What is True Faith? 2 Illustrations 1 Step

Several years ago I worked with a gentleman who was trying to explain to me what his understanding of faith was.

He said, ”Richard, faith is like this. You walk up to a wide, fast flowing river. It is so wide and moving so fast that there is no way across it. But God has directed you to cross at that point in the river. So you pray, ‘God you told me to cross right here so give me some rocks to step on to get across this river.’” My friend continued, “When you have faith like that God will give you the rocks to step on and make it across where He directed you to.”

I thanked my friend for this illustration of faith. But I disagreed with him on one point. I still disagree with him on one point.

Faith is like walking up to a wide and fast moving river with no way across. You know God has directed you across this way but it seems impossible. So you pray,”God show me a rock to step on.” God responds with, “Take the step.” Again you say, “God show me a rock to step on.’ Again God says, “Take the step.”

This debate goes on and on until you realize that to be faithful; to have faith, you have to take the step. My point to my friend and my point to you is, faith is taking the step even when it seems like you will sink into the river and be swept away by the current.

Here it is. The payoff. The outcome of truly stepping in faith. As you step out in faith your foot catches a rock below the surface of the river. Yes your foot may get a little wet but you do not sink into the river. You aren’t swept away. God has you the whole time.

That is faith. Not in yourself but in God your creator. True faith.

Today, you may be facing a huge decision. God has directed you to take a step of faith, but you cannot see any rocks to step on. God asks you to step and God will provide a place for your foot to land.  

I challenge you with the thought. Where has God asked you to step out in faith but you are waiting for the path to be shown? How can you take that first step of faith?  

Stepping into a river with no place to stand seems crazy, especially to people in the world. Such is the case with decisions we are asked to make as followers of Christ. Sometimes, God asks us to do things that seem crazy to the world. We must obey.

I would love to hear what decisions you are facing. Start the conversation below.

While you are here, check out this weeks video:

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE DEPRESSED: 20 IDEAS

  1. Seek help. You cannot fight this alone.
  2. Don’t keep it a secret.
  3. Do something for someone else. Often, depression causes us to only focus on ourselves. Find a way to do something for someone else.
  4. Try to get the focus off of yourself. I know this is hard.
  5. Pray.
  6. Read your Bible.
  7. Pray some more.
  8. Go see your medical doctor.
  9. Pray some more. Do not give up.
  10. Find a friend you can trust. Talk to them.
  11. Exercise –  Take a 15 minute walk around the block first thing EVERY morning.
  12. Journal. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. Try to keep track of the things that trigger your depression. If you are not a writer then draw.
  13. Talk to a counselor. It can help tremendously to just talk to someone about how you are feeling.
  14. Find a hobby. Take up something creative like painting, or photography. This will get you up and going.
  15. Set some goals. Depression can leave you hopeless. Write down some simple goals each day. Celebrate when you accomplish those goals each day.
  16. Write yourself a list of positive affirmations. Read them each day. Or better yet record them on your phone and listen to them each morning.
  17. Make and keep a routine. Depression causes us to check out. Create for yourself a routine and  stick with it. This can bring about a feeling of daily accomplishment that helps.
  18. Read some books. Read books that are positive and encouraging. Read books that teach you about your struggle.
  19. Pray without ceasing. Sometime it seems that God does not care when we are suffering. That is just not true. Keep seeking Him and you will find Him.
  20. Do a personal check and make sure there is no besetting sin in your life. Did you hurt someone that you need to apologize to? Are you involved in a secret sin that you struggle with? Search your soul. Often a hidden sin can be the cause of a deep depression. If the Holy Spirit identifies one in your life confess it and start the healing process.

These are some of the things that have helped me over that last several months. Feel free to comment some other ideas or let me know if I missed on some of these.
You are not alone in your fight against the darkness of depression. Join the conversation.  

This Weeks Message:

8 Ways To Help a Friend Suffering with Depression

A 2015 report from the Child Mind Institute found that only about 20 percent of young people with diagnosable anxiety disorder get treatment. That means that many of your friends in class and on campus who struggle with depression and other mental disorders are not getting help.

Combine that with another survey that suggests that 1 in 5 students has considered the possibility of suicide and we have a lot of hurting people around us. You may know some of these who are hurting. You may have experienced a friend that wanted to commit suicide.

What did you do?

How did you handle the situation?   

Were you able to help?

I hope you were able to provide help to this friend that was hurting. But some of you may not know what to do. I wanted to provide for you some ways to help a friend or friends who are suffering under the weight of depression.

Here is a list of some ideas. Feel free to leave a comment and add some other ideas if you have them.

  1. Be there to listen. Make conversations about what they’re going through easy and open. Ask them what you can do – find out what they find helpful during tough times. Make sure you acknowledge they are feeling down but try and remain positive and encouraging. Send them notes of encouragement. Send them texts to help them get through the day.
  2. Choose when to talk. If you want to bring up a sensitive issue with someone, try and choose a time when you are both relaxed.
  3. Accept their condition. If someone is suffering from symptoms of depression, it isn’t possible for them to just snap out of it, cheer up, or forget about it. Asking them to do this can come across like you’re not taking their feelings seriously and could upset them. It is difficult for someone who has never been through depression to understand what it is like. If there was an instantaneous solution the person would have already done that to be well. It just does not work that way. Add an extra measure of compassion when you are helping a person suffering from depression.
  4. Get informed. Finding out more info about depression might help you better understand what someone is going through. There are various website, books, and blogs that can help you become informed about the situation your friend is in.
  5. Encourage them to get help. If you have a friend with depression, it’s really important that they seek help. It is a good first step to have them speak with their counselor if you are on a school campus. It is also a good idea to have them visit their medical doctor. Sometimes there are some real physical problems that can cause depression. If no solution is found down that avenue then their medical doctor can help them take the next step. If they are uncomfortable you might offer to go with them as an encouragement and support system.
  6. Back down if they aren’t ready. If you think a friend needs to visit an expert but they didn’t respond well to the suggestion, don’t force the issue or put too much pressure on them – it could put them off getting help. Remain supportive by offering help and suggestions when asked.
  7. The exception to #6 is if you think someone may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. In this case it’s important that you seek help immediately.
  8. Finally, remember that depression is hard to explain and often a very lonely experience. When you are there to support a friend just by being available it can have a tremendous impact in their lives. Never underestimate the importance of just being there.

What other ideas do you have? How can you better help a friend who is going through a dark period in life?
Feel free to comment.

This Weeks Message:

13 Reasons Why (5 Reasons to Live)

As many of you know the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why launched on March 31. Since then it has gained a lot of attention from teens and parents to educators and politicians. There are some very important conversations taking place because of this series.

We could argue all day long about the content of the series and the level of appropriateness of the material provided in the series. I do not want to do that. What I would like to do is point out a main concern of mine. My concern is that this series will normalize this behavior among your generation. Well, maybe not so much normalize that act of suicide, but normalize the possibility of suicide. When something becomes a possibility in the mind the action is easier to take. I do not want that to happen for you.  I do not want suicide to become a valid option for escape. There are other solutions.

A secondary concern that I have for those viewing this series is the series dismisses personal responsibility. How? It is in the premise of the show. Hannah sends cassette tapes to the 13 people who caused her suicide. Each of the 13 people receives a tape that says “Welcome to your tape {Name Inserted Here}” Hannah blames these 13 people for her suicide. Clearly, this dismisses her own personal responsibility in her suicide. Society does not teach it and many try to ignore it but you are responsible for your actions. Even when people are being cruel, evil, hateful and ugly, you are responsible for the actions that you take. We cannot allow this series to suggest otherwise.

Certainly, I do not want to make light of all that happened to Hannah in her young life. This young lady had to endure so much in her life. More than anyone should have to. But that still does not make suicide the best option. Suicide should never be an option at all.

Because of that I want to provide 5 Reasons to Live.

Here is the truth. Suicide is the number 3 killer of teens and college students in our country today. A recent survey found that 1 in 5 high schoolers has thought about committing suicide. ONE IN FIVE!

This is certainly an issue that we must talk about. And if nothing else 13 Reasons Why has opened up that conversation.

Maybe you have found this blog and you are having a tough time right now. Maybe you have considered suicide. Maybe someone has hurt you deeply and you just want out. Please don’t do that. Please get help. Talk to an adult or a friend.  If you want you can email me anonymously and we can talk. Email: contact@sameshirtyesterday.com

Here are 5 reasons to live:

  1. You are an image bearer. Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him male and female He created them.” Being created in the image of God does not mean that you look like God in body (because God is not confined to a body) but that you show His image in His moral attributes. What does that mean? We, as humans, display God’s attributes like love, joy, peace, holiness, truth, etc. in this world. I realize that I am speaking in ideal terms. But you must know that you bear the image of God in the attributes that you display to others.
  2. You are loved. 1 John 4:9 “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.” Two things here. 1. The love of God. The word used here for love is the word used to express unconditional love. It is a love based NOT on family affections, romantic passions, or fondness. God loves you with NO conditions. 2. God sent His son so that you might live. God’s unconditional love, expressed through the giving of His Son, is the only avenue for life. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, you can have life.   
  3. You are a masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them.” The word here workmanship makes reference to an artist creating a masterful work of art. You have been created by the great artist as a masterpiece. A portrait that takes time and focus and care to create. As a masterpiece you are cared for during and after the creation process. God, your creator, longs for you to understand just how important you are to Him.
  4. You have something to offer. So many times when you are struggling through the clouds of mental darkness you become very self focused. But when you realize there are others out there that need help and you begin to provide for them in simple ways then you realize “Life is not quite as bad as I thought.” You have time, talent, and resources to offer. Go and make a difference for someone else.  
  5. Future Relationships. At this point in your life you may feel like no one cares. You may feel like nobody wants to know you. But here is the truth. You will make new relationships as you move to different stages of life. Things will change. You will find people that love you and that you can love. There are what? 8 billion or 9 billion people in the world. I’m sure you can find someone. Change your circumstances. Change your outlook. Change your circle of relationships and you will see some new possibilities.

The purpose of this post is simple. You have options. There are so many options other than suicide.

Here I came up with five reasons to live. You should sit down and write down as many more reasons to live that you can think of. Nothing is too small. It could be that your dog or cat will miss you. Or that your parents will have no one to take the trash out for them. Write them all down so that you can begin to see all the reasons, big and small, that you have to live.

And once again I say. Do not keep it a secret. Get help. Talk to an adult. Or talk to 10 adults if you have to. Just find someone who will listen. You can email me and we can talk: contact@sameshiryesterday.com.

God Bless and Never Give Up!

This Weeks Message:

Planting Mars [Ep. 009] – You Find What You Look For

In this episode I lay out the verse that I have been challenged with for this year.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Will you join me in seeking the Lord in 2017. I have a feeling that we will come to know Him like we never have before.

At the end of the episode I offer an opportunity to join me in seeking the Lord together this year through an intense discussion group. I am calling it Preparation For Launch. Together, we will read through the entire Bible this year. We will watch some videos together that give us a better understanding of the Scripture. We will have a closed discussion group on facebook to share what the Lord is doing through this year.

If you would like to be a part of Preparation For Launch you can do one of three things. 1.) Comment below, 2.) comment on the Same Shirt Facebook site or 3.) email me at contact@sameshirtyesterday.com

I will leave it open until next Friday, January 13. Then we will get started.

Here are links to the resources we will be using.

Year of biblical Literacy

The Bible Project

 

Usually, You Find What You Are Looking For

 

It started like any normal Thursday. My wife was up and drinking coffee. We were preparing for a trip to Oklahoma City to spend some time with some friends. That morning we were talking about the latest updates to social media. My wife happened to mention a post about a lady who had lost her wedding dress on a trip from Oklahoma City to California. The dress had been preserved in a box that would help it last and she was transporting it home with her. As I understand the packaging for the dress had been a gift for Christmas. But somewhere along the way the box, with the dress in it blew out of the back of the truck.

The couple knew they had the dress when they left OKC and realized it was lost when they stopped in Groom, TX. Not sure what to do they called several OKC television stations and asked that they keep an eye, and ear out to see if anyone knew where the dress was.

The lady’s mother-in-law also took to social media to ask that people look for the dress and return it if possible.

That is the post that my wife was reading to me that morning. I knew that in just a few hours we would be traveling that approximate route from Groom, TX to OKC. I had a simple thought, “I am going to look out for the dress on the trip.”

 

 

 

As we left our house we traveled south on Hwy 70 for about 30 miles. When we made the left hand turn to head east on I-40 I started looking for the dress. I cannot tell you how I knew it but I just knew deep down inside that we would find that dress. I know it sounds crazy and I cannot verify it because I didn’t speak those words to anyone. But I knew we would find that dress. I set in my mind, “When I see the dress I will pull over and run back and retrieve it.”

As we traveled my wife and I would look at every piece of paper and debris on the side of the road. Asking, “Is that it?” To no avail. Mile after mile and minute after minute we looked and looked. I even had the thought, “What if we find it had been run over and destroyed?” There was no telling in what condition it would be in, a full day after it had been lost.

As we drove and talked we looked. About 2 hours into the trip I glanced over to say something to my wife. She was looking back towards the median. Out of nowhere she screamed, “There it is, but don’t pull over.” There was too much traffic and she didn’t want my abrupt stop to cause an accident. I was like, “Are you serious?” And when I looked at her I knew she was for real.

I quickly found the mile marker that was closest to us. It was mile marker 120. The dress lay in the median between mile marker 119 and 120. We talked briefly about sending a message letting the lady know where the dress was. But realized we could not guarantee that it would still be there. Also, we would hope someone would stop and pick it up for us. So we drove about three miles ahead to the next overpass and turned around and picked up the dress.

As I went to get it I had to play a game of real life frogger to get across the traffic. When I got to the median there it was, “the dress”  laying face up in the middle of the median. I was amazed that it was all in one piece. Only the corners were damaged. It was slight damage at that.

I took it back to the car and we proceeded to figure out how to return it to the lady who lost it. Eventually we were put in touch with her and then with her grandparents who I returned the dress to.

I don’t know why all of this happened. I don’t know why the dress flew out in the first place. I don’t know why my wife read that post to me that morning. I don’t know why I “knew” that we would find it when we turned on to I-40. I don’t know why we did find it. But I did learn a lesson in all of this. Maybe that is the why. So that I could learn a lesson and then pass it on to you.

The lesson is this:

Usually, you find what you are looking for.

Had we not been looking for a dress in a box along I-40 we would have never seen it. In fact, who knows how many people passed by the white box in the median that day. Hundreds? Thousands? Who knows. But none of them saw it. Or none of them saw it and knew what it was. Why? Because they were not looking for it.

Usually, you find what you are looking for.

That is the way it is in life. If you are always looking for the worst in yourself, and others, and in the world then you are going to find it. Just check out social media sometime. Or watch the news. Those outlets seem to thrive on finding the worst in the world. But the opposite is also true. Look for the best in yourself, and others and in the world and you will find that too. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. Stop right now and identify 10 things in your life that are positive. You can do it. I know you can. If you can’t then take the rest of the day and be on the lookout for the best things in yourself, in others and in the world around you. You will be amazed. Why?

Usually, you find what you are looking for.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

KOCO 5 News Story

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

News 9 Story

KAMR 4

 

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Here are a few thought on overcoming the lions that you face today.

You should read the book.

 

 

Good morning welcome to thoughts from my office on this cold December Day It is a few days until Christmas but my thought isn’t about Christmas today. It’s about a book I’ve been reading. The book is called In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. If you get a chance to find a copy of this pick it up. It’s challenging, it’s encouraging and I will share the main premise of the book with you today.

I picked it up at Mardels on the dollar discount rack and it laid on my shelf for about 3 weeks before I picked it up and started reading it. It has really helped me see some things in my life that I  have allowed to consume or control me. There are fears that I must overcome. A lot of this kind of fear causes us to stagnate and sit there.

So I want to share with you the premise of the whole book. It is based and second Samuel chapter 23 verse 20 Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever read that before. Maybe you read through the Bible and read that verse. I’ve read through the Bible many times in the past and never really thought much about it But this man jumped into a pit with a lion on a snowy day and defeated the lion we are told. And then becomes the commander of King David’s army a significant achievement for him. This man is barely mentioned in a few verses of scripture and this whole book it is based on that verse or that’s the theme or the premise of the book.

It’s a great thought to think about today and specifically we talk about fears that we have. These fears that control us. When I  look in the eyes of a lion my response is to turn and run the opposite direction. But not this man. He looked at the lion and chased it down and defeated it. And sol there are lions in our lives today. There are lions in my life that I’m fearful of. That I’m scared of. That I’ve been actually running the opposite direction of and I’m sure you’re the same way as well. So this book, th is the scripture challenges us to look at lion in the eyes and chase it down. And he goes on to say in the book to say that you may be defeated. You will be defeated at times when you chase lions but those are times that you grow.  Those are times you become faithful and those are times that you begin the conquering of those fears. The overcoming of those fears and ultimately the point is that God has called us to do some tremendous things that were too scared of. And how we we don’t jump in the pit on a snowy day with a lion. Which is just crazy. That is three things stacked against you, a lion, in a pit for you can’t run away, and snow. It’s cold and you can’t walk very well you can get good traction all those things when you’re battling a lion.

So my question for you today what fears are you battling and what is it that you need to look in the eye, trust the Lord in it, and go forward in it.

No so often we talk about fear like you can overcome your fear on your own. But ultimately that’s not the truth the truth is that by God’s power, his grace, his mercy, he helps you walk through and into those fears. He helps you face lions and move forward. So I hope these words are encouraging for you today as the Lord has called us to some tremendous things as we step out and take advantage of that opportunity.

Be faithful to do what he has called us to do even when it’s hard. Even when it looks like a big giant lion. Let’s go do it today. Have a great day. God bless!