This is dedicated with prayer to those in Moore, Oklahoma as well as all those whose “soul feels crushed.”
Saw this yesterday on Facebook and even shared it. Thought it was a great saying for people who are really going through a hard time. Tucked it away in the back of my mind for me but didn’t REAAAAAALLLY take it to heart now. Why not? Well, I’m NOT having STORMS….no “bad” times….no crisis like some I know & love. No sorrow. No fires in my house. No heartaches….Crazy busy, but it’s aaaallll gooood.
Uh, duh…someone had put blinders on me, trying to fool me into thinking I was in control again. That I was independent. That I didn’t NEED any help from The Helper. That I might be in danger of moving away from Him, step by step, until I became either self-sufficient or broken or bitter or…..
I’ve still been running at breakneck speed because…well, there’s still a lot going on. Two graduations (high school and college) coming up within the next month with all kinds of events and projects associated with them. And although I didn’t travel to be with them, both my father-in-law and my mother have had surgeries this past week. I’ve been praying for them but didn’t think it was affecting me very much. I can handle it all on my own, remember? I realized this morning that it was….
FINALLY I sat down to journal this morning. I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about neglecting my quiet time and my relationship with God. I’ve definitely seen Him working in my life and around me but haven’t “felt” Him. I know that “feelings” aren’t everything, but I’ve been missing that component of our relationship. I’ve been DOING for Him but not BEING with Him. Even reading the Bible has not been the “conversation with the Living God” that I wrote about before but had become something to check off on my “to-do” list.
After I had journaled and talked to God for a while (it was great by the way), I picked up an email devotion that I had printed out back in January. Obviously, I didn’t read it very well. *insert sarcasm*
This is what caught my eye:
Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.
To be continued….
I had been struggling with a recent decision of mine. I had to choose between 2 things. In my heart I felt that God had led me to one particular choice so I felt that I was doing what He wanted. In fact, when I expressed my second-guessing, someone involved encouraged me by saying “you need to believe that you did exactly what you were supposed to do.”
But the decision I made wasn’t what I really wanted or even what I thought (in the back of my mind) would be the FINAL outcome. So…..even though I had peace about my decision, I still kinda second-guessed myself. Had I really heard God correctly? Unfortunately, I tend to do that a lot….but less than I did.
I just prayed that He would sort it out according to His Plan….what He really wanted. That doors He wanted closed would be closed and doors He wanted opened would be opened. And of course, that’s exactly what He did.
I could be wrong, but I have an idea why it happened that way. But in any case, this is just another step in the journey of trusting God…..even if it makes no sense at the time and even if I don’t have faith in myself. I just need faith in the Faithful One.
I’m sure what I just wrote makes absolutely no sense to you with all its ambiguity and vagueness! But that’s OK…..just wanted to acknowledge His Power and that HE is control. Always. Hallelujah for that!
OK, I’m not really spinning around that wheel getting nowhere. I’m actually making headway and getting things accomplished. But I feel as tired as if I were just running & running & running around & around. So, so tired.
Truth is: I’m way over-committed. There are just too many activities. But luckily things are winding down a little. Hang in with me…I do have a point. You don’t really have to read my list of activities if you don’t want. Just skip ahead.
These are all good things. And most of them were planned and committed to well in advance of this time. Some are just life. So how in the world did this happen? OK, I just laughed a little with my words of choice: “how in the world.” Guess that answers my question right there.
Earthly vs. Kingdom activities. And even the Kingdom activities need to be “approved” by the King.
Yes, the pastoral search qualifies as an Kingdom activity, but the degree of intensity & time is also determined by the mixture of personalities on that team. Trust me about that. The children’s program at church is also a Kingdom activity, but is this the place God wants me to spend my time & my giftedness? Am I doing that ministry just because there’s a need or because He wants me there? Is there another ministry that He’s calling me to rather than this one? I think so. But I’m waiting to hear for certain.
God knew that this time was coming. He warned me. He tried to prepare me. I wrote a reflection for a sermon topic in March about Unplug and Be Refreshed. I’m not being very obedient about the 4th Commandment. Solomon told us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” My mind and body are telling me the time for rest is now.
“In my heart and my soul, Lord I give You control. Consume me from the inside out.”
Those words are easy to say but harder to REALLY mean them. There have been many, many, many, many times that I’ve prayed this with all my heart as I sang them. I really do DESIRE this but have to admit that I always struggle with the C-Word - CONTROL! Constantly, constantly, constantly.
The hardest part of being on the worship team is sometimes feeling like a hypocrite as I sing certain words. It all comes back to “feelings” for me. I am such an emotional person. I don’t always “feel” the way I think I should or the way I have in the past. Although I realize that the Faith Walk is about obedience and surrendering and trusting, etc., there have been so many times that I have “felt” the Spirit, “felt” EMOTIONAL, etc. and when I don’t “feel” something, I feel (oooops….see? Can’t get away from it!) that I’m not close to the Lord or that I’m doing something wrong or not in His will, etc. That I’m not DOING enough…not reading my Bible enough, not studying hard enough, not praying enough, not being DEVOTED enough.
So I sing this with faith. Faith that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. He can transform me from the inside out and will as long I continue to have faith and trust. It’s not up to me. It’s not due to my work or my emotions. It’s all about Him. It’s about His Grace, His Light, His Glory. It’s about worshipping Him even when I don’t “feel” it simply because He is worth of praise.
I’ve posted this before, but it’s become a tradition for me to listen to this great video on Good Friday….by Dr. S.M. Lockridge! And if you haven’t listened to That’s My King by Lockridge….here’s 2 for the price of 1. Both POWERFUL videos.
I have to confess that I was feeling a little discouraged last night after the Pastoral Search Committee met. We have been meeting for months, reading profiles, listening to sermons,interviewing, developing questions, praying and talking. I was second-guessing and worried about our candidates and what our church needs at this point, our vision/direction and who might be the senior pastor that will be our partner in getting there.
I should have known better. I needed a little reminder that we’re just His tools – that’s He’s in control. As usual, God’s timing is impeccable and on target and speaks to my heart right where I need it!!!
Our Life Group is reading through the Bible, and I was reading 1 Chronicles 28:20 this morning when David is turning over the throne and the building of the temple to Solomon:
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”
Another email devotional that I wanted to share with you. It’s right where I am right now……
By Mike DeVries
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13
We live in an instant society, don’t we? It seems that we can get anything we want, how we want it, when we want it. A few weeks back, I was looking at upgrading a bit of our backyard landscaping, so I decided to head over to Home Depot to see what I could find. Now mind you, I’m not very good at gardening. I seem to have quite a knack for killing anything living and green. Perhaps you know what this is like as well.
As I entered Home Depot and asked someone for help, I was directed to the outside patio where I was met with a myriad of foliage options, all full-grown and ready to plant. I found an employee who was willing to help. I asked, “Not that I’m ready for this, but where are all the seeds? Do you still carry those?”
“Sure. But no one really uses them anymore. Too much work.”
It seems we live in a society where we want the instant result, off-the-shelf, and ready to go – but rarely are we willing to personally put in the effort required for the results we desire. We want the destination; we just don’t want the journey.
Oddly, we approach our faith in much the same manner. We want wholeness now. We want freedom now. We want peace now. Somehow we’ve bought into a myth that says once we embrace life in Jesus, it’s over – mission accomplished, we’ve reached the finish line. But what if embracing life in Jesus is just the start of the journey? What if, rather than crossing the finish line, all we’ve done is take a step across the starting line? This is what I needed to hear right now! Although I already know it, there are times when I just can’t SEE any progress and get frustrated and discouraged by it. I think “What am I doing wrong? Why am I not a ‘better Christ-follower’? Why am I not doing great things for the Lord? Why am I not fulfilling my purpose and call? Where’s my faith?”
This is the experience of the people in the scriptures. Faith wasn’t about having all the right answers, or arriving at some final destination, but was about being in process. It was about interacting with the present and living God, always growing in their understanding of this God. That is why Paul writes what he does in Philippians 2:12-13.
He tells the followers of Jesus that just as they had done in the past, so they should “continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” In other words, don’t think you’ve arrived, but continue to wrestle with what it looks like to live this salvation kind of life in the here and now. He tells them to do this with “fear and trembling,” or with a sense of awe and importance, because to live this way is to expand the dream God has for this world – His good purpose for all things. This is the best explanation of that verse I’ve ever heard….speaks right to me. I always wonder what that means….”“continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” WRESTLING…I say again WRESTLING…. with what it looks like to live this salvation kind of life in the here and now. Yeah, that part I’m pretty good at….Now to continue to submit and allow Him to continue to work IN me and THROUGH me and to remember this is a journey….
So, as you journey this week, approach your faith as a work in progress, asking yourself the question, “What might it look like for me to live the good news in the here and now?”
How might your life change if you could admit that you were in process – on a journey – rather than already at the destination? What areas are you currently in process with?
I had copied and pasted this a couple of months ago and didn’t credit the source. From the looks of it, I think it came from here. But just know that I so resonated with the sentiment. Maybe you will, too.
I had the dream again last night. I’m walking down the aisle of my church, but there’s no wedding march playing (sigh), just the off-tune ramblings of the church organist struggling through another verse of “Just As I Am.” A preacher is there waiting for me, and so is my mother, sister and third-grade teacher, Mrs. Boulter. (Remember, this is a dream.) It’s at the end of a revival service. The preacher asks those who want to “commit themselves wholeheartedly to God’s purposes for their lives” to come to the front of the church. In my dream, I tell the preacher I am ready to do whatever God wants me to do. Everyone is so happy. Mrs. Boulter is happy. I’m happy. The organist is happy.
The next scene, however, is something altogether different. It’s nighttime. And I’m stumbling around inside this primitive hut with a mosquito net wrapped around my head and body, blindly swiping at insects with a gigantic King James Bible. I try to scream, but it’s useless. A small town girl from Ohio has turned into an unwitting missionary. In the middle of Africa. And I’m miserable. I wake up the same way every time—drenched in sweat, with the sheets twisted around my head, clutching the phonebook.
I know it’s only a dream. Still, I’ve heard the stories. If you “give it all up to God,” something terrible will happen to you to test your faith and see if you’re really a good Christian. It would be just my luck to have to quit my job and leave my family so God can ship me off to Africa to be a missionary. And I’ve never even been outside Ohio.
I’m a Christian. I want to be totally, unapologetically obedient to God. But if I give God my entire life, I’m afraid he’ll do something extreme to prove a point. He might take away my boyfriend to see which one I love more—”him or Him”? Worse yet, what if something happens to my family because I said God could “have it all”? My mom will get cancer. Or my best friend will be killed in a car wreck. (You know, those things you never say around the donut table in Sunday school, but they’re legitimate fears.)
I love God. And sometimes I’m this close to giving him everything. But in order to prove my love for God, I feel like I have to do something drastic. And I’m not ready for that yet.
Let’s be honest—most of us are afraid of God. And we should be. He’s the all-powerful King of the universe. In comparison, we are helplessly powerless. But because we fear him, we hold back from him a few things we feel we can’t live without, afraid that he’ll strip them from us. A relationship. A job. A standard of living. Health. Dreams. It’s scary to know that God wants what’s best for us—because it may come at a price.
Anyone who’s familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac knows that sometimes God asks us to give him what we’re clutching protectively to our chests. What if God asked you to give up what’s most dear to you? What would you do? How would you react? The danger is camping out in that line of thinking. If you continually live in fear of God and what he will do if you surrender your life to him, you likely won’t surrender. The Bible teaches, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
God’s will is always tied to who he is. (Read that again.) The rumor that God is a sadist in the sky, waiting for some unsuspecting woman to give her life to him just so he can toy with her, is a twisted myth. That’s not how the Bible describes God. It’s not his nature.
Instead of fearing him, if we believe he is a loving God, we will be convinced all his plans for us will be full of love and for our good. If we trust the Father, we will trust his plans for us … even if they take us through difficult times, down roads we wouldn’t otherwise choose or even to the “Africas” we fear the most. Life with God may not always be “safe,” as we’d define it; but he will always, always be good to us. Our lives are in good hands.
“The real issue in life is not the search for God’s will; it is the search for God. The issue in faith is not knowing what God is doing, rather it is knowing that God knows what he is doing. The issue of faith is seeking God’s presence, not God’s plan for my life, because there is no plan outside of my knowing him.”
“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.”
I’ve been slapped in the face with that fact this week, and it took me a while to remember that. I’ve been negligent about praying for protection of some very important relationships, thus lulled into lethargy about it. I’ve bought into the “it’s not me, it’s them” mentality, unable to see the big ole plank in my eye, and quick to think I have the right to be offended, hurt and that I’m right and they’re wrong, etc. And this morning, I had a revelation about it.
This week, I’ve experienced major conflict and discord within important relationships: family, work and a vital team at church – the pastoral search committee. ALL THIS WEEK! Coincidence? I’m thinking there’s a praise in there. I’m thinking we MUST BE CLOSE to doing God’s will in the committee. I’m thinking the enemy is trying to stir up trouble, not only there, but within our personal lives, to distract us. To crush us. To discourage us. To steal and kill and destroy.
After I thought about that this morning, I opened an email devotional & guess what I found for today? I just LOVE it when God gives me a GC!
Below is the actual devotional and this is the link: http://www.ransomedheart.com/daily-reading/we-are-war
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)Have you ever wondered why Jesus married those two statements? Did you even know he spoke them at the same time? I mean, he says them in one breath. And he has his reasons. By all means, God intends life for you. But right now that life is opposed. It doesn’t just roll in on a tray. There is a thief. He comes to steal and kill and destroy. Why won’t we face this? I know so few people who will face this. The offer is life, but you’re going to have to fight for it, because there’s an Enemy in your life with a different agenda.
There is something set against us.
We are at war.
I don’t like that fact any more than you do, but the sooner we come to terms with it, the better hope we have of making it through to the life we do want. This is not Eden. You probably figured that out. This is not Mayberry, this is not Seinfeld’s world, this is not Survivor. The world in which we live is a combat zone, a violent clash of kingdoms, a bitter struggle unto the death. I am sorry if I’m the one to break this news to you: you were born into a world at war, and you will live all your days in the midst of a great battle, involving all the forces of heaven and hell and played out here on earth.
Where did you think all this opposition was coming from?
Lord, You are so amazing. Thank you for your infinite grace, mercy, love and patience for your “stiff-necked people.” Forgive me for my oblivion to the snares of the enemy and my heart being shut to extending that same grace, mercy, love and patience to my brothers and sisters that you’ve extended to me. Thank you for showing me the plank in my eye. I ask that you send your angels to fight this battle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Protect our relationships with each other from discord and by the authority in Christ, help us to fight and flee the accuser of the brethren. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and Our Redeemer. Amen.