About ehinkley

Devoted husband, follower of Christ, and father of 5!

Thankfulness

thanksgiving prayerThanksgiving is nearly upon us and with it comes a time when we will sit around with others and give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives.  Giving thanks is great and in fact, the Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20); but do you ever just get sick of people giving thanks for the same kinds of things all the time?  “I’m thankful for my house.”  “I’m thankful for my wonderful job.”  “I’m thankful for our health and or family.”  Blah, Blah, Blah…

Don’t get me wrong, these are wonderful things to be thankful for and I am incredibly thankful for all of them and more.  I could write a small book about all the things that I am thankful for in my life.  But what if we approached thankfulness differently this year.  What if, when it was your turn to say what you were thankful for, you turned to someone and told them that you were thankful for their faith and how they had made a difference in your life.  What if you took the time to tell that mom who you saw handle a situation with her kid in a cool way, how thankful you were for her.  What if you were honest about some hard times or difficult struggles in your life and could be thankful for how God got you through them and the lessons you learned.

Would that kind of thankfulness change anything?  If someone came up to you and told you how thankful they were for you and your faith and how you had made a difference in their lives, how would that make you feel?

I know this kind of honesty isn’t easy, and being thankful for your kids and your car is what everyone expects to hear, but maybe this year we try to step outside the box a little.

I was driving the other day and took some time to turn off the radio (which almost never happens in my car!) and just breath for a minute.  I found myself with an overwhelming thankfulness for who God had made me.  Not in a conceited, “Thanks for making me awesome God!”, but thankful that he made me who I am, despite who I am.  He made me the perfect fit for my wife.  He made me good at my job.  He made me with so much capacity for love for my kids.  He did all of this, for me, even knowing how messed up I would turn out and how many times I would screw things up.  Wow!

What are you thankful for?

Advertisements

Keeping Your Faith Alive Though the Doldrums and the Droughts

How do you keep your walk with God alive, vibrant and on fire during those times of life boredwhen it feels like you are just going through the motions?

For me it feels like the hardest time to walk with God is when everything is just OK.  When there are no highs or lows and God is not actively talking to you or lifting you up, that is when it is easy to stray.  So how do we avoid this?

Start by taking an honest look at your life and ask yourself three questions: 1) Are you influencing those around you (in a positive, godly way) or are they influencing you?  2) Are you being spiritually minded or carnally minded (Romans 8:5-6)?  3) Are there any unconfessed sins in your life?

As you answer these questions (honestly!) you may start to see why your spiritual life is not flourishing.  God may well use spiritually low times to test, strengthen, or prepare us for challenges or blessings that he has planned for you.  But those times may also be self-imposed because of sin or because you have been choosing worldly, carnal things over spiritual, godly things.

So how do you break out of the doldrums?  Here are some suggestions that may work:

  • sailConfess your sins and repent.
  • Get into the word.  Read your Bible daily. Joshua 1:8
  • Pray and spend some alone time with God.  Don’t forget to thank and praise Him even in the low times.
  • Get involved with other men.  Start discipling someone, or find someone that you look up to who will pour into a discipleship relationship with you. Get involved in some small groups.  Get to know some of the other men in your church.  You can’t do this alone! Proverbs 27:17
  • Have a plan for your life.  Whatever form that plan takes make sure you are being spiritually minded, not carnally minded.  Be focused on doing all things for God (Colossians 3:23-24) and trust in God for everything (Proverbs 3:5-7).
  • Get out and do something!  Actions speak louder than words and God has called you to take action for Him.  Get out and put your plan into action.  Love others as God first loved you (sounds so easy right!).  You don’t get to be a closet christian who has his ticket to heaven and then just sits back and watches the world go by.  (James 2:14-26)
  • And finally, expect God to show up BIG!  This is the God of the universe, who created everything and then died for you so that you could be with Him for eternity.  Don’t sell Him short and don’t think for a second that he isn’t going to work in you life if you are actively seeking Him.  He might not show up in the way you were hoping or expecting (in fact I can almost guarantee that He won’t!), but He will show up perfectly!

Quick Thought for the Day…

What if you only had the things today, that you thanked God for yesterday?

Interesting thought right?! (yes, I stole this from The Message on XM, but some of you don’t listen…)  The idea here is not to take this and say “God, thank you for the new car you are going to give me tomorrow!”  It is to remind us to be thankful for all the things that we have today.  Sometimes it is far too easy to get caught up in self pity and wonder why God isn’t giving us the things we are praying for (especially when we think we deserve them).  Remember, we don’t deserve anything but punishment for our sins.  Thank you God, for not giving us what we deserve!

Take some time today to thank God for all the things that he has blessed you with.

The Skit Guys are Excellent!

My wife just turned me on to these guys, and I have only watched one skit (the one below) but they are great!

Do yourself a favor, take 11 minutes out of your busy life and watch this (don’t argue with me just do it…)  You will be glad you did.

God’s Chisel

Don’t forget what you just watched as you go back to your “busy” day.

Freedom: A Blessing or A Curse?

We live in the land of the free.  We have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press.  We have the freedom to walk down the street wearing whatever we want (no matter how ridiculous).   We also have the freedom to get ourselves into some serious trouble.

God loved us enough to give us free will.  He wanted us to choose to love and follow him.   Oh yeah, he could have kept things real simple and just made us love him but, He wanted loving followers and servants, not mindless slaves.

You have to make choices in your life every day, every minute.  God gave you a loving heart and a discerning mind to make those decisions.  He expects you to use them!  The freedom that we are so fond of is a double edged sword.  Yes, we have the freedom to worship our God without persecution, we have the freedom to make decisions to better our lives; we also have the freedom to pursue money instead of God, to look at pornography, to make choices that lead to marriages falling apart.  You wanted freedom, you got it!

So what are you going to do with your freedom?  Are you going to use it to make short sighted choices that are pleasurable now, or are you going to use it to make the tough decisions to follow God?  God never said that following Him would be easy, quite the opposite!  Jesus never took the easy way out (thank God!), if he had we would all be in a lot of trouble!

I recently found an awesome website for the Third Option Men.  The idea is based around men’s freedom of choice.  Men, you have three options:

1) Live for yourself

2) Live for worldly gain

3) Live for God

How will you use your freedom?

God is Bigger Than Our Stupidity!

How many times have you said to yourself; “That was stupid, God is never going to forgive me for this.”, or “I screwed up big this time, not even God can get me out of this.”

Been there, done that!

Hold on though…  You are talking about a God who created the universe, a God who breathed man into being; and you don’t think He can handle your little mistake?  He is so much bigger than that!

You don’t think that God already knew that you were going to make that mistake?  This is the God who knew that Peter, one of His strongest disciples, was going to reject him (Matthew 26:34), who knew that He was going to be rejected by his own family (Luke 4:24).  Stop thinking that what you do is a surprise to God and that He doesn’t know how to handle it!

The problem with our vision of God (and I am definitely guilty of this) is that we limit Him by putting Him in the same little box that we have put ourselves.  We only allow God to do the things that we can think up, to solve the problems in a way that are logical to us.  Talk about stupid!

“”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”  Isaiah 55:8

We have become so arrogant as a race that we believe that if we can’t think it up, it can’t be done.  We have put God in a little box on the mantle and we show Him off to all our friends.  But when we really need Him, when we make mistakes, when we sin, when we don’t know how to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in, we walk past Him and wish that He could help.  I am thankful everyday that God is bigger than that, bigger than me.

We have to remember that God isn’t just sitting around watching us screw up and saying, “Oh that sucks, wish I could help, too bad for him!”  He already knew that we were going to make that mistake.  He knows all the sins that we have done and the sins that we are going to do, and He died for us anyway!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

I need to take a step back for a second and clarify something.  I am not saying that God is going to just fix all our problems or come running to our rescue every time we mess up.  Nothing we do is without consequences, and God is not above letting us learn lessons the hard way.  That is part of being human and what makes us stronger in Him.  But he is never going to stop loving us, or fighting for us to follow Him and have the blessings that He has planned for us.

Our relationship with God is a process.  God knows that we are not perfect (he made us that way!), and He knows that we are going to make bad decisions and do things even though He tells us not to.  It’s like we are trying to get from one room to another by walking through the wall.  We run headfirst into the wall and getting knocked to the ground.  We get up, think about it, and then run back into the wall from a different angle!  We get up again, and run into the wall harder!  The thing is, eventually we are going to figure out that we should just walk through the door!  God knows exactly how many times we are going to have to run into the wall before we figure it out, and every time we mess up He is smiling because He knows we are one step closer to figuring things out and finding the door.

God has a plan for us today, and that plan is a good one.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

His plan is not dependent on us being perfect or making all the right choices.  God knows that we are going to be imperfect and make so many wrong choices, and yet he has a wonderful plan for us anyway!

So remember that the next time you walk into that wall, or make a bone-head decision that you think is irreparable, God is bigger than your stupidity!  Let Him use that mistake to bring you closer to Him.

How do you define yourself?

One of our pastors gave an excellent talk today, and while I can’t possibly recreate it here one thing did stick with me.  He asked how you make yourself stand out, how you define who you are?

This made me think because, I have always made myself stand out by the things that I do. I try to be the man who knows how to do a little of everything.  Someone who does all the cool things, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, flying rc helicopters, martial arts, etc.  That is how I define myself and how I make myself stand out and get noticed.

What I realized today was that I don’t want to stand out for the hobbies that I do, or the sports that I play.  I want to stand out, to be defined, by being a strong man of God.  By loving my children and my wife in a way that is different from the rest of the world, in God’s way.  What better way to stand out, to be remembered.

I realize that it is not the most PC way to be recognized, and that it probably will not get me into as many circles as the other stuff, but is that so bad?  Is it not a blessing to be excluded from those groups and activities that are not placing a focus on God and a priority on being a godly man?  I think that too often we, myself most definitely included, get so hung up on wanting to fit in that we don’t take a step back and see what we are trying to fit in to.  It feels great to be accepted by a person, or group of people but, if they aren’t accepting you with your faith in Jesus as part of the package do you really want to be accepted by them at all?  Do your close friends, the people you hang out with frequently, even know that you are a Christian?  More importantly, do they truly understand that Jesus is your savior and what that has and does mean in your life?

Think about how you want to be known by others, how you want to be remembered.  Is it for the worldly things that you can do or that you know?  Or is it for being the upright, strong man of God that you are striving to be?  Once you figure that out (and I think we all know that the right choice is an easy one), then figure out how to make the daily choices that will make you stand out for the right reasons!