the go.  He loves to walk and hike, to explore and sniff.  Unfortunately for him, our morning walks involve crossing a few busy streets, which means we have to stop and wait for traffic to clear.  Barnabas spent some time roaming the streets before we adopted him, so he has great respect for traffic and knows to stay clear of cars.  That being said, the process of waiting to cross the street nearly drives him crazy.  As each car passes, he looks up at me like, "Can we go now?"  If I give him the go ahead, he takes off like a horse out of the gate.  If I tell him we have to wait a little longer, the look he throws my way is comical because it reminds me a sullen teenager who isn't getting his or her way. (If you've ever owned a dog, you know how much they can act like children.)

To be honest, though, I understand how Barnabas feels.  It's been nearly two months since Jason and I surrendered to go to the mission field, and since that time, it feels like we've done nothing but wait.  Yes, we did the interview with the mission board, but that's about all.  Right now, we're waiting for the executive board meeting a week from now to confirm whether or not we've been accepted.  After that, we'll have to wait another two weeks for orientation.  Then, who knows what other waiting steps there will be?  

Let's face it, life involves a lot of waiting, and most of us would rather be walking or working.  Waiting is hard.  Waiting feels pointless, like we're wasting time.  Waiting often causes our hearts to grow weary and our faith to grow weak.  But waiting is necessary.  Certain things can't be rushed.  The good things in life take time.  And so, we must wait.  Even when it's difficult.  Even when we'd rather be doing something else.  

When God puts us in a holding pattern, we can trust He has a good reason.  Don't try to hurry things along.  Enjoy the journey, even the pit stops, and thank the Lord for the strength He gives to those who wait on Him.  After all, when He finally gives the green light, we'll need all the strength we can get, right? 

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
— Psalm 27:14

The Demands of Discipline

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In my devotion time this morning, I came across an excellent definition of the word "discipline."  According to Charles Swindoll, discipline is "doing what we don't want to do so we can accomplish what we've always wanted."  Sounds about right to me.  After all, it seems that I've had to discipline myself in many areas lately.

One must have discipline to work from home.  Otherwise, nothing would get done.  There are always distractions and other obligations.  There are always excuses for not getting to a particular task.  And while I love to write, there are specific areas (like marketing, formatting, and editing) that are a necessary part of my ministry, yet ones I despise doing.  But if I want to accomplish what I've always wanted, I have to be willing to do some of the things I don't want to do.

I've also called upon discipline in my journey toward better health.  The road has been long and hard and involves many things that I would rather not do.  I don't like to exercise.  I don't enjoy making myself get out of bed at 6:00 in the morning so I can do my three-and-a-half-mile walk.  I don't want to eat a salad instead of a plate of fajita nachos from my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I don't want to drink water instead of soda.  I don't want to do stretches and Pilates and strength training.  But each of these things is necessary if I am ever to accomplish what I've always wanted--optimal health.

Then there's the housework.  Scrubbing bathrooms is no fun at all.  Having to give up some of my precious writing or reading time to do the dishes is misery.  Folding laundry.  Running errands.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  These tasks hold no joy for me at all, yet I know that if I don't discipline myself to do them (and do them regularly), I will never achieve a relaxing and peaceful abode.

Now, we've added into the mix the many tasks involved in getting ready for deputation.  I had no idea how much time and effort were involved before even booking our first meeting.  It's crazy!  The process has required discipline and time management, having to choose what needs to be done over what I want to do.

I guess, in the end, it all boils down to this question:  How badly do I want it?  How badly do you want it?  Whatever it is that you're trying to achieve, do you want it badly enough to implement discipline into your daily routine?  Is your goal desirable enough that you're willing to do the things you don't enjoy to obtain the thing you've always wanted?  It won't be easy, and you may find your discipline wavers from day to day.  But hang tough and be strong.  And imagine the joy that is awaiting you when you finally reach the thing for which you have strived.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
— Proverbs 25:28

What Does God Call You?

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So king Solomon was king over all Israel. And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest, Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder. And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests: And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king’s friend: And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute. And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.
— I Kings 4:1-7

The fourth chapter of I Kings goes on for many more verses to tell us about the officers of Solomon.  Obviously, the king had many people under his command.  A position of such great power required many princes, officers, commanders, and servants.  As we read through the chapter, we see many names (most unpronounceable, which is something coming from someone with the last name "Rongione"), and we also see many titles such as priest, recorder, principal officer, tribute officer, and so on.  But my favorite part of the passage can be found at the end of verse 5:  and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend.

Sure, Solomon had many servants, but how many friends did he have?  Was it possible for such a great man to have real friends?  And if so, how could he know if someone was indeed his friend or if they had some ulterior motive?  I'm sure being the king has many perks, but something tells me it can be very lonely at the top.

Still, in this list of name after name after name, God takes the time to point out that Zabud was not only the principal officer but that he was also a friend of the king.  How awesome is that?  First off, that Zabud was a true friend, and second, that God would make sure to note that fact in His Word which is forever settled.  Sure, his service to the king was noteworthy as was all the others' mentioned here, but the thing that sets him apart from all the rest is that he was a friend of the king.

What about us?  Are we set apart in the same way today?  Are we friends of the King, or have we settled for the position of a servant?  It is true we are servants of the Lord, and God does desire for each of us to have a servant's heart, but is that all God wants from us?  Are we not also His children, the sheep of His pasture?  Shouldn't we desire to be friends of God?  Moses was granted such a title, and I pray that when God writes my story, He'll be able to say, "and Dana, the daughter of Lewis and Sharon, was a missionary to Wales and a writer of Christian works, but most of all, she was the King's friend."  I can think of no greater honor!

Why Birds Don't Need Prozac

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Have you ever seen a sparrow having a panic attack?

Have you ever witnessed a robin lying on the couch of a psychiatrist while trying to explain why she thinks her anxiety can be traced back to her questionable childhood?

Have you ever spotted an owl wringing in claws in worry over where it would find its next meal?

Have you ever seen an advertisement for prozac for birds?

Have you ever watched a wren weeping because it had nothing new to wear to the party?

I’m guessing you answered “no” to all of those questions. Typically, when we see birds, they’re either singing, working, flying or some combination of the three. They appear happy and stress-free, but how is that possible? Don’t they worry about having enough food? The weather conditions? The sturdiness of their nest? The offspring? Predators? Wouldn’t it be wise for them to make plans, save up, or create strategies for survival? Nope. Unlike us, birds have found a better way to live, and that, I truly believe, is why they can still sing despite their circumstances.  

Birds have learned to rely on God for what they need. They don’t have grocery stores, banks, or Walmarts. They live each day by faith that God will provide whatever they need, and you know what? I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a dead bird. And I don’t know of any that died of starvation (not that it doesn’t happen). My point is, the birds depend on God because they have no other choice. And God doesn’t fail them. He provides time and time again.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
— Matthew 6:25-26

We, humans, are far superior to the birds in some ways. Unlike our winged companions, we do have grocery stores, banks, and Walmarts. We own houses and work jobs. God has given us intellect and skills to perform great tasks. Unfortunately, because we are bright and successful, we forget how to rely on God and instead rely on ourselves. The problem is, however, we’re not all-powerful or all-knowing. We don’t know how to solve all our issues, so instead, we worry. We stress. We pop pills and engage in meditation. Anything to relieve the stress and calm the anxiety. Anything, that is, except the one thing that will actually bring us peace—turning our problems completely over to God.

Let’s get real for a moment. I know I’m not the only one who brings my burdens to Jesus, then walks away formulating my next plan on how to “make things work.” Am I right? Why is it so difficult for us to let go? Why do we feel stress and anxiety are simply a part of life? They don’t have to be. We don’t have to live a life of panic and worry. We can trust God. We can take Him at His word and say, “If God cares for the birds, and I know He does, then according to the Scriptures, He cares even more for me. I don’t have anything to worry about. God will provide.”

I’m reminded of a story I read once about a little boy who was brought into an orphanage. Most of the time, the boy seemed to be adapting well to his new surroundings, but every night, the poor child would cry himself to sleep. It took a while, but finally, the workers discovered the reason for the boy’s tears. As he lay down each night, he was afraid he wouldn’t have anything to eat the next day. He feared starvation (something he was obviously familiar with). After discovering this, the workers faithfully placed a plate containing a sandwich and a piece of fruit on the boy’s nightstand each night. The child never cried himself to sleep again. Knowing food was within reach brought comfort to him and allowed him to be free of his anxiety.

The answer to our worry and anxiety is also within reach. Though it has no physical form, the promise of God is not any less real than the plate of food at the boy’s bedside. God will take care of us. He will provide food and clothing. He will give wisdom for making good choices. He will lead and guide us in the way we should go. He will protect us from our enemies. He has it all under control, and if we will cling to that truth, anxiety will have no choice but to flee, for it cannot coexist with faith.

Birds don’t need prozac because they trust in their Father to provide for them. According to Matthew 6, Jesus said we are much better than the birds, so let’s act like it. If they’re wise enough to take God at His Word, shouldn’t we be too? In this case, I guess being a birdbrain is a good thing!

I Tawt I Taw Tomething Worse Than a Puddy Tat

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Did I ever tell you about the time my brother and I saw a pterodactyl? I was in my early to mid-teens, and my brother was a few years younger. We were visiting our favorite getaway spot, a beautiful river located deep in the woods behind our childhood home. Back in the day (not that it was THAT long ago), our neighborhood was safe and quiet, and my siblings and I often wandered into the woods to be gone for hours. It was no big deal. Our parents were thrilled we were outside, enjoying nature instead of sitting in front of the television or playing video games.

Anyway, it had been a typical day at “the Big Rock” (our name for the lovely location). We played in the water, explored the surrounding woods, and drew in the sand. Kid's stuff. Suddenly, a humongous, dark shape blocked out the light of the sun. We both looked up in amazement as a pterodactyl swooped overhead and flew off in the direction opposite our home. At first, we both thought we had imagined it, but we soon realized we couldn’t have both imagined the same thing at the same time. We were so excited we couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone dinosaurs were not extinct after all because we had both seen one.

As you can imagine, our news was not received with as much enthusiasm as we had hoped. “It was just a bird,” our dad said.  

“No,” I cried, “It was too big, and it didn’t look like any bird I’ve ever seen or heard of. I’m telling you, it was a pterodactyl.” 

“Honey,” my mom said compassionately, “we believe you thought you saw a dinosaur, but it can’t be. They’re long gone. It must have been something else.”

Despite how hard my brother and I tried to convince them and how firmly we believed in what we saw, nobody else would believe us. So, we did the most natural thing a couple of kids would think to do—we set out to prove it. Day after day we went down to the Big Rock with a camera, determined to take a picture of the supposedly extinct creature and show everyone we were telling the truth. But alas, we never saw it again. . .until many years later.

Fast forward twenty or so years. I was minding my own business, walking down the local trail while enjoying my prayer time with God. The trail meanders through wooded sections and often follows a river, much like the one I frequently visited in my childhood days. On this particular morning, I glanced down at the water and saw the most amazing and unique creature. It was a lanky bird unlike any I had seen in our area. Evidently, the bird didn’t appreciate that I was staring at him because, at my approach, he took off in flight. My jaw dropped! Above my head flew my pterodactyl. It looked just like it, and even though I knew it was a bird, I could certainly understand how my teenage brain had been convinced of what I had seen that day so many years before. Finally, the mystery was solved. The pterodactyl was, in reality, a heron which looks nothing like a dinosaur while standing upright near a river but could definitely pass for one when in flight.

What did I learn from the experience? Well, first off, I learned that herons are popular in this area, and I have seen several of them since that day on the trail. Who knew? Second, I learned that I can’t always trust what I see because sometimes things aren’t what they seem. Yes, sometimes in life I’m sure about things, or at least I think I’m sure, but I later discover—just like the pterodactyl incident—it’s a case of mistaken identity. What do I mean? Here are a few examples:

When I’m facing a difficult situation, and I pray to God for help, but that help doesn’t seem to come, I see a God who doesn’t care. What’s really there, however, is a God who loves me too much to give me less than what’s best for me and also cares for me enough to not rush the situation along before I’ve gained the growth I needed to acquire.

When I read the newspaper, I see a world that is completely falling apart while God stands by idly and allows His children to be persecuted. What is really happening, though, is everything is falling into place, and God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t even imagine.

I see a God who’s late, but the truth is, God is always on time.

I see a life too broken to be of any use, but God knows it requires brokenness to make the vessel usable.

I see efforts that are not paying off, but what’s really happening is lives are being touched across the world because of an encouraging message of hope written in a book or an online devotion or spoken in a Bible study.

That day at the Big Rock, I knew it couldn’t be a pterodactyl, but because I had no other explanation for what I had seen, I trusted what I saw (or thought I saw) instead of what was truly there. And that, my friends, is the opposite of faith.  

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
— Hebrews 11:1

When it comes to God, the Bible, and life in general, we need to have faith and trust in what we know, not what we see. Yes, things may seem out of control, but the Scriptures assure us that God has everything in hand. He has given us many promises to secure our foundation and help us to stand firm. We need only believe above and beyond what we see. When we don’t, we might as well be shouting to the world, “I tawt I taw a pterodactyl!”

Holding Nothing Back

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I’ve been told by the experts in the field that the only way to grow my outreach within the community is to tap into the power of funnel systems. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a funnel system is a method of giving away a small gift, which leads people to invest in a more significant product like a video series, which then pushes them to sign up (and pay for) the next step which is something like an in-depth course, which persuades customers to reach the final level—one-on-one coaching or consulting.

The system itself is fine, but the way it’s generally implemented makes me sick. It begins with a promise that the gift will answer all your questions and solve all your problems. What they don’t tell you is that will only happen if you follow all the way through the funnel. The idea is, within each step, they give people just enough information to whet their appetite and then promise they can find out more by signing up for the next level, which does the same thing. Only after spending hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars and jumping through a million hoops do you achieve the results you were promised.  

It’s so underhanded, but it’s prevalent these days. Why? Because people are desperate for answers to life’s toughest problems, and many deceivers prey upon those who are hurting and know they can make easy money by promising solutions. Once people are hooked, they feel they’ve already invested too much time, effort, and money to not see it through to completion, so they continue to hand over their money in hopes they will finally find the peace for which they’ve been searching. And sometimes they do find that peace, but typically, they also discover they have a new stressor in their life—financial trouble. But they need not worry. There’s someone else out there who has a funnel system to help with that.

When I was approached about setting up a funnel system in connection with some of my books, I was told I would have to rewrite the books because they gave away too much information. I didn’t hold back the good stuff. I was too honest and forthcoming, so people wouldn’t see a need to go any further or purchase any additional products from me. The ironic thing about this conversation is that they intended the comments as a criticism, not praise. I was being criticized for being too honest and giving people the information I had promised them. Talk about a messed-up world!

I told the individual I would not be rewriting my books, and if I developed videos, a course, or coaching based off the books, it would be done to help people who desired further help and information. I would not willfully withhold the “good stuff” from them simply so I could have more money in my pocket or have a greater outreach across the web. That’s not the way I roll because it’s not the way Jesus rolled. He didn’t hold back the truth. He said what needed to be said, even when it wasn’t what the crowd wanted to hear. To do anything less would have been outside His Father’s will.

Suppose Jesus was content to speak with the people for five minutes but charged a fee for every moment after that. Oh, and if you wanted healing, that was an even bigger fee. Time alone with Jesus? Better hope you have your checkbook. No, Jesus didn’t act like that. He didn’t use people’s pain and trouble as a means to fatten His money purse or spread His fame. He met them where they were and did what He could to help them.

Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear. I am not saying that a Christian worker or minister shouldn’t be paid for his or her services. God uses His people to further His work here on earth, and that includes in the financial area. It takes money to run a ministry, and that money has to come from somewhere, and I thank each of you who faithfully support this ministry each month. I couldn’t do what I do without you. The difference lies in giving money to help a cause or to purchase merchandise (like Christian books, wink, wink) and being taken advantage of by those who only offer empty promises and are continually trying to sell you the next, best thing because they know full well you’ll want it since they didn’t deliver on their promise, to begin with.

My challenge to you today is don’t hold back. Don't hold back from doing all you can do and being all you can be. Don’t hold back that smile from the coworker who is having a rough day. Don’t hold back from sending that card to the shut-in. Don’t hold back from taking time to call your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Don’t hold back from being a witness to anyone and everyone you see. Don’t hold back from giving God your all. Whatever you do, give it your best. Hold nothing back!

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
— Proverbs 3:27

Heed the Warning

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I warned him to stay back. I told him there would be trouble if he insisted on getting that close, but Barnabas (our 85-pound pit bull) refused to heed my warning. Instead, he marched right up to the gurgling drainage pipe and stuck his nose less than an inch from the opening just as a violent blast of water shot out, soaking and surprising my curious canine. “I told you,” I scolded, but after a moment of shaking and sneezing, would you like to guess what he did next? Yup, he sauntered right back up and stuck his nose in the pipe again. Evidently, he didn’t mind another face-full of water. Crazy mutt!

But I have no room to talk, for I’m guilty of making the same bad calls. More than once I’ve failed to heed a warning and found myself sorry I hadn’t listened. Like so many of us, I felt the advice didn’t apply to me, or I slapped it away with two of the most dangerous words in the English language: “I know.”  

“I know,” says the secretary who was warned that the cute guy she’s been flirting with at the office is married.

“I know,” says the obese individual whose doctor has, once again, stressed the dangers concerning his weight and the need for him to change his lifestyle.

“I know,” says the teenager whose youth leader warned him he was on a dangerous path by hanging around with the “in crowd.”

“I know,” says the church members whose pastor lovingly reminds them they would have fewer struggles with doubting their faith if there attended church regularly instead of when they felt like it.

I know. Dangerous words. Knowing and doing aren’t the same thing. We know a lot of things, but how many of them are we doing? Barnabas knew the pipe spit water. He learned that the hard way, but he failed to heed the warning and instead returned to what he wanted to do. He knew it was safer to stay away, but his curiosity won out over his intellect at that moment.  

Too often, when we utter the words “I know,” it’s our way of saying, “I know, but I don’t care enough to do anything about it.” Of course, we would never put it like that, but if we know and we aren’t doing what we say we know to do, what other reason could there be for our lack of effort? Sure, there are plenty of excuses: it’s too hard, it takes too long, I’m too tired, I don’t have the time, etc., but when we boil it all down, the conclusion is still the same—we don’t care enough to do what needs to be done. It’s not important enough to put forth the time and effort. And the result? We’re soaked with a spray of water. . .

Or involved in a complicated affair. 

Or hospitalized after a massive heart attack.

Or sitting in prison after being arrested for a crime our buddies committed, leaving us to take the fall.

Or watching our faith fall apart as we pull further and further away from God.

Knowing what to do in stressful situations is terrific, but it does no good if that knowledge doesn’t spur us into action. Don’t just know; do. Heed the warning. That’s not to say when we do, life will be perfect. But it will undoubtedly be better, and more than that, it will please God because to do anything less than what we know to do is a sin.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
— James 4:17
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
— Philippians 4:9

Everyone Needs Help Sometime

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Laurie was about three when one night she requested my aid in getting undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs, and ... well. “You know how to undress yourself,” I reminded. “Yes,” she explained, ‘but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they do know how to do things by themselves.” 
— William C. Schultz, Bits & Pieces, December 1990.

What a profound statement from a three-year-old. She's absolutely right. People need people. The Bible tells us that it is the duty of the stronger Christians to help hold up the weaker ones. Many times we pride ourselves in this. We gratefully bear the burdens of our weaker brothers and sisters, but we forget that sometimes even the "strong" ones need help too.

Sometimes we get the impression that the preachers, the Sunday School teachers, the pianists, the song leaders, the deacons, etc. have no need o our help or encouragement. After all, they must be strong in the faith to be in the position they're in, right? To a degree, yes, but even strong Christians come under attack. Sometimes they need encouragement or prayer too.

Keep in mind today that everyone, no matter their level of spiritual maturity, needs to be prayed for and encouraged. People need people. How about helping someone out today? It doesn't have to be anything major. Say a prayer. Send a card. Give a hug. Be a friend. Bear a burden.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
— Matthew 5:13-16

What To Do When You Don't Get the Desired Outcome

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Today’s devotion is for all of those out there who know what it’s like to be frustrated, disappointed, and confused. I am writing to each of the following:

 • The pastor who is preaching the truth but still not seeing the church growth or participation he expected
 • The overweight individual who has been faithful with diet and exercise for months but sees no visible results from the effort and discipline
 • The employee who obeys all the rules and goes above and beyond the call of duty yet is passed up for the promotion for the third time in a row
 • The parent who has shed tears and prayed prayers over their wayward child but has yet to see any fruit from their intercession
 • The teenager who had enough courage to take a stand for Christ only to find himself ridiculed and cast out by those whom he called friends
 • The wife who loved her husband and did her best to respect and honor him though it didn’t stop him from walking away and leaving her alone to raise their children
 • To anyone who has ever had a dream and worked hard to see that dream come to fruition only to watch it go up in smoke

Yes, today I want to address those who are hurt and brokenhearted. Those whose daily cry is, “Lord, I don’t understand. I did everything right. I was faithful to You, to my family, to my church, to my job. I did my best and trusted You, but it hasn’t paid off. What happened to the concept of sowing and reaping? I’ve sown a lot, but I have reaped nothing!” It seems so cruel, doesn’t it? So unfair. After all, there are plenty of people out there living it up, thinking only of themselves, yet they seem to get anything and everything they want. But I assure you, it just seems that way. In reality, most of those people are missing the only thing that really matters—Jesus.

So, how should we respond when we’ve done the work, prayed the prayers, put forth the effort, but seen no results? The last chapter of the book of Habakkuk gives us a good idea.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
— Habakkuk 3:17-19

If we don’t get the results we want, the outcomes we desire, the conclusions we hoped for, we should rejoice. Say what? That goes against our human logic, doesn’t it? Our default setting is to complain when things don’t go our way, not rejoice. But just because that’s our standard response doesn’t mean it’s the right one. Nope, according to the Bible (in several passages, in fact), the appropriate reaction to disappointment is praise. Why? Because no matter what’s going on in our lives, God is good and worthy of our worship. Despite our outward circumstances, we can rejoice because we have something that can never be taken away. When others forsake us, we still have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. And though it seems like our efforts aren’t paying off down here, God is keeping a record of every work we do for Him, and there will be a day of reckoning.

So, don’t lose heart, dear one. Keep doing the right thing. Don’t give up because you don’t see the results for which you were hoping. Your efforts are not in vain, so rejoice in that. Joy in the God who is Your constant Friend, your strength, your refuge, and so much more. And one day, you’ll see it was worth it all!

Can I Lose My Salvation? - Part Five

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So far in this series on salvation, we’ve come to the following conclusions:

 • Everlasting life is without end.

 • Once one is born again, he cannot then be unborn.

 • We are saved and kept by faith, not works.

 • Certain aspects of salvation take place the moment we accept Christ as Lord and cannot be reversed.

I pray, by this point, you have a clear idea of what takes place during salvation and now have full assurance that once saved, you will always be saved. But, before we move on to other topics, I want to discuss one more argument some use to disprove eternal security, and that’s the idea that one can be pulled away from God’s grip. In two words, not happening! But, let’s see what the Bible has to say about the matter.

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
— John 6:37-40

I love this passage because it covers nearly all the bases concerning salvation. Notice, Jesus said those who come to Him, He will not cast out. He continues in the next verse by saying of all He has been given, He will lose nothing. And lastly, Jesus confirms salvation’s plan: he who believes will have everlasting life. In this one passage, we see God will not cast us out nor can we slip from His grasp because then He would “lose” us. God cannot take salvation from us; neither can we walk away from it. But, to drive the point home, let’s look at a few more verses.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
— John 10:27-29

This is another comforting passage because it reminds us no one can pluck us from our Father’s hand. Notice the phrases: eternal life, never perish. And then, not once but twice Jesus declares no one can cause us to become unsaved—not even ourselves. Now, some may argue, “It doesn’t say that. It says no man can pluck me away, but it doesn’t say I can’t walk away if I want to.” Actually, it says exactly that. The phrase “no man” includes the believer himself. No one from outside of God’s grasp is getting in, and no one within God’s grasp is getting out. Why? Because God is greater than all, including the believer. Not only that but He’s also faithful to His promises.

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
— Revelation 3:5

According to I John 5:4, whoever believes in Christ for salvation is an overcomer. Therefore, God promises believers will not have their names blotted out of the book of life. What is written there regarding the believer cannot be unwritten. There is a verse in Revelation 22 which speaks of God taking away a part out of the book of life for those who add to and subtract from the Word of God, but to whom is this verse speaking? Would true believers try to change the Word of God? I think not because when we accept Christ as Lord, we are accepting Him as the Living Word; therefore, it would go against our new nature (the Holy Spirit) to alter God’s inspired Word. Additionally, it does not say God will take his name out, but instead, he will take away a part. If a believer were to fall into this category of altering the Scriptures, perhaps the part that is taken away is a portion of his rewards. I cannot be sure, but Revelation 3:5 speaks clearly, and as we discussed at the beginning of this study, we must focus on the clear passages and base our doctrine around those rather than a few scattered verses that are obscure and could mean many things.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
— II Timothy 1:12

Did you catch that? God can keep that which we’ve committed to Him. Well, what did we commit to Him? Our lives. Our salvation. When we accepted Christ as Lord, we turned our lives and souls over to Him for safekeeping, and God doesn’t take that lightly. He is able to keep them. If He weren’t, He wouldn’t be God, would He? God is all-powerful and is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), so let’s put two and two together.  

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
— Philippians 1:6

God has begun a good work in us, and He has promised to perform it until Christ returns to rule and reign. He won’t give up on us even when we give up on Him. The Bible is clear on this.

If you are struggling with your assurance of salvation, I encourage you to go back and study out the verses discussed in this study, and if you’re still uncertain, please contact me. I’d love to help you get it settled. Typically, those who struggle with the issue fall into one of two categories: (1) They’re saved, and Satan is fighting against them and causing them to doubt Christ’s saving power; (2) They once made a profession of faith but never accepted Christ as Lord. I will be the first to tell you that a believer doesn’t always “feel” saved, but if you have never experienced the peace and joy Christ offers, I urge you to check up on yourself. You don’t have to remember what day of the week it was or what time of the day it was when you called on God to save you, but you should be able to see some of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Again, if you would like help in this area, I encourage you to contact me or someone else you trust in spiritual matters. Let us help you establish your assurance once and for all.