What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

stress-out

I have been there many times. I am sure that you have been there as well— it is getting later and later but you cannot seem to fall asleep. Every single worry that you have seems to have multiplied. Your mind will not shut down, and you just lie there, staring at the ceiling. You have to be at work early the next morning, but it is morning by the time you finally doze off. So, on just a few hours of restless sleep you rush off to your job. You cannot think straight because the things that kept you awake are still there, and the exhaustion just compounds the problem. You suffer, your family suffers, and your employer suffers when you find yourself in that state. Unfortunately, far too many people are in that state.

I believe there are a few things that one can do when they do not know what to do that will help them deal with the many anxieties we all have in life. I haven’t always done these things. But, I am implementing them more and more. What a difference they are making in my life. I am sure they will in your life as well.

1.Read God’s Word I have discovered that no matter what happens to be troubling me, if I will just open my Bible and spend some time reading and meditating on what I find there, I will soon feel a swelling up of joy inside of me that no words I could ever find could accurately describe. One of the more interesting things is how I can read a verse that I may have read many times before, but in that very moment that I need help, God reveals a new message I never received before.

2.Focus on others What if, instead of lying there at night, tossing and turning until the sun rises, we were to think about the people we know who are also going through trials. What if, during our hectic, stressed-out moments, we stopped thinking about our own problems, and instead got down on our knees and talked to God, telling him about our brother’s and sister’s in Christ who are facing mountains they cannot climb. It is very difficult to focus on our troubles if we are focused on others.

3.Praise God for His blessings It does not matter if you are broke, living paycheck to paycheck. It does not matter if your car needs to spend some time in a garage. It does not matter that the bills just keep piling up around you. There is always a reason to praise God. He loved you before you were even born. He loved you so much that He sent His Son to die upon a cross to pay the penalty for your sin and mine. If you have placed your faith in the shed blood of Jesus, you are going to spend eternity in Heaven with Him instead of an eternity burning in hell. Isn’t that worth shouting about?

J—Jesus first
O—Others Second
Y—Yourself last

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I Am Just A Sinner

Twenty days. It has been that long since I last smoked a cigarette. I have been fighting an addiction to tobacco for six months. I believe I can actually hear all the gasps as you read this. I suppose none of you would ever commit such a sin. You are such great Christians. Me? I’m not a great Christian. I’m just a sinner that accepted a gift that I don’t deserve — salvation. I still have to fight every single day against this flesh. The intent to do right and please God is there, but at times I fall. I have to ask forgiveness more than I would like to. One day I hope to be as good a Christian as you. Do you think I am being sarcastic? I am. A little bit.

I believe pride and an attitude of self-righteousness is one of the biggest problems I see in Christians, including myself. We far too often have a tendency to ignore the sin in our own lives while noticing and pointing out the sins in other people’s lives. It’s always easier to notice the sins that we are not guilty of. But, do you honestly believe God sees things the same way we do?

It is my prayer that I will continue to stay in God’s Word, draw closer to Him, and that I will not be a self-righteous, proud Christian as I continue walking with Him. Please, remember me when you pray. Imagine what a difference Christians could make in this world if, instead of talking about each others’ failures as Christians, we were to pray for each other.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 KJV

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.Isaiah 64:6 KJV

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Go Tell Someone

A couple of months ago, while crossing the parking lot of the complex where I work, I noticed ambulances and fire trucks  pulled in front of one of the apartment buildings. I immediately begin to wonder which tenant they were there to check on. I have been an employee here for several years now, so I know many people on a first name basis. I also have became friends with some who live there so I feel a sense of worry and anxiety whenever an ambulance shows up. At the time, I wasn’t able to wait and see which apartment the emergency crews were headed to because I was headed to another building. But some time later, I was able to head back to that building. Parked in front was a vehicle from a local funeral home. The sight of that rendered me speechless for a few seconds. I stopped speaking mid-sentence and could only stare, wondering who was now gone.  After a few minutes lost in my thoughts, I asked a police officer that I know about what happened. I was shocked when he told me who had died. The man was once a neighbor of mine for awhile until I moved into a different apartment. He was the type of guy who was never sick; the type of guy who never missed a day of work. He was not the one I expected to hear had passed away.

I’m sure in your life that you have experienced the same kind of thing. We never know when we will die. We can be laughing and enjoying life one minute, and stepping out into eternity the next. The Bible says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14  KJV Knowing this, should change how we live our lives. First, we should definitely make sure that we know we are saved. Second, if we are saved, we should do everything we can to reach others for Christ. What if you know someone isn’t saved and you never talk to them about God? Think about that. What if you are last person to speak to them and you never witness to them? You could have prevented that person from spending eternity in hell if you had only opened your mouth and shared the Gospel. There’s a chance you would have felt uncomfortable. There’s a chance you would have been cursed at and told to shut up. But, there’s also a chance that you would have watched that person call upon the Lord.

What if you are saved, but backslid on God and not the testimony that you should be to others? Have you ever thought about how many people have been watching you? How many people you could have reached? I have. For years, I was away from God. I was living a sinful, selfish life. I wasn’t reading His Word. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t attending church. I wasn’t pointing others to Christ. It’s difficult to think about and difficult to admit, but it is possible there are people screaming in hell right now because I never spoke to them about salvation. My heart aches to realize that so I’ve determined that with God’s help I will be a sermon to those watching me, and I will tell them about Jesus.

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The Greatest Ability A Christian Can Have

Do you often hear a singer praising God in song and wish that you, too, had the ability to do that? Do you sometimes hear a preacher that has such a wonderful ability to get the message across that God wants people to hear?  Do you see how some people seem to have such a way with words that they are able to talk to anyone and share the Gospel with them? Perhaps you sometimes feel that you are too shy, or wouldn’t know what to say to people. Maybe you even tell yourself that since you haven’t been to Bible school that you cannot do what you should be doing to lead others to Jesus.

If you are like me and want to please God, you are trying to find His will for your life. You are reading His Word. You are praying. You are asking Him to guide you where He wants you to go. But, you also get discouraged at times because you feel that you have no clear direction. Maybe, you believe that you have no special talents or abilities that you could use to serve God. Perhaps, you feel like you just cannot do it; like you simply are not going to be able to live the Christian life in the way that you should.

Stop. Stop all the worrying and all of the excuses now. I discovered a secret. I’m going to share the secret here in this blog post.

Does God use people with a great singing voice? Absolutely. Does God use people who are talented musically and can play an instrument? Yes. Does God use men and women who are outgoing and have no problem talking to other people? Sure He does. Does God use the man who can preach a great sermon? Without a doubt.

No matter what talents or abilities people have, if they are not using those talents to serve God, they are wasting what God has given them.  You may be thinking that you have no talent or ability. Perhaps you don’t sing or play an instrument. Perhaps you feel uncomfortable when talking to strangers and cannot see yourself sharing Jesus with them.

I’m writing this post to remind you and myself that God has a purpose for each of our lives. Trust Him. If He has a purpose, He has a plan to fulfill that purpose.

Earlier, I wrote that I discovered a secret. I’m not the first to discover it. But I discovered it for myself, meaning that I realized that I needed to apply it to my life. What is the greatest ability a Christian can have? Is it a great voice? Is it a way with words? Is it the ability to play an instrument? All of those things are great. But none of them are the greatest ability we can have as Christians. The greatest ability is availability. God is calling. Are you available?

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8 KJV

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A Secret Is Revealed!

I am going to let you in on a big secret. But you have to keep reading before you find out what it is.

I am a PK. A preacher’s kid. My dad was called to preach before I was ever born. He and my mom met in church and were married while my dad was in Bible college in Tennessee. I was practically born in a church. I grew up in an independent, Baptist church and Christian school. I started in the nursery and went all the way through the twelfth grade. I  never attended a single day in a public school. My dad even gave me my first and middle name, Jonathan and Lee, after two preachers— Jonathan Edwards and Lee Roberson.  Growing up, I would browse his bookshelf, which was full of books by people like Jack Hyles, John R. Rice, J. Harold Smith, the aforementioned Lee Roberson, and many others. At night, I usually fell asleep to sermons on my dad’s radio by men like Maze Jackson and Lester Roloff. Giants of the faith were household names in our home.

You may be wondering why I am writing all of this. I am doing so to inform you of the way I was raised. I had quite the Christian heritage due to the Godly parents I was blessed with. These things are not the secret though. Keep reading.

At my church, twice a year, we had a huge revival. It was called the King James Bible Jubilee. People from across the country came. We had morning services. We had evening services. Nearly the entire day was devoted to Gospel singing and preaching.  I heard at least six different preachers a day, and watched many times as the place “came apart” after people were saved and lives were changed. People would be shouting and running around. I’m sure there were some people there who thought the whole place was full of crazy people. But, it was just normal to me.  That was my life.

Here is the secret. I still had to do the same thing everyone else has to do. I couldn’t count on the fact that my dad was a preacher, or that he and my mom were Christian school teachers. I couldn’t count on the fact that I was immersed in all things of the church and surrounded by Godly men and women every day of my life. I still had to do the only thing anyone can do to stay out of hell. I still had to realize and admit that I, too, was a sinner. I still had to repent and call on Jesus to be saved. At the age of eighteen, the Holy Spirit of God got a hold of my heart and I was humbled. I went forward and got saved. The head knowledge I had been taught so well that I could have taught others became a heart knowledge I cannot fully express. I was changed from the inside out.

Perhaps you are reading this and have been, or are, in a similar situation. Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait like I did. Call on Jesus today. Right now. He will save you.

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Almost Home

Growing up, my family and I lived too far away from everything. At least that is the way it seemed to my sisters and I when we were in the back seat, tired and half-asleep, on the way back from wherever we had been. There were nights we would go see how my grandparents were doing and would not get home until late, and there were nights we had been to the latest revival at our church and things got “carried away.” I am sure as we rode along my parents knew it was coming. It had happened so many times before. One of us would inevitably ask, “are we almost home?” Mom had the same answer every time. “We will be soon,” she would say as she looked back at us and then over at my dad. “They’re worn-out, daddy,” she would say with a smile. I could tell just in the way she answered and looked at us that she was thinking about how much she loved us. That always made me feel so secure.

Right before the last turn onto the street where we lived, there were a few bumps in the road. I knew when we hit those bumps that we were almost home. I would jolt upright, wipe my eyes, and look around. A surge of joy would rise up from somewhere within me. I knew that soon I would be able to lay my tired body into my warm bed and continue the dream where I was the star basketball player, or the detective that solved the big mystery.

The memories of those days are pressed into my mind. I still have a wonderful feeling inside each time I think about them.  It does not matter where you go or how great it was while you were there, there is nothing quite like going home.

As a Christian still in this body and still on this earth, my journey with God can be exhausting sometimes. There are trials, temptations, and tests of my faith all along the way. It truly is a daily battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. I often feel weary and restless. But when I go to God in prayer, I find peace and comfort because I can tell in the way he answers me how much he loves me. And when I do hit those bumps in the road, I  can feel secure because I know that we are almost home.

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Are You Ready?

Everyone scatters, running to hide while I lean against a tree counting to ten. “Ready or not, here I come!” I scream out. Not everyone is ready. “Wait! I didn’t have time.” I hear my buddy Shawn yell from behind my dad’s car.

I am eight years old. It’s autumn in North Carolina, and I’m running through the fallen leaves.  It’s another exciting game of hide-and-seek in the neighborhood, and I am “it”.

Do you remember those days? It’s amazing how when you think back that it doesn’t seem so far in the past, yet, it has been years. It went so quickly, too.

I was sitting here looking out the window, thinking about playing that game so long ago. The particular thing that struck me was the phrase, “Ready or not, here I come!”  In the game most of us probably played as children, you finished counting and went to get the others, whether they were ready or not.

The day is drawing near when the last trump will sound and Jesus will come. Thinking about that, I’m happy to know that I am saved. I’m ready. He’s coming, ready or not. You won’t be able to say you didn’t have time. Are you ready? Not everyone is. Let us continue to share the Gospel with others until he comes to get us.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 4:17  KJV

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The Most Powerful Thing A Christian Can Do But Doesn’t Do Enough

I am guilty and I must confess. I do so with the hope that my openness will encourage others.  Of what am I guilty? I do not pray. Perhaps you are shocked after reading that. No, I’m not saying that I never pray. I do say prayers. But there is a difference between saying a prayer and praying. I do not know of any verses in the Bible where we are instructed to say a prayer. God tells us to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” The burden of the guilt I feel for ignoring that verse is too heavy for me. Are you sinking beneath it’s weight as well?

I recently listened to a sermon preached about the sin of prayerlessness. The Holy Spirit spoke to me so much that I couldn’t ignore it. I realized that I needed to spend more time on my knees, confessing my own sin, asking God’s forgiveness, and praising Him. I need to quit saying a prayer and start praying. Far too often, I have just went to Him when things were not going well. I would run to Him to ask for help in getting me out of the situations that I had gotten myself into by ignoring His will in the first place.

There’s nothing wrong with asking God for help. We should do that. But, every prayer shouldn’t just be us focusing on ourselves and our problems. Our prayer should include praying for others, but also praising God for all that He has already done in our lives. If He never did another thing for us, He would still deserve our praise for making a way for us to be saved from the wages of our sin.

Are you, too, guilty? Have you got so caught up in the rush of life that you spend very little time in prayer? So often we say a quick prayer and move on. But, if we expect the power of God in our lives, we must spend some time seeking God. All of the great men and women of God who were in the center of His will, serving faithfully, had a secret: They were faithful in prayer.

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Learning to Wait

In this day of on-demand programming, computers, smartphones, e-books, etc., we have an ability that previous generations could only dream about. In mere seconds, we can read, listen to, or watch whatever we desire, even on the go. The world truly is at our fingertips.

I enjoy the advances of technology which allow us to do these things as much as anyone. But, I have noticed that I seem to be more impatient these days. I’m probably not the only one. We have grown so accustomed to getting what we want when we want it. The question we should each ask ourselves though is, “Is that always a good thing?”

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a series of studies on delayed gratification [The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment] led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. The test subjects were 16 boys and 16 girls between the ages of 3 years, 6 months to 5 years, 8 months. In the study, Mischel’s team would give a child a treat and tell them that they could eat the treat immediately, or wait alone in the room a few minutes until the researcher returned. If they didn’t eat the treat, and waited until the researcher returned, they would get two treats. While the researcher was out of the room, the treats promised to the child were always visible. The child was told that all he or she had to do to end the wait was ring a bell to call the experimenter back—although if they did, they wouldn’t get the second treat. In the follow-up studies, Mischel found that those children who were able to wait for the second treat had better life outcomes. They would perform better academically, earn more money, and be healthier and happier. Those children who were able to delay gratification would later also be more likely to avoid a number of negative outcomes, including jail time and drug use.

When I read about those studies conducted by Walter Mischel, I started thinking about how we Christians are so often tempted by the flashy things of this world. It is extremely easy to forget that the pleasures of this world are temporary. I also couldn’t help but think about how impatient we can get with God. We want God to fix things for us, but we want it fixed the way we want it fixed. We say a quick prayer and then expect everything to change over night. It doesn’t work like that. God wants us to fellowship with him. But, instead of picking up our Bibles to read, we pick up the remote to be entertained. Instead of sitting still, talking to God in prayer, we are on the go, searching for the latest gadget. God tells us to wait on him. But, we want the “marshmallow” now.

There are a few things I have been praying about that seem as if they will never change; as if they will never turn out the way I want. As I write this, I am realizing the problem is the words, I want.  Instead of wondering why God wasn’t listening to me, I should have realized that he is listening. God knows what I want, but more importantly, he knows what I need. I should learn to wait on him. My want should be what he wants for me.

“The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Lamentations 3:25

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There Is But One Way

Imagine you and I are going to take a trip together from Washington DC to New York. We choose to drive instead of taking a plane. You decide that you do not want to drive, so I will be driving. You tell me that we will take your car. It is nicer than mine, so you get no argument from me. It is a smooth ride. Besides, you have talked so much about how your GPS navigation system is the best one available on the market that I’m anxious to check it out.

The morning we are to leave arrives. We load up our suitcases in the trunk. We get in the car and buckle our seat belts. Before I back out into the street, I turn off your GPS. You notice that I do it and mention it. I just shrug, mumble that I do not need it, and change the subject. You seem satisfied with my answer, so we begin to talk about our destination as we drive through the Nation’s Capital, headed to the interstate. We are both excited because neither of us have ever been to New York. The only thing we know about the drive is that we are to head north.

After we stop at a convenience store for snacks and gas, we head out onto the interstate. Suddenly, you yell, “You’re going the wrong way!” I tell you not to worry. I tell you that I am the driver, and I know how to get there. But, that doesn’t satisfy you. You ask me to pull over and turn the GPS back on, pointing to the signs. I ignore you. I keep driving, exclaiming, “Relax. I know another way.” I continue on, heading south while you attempt to persuade me that I am wrong. “But, you have to go north, not south!”, you scream. I see that you are getting very upset. I say, “There is more than one way to get there.”

If this scenario were to actually happen, you would think I was ridiculous. Anyone who would think that they could head in the opposite direction of their destination and still arrive would be ridiculous. And if they ignored the reality of that fact because they had too much pride, you would not want to listen to anything they said.  It would be obvious that a person who thinks like that is not to be trusted.

When it comes to Heaven and the eternal soul inside each of us, that is exactly how many people think and act. I have personally heard people say that they believe all religions are alike, and that essentially, the core beliefs are the same. The problem is that this simply is not true. All roads do not lead to the same place. Yes, there are a few things that most major religions tend to agree on. Most teach that people should be kind, love others, and be a good person. But none of that, as good as it is, is good enough.  If it were, Jesus would not have willingly chose to go to the cross. In Romans 3:10 we read, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” And in Romans 3:23 the Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Perhaps you are thinking to yourself that your God is going to allow all decent people into Heaven. First, let me remind you that one of the very definitions of God is that God is a supreme being. How can there be more than one supreme being? If all gods are supreme, then there are no gods. There are not many gods. There is one God, and there is nothing we can do in our own power, or through our own “goodness” to spend eternity in Heaven with him. Thankfully, there is a way that it can happen. Jesus is the way, the one and only way.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

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