Coming Catastrophes

despairI’ve heard it three times this past week:  “A major market crash is coming soon to a 2017 near you!!!”

OF course, there are multiple suggestions as to how to avoid said calamity:

“Be an entrepreneur”

“Invest in business”

“Buy gold and silver”

“Shore up your food supply”

“If you’re going to buy a house, buy now before rates rise.”

And, of course, all these suggestions assume you have a certain amount of capital to begin with. They all point you towards how to be self-sufficient. They point everywhere but God. 

Are these poor suggestions? No, but they require time. If a crash is imminent, you may not have time for the benefit of these efforts to be realized.

As someone who loves to read History (but is by no means an expert), I’ve come to the conclusion that disasters—natural and/or economic—do not play favorites. Certainly, the poor tend to suffer more than the rich during economic crises, but the rich are not unscathed. In fact, sometimes their devastation is far greater because they have further to fall than the rest of us. During natural disasters, the rich will die under a colapsing bridge or rising flood the same way a poor person will.

You really can’t take it with you, and you really aren’t an all-powerful, self-determining, demigod. 

It’s easy to hear apocalyptic predictions and panic—easier than falling off a log! It’s much harder to remember to lay your fears at the foot of God’s throne and go about your tasks with diligence.

Is a crash really coming?! What do I do!

For your first question—I haven’t the foggiest. I’m not God or an economic expert.

On the second question, I have a simple three-step process:

#1: Lay your fears before God.

Give thanks for all the times He has made provision for you and humbly ask Him to continue. Tell Him about “the impossibilities” and ask Him to grant you wisdom.

#2: Do The Next Right Thing

Be the best steward you can be today, in this moment, for you may not have tomorrow. Take care of your family, love your neighbor, and serve God. Do what is before you today and let go of your fear for tomorrow. To worry is to steal joy from today over what might not happen tomorrow.

#3: Take time to Remember

Do a quick search on “trust” in your Bible app and locate verses about God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Read them, pray them, and write them.

Once you’ve done that make a list of at least 3 times God has provided for you or answered your prayers. Have this list with you when you repeat step 1.

Do all three things and then repeat!

Prepare yourself for the evil day by giving yourself to God this day.

Is a crash is truly coming? I can’t honestly say. A nuclear bomb or a terrorist strike or a thoughtless driver could strike me tomorrow and I would have no way to prevent it. Don’t waste today’s energy fretting about tomorrow’s troubles. Leave your unpredictable future in the hands of our faithful God.

Are you counting on the right safety nets?

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The United States is what I would call a safety-net country. An abundance of government-led programs prevent the widespread devastation of economic crises and natural disasters. In fact, these programs have made many believe they are entitled to invulnerability of any kind.

“Everyone has the the right to eat!” So the government spends billions on WIC, EBT, SNAP and other welfare programs.

“Nobody should lose everything if they are laid off from a job!” So we’ve been given unemployment benefits.

“No elderly person should have to work until they die, or starve if they can no longer work…” So we have Social Security.

“No disabled person should have to beg for food!” So we have disability benefits.

“No person should get abandoned in a catastrophe!” So we send in FEMA

To many, these safety nets are like gods themselves… Continue reading

7 Ways to Be Properly Worried

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Got a sinking feeling? Pesky premonitions? Just a little nervous? That’s nothing!

Here are seven sure-fire tips to fuel that anxiety. Continue reading

A Voting Christian’s Prayer

photo-1475938476802-32a7e851dad1Our Father in Heaven,

You are King of Kings, Creator of the Universe, and Lord of my life. You raise up nations, and you take down nations. Our times are in Your hands.

Thank you, Father, for allowing us to dwell for many years in this country of prosperity and peace. We are grateful for your bountiful care.

Our country stands on the precipice of change once again as we prepare to elect a new leader. Continue reading

Do you trust Him?

imageThis passage in Psalms began my daily reading today.

In light of our discussion, “does everything happen for a reason,” this scripture seemed quite timely. In this Psalm, David challenges his own soul to remember no scheme of man can ever snatch Him from God’s omnipotent hand.  Continue reading

Be strong. Fear not. (Day 12 of the #Encourage Marathon)

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Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

~ Isaiah 35.3-4, ESV

Welcome to mile marker 12 of our #Encourage Marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is anxious. It might even be you!

If you read or copied down Hebrews 12.12-13 on Day 8, you may sense a bit of repetition here. We already talked about the need to get motivated. Today, let’s talk about battling anxiety.

Fear and anxiety are part of the human condition. As we grow in age and experience, certain fears increase while others vanish altogether. Adults  tend to worry excessively, because we have so many responsibilities.

Continue reading

More than Conquerors (Day 3 of #encourage marathon)

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“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans‬ ‭8:35-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to Day 3 of the Encourage Marathon! (If you want to read yesterday’s post, click here.)

Today, someone out there feels like their fighting a losing battle. (It might even be you.)

The human mind is a powerful instrument. It has the ability to aid in triumph or loss. People have lived through unexpected events for no other apparent reason than “the will to live” (and, of course, because God allowed them to).

When we become a Christian, we enter a fierce race. Satan wants to trip us up, knock us down, and shove us out. If we go into the race thinking we’ll never win, then we do not have faith in the promises of God. The Lord promised that those who were His and endured to the end would have eternal life.

Do you believe that?

I do.

Satan can do all he dares to trip me up, but he cannot take me out of the race because I am more than a runner—I am a victor, a conqueror. Is it because I am strong? Nope. It is the love of God gives me the ability to make it to the finish line. He equips me with strength.

The only one who can disqualify me from the race is myself.

Are you getting tired? Feel like you’re gonna lose? Get your mind fixed on two things:

  1. The goal
  2. The guarantee

The goal is eternal life.

That’s where we are headed. The race is the means by which we get there. If you look down at the ground, you’ll soon become part of it and quit. If you keep thinking about your aching feet and sore muscles, you’ll slow to a stop. Fix your eyes on the finish line and keep moving!

The guarantee is victory.

If we are in Christ and we stay beside Him, He’ll get us to the finish line. As the above passage says, we are more than conquerors through Him. If you know that you can make it, you’ll keep going in spite of all the pain, frustration, and weariness. Again, the victory is only guaranteed if we keep going.

You can win through Christ! Keep your eyes fixed on the goal and the guarantee.


I hope you’ll join me on Facebook, Twitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share this verse on your Twitter feed or Facebook page (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

Here is a picture of the verse I copied down yesterday for my own benefit:

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[If you click on the link in the above passage, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a share link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.

No tests?

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The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

~ Proverbs‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My children have taught me a great deal about parenting. For instance: when I was a starry-eyed parent-to-be I said things like, “I’ll never yell at my children. I’ll never say, ‘because I said so.’ My child will never do that.”

Are you chuckling yet? I certainly am.

My children have been great instructors in humility. I have been tested repeatedly. Sometimes I fail. Being a parent has provided insight into how our Heavenly Father looks at us. To Him, we are like growing children—lovable, learning and fallible. He extends us grace when we fail and trains us that we might be better equipped for the challenges ahead.

About 6 weeks ago, my child had to write a short blurb for school about what she’d do if she were president. (I had no idea that she had socialist tendencies…)

I chuckled to myself when I read the line: “there would be no tests.” In many ways, I can’t blame her for hating tests—the schools make them take heaps more tests these days than I ever took at her age!

Testing is an excellent way of gauging comprehension and retention. As much as I hate giving and taking tests, they are necessary and not a “necessary evil.”

When God tests me, I don’t often recognize it as such. Mostly, I wonder why such-and-such is happening to me instead of looking at it as a growth opportunity. I ask “why”; I long for it to end; I wonder  what I did to deserve it. When I think this way, I am looking at the situation like my 8-year old: “if I were in charge…there wouldn’t be any tests!”

God, being the loving, omniscient Father that He is, longs for us to have luxurious spiritual blessings, not cheap dollar-store gifts. Becoming like Him and desiring the greater, more heavenly gifts requires testing—can we handle the gifts he wants to give us?

My 6-year old wants to have a jeep when she turns 16, so we have a 401-daddy plan: for every dollar she saves, we’ll match her dollar. She has to commit to putting a minimum of $2 per week into the fund if she wants to meet her goal within the next 10 years. You know what? She’s been doing it! She’s also found ways to earn extra money. Who do you think will be getting more advanced testing in money matters? This little one who already has an aptitude for it! Her older sister gets commission and it burns a hole in her pocket. Her tests are more basic—can you divide your money properly? Can you refrain from touching your gifts envelope when you want something? Can you keep yourself from dipping into your savings? Are you willing to work a little harder?My 6-year-old already tested out of that and is on to bigger things. It doesn’t make one child better than the other—they simply have different skill sets. It’s my job to hone those skills and improve the ones they struggle with.

In the same way, God tests and trains us. He does not tempt us—there’s a big difference. Satan tempts us so that we will fall deeper into his clutches. God tests us to lead us on to greater things.

People used to say this often: “Don’t pray for patience. God will make sure you get all the practice you need.” There is a certain degree of truth to that statement. I’ve prayed for patience and then 5 minutes later had to deal with behavior from my children that demanded “the patience of Job!”

God does not foist attitudes upon us; we have to learn them. When we request things like patience, contentment, or self-control, He will help us by providing opportunities to learn. If we work with God, we’ll learn faster. If we resist, we have to constantly be retested.

I’ll say it one more time: testing and tempting are not the same. Satan tempts with the intent to destroy. God tests with the intent to refine.

Are you taking a test right now? I’ve got some great news for you: God allows us to take open-book tests! If you don’t know what He expects from you, use His Word as a reference. If you aren’t sure of the answer, you can raise your hand in prayer.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

~ James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Who do I tell?

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Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

~ Psalm‬ ‭55:22‬, ‭NASB

Have you ever had your heart crushed by someone who was supposed to be a friend? Enemies can attack and leave some bruising, but nothing is as devastating as being hurt, neglected, ignored or betrayed by a loved one. Enemy attacks are like surface wounds; friend’s attacks cut to the bone.

When you feel this way, where do you take your pain? To whom do you relay your frustration? I used to tell other people my feelings with the unfortunate consequence of it being relayed back to the perpetrator and more strife being created. There is a better way: take it to the Lord.

The Burden of Anger.

There are going to be times we are full to bursting with frustration and we have to get it off our chest. We may feel like we can’t take our negative, angry feelings to God because it’s too much like complaining.

When you think this way, remind yourself of the above passage: “Cast your burden on the Lord…”

Casting off is to shed some load that you are carrying. Anger is a burden. Some call this “baggage.” It’s a heavy load. Over time, we may not notice it’s weight, but it weakens our soul, morphing into resentment. Imagine being stooped for a long period of time with a weight on your back. At some point, the back won’t straighten up again because it’s permanently fixed in that position. Don’t allow your soul to be permanently stooped with bitterness. Cast your burden off!

Unloading your baggage.

If you feel the weight of anger/pain/frustration, pause for a moment and pray, “Lord, I am so angry with [insert name]. They did [this] to me. It made me feel [insert emotion]. I know that you desire me to forgive as you have forgiven me. I need to extend grace to this person and have the mind of Christ. Help me to overcome, to be holy as you are holy. I can’t let go of this without your aid.”

The Lord already knows what the person did and how you feel about it, but it is critical that you lay it all out as to Him as you would to a friend. You know that gnawing sensation you feel when you need to get something off your chest? That’s what you are doing when you pray this way to God. Get it off your chest. There is something innately helpful about talking something through. Unload your baggage. Don’t tell someone else who may go and share what you want concealed; tell the One who can actually handle the load.

Taking on Forgiveness.

Onice you have unloaded your pain, it’s time to pick up forgiveness. Carrying an attitude of forgiveness is a much lighter load than the leaden backpack of anger. It is not easy to forgive, which is why it is important to seek the Lord’s help. Do you believe in the statement of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”? If you believe it, then ask Him for help! Do not doubt His promises.

Keep asking, seeking and knocking.

You may or may not feel better immediately after confiding in the Lord. If you are still wounded, you need to keep going back to God. Remember, He can handle your heartache. It is not useless repetition, it’s like physical therapy. One trip to a physical therapist won’t fix an injury. It takes several visits to get back into shape. This is no different. Keep asking in faith. The Lord is calling us to be like Him, it is His will. If you desire to be like Him, then you need His assistance and you need it constantly.

Has someone slighted you today? Are you feeling wounded? Don’t tell another person, tell God—He can handle it!

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

~ 1 Peter 5.6-7, NKJV

[Please Note: There are instances, such as cases of sexual, verbal, or physical abuse in which it would be necessary to seek counseling/therapy. Trauma affects the brain just as violently as a being physically hit by a bus and the recovery takes just as long or longer. If you are a victim of trauma, seek help from a qualified Christian counselor AND the Lord. I have found that it is sometimes necessary to get counseling from someone who does not know you personally, because they are not biased towards you or the offending party. God puts people like this in our lives as His tools, just like doctors and nurses. There is no shame in getting help from a neutral party and it does not negate or weaken the hand of God.]

Are they stronger than steel? [The Effective Prayer 8.3.15]

This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.

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Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1.2-3, ESV

Last week, a friend of mine posted the following image on Facebook:

The Strong

Have any of you found this to be true?

This makes me think of people in the Church who are knowledgeable, careful, humble, loving and whom by all appearances, have it together. They are orderly, unshakeable, and strong.They are the go-to-guy or gal when you need advice or help. They are pillars in the church. It isn’t just a facade either; if you spend an abundance of time with them one-on-one they truly are who they appear to be.

Does this describe someone you know?

The strongest of Christians are forged like steel—they are molded and strengthened through intense heat and intense pressure.

When I think of forging metal, I picture hot furnaces and dangerously powerful machinery.

Steel and iron—two of the strongest metals—are usually hot-forged.  The metals are put under intense pressure and heat to be formed into the desired shape. There are many ways of completing this process, but I, admittedly, am no expert on this subject. I do know that steel isn’t just warmed up to a baking temperature to be formed. It is heated to temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. It isn’t gently pressed into a mold like butter. It’s compressed or beaten into shape. If you’ve ever seen a blacksmith forging metal, you’ve seen glowing orange metal whacked repeatedly with a heavy hammer, powered by a muscular arm.

God desires His people to be strong. He wants us to withstand the alluring draw of this world. Living a life in contrast with the world takes courage and strength.

My reading has lately consisted of literature published by Navy Seals. The training they describe isn’t just physical, there is a mental beating that takes place as well. The training staff do everything they can to make those men quit. There is a saying frequently used during training in both military and paramilitary groups: “live for the next meal.” You focus on getting through a particular moment not by thinking long-term, but by completing this one training to make it to your next meal. Thinking too far ahead is dispiriting. The majority wash out. The pain is unendurable, the strain too great. The guys that do emerge successfully are hardened… like steel. Does that make them unbreakable? Are they perfect? No. But they are a mighty force to be reckoned with.

What does all this have to do with strong Christians and prayer?

The Christians that are truly strong, did not get to that point without great difficulty, nor is their testing complete. If it appears that nothing seems to shake them, it is more likely that they have learned to draw strength from God and they bring their pain to Him first. There are still incidents that hurt, moments of unspeakable pain, and periods of unutterable grief. They just seem stronger because they either don’t talk about it or they seem little fazed by it.

They have been forged, tested and not found lacking…

…but they are NOT invincible.

They still need our prayers, and our encouragement.

I want you think of one person who is a pillar in the church. They don’t have to be recognized as such, but they would be sorely missed if they were gone. Write down their name and put it somewhere you regularly pray or a place you look at often.

For the next seven days, commit to praying the following for them:

1) Pray that they will practice humility.

It’s easy for people who are strong to get a big head. They think they’re too smart to learn, to strong to break and too big to fail. Pray that the strong person you are praying for will remain humble before God and His Word, and not place his or her confidence in their own strength.

Remember Samson? He was confident in his own strength and failed to remember that his strength came from the Lord. He got up to fight one day and was soundly defeated.

The bigger they get, the harder they fall.

Pray that this person will not be self-inflated, but will walk humbly with God.

2) Pray for them to resist temptation.

Remember David? David was king over Israel. He had victory in everything. Nothing seemed to hard for him!

Then, there was this woman named Bathsheba…

Instead of being with his troops fighting the battles of the country, he was sitting idle at home watching a woman bathe on the roof of her house. Then he went a step further and took her for himself. When he found out she was pregnant, he brought her husband home from the front lines to be with her so that he [David] could cover his tracks, but Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) refused to do so. David sent Uriah to the front line of the battle and ordered that his captain pull the troops away from him, leaving him defenseless. Uriah was killed.

After Uriah was dead, David took Bathsheba for his own wife.

David’s poor choices had staggering consequences. At least 2 people died from his sinful decisions: a mighty warrior and a helpless infant. When he was finally confronted about his sin, he repented with every ounce of strength he could muster. David was crushed by what He had done (read Psalm 51). He received God’s forgiveness and is still counted among the righteous of God, being mentioned as “a man after God’s own heart” in the New Testament. And yet, the rest of his life was restless and troubled as he payed the consequences of his sins.

Think of the person you are praying for. Do you want them to suffer lifelong or eternal consequences for falling into temptation? Of course not! Pray that when temptation comes, they will take the way of escape that God provides.

3) Pray for them to make wise choices.

The Apostle Peter is a great example of a good man blundering into bad choices.

This is the man who fervently proclaimed to Jesus that he would go with him to death, then flaked under pressure and denied that he even knew Jesus.

This is the man who spoke to an enormous crowd on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people were baptized into Christ. He’s also the same person who succumbed to peer pressure and wouldn’t eat with the gentile Christians when his Jewish buddies showed up. It took Paul’s open rebuke to set him straight.

Because of his position, his choices swayed other, more impressionable Christians. The strong can do great damage with their poor choices. 

Pray for them to make godly choices and to live their lives in such a way as to bring honor to God and the Church.

4) Pray that they will put their trust fully in God.

Do you ever find yourself placing your trust in your own strength? You may not do it consciously, but I’m sure you have from time to time. What do you do when your strength fails you?

In American Sniper, Chris Kyle described some of the jihadist hideouts they found as being a druggies dream come true. Many of the jihadists had to use drugs to get their courage up to fight. They couldn’t trust in their own strength or courage so they took in some chemical courage.

If you think a strong Christian is immune to trusting in chemical courage, you are wrong. Plenty of good men and women have been undone by trusting in a drug or a drink to give them strength to carry on. It isn’t just chemical either. They might put their trust in their own knowledge, wealth or influence.

Pray for them to trust fully in God.


I want to ask you to do something else for this person you are praying for:

Send them a note, a text or an email. Make it known to them that you are praying for them. Your words may be like a glass of cold water on sweltering August day.

Let us pray to the Lord each day this week to great effect!