Monthly Archives: August 2012

Really God, THIS is Your plan?

It’s hard to remember sometimes, that we have a sovereign God who is in control of all of our lives. Especially in the midst of my circumstances, when all what I really want to say is, “Really, God, this is Your plan?” I often have to remember that evil does not come from God. The truth is, we live in a fallen world and the sins of this fallen world have circumstances. Whether it’s our own sin or someone else’s sin, we get caught in consequences.

Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Sometimes, I find it hard to be content in whatever situation I’m in. My mind often wrestles with my heart over my belief that God is good and God is in control. I know, from experience, that God is in control of it all and is with me, even in the bad times and that He’ll bring me through whatever life throws my way (even if I don’t want Him to be).

This is something I have really felt convicted about lately. Sometimes, I just wonder why I am where I am. Why, if God is so sovereign, is this where He wants me? God knew, before I was ever born, about me and what my life would be like, so why did He choose to let me have life? Did God really know this is what my circumstances would be?

Jeremiah 1:5 – I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart

I need this constant reminder. There’s something powerful in knowing that I didn’t just drop into this world by accident but that God knew me before I was ever here. God knew me before I ever knew Him. God loved me protected me even when I didn’t believe in Him. Why? Because I am His!

Psalm 139:16 – You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

This verse can settle my anxious soul. When I am worrying about my circumstances and why I am in them and why God doesn’t remove them, this verse calms me. God knew MY ENTIRE LIFE before I ever took my first breath. He knew the choices I would make, He knew the sins I commit, He knew the sins that would be committed against me, and He knew how I would respond to all of that. That kind of power pretty much boggles my mind, but I think that’s one of the MANY reasons God is amazing.

Maybe my life would have been a lot different had my circumstances been different, but I wouldn’t be right where I am today if they had been. You see, I’ve seen my fair share of bad times and felt my fair share of pain, but even before I understood who He was, when I didn’t want Him, and when I didn’t know He was there, He was right next to me helping me make it through. God isn’t going to bring you to anything that He won’t bring you through.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God has a plan for me and as long as I am willing to follow His will instead of my own, He will give me a future and a hope.

I need to start letting my actions coordinate with my beliefs. If I believe God is control of everything, then I need to act like, even when times are hard and I feel like God is punishing me. I need to remember that the evil in my life doesn’t come from God, but that God is there to help me through.


The Challenge: BE REAL!

The past month or so has been a month of incredibly convicting sermons. Today’s sermon was Submit to the Bible in Community. It was so good, I went back to hear it a second time ;). This sermon made me aware of an issue in my life that I knew was there, but that I think I have been a bit blinded to.

In life we are confronted with two communities – the community of the wise and the community of the foolish. As we grow, we must choose which community to join.

Proverbs 13:20 – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of a fool will suffer harm.

When we’re upset, need advice, or are going through a hard time, we turn to our friends. However, our friends may not be able to advise us if they are of the foolish kind. Our friends may advise us down a harmful path, away from God. Which is why we need wise community. We need wise friends who aren’t afraid to share the truth with us, even if it’s not what we want to hear.

We are influenced by those who we associate with, so why would anyone choose to associate with foolish people? They’ll simply become foolish.

I know from my life, this past year (since I became a Christian) has been one of great inner turmoil for me, in terms of trying to find a community where I fit in. I have my non-Christian friends who I was friends with before my Christian life began and I have made new, wise, Christian friends who have been supportive and encouraging. Now, here’s where I stumble. Wise community is harder; it requires more honesty and vulnerability. Wise community is REAL! Foolish community on the other hand is easier, but still rather difficult; it requires masks, lies, and quick fixes for sin. Foolish community is shallow while wise community is deep.

A few days ago I posted a blog about my venture into vulnerability and finding friendship since I’ve been a Christian, so it’s kind of ironic to me that this would be our sermon today. Clearly, something I am struggling with and need to address.

I’ve often rejected wise community, feeling not good enough or like I just don’t fit in. And I’ve gone running back to my foolish community because it’s safe, guarded, and predictable.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Fools will fail to realize what the wise know, listening is the way to learn.

Small groups are a place for us to connect with one another and share our triumphs and struggles, a place where we can pray with each other and for each other, a place where we can be open and honest, a place where we focus on the truths of the Bible.

The whole honesty in small group thing is something I’m just starting to understand. My small group community is made up of amazing, wonderful people. When I first started attending I felt a bit out of a place, and actually quit going for a little while, making up excuses (some legit, some not) about why I couldn’t make it. I was afraid of them. I was afraid, if they only found out who I really was, they would kick me out in a heartbeat. But that’s where I’m wrong, they’re not concerned with who I was because now I am in Christ and I am a new creation.

But back to the point, we need to listen to the Biblical wisdom given to us from our community and respond to God’s Word. Just because there is a Bible in the room, doesn’t mean you’re listening.

The Word is out there and we need to pay attention.

Proverbs 24:11 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

Being in community with others isn’t just about friendship, although that is a part of it. But it is also about discipleship.

Part of being in a community is to be missional. Be a disciple and lead others to be disciples. Care for other people, even those who are messing up their lives.

There is nothing like a common interest or task, a mission, to bring people together. We often think that we must bond with people and create strong friendships before we can do a hard job with them. But in actuality, it’s the exact opposite, doing a hard job together or being on mission together, even with strangers, bonds people together in a way that nothing else can. I’ve seen this first hand in Guatemala.

Proverbs 27:10 – Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.

If you’re in a crisis, it’s better to have nearby assistance from a friend than to have to drive hours to get to family

Although our birth families are important, so is our spiritual family. Jesus said in Mark 3:35 – For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. We are all a part of Jesus’ family because it is our mission to do the will of God.

My missional community, my small group, IS family. We’ve all been adopted by GRACE into God’s family.

Proverbs 28:13 – Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

I hate admitting when I am wrong. There’s something that is totally just unnatural about it. But I admire those who are. I admire those who can lay all their sins and wrongs out for all to see, and still be happy. I’m working on being one of those people. The first step toward forgiveness is confession. BE REAL!!

Proverbs 10:8 – The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

I’ve got to admit “submissive” isn’t a term that I like very much. In our society, being submissive is equated with being weak. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to come across as weak.

So my pastor showed us a picture of a dog lying on his back, legs in the air, submitting to his master. This is how God wants us to submit. He wants us to submit joyfully, waiting to receive goodness from Him.

Being submissive to God, His Word, and community is needed in order to grow. We need to continue to grow.

The only way we can see God as good is through the Gospel, and if we are convinced God is good, then we will also be convinced that His plan for my life is good. God became man and gave Himself up to give us His righteousness. If we believe that about God, it is easy to submit to Him.

I struggle with picking a side – wise or foolish. I seem to have a problem with bouncing back and forth. So here’s my decision: I want to be in community with the wise. I want to invite the foolish in so that they may experience the greatness of God, but until they make the decision to enter on their own, I will continue to love them and pray for them.

So now that I pick the wise, I struggle with being honest about who I am and where I am in life, although recently I have made great progress in this aspect. I struggle with following God’s will in mission instead of my own. I struggle with submitting to God’s Word instead of the words of the foolish people around me.

Will you take the challenge with me, to remove your mask and let people see who you really are? To be vulnerable and open? The pursue God’s will over your own? To trust God’s Word above all else?


I am a Branch, God is a Gardener

John 15:2-6 – 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

This passage came up in Bible reading this morning, and it nearly made me want to cry. You see, it embodies some things I trying to deal with in my personal life to be able to grow more as a Christian. It still amazes me sometimes how just a small amount of words can speak to me so deeply. I’m still in awe of God, how He knows everything I’m going through and He gives me the words I need to hear for the moments I am in.

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away
Branches that don’t bear fruit must be removed. They may be sick and infected and leaving them will risk infecting the healthy branches. The ones that do not bear fruit must be removed so the healthy, fruit bearing branches will not be harmed. Sound familiar?

Dead branches are of no use. They are harmful and they are a nuisance. Meaning: not all people who hear His words or follow Him for a little are true believers in Jesus. Like those in John 6:66 – After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. These disciples were not genuine believers. They turned back. Their faith wasn’t in Jesus as the giver of eternal life; their faith was in the physical benefits of being with Jesus.

John 15:6 tells us what happens to the branches that bear no fruit. Dead branches receive fire and will be burned, in divine judgment.

So what kind of branch are you? Is your faith in the eternal life that Jesus offers? Or is your faith in the benefits that He offers.

And every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Just like a plant that must be pruned so that it keeps growing healthily and to its full potential, so we must also be pruned. And often, the pruning hurts.

God must sometimes discipline us to strengthen us. To strengthen our character. The pruning is a painful process, but, oh so, necessary. He must remove the some of our interests and activities – the ones that don’t glorify Him, so that our other branches can bear even more fruit. I know He’s done this in my life.

After I became a Christian, God “pruned” me. He changed my interests in TV shows and music which led me to clean out my iPod and get rid of a bunch of my movies. He changed the activities I liked to do. He took away my desire to drink and party and placed in me a stronger desire to be the best mother and wife I could be. He gave me the desire to answer His call on my life.

So don’t accept the pain as proof that God doesn’t love you. Rather, rejoice in the pain, knowing that God loves you so much that He wants to make you into an even better person. He wants to keep your branches healthy so that they will continue to bear fruit and glorify Him.

Here’s a video that, I think, depicts this perfectly: God’s Chisel 

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
You don’t have to keep trying to make yourself “clean enough” to get God to love you. I know I did that for a LONG time. I thought that if I could just clean up my act, if I could just get things together, if I could just live a better life, then God would love me.

Exterior, physical cleanliness is not what Jesus is talking about here. Jesus is referring to your spiritual cleanliness. If your heart is not focused on Him, if you are focused more on things of this world, then you are not spiritually clean. It’s like in John 13:11 – For He knew who was to betray him, that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” He knows the motives of your heart, and the motives of your heart are what determine how clean you are.

Be honest, what’s more important to you – spiritual cleanliness or physical cleanliness?

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Jesus wants us to have an intimate, personal, daily relationship with Him. He wants us to trust Him through prayer and obedience. And, He wants us to safeguard that relationship. He wants up guard our relationship with Him carefully so that the enemy can’t put anything in between us.

Jesus repeatedly points towards bearing fruit, the frequent references must mean there is something important about fruit bearing as a Christian. There is. It goes back to God’s primary purpose in creation, Genesis 1:28 – And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Bearing fruit is also important in redemption, John 15:16a – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.

Bearing the fruit of the Spirit isn’t just a metaphor, it’s a real and legitimate thing that needs to be present in our lives if we are going to call ourselves true Christians.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Abiding in Him means that I believe He is the Son of God, I receive Him as Savior and Lord of my life, I do what God says, I continue to recognize the Good News and how much I need it, and I relate in love to other believers in the Church.

I struggle with some of these. I sometimes struggle with doing what God says, but in those times I am so thankful for the Good News, because I recognize just how much I need it, and I am thankful for fellow believers who support and encourage me to follow the will of God.,

You can do nothing, does not mean that you can’t do anything all, that you’ll spend your life literally sitting like a bump on a log. Rather, it means that you can do nothing of eternal value. Apart from Christ you will be unable to produce spiritual fruit. Which, in a sense, still means you’ll live your life as a bump on a log.

 

The moral of the story: allow God to “prune” you, let His Word cleanse you, be in relationship with Him, bear fruit. You can do anything with Him J


Because I Sin Differently Than You

I have been a Christian now for almost a year. I have developed friendships with wonderful Christian women who have mentored me, encouraged me, motivated me, and supported me. But I often find myself intimidated by those same people.

You see, I get intimidated by their faith. I get intimidated by how happy they seem and how perfect their lives seem to be. And the more intimidated I get, the more masks I seem to wear, the less I show people who I really am.

But here’s the problem: you can’t judge a book by its cover. Those people who seem the most secure may be the people who are stumbling the most. The people who have never faced tragedy and horror and the people who have, still need to gospel just as much as I do.

I’ve learned a lesson about judging others. I assume that they’re better than me, that they won’t like me, and that I’ll be rejected. But I suppose, what I need to remember is that we’re all sinners. None of us are perfect. My sins may be different from theirs, but we all still need the same grace.

Whether your life has been easy or hard, whether you’ve been sheltered or abandoned, whether you’ve sinned a lot or only a little…YOU NEED THE GOSPEL!! The ONLY thing that can save you is your belief and trust in Jesus Christ.

Remove your masks, be vulnerable, share your struggles with others, let them pray for you and with you. I promise it’ll only strengthen you.

Now what I need to do is get this message across to myself in a way that my social insecurities will understand it

 


Love is Hard

Romans 12:9-10 – Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection,and take delight in honoring each other

Don’t just pretend to love other. Really love them
Am I the only one who thinks that loving other people is hard? It’s hard when other people are rude. It’s hard when you don’t agree with them. It’s hard when they’ve hurt you, especially if they won’t acknowledge that they’ve hurt you. It’s hard when they don’t love you back. It’s hard when you have to be honest.

It’s hard because it’s painful.

Let’s face it – we (people) aren’t very lovable most of the time. And yet, God still love us and calls us to love each other. Sometimes, I really just want to throw a tantrum, kicking and screaming and saying, “But God, I don’t wanna!!!!” Because in all honesty, sometimes I just really don’t want to love other people.

But we’re called to love, real love not pretend love. I’m sure we have all learned how to be nice to people, to be kind and courteous, to avoid hurting feelings, and appear to love. But therein lies the problem, we learn how to appear to love people – we don’t actually love them. We try to make it look as though we love while exerting the smallest amount of energy possible.

Real, unconditional love is precious. It takes time and energy. It is not passive and inactive. True, genuine love requires concentration and effort. It means investing our time, money, and resources in places we really don’t want to for the sake of someone else.

We can’t love others on our own. To really love other people, we need a power that only God can give us, so pray and ask God for guidance and patience in loving other people. You can’t do it on your own.

Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
What is wrong? Anything that is displeasing to God. What is right? Anything that is pleasing to God. Now, these categories should be pretty self-explanatory, but the problem is that they’re not.

If you were to make a list of things you believed to be right and things your believed to be wrong, I’m willing to bet money that your list wouldn’t be the same as someone else’s. This is just one example of the many reasons God gave us His Word, so we could know right from wrong.

I think that God’s definition of right and wrong vastly differs from the world’s definition. And I think that is why we have such a hard time really loving each other. It seems, too often, that we can’t look past the differences we have with other people to actually love them.

Most of us have different beliefs, different values, and different morals…but that doesn’t mean we can’t love one another. In fact, I would venture to say that, that should make us love others more. That should drive us to share Jesus’ love with others.

So for me, Hold tightly to what is good, means hold tightly to love and never stop loving others.

Love each other with genuine affection
Genuine affection in this text literally means brotherly love. It means to love each other as if they are family.

I think that last statement needs to be clarified though, because within families is often where we find the most hate and anger towards others. Our families can be a source of great love or a source of great pain. So I think brotherly love needs some clarification.

For us to love each other with brotherly love, means to love with a mutual love and commitment that is found in HEALTHY families.

And take delight in honoring each other
There are two ways in which we can honor each other.

1 – We honor our bosses so we will get rewarded. We honor the powerful so they will use their power for us. We honor the wealthy so that we will receive money. (the world’s way)

Or

2 – We honor each other simply because we have been created in God’s image, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ, or because we all have a unique contribution to make to the Church. (God’s way)

We can be so competitive at times that God’s way of honoring others just doesn’t seem good enough to satisfy us. Maybe we could try to outdo each other at showing honor by putting others first.

The bottom line: We need to love each other – REALLY love each other. That fake love junk won’t get you anywhere. Sure, it may keep you looking happy on put together on the outside, but on the inside you’ll be longing for true, deep love.

I know because I’ve been there. I spent many years just trying to make people think I loved them. I faked it really well. But all that fake love won’t do anything for you when you’re flat on your face and need a friend.

Only in true love can you find the happiness of a full life.

 

Lastly, Matthew 5:46-18 – If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Loving the people who love you is easy, what is hard, is loving the people who hate you, loving the people who’ve hurt you, loving the people who disagree with you. If we only love the people who us, how are we any different from those who hate us? Being the bigger person means loving the other person, regardless of what they’ve done.


I Am Found

Earlier this week, I shared a poem with my wonderful CR family. This poem is very close to my heart because it is written by inspiration from Luke 19:10 – For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

Luke 19:10 was the first verse I read after accepting my salvation and I’ll never forget it. The moment I cried out for forgiveness will be cemented in my mind for the rest of my life. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I also feared that I might be too far gone for Jesus to save me. Then I read Luke 19:10. It was one of those “bolt of lightning” moments. I felt like that verse was written just for me.

Came to seek. Jesus came to seek for those of us who are lost. He doesn’t wait until we start looking for Him. He doesn’t have limits on how far He’ll search. And He doesn’t care what you’ve done that has made you lost. He just searches for you.

When I wasn’t looking for Jesus. When I thought I was too far gone. When I thought I had done too many horrible things. He came looking for me. He fought through the barriers I built up. He trekked through the coldness of my heart. And He found me and grabbed a hold of me and told me I wasn’t lost anymore because He had me.

And save. But He didn’t only come to find us, He came to save us. He came to save us from the wrath of God. But He also came to save us from ourselves and from our sins. He loves us so much that He doesn’t let us stay lost in our sins. In a sense, Jesus finding us IS what saves us. At least that’s how it was for me.

When He found me and convinced me I wasn’t lost and alone anymore, it was then that I realized, not only am I saved from the wrath of God, but I am saved from myself. I am saved from my own sin. I am rescued from the things I’ve done to myself.

It still blows me away and this is something that I need to remind myself of daily. I and found and I am saved!! That alone keeps me standing in awe of God’s power. If He can find me and save me from where I was…NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!!

She stumbled through her life
Searching for the way out
Not realizing each step away
Would just complicate the route
So she gave up on the goal
Of finding happiness one day
She figured she was too far gone
To ever find her way

It’s impossible to find yourself
If you don’t even know you’re lost
And if your try to save yourself
You can’t pay the cost
So that’s why Jesus came
To seek for those misplaced
To search for and find
And show the world His grace

A young man hiding in the shadows
Of his hate and his sin
Not knowing he could be saved
If he simply let Jesus in
So he dove into a bottle
And gave up on his life
Living in his sin was easier
Than trying to make things right

The price of sin his high
Only blood can atone
But to save the whole world
It was His blood alone
You see, He didn’t just come
To find those who are lost
He also came to save us
So He could pay the cost

So if you’re like me
You may not even know
That you’re lost and that you’re dying
Or the amount of what you owe
See, when I wasn’t looking
For someone to find me
He sought and He saved
And He set me free
He saved me from my sin
And He saved me from myself
And even when I didn’t want Him
He rescued me from Hell


Prayer Confessions

I’ve recently been reading a few books on prayer. I think my prayer life really needs a boost. It’s no one’s fault but my own. I don’t pray like I should.

These are my prayer confessions (I’m a bit embarrassed to even admit them).

Sometimes, I’m not sure I know how. Sometimes, I think I’m afraid to. Sometimes, I think I’m just lazy. Sometimes, I feel to upset/angry with God. Sometimes, I think I just don’t want to hear God’s response. I think, ultimately, what my problem is…I’m just WAY too human.

I’m Not Sure I Know How to Pray

I’m not good with saying the right thing. The insecure, self-conscious part of myself tells me that I better find the right words and phrases before I start trying to pray, otherwise God will ignore me. Now, I know that logic is just plain silly – but let me explain.

When my dad first started sharing his faith with me, I asked him numerous times, “How do you pray?” And he always gave me the same answer, “It’s just a conversation. Just talk to God.” I’m just saying, I think he got tired of me asking the same question over and over 😉

I had a hard time wrapping my head around the, “it’s a conversation” answer. I tend to be socially awkward at times and I feel like I’m no good at conversations with people, how could I possibly have a conversation with an all-mighty, all-powerful God?

But here’s what I’ve learned, God loves me and my social awkwardness and He just wants me to talk to Him. He wants honesty. He wants love. He wants thanks. He wants praise. Every time I log into Facebook, the status line says, “What’s on your mind?” but let’s be honest, Facebook doesn’t really care. God does. Can we talk to God the same way we talk to Facebook? God just wants to know what’s on your mind (not that He doesn’t already know, but He wants us to trust Him with it).

So now, when I don’t know what to pray, I pray this: God, I love you and I thank you for giving the ability to talk to you whenever I want to. Father, I want and need to talk to you, but right now I just don’t have the words to convey what I am feeling. I’m a bit confused as to what I should even pray for. Please, search my heart and mind and show me the words I need.

Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, becausethe Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Even when I don’t know what to say, the Spirit does and the Spirit will direct my prayers. Thank God for that!

I’m Afraid to Pray

I don’t know why I feel this way sometimes. I know that God already knows everything about me, but sometimes, I find myself afraid to pray because if I pray I’ll have to be honest with God and simply don’t want to tell Him the things I’ve done. And once again, I know this just sounds crazy, but hey, I’m only human.

Why am I afraid to talk to God about things He already knows? Because in admitting them to God, I’m also admitting them to myself. If I don’t admit it to God, I can deny it, pretend it never happened, make believe it was just a dream/nightmare. Right?…WRONG! I can only live in denial for so long before it begins to eat away at me. How do I know? I’ve been there!

God is so loving and merciful and gracious. He already knows. He is just waiting for us to admit and confess to Him.

Quit trying to outsmart God…it doesn’t work 😉

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working

I’m too Lazy to Pray

I admit it…I’m lazy. I try to pray every night before going to bed, but sometimes, I simply fall asleep. I’m too lazy/tired/drained (whatever word you want to use) to spend just a few more minutes talking to my Creator. Wow, how much lazier can I get!

Throughout that day, I often think, “I’m going to take a few moments to pray,” but then I get distracted and move on to something else.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Quit being lazy. Go to God with everything. Thank Him. Praise Him. Love Him. Glorify Him. That’s all He asks for.

I’m too Upset/Angry at God to Pray

Let’s face it, when bad things happen in our lives, we often get angry with God. We think, “C’mon God, why would you let this happen to me.” We get upset and we don’t think it’s fair that bad things are happening to us. And we’re right, it’s not fair. But it’s a glorious thing that life is not fair, because if it was we’d all be in hell.

It’s not fair that we don’t have to pay the price for our sins, but Jesus paid the price for us anyway.

A few months ago, I had a miscarriage, and I was angry with God. I didn’t understand why it was happening. I didn’t understand why I lost my baby. I felt like God was punishing me. And my prayer life suffered. It’s hard to pray to God when you’re mad at God. But then I had a meeting with my pastor and he offered me many comforting words and wise advice. He told me, “God understands when you’re angry. He expects you to get angry. He calls us all to get angry, but in our anger, don’t sin. Talk to Him about it. If you can’t wrestle with your Heavenly Father, who can you wrestle with.”

That got me thinking. How many times have ignored God because I was angry with my circumstances? Evil doesn’t come from God. He doesn’t cause the bad things to happen to us. But just like the story of Joseph, when bad things do happen, He will use them for good to glorify Him.

Ephesians 4:26 – Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Essentially, it’s like we’re commanded to get angry. God gave us the emotion of anger for a reason. Anger can spur people into action. So in your anger, don’t sin. Pray and know God is not the cause of your circumstances. God knows when we are angry and He can take it when we tell Him about. But to do that, we have to talk to Him.

I Don’t Want to Hear God’s Response

Sometimes, when I pray about things, I’m afraid God is going to tell me no. I know that if God tells me no, it’s not because He doesn’t love me, it’s because He has something better in mind for me. But my human mind often struggles with not being in control of my life, and giving veto power to God over my plans can freak me out.

It’s frustrating, at the very least, when I am excited about something, but then God says no. I know He knows better than I do what is best for me, so why do I keep trying to get Him to agree with me? Wouldn’t it be easier if I would just agree with Him?  Of course it would be.

James 4:2 – You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

God wants us to ask Him for the things we need. He will provide them. But we also need to ask God for things that are in His will for us. I mean, sure you could ask God for a million dollars, but let’s be honest, how realistic is that? God will provide for all of our needs as long as we put our faith and trust in Him. But we need to be willing to surrender our plans for His. Even though we think, at the time, our way is the best way, God knows better, and He might have a better way for you.

I’m human and my human mind often stumbles back into habits of trying to “do it on my own.” But quite frankly, that’s just not possible. If I could do things on my own, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I wouldn’t have done some of the things I have done. And I wouldn’t need to a Savior.

But thankfully, God sent His Son to die for me. He has forgiven me for all the times I’ve messed up and all the times I will mess up. He has forgiven me for all my prayer follies. And as long as I will keep the door open and give Him my best, He will give me His best. It’s not always going to be easy, but He never said it would be.

All I can do is the best thing I can do: PRAY!


The Words You Say

This morning I was taught a lesson about the words I say, from the sermon at church. I hope my pastor doesn’t mind that I often blog about his sermons. Here’s some of my notes from the sermon, with a few of my own thoughts thrown in there 🙂

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” I think that is a lie. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that while I was growing up. But it’s not true. Words can hurt more than any physical pain because the damage of words can’t be healed as quickly and easily as physical injuries.

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The Power of Words
Our words have the power to hurt people or heal them, it depends on how we use them. Our words don’t have to be eloquent or Shakespearian, they just need to be honest and loving.

Proverbs 12:18 – There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Words have the power to break a heart and inflict an unspeakable amount of damage, but words, if used wisely, also have the power to heal the most shattered of lives. Words can be used like a machete, leaving a mess of destruction in their path or like a scalpel, being used to specifically and precisely heal wounds.

Proverbs 27:6 – Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy

Proverbs 12:25 – Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

Many of us fall in to one of two categories when it comes to the nature of our speech. We speak the truth, not paying attention to how we come across, the effect our words have on people, or without love and kindness. Or, we speak with kindness, trying to show love and protect those we are speaking to, but never really speaking the truth (this is the category I fall in to). But the problem is, we need to speak with truth and kindness in our words.

Our words should be direct, but also gentle.

Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Words have a unique kind of power that can increase the intensity of a situation or they can have the power to calm and restore order to disorder and chaos. How will you choose to use your words?

Proverbs 10:11 – The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 

The Beauty of Words
Proverbs 24:26 – Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.

I like the imagery portrayed in this verse. There’s a certain type beauty that is seen/felt in a kiss that is nearly impossible to explain. I mean, sure, you can explain about how a kiss happens, but in that explanation, the beauty of a kiss seems to get lost. So it also is with honesty – the beauty of honesty is hard to explain, but once you’ve seen/felt the beauty of it, you’ll never forget it.

Proverbs 25:11 – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver

We need to be thoughtful about the words we speak and chose our words carefully. Using the “right words” doesn’t mean that they have to be big $10 words that make you sound like you are the most educated person on earth; the right words and words that are spoken with truth and kindness. 

The Source of Words
Proverbs 15:28 – The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Do you think before you speak? I know I REALLY struggle with that. I have a huge problem just saying the first thing that pops into my mouth without thinking about the consequences of the things I say. Just because we think/feel something, doesn’t necessarily mean we have to say it. I don’t think most of us would ever intentionally speak words to wound the people we love, but we all do it – too often I think, because we don’t think about our words before we speak them.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

The righteous man who’s guarding his heart recognizes that he is sinful to the core, and that all the things that originate in his heart don’t need to be spoken. (I wish I had taken more notes during the sermon about this section.)

 

 

When we consider the words we use, we need to think, do we really understand The Word?

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Do we understand that Jesus came to the earth speaking the truth with kindness in his words? He spoke the truth of God, grace, love, and hope. He spoke those words with gentleness and kindness because He loves us more than we can ever imagine. Glorious!

 


My Life is a Mess – And God Loves Me This Way

Before my Christian life began, I had all but given up belief in a God who could ever love me the way I was. I thought, if there was a God, He would never love me in the midst of my mess. He would never want anything to do with me until I got my junk together and cleaned up my act – and I had tried! I had spent many years trying to “get it together” so I could be all that everyone expected of me and then, just maybe, God would love me. But it always seemed to be futile because the more I tried to straighten things out, it seems the bigger mess I made.

Then I sent an e-mail that changed my life. Really, it only made my life messier, but it also introduced me to a love that I never knew existed. That e-mail was sent to my dad.

My dad hadn’t been a part of my life since I was a baby, my parents divorced when I was an infant. Regardless of the reasons why he wasn’t there, I forgave him. Even at 23 years old, with a family and kids of my own…I still needed him in my life. Forgiving him was easy…but getting the rest of my family to accept that I could forgive him – that was a whole seperate issue.

This distant man who I shared DNA with turned out to be the biggest catalyst in me giving my life to Christ. He sent me a Bible and began teaching me about the truths of the Bible. I will be forever grateful for the time I got to spend with him. He taught me so much, and eventually led me to make the greatest decision I have ever made in my life – giving my life to Christ.

It was hard for me to accept that God didn’t want me to come to Him once I “got it together,” He wanted me now so He could help me clean up the mess I had made of my life. I was hard to fathom that the same God who created the universe, intimately loves me and wants me to be close to Him.

In the last 9 months, I have learned many priceless lessons about my messy life. But the most important lesson I have learned is that – yeah, my life is a mess. It’s a total disaster…but God still loves me this way. God is going to take my mess and turn it into a message and He is going to use me, and my mess, to glorify Him.

So next time you think your life is too messy for God, take a look at the lives of some of the most famous people of the Bible…their lives were messy too. Their is no mess too big for God and there is no mess that He can’t use to glorify Him. We just need to welcome Him into our messes.


My Thoughts on Random Things

Recently I have been thinking a lot about a few things. So I’m going to share those thoughts thoughts with you.

1) The shooting in Colorado was a tragedy. It was a horrendous act of evil, that traumatized many lives. The shooter was a man who chose to commit an evil deed and we will probably never know the reasons.why he did it. It seems that most people want this young man to get the death penalty. However, if you ask my opinion, I don’t want him to. I would rather he goes to jail for the rest of his life. I do not have a moral objection to the death penalty, my objection to the Aurora, CO shooter is rooted in two other beliefs. First of all, because of the amount of appeals he will get once on death row, he will end up sitting on death row for probably about 30 years, using our tax dollars to pay his legal fees. Less American tax dollars would be spent if he was sentenced to life in prison than if he was sentenced to death. Secondly, (and some may get angry with me for this thought) I pray that he’ll learn about the forgiveness that is offered to him through Jesus Christ. If he is executed, he may never get that chance. I think we sometimes get caught up in praying for the victims and their families (and don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we shouldn’t be praying for them), and we forget to also pray for the  shooter and his family. The shooter needs Jesus just as much as the rest of us do. It’s hard to believe sometimes, when something like this happens, that God still loves the shooter just as much as He loves the victims. I think that this situation is one of those times where we look at the sin of another and we tell ourselves that our own sin isn’t that bad. But we tend to forget that all sin is the  same to God. Sin is sin, it’s as simple as that.

2) Here are my thoughts on Army wives. I am a 24 year old Army wife, married to a junior enlisted man, with two kids. Stereotypes would tell you that I do nothing, that my kids run around like crazy animals, and that I have no education. Here’s the problem with that stereotype: I work hard to take care of my family, clean the house, cook meals, take my kids places, play with my kids, and teach my kids. I do many jobs, and I don’t get breaks or a day off. My kids are pretty well behaved and understand, as much as a 1 and 3 year old can, the difference in right and wrong. I have a Bachelors degree and I am in the process of going back to school for my Masters degree. I am not lazy, uneducated, or neglectful to my children. I am just like any other stay at home mom, who’s just trying to do what’s best for my family. So next time you meet a young Army wife with a few kids, don’t assume the worst of her. She will probably surprise you 😉

3) Chick-fil-a. I think it is sad that the President of the company cannot state his personal beliefs without getting attacked. He did not state anything offensive or rude, he simply stated his opinion, his beliefs. Tolerence is preached to us from an early age. Be tolerent of others. But see, my problem with this is that the people who expect tolerence from others aren’t willing to give tolerence. At no time did anything with Chick-fil-a have anything to do with intolerence of homosexuals or gay marriage, however, those people are intolerent of anyone who doesn’t share their perspective. That’s just insane. I like to think I am a pretty tolderent person. I know that everyone has their own beliefs and as much as I would love for EVERYONE to share the same belief I have, the belief in a God who loves you and will save you no matter what, we all know that, that’s not going to happen. All I can continue to do is share the love of God with those around me in hopes that they will see all He has to offer. But one thing I am intolerent of…intolerence. It just drives me bonkers! It seems like intolerent people don’t want tolerence, they want everyone to believe and think the exact same way they do. Which, by the way, will never happen!! lol

I also just want to post a disclaimer, that I am not judging anyone in this post. I am not criticizing or demeaning anyone, I am simply stating my opinion and my thoughts.

God Bless.


Best Race Signs

A collection of the signs that inspire us when we run races.

Bald Runner

My Journey In Ultra Running

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Chris Martin Writes

Sowing seeds for the Kingdom

running in circles

it's more fun to run together

Breaking the Chains

Moving Forward in Life

Faith4TheJourney

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. ~John 17:3

Our Life On The Border

Our life and ministry on the Border, The Baja & Beyond!

Jesus is for Losers

Really Random Thoughts From a Crazed Follower of Jesus

liveworship

ˈliv ˈwər-shəp - The collision of life, God, and the church.

ONE MOUNTAIN AT A TIME

Sharing stories. Encouraging hearts.

Grace Bible Church - Killeen, TX

Trust God's GRACE. Submit to the BIBLE in community. Be the CHURCH.