Archive for the ‘God's Will’ 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

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?

Does God Have an Easy Button?

Since the Super Bowl was this past Sunday, my mind has been going towards memorable commercials. Now, I don’t know if the “Easy Button” commercial was a Super Bowl classic, but it’s one of my all-time faves. That’s because I often wish there was an “Easy Button” for life.

Two weeks ago, I posed the question, “Is God’s Will Always a Success Story?” I posed that question because I think there’s something inherent in each one of us that not only wants things to go well, but also to go easily. And I think many Christians are under the mistaken notion that if you are in the middle of God’s will, all will not only go well, but also be easy. Are you familiar with the “Doctrine of Christian-ease?”  If not, here it is: if it’s God’s will, he will open the door, or even better, “if he doesn’t open a door, he opens a window,” blah, blah, blah.

But what if you’ve endured years of hardship and unending pain? What if you’ve hit the floor every morning to pray for God to act in some way to improve your situation, and yet you remain in what feels like “the wilderness”? Does that mean you are not in God’s will?

When we look at the lives of those in the Bible who were submitted to and living out God’s will, we discover that God’s will didn’t guarantee it would be easy. Of course, sometimes the biblical characters caused the delay or difficulties by their own sinful choices. But very often, God had a purpose in the pain each person endured.

For example:

  • God made Abraham wait until he was 100 years old before he gave Abraham his promised son. It wasn’t Abraham’s fault for the delay—simply God’s plan to display His power.
  • In Joseph’s case, God used years of slavery, false accusations, and imprisonment as a tool to prepare Joseph for the second biggest job in the land of Egypt. It appears that Joseph was nothing but faithful to God during those dark years. So, where was Joseph’s door or window during that dark time?
  • God used the persecution, trials, and death of Christ to demonstrate the devotion Christ had to the Father and to each one of us. Pain was the very mode God used to accomplish his will.
  • The same could be said for every one of the apostles who lived an imprisoned, persecuted and beaten life, all so that the gospel could be spread. In fact, very often God used the persecutions to move the apostles into new and different territory—thereby spreading the gospel far and wide.

Sometimes I get discouraged and question if I am in God’s will because things continue to be so difficult. But when I look at all that can only be accomplished by the pain I experience in lifeand not the easeI realize that I need to kick the “Easy Button” to the curb and trust God to bring it on!

Is God’s Will Always a Success Story?

I’ve often struggled to understand God’s will. And once I’ve felt like I’ve understood it, very often I’ve had to go through some really hard and scary places. Those times are hard enough, but even harder are the times when I go through what feels like a place of failure. It’s at those times that I question if I’ve remained within God’s will.

From a practical point of view, I know that it has been in the tough times that I’ve learned the most. Perhaps that was all God was trying to accomplish in that situation.

I guess we all want that “happy ending” or that “miraculous event,” so that we can proclaim confidently that we were a part of a “God thing!” Today, I’m questioning that line of logic. It sounds all nice and poetic, but is it theologically sound?

Before I move on to pose the question to you, allow me to clarify. First of all, I’m not saying that God’s will has to go smoothly. Second of all, I’m not saying God’s will has to have trouble.

I’m just wondering, if we remain in God’s will, unhindered by our sin or other’s sin, should God’s will look like a success story–at least on some level?

After all, when I look look at the people in the Bible, I see many examples when they encountered difficulties, while being smack dab in the middle of God’s will. But were those difficulties they encountered a result of their sins or the sins of others, rather than God throwing them a curve ball?

What do you think?

If it’s God’s will, do you think it should always turn out “successfully” in our lives?

If so, what does being “successful” involve?

Three Level’s of New Year’s Resolutions

Many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. Basically, all we’re doing is making a choice to do something different in 2011 than what we’ve been doing 2010. Many times we find ourselves reverting back to our 2010 ways before the end of the first week of 2011! Sometimes that’s not a big deal. But other times, it makes all the difference in the world—this one and the next!

I believe, there are three levels of choices or resolutions that we make. The first level is made up of simple and, for the most part, neutral preferences or options. It’s called:

Insignificant Choices

  1. To quit drinking coffee and only drink green tea
  2. To finally schedule time to paint that spare bedroom
  3. To join a book club

The second level of choices/resolutions that we make goes a bit deeper. These involve more important choices and tasks, but they only reap physical rewards. This level is called:

Significant Choices

  1. To work-out regularly instead of using that time to catch some extra zzz’s
  2. To commit to moderating or improving our diets instead of indulging
  3. To improve the organization of our houses instead of burying our heads in a massive pile of laundry

The third and final level is the most important and has lasting, even eternal, implications. It is called:

Eternal or Missional Choices

  1. To make ourselves accountable to trusted friends instead of keeping things only between us and God
  2. To control our negative thoughts instead of being controlled by our greed, lust, jealousy, anger, and/or fear
  3. To practice patience in the mundane challenges of each day instead of feeling entitled to let our anger boil
  4. To make time to listen actively to our spouses/kids instead of listening like a couch potato to the television
  5. To face our fear by sharing our faith instead of wasting our days stuck in our “comfort zone”

Although this list is not all inclusive, I believe that these “Eternal or Missional Choices” either draw us closer to God’s mission for our lives or further away. There is no middle ground—no happy medium. We must be either choosing to do them or we will be missing our calling as Christ-followers.

Not convinced? Here’s some of what Jesus has to say on the subject:

“No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” Luke 9:62 (MSG)

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:15-16 (NIV)

Okay, okay, I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty as charged!

I want to accept Jesus’ challenge to pursue a higher calling every single day of the year–not just in January! Are you with me?

For those who are interested in learning more about the eternal impact of our choices, check out this past weekend’s message at Metro Community Church.

Goofy Things People Believe – “Follow Your Heart”

I have a Facebook account and find that my “Wall” (where my friends write their thoughts and messages), gives me a wealth of funny, absurd, even thought-provoking material for my blog. Just the other day I saw someone comment to another FBF, “Just follow your heart.” And it was as if I could hear the angels above singing a chorus as those words floated out into cyberspace.

Our society seems to love that phrase. It’s rather romantic, is Oprahesque (yes, there really is such a term in the Urban Dictionary), and most of all, sounds affirming. But is it really true?

In this post and in random future posts, I will be addressing certain goofy cultural or Christian beliefs that we tend to swallow, like a doomed fish—hook, line and sinker.

Here’s what I think:

Even if I don’t consider what the Bible has to say (which I will consider in a minute), the idea that we should follow our heart doesn’t make much sense. If I followed my heart there would be many things I would just be giving myself permission to do that would be irresponsible and self-indulgent.

Don’t get me wrong, I often wish that I could just rely on my heart. There are things in my life right now that I am struggling terribly with and if I followed my heart, I know I would be making some big mistakes. Here’s some examples of what listening to my heart might cause me to do:

  • Yell at the cashier who was just rude to me in the check-out lane.
  • Throw in the towel when my marriage hits a rough patch.
  • Buy that expensive pair of shoes I love, even though I really can’t afford them.
  • Only do what I want without consideration for other people’s hearts.

Do you see where I’m going?

Here’s what the Bible has to say about the heart:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NIV)

If that’s true (and I believe it is), then following my heart can be one of the most ridiculous things I would ever want to do!

Here’s what I believe the Bible does not say . . . that our hearts are worthless. If that were true, Christ would not have died to rescue our hearts. The bottom line is that we don’t have the ability, in and of ourselves, to know if what we feel is true or a lie. Thankfully, God can help us if we will let him.

So if there was ever a statement I would like to strike, it is follow your heart, and instead I would like to say, follow God who knows your heart.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Today’s post is linked to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chattingatthesky blog

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Getting Your Control Freaky On?

Do you have a control freak in your life? Or perhaps you are one! Sometimes I am, especially when my anxiety is running high. The Control Freak lives by this motto – If a situation is spinning out of control, the way to stop it is by controlling the situation!

On the surface that makes sense, but the problem is that a true Control Freak:

  1. Doesn’t know how much control should be exerted and often controls too much
  2. Doesn’t know when to leave the situation in the hands of God

A perfect example in the Bible of a Control Freak is the disciple, Peter. In Matthew chapter 26, we see a situation that seemed to be spinning out of control. Jesus was being confronted by a mob that had come to arrest him. True to form, Peter decided to take charge of the chaotic and threatening situation. He grabbed, or had, a sword tucked away in his cloak for just such an occasion.

Now, you’ve got to give Peter credit for his desire to put his own life at risk by defending and rescuing Jesus . . . the Savior. In case you didn’t notice, that last sentence reeks of irony and makes me wonder, What was Peter thinking? I just want to laugh at Peter or kick myself for being just like him!

Back to the story . . .

Peter sprung into Super Hero action, probably lunging at the closest member of the mob, the high priest’s servant. I can only imagine what Peter must have been thinking,

“This will make them sit up and listen to my beloved Messiah!”

Of course, if he really wanted them to listen, he probably shouldn’t have tried to cut off someone’s ear!

Christ didn’t need Peter’s help and the situation truly never spun out of Jesus’ control. His sole purpose in coming to earth was not to keep His life, but rather to give it.  When Peter arrogantly tried to control the situation, he unintentionally got in the way of God’s plan being communicated and fulfilled.  Thankfully, Christ, who had ultimate control, remedied the dilemma immediately.

  • Are you facing a situation, thinking you have a better plan than God?
  • Are you trying to somehow control the situation or the people in your life?
  • What would surrendering your situation to God look like or involve?

From one Control Freak to another, I would love to know!

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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