Sunday, February 28, 2016

On this blog . . .

            This blog is written for (and written by) the brokenhearted, discouraged Christian who is struggling to hang onto the Lord and to grow in faith despite life's messy trials.  (Along with a lot of other goodies, like a Bible Study and a One-Year "Chicken Challenge.")  You are not alone in your struggles.  We are all human here, just trying to make it through this messy life.  And I hope that by listening in to what's going on in my head while I struggle with myself, my God, and my faith, you might find hope, too.  And truth and love and healing.  God bless!     

            Also, unless otherwise noted:  Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.®  Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Random Facts About Me. Just for Fun!

            I think this will be the last post I write.  (I’ve said that before, so we’ll see.)  But I’m ready to be done, except for posting and responding to any comments and occasionally adding things to this list and my “random thoughts” list. 
            This blog was a way for me to work through a lot of depression and faith-struggles I was going through (still am, to a degree), to share important lessons with my kids when they get old enough to finally read it, and to vent so many things that I have wanted to say but couldn’t.  It has served its purpose and I am thankful.  But I need to get back to life now.  I realize that if I keep writing, I will just be repeating much of what I’ve already written because this “depression funk” just keeps cycling.  So it’s time to be done.
            So I figured for my last post, I would share a whole bunch of random things about me.  Just for fun!  And mostly because it amuses me!  Some of these are found throughout my blogs and some are not.  Some are serious and some are funny.  And some are embarrassing because . . .well, that’s the kind of mood I’m in.  Besides, it's time to lighten up after all the serious, deep-thinking posts.  (Friends or family members or fellow church-goers who respect me and hold me in high regard might not want to read this.  And this post is the most "improper" post on my blog.  The rest is perfectly safe and proper, I assure you.)  Anyway, here goes . . .

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts (some new, some from my blog posts):

I wish we all came with signs on our backs that said “Construction Zone:  Work in progress.  Please be patient and pardon my dust.”  If we did, I think the world would be a nicer place because we’d all be a little more kind, gentle, gracious, and forgiving with others and with ourselves.


God is much more concerned with where you’re going than with where you’ve been.  Accept His forgiveness, let it make you free, forgive yourself, and “Go now and leave your life of sin.”   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Broken

            It hurts to be broken. 
            It’s being vulnerable, taking a risk with our hearts . . . sometimes winning, sometimes losing. 
            It’s leaning on others and opening ourselves up to them, to trust, to hope.  Sometimes finding support and acceptance and help, being caught before we hit the ground.  And sometimes being let down and battered, falling flat on our faces when others pull back and fail to catch us. 
            Sometimes, it’s just a minor annoyance, a pain that we absorb with relative ease, realizing that we are better for it.  And sometimes, it’s more pain than we can bear, feeling like we’ll never be whole again, wanting to curl up in a ball in a dark, lonely corner and fall asleep forever. 
            Being broken hurts!   

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Panic Attack

            I wrote this in the post called “Random Facts about Me.  Just for Fun!”  It is #64 on the list.  But I think it deserves its own post.  So I reposted it here, a bit before the “Random Facts” list.  If you’ve ever had a panic attack, maybe you can relate.  I hope not, though.  Because panic attacks suck!
64.  I had a small panic attack three days ago (May 30, 2016.  But it’s posted in February because I wanted the blog to end there.).  It’s the first one I’ve ever had and I don’t plan on ever having another one.  [I also once had a minor nervous breakdown during my parents’ very messy divorce.  It was so bad that the only way I could start breathing and stop crying was to flee from everything, to jump in the car with my husband and two kids and run away to the middle of nowhere for a little while.] 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Satan's Foolproof Plan for Bitterness and Discouragement

          We all want to be bitter and discouraged, don’t we?  But how do we get there? 

            Well, don’t worry, I can help you with that!  Because I have put together a simple guide to help us succeed in becoming better bitter people.  It's for those of us who seem to enjoy wallowing in misery but don't know how to get there.  (For those who don't like wallowing in misery and who are seriously struggling with depression and discouragement, check out "Is Depression a Sin?" instead, the post before this one.)  And I can just about guarantee that if you carefully follow each of these steps, you too will be bitter in no time. 
            So if you want to discover the delicious power, delightful self-abuse, and ultra-fun finger-pointing that come with bitterness, this is what you have been looking for:

“Satan’s Foolproof Plan for Bitterness and discouragement:
Thirty Simple Steps to Finding the Miserable Life that You are Searching For.”

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is Depression a Sin?

            This issue came up recently when I was talking with some other women.  Someone had read off a list of sins and it included depression.  And one of the women asked the rest of us what we thought about that.  As someone who struggles with depressed feelings a lot, it got me really wondering if it’s right to call it “sin.”
            Of course, the word depression doesn’t appear in the Bible, so this issue requires some conjecture, some outside-the-box thinking.  But my first reaction to this question was:  “Calling it a sin isn’t going to help anyone who is struggling with it.  You can’t just say, ‘You are sinning and you need to stop it,’ and expect that someone is going to be able to go, “Oh, you’re right.  I’ll stop being depressed and start feeling joyful.’” 
            It doesn’t happen that way.  And it may actually be more harmful to talk like that.  In some ways, I think calling depression a sin is irresponsible.  It will only add to the pain and self-loathing someone feels instead of helping at all.  And it will make them want to pull back and suffer in silence.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It Takes Courage To . . .

It Takes Courage To . . .

            - Get up every day and do your job when you’d rather do your own thing.
            - Get up every day and do your job when you’d rather throw in the towel, curl up in a corner and cry.
            - Find something to be thankful for when so many things are going wrong and you’d rather have a “pity party.”
            - Focus on and enjoy your own blessings when others seem to have it “way better.”
            - Make do with what you have - to be content with it and find joy in it - instead of always thinking you need more in order to be happy.
            - Do the right thing, especially when it’s hard and unpopular and you have so many reasons to not do it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

10 Signs You Might be a "Desert Israelite"

            I have probably learned more about my own humanness through the Israelites in Exodus and Numbers than through anything else.  I used to think that they were somehow “more fallen” than I was.  That I could never be that faithless and disobedient and grumbley.  But as I have grown in my relationship with the Lord, I have come to realize that I am not that much different from them.  I struggle with the same things they do.  I am weak.  I falter in my faith easily.  And I complain way more than I wish I did.  Many times, I am just like an Israelite in the desert.
            Are you, too, like the Israelites in the desert?  If you aren’t sure, here are 10 signs that you might be one.  See if any fit.  And then read Exodus and Numbers (from chapter 10 and on) to see how God responds to them.  It is scary, humbling, and faith-changing.  (These are some of my favorite books in the whole Bible, along with Genesis, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges.)  So here we go . . .  

Repost: Get Comfortable

            In our country, we are told over and over again things like:
            “Follow your heart.”
            “Make your own way.”
            “Never take ‘no’ for an answer.”
            “You can be anything you want or do anything you want.”
            “Apply yourself and all your dreams will come true.”
            (How else could we have so many reality shows where people want to be singers?)

            We are told that anything is possible.  We can make it happen by dreaming big and reaching high and wanting it badly enough.  In fact, look at all the commercials and advertisements that tell us that “We deserve it.”  It doesn’t matter what it is – a luxury car, a vacation, a break, a new phone . . . “We deserve it.”  And it doesn’t matter how little effort or hard work we put in . . . “We deserve it.” 
            But while these statements can be encouraging and can get young people to dream big and try hard and aim high (and become greedy), I think they can be misleading and give false hope.  For many of us, no matter how high we aim, we can’t seem to reach the moon.  Our great efforts fizzle and we end up crashing back down to earth, landing in the mud. 
            What about all those wonderful promises that we can get whatever we want and that “we deserve it”?     

Heart's True Desire

            “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  (Psalm 37:4) 
            I used to think - hope - that this meant that God would bring us the things that our hearts desired.  If we desired stability, we would get stability.  If we desired marriage, we would find a spouse.  If we desired success, we would be successful.  If we wanted happiness, we’d be happy. 
            But this is simply not the way it is.  We don’t always get the “desires” of our heart.  People don’t always get the much hoped-for child, the healing, the stable home-life, the job, the house.  So how am I to understand that verse?  I mean, if I didn’t get what I desired then I would have to wonder if there was something wrong with my faith or the way I asked or if I was displeasing to Him.  If I wasn’t getting what I desired, was it Him or was it me?       
            Our search for the things that delight us can become more than just desires and wants.  They can become idols, something that consumes us, that we focus all of our energy on.  And this will negatively affect our emotions and our spiritual lives. 

Self-Righteous, Self-Sufficient Scatterers

            “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”  Matthew 12:30

            “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”  Matthew 9:36-38

            “Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Mark 2:17

            I am afraid for America!  I am really afraid of the direction we are going.  We have so much truth here – so much knowledge of God’s Truth, so many Bibles and sermons and Christian books – and yet we are falling away from that truth in great numbers.  Not only is America growing apathetic toward God, but we are growing proud in our own “reasoning” and are growing hostile to Christians, persecuting those who live out their faith.  Whereas we once sang, “God shed His grace on thee,” now Christians are being punished for saying, “God bless America.”  I am afraid for us.  How much longer will God tolerate this kind of disrespect, self-worship, and rebellion?
            In America’s beginning, we were helpless and needy for God.  And we knew it!  We were a fledgling country that needed God’s providence and care and blessing.  And He has blessed us.  And now, we have grown so big and powerful and fat that we don’t need Him anymore. 

Innocent By-Standers?

            “Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them . . . every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened.”  (Jeremiah 36:30-31)

            As I was reading this passage, one word stood out to me above all others: attendants.
            What could his attendants be so guilty of to get that kind of punishment?  Aren’t attendants just like slaves to the king, unable to really do anything other than what the king tells them to do?  Can they really be held accountable for their choices when they were forced to obey the king?  And just what horrible thing were they guilty of doing?

Put That Burden Down!

            “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

            What kinds of burdens weigh you down?  How can these verses be applied to your life?
            I think there are many different kinds of burdens that we carry around that we were never meant to carry.  And we need to put those burdens down and take Jesus’ yoke upon us instead.   

The Successful Path

            “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  (Proverbs 16:3)

            “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

            I have had many plans over the years, great things I was going to do or accomplish.  But things haven’t worked out the way I planned.  For instance, I got my Master’s degree in psychology and planned on working.  Instead, I had four sons and chose to stay home and raise them, even homeschooling them.  (And I wouldn't change it for the world!)  And I wrote a book about my life and wanted to get it published.  Instead, I discovered that no one wanted to publish it and no one I shared it with wanted to read it.  So I gave it away on-line for free.  My plans didn’t succeed.  My path didn’t go in the direction I thought it would. 

Denial

            “‘You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them . . .
            Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’
            ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘today – yes, tonight – before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’
            But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’  And all the others said the same.’  (Mark 14:27-31)
           
            Peter was so sure that he would stand by Jesus’ side through thick and thin.  He spent 24 hours a day with Jesus for several years.  He knew Him to be a supernatural being, capable of miracles and healings and casting out demons.  He knew Jesus was the Truth in a sea of lies.  There was no way Peter would deny the Lord.  Knowing Him that well and having a deep faith and personal, intimate relationship with Him, who could possibly deny Jesus?

            Each and every one of the disciples. 
            And each and every one of us, too - that’s who!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sovereignty and Free-Will Working Together

            There is a fascinating story in the Bible which I think helps shed light on how God works out His Will in conjunction with mankind’s free-will, not overriding it (like would be the case with predestination).  I guess you could say that it’s a story of predestination (not in the eternal “heaven and hell” sense) working with free-will.  Read 1 Kings 22, and then we’ll talk about it.  Go ahead and do it now . . .  I’ll wait.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Does Ephesians Teach Predestination?

            I looked at Romans in the last post.  This time, I want to specifically consider Ephesians, the other book that is most used to support predestination.  Once again, while there is a lot in this book that can sound like predestination, I do not think it actually teaches that God decides who to send to heaven and who to send to hell. 

Does Romans Teach Predestination?


            The book of Romans is often used to show that God pre-decides our eternal destinies, that He determines if we go to heaven or hell because it talks about God “hardening” hearts, predestining people.  So this could sound like we are predestined to go to heaven or hell.  However, I happen to believe that Romans actually teaches free-will and human responsibility.  And the more I read it, the more I believe this.  And the more it falls in line with the rest of the Bible.
            So in this post, I want to specifically look at how the book of Romans supports the idea that God lets us decide to choose or reject His offer of salvation, choose or reject eternal life.  The responsibility lies with us.  God does not pre-decide it for us.
            But why should this issue matter to us?  To Christians who have already decided to put our faith in the Lord? 
            It might not matter much for those of us who already believe, but you can bet-your-bottom-dollar that it matters to unbelievers and to seekers, to those who are wondering what kind of God we believe in.  Is He really as loving and willing to forgive as we say He is, if He has pre-decided that certain people will go to hell?  Is forgiveness really available to all?  Did Jesus’ death cover everyone’s sins?  Is there really a need to evangelize and to make a decision about Him if we don’t even really have the right to decide or make a choice?
            This is why this issue has been so important to me to figure out.  What we believe about this places God, His love, His forgiveness, His grace, Jesus’ sacrificial death, our personal responsibility, etc. in a very different light.  And we cannot have real answers for the doubters and the seeker’s questions if we aren’t even sure what we believe about it.

Repost: Controversial "Predestination" Verse

(Reposted from August 2014)

            “. . . God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”  (Romans 8:28-30) 

            Of all the verses that are part of the “predestination debate,” this has got to be one of the most confusing, controversial ones.  At first reading, it seems like it could be saying that God “calls certain people to heaven according to His purpose,” that He predestines people to go to heaven or hell and we don’t really have a choice in the matter because it has been decided for us from the very beginning.   
            But after reading through it over and over again and cross-referencing it with other verses, I have come to read it differently.  Of course, I don’t claim to have this all figured out.  This issue has been debated for many years by great theologians, and I do not think I am the one to have sorted it all out.  These are just my thoughts on the matter.  And I really do think there is a lot of biblical support that salvation is a choice – a matter of free-will - as opposed to the idea that God pre-decides everyone’s eternal home or that He only offers some people salvation and not others. 

Repost: Predestination Does Not Mean "No Choice"

(Reposted from August 2014)
            Imagine that I walk into your church and say, “I am taking a group of people on a mission trip with me.  We are leaving sometime soon, and you have to decide which group you’ll be part of: the one that goes or the rest that stay behind.  I have a destination picked out, a way to get there, I’ve already paid the price to take a group with me, and I’m now asking for those who want to go.  It’s up to you if you want to come or be left behind.  And if you do not deliberately choose to come with me, you will be left behind.”  This, in essence, is the way I view the whole “predestination or free-will” debate.    
            This debate has to do with the idea of whether we have the ability to choose salvation or if God has already made this decision for us in the very beginning.  Are we simply puppets acting out pre-determined roles?  Or do we have a real choice in the matter?
            I think it falls somewhere in the middle, that we have free-will and that God has a predetermined plan already set up. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Willing to Bend? Embracing Hope!

            Since the beginning of this year, I have been praying that God would give me a “word of the year.”  And for awhile, I thought it was grace - as in “My grace is sufficient,” as in finding His grace anywhere I can each day (even if I wish that so many things were different), and as in I need to extend more grace to other people.  I do not like the negative way I view people sometimes, quick judgments that I might make about them.  And I want to really “see the person behind the snap judgment.”  I want to be more graceful in my view of others.  So grace sounded good to me.  But I was the one who picked that word, because it seemed to fit. 
            But last night (Jan 28), I was praying again, “Lord, do You have a word for my year or month?”  I really wanted to know what word He wanted for me.  And just as I finished praying, the word “hope” popped into my mind.  “Hope,” it seems, is to be my word.  At least for the month of February.  (I am trying to ask each month for a new word, as part of my “Chicken Challenge,” posted earlier this month.)
            And as soon as I heard the word “hope,” my heart went, Oh, no.  Not that one.  I was a bit bothered that God gave me that word.  (As least I think it was from Him.  I am learning to identify when it’s from my own thoughts and when it’s not.)
            I know this is going to sound terrible, but hear me out. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

One-Penny Offerings

            “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 
            Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’”  (Mark 12:42-44)           

            Do you ever feel like your contribution to the Kingdom doesn’t really make a splash?  Because it is so small and unflashy, compared to others?  Do you ever feel like your spiritual accomplishments might seem laughable and pitiful?  Like you just don’t measure up? 
            I know I do. 

Rest!

            “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

            This verse really speaks to my soul right now.  It is exactly what I need.  Rest.  To put down the burdens I carry around with me.  I’m just not sure how to do it.
            A couple days ago, I asked God one of my “250 Questions to Ask God.”  It was “Since You know what’s best for me, what do I need most right now?”  I had been struggling with concerns and frustrations and disappointments.  With God’s silence even.  And I didn’t know what to pray for anymore, but I needed to hear something from God.  So I asked Him this question.  Because I don’t know what I need right now.  I just know I need something.  And for a couple days, He didn’t answer.   

Friday, January 22, 2016

Gifts From God?

            James 1:2-4:  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

            I am reading a book right now by a woman who lost her mother to cancer.  And she is struggling with the common Christian idea that all trials and tragedies are “gifts from God, meant for our good” and that we are to be thankful for them. 
            Are we supposed to accept infertility, fatal car accidents, chronically-ill children, divorce, disease, cancer, natural disasters, the death of loved ones, etc. as “gifts from God” that He has deliberately given us for our good?  Are we required to push away any pain or heartache or frustration because these are “gifts from God”? 

            I would say “No”!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Those Heavy Crosses!

            Matthew 10:38:  “and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

            Oh, those crosses that we are asked to carry!  They can be so awkward, heavy, and discouraging.  Maybe it’s the cross of loneliness or a job you don’t like, financial concerns or a too-small house, a broken family or a difficult relationship.  None of us like to carry these crosses, these burdens and heart-aches.  That’s why we have to be told to do it.  Because our natural instinct is to not carry them, to try to get them off of our backs and take the easy way.   
            And doesn’t it often feel like you didn’t really do anything to deserve some of those crosses?  Like Simon (Mark 15:21), you are just walking along and minding your own business when, out of nowhere, someone grabs you and lays a cross on your back and forces you to carry it.  And the kicker is that Simon wasn’t even one of the people screaming for Jesus’ death.  He was from out of town, just passing through all the hoopla.  He wasn’t part of the group that was crucifying Jesus (as far as we can tell).  And yet, he was the one chosen to carry the cross.  What a shock!  What a change of plans!  What an incredible, unexpected, “unfair” burden!     

"Can" or "Will"

            “When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. . . .
            Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ 
            ‘From childhood,’ he answered.  ‘. . . But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’
            “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus.  ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’
            Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.’”  (Mark 9:20-24)

            “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’”  (Matthew 8:2)

            “If you can” verses “If you are willing.”  These are two very different things.  One comes from a place of doubt, wondering if Jesus is really that powerful and if He can do what we are asking Him to do.  And one comes from a place of hope and trust, knowing that He can do anything we ask but that He might not and we will have to trust that He has His reasons.
            Jesus tells the first man that “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  If we don’t believe that Jesus can do something, we don’t ask.  We don’t persevere in prayer.  We don’t take any steps in faith.  Because we’ve already decided that it’s not really possible for Him.  And our unbelief prevents us from getting His help.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grieving the Spirit

            “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

            There are some questions in my post “250 Questions to Ask God” that you really might not want to ask.  Because you might actually get an answer.  And you might not like what you hear.  Plus if you get an answer, you are then responsible to act on it.  One such question is “Have I ever grieved or quenched the Spirit along the way or refused to obey in something?  If so, what?  And is there anything I can do about it now?”
            I have been experiencing a lot of God’s silence lately.  And I was wondering if I had given God any reason to keep so silent.  Did I do anything out of disobedience or a stubborn heart?  Have I put up a wall between us somewhere?  Did I veer off the path along the way and not even realize it? 
            As I looked through the list of questions one day, this one jumped out at me.  And it seemed like it was time to ask it.  And so one day, I prayed,
            “Lord, have I grieved or quenched the Spirit along the way?  Is there something I failed to obey in or is there an unconfessed sin that I am not aware of?  And what would You like me to do about it now?”
            And I tell ya, God answered.  And yikes, I wish He didn’t. 
            Over the course of the next couple months, the Spirit revealed several things that I needed to make right.  (It’s embarrassing to share these foibles of mine, but I hope we are all human here and can understand.) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Strong Hand

            “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)
           
            As I have gotten older, I have struggled more and more with “depression.”  And I think I am finally realizing why it keeps hitting me.  As I have grown closer to the Lord and have experienced more of life, I have grown more and more discontent with what life has to offer.  And I long for more of God.  More than He is willing to give me right now.  I want to see more of His glory and power.  I want to hear from Him more.  I want more answers to prayer, and I get confused when it doesn’t happen because I feel like I have grown so much in my understanding of prayer.  (And yet, the more I learn, the more I realize how big and mysterious God and prayer and faith is.)  I want more peace and joy and deep contentment, yet I know I cannot find it in anything this life has to offer.  And so, in a way, my “depression” comes from my deep desire for the eternal, for Jesus to come back again and make everything right and take us with Him to our real home.  I am truly understanding the “they were aliens and strangers” verse (Hebrews 11:13).  I’m just passing through here.  I want to be home!
            Yet, this is where God has me right now.  My job is to be here, to share His love and draw others to Him.  To live Christ for other people so that I can help them find eternal life in Him.  To delight in Him while in a “strange land” where I don’t really belong.  And to do my best to do my best every day, for His Kingdom and His glory.  While it is still called “today” and while I still have a chance to help lost people. 

I am weak and I need You!

            What is it that we always say to encourage people going through a hard time?
            “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

            But guess what?
            It’s not true. 

            “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered . . . We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we even despaired of life.  Indeed, in our hearts, we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Heart of Prayer

            “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  (Psalm 121:1-2)]

            “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

            “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  (Psalm 46: 10)

            A couple months ago, I was struggling with prayer, with laying requests down at God’s feet, with asking Him for more.  I just couldn’t bring myself to “ask for more” when He’s already been so good to me.  I felt like an ingrate who wasn’t satisfied with what He gave me, like asking for more would be showing that I didn’t appreciate what He already gave me, like it would say that I wasn’t content or joyful with my life. 
            I found myself tripping over the words in my prayer. 
            “Lord, You have been so good to me.  And I am thankful for what I have.  I’m not asking for something else or something more because I am not thankful, I’m just trying to be honest with what’s going on in my heart.  We are supposed to be honest and lay our requests before You.  But I don’t want to seem like I’m not thankful or content.  You know that I am.   Or at least I really try to be.  But I still think it’s right to go to You with all wants and needs.  So I’m not coming to You with my requests because I’m not thankful.  I mean, You have proven to me how good You are by blessing me so much in the past, by always answering me, even if it’s not the answer I expected or wanted.  But You always listen, always answer, and have always been good.  And so I feel bad bringing another request to You, but . . . it’s just that . . . it’s just that . . .”

18 Questions I Don't Have Answers For (Yet!)

            As I begin reading through the Bible for the 5th or 6th time in my life, I am once again struck with certain questions that I don’t have adequate answers for.  I guess you could say these are the things that make me go “Huh?”  Things such as . . .

            1.  In Numbers 22, we read about how Balaam was riding his donkey, trying to make it go down a certain path.  The donkey had seen an angel standing in the road and wouldn’t go forward.  So Balaam beat the donkey.  Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and the donkey said, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Don't Be Such a Chicken"- December

(If you want to do this Challenge in order, start in January!  It’s where the introduction is.)

December
1.  Ask God to help you find a new “verse of the month” and a new “word of the month.”  Post it where you can see it.  And ask Him to help you apply it.  (And/or ask Him if there is any task/challenge He wants to give you this month.)

2.  Pick two or three new people to pray for this month.  Write their names down, pray for them daily, and ask God if there is anything specific you should pray for about them. 

3.  What are five things about winter you are thankful for?

"Don't Be Such a Chicken"- November

November
1.  Ask God to help you find a new “verse of the month” and a new “word of the month.”  Post it where you can see it.  And ask Him to help you apply it.  (And/or ask Him if there is any task/challenge He wants to give you this month.)

2.  Pick two or three new people to pray for this month.  Write their names down, pray for them daily, and ask God if there is anything specific you should pray for about them. 

3.  Clean out your kitchen cabinets or pantry, giving you a fresh start for the holidays.  Replace spices that are outdated.

"Don't Be Such a Chicken"- October

October
1.  Ask God to help you find a new “verse of the month” and a new “word of the month.”  Post it where you can see it.  And ask Him to help you apply it.  (And/or ask Him if there is any task/challenge He wants to give you this month.)

2.  Pick two or three new people to pray for this month.  Write their names down, pray for them daily, and ask God if there is anything specific you should pray for about them. 

3.  What five accomplishments of yours are you most thankful for? 

"Don't Be Such a Chicken"- September

September
1.  Ask God to help you find a new “verse of the month” and a new “word of the month.”  Post it where you can see it.  And ask Him to help you apply it.  (And/or ask Him if there is any task/challenge He wants to give you this month.)

2.  Pick two or three new people to pray for this month.  Write their names down, pray for them daily, and ask God if there is anything specific you should pray for about them. 

3.  What are five things about fall you are thankful for?

"Don't Be Such a Chicken"- August

August
1.  Ask God to help you find a new “verse of the month” and a new “word of the month.”  Post it where you can see it.  And ask Him to help you apply it.  (And/or ask Him if there is any task/challenge He wants to give you this month.)

2.  Pick two or three new people to pray for this month.  Write their names down, pray for them daily, and ask God if there is anything specific you should pray for about them. 

3.  What are five things you are thankful for in your own backyard (or whatever’s outside your door)?