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.”   

Sometimes, “open-minded and progressive” is code for "lack of common sense and conviction."  (I'm not gonna tell you what led to this one, but it can fit so many things nowadays.)

Original definition of tolerance (my version): “Agreeing to disagree over our differences while maintaining respect for the other person as a fellow human being, being able to live peaceably among those who are different from us.” 
New definition of tolerance being forced on us: “You must never offend anyone.  And taking it further, you must condone, support, and encourage everything that everyone else says, does, or believes, or else you will be labeled an ‘intolerant, narrow-minded hater’ and you will be taken to court.  And any convictions you have will be beaten out of you until you fall in line with society’s current values and positions (or at least with the media’s portrayal of society’s current values and positions).” 
Which one do you think is going to lead to more chaos, fear, interpersonal problems, and a breakdown in society?

If everyone loves you all the time and never has a problem with anything you say, do, or believe, you may be doing it wrong!

To the Subjective Moralist:  “So, you’re saying it’s wrong to have views about what’s right and what’s wrong, is that right?”

If your moral compass is spinning wildly, you won’t know where you’re headed or how to get there, and you’ll always be lost!

Tofurky: A product that made God say, “Now there’s something I never thought of!”  (Just speculation.)

I think there would be less hatred, less interpersonal conflict, less stress, and more hope and goodwill if everyone planted a garden and shared the harvest!

In the first couple decades of our lives, we know everything there is to know and everything that everyone else should be doing and how they should do it . . . and then we grow up!

We always know the best way to raise kids before we have any of our own!

We are always smartest before we learn all the things we don’t know!
We are always strongest before life has shown us our weaknesses and limitations!
We are always critical, judgmental, and self-confident before trials have broken us and taught us to be soft, to be in need, and to be compassionate towards others who are broken too.

The older I get, the more I learn, the less I know!

A sure sign of maturity is learning that you are just as human as the next person!  (Also called “humility.”)

            I think that a toddler shows they are growing up when they get to the point where they can say, “I know what I’m doing.  I do it myself.  I’m strong enough and I don’t need your help.” 
            But an adult shows that they are growing up when they get to the point where they can say, “I don’t know what I’m doing.  I can’t do it myself.  I’m weak and I need help!”

Ignorance: The ability to make a judgment about something you know nothing about or haven’t experienced for yourself.  Leads to smug condescension, “holier-than-thou” hoity-toity-ness, diarrhea of the mouth, foot-in-mouth-disease, rude blanket-statements, and simplistic pat-answers.
Humility: When you finally realize that you stand on the same level-ground as everyone else at the foot of the cross.  When you realize that you are not superhuman and that you bleed red, too, just like everyone around you.  Leads you to fall down at the feet of God in transparency, dependency, and neediness-for-Him and to have compassion, understanding, and grace for others because you have learned how much you need compassion, understanding, and grace, too.

Our ears help us hear, but our hearts help us listen!

Good, old-fashioned common sense and decency never go out of style!

Sometimes, the biggest smiles mask the deepest pain! 

The more anxious you are to talk, the less you really listen.

Maybe sometimes, depression is not much more than “adjustment disorder.”  It’s the struggle to learn to adjust to your life instead of expecting life to adjust to you.  It’s the struggle to learn to trust God when things go wrong instead of demanding your way.    

When the problems seem so big and overwhelming, narrow your focus down to one simple thing.  Enjoy one tiny moment!  Marvel at one tiny wonder!  There is still beauty and goodness and delight in the itty-bitty and mundane things that we overlook every day!

Contentment starts right now, or else it never starts at all!

It’s okay to fall apart in front of the One who can put you back together, to bring your chains to the One with the key to free you, to be weak when you are leaning on the One who is strong, and to not have all the answers when you know the One who does.

            I tell ya, life can be brutal, heart-breaking, disappointing.  Yet, there is something incredibly sweet – bittersweet – about learning that you can praise God anyway in the midst of heart-ache and pain and trials.  It’s one thing to be joyful because you finally got what you wanted.  But it’s another thing to not get what you want and to find joy in the Lord anyway.  It’s a much deeper, tender kind of joy.  One not based on circumstances but on God’s presence and goodness and love alone.  And this can only be learned – you can only get to this point – when your heart aches, dreams get shattered, prayers go “unanswered,” you lose all hope in yourself and your abilities, the future looks dark and scary, and yet you still bow down before the Lord and say, “It’s okay!  I will still trust You and praise You, whether You give or take away.  You are good!” 

            I don’t think God is as concerned as we are with what we “deserve” and with our happiness and our grand plans.  He is much more concerned with developing our character and purifying our priorities and humbling us before Him, getting us to shift our focus from ourselves to His kingdom and His righteousness.  And His preferred method seems to be through disappointments and trials. 
            And yet, here we are, constantly trying to avoid disappointment and trials, always looking for something new that makes us happy, for jobs that are glamorous and that make us feel like God has greatly blessed us and is greatly using us.  And we fail to recognize that He is the God of the boring jobs and the hard trials and the long waits and the desert times and the “prison” times.  And we fail at growing spiritually through these times, at learning humility and faithfulness and thankfulness.  What a waste of a disappointment and a trial! 

Don’t trade heavenly treasures for earthly pleasures!  Only one will last while the other rots fast!

            So what is the difference between joy and happiness?  The way I see it, happiness is a feeling based on our circumstances.  If we get what we want, we are happy.  If things go our way, we are happy.  If life is good, we are happy.  But joy is a state of mind that comes from living life firmly rooted in God. 
            Happiness is like having calm waters and lots of food, but joy is the ability to have a deep sense of stability and thankfulness and faith in God despite the stormy waves and famine.
            Happiness can be bought at a cheap price, but it doesn’t last long.  But joy is hard-earned, usually through pain and trials and heartache.  But once you learn to have joy in the Lord despite the pain, nothing can take it away from you.     

I think that most discontentment comes from feeling like God owes us something that He isn’t giving us.  When in reality, we owe Him everything that we already have. 

The secret of being content in any and every situation:  Remember that whatever comes or doesn’t come your way is from His hands.  And He can be trusted!

The other secret of being content: It’s really hard!

I think that if we really thought about it, we would realize that sometimes our “losing faith in God” is really more about “losing faith in other people.”  We have a tendency to act like God is responsible for when life goes wrong or people let us down or hurt us or don’t do what they said they would do.  But while God does speak to people’s consciences and call them to do the right thing, He doesn’t force them to do the right thing.  So it’s not His fault when they do the wrong thing.  And while He does intervene at times, He oftentimes doesn’t prevent the bad from happening.  He allows life to happen and He allows people to do what they will.  But He does promise to make something good of it eventually.  I am learning to try to not hold God responsible for mankind’s faults, but to have faith in Him that He will use it for good.  Even if it hurts in the meantime.

“God makes all things beautiful in His time” means learning to live with “ugly” until then.

Remember that we don’t have to find “the one” – that one right person out there for us.  We make our spouse “the one” when we marry them.  This will keep you from wondering if you married “the wrong person” during the hard times, when the warm, fuzzy feelings aren’t there.  Your spouse is the only one for you because you chose them to be.

The quality of your marriage is not seen in how many fun, new, exciting things you do or in how much you have.  It is seen best in how much you still enjoy each other’s company when things are quiet and predictable, when times are tough, and when money is tight.

In marriage and in life, laugh a lot!  At yourself!  With each other!  When times are good and when times are tough!  Life is too short and too full of trouble to take things so seriously, to take yourself so seriously, and to be grumpy and stressed all the time! 

You can’t really appreciate the sacrifices that others have made for you until you have had to make sacrifices, too.

As women age, why does the hair on their head get thinner and grayer but the hair on their chin get thicker and darker?  What kind of sick joke is that!?!

I don’t have GPS.  I prefer to get lost the old-fashioned way.

A thought that always leads to trouble:  “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.”  (Deuteronomy 29:19)  When your way isn’t God’s way, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

If you can’t say “Blessed be Your name, Lord” during the hardest trials then you don’t really mean it during the easier times.

            The genuineness of our faith isn’t tested and proved by how well we handle the successes, how many earthly “blessings” we have, how much we serve at church, or how polished our words and prayers are.  The genuineness of our faith is tested and proved by how well we shoulder the crosses He places on our backs, how well we handle the trials and if we continue to follow Him even when times are hard and our hearts hurt. 

            Satan loves to use trials to get us to doubt God’s goodness and love.  Don’t let him sow these doubts in your heart and mind.  The only way to keep “seeds of doubt” from taking root in the soil of your heart is to dig them up and expose them to the Son.  Give them to Jesus.  Take your fears and doubts right to God.  Tell Him what is on your mind and in your heart, even if it’s that you are angry with Him.  He can handle it.  Don’t let the trials and doubts and fears pull you away from Him and put up walls around your heart.  Use them to draw you closer to Him, to deepen your relationship with Him.  Pour out your heart in humble, transparent prayer.  Meet Him – truly meet Him, not just read about Him - in the pages of the Bible.  Learn to desperately need Him and to lean harder on Him.  He is big enough!  He can handle it!

If we won’t follow Him in hard times – if we turn our backs on Him when the going gets tough or when we don’t get what we want – then we were never really following Him to begin with.

You can only know true joy when you have known true pain.  You can only know true joy when you have reached the bottom and found that God is there waiting for you, that He is faithful, even in the dark times.  You can only know true joy in Him when you have been stripped of the things that bring temporary joy and fulfillment, when you have had to grab His hand in faith and say, “Things are really bad right now, but I still trust You and believe in You.”
            And I guess, I’d rather have that kind of deep, battle-tested, fire-purified joy than a naïve, la-di-da kind that makes me feel happy but that hasn’t stood the test of time and trials. 

Depression is either a temporary stop on the road to true joy in the Lord or it’s just a stop, a tar pit of hopelessness that you can’t get out of.  And the direction you are facing – toward God or away from God – will determine if you are headed to joy or to hopelessness.

I’d rather have a sovereign God who is far above me, even if it means He is mysterious and confusing, than have a god who is easily-controlled and who I can manipulate to do whatever I want him to do.  What kind of a god would that be!?!

It’s in the trials and spiritual deserts that we learn to trust in God as He really is, instead of just trying to make Him into the God we want Him to be.  It’s a learning process.  A long, slow learning process.  But He walks through it with us.  Patiently.  Lovingly.  Graciously. 

            I think that all of us, at some point, will find our joy and our faith being refined by going through the furnace of trials, of fire.  To purify it.  To strip us of all the false ideas we have, all of our pat-answers, all the ways we judge other people’s spiritual progress, and all of the things outside of God that we cling to and find our fulfillment and our value in.  
            Many of us will find ourselves someday stripped of everything we had faith in and of all confidence in ourselves.  We will be sitting in the dust like Job, scraping at our wounds with broken pottery, wrestling through our doubts, fears, and faith, wondering what happened to us and how we got to where we are.  We will find ourselves wallowing, depressed, on the ground, unable to get up again until we make one decision:  “Will I turn away from God because of this trial or turn toward God?” 

            While niceness, kindness, and goodness are wonderful, necessary qualities to have, they are not the way to heaven.  What kind of a God would He be if He hinged our eternal resting-place on a notion so vague as “how nice and kind and good were you”?  But God’s way is not that vague, always making you wonder if you’ll make it into heaven or not.  His way is clear and sure and specific:
            “ ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 
            They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved . . .”  (Acts 16:30-31) 
            “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . . ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”  (Romans 10:9-10, 13, emphasis added)
            It's that simple.  Don't complicate it!

What is our purpose in life?  Know and love God, glorify Him, and love other people.

I am not ashamed of my brokenness.
I do not regret the things that have broken me.
It’s what’s made me more human.
It’s where I learned compassion for others, to hurt for them, to reach out to them instead of just thinking of myself, to judge less and love more, to realize that we are all on the same level ground at the foot of the cross and it’s okay.
It’s how I discovered genuine humility and true grace, knowing that I could fall so far and yet God loves me anyway, always reaching out to offer His love and forgiveness and mercy and grace, even in our messes.
It’s when all my efforts finally drove me to exhaustion, when I fell before Him in desperation and cried out, admitting that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed Him.  Really needed Him.  I didn’t need His gifts; I just needed Him.
It’s what drove me to finally let go and to fall into the arms of the Only One who can really hold me up.
I am not ashamed of my brokenness.
I do not regret the things that have broken me.
Because it has drawn me ever closer to the One who can put me back together!

Happiness: Having lots of wonderful things to be thankful for
Joy: Being thankful regardless

The fastest, most surefire way to get into trouble:  “. . . but [they] did not inquire of the Lord”  (Joshua 9:14)  

            What should you do when God seems silent?  Get on with living life and doing what you know you are supposed to do, until He speaks again.  He has not forgotten you.  It’s just not time yet!  And although He is silent in one area, He is not silent in all.  Look for Him in nature, through the Word, in your daily interactions, in your past, in His blessings and daily care.
            He is there.  Watching, guiding, providing, and waiting for you to learn what He wants you to learn, to learn obedience and humility and compassion and faithfulness, to examine your heart and priorities and definition of “God” and “faith” and “trust,” to discover the self-protective walls around your heart and the “heart wounds” that need healing and your self-sufficient and selfish ways, and to decide if you will cling to Him or turn away from Him in your despair. 
            His silence is one of the greatest purifiers of our faith and trust.  But “silent” does not mean “absent.”  He is there.  You just have to open the eyes of your heart to see it. 

You might never be forced to die for your faith in Christ.
But are you really living for Him?
If you can’t have the life you want,
live the life you’ve got . . .
letting God’s love, help, grace, and mercy carry you through!
Is there really any other way?

Faith is not about trusting that God will eventually answer your prayers the way you want Him to.
Genuine faith is choosing to trust Him even if He doesn’t.
And the painful, heart-crushing trials (generally including God’s extreme silence) give us the chance to learn the difference.

Bitterness makes us miserable and unpleasant and it stunts our spiritual growth.
Bitterness is a choice, a result of our perspective and how we define and judge our situation.
Therefore, when we choose to be bitter – instead of choosing to trust that God can and will work it out for good – we are choosing to be miserable, repulsive, stagnant people.
Bitterness is never a “win,” for we are hurting ourselves and our faith.
Does this sound appealing?  Yet so many of us cling to our bitterness like it is a well-deserved trophy.


Fabricating things to be offended about or getting offended by every little perceived slight greatly works against us when we really do find something worth being offended over.