Having the faith of a child

Working with kids is captivating, intriguing and rewarding. For the most part the kids I work with want to learn and they show interest in my classes. Some would rather be somewhere else and it shows. Their attitude is not always the best and staying focused is not easy for them. They do all have that childlike demeanor where new things are exciting and they believe almost anything. Their belief system hasn’t completely been corrupted by doubt and they will believe something even when it’s not backed up by evidence. Jesus tells us to be more like children. He also said to let children come to Him. He encouraged us to keep that childlike faith and to not let the world corrupt that faith. As a teenager accepting Christ, I had a childlike faith that some could call gullible faith but I like to think that it was deep faith. I believed everything I read in the Bible. I was so struck by God’s awesomeness that I restricted myself from breathing too loud if I thought it could hinder my faith. I am exaggerating but I believed so much that I didn’t want to do anything that would displease God. Then life took a toll on me and my faith diminished. I started to take things too seriously and I lost that childlike faith. I do remember what it feels like and I am able to go back to it on a regular basis now. Today I want to invite you to regain your childlike faith. I want to encourage you to go to the Father as a His child. A child who believes every word his or her father says. A child who has no doubt that his or her father is a good caring father.

The Lord wants us to go to Him like children would because it establishes the relationship we have with Him. He is our Father and He takes His role very seriously. Think of the best dad in the world and multiply his great attributes by a billion times. It’s hard to fathom isn’t it? Yet that is how our Lord is with us. He is the best dad in the universe who longs for us to see Him as the loving figure that He is. No more distance, no more disconnection with Him. He has a relationship with us that we should maintain and preserve. Kids who have great fathers love to spend time with them and talk to them. Imagine having the most amazing dad ever and not taking the time to be with him. That is unfortunately what many of us do. We are more interested in developing a relationship with strangers than having a love relationship with our creator. We know how it feels to have strong friendships with people but we are not too familiar with having a bond with the One who loves us the most. We keep wanting to be adopted by the wrong people when the Lord is telling us that we belong with Him and we shouldn’t look for a shelter in all the wrong places. Parenthood is something the Lord does with excellence but we need to give Him a chance to prove it.

A childlike faith can move mountains. It’s a faith that accepts everything just because we take our Father’s word for it. A child usually doesn’t question his or her father. There is trust and there is a sense of security and safety when around the father. It’s that trust we should strive to develop. If we could only get rid of our adult blindfolds and let our eyes be open to childlike faith we would start to see mountains move. Take the time to observe children and you will learn a thing or two about their faith almost anything. I pray that we find ways to stop the world from corrupting our faith and we stay grounded in a childlike faith that sees God for whom He is. Not because we are taught what He is like but because we have a firsthand relationship with Him. It’s time to go back to the basics of faith and remove all the additions that have made holes in our belief system. Let’s pray for faith to rise again and to lead us people into the path of love, peace, joy, victory and blessings from above!

Suggested reading: Proverbs 22:6; Matthew 18:3; Luke 18:17


Make a “happy list”

Find something good and that you love in your life. Focus on it. Devote more time to it and you will show God more appreciation for what you have been given. People say “Focus on the good and don’t dwell on the bad.” I agree with that idea 100%. The Bible also invites us to spend more time thinking about good things than dwelling on the negative. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” is a great recommendation that we find in Philippians 4:8. Can you think of good things you can concentrate on today? Make it a daily priority to ignore the bad and magnify the good. It’s a beautiful way to show gratitude to God since all good things come from Him. 

Ten good things could happen to us in one day and two bad things and we will end up remembering the bad things more. The bad sucks up all of our energy when the good should indeed be the source of our energy. Good feelings keep us going. Bad feelings slow us down and zap our zest for life. I find that even when things are not going well, there are a number of good things I can zero in on. It’s up to me to decide not to amplify the negative things. We often have a choice over what we can think of but we also often think we don’t have a choice. I’m a list guy and I love making lists for all sorts of things. I just created a happy list. It’s a list of the good that is taking place in my life on a daily basis. I keep a journal of my daily experiences and I just added a new section. I am going to write three different good things every day. I can’t repeat the same things twice during the week. This will force me to really scrutinize my life and recognize every big and small good things. There is so much good in the small things too. 

The more we think of the good in our lives the more we realize that God is indeed active in our lives and He wants us to have good things. I can’t control a lot of things but I can control how I will handle a lot of things. I can control my attitude. I can control my approach to the good and the bad. I take the bad and turn it over to the Lord. Prayer is the best way for me to deal with the bad. If you have other ways that work for you, by all means use them and keep them close by for the next storm. Your umbrella of protection probably looks different from mine but it is an umbrella nonetheless. I know of someone who has to be left alone when things hit him hard and it works well for him. He just spends alone time with God on a walk usually. Come up with a happy list. That list will come in handy almost every day. I can guarantee that. Put family members, friends, beautiful moments on that list. Whatever is good, noble and pure belongs on that list. Focus on it. It will reduce your anxiety and the stress of every day. Stay focused!

Suggested reading: James 3:17; Romans 12:9-21; Titus 2:7

Indulge in your favorite comfort foods 

Comfort food is food that gives consolation or a feeling of well-being. Yogurt is one of my favorite comfort foods because it brings back good feelings from childhood. Comfort food takes you back to a familiar place that you love and cherish. It makes you feel at home. Most people eat their comfort food in order to deal with painful and tense situations. The Word of God is food for the soul and it is nourishment for our whole being. It is a huge supply of food that we should be having every day to maintain a healthy (spiritual) lifestyle. We can find some delicious comfort food in the Word. We can find passages that take us back to a familiar and safe place. What is your (Bible) comfort food? What passages do you turn to when you need to feel at home again while going through an uneasy time? Let me share some of my comfort foods . 

1. The ice-cream of consistency: “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). This comfort food is my to-go food. I snack on it the most. I take it out of the fridge of God’s provisions every chance I get. The Jesus who did great things for me years ago is still the same. He has the same love, He keeps the same promises and He has the same power. As I indulge in this comfort food, I find the strength I need. It gives me spiritual energy for the rest of the day. 

2. The calming dessert: “The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3). This comfort food brings a lot of peace. It encourages me to get into meditative prayer and it soothes my mind, my soul and my spirit. God is the ultimate provider for all things. Eating this food daily is a great reminder that I have nothing to worry about. He will always meet my needs. 

3. The hearty snack: “And now these three remains: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). This snack always satisfies and it covers all food groups. It will sustain you for a long time and it will keep you in the truth. Eat it at all times. Don’t ever worry about overeating love. It’s the key to everything. 

I strongly encourage you to define your comfort foods and to indulge in them. They will bless you every time. Eat up!

Suggested reading: Isaiah 25:6; Ezekiel 34:14; 1 Corinthians 10:3

It doesn’t matter what you are up against 

I don’t know what’s going to happen this week. I don’t know if there will be acts of terrorism or casualties. I don’t know if you are going to have your heart broken or you are going to run into difficulties. What I know for sure is that God’s mercy will be enough for you and He delights in showing mercy. I know for sure that you will have what you need to face the challenges that will come up. I know that you are going to go through this week with the necessary equipment to have a great week. I also know that since God is on your side it doesn’t matter who is against you or what is against you. Romans 8:31 puts it nicely. It says “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” “These things” refer to all adversity, the opposition, problems, conflicts and all negative things. They will come. They will happen but it doesn’t matter because we have Someone greater and stronger for us. He is on our side and He is rooting for us. “These things” won’t win. You will win. 

I am not making negative predictions by alluding to the fact that “these things” could take place this week. If we think that nothing bad will ever happen, we put ourselves in a very vulnerable position and we stick our head in a bubble outside of reality. Once I understood that “these things” are bound to happen it actually made me feel better. Once again I have to say that I don’t go around expecting bad thing to happen. I go around with joy and confidence that no matter what happens I can handle it and I will go through it with flying colors because of the One who is for me. If you adopt the same attitude, you will live a lighter life and you will have a more constant positive outlook on life. Just hold on to the truth that God is for you. If you get sick, God will still be for you and He will help you. If you get bad news, God will still be for you and He will help you. If you get hurt physically or emotionally, God will be for you and He will help you. “These things” could be the worst things you have encountered BUT God will be for you and He will get your through them. 

Since God is for you and He always says you have nothing to worry about, enter this week with the assurance that you indeed have nothing to worry about. Keep in mind that you are in good hands no matter what bad hand life deals you this week. You are living in the truth and the truth is that blessings and favor will follow you every day this week. You are going to be a blessing to people around you and you are going to encourage those who need encouragement because that is part of who you are whether you know it or not. This week is going to be very good because it is what you can expect. Expect to be surrounded by mercy and grace. Expect to bounce back when you get punched by the opposition. Nothing that happens to you this week can stop what God has planned for you. His goodness is going to be present. His wisdom is going to dawn on you. His love is going to walk this earth thanks to you. Stay encouraged and praise Him for what’s to come. The good will be sustained, the bad will be dealt with beautifully, and the ugly will be beautified. Have a great week!

Suggested reading: Psalm 118:6; Jeremiah 1:19; 1 John 4:4

Take a break from the pain 

No one would deny that the atrocities taking place in the world have affected a lot of us emotionally. Pain and sadness seem to be a commonplace wherever you go these days. We are not immune to sorrow but we can take the necessary measures to deal with it. My proposal today is to take a break from the pain. Take a break from the sadness. “How?” you may ask. Have a fun. Have a party. Attack sadness with joy. Joy is a strength that can restore us from sickness to health and that can boost our morale when we tap into it. I am not saying this is easy to achieve but I am saying it can be done. Nurturing sadness will allow it to grow into something even more devastating. Cultivating joy will enable you to face the harsh realities of life with power. There is tremendous power in joy and it’s time we excavated it. Having a relationship with God implies having access to unlimited joy. Too many people are not aware of that and think that staying sad is pious and most accepted by God. No, He is not a sad God. Sadness is not in His DNA. It shouldn’t stay in ours for long. Let’s kick it out of our system!

I understand that having fun while everything around us is falling apart sounds like a bad idea. However, some popular bad ideas are what we should follow. If we want to start thinking the way God does, we need to let go of some of our old world patterns of thinking. When God advocates for us to rejoice at all times He is also including difficult times. Rejoicing when all is going well is no big achievement. Rejoicing when pain is eating us inside is a great testimony to our faith and trust. I have a friend who is always happy. Even when he gets bad news he bounces back very fast. He doesn’t believe in God but he knows the power of joy. He knows how much positive energy comes from joy and how it affects him in a wonderful way. 

I suggest you jumpstart joy. Do something fun. Watch a comedy. Read some jokes. Hang out with happy people. Give joy a chance to make an entrance into your life by finding it in the small things first. Once you have connected with it again, it will take off with wings if you stay open to it. There is a huge supply of joy waiting for you. God is the supplier and you are the receiver. Joy has a way of eradicating sadness and pushing it out of the way. We have a choice. We can pile up the dirt of sorrow on ourselves and be buried under a mountain of pain or we can dig ourselves out with joy. Like I said earlier, having a party in the face of adversity is a good choice. Instead of having a self-pity party we ought to have a happy party. If nothing else it will help you forget the pain for some time but I can guarantee that it will do a lot more for you. Take a break from the misery around you and spend time with the One who can heal all wounds. The more happy times you engage in, the stronger you will get when faced with sad moments. We can’t help feeling sadness but we can help ourselves get out of it. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). 

Suggested reading: Deuteronomy 12:7; Psalm 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16

More than enough 

The message today is more of a testimony. I believe it is important to share things that happen to us and that can encourage other people. I like theory but I like application even more. God is a God of application. He’s an active God and it is good to talk about all the things He does in our lives. I often talk about trusting God for blessings and knowing that He cares about our every need. If we engage with God on a personal level, He gets involved in our lives on all levels. I have put my trust in Him when it comes to finances and He has proven time and time again that He loves taking care of that aspect of my life. Surrender and trust go hand in hand. I have been tutoring on top of teaching for over ten years. Tutoring is a very lucrative side business. I also like that it helps find out more about students’ weaknesses and how I can improve my teaching. In January I prayed about my finances including tutoring. Here is what happened after I turned all over to God.

I had heard for a while that God was the God of more than enough but I had not really experienced it. My mentor taught me that faith paves the way for big changes in our lives and when it comes to finances, faith can make a difference. It’s a question of believing that God is interested in our finances and that we can get more than enough. If you are having money issues, take your issues to the bank meaning take them to the One who has all the resources. I had trouble believing in that before. It was not something I focused on and I wasn’t sure where to stand. Do ask Him for help and do believe that He will help indeed. I suggest you do it for yourself and see what happens. I was taken aback by the results. I sat down with my mentor in February and her words of encouragement about finances stayed with me. 

Words of encouragement can give you a great boost. What my mentor reminded me was that with God there are no limits and I needed to trust that. She said that I would tutor a lot this summer and it will just take off like never before. Tutoring last summer was weak. I only gave a few lessons. The summer before was almost nothing. I tutored one girl, one day for one hour. During the school year I did a bit more. Now in June a lady contacted me saying she was wondering if I could tutor her two kids all summer for 6 to 8 hours a week. She had asked one of my friends but he was going to be in Australia most of the summer. Tutoring those two boys was a great blessing and not just financially. They turned out to be great kids that I connected with. I enjoy tutoring them a lot and we even have fun. I was also asked by a high student for private lessons. He needs 10 to 12 sessions. Then another person from another town got in touch with me for weekly tutoring sessions. Now all these people came to me. I didn’t have to go look for them. The way the Lord orchestrated the whole thing is mind blowing. I have tutored this summer more than I have ever had during a summer and during the school year. I will also be tutoring two kids I had tutored before in the next few weeks. They need some refresher lessons. God opened the floodgates. It started with a decision to release it all to Him and to trust even when all was silent. Then the words of encouragement lifted my spirits up and finally it all came together the way God had designed it. Stay encouraged, friend. Surrender and trust. Let God be in charge of your finances!

Suggested reading: Matthew 7:11; Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20

Midnight is coming 

Have you ever felt like you were a prisoner of your circumstances? Have you ever felt like your problems kept you in a prison cell? Trials and tribulations can keep us in chains. Our mind can be a self-inflicted life sentence that holds us in jail. When I find myself in a difficult situation, I remember what happened to Paul and Silas in the Bible. They were unfairly put in jail while they were doing God’s work. To make sure they wouldn’t escape, they were thrown in a dungeon and their feet were clamped in the stocks. Talk about being in a dire and desperate predicament. I am sure their problem seemed horrible to them. However, instead of falling into the trap of despair, they sang hymns and prayed. Their attitude is a perfect example to be followed. Now, around midnight, there was an earthquake, the prison was shaken and the doors flew open. The chains of the prisoners fell off. Friend, you might be going through a lot today but let me tell you that your midnight is on the way. God is about to shake your world and open the doors of your cell. The chains are about to fall off. Hang in there. He is going to set you free.

The way Paul and Silas react to their condition in jail is exemplary. They set a great example for us. You probably noticed that instead of crying, they sang. Instead of complaining, they prayed. Their circumstances didn’t change their connection with God. Their jail time didn’t change their daily routine of praising God. Their dilemma didn’t keep them from singing hymns. How many of us can say that when life hits us hard we just keep on singing and praying to God? Let’s have a Paul and Silas reaction to life, friend. Let’s exhibit extravagant faith that enables us to have fun while we are going through the furnace. It’s totally the opposite of what we feel like doing but what’s folly to man is wisdom to God. With Paul and Silas we are in the company of two very wise men. Let’s try it their way. It worked wonders for them. 

As we celebrate and keep on enjoying life as usual in the midst of trouble, God will intervene. It might not be a physical earthquake but it’s going to be a spiritual tsunami that is going to reverse your worst situation. Midnight is late in the day. This symbolizes that they received their freedom late when most people would not expect anything to happen anymore. They didn’t give up. They didn’t give up when most of us would. Midnight is coming, friend. Don’t worry about how late it all seems to be. It will happen. In the middle of your night, in the middle of darkness, God is going to open the door and bring the light in. He is going to take you out of the dungeon. He’s going to break the shackles and let you walk free. It could come to you as a surprise when you least expect it. Just keep on doing what you do. Keep on praying, keep on hoping, keep on believing. Take your eyes off your problem and fix your eyes on your midnight hour. Stay encouraged. There are no chains and no prisons too strong for our Lord. Midnight is coming!

Suggested reading: Acts 16:25; James 1:2; Psalm 77:6