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I want answers, and I want them now. As I sit on the precipice of a major life decision I want reassurance from everyone and no discouragement.  That’s why we ask so many people what we should do. Searching for the answers on the outside and not looking inward at what God has been speaking. Can’t trust myself and what I feel God saying I need a second, third, fourth, and hey a thousand agreeing voices really would be nice. Then if something happens, I can blame them. Look all these people thought it was a good idea. Like a child wanting someone to blame, to remove my responsibility. “Go through the process,” my pastor keeps telling me. I hate the process. The process sucks!

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photo by: KCNewman Photography

Reaching my arm out slowly wanting to grab hold but afraid to let go. I’m stuck in the middle between faith and fear. Frozen like a deer in the headlights, between safety and adventure. Standing in the in between, I am about to go splat.

Like, could all the lights to go green before I take a step. Can I get a stamp of guarantee?

That’s what I want to know, the beginning to the end. Is that too much to ask? A little god-like power would be nice.

No mystery, no trust needed.

The reality of calling and following Jesus is much different than my no trust plan. Often it is like driving through fog. We are moving along feeling are way around not able to see more than a few yards in front of us. When driving in fog, you don’t stop because you will get rear-ended by others struggling to see. You don’t go fast either because you could run into someone or venture off the road. You simply plod along waiting for the dense fog to lift. Eyes fixated on what you can see. No thirty thousand foot views here. We only think that this is the way to go, and we are trusting God for the rest. Fixated and dedicated to the little bit we can see, we do our best on what is right in front of us. We trust Him that eventually the fog will lift, and it will all make sense. We must live through the principles to get to the promise.

Why do God’s principles have to be the opposite of what I want? Sow then reap. Believe then see. Give your life to get one. Make yourself a slave to Christ to be free. Die to self to be born again. It is always the principle before the promise. But at least, there’s a promise. Do you know what is on the other side of emotion?

Nothing!

If we trust emotion, we are deceived. Emotion makes us foolishly wonder around zigzagging from one excitement to another. Emotion causes us to quit right before the fog lifts. Emotion causes us to settle for safety instead of PEACE. Emotion confuses lust with LOVE. Emotion mixes up happy with JOYFUL. Emotion leaves us empty and wanting more. However, there is a promise behind every principle

Here are a few promises of God:

He promises to be with us.

He will give you wisdom if you wisdom if you ask for it.

If you bring your request to God and refuse to worry, you will have peace that transcends all understanding.

If you seek Him, you will find Him.

Trust and faith are needed in the principle before every promise, and it’s not easy to trust sometimes. We have been let down by people and wonder if God will do the same. We have are eyes on the result all the while God is asking us to be formed and molded in the process. We are invited into trusting the process. Into allowing Him to mold you and shaped you. He promises to finish the good work that He began. Will we embrace the process and trust God on the journey? Trust the One who knit us in our mother’s womb. Trust even when we think it sucks. Only then can we be blessed on the journey.

Do you struggle to move?

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In life we are bound to go through dry points that test our resolve and trust in God. In my life there has been times where I didn’t trust God. I questioned whether He was for me and didn’t know if He was even listening. God has been faithful to me even amidst my doubt, fear, and unbelief. Thank the Lord.

Total trust is difficult. We have dreams and ambitions in life and God’s timing is often a mystery. We experience tension between where we are and where we want to be and it feels just like the Israelites wandering in the desert waiting for the promise land. At times I have felt like God is punishing me through the desert. That if I just fix one thing He will then come through for me.

Though we do have consequences for actions, I don’t feel this is the purpose of the desert. I believe God is protecting and preparing us through the desert. If you are in a desert moment in life, I believe He is trying to teach you these 3 things.

1.We learn to move when God says move. God wants you to move when He says to move, not when it is comfortable. God’s training periods simply requires us to do what He tells us to do when He tells us to do it.

The Bible says that God is the comforter, but some of us have gotten that confused and are aiming for a comfortable life. That is not what following God looks like. There is more to life than existence and ease. Life being led by Christ is alive and uncommon. It is bold and courageous. It requires long suffering and it is the bringer of life, not merely a comfort bringer.

Exodus 13:21 “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”

2. We learn patience. The Israelites were in the desert for forty years. I have been in desert moments in life, however, never anything that long. God will use these times in our life of waiting to stretch our faith in Him and bring about change and growth in our lives. Though this is uncomfortable and very painful it is necessary. Man I hate to learn this lesson of patience!

If you are struggling to trust God in the desert that’s okay. Faith is exercised and strengthened when fear and doubt are the strongest. Patience, although highly frustrating, honestly is what keeps us engaged in the process over time.

3. We learn to rely on God’s provision. God will give you what you need when you need it. The problem is we often try to control the uncontrollable. The more you try to control something outside of your control, the more control you are giving it. Trust Him and He will mold and shape you into what He wants you to be.

When you learn to trust God and His provision, He will direct your path and He will lead you in ways that don’t make sense to you.

Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

God is not subject to your time table. The Bible says that He is never late. Things will happen in your life when they are supposed to happen. It is not your job nor mine to figure out when, but it is our job to press through until the finish line. Believing and trusting God brings rest and life to areas of desert and disillusionment. I pray that God gives you revelation knowledge this week and that you trust Him and give Him more access into your heart. Be blessed on your journey even through the desert.

What does God teach you in the desert?

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Who’s Fault Is It?

Zechariah Newman —  September 23, 2014 — 9 Comments

You don’t understand! No one will help me. They got lucky. These are all the thoughts I have had. Protecting and defending my choices and actions can be a full time job. Even my sin I can shove aside as a generational curse or wounds of another. I have no responsibility for my actions. I am a victim to the failures and sins of others.

It is so easy to blame circumstances outside of my control for my lot in life. Blame for me is not hard to find and I have played the victim more than I would like to admit.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

As I write this with tears in my eyes, I am amazed at how I have let my flesh and Satan distract me from God’s purpose. I have been so busy squabbling for scraps that I don’t even look at what I can do! Today no matter what circumstances arise, no matter where we are, we can do something.

If we don’t take responsibility how can we change?

If we don’t admit that we picked it up, how can we put it down?

If we don’t recognize ourselves as a sinner how can we be saved?

2 Corinthians 12:9 states, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.'”

Failures, setbacks and challenges are real. Generational sin and wounds from others affect us, but you and I have a choice to stand and say, “Jesus I need you! Change Me!” Only when we take responsibility for failures, can we have the power through Christ to change. So this week walk in boldness. Be a warrior for Him by being weak and in need of a Savior. Do what you can and give what you can’t to Him. Be blessed on your journey.

How can you take more responsibility?

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God has given me almost all of the dreams of my heart. Yet it seems like some of the dreams may never happen. It reminds me that I am no different than one of my favorite dream chasers from the Bible, Abraham. The great faith that this man had amazes me. He was not perfect, yet he showed time and time again that he would trust God. Unfortunately, I think he is most remembered for one of his mistakes; a time in his life when he and his wife lacked faith to see the full promise of God.

God had promised Abraham that he would be the start of a great nation. That his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. I can only imagine his excitement because Abraham and Sarah had no children. This is something that they both longed for.

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Years went by and God had given them land and great wealth but no children. That is when the major doubt started to come in. So much that Sarah decided it was a good idea to have her children come through her maidservant, Hagar. She presented the idea to Abraham and he agreed. He took Hagar to be his other wife.

Hagar went on to give birth to Ishmael. God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation was still there. He was to make Abraham and Sarah the start. She would have a son named, Isaac. Honestly, all they did by taking the dream of having numerous descendants into their own hands complicated their relationship and their lives.

It is amazing to me what we are all capable of when we want something so bad. When we elevate our dream to an improper height, it can easily distort and change to find a way that seems logical at the time but has major consequences.

On the path to your dream you will face the Ishmael test. It looks different for all of us, however, there will be a point in time that you will be tempted to settle and plan for what you know is second best. For what you are fully aware is not what God intends. You will have a point where your hope is weak. This is when great faith will be required of you.

When Abraham and Sarah had the Hagar idea Abraham was eighty-six. He had lived in the land God promised him for over ten years. This is the time where you will be tempted to settle. When the window of time appears to be closing. When the journey has been long. Don’t stop. Just keep walking out the path that God has laid before you.

What God promises he will fulfill in His timing and in His way. Do not rationalize and justify, but do your part. Keep taking focused steps and trusting God with the rest. Be blessed on your journey.

Have you been tempted to settle for less than God’s best?

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I must say I hate the story of Martha. Hate is a strong word, but it is the truth. I hate it so much because I am “Martha.” I think there are a lot of people who struggle with being a Martha as well. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the “doing of life” that we miss opportunities to be with Jesus.

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I don’t have time to play around. It is a badge of honor to be so busy that I don’t have time to do anything. Get off your butt and work yourself into the ground too. Don’t sit there, worry and do something. Don’t take a Sabbath and don’t take a break. You just have to do more. Work harder, work longer and definitely don’t enjoy anything. Like Martha, my worth is tied up in what I do.

I think most Martha personality types think like this. We don’t even realize these are the thoughts that go through our brain, however, it is pretty close to the truth. We need to relax and enjoy the ride. We need the Marys in our life to help us get a grip.

With the fast culture we live in I am afraid that more and more of us struggle with a go-go personality. We have instant access to download movies, news, songs and books. We tap our foot if we have to wait a couple of minutes at a fast-food restaurant. We have truly become a microwave culture.

The first step for us Marthas is to intentionally rest daily. Make this a priority. This will be so valuable to you. Be intentional with this and schedule it. I am going to rest to start my day and to end my day. I wind up too fast in the morning and I don’t give myself space to unwind at night. These are going to be intentional rest bookends.

Unplug from this crazy society at least one day a week. My day is going to be Sunday. No posting on Facebook, twitter, and no emails. If you need community help with this, here is a Facebook group that one of my friends started. This group is all about unplugging for one day. It is a great idea. Let’s return to having a Sabbath and turn down the over stimulation.

I am announcing to you guys to hold me accountable to this. I pray as you chase your dream you commit to these things as well. Rest in the peace of God. We need to incorporate rest into our journeys. As for my journey, to be able to rest more and enjoy the moment, I will be posting once a week. I believe this will make my posts stronger and of greater value to you. Thank you for being along with me on this crazy ride. Be blessed on your journey.

If you want to read the verses about Martha and Mary click here.

What actions and planning do you do to rest with God?

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What If I Am Wrong?

Zechariah Newman —  November 28, 2013 — 9 Comments

What if I think I know which way I should be going and I am wrong? This is what I want to share today because it is a fear that goes into my mind a lot and I am sure that you have these thoughts if you have taken any action toward your dream. Here is the thing about this fear; it is kind of silly because it doesn’t really matter, yet this fear never fully goes away. Everything that you do contributes to the person that you become.

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Let’s stop for a second and think. How could the dream you are chasing or the goal positively affect your life even if it doesn’t come true? I will use myself as an example. If writing and speaking doesn’t pan out, it is making me a better husband, dad, boss, and person. Everything I do, both mistakes and failures, I dissect and try to figure out what went wrong or right. I am learning to trust God more. I am learning to be ok with rejection. I am growing constantly and am learning to pursue life despite my fears.

I wish that I had the secret of knowing what to do all the time, but there is no such thing. We do the best with what we know. Focus on growth and living today as efficiently as possible. Most importantly submitting to the will of God. Trusting in God is not a one time event, rather a daily submitting to His plan. This in time will lead to a life you never imagined. The path may weave all over the place, but it is the process that should be enjoyed not the destination.

We will never arrive. There will be another obstacle and more mountains. Once we get to where we think we want to be, God opens our eyes to so much more. Do not be disheartened or discouraged because the God of the universe knows all that will happen. He will direct your path even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Listen to that still small voice. Be blessed on your journey.

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Growing Pains

Zechariah Newman —  October 15, 2013 — 3 Comments

Life is a difficult thing sometimes. Nothing stays the same. We will be moved backward or forward. Are you advancing? Are you taking back ground restoring what was lost? One of my mentors has told me, “Embrace the pain.” This was very hard for me to hear but so true. You and I need to let our pain and discomfort be a catalyst for our personal development. Our greatest pain can be our biggest testimony and our greatest mission in this world. I have written my story of hope which was so painful. Fear of rejection, the loss of family, and the pain of expectations were other painful points. When we face pain we will never be the same. Facing difficulties and challenges is unavoidable. Learning from them is the part that is optional. John Maxwell has said, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.” We want to be shaped by pain, but not defined by it. These 4 things help me embrace the pain and grow.

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1. Mindset. How we look at our pains will determine how we end up on the other side. We can choose to look at the glass as being half full or half empty. We cannot control everything, however, we can control our attitude. Everything in life begins and ends in the mind. Focus on adopting a positive life stance. If we have a positive outlook, the good and bad things in life will be better. If we have a negative stance, unfortunately everything will be worse. Focus on the good and it will make the pain a little less painful.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   ~ Philippians 4:8

2. Time. Allow yourself to have some time to grieve. We are not thoughtless robots; we all have feelings. The bigger the pain the more time we need. We expect others to flip a switch sometimes. Give yourself some grace. I know it can be hard. You will get through this. Some pains like losing someone close to you can last a lifetime.

  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be    revealed to us.” ~ Romans 8:18

3. Help. We should not walk through life alone. We need people to walk along side us in good times and in bad. We as humans are relational beings. We need to reach out to those that are close to us in time of pain. Don’t bottle it in and close yourself off from others. In great pain this is my first reaction. It is wrong and can be dangerous. Sometimes you just need someone to cry with. Someone that will listen to you and have empathy.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:11

4. Make good changes. Pain can make us face changes in our own lives that we need to make. When pain comes we either face the feelings and try to change or we try to escape. Trying to escape can lead to hiding in addiction and many other self-destructive things. We need to slowly but surely train ourselves to fight for positive change and not run toward destruction. Think through what you can learn from the pain. Here are a few examples of things I have learned. I will be rejected; embrace it. Life is short; love as big as I can. Kids are a blessing; be patient with them. I can choose the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. These were not fun lessons, but I would not change them for anything in the world.

If you are walking through major pain at the moment I hope this helps. It can be so painful and I hope that I did not appear to gloss over the pain. I pray that this helps you to grow through your painful time. Allow this time to draw you close to the feet of Jesus, the only one who can truly change us. Be blessed on your journey.

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Earlier I wrote about slowing down to see hinge moments. This post is also about slowing down, but more to slow down and enjoy life. I recently participated in Jeff Goin’s Slow Down Challenge. Each day was a new challenge of slowing down and enjoying life. Things like take a 15 minute walk and really look around and examine what you see. It made me realize even more about something I already knew. I rush through life missing the very things that make life so magical. Things like the hills out my back door, my smiling kids, sunrises, and birds chirping. When did I start to tune it all out? When did the wonder of everything go away? I think we all rush through life missing the very fabric of what creates an excellent life. Always on to the next project, goal, and accolades. I wrote about how we should operate in life. This is dedicated to the enjoyment of life; to the sweetness of things we take for granted. These 4 things help me to embrace the moment.

 

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1. Breath. Slow breaths in and out bring me back into the moment. Most breaths are shallow. Bring the breath all the way down to your belly. When you breathe full breaths, you will see that everything including you slows down.

Mathew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

2. Thank God. To me this is one of the most powerful things we can do. Start verbalizing what you are thankful for. If I am not intentional to thank God, He can get only my complaints and my wants. What we are lacking is obvious to us. We want something so bad we make it a need. What we have pleaded with God for, we now take for granted. Stop and Praise Him like the day He gave it to you. (Tweet it) What is it for you? A spouse, kids, a job, house, your health. These are just a few things for me. Thank Him today.

Isaiah 40:26″ Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”

3. Go for a walk. Walks are great as they help me to put the stress of the day behind me. Walks help me to refocus on this moment in time, not the past and not tomorrow. Relaxing through light exercise is great and calms me every time. While you walk look for seemingly small things. Light reflection, kids playing, nature; things you walk by and ignore most of the time.

“All walking is discovery.  On foot we take the time to see things whole.”~ Hal Borland

4. Don’t multitask. People much smarter than myself have done studies proving multitasking is a myth. Our brains switch back and forth between tasks. Sometimes very quickly to have the appearance as if we are doing multiple things at the same time. Focus on one thing. Be all in the moment and don’t jump in and out of tasks and moments.

These things help me to enjoy the small things that God has created. If “I don’t have time” comes out of your mouth too much, it may be time to drop something. Productivity comes from doing a few things well and not a lot of things rushed and hurried. I hope this helps you to enjoy the journey of this crazy life. Be blessed on the journey.

How do you slow down to enjoy life?

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Remove the Pebble

Zechariah Newman —  September 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

I was running the other day when a tiny pebble about the size of a grape nut kicked up and landed in the heel of my shoe. At first this was barely noticeable so I kept going. Then it began to be more and more noticeable and started hurting bad until eventually the pain subsided and my heel was numb. When I got home my heel was bleeding and it took a while for my foot to recover. In fact for the next few weeks when I ran it reopened. If I would have stopped and taken the pebble out right away, this would not have happened. How often do we do this with our lives? Something that seems to not be a big deal we let stay. Then it becomes bigger and bigger, brings pain and causes problems down through time even after the thing is removed. These three things help me avoid more pain.

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1. Stop. The first thing we need to do when we realize there is a pebble is to stop. We are all busy. Stopping can feel like such a huge task at times. If we stop people may realize something is wrong. We get in a rhythm of life and don’t want to slow down. Before big failures, sin, and total uncharacteristic actions there is a build up. Stop and take the time to know yourself. I feel worn out and out of balance before I do something stupid. My wife and mentors know this so they ask how I am doing. So stop and look for triggers in your own life.

2. Remove. After stopping, now we need to remove the pebble. We do this as an evangelical Christian through confession. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confess and repent to God. In James 5:16 it states, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” So have someone you can talk and pray with. I have built into my life many guys that call, text, and check in with me. This is so healthy and needed. You and I are going to fall. Remove the pebble before it festers into something bigger.

3. Continue on. This has become my biggest struggle in the progression. Once you have stopped and confessed, it is done. Continue on your path. You are not earning kudos from God by beating yourself up. Wallowing in your misery because you are a wretched sinner will not get you anywhere. The Bible says that Jesus died for our sin. It is finished. He knew what you were going to do before you did it, and died for it. You screwed up don’t fixate on it. Continue on without the pebble.

The scariest part about sin is just like the pebble; there becomes a point at which we don’t feel it anymore. It is there and causing damage, but we don’t feel it. Our heart has been calised to God’s touch. I pray two things for you today. That you would feel God’s full love for you and that He would soften your heart. Be blessed on your journey.

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Unspoken Expectations

Zechariah Newman —  September 19, 2013 — 4 Comments

“Why is this taking so stinking long?!” These were the words spoken to my wife today. I, like everyone struggle with patience. It is amazing to me how long things seem to take until we get there. Then miraculously it wasn’t that bad. We are almost numb to good things sometimes, but notice everything that we don’t have. Isn’t the mind a funny thing? So why does everything feel like it takes forever? It is because of our spoken or unspoken expectations. I started writing and had such unrealistic expectations. It was like I expected the world to go, “Hey check out this guy!” “Have you heard of him, Zechariah Newman?” “He knows what he is talking about.” Sign up and follow him.” My friends and family would say, “Wow you were born to do this! How can we help?” As you could guess this didn’t happen to the degree I thought it would. Most don’t say a thing and most don’t care. This is not a bad thing. They love me and I love them. The truth is, not one could live up to the false image in my mind. It is as if I had attached blue thumbs up and sharing of posts as love. So where do we go now? Where do you go when you realize your expectations are unspoken and unrealistic? These 4 things help me set realistic expectations.

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1. State them. Rocket science I know, people cannot read our minds. Why do we forget this? “They should know,” is what we think, however this is not true. If we don’t state what we expect of others we cannot get mad when this unspoken expectation is not met. In any relationship we enter into both friendly and romantic, we will come into it with a certain set of expectations. Say what you expect so others can choose whether to oblige you or not. Make sure that this is done politely and that you are open to a “no.” The key is to clarify, not to get what you want.

2. Ask someone. Ask someone not involved for their unemotional opinion. Not gossiping, let me repeat that not gossip. Merely state what you are expecting of someone else and if that is reasonable or not. What we often do is ask many people until we find an opinion that we want and then ask a bunch more people just to make ourselves feel better. Don’t do this. Find a wise and honest person. I have a man I meet with Wednesday mornings. He has told me I’m a moron a time or two. I love him and he is like an older brother to me. Thanks, Joe.

Proverbs 11:4 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

3. Pray. Phone home. The Bible says in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Ask our Father in heaven. Be still enough to hear. Do what He tells you to do. It is as simple and as hard as that.

4. Lay It down. This is the hardest thing to do and the thing that will give us the most peace. We all need a moment like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Before being thrown into the fire for not bowing down to the golden image, they say that God can save them but then they say this, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:18. There comes a moment where we need to lay down what we want. Put the big boy or girl pants on and go, “That hurts, but God has me in the palm of His hand, mold me Father.”

I have been molded and changed more by unmet expectations, rejection, failures, and many other painful things. Don’t run from pain. Embrace it. We are all going to let others down. Let’s pledge to live in an atmosphere of grace. Pray, ask a trusted advisor, communicate your expectations, then lay it down. Set a boundary of expectation and then commit to forgive people even if they don’t meet it. We don’t need to allow people to continue to cross a line. We do need to forgive and love in spite of it. Blessings on your journey!

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