Category Archives: Loving and Following Jesus

When life disappoints, God remains faithful

Every January I ask God to give me a word to focus and guide my growth for the year. This year, God gave me the word “faith”, which I found interesting because to be honest, I thought I had worked at increasing my faith the previous year! I have to be honest, I was a bit concerned when I realized this was God’s word for me because increasing one’s faith is not usually accomplished through ease and comfort. God simply doesn’t mess around when He wants you to grow and as I suspected, the year has been ripe with faith growing opportunities. This past week brought another one…

For over a year, I have believed God had given me a very specific promise. I faithfully leaned into and prayed around that promise. In fact, friends and mentors prayed and believed with me. This week, it seemed time to act on the promise I was certain I had heard. I stepped out boldly and faithfully.

And I was told no…


It was audacious (but not unreasonable) request, so the no was not entirely surprising. At least not from a human point of view…But God does surprising things! And so I had fully expected a “yes”! I expected God to move in amazing ways to fulfill the promise I’d been given!

So had I heard incorrectly? What just happened?

I spent the next two days trying to make sense of what had just happened. And honestly being sad over the loss of what I had believed was to be mine! I was disappointed and somewhat disillusioned.

And then God showed up, just like He always does.

I spent time praying and talking to God while driving home from having dinner with a dear friend. I was simply being honest with God about my emotions and my confusion. And then I looked up and saw a rainbow…the ultimate symbol of God’s faithfulness to keep his promises.

That rainbow led me the entire way home. And it got me thinking about God’s promises. God promises us a lot of things! He promises to fight for us (Ex 14:14), and to give strength and power to the weak and weary (Isaiah 40:29). He promises that all who believe in him will receive eternal life (John 3:16) and he promises freedom from sin (John 8:36). He promises to comfort us (Psalm 23:4), deliver us (Psalm 50:15), and to never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:8). He promises to work all for our good (Romans 8:28) and to complete the good work he began in us (Phil 1:6).

However, despite all of the things God DOES promise, there are many things he doesn’t. He doesn’t promise a house, or a spouse. He doesn’t promise children or your dream job. He doesn’t promise a reliable car or money to buy the newest iPhone. He doesn’t promise fame or even respect from others. He doesn’t promise ease or comfort or protection from suffering. In fact, God promises we will have trouble and go through hard times! He just promises to be with us through them!

My word for the year is “faith” so I thought I’d be learning about and growing my faith in God. And I am. But more than that, I am learning about God’s faithfulness. You see, faithfulness is part of His very being and His very character. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Even when life feels confusing, God is faithful. Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”

So I still don’t know what will come of the specific word I believed I was given. Maybe I heard incorrectly. Maybe God will reveal an even better way! As usual, it isn’t about me and my desires; it is all about God, his character, and his will for me! So in what ways has your faith been challenged? Are you confused, disillusioned, or disappointed? The good news is God is faithful to keep His promises. We can rest assured in that and must remind ourselves that what He promises is always better than what we thought we wanted in the first place!

Christmas Craze and Holiday Haze: Part 4


Silent night, holy night; All is calm, all is bright…

Except the first Christmas wasn’t calm at all. Nothing about child birth is calm. It is loud and violent and like the rest of us, Jesus was thrown into this world and likely immediately screamed his lungs out. Entering this world is shocking for every human being. How much so for the King of kings, Lord of lords, and creator of it!? And Mary did not have an epidural. Jesus did not have nurses tending to him or to Mary. There was no sanitary hospital bed or hospital food delivered when Mary and Joseph got hungry. The birth was real. It happened as it was foretold.

Silent night, holy night; Son of God, love’s pure light; Radiant beams from thy holy face; With the dawn of redeeming grace; Jesus Lord at thy birth.

Jesus, God’s own son, entered this world in a very real, violent manner and was going to leave this earth in a very real, very violent manner. You can’t have Christmas without the cross. You can’t have the cross without Christmas. Immanuel. God with us. God has come to save us. He entered this world like a common man. He would die like a common criminal. But his birth, life, death, and resurrection would bring redemptive grace for all humankind. Christmas truly brought the dawn of redeeming grace!

Glories stream from heaven afar; Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia; Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is Born!

May we all remember why we pause and celebrate this day. It’s Jesus. It has always been about Jesus. The reality of his immeasurable, unimaginable love for us demonstrated most clearly not only in his death on a cross, but in his birth in a stable. The light of the world has come. Now we are called to carry that light with us into a dark world. And because of Jesus, no darkness can ever overcome the hope and peace we have in Him.

Merry Christmas from MND GMZ Ministries!


Christmas Craze and Holiday Haze: Part 3

I’m a gift giver. I love thinking about and then discovering the perfect gift for my friends and family. Nothing about it stresses me out. It’s like a great mystery to solve followed by a treasure hunt. I feel a little like Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail whenever I’m hunting down a gift. Nothing beats the look of surprise and appreciation when a loved one opens a gift that’s “just right”.


Now, gift giving may excite me but I know many who just plain dread it. For many it is their absolutely least favorite part of the Christmas season and it is the greatest source of stress. And I get it…the crowded stores, the money, the wrapping paper, the unrealistic requests from small children…I get it. Yes, Christmas has become much too materialistic and too commercialized. And yet, there is a reason we give gifts.


A gift says, “I love you. I think of you. I know you. I pay attention to you.” And those sentiments have the power to warm hearts and heal hurts and strengthen relationships. A great gift is the result of truly knowing the gift receiver and everyone longs to be known. The best gift doesn’t cost the most money, but it does cost something – maybe money, maybe thought, maybe time. The best gifts isn’t wrapped with the prettiest paper or bows, but is wrapped in excitement. The best gift isn’t the flashiest gadget or trendiest toy on the market, but is the most thoughtful and most meaningful to the receiver.


Jesus himself was the greatest gift the world has ever received. As audacious as Christianity’s claim of the resurrection may seem, it is NOTHING in comparison to the incarnation, Immanuel, God with us. Stop and think about what that TRULY means! Love so great as to become like us in order to relate to us. Incredible! And the wise men recognized the miraculous nature of the moment and so they came and they came bearing gifts.


The wise men’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were quite possibly the most meaningful gifts they could have selected. These valuable items were standard gifts for a king. Gold is a precious metal, frankincense a perfume, and myrrh an anointing oil. The magi’s visit and the gifts they would bring were foretold by Isaiah and may have an even deeper meaning than just pointing to Jesus’ identity as king. They also pointed to his role as priest and to his impending death on a cross.


As I write, my family is doing our traditional Christmas Eve routine – eating and watching football! Mom is at Walmart because something was forgotten (nothing we couldn’t have gone without but it just wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without an unnecessary trip to Walmart with the masses). Tonight we’ll go to church, enjoy an amazing meal, and then open presents. And even now, as adults, we can’t stop talking about how we can’t wait for one another to open the carefully selected gifts later tonight. And there are certainly plenty of them to open! (I considered taking a picture of our tree but the number of packages is simply embarrassing.) We simply love to give gifts to one another! It isn’t anything other than a tangible expression of how much we love one another.

So my question is simple…like the wise men, what gifts are we bringing Jesus this Christmas? Yes, Jesus wants your heart, but what else might he be asking you to give this year? Yes, it might cost you – you might have to spend time or thought or even money. But like any other gift we give, the cost is always overshadowed by the joy on the receiver’s face. And when we give Jesus what he wants – what he has been asking us for – the joy is priceless, the cost negligible.

So this Christmas I hope you receive all you asked for but find even more joy in the giving. My prayer is you receive the gifts God has for you. And my challenge is that you take the time to ponder what Jesus wants to receive from you. Merry Christmas!