“Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.” Psalm 119:165
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such strong faith that nothing could cause you to stumble? How I long for such an incredibly deep belief about God’s goodness that nothing the devil throws at me would cause me to struggle with keeping my peace.
Faith that produces such great peace does not come over night. Faith like that is grown. The first half of Psalm 119:165 says that those who love God’s law have great peace. We gain such great peace by loving the written Word of God. In order to love God’s law, we have to know God’s law, and the only way to know it is to read it.
The Bible contains every single thing we could possibly need to know about God’s goodness and some. Yet, so many of us sit in confusion and stumble every time we encounter a bump in the road of life. Why? Because we haven’t spent the time building our knowledge base about who God is. Knowing just one or two coffee mug worthy verses isn’t going to keep us at peace when the ground beneath our feet quakes. We need to know who God is from creation to Revelation. Strong faith is grown by hearing the Word of God.
The New Living Translation version of 2 Timothy 3:16-17explains the use of scripture in a great way. It says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
Scripture teaches us what is true, and when we know the truth we can examine every aspect of our lives in the light of the truth. When we know the truth, we can be prepared and equipped.
God did not leave us to our own devices when it comes to growing faith. He left us with an incredible resource. Hebrews 4:12-13 says that the Word of God is living and active and that it works in us to discern our thoughts and intentions. The Word of God will expose where our faith is lacking. We can use this revelation of weakness to seek God’s help in strengthening us. With His help, when mountains rise up against us we will be able to maintain our peace and speak the truth, which will cause our faith to grow, which will give us power to make those mountains move! Matthew 17:20 says that we can move mountains with faith the size of a mustard seed. Even a tiny amount of faith is powerful!
My brethren, count it all joy when you fallinto various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
As I logged on to my computer to type out what was written in my journal this morning, I was greeted with two images on my login screen. The first was a hammer shaping another red hot piece of iron. The second was this picture…
I love how God sends little reassurances that I am listening to Him and following His call. Now on to what that call is…
On the road, or path, of life we often encounter pot holes and detours, times when life doesn’t go our way. Pot holes, like an untimely bout with the flu when you have a presentation to give the next day, may cause us to stumble with a sin, like anger or bitterness, but they are just a reminder for us to refocus on the path ahead of us. Detours, like having to use your savings to replace the washing machine instead of going on a much needed weekend away with your spouse , are a little more frustrating because they consume time. Time is a very valuable commodity, and often when situations threaten to steal it from us, we react in a sinful manner, like with anger or resentment. Detours often put more distance (time) between us and our desired destination.
Yes, pot holes and detours can be frustrating. I could also write for days about how they shape us and test our faith, but will leave that for another time. Besides these two lesser types of trials, not that they seem that way when you are in them, there is also a whole greater level of trial. As I described in my last post, there is a kind of trial that makes pot holes and detours seem like no problem at all. These are trials you fall into. When a landslide broadsides you and when you finally stop falling, you find yourself helpless, at the bottom of a pit.
When you first are aware of how deep your pit is, it is very difficult to count it all joy that you have fallen into it. It is dark, scary, and lonely. It takes every ounce of the light of faith in you to keep you from being consumed by the darkness that surrounds you. The darkness that beckons you to give up. That lies about how much easier it is to let its midnight depths consume you.
It is miserable in the pit. It is a place understood only by those who have seen its depths. So why does the beginning of James’ letter promise us that the various pits we are rescued from will eventually perfect us in our faith? How can anything good come from such darkness?
Trials test our faith. Tested faith produces patience. Patience works in us to complete us. Completion means we lack nothing.
Trials will come. Their depths will threaten to block out the light of The Son. But our faith can serve as our emergency flare to God, beckoning Him to come rescue us. The Word we have stored in our hearts can serve as the bread that sustains us. And His Spirit can be the blanket of comfort that keeps us from the coldness of what surrounds us.
Thank God for His Son, who gave us the ability to have this emergency kit supplied and ready for use. What an overwhelming and inescapable place the pit would be without Him.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2
For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Some days I feel like the trials of my life have stolen more things from me than I want to count. Certainly in recent days my Addison’s disease has left me feeling like my life is crushed into the ground. Yet, as my spirit faints within me I think back to walking through my first autoimmune disease. I remember what it was like waiting for my healing. I remember the days of old, and I am encouraged.
God did not fail me then, even when life was at its bleakest. Bleak. Like when I was sitting in a hospital room wondering how many days I would have to endure the pain. Very bleak. When I spent more moments clawing my way out of the pit than resting.
I will praise the Lord in this storm. I will stretch out my hands to You, O Lord. Let me hear this morning of Your steadfast love. Whisper to me the way I should go. Keep me from bitterness, anger, resentment, impatience, doubt, fear, hopelessness, and all the other sins that brew during times of waiting and times of silence. Hide not Your face from me.
Lord, I pray for Your will to be done in my life. Take the pen and write my story in a way that will glorify You alone. For in You I trust. For to You I lift up my soul.
I listened to several sermons to pass the time on the drive home from a visit to my hometown this week, and one thing that really stuck in my heart was the mention of how people are basically looking for a way to be offended these days. Facebook is rampant with people “taking a stand”. It is also full of posts that give glimpses into problems with strangers or in relationships, degrading people who are not able to defend themselves. And this behavior is not just coming from teenagers, but full grown adults.
This brief mention in the sermon really made me think of my blog. It made me consider the time I take to edit each line, reading and rereading it, trying to make sure that it can not be taken out of context. I spend time fretting over whether my writing could be misconstrued to be directed at certain people, and often delete things that perhaps would have been beneficial out of fear of having someone misjudge my intentions.
After spending time just meditating on what this behavior really means for our culture, I came to several conclusions. The fact that people are constantly on the defensive has really impaired the depth of our relationships; from parenting to family relationships to friendships. And we have to be diligent to keep our relationships from becoming shallow.
Instead of walking around as if we are clad in iron, we are walking around as if we are made of china or eggshells. Any little hint of offense threatens to crumble our attitude or cripple our joy. People in our society can no longer have a cordial conversation about tough topics, instead they are frothing at the mouth the minute they feel opposed.
Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10
We see this as parents in the deplorable trend of people trying to befriend their children instead of parent them. They do not want to handle the tough topics or discipline, so they bend and twist and do whatever they can to avoid them. They try to pacify their children with worldly pleasures in the hopes that they can fill in the cracks that the brokenness of this world creates in their children’s hearts over time. These type of parents will avoid the tough stuff at home, but will be the first to go to battle for their children in meaningless conflicts out in the world.
We are seeing the results of this approach as these children enter the real world. They can not hold jobs, because they can not stand to hear that they are not perfect. Their parents are approaching college professors about their children’s work and tests. These children become adults who feel entitled to a life that they have not earned. They want things they have not worked for. They entrench themselves in heaps of debt, and do not feel responsible to pay it off. If we are weak in our parenting resolve, how can we expect to raise strong and responsible children? If we can not be the iron in our children’s lives who will be?
In our relationships with other adults we see a shallowness that has really never existed before this time of technological advances. We are connected by the internet and cell phone to hundreds of “friends”, but the depth of people’s relationships as a whole is lacking. Our core families and extended families have weakened to the point that the need for foster families, elderly care facilities, and government programs to provide aid for those who have no one willing to help them has increased one hundred fold. What once was considered the duty of a family member has been given over to strangers. Now are there circumstances where these public institutions are necessary, even a blessing? Absolutely, some people need around the clock health care and sometimes there really is not a suitable fit for orphaned children within their extended family, but I firmly believe public institutions shouldn’t be the first resource we consider. Especially when we are considering them due to the shear fact that they are convenient.
Friendships seem to be most vulnerable of relationships. Most friendships anymore, even in the Church, are not deep enough to withstand the trial by fire of a disaster hitting someone’s life. How many people really have life long friends anymore? Or even friends that they have had for several decades? They are very few, and far between. How many believers have even one friend that they can share their deepest woes with, a friend they would say sharpens them as iron sharpens iron? Satan baits us to keep secrets, and he uses isolation as a key component in his plan to destroy. Right now it seems he is using being offended as a way of isolating people more and more.
I blame this trend of weakened relationships on our society’s deep belief that we all have the right to not be offended. Ever. We live in a society that has slowly become so entrenched in political correctness that we can not see the forest of problems it has created for the trees. I also blame this problem on the fact that people have become very self-absorbed, feeling that every little utterance has to do with their specific situation.
A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
Hear me now, I am totally guilty of many of the things I have shared as problems; although, with the Good Lord’s help I am working to remedy them. Thank the Lord for His abundant grace, because I need it!
As I mentioned earlier, I try to not offend people in my writing, because I have witnessed how the internet’s court system is swift and unfair with its form of “justice”. I have also experienced broken relationships because someone took offense to something I wrote or said without ever asking any tough questions, like whether it even had to do with them, and I was just as guilty for not approaching them. I have allowed relationships in my own family to go to the wayside, because I do not want to have tough conversations with those closest to me. I have lost friendships due to not being bold enough to have hard talks. I have been guilty of slowly removing myself from the lives of several friends because I had my own drama to deal with. I also see the allure in foregoing disciplining my children at times, because being the bad guy stinks.
So how do we fix these problems? What does this mean for our day to day walk?
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21
If iron sharpens iron, then we ourselves have to be strong and we have to allow what can be an uncomfortable process of transparency with others and God help form us into the Children of God that we were meant to be. We have to allow ourselves to be sharpened. We need to overlook things that could possible offend us, and look into the heart of the person who is talking with us. We need to quit assuming that everything people say has to do with us, and be aware that sometimes that feeling you are getting is the Holy Spirit correcting you. You have the option to be offended or feel guilty, or you can ask God to help you change that part of your life so it glorifies him.
We also have to be courageous enough to sharpen those around us. That means having uncomfortable conversations, speaking up when it isn’t always convenient, disciplining our children, instructing our children, and learning to listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in all these things. What this does not mean is going around and acting like you are a Holy Spirit Jr. and trying to correct every little thing a person does.
If only we could see the joy that is gained and the amount of our own burden that is lifted when we choose to purposefully communicate and interact with one another. If only we would choose to put aside our childlike feelings and see through eyes of love when someone who loves us tries to speak into our lives, even when they are speaking a bit of correction. If only we could ask God for the strength and courage to speak up to those we love when we see them being self destructive or disrespecting Our Lord.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
This week I was led by the Holy Spirit to put my money where my mouth is, and follow through with this iron sharpening iron thing. I followed His leading to start a prayer group with several ladies that I will be serving with at a retreat in March. These are women that I know pretty well, some I have known for many years, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve racking to put myself and my detailed prayer requests out there. God calls us to be transparent and being transparent takes trust, and surrounding myself with trustworthy friends hasn’t always been easy. As I shared in my last post, exposing weaknesses is really hard for me. Trusting people can also be hard for me. Even though it will be hard, I know without a doubt that this new leg of my journey of faith is going to stretch me spiritually day by day. I am so hopeful for what it means for the growth of my faith, and God couldn’t have picked a more awesome group of women for me to travel with.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25
Do you have someone that serves as the iron to sharpen your faith? Are you making yourself available to be iron to those around you? Take some time to meditate on how you can build your relationships to increase the fruitfulness of this process. If you do not have these types of relationships, think about how you can change that in the future. Pray for God to bring these relationships into your life, and for Him to give you a heart that is open to them.
It has been a long, rough year; a lot of valleys surrounded by some low hills, without much hope of seeing a mountain top. Between health issues and just raising two young children, most days felt like a battle. The hope that I could find the time or energy to write on a regular basis dwindled, and I tried not to make too much eye contact with the Word icon on my laptop. Over the year I transitioned from pitching adult tantrums in the presence of my Maker to apathy to grieving, and finally have landed at peace.
I cried out many mornings to God that I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t lead me to just shut my writing down. Many others around me are carrying on the task; they obviously have more time, and perhaps even more talent. Then my crying would turn to anger and I would question why He even brought me to this path in the first place, especially when He knew I was going to be diagnosed with another illness that would change my life forever. On and on in a sick cycle this behavior continued, until one morning last week after months of steadfast searching I had a break through that led to peace.
Peace. What a comfort. What a joy. Peace is a place I want to live forever.
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
All this year, and perhaps most of my life, I have been trying to manipulate and control the circumstances around me. This year especially, I failed over and over again trying to control my health, my children, my marriage, and my writing. I obsessed over every little change I could make in my exercise, diet, medication, and other habits to conquer this disease. I obsessed over how I could manipulate my children’s behavior without caring as much as I should about the heart behind their actions. I grieved over feeling like a failure as a mother and a wife and the dreams my disease stole from both my husband and I. I grieved over not being inspired or having the time and energy to pour my heart out in the form of words.
Finally, all these things came to a boiling point. And I had a choice. I could waste more time wallowing in my depression, eating my feelings, focusing on what I could not do and what I had lost to autoimmune diseases, or I could start seeking a way to live my life differently. When it all finally came to a head and my heart opened, it was as if God whispered to me – “You desire to tell people about Me. You desire to share what I have done for you, what I am doing for you. Let Me use this. Give this to Me. Let Me lead the way. Let me use your weakness to show My strength. You are going to have to share your weakness, and I know that is one of your greatest fears. Do not fear, for I am with you. We will do it together.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Sometimes God has to let us carry the full weight of a burden in order for us to finally realize there is no way that we are going to be able to do it on our own. There is no amount of manipulation or problem solving that we can do in our own strength to fix some things. He wants us to bring it to Him and leave it with Him. He wants all of the glory and all of the praise.
I was bringing my problem to Him, but I couldn’t understand, until I allowed God to reveal it to me, where I was making a mistake. Over and over I have laid my health at the foot of the cross, but over and over I have gone and picked it up again. Plus, while I was there I would pick up other things I had left there; like my marriage, my children, and family.
Believe me when I say that I have had plenty of tests and heartbreaks prior to this point in my life, but many of them were prior to making Jesus the Lord of my heart, and the consistency and extent of the rest pale in comparison with my health problems. Most of my previous tests included circumstances that I could control, events that I could foresee and prepare myself for; which made me lean way less on the Lord than I am having to right now. My health issues leave me crawling to the foot of the cross, begging God to help. They are erratic, they flare at random and there is no way of controlling them in my own power when they do. I will write more about this on another day, because I could go on for days about how I tried to control this situation in every earthly way possible.
Today I just want to encourage you that if you are willing to lay whatever battle you are fighting at the foot of the cross and leave it there, God is more than able to use it for His glory. No where in the Bible does it say that as Christians we will be free from pain and suffering, in fact it says much to the contrary. Yet, in the midst of all the darkness of persecution and afflictions, we see a light of hope and love. That light is Jesus. Reach for Him.
It takes the breaking down of something that was imperfect to begin with to create a starting point for a magnificent Master-piece. Let the Master do His work. Let Him take the pen writing your life song and He will transition those notes of sorrow and pain into a glorious song that sings His praise with joy and peace.
I was really encouraged by one of the interviews in the video series that goes along with the book Becoming a Woman of Extraordinary Faith by Julie Clinton. She was interviewing Jennifer Rothschild on her journey through life after losing her sight. Jennifer had a few words to say about gaining peace that really stirred my soul. She said, “To me peace is something we receive as we release… Jesus said that He came to be our peace. He is our Prince of Peace. And when we fall before Him and say, ‘You’ve got what I need.’ Then He gives it to us. And we shouldn’t be ashamed to ask, even if we have to ask every ten minutes, ‘God give me Your peace.’”
It looks like my writing is about to take another unexpected turn, but this time I have peace, because I am no longer trying to lead the way. I have yet again stepped behind my Life Guide, and I am ready to follow His lead; even if I have to readjust my position to be behind Him every ten minutes. I am excited to see where this path leads.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
The Lord protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked. Psalm 146:9
As those in the political arena continue to go to battle over whether or not our country should accept Syrian refugees with open arms, I am comforted by this verse from Psalm 146.
Regardless of who triumphs, God is watching over His refugees and He is comforting the widows and the orphans. He will provide the wisdom on how we should contribute.
The terror attack in San Bernardino just reinforced my belief that we can not just open our borders to anyone and everyone. Yes, we are historically a country comprised of immigrants, but unfortunately the terror attacks on our country beginning with 9/11 have given us cause to change how we approach this standard.
Does me feeling this way mean I am giant hypocrite as a Christian? Absolutely not. I want to help. I want our country to provide aide and military support. But my idea of help, and others ideas of help may look radically different. Does that make either of us “less” Christian? No. The only part of my salvation that has to do with me is the fact that I accepted the gift before me. And even then, it was only by God’s grace that the gift was within reach. There are no degrees of Christianity. There is only saved and unsaved.
If our leaders decide to reject the overwhelming opinion of the nation and bring refugees here, I take comfort in the final line of this verse. God will bring the way of the wicked to ruin. Regardless if terrorists infiltrate our borders, I take comfort in knowing that God is my Protector. He is in control and His will triumphs regardless of us mere humans thinking we are in control.
Regardless of where your opinion falls in the political realm, as Christians we need to make sure that our beliefs are shown as lovingly and peacefully as possible. We can disagree and still love those who do not feel the same as we do. We definitely shouldn’t be throwing accusations out about people’s salvation or questioning their love for the Lord. And we should adamantly defend our brothers & sisters in Christ even if they disagree with us when people outside the Church (and within in) attack their faith. We need to be focused on being unified and solving the problem at hand.
I do not believe there is a catch all solution to the turmoil in the Middle East. I do believe the only solution to dealing with radical terrorists is to be on the offensive. Thank the Lord that we live in a country that has the military ability to do just that. In the mean time, we need to be praying and seeking wisdom. Then we need to act however God leads us to.
I was really inspired by a short bit I heard from Glenn Beck about the Nazerene Fund and what a private group of Christians are doing for their brothers & sisters who are refugees. It was completely inspiring. You should check into it if you are looking for an organization to donate to. Their mission is what America is about. Individuals coming together as a powerful force to create change. Change that improves the world. Change that can happen without forcing their beliefs down anyone else’s throats.
Please, join me in praying for our country today. I pray this verse from Psalm 146 brings you some comfort during such troublesome times.
Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
Then he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
“Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
“Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.” Proverbs 4:1-9
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” It has taken me years to gain an elementary like grasp on Proverbs 17:27. Bridling my tongue was not something I saw a need for in my youth. In fact, in ignorance I wore my flame filled tongue like a badge of honor. If only I could talk to my younger self now.
I have been biting my tongue for almost two months now. Out of no where it seemed that the fire for writing was smothered in my heart, and I sat voiceless for weeks. I had a lot to say, just nothing that I felt would glorify God. I wondered whether God was leading me away from my blog and on to other things.
I waited and wondered and prayed.
I am going to be frank this morning, because with the way our nation is headed, I believe with all my heart that there is little or no time for beating around the bush. We have all but wrapped our country up in a basket for the devil, put a bright red bow on it, and are sending it his way. We have allowed mediocrity to become our standard, morals to go to the way side, and political correctness to be our guard. All three of these things are going to lead to our inevitable demise if the men and women who value what this nation was founded on do not stand up as one and say that they have had enough. Although with all the elementary school yard antics that I see daily amongst adults, we have some maturing to do before this will be possible.
God has placed a heavy weight on my heart to prepare my family and to prepare myself for this battle. We are living in tumultuous times, and the wise will not ignore this fact. It started when I picked up “One Nation“ by Dr. Ben Carson. The wisdom that graced those pages inspired me to start seeking what Proverbs 17:27 really looked like when it was lived out. It inspired me to bridle my tongue and start listening to those people around me, even when I did not agree with their point of view. It helped me start ignoring the bait to snarl, spit, shout, and wave fists and start redirecting back to what the true issue is. I learned to start affirming that I valued the opinion of people, even if it differed from mine, because I valued them as a person. None of this really changed my views, but it did really change my heart and helped me gain patience and wisdom.
In a society where half of everything that we use is disposable and information is available at the click of a button, it is not surprising that people have little to no patience and very little wisdom. After all, the acquiring of patience is a tiresome pursuit and wisdom is something that takes time to grow. Plus, both of these virtues take nurturing after they have been acquired. With the internet at the end of our fingertips and “information” backing our view point available within seconds, people have forsaken reading. I can only imagine English professors around the country with shaking heads in their hands as they read research papers that have little to no reliable or unbiased resources.
Honestly, until I picked up One Nation, I hadn’t read much besides my Bible and an occasional Christian book in years. It was through the encouragements and suggestions for growth by Ben Carson at the end of each chapter that I decided to start reading for pleasure and historical information again. I knew I needed to know more about our founding fathers, the Constitution, and American History in general. So I started in a time in our history that was on my mind, World War II.
I have encountered several people who have been trying to compare the happenings in Syria to the Nazi’s genocidal reign before they were defeated in World War II. In order to gain wisdom, I sought out information from someone who not only lived at the time, but did something other than spouting politically charged rhetoric. The next book I picked up was entitled “Call of Duty: My Life Before, During, and After the Band of Brothers“ by Lt. Lynn “Buck” Compton. Lt. Compton was part of Easy Company, and if you have ever watched the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers then you are probably familiar with the name. That book really pushed me over the edge. If I had ever felt like I have done nothing with my life and that our society was headed nowhere, it was after reading about Lt. Compton’s life story.
Lt. Buck Compton was a man that lived the American dream. Born into poverty, he worked from a very young age. He helped give back to his household, even when it came at the cost of missing days at school to work. He started in ROTC in high school, and became active duty during college after Pearl Harbor. He was an exceptional athlete and earned a scholarship to attend a university after high school; although he had no doubt that it was his duty to put sports and education aside to defend our country during the war. He signed up to be a paratrooper in order to fast track his path to seeing combat in World War II. When he returned home, he picked up where he left off and continued his life path of hard work. He was a police detective, lawyer, and eventually a judge. At the age of 85 he wrote his memoir. From birth until death, Lt. Buck Compton kept up an unbelievable pace of believing and achieving. That is the American dream. If you can believe it, you can achieve it with the right amount of effort.
Effort. Effort is the key word here. The two men I mentioned above both came out of lives of poverty, not because of hand outs, but because of effort. Neither of them came from perfect households. Ben Carson grew up without a father, and his mother could not read. Buck Compton lost his father at a young age and lived with a mother who suffered from severe depression afterwards. Neither of these men expected a hand out because their life circumstances were difficult. In fact they used their circumstances as motivation to be better than what others could have been expected of them. One went on to be a surgeon, the other a judge. Only in America.
Effort. Not only is effort something that we need to put forth in our personal lives, it is something that we need to put forth as a group of Americans who want our country to stay true to the Constitution and free. There are plenty of groups who believe much differently who have managed to make plenty of changes right under our nose with just a little effort and a lot of noise because we were muzzled by political correctness and lacked the drive to put forth any effort to stop them. Not anymore, not in my house. As for me and my house, we are going to serve the Lord and our country. We are not going to roll over and allow others to push their beliefs into the sanctuary of The Most High or into our everyday lives. We are no longer going to allow the Word of God to be manipulated, distorted, and spit on as we sit by silently. We are also going to do our best to keep others from doing the same to the Constitution. We will be proclaiming this loud and clear for the world to hear, because that is what we are called to do and need to do.
I do not expect you to believe as I do, but I have the right to have my beliefs stand free from the influence of yours.
The days of being able to sit idly by as an American or as a Christen and let come what may are gone. If we do not stand up now, we will be led like sheep to the slaughter. I for one will be pulling my herd the other way. I will not allow wolves to infiltrate my flock with promises of “wealth” and “safety” if only I follow their wide path. No, I know Who brings my safety and I know that the only wealth I am promised will be found in Glory. I know that the path I am called to walk is not going to be easy and I can not just hand the reigns of my life blindly over to anyone and expect to be safe. No, my house is not a politically correct or gun free zone. My children will know what our country was founded on, who our True Leader is, and how to defend themselves.
I pray that you start seeking wisdom for yourself. Things are not working the way they are going in America, anyone can see that. I know this is a heavy post and it probably will make a few people question my beliefs, but I know who I am and Who I am founded in. My God did not call us to be weak minded or bodied. He called us to be strong, and He called us to be leaders. Yes, He called us to seek peace, but not to bow down to our enemy. And if you think we have no enemy, well I would say this blog is probably not going to be your cup of tea.
In closing, I will wrap up with one thing that I learned from Ben Carson’s book. The identification of problems needs to be followed up with some solutions. One of the biggest problems in our country is lack of wisdom, and the easiest solution is found in Proverbs 4. Proverbs 4:7 says, the beginning of wisdom is to acquire it and then you need understanding. What is the best way to do this? Pick up a book. A real book for starters. Start reading again. Try turning pages again. Seek wisdom from biographies and autobiographies and memoirs of people who have lived through times similar to ours. Grab a book on world history. Even if it is in short bits and pieces. Read some unbiased news or at least news from both sides of the aisle.
If you are a believer, this should be in addition to reading your Bible which contains lifetime’s worth of wisdom. You will be surprised at how quickly the chains of electronics will fall off once you start reading. How quickly the blinders dissolve so you can see the world for what it really is. I believe full heartedly that it is these chains of a distorted reality produced by the entertainment business, mass media producers, and the like that has bound us from being the country we could and should be.
I believe God may be leading my blog in a new direction. I am still heading towards Him, just maybe on a different path. I will be wondering, waiting, and praying on this.
“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”
Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King Gateway Worship
These lyrics grabbed onto my heart during worship this weekend. As I sang, God put it on my heart that grace isn’t just something He offers; Grace is Someone. His Grace is Jesus. His Goodness is Jesus. What a reminder.
There are days where I wake up and immediately bind myself to Grace, knowing without Him I am not going to be able to make it through. There are other days where I wander from God’s Goodness and try to take on the world in my own strength.
As we begin a new week that will be filled with planned adventures and unforeseen obstacles, I pray we take time to ask God to seal our heart with His love and grace for this journey. May we remember not to rely on our own strength, but to rest in the knowledge that it is His Goodness, His Grace that carries us.
Life is busy. For everyone. No matter how much you simplify, life is demanding.
I like to keep things simple. I have a fear of over committing. I often spend quality time worrying about whether there will be enough of me to give, or complaining about how I just do not have enough time. Oh, I get the irony that I would have the time to complain, but not the time to give. If we are being honest, when I get to the complaining point that is when I am truly starting to step into the sacrificial giving zone.
Christ calls us to sacrifice. He paved the way with His ultimate sacrifice. So why do I occasionally struggle to follow His lead? Well, the easiest answer is that I often try to do sacrificial giving on my own, without seeking His help. I am finding there is no quicker way to drain my spiritual, physical, and mental resources than to try to do what He has called me to do in my own power.
I know God has called me to share Him through writing, but I have been battling to find time to do it. It has been an uphill fight to find quiet time when my brain is actually functioning. I had become so accustomed to having my morning time to pray, read, and write that it definitely knocked the wind out of me when that time was suddenly stolen. And how could I be angry with the thief when it was my baby boy? We transitioned him from his crib to a big boy bed, and suddenly 5 a.m. seemed like a beautiful time to be awake- for him, us, and his sister. Would you judge me if I said I was slightly angry on the inside?
I tried a few 4:30 rises to sneak in the time I so desperately needed. That wasn’t happening. I tried both nap time and staying up later. Not happening with this disease either. So then I tried to train him, as I had his sister. Nope. As the struggle went on my resentment started to build, not towards my son, but towards God because I felt as if He wasn’t helping me find the time. Yeah, let me tell you how well that worked out for me. I am not sure I will ever out grow my toddler like behavior in faith when it comes to certain battles. I know it is ridiculous to be upset with my Caregiver, but knowing that doesn’t always stop me.
One morning a couple of weeks ago I had just enough time to get inspired, open my computer, start typing, and then the circus broke loose from watching their show on Netflix in my room. I would compare this situation to getting my first treat after many weeks of dieting. Imagine taking a month long fast of sweets. To break your fast you bake a beautiful chocolate cake. You cut yourself a slice, and sit down to enjoy it. Right when you bring that first delectable bite to your mouth, someone slaps it right out of your hand. That is how I felt. Jesus knows all about how this mama loves her cake. He knows how much this mama was desperate for that one bite of cake.
I tried to maintain focus. I tried to redirect the indignation that was growing, but I just couldn’t. I looked up at God, and cried – “That is it. Have someone else do this. You put this dream in my heart, and now no matter how hard I try or pray, You won’t give me the time to follow through. And now look at me!” I slammed my laptop closed and vowed to be done with it.
It didn’t take long for me to ask God for forgiveness for my actions. I sent a text to a dear friend, who understands my health situation, and she prayed for me via text. She told me when she felt that way she would pray a rote prayer, and it would carry her through. What an idea. One foot in front of the other, and eventually we will find our way back. I prayed her prayer, and then I just started talking to God. Right in the midst of folding laundry and the hundred other things I needed to get done that morning.
I gave up the need for perfection and there in the midst of my daily chores God met with me. I let Him shine light on the darkness that I was holding in my heart. I let Him illuminate that there were parts of my life I wasn’t ready to sacrifice to Him. There were things I wasn’t trusting Him with. I wanted to serve Him, but not always sacrificially. Is there really any other way of serving? I was willing to give a lot up to do what He has called me to do, but there were certain things I was holding on to tightly. One on which was was my schedule.
My battle for finding time started a long time ago. It often revolves around my health and what I can’t do. The things I do not have energy for. The things I am missing out on. A few weeks ago, God reminded me that I needed to grieve what my disease has stolen from me. It has helped tremendously. He has taken my hand and guided me through finding a new way of doing things. He has shown me a way of living a fulfilling life outside of the box of normalcy. He has gently lifted my chin and helped me focus on watching Him. Like a toddler who is learning to walk for the first time. And there are times where I feel His praise, over the small things that are adding up to larger accomplishments. I smile, because I need it and He knows that.
There are days when I take my eyes off Him. There are days when I sneak over to that box of “normal” and peek inside, longing for what other people have. Envying what only the eyes can see. It doesn’t take long before I feel My Father tug my hand and guide me back to where I need to be. Again, He lifts my chin and helps me focus, because He knows the best way to learn to run is to look upward and onward.
Today was an upward and onward kind of day. After bringing the kids in from a short walk and playground time, I found myself confronted with what felt like an overwhelming amount of tasks. I needed to start dinner, finish sweeping and mopping up lunch, and to vacuum up all the little bits of snacks that were dropped in the bedrooms that morning. My husband wanted to spend some time with the kids, and that left me alone with my to-do list.
Believe me, my heart wanted to complain. How could I get all of it done on the little bit of energy I had in my already insufficient tank? When you have an autoimmune disease, making it through the hours of 5 to 8 in the evening is often like climbing Mount Everest. It was then that God gave the nudge, “Bring it to Me. Come to Me.” And that is just what I did.
I started some praise and worship music on my phone, slipped in my ear buds, and got moving. I got after Jesus, and before I knew it my work was done. I know my cup was not only full, it was overflowing, because here I am writing away.
When fear starts creeping in, the fear of not being enough or having enough, that is when we need to go to our life source. I was fearful I would have to sacrifice my attitude, maybe a shower until later, the quality of dinner I cooked, and a plethora of other ridiculous things, all because of my lack of energy. I wanted to be angry with my disease, but instead I chose joy. I chose Jesus. I got after Him.
And yes, my husband probably would have thought I was crazy if he stepped into my son’s room while I was vacuuming. There I was hands, held high, singing at the top of my lungs to Here For You by Passion Worship Band.
Let our praise be Your welcome. Let our songs be a sign. We are here for You. We are here for You. Let Your breath come from Heaven. Fill our hearts with Your life….
To You our hearts are open. Nothing here is hidden. You are our one desire. You alone are holy. Only You are worthy. God let your fire fall down…
In the midst of my vacuuming I was reminded of why I am here. I am here for Him, and if He calls me to spend every second of every day asking for His help then so be it. If He has to hold my hand every step of the way, shouldn’t I consider myself blessed that My Father loves me enough to do so? If He calls me to sacrificially give of what little I have, then He will walk me through it.
I am still learning and still growing, thankfully. Hopefully I always will be. Today I made a small break through and it filled my cup with joy. I praised God where I was. I let Him fill my cup in the imperfect place. I stopped mid life just to give Him the praise He is due, and He met me there. His fire came down. He met me over the noise of the vacuum, over my need to start supper, over my need to shower, and to do a hundred other things.
I know life is busy. I know everywhere we turn we are met with more things demanding our attention, our time, our finances, our breath. I pray that you are stronger than me. I pray that instead of throwing your hands up in the air and saying “Forget this!” that you immediately stomp that fear of not having or being enough into the ground by opening up your heart to the Lord and asking Him to fill what only He can.
When we get to the point of sacrificially giving of ourselves and our resources that is when we really walk hand in hand with God. He is the only one who can take the impossible and make it Him-possible. He is the difference between having to give up and being able to keep on giving.
Friends, as many of you struggle with the guilt of not finding time to spend with the Lord, I pray I can encourage you by saying the time doesn’t have to be perfect. You do not need to have the perfect setting. Your heart doesn’t have to be in the perfect place. Your attitude doesn’t need to be just right. He just wants you to come as you are. He will bring your heart to the right place. He will adjust your attitude. Truth be told, no matter how “right” our heart and attitudes feel for worship, there is always going to be a need for God to cleanse them of darkness that we didn’t even know were there. That is part of spiritual growth. That is part of bringing our brokenness into His Light.
I pray you find strength to endure and conquer whatever mountains you are confronted with today. All need grace and all is grace, friends.
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,
for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself,
there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me
—to keep me from exalting myself!” 2 Corinthians 12:7
Boy, have I had a rough couple of weeks battling my adrenal insufficiency. Many of the days the restlessness, fatigue, anger, and general weakness just left me feeling hopeless. This health issue has been a giant thorn in my side. Sometimes the thorns in our side can not only leave us hopeless, but they can also leave us feeling alone in our suffering. After awhile our suffering can wear on those around us, making us feel even more isolated. I definitely know I was putting a weight on my family’s shoulders these past few weeks.
Do you have a trial or problem that seems to be sucking the life out of your days?
“We count those blessed who endured.
You have heard of the endurance of Job
and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings,
that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” James 5:11
If you are in this boat with me, consider Job. He suffered beyond what most of us could ever imagine. At first his friends were extremely supportive, but after awhile his closest friends and even his wife started wrongly judging him and giving bad advice. Yet, even without a support system Job remained steadfast in the faith. Although, no where in scripture did it say that he endured with a smile on his face and a skip in his step. None of us will be able to endure a real trial without downtrodden moments. Scripture describes Job responding by tearing his cloak, shaving his head, and he spent at least 7 days on the ground mourning his children, his health, and his livelihood.
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” Job 13:15
In my walk this is where I trip up a lot. I find myself arguing with God, wondering why He isn’t taking these health issues away from me. Yet, the Holy Spirit always reminds me that God is sovereign. He knows what I do not. He is in tomorrow, when I do not even know what five minutes from now will bring. He is, always has been, and always will be. The picture is far greater than I can see. The story is far greater than my momentary suffering… His will be done.
Trials come into our lives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are our own doing, and sometimes they are beyond our control. Sometimes they are short, and sometimes they last a lifetime. Regardless of their length or weight, trials can be used for good. God can use them to draw us closer to Him and to strengthen us.
In 2 Corinthians Paul describes a thorn in his flesh that he begged God to remove on three separate occasions. Each time the answer was no. So what did Paul do? Well, first off, he recognized it for what it was. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 he describes his problem as a messenger from Satan. Sickness is not from the Lord, but He does allow it in our lives. In that same verse Paul also describes how God was using that message from Satan for His glory. God was using it to keep Paul from exalting himself. God is all powerful, so He could have easily kept Paul from suffering any more, but in His infinite wisdom He allowed the thorn to remain.
This passage in 2 Corinthians is written down in my prayer book, because I can definitely relate to Paul in the thorn department. With one autoimmune disease and a pituitary disorder, I know all about thorns remaining in my flesh. Big, fat, never ending thorns that can sprout other thorns depending on the day.
Have you ever had an actual thorn in your flesh? Like a splinter or thorn from a plant – the real deal. If so, think of how that felt. Not only does it hurt in the tiny spot where you are poked, many times the flesh around it swells and aches as well. That tiny little piece of wood can really do some damage. If you get a thorn in your foot, it can keep you from walking. One in your hand can render it partially useless. Even after it is removed it takes a bit for the sting and swelling to go away. If you do not remove it, depending on its size, you risk infection. Thorns can alter the way you live.
It is easy to compare a real thorn to a spiritual one. Just one little thorn can swell up a host of problems – anger, jealousy, problems forgiving, a hardened heart. If we do not continually bring that thorn to the Lord for treatment these spiritual problems can really cause an all out infection in our walk. And unlike with a wound that is infected in our earthly body, the spiritual infection is contagious. Our spiritual health affects the people around us – our spouse, children, family, and friends. When we lash out because our thorn is aggravating us, it can have a ripple effect.
So why does God allow these thorns? If He loves us and is all powerful, why does He allow us to hurt? As I said earlier, I find myself asking that question, even this far into my walk. The answer for me always comes back to Paul’s response on repeat in 2 Corinthians 12:7 – “… for this reason TO KEEP ME FROM EXALTING MYSELF, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, TO KEEP ME FROM EXALTING MYSELF.”
Why does God allow these health issues in my life? To remind me that it isn’t about me, it is about Him.
There are days on a full night’s sleep where I can barely roll out of bed, say a shot gun prayer, focus on one Psalm, and get a pre-packaged breakfast on the table. Seriously, on Monday I was pretty pleased to go an entire day without feeding my children a Lunchable. Then there are other days on minimal sleep where I can get up at 6 a.m., read several chapters in the Bible, have a good conversation with God, crank out a blog post, read a bit of a book, and then cook (not open) a semi-healthy breakfast for the kids. What is the deciding factor in how my day will go? God’s grace for that day. Sometimes I receive just enough grace to survive the day, and other times He gives me an extra large amount to thrive in the day. He is the difference.
So why doesn’t God just give me the extra large doses of grace EVERY day? Imagine the things I could accomplish for His glory. See the “I” standing out so boldly in that sentence?God doesn’t give me super natural strength and good health every day, because He loves me. He is helping me not exalt myself. He loves me enough to remind me every day that it isn’t about me, and that I need Him. You see, I have a very self-sufficient personality. (I imagine Paul had this problem as well.) I don’t like to ask for help, and that can be extremely unhealthy for my spiritual walk. At this point in my walk, I need my thorn to remind me daily that I need God, and I am learning to be good with that.
Are there days, weeks, sometimes a whole month where I get stuck in self pity mode and whine about my thorn? Absolutely. Believe me, my thorns are uncomfortable enough that I know they are there every day, and most days I struggle responding to them in holy ways. My thorns are reminders that I still need Jesus, every single day. Reflecting keeps me from exalting myself. It reminds me that I am not awesome, but God is.
On days like today, when God gives me just a little more grace to think clearly and have more energy, my thorns help my reflection go a bit differently. There are no inward thoughts. It isn’t about something I did different that made today awesome, it is what God did. There is no where else for praise to go, but upward. Everything I am able to accomplish is because of Him. All glory and honor are Yours, Father.
I pray you can find the light in the darkness of your trial as well. I pray we all look for that light every single day, because it is all too easy just to lay back in the shadows and wallow in self pity, anger, jealousy, and resentment.
If you aren’t going through a trial, I pray this can encourage you to spiritually prepare for the trials that will come.