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Blessings

Friday Inspiration

Surrender is the channel through which God’s biggest and best blessings flow.

Chip Ingram, Senior Pastor, Venture Christian Church, The Real God

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A Gift from God

In August of 2014, it was very hot in Bakersfield—as usual. I had planned a trip to visit my Mom with my son Luke who was 4 at the time. When I walked into her bedroom and saw her lying in bed, I knew something was wrong. She was extremely ill and I was upset that no one had told me. Mom had agreed to watch Luke for a few hours while I went to visit a client. She had been suffering from COPD, a chronic breathing problem, for several years and recently she’d had more difficulty breathing. I didn’t realize it was so bad she was bedridden.

Even though she was sick, I continued to be upset with Mom during my trip for hiding her condition from me. I left Bakersfield the next day without having cleared the air.

Just after I left, my Mom ended up in the hospital for a week and then was transferred to a rehab center. She was still very sick but seemed to be slowly improving.

A couple of weeks later I was in L.A. visiting clients when I got this sense I was supposed to see my mom again. My schedule was packed tight and on the day I was to fly home, I was scheduled to meet with a friend and client named Gil. I got a call at 5am on the day of our meeting saying that Gil was sick and unable to make our meeting. I immediately knew where I was supposed to be. I left my motel room in the early morning and arrived at the rehab center to see Mom still sleeping.

To watch her sleep, in peace, was so beautiful.

She was so happy to see me when she awoke. I was happy to see her too.

She was able to get out of bed and I pushed her in a wheelchair with her oxygen tank. We had a wonderful time together. We did Bible study, prayed, laughed, and cried.

This visit was the last time I ever saw her.

God gave me this time with her. It was a gift from our loving Heavenly Father to His messed-up child. So undeserving of this gift, even on my best day, yet, in God’s love, mercy and grace, He gave this gift to me, in His own unique and perfect way.

This gift has infinite value in my heart, for two main reasons.

  1. Being connected to God and knowing that He put this sense in my Spirit that I needed to see my Mom one more time before He took her home—all of this still aches in my heart. It’s one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received from Him. I want more and more of this connection with God. I know my busyness could quench the Spirit and keep me from perceiving these nudges, but I want to get closer and closer to God and get to know His mysterious ways more and more.
  1. I’m indescribably grateful I was able to see my Mom before she went to Heaven. Just two weeks earlier I was with her and was upset and departed angry. God gave me a do-over. God is so good, perfectly good! I am so grateful to God for so many things. For all things, not perfectly, but in my mess.

How have you seen God’s goodness in your life or have you had a chance encounter led by the Holy Spirit?

Friday Inspiration

Total commitment is the channel through which God’s best and biggest blessings flow.

Chip Ingram, True Spirituality: Becoming a Romans 12 Christian

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Hold on Tight

Why does God talk so much about money and “stuff” in the Bible? I thought it was because it was important to God. But recently I changed my mind. I think it’s because it’s so important to us.

Money is too important to me.

I’ve made some improvement in this area—not as fast as I’d like, but I think God is okay with my slow progress. I’m now a firm believer that the Bible is the ultimate authority on money and things, and I’m developing the habit of reading it regularly to see what God wants to teach me, asking Him what I should do with what He has entrusted to me. I’m also trying to have more conversations with other Christians who love Jesus and want to please Him, as well as seeking wise counsel from others who can advise Nicole and me as well as pray for us. I still have so much to learn—and just when I think I’m starting to get it, a stressful event occurs and whacks me back down to reality!

Handling money can be so challenging—always wanting more, never wanting to part with it. I think sometimes we hold on to our money and our things so tightly that they actually hurt us. I picture gripping money in my fist to the point of actual pain, and it reminds me how foolish that is. Sometimes we’re guilty of thinking far too much about money and how to get more. We believe that more money and more stuff will give us everything we need to be completely happy and fulfilled. I’ve learned the hard way that this is a lie.

When I read the Bible, I get a strong sense that I need to replace money and stuff with Jesus. If I am to hold onto anything so tightly it hurts, it should be Jesus. If I am to think too much about anything, it should be Jesus. Only Jesus gives us everything we need to be fulfilled. I want to get to the point where I will do anything to get more of Jesus.

Holding on to money and holding on to Jesus—two ends of the spectrum. The former is where I was when I started this journey, the latter is where I believe God wants me to be. And although God is not against wealth (money and stuff), He is teaching me that it is a stronghold in my life and as I loosen the grip, I am better able to grab hold of Jesus, my ultimate treasure.

“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

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Jesus’ Vacations

I’ve always thought Jesus was a foodie.

The feeding of the 5,000. Turning water into wine. The Last Supper. Even the resurrected Jesus had a barbeque for the disciples (John 21:9).

Once a foodie, always a foodie! I think He would love San Francisco restaurants.

When Jesus wasn’t praying, telling a parable, performing miracles, and travelling, I think He enjoyed some downtime—not in a place like Hawaii, but close to where He was doing the will of His Father. He relaxed and refreshed with close friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, at their home.

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home” (Luke 10:38).

Imagine the scene! Candles, good food, close friends, deep conversation, Jesus being served and cared for. He most likely departed feeling restored, filled up, and loved.

If Jesus needed this, don’t we?

I feel refreshed when I’m with close friends, usually one-on-one with no cell phones, dreaming of a generous and Christ-centered Bay Area. Just two hours can fill me up so much! Grabbing coffee—has to be iced coffee!—I love it. No travel. No plane. Not a lot of cost.

Real simple.

What do you do to get filled up?