I had a significant growth spurt when I was about 12 or 13. Specifically, I remember going through the growth spurt because I can remember a significant amount of pain from growing. When I would lay down at night, my legs would ache, but there was nothing I could do. It was downright awful, yet...
2017 is like a field of new fallen snow! Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a mountain, down below you is a valley and in this valley is just a beautiful field of snow with no footprints. Nothing has been marred, it’s just a field of pure snow and you get to make your path through...
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." This message that love could be love in the pain. That love could be love in the struggle. That love has to die and hurt -is the story of the...
Every bad decision and every bad place that we've ever been is because at a crossroads, we took the path that lead us to where we ended up. I want to say again, that if you and I will learn to manage our turning point decisions, we will have the ability to lead a life that is more! If we...
The truth is, most of us believe we're dealing with a disappointed God who's angry instead of a loving father who's forgiving! No matter how old you are or how much you have failed, God's dreams are not over for your life! If you could only get a glimpse of how near God is to you, all the...
A topic that often isn't dealt with in churches, is the topic of doubt. No one in the Bible, outside of Jesus, has received higher praise than John the Baptist -and yet John the Baptist struggled, questioned and doubted. And maybe if God affirmed him in his struggle, maybe today God has...
Proverbs 3:4-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding..." You and I cannot understand the scope and scale of all that is around us, "But in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Trusting Him will change your life and...
You and I are by nature empty, and we’re mad about it! In our emptiness, we are desperate to fill ourselves, and so we will fill ourselves with just about anything or anyone to answer the pain, the loneliness and the emptiness. We will fill ourselves with that which addicts us, we will...
John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word (God) became flesh (Jesus) and dwelt among us; to reveal Himself to us. The one who became, invites us to become. The Word is understandable, it is hope filled and life...
This is the heart of God - He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. One day when the curtain rises, and life begins without any mixture of darkness; you will find the hand of God on your face, wiping away all the regret, all the pain, all the rejection, all the abuse, all the hatred, all the...
I had a significant growth spurt when I was about 12 or 13. Specifically, I remember going through the growth spurt because I can remember a significant amount of pain from growing. When I would lay down at night, my legs would ache, but there was nothing I could do. It was downright awful, yet ultimately I grew much taller than my family.
There are a lot of things in life that require us to go through pain while we grow.
Like athletics or exercise, for example. You work out. You get sore. You run. You get tired. Soreness and fatigue are necessary in order to improve. And no matter how much stretching, medicating, and replenishing you try, there will still be pain.
But what happens when you need spiritual growth?
In my experience, I’ve needed great pain to grow spiritually as well. It’s been the biggest difference in my walk with God. In the Bible, Romans tells us suffering can produce in us the things that signify spiritual growth.
Romans 5:3-5 – Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Suffering—not just pain—suffering.
I’ve had my fair share of it over the last year. And the majority of it started with my own mistakes.
I’ve been alone. Nearly homeless. Unemployed. And did I mention alone?
I know now that it’s part of God’s design because without those hard times I would have continued of the path of doing the things that caused my trials.
Because I hit rock bottom – having no job, losing my wife, and having nowhere to live – I had very few options. To be honest, I could have chosen to continue a life of debauchery, I could give up, and I even thought of suicide for a long time. I faced dark times when all I wanted was to fall asleep and not wake up in the hell I was living in. Depression and anxiety were taking on whole new and personal meanings for me.
Instead, I held on to life. I found new faith in Christ. Admittedly, that didn’t fix everything, but somehow, I’m still standing. I’m still fighting and climbing out of valleys to get to the other side of my canyon. I learned that community with other Christians and vulnerability were not only beneficial, but for me they were life-changing and saving. My spiritual growth then, and even now, is taking me to places I had long ignored in my life.
My growing “pains” were very literal in nature. I was suffering. Undoubtedly. And all I could do was hope for something more, something better. And I grew into a Christian community that I wouldn’t change for anything. It’s a foundation that breathed life into the death I was walking in for many days.
If it weren’t for the hardest of times, I wouldn’t have been made aware of how much I need God. The people around me have blessed me and taught me that life is tough, but we serve a God who gives us all the tools to not only survive, but to thrive.
My hope now is to make it to other side of my canyon and use my growing to help others who are in need and who are suffering. I believe that was a call from God early on. The struggles that I was facing then and now are going to happen to someone else who needs Jesus just as much as I did – and still do.
2017 is like a field of new fallen snow! Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a mountain, down below you is a valley and in this valley is just a beautiful field of snow with no footprints. Nothing has been marred, it’s just a field of pure snow and you get to make your path through that field. Everything in 2017 depends on how you will depend on the light of God or yourself and the darkness of this world.
When the sun is coming down and the light is hitting us, we’re ok, but when circumstances change and get painful and the clouds come and block the sun, things get dark pretty quick. The trouble is, that too often when circumstances get hard, our hearts get hard as well. When circumstances go dark, too often in my own case at least, my heart gets pretty dark.
I have the unspiritual gift of self pity. Any of you all have that gift? Worry? Fear?
The reality is, that all of these things are like gravity pulling down and we struggle in this dark world with rising up and living in the brilliant light of Christ verses giving up and lying down in the darkness of the world!
When I talk about darkness, it is things like anger, bitterness, sadness. The frustration that you and I feel, it is the pain that is often pouring into life. It is the vision of the future that just appears. Well, have you ever tried to drive at night without your headlights?
The light on the other hand is the joy and the peace and the love of God. It is the glory of God —it is hope! I’m just telling you as a person who is deeply broken and the truth is that we’re all deeply broken in different ways, I struggle with not only living in a dark world, but I struggle with having a dark heart and with living down and depressed and under instead of soaring on eagle's wings! (Isaiah 40:31)
And when we allow the darkness of this broken world into our lives (circumstances happen) but when we let it in, the darkness clings and it depresses and it festers and it makes us angry, it makes us broken, it makes us less!
So the power of this message is going to depend, in part, on you owning your own darkness. Identifying your darkness. What is your darkness? What is your resentment? Your un-forgiveness? What is it that depresses you and discourages you that makes the future look hopeless and the past look dominant?
Isaiah 9:2 says, “But the people walking in darkness…” That’s a description of our lives in this world, and part of the insanity of our life in the world is that we often don’t see the darkness and we call darkness light. In fact, the scriptures in Isaiah 5:20 says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
That’s just the nature of what we do. In fact, all of our sin that we turn to, is us turning to something other than God (which is called idolatry) and we’re calling something other than God good when in fact it is evil because we’ve put it above God.
“But the people walking in darkness have seen a great light…” That is about Jesus, “…on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)
Guys, I just want to say that 2017 can be the most brilliant year of our lives! It can be full of light. Full of hope. Full of joy. Full of peace. The truth is, the way that we get to the light in a dark world and the way that we live overcoming and not dying down is through prayer!
Prayer is the path to a life in the light!
So you and I don’t have to live dying down. We don’t have to live angry. We don’t have to live dabbling with sin and destruction! We can live in the freedom of the glorious light of God!
It is amazing when the light comes on, how fearless you can be! When the light comes on, fear begins to evaporate. When the light comes on, anger begins to recede. When the light comes on, forgiveness begins to flow. When the light comes on, we can see the insanity!
Prayer is the path to a life in the light so that no matter how hard circumstances are, no matter how difficult the moment or the day or the year is, we are not in the dark —we are alive in the light of God. Everything depends on how we depend! -Dr. Drew Shofner
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." This message that love could be love in the pain. That love could be love in the struggle. That love has to die and hurt -is the story of the cross for Jesus.
We know that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son (John 3:16). We know that love was crucified and suffered on the cross. But the message of the cross that we love, is that it's not just Jesus who must suffer and still love -it's us!
There is nothing wrong with you that you're experiencing what you're experiencing, because a God who is good has a purpose in the pain that He allows! This is the promise of scripture that "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28
I'm just telling you, this completely reinterprets the pain of our lives when we begin to understand that God loves the work of His hammer. He trusts the heat of His forge. He knows the power of His hand to shape something that in the end is good and strong and right and true!
We are small and wrong for resenting this process, and so when God seems gone, remember the word 'seems.' Champions for Christ don't quit on God even when the reasons seem good. In the good of God, the pain He brings serves a purpose He loves! -Dr. Drew Shofner
Every bad decision and every bad place that we've ever been is because at a crossroads, we took the path that lead us to where we ended up. I want to say again, that if you and I will learn to manage our turning point decisions, we will have the ability to lead a life that is more!
If we continue to be emotionally driven, if we continue to be helpless and without hope and power in our lives, then we are adrift in life and are going to be driven by the winds of circumstances, feelings and other peoples decisions.
I'm here to tell you that you can manage your turning point decisions. When life offers you bad, and it has, we have to go to the good of God and we have to soak in the presence of Jesus! This is everything, this is the call of God, and the way forward!
This is what hell doesn't want you to know, but it's the whole truth of the scripture of the Bible. It's what God wants us to do and it's what Jesus did in Matthew 14:1-3; 23 in the story of the murder of John the Baptist.
There will always be this drive in us that wants to run away from God and yet there's going to be this whisper inside of us that tells us that we have to go to God.
Here's the choice we have to make because the simple reality is 'what your heart does with pain is going to determine just about everything in your life!'
Where you go with your pain is going to determine your emotional health, your spiritual health -all of your health!
With pain, we try a variety of techniques and strategies. Sometimes we just try to stuff pain down and ignore it. You need to know that's about as effective as ignoring cancer in your life! You can stuff pain down and ignore it but it's gonna grow and be cancerous and infect other areas of your life!
So when we come to these turning points, we have a choice of 'where are we going to find good?'
There is the 'good' that we identify and think is the answer and there is the good of God; which is completely different.
So you're in pain...where do you go?
You gotta do something to end the pain right? The bottom of the can seems like the way to go. Maybe it's the joint? Maybe it's the porn on the computer? I feel bad and maybe this is gonna be something! We rarely call these things good but they are 'the good' that we are going to --to answer our pain!
Your marriage isn't going very well...you know there will always be an endless procession of other human beings out there who are empty and you're empty and you're gonna come together without God! Empty on empty trying to be filled! I won't even say good luck with that, I would just say I hope you fail very very quickly so that your damage is less than failing in a bigger way!
Your sin nature is going to try to find alternatives to the 'good of God.' You're going to turn to something to answer your pain. Whether it's the bottle, whether it's the respect of other people at work, the idolatry of ego. Whatever it is, in these turning point moments, if you turn to anything other than God, you're going to be overwhelmed by evil!
Here's why...when evil comes into our lives it just seems so big. Have you ever felt hopeless in your life? Have you ever felt so utterly alone you don't even know how to go forward? Have you ever been so wounded by somebody's choices and so angry that you just wanted to strike back?
Satan doesn't want us to recognize when we're in a turning point place but that's the first thing you have to do. The move that we have to make is to go to the good of God and to do what Jesus did! He ran into the presence of God! In the face of all of the evil (the murder of His cousin, John the Baptist) He soaked in the presence of God and He was reminded of how infinitely powerful God is and what a great plan God has for the world and how loving the Father is!
He was reminded that human decisions have power for a season but not for eternity! He was reminded of all that God is and all that God was going to do and in the presence of the Father --everything changes!
Guys, this message is so simple but I'm just telling you it's probably one of the most life changing messages I have ever preached or will ever preach and what it means, you will have to go and spend the rest of your life figuring that out -but it will change everything!
You see the turning point strategy of Jesus' life was very very simple: He went to the Father and He soaked in the glory of God!
Just as it's impossible to stay cold on the sun's surface, it is impossible to stay lost, discouraged, depressed, self-defeated, hopeless, angry or wounded in the Father's presence. You cannot be cold on the surface of the sun!
You and I cannot stay wounded, bitter, down, defeated, depressed and unloving! We can't stay hating the person in the mirror, we can't stay in any of those places in the presence of God!
Because in the presence of God is the fullness of joy! In the presence of God there is everlasting love! In the presence of God there is overwhelming goodness! In the presence of God there is ever lasting victory and the only way you and I can live a small, defeated, addicted, broken down sinful life is if we keep our distance from God! -Dr. Drew Shofner
The truth is, most of us believe we're dealing with a disappointed God who's angry instead of a loving father who's forgiving! No matter how old you are or how much you have failed, God's dreams are not over for your life!
If you could only get a glimpse of how near God is to you, all the pain and loneliness that you may be feeling and carrying in your life would be overwhelmed and overcome by the nearness of the love and joy and peace of Jesus Christ.
He is a God of new beginnings, not only of second chances, but our God is a God of infinite grace for those who dare to believe in His goodness!
As we walk into the future, life doesn't have to get worse. Day by day, things can honestly move forward and get better because of Jesus, and why not experience the very best we can before we see Jesus face to face? - Dr. Drew Shofner