Archive for the ‘Faith in God’ Category

I’m Down and Out

I must admit it . . . my faith is weak right now.

I’m tired of trying to figure out why. There are plenty of reasons “why,” but they don’t really matter anymore. The fact is, I’m here in a valley and I want to find the road outta here fast!

I’ve prayed like the man who came to Jesus asking the Master to heal his demon-possessed son, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”(Mark 9:24) It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? If I say I believe, then why is there still unbelief? After all, I do believe God can do all things.

The thought that is on the surface for me, is that I doubt myself. I’ve believed God has called me to do a certain task, and now I’m looking at myself (not a pretty sight!) and I’m looking at my seemingly lousy circumstances and figuring that I’ve been wrong.

I didn’t really hear God’s voice.

But then again, I think that’s sort of a cop out. God doesn’t really need me to be special in order to do His will. So when I look deeper, I see that I actually have a lack of faith in God because my circumstances aren’t panning out like I think they should.

But who am I to know what God’s will or activities look like? How do I know whether He is busy in the unseen spiritual realm making huge changes or not?

When I look back on my life and study the silent or quiet times of my walk with God (and there are plenty of those to choose from), I see that very often those were the times God was the busiest. Sure, He might not have been busy with my circumstances on those occasions, but He was busy in a bigger and more profound way in my heart. Oh, how I pray that is true this time around!

Are you facing a challenge in your life right now that has you questioning God?

Have you prayed about a certain matter over and over and still there’s no visible change in your circumstances?

Would you be willing to share what you’re struggling with in my comment section?

And if you’re not struggling, would you mind praying for me that Christ would help me to overcome my unbelief?

Thanks so much, Friends!

This post is linked toNo Ordinary Blog Hop and

The Ugly Side of My Spiritual Gift

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory?

Very often they can be a helpful tool in pinpointing exactly how God has specifically designed you for His purposes.

Moses being inspired about a new blog post?

On many spiritual gift inventories, I’ve scored high on the gift of “prophecy.” That doesn’t specifically mean that I have the urge to go around preaching damnation to every hooker on the corners of all busy inner-city streets! But it certainly means that I’m drawn to “the truth” of God’s Word and want to share that “truth” in many ways with others—hence, my blogging takes on a whole new meaning.

But along with every “gift” or “talent” that God gives us, there’s this other-side of that same coin, that can be negative, even hurtful.

And the negative, hurtful side of being a truth-teller is an inability to have compassion or extend grace.

I’m not saying that I can’t have both in my life at the same time, but it is often a difficult balance for me to strike. I have to really lean into God, asking for His grace, when I am feeling a conviction rising up within me (especially when that conviction involves perceptions about other’s wrong-doing!).

God has been showing me this area of weakness for a lot of years. And although I think I’ve softened somewhat over the years, I still tend to err to the side of cold, hard truth. There isn’t anything that can get my blood boiling more than when a lie is being believed/propagated or when an injustice is being committed.

But when it comes to having compassion for those who make those same mistakes, I often fall short.

One way that I’m trying to work on this weakness in my life is by biting my tongue. I’ve realized that I’m not the only person in the world who can recognize God’s truth. I’ve realized that God often uses my love and compassion to influence others toward change more than my harsh words of challenge. I’ve realized that God is a lot more active than I give Him credit for. It’s not just up to me to set the wayward straight. The Holy Spirit’s got that gig down already.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I should never confront someone.

But I think I tend to feel that God cannot reveal a sin to someone without my help!

How arrogant is that?!

Which leads me to my next way of dealing with this weakness—I release the person/situation through prayer to God. I pray that God would convict, provide, direct, whatever for that person and trust God to do just that.

If I’m still in doubt about whether I should say something, I pray that God would strongly urge me to take a specific step perhaps of confronting. But then I always need to “speak the truth in love.” It’s a delicate balance that I hope to have figured out by the time I’m 90 or so!

So, what spiritual gift has God given you that sometimes trips you up?

And, how do you positively deal with that hurtful side when it emerges?

Today’s post is linked to Faith Barista and answers the question – What has God been saying to me in my time alone with Him?


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What Embracing Pain Can Do

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NLT)

I admit it.

I’m a wimp when it comes to pain.

If there is a way to go around it, then I’m all about finding that way! But when I read this passage in 1st Peter the other day, I was convicted about my approach to life.

My Current Approach…

  • When my husband hurts my feelings, I’d rather set him straight than swallow my pride and forgive his misstep.
  • When I encounter someone who is antagonistic toward Christ, I’m dodging the subject and the discomfort it brings to share my faith.
  • When my kids need correction, I don’t always correct them with patience and thoughtfulness. Instead, I’ll unload my frustrations on them as a way to stop their bad behavior and feel relieved all in one!
  • When someone gets the very things I’ve wanted but have not received, I find it easier to fall into the arms of envy or even bitterness than to trust God’s goodness and justice.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I do these kinds of sick tricks every day—dodging the pain and suffering of being a fully devoted follower of Christ.

But did you notice what Peter says in verse one? He says that in order to be “finished with sin,” we must suffer! I don’t think I’ve ever thought about this concept fully until today. I’ve known that pain and suffering are the tools God often uses to refine and develop us. But I’ve never thought about it being the way to close the door on sin.

Now, I realize that as long as I’m alive and breathing, I will sin. But perhaps I will sin less if I surrender to the pain in my life—and dare I say it—even embrace pain?

Please hear me! I’m not saying that we should all go out and look for or conjure up pain. But perhaps we should welcome it when it comes. Perhaps pain is a blessing in disguise. And if I realized just how much God is using pain in my life to help me sin less, then wouldn’t my entire attitude change when trouble comes my way? I think so!

I don’t know if I’m there yet—ready to embrace or welcome pain—but I’m willing to think differently when pain comes my way next time.

How about you?

Do you think this would make a difference in your life?

How would it make a difference?

Looking for Completeness

Today’s post is part of the Heart’s at Home Blog Hop for the month of June.

And this month’s blog hop is to answer the question, If I could go back in time and tell my teenage self one thing, what would it be?

My parents didn’t have a great marriage. So I remember thinking in my teen years that I would make it my mission to find a great guy, and not only escape my difficult family of origin, but also show my parents how to have a great marriage.

Ahhh, ignorance is bliss!

I took my idealistic and naïve notions with me into my dating relationships, often driving some of my boyfriends crazy! And, honestly, running a few boyfriends off!

When I finally met the guy that would become my husband, we ended up repeating a lot of the patterns that my parents had in their marriage—surprise, surprise!

But if I could’ve whispered into my teenage ear before any of that occurred, I would say . . .

Quit running after an ordinary man to be who the extraordinary Christ should be in your life—the first true love of your life!

Thankfully, all along the way, God was the One whispering this truth in my ear. And at some point, I actually listened and realized that He was right. Imagine that?!

I want to clarify at this point that I am not in any way saying I regret marrying my husband. I am so, so happy to be married to my husband, Gary. But I do know that I’ve put him, our kids and myself through so much more drama because I believed that Gary could and should complete me.

Looking back, I know that God used (and continues to use) all of the people in my life and especially my husband to act as “iron sharpening iron,” so His will was not thwarted by my unrealistic expectations. But I also realize that my compulsion to be in a relationship and eventually marriage, made my spiritual and emotional maturation process much more complicated, difficult and slow.

So, even though I can’t really speak to my teenager self, I hope that this will be a resounding statement to any of you (of any age) who are rushing into a relationship . . .

Don’t pursue a soul-mate or spouse until you can say that Christ is and will continue to be your first love.

If you are part of the blog hop, click on Mr Linky below

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Click here to add your entry to Heart at Home’s Third Thursday Thoughts Blog Hop…

Confessions of a Control Freak

I come from a long line of control freaks. My mother was a control freak with anger issues. My grandmother was a control freak who used sugary sweet manipulation to entangle her victims. And my grandfather was nothing short of a force to be reckoned with. They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and that has never been more evident than in my life.

At first, I thought that I was simply a people-pleaser who was being controlled by more than my share of control freaks. That might have been true at times.

But like Clark Kent, I could easily transform—without the help of a phone booth—into a super control freak if put in the right situation.

So the thought that I could be a control freak seemed unimaginable. I even hated the sound of the words. I wanted to say that I’m just conscientious, hard-working, and meticulous—but never a control freak!

“I” opening moment

It took years for God to finally open my heart to the fact that “I” was the worst control freak in my life. And then it was just a matter of time before the horrible truth about control freaks came spilling out . . .

The truth that control freaks lack faith in God.

They question if God is really as good as He says He is and worry that He might not rescue them from their troubles.

So all good control freaks must keep their cape tucked neatly in their backpacks for just such an occasion—the time when God wouldn’t come through for them and save the day!

Once I finally accepted the ugly truth, I felt afraid that people would find out and reject me and my control freaky ways. However, at some point, I realized that I couldn’t “control” that.

So here’s I a couple of ways I use to curb my control-freaky ways . . . (yes, it’s a work in progress)

 1. Make myself accountable

I share my weaknesses with certain people I trust in my life and give them permission to speak truth into my life. I don’t always like what I hear—especially at first. But I’ve come to realize that God uses these people to chisel away the rough spots in my life—one of which is my need for control.

2. Surrender my illusion of control to God

This is a daily, even moment by moment battle. But when my anxiety is on the rise, I take notice and immediately turn my problem over to Jesus before my control freaky ways kick into high gear.

If you can relate, then take the humble first step of admitting the fact that you are a control freak . . . at least once in a while.

If I hadn’t come clean with God and others, I would’ve continued to wall people out, offend some, destroy God-given opportunities, and make royal messes in my life and relationships (check out messymarriage.com for a few chronicled examples).

I’ve put away “my cape” and changed from management to God-agement! After all . . .

 God truly is the only One who can save the day!

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Growing Pains

The subject of growth and change has come up in many of my conversations and thoughts lately. Sadly, it isn’t always in the context of anticipation or excitement. But there’s a story that I’ve heard from don’t-know-where that has come to my mind as I think about this elusive pursuit . . .

There once was a little boy who told his mother,

“Mommy, I want to marry you.”

So the mother explained to her little boy that she was flattered, but she was already married to his daddy. And that one day he would grow up and want to marry someone that he loved too.

The little boy said, “Well, okay, but then my wife and I will live with you and daddy forever!”

The mother, once again, had to explain that someday he would not want to live with her or his father, but would want to buy a house of his own to live in with his wife.

By this time the boy was becoming frustrated. He didn’t like the sound of all of this. It meant changing from the cozy, loving home he had always known to some far away place with a stranger.

Little did he realize that as he grew older, he would want these changes. He would grow into them.

I think this story illustrates how we all feel when it comes to growth and change. We like our comfort zone. We like things the way they are. And even if we don’t, we’re afraid of where growth and change might take us—to the unknown. And who knows whether the “unknown” is better than what we already know and are accustomed to?

However, when we compare our resistance to that of the little boy who could not fathom life as an adult, perhaps we can catch a glimpse of the amazing journey that God wants to take us on . . . if we will let Him.

Is there an area in your life where you’re afraid to grow or change?

Are you resisting God or godly friends because they want to challenge you to go to the next level?

Remember that there’s so much more you can and could be experiencing, if you will only surrender to God’s refining power in your life. He loves you and doesn’t want to leave you where you are, because there are so many bigger and better things to do and to be in this life. So don’t let discouragement, insecurity or unbelief keep you from being the man or woman God knows you can be with His help!

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Are You Wondering Why God isn’t Helping You?

People look to me as a counselor to help them resolve conflicts in their lives, and I want to help them! But there’s one thing that has to happen for progress to begin—a willingness to admit the problem. You might think, “Well, duh! Isn’t that what the client is doing when they come to see you, Beth?” And I would say, sometimes “yes” and sometimes “no.”

It takes great courage to admit a problem and leave it out in the open for examination and challenge. But unless the client is willing to tell me what the real problem is, I can’t help them.

It’s like going to a doctor with a broken leg and telling him that your stomach hurts. Maybe you do have an upset stomach, but the real problem is your leg! So you walk limp out the door with a prescription for Nexium, when you really need a cast.

God is the same way. He doesn’t force himself into our lives and demand that we tell him our problems. But very often, if we don’t turn to Him, He’s the first one we blame for not fixing our problem(s).

I’ll admit it, I’ve resisted God. If you want to look at a post during one of my resistant moments check out “Boxing with God.” But I’m so glad that I’ve dropped my “dukes” and leaned into His strong embrace. It has made all the difference!

Every single day He’s teaching me things as I rely on Him. It’s not easy. To tell you the truth, it can be down-right uncomfortable to deal with these painful lessons and revelations. But at least I’m getting what needs to be healed, healed!

God is a gentleman. He’s patient and will not force Himself into the problems of your life. And He’s not like a busy-body who “rescues” you from troubles that you don’t even think or know you have. And when we finally do turn to Him with our pain, sometimes His prescription seems to hurt almost as much as the cure. But . . .

He knows what He is doing! He is the Great Physician.

It may take more time and possibly more pain than we want to go through. But just think of how terrible it would be if you kept your “broken leg” without going through the pain of treating it properly. You’d experience ten times more pain and difficulty in keeping that crooked leg—aye, Gimpy?!

So, go ahead – make an appointment with him today. After all, the Doctor is always in!

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