Giving Up or Giving In


I used to think that giving up and giving in were essentially the same thing. I thought that both meant you were defeated, only one meant you quit trying and the other was simply admitting you’d been beat. But over the years I’ve come to realize they have two very different meanings. And you can have very different outcomes in your situation depending upon your choice to give up or give in.

Beginning at an early age most children are taught to never give up. No matter how tough things gets, you should never, ever quit – you must keep trying to the very end. I was made to believe that if I gave up it was weakness and defeat. I believed the same about giving in. I thought that giving in meant you were throwing in the towel before things got too ugly. You knew you couldn’t hold off the inevitable so you just went ahead and admitted defeat. Both choices carried such a sense of shame and disappointment.

Today I see the two much differently. I know many people in very difficult situations. Whether marital, financial, health, or relational issues with family or co-workers, it seems problems today have reached an intensity level that is almost too much to bear for those involved. People are fighting for breakthrough in their circumstances but many times they no longer have the strength to continue the battle and they give up. It’s just too hard and we are only meant to take so much. Certainly there are some that can hang in there much longer than others and have a will to overcome that is truly remarkable. But everyone has a breaking point – the point where they say “I give up.” It is difficult to witness that moment when someone quits trying because there is still s0 much shame associated with giving up. When we give up we are admitting that we have failed and we are unable to overcome.

But giving in can be very different and depending on who or what you give in to, it may not be a sign of weakness but a sign of great strength. Just like when I was a child, giving in means throwing in the towel before things gets too ugly. When you wave the white flag of surrender, not to defeat but to God, you are admitting you can no longer fight in your own strength and you are putting your trust in God to fight on your behalf. The weight is lifted because you quit relying on yourself and begin to rely solely on Him. It takes faith to give in to God but a lack of faith to give up.

It’s never easy to give in because when we do so it means we have to let go of whatever it is we are handing over to God. It means we no longer have the ability to control the outcome but that we are entrusting that outcome to God and having the faith that it will be far better than anything we could have done. Letting go is difficult but hanging on for dear life to an out-of-control situation will never be a better choice than letting go and letting God.

Giving up is losing hope, but when you give in to God, you haven’t lost hope, you’ve simply shifted your hope from the unreliable to the always reliable Rock. Giving in means to yield in favor of another – you make the choice to give the power to God to move upon your situation. You stop opposing God and begin to work with Him instead of against Him. It is not weakness to give in to His ways, it’s freedom. It requires humility on our part to submit our lives to God and when we do we are set free from the burden of trying in vain to control our circumstances.

Don’t be deceived that if you give in you lose. When you give in to God the victory is already won (Col. 2:15, Heb. 2:14) and you are set free from the worry and the weight of going it alone. And remember, don’t ever give up. Not because it means you will have failed but because giving in to God is always better than giving up. If you are in the middle of an intense fight in your life, choose now to throw in the towel and surrender your fight to Jesus. He stands ready for battle on your behalf, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2Chron. 20:15)

Line in the Sand


Have you ever had that moment in your life when you just knew in an instant that there was going to be no way around it. You were going to have to take a stand. You just couldn’t sit back and let things go on as they had been. It was time to draw a line in the sand, a line that defined the boundary of that which you were unwilling to cross. And what constitutes that moment is different for each of us. But when you are faced with it – you will undoubtedly know it.

My family has had some “line in the sand” moments recently. One of them came when my youngest son wanted to try out for a part in a play that I was not familiar with. I did my homework and found it was a coming of age story about the lead character’s choice to do something in the moment that would allow him to “fit in” with the popular kids or to make the choice to do the right thing and stand by his not-so-popular friends. He made the choice to do the right thing. I was on the verge of relenting but still wanted to voice my minimal concerns to the director. I fully expected that after we talked my mind would be at ease. But toward the end of the conversation he told me about a particular scene in the play. Ironically, in that instant I went from “pretty sure we’re doing this” to “absolutely not”. We drew a line in the sand we were morally unwilling to cross.

My older son recently watched a video at school on “The Invisible Children”.  They only saw a portion of the video but his heart was stirred. Last night the story behind the children and the atrocities that are occurring in Uganda at the hand of Joseph Kony became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Ryan watched the full video and in that instant he knew – it was time to draw a line in the sand. He had to do something. So he launched into action and made plans to be part of the movement to stop Joseph Kony in 2012.

What is it in us that defines such a passionate discontent with something that we’re willing to risk judgement and criticism by others in order to stand up for what we so strongly believe in. What is it that drives us to take action in a moment in time yet we overlook other seemingly important issues and situations? I don’t have the answer. All I know is that each of us has something – some cause, some situation, some decision that will ignite a holy discontent in us when we come face to face with it. For some it may be a monumental world stance against an evil that must be stopped. For others, it’s a choice to not participate in something that goes against our morals and convictions. But whatever it is for you – never be afraid in the moment to draw the line in the sand. That goes for anyone who is faced with the decision to act when the moment occurs for you.

But speaking solely to those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – if you are saved, should it show? Shouldn’t people be able to tell what you believe in by your actions and not just your words? Shouldn’t the lives of others be enriched because you are born again? Living out your faith is going to take a lot of courage and determination. And not to mention a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit. James asks what good is our faith if we only hear (or read) the word but don’t act on it. (James 1:22-25). God’s word is meant to drive us into action. We were created to bear the fruit of what we believe.

With today’s resources such as news outlets and social media networks, we are much more aware and knowledgeable about what goes on in our world. We live in a time in which we are responsible for things we see happening around us. We are accountable for the issues that are within our ability to act upon. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand and pretend like we’re unaware when we are confronted with the issues that call for action. Who needs your voice right now? Who in your family, your community, or the world needs you to rise up into action so that they might have justice. Who needs you to restore hope to their situation? Who needs you to draw a line in the sand?

Destiny Fulfilled


It’s the most basic question people face in life and the reason Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for one of the longest periods in history.  Why am I here? What is my purpose?  Many people spend their entire life chasing after what they believe is their destiny, their purpose. They search for that thing that will bring them a sense of fulfillment. And many end up at the end of their lives looking back with much regret as they think they missed out on the one great job, the one exciting adventure, the once in a life time relationship or the one esteemed calling that would have made their life complete.

Still others believe that they found fulfillment during their lifetime. They do the great things and even the small things that bring them the happiness and satisfaction of a life that did in fact have a purpose. Whether it’s a mother who raised well-rounded, successful children or the doctor whose research led to the cure for a disease, many reach the end of their lives with a sense of accomplishment and achievement.

But while many of them may have fulfilled a great purpose in their life, they may be completely unaware that they may have missed the purpose for which they were created. If asked, they would tell you that they had reached their destiny and accomplished their personal goals for their life. But I am not talking about the destiny measured by the standards of this world. I am talking about the destiny for which they were created. The destiny measured by eternal standards.

The recent death of Whitney Houston has once again revealed that no matter how much money, fame, power or success you achieve, we all deal with the same insecurities, addictions, demons, unhealed hurts and deception, especially us women. But aside from the differences in our lives that are visible on the surface, when it comes to who we are at the very depth of our soul, we are all on a level playing field. Whitney Houston’s tragic death is proof and begs the question “how can someone who seemingly has it all still appear to be so incredibly unhappy?”. The answer is really quite simple. We will never experience complete peace and joy by fulfilling any destiny other than our God-given destiny.

When we allow our identity to be determined by what the world defines as successful, powerful, important and worthy then we will take on a false identity and our purpose in life will never be completely fulfilling. But when our identity is in Christ and we know by Who and for what we were created, then we can truly reach our full potential. We were created to glorify God through our love for Him and our love for others. Created in the very image of God, our creator, we will never find satisfaction in anything other than the fulfillment of that purpose. When we respond to the message of the gospel and Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior, our lives are “conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29). It is in this transformation that we are able to glorify God through the way we live our lives. And when we live a Christ-like existance, others will take notice and will be drawn to His goodness, mercy and love. And until you discover that God-given purpose for your own life you, will never fulfill your true destiny.

Each of has a unique set of giftings, talents and skills that drive us to choose the path which our life follows. Sometimes, not by our own choice, our paths take unexpected turns. But we each have different things that will occupy our time here on earth such as a career, family, goals and achievements. It is through these contributions that our lives are intended to glorify our Father and draw those within our circle of influence to Him. Are you spinning your wheels chasing after dreams and a purpose you chose or someone chose for you that only leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled? Have you reached a point where you look back on your life and while you should be feeling  fulfillment and satisfaction with all you’ve accomplished, you still feel like something is missing? The reason may be that you are pursuing a purpose but not the God-given purpose you were placed upon this earth for. It’s not too late to realize your true destiny and to begin to chase after the goal which God set before you when He formed you. Your life was meant to glorify the One who created you. And if your purposes are anything less than that, you will never fully experience the internal joy that comes from a destiny fulfilled.

Wisdom from a boy and the dog who loves him


As I was going to bed my oldest son texted me from downstairs. We had just said goodnight and he had headed down to his room with his faithful companion, Winston. In the text he said that he was looking at Winston and thought of how much his dog knows him.

Winston loves him and spends a lot of time with him. He knows my son’s voice, he knows the sound of his car when he drives in the driveway. And he knows what my son is saying to him and obeys his commands.

But what Ryan realized is that even though Winston knows him very well, he really has no clue what’s going on in Ryan’s life. Winston’s brain cannot begin to comprehend everything we as humans can and he’ll never know the vastness of Ryan’s life and all that is going on in it.

And his conclusion was that much in the same way, our minds cannot begin to understand the vastness of God and His love for us that He would send His only son to this earth so that He may die for us.

Through tears I read the final words of the text that said “God is like me and I’m like Winston. I know Him, I love Him, but until I join Him in heaven I will never fully understand the extent of who He is and how very much He loves me.”

As we celebrate this season and the joy that it is to give to others and to receive let us not forget that the long awaited Savior was born on that divine night so long ago. Born so that you may know Him, love Him, spend time with Him, recognize His voice and obey His commands. And in return He will love you more than you can ever fully wrap your mind around.

“Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices. Oh, night divine. Oh, night when Christ was born.”