Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Books for 2017

A few books I plan on reading in the coming year. Some are repeat reading, others are new, some are specifically for improving my health, and a few are for journal and blog inspiration. And there are even more waiting on my Amazon wish list!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Living With The Unresolved

One thing I'm learning as I get older is that poise, grace, and acceptance are choices even when things don't go my way. I'm a confessed control freak. I want people to behave as I wish. I want circumstances to turn out according to my plans. And yes, sometimes when I pray I have to resist the urge to outline for God a suggestion of how He could go about answering my prayers as if He, the creator of the universe, needs my advice.

The truth is, life sometimes doesn't cooperate with me. People have free wills that don't always coincide with mine. Stuff happens on a daily basis that wasn't on my well planned to-do list. Sometimes God doesn't seem to cooperate either, at least from my limited human viewpoint that only sees a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture that He sees. In that case I've learned that whatever happens is always for the better in the end and I'll get there quicker if I don't resist His plan so much.

But sometimes things happen, especially in relationships, that cause pain and are never resolved. It comes in many forms whether it be as abuse from someone who won't acknowledge they've done anything wrong, being falsely accused of something and not being given the chance to defend oneself, having needed counsel rejected, or even from being treated rudely by another driver whom we will never see again to point out that it was she, not we, who didn't obey the traffic signal.

Many things in life don't fit neatly on a checked-off list. The best I can do at times is to fence in the unresolved so it doesn't migrate and take over other parts of my life. Letting go isn't easy and some things will never completely go away but I can say to myself "I've done all I can with this" and leave it in God's hands. It is never an easy thing to do but it is possible. It's called the Graceful Exit and it begins with recognizing when something is over and being willing to let it go even if my side is never heard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why is Jesus a Problem?

Bear with me as I try to organize the thoughts I'm having today.  I've felt a real burden for the direction our nation is headed and it's sad to see that outside of a remnant of people who still hold to Biblical values, we are no longer a Christian nation in practice.

It's apparent that our current President and administration, as well as the candidates running for office in November, give lip-service to God when it makes them look good but in reality there is no real conviction behind the words as evidenced by everything else they say and do and how they conduct their personal lives.

If anything, our government, media, and even Hollywood seems bent on making Jesus a dirty word. Just say "Jesus" in a Biblical context in a classroom or public venue and people begin to hyperventilate at the audacity. But if it is said in the context of swearing, then it apparently is ok. There is an active movement to remove him and any reference to God and the Bible from anything other than church but even that is under fire now as some suggest that ministers should be monitored and "held accountable" for what they say from the pulpit.  To speak against sin is "hate language."

It makes me wonder what it is about Jesus that is so offensive to our leaders and others and why do they fear him and those who profess faith in him so?  What about him is so threatening?  Is it because the Bible lays down some rules that protect every single man, woman and child when they are followed?  How can something like the ten commandments do anything but protect us physically, emotionally and spiritually and which one are we willing to get rid of?  When God sets a foundation of guidelines for living that include things like marriage, living debt free, going the extra mile to help others, and avoiding things that will put us in a pit of addiction and bondage, why do some fight it so?  Which of God's laws are we willing to live without and expect to live a peaceful and secure life?  And when, ever, in history has man's ways turned out better than God's ways? 

It's a control thing.  If we are a nation that puts God and Biblical values above man's desire for power, then that means our leaders aren't in control. It means they have to answer to a higher authority.  They have to weigh decisions based on what God says instead of what feeds their egos or greed.  Instead, they rely on their own wisdom and as Isaiah 9:16 says, "Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray."

I don't know if what is happening in America and other countries with the economy and natural catastrophes are God's actual judgment or if He is giving us a wake-up call to change our ways and give us another chance to turn back to the Him. I tend to think it is the later. I don't think God has given up on us yet.  There is hope in scripture that God will heal our nation but it requires action on our part.

God says in His word: "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:13, 14)

It's important to understand that it doesn't matter what the rest of society does (those who do not believe in God.) Well, it matters, but it isn't a string attached to what God promises in this verse.  Believers in Christ are the ones accountable to God, of whom obedience is required, and the ones to whom the promise is given. He is speaking to believers - those who are called by His name.  There are things we must do to receive God's promise to heal our land.

First we must humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that He is in control. Taking things in our own hands is what creates our messes to begin with so we must be willing to admit that we need help and that our way hasn't worked. Had we lived according scripture, we wouldn't deal with debt, materialism, and all the other traps we fall into. The Lord never commands us to do anything because he wants to spoil our fun. It is always for our protection. When we go our own way, pridefully thinking we know better or can somehow avoid the consequences, we end up in a pit that we have to be rescued from.

Next, we must pray. Pray for help, pray for forgiveness (both for personal sin and our nation's sins), pray for the courage to make the tough choices that others may ridicule us for, pray in acknowledgment of who God is. Prayer that doesn't seek our will but His.

God says to seek his face but what does that mean? We are told to do that many times in scripture. The obvious meaning would be to simply turn from ourselves to him, but to take it further it would mean to seek his will instead of our own; to seek what is important to Him, where He is leading, to face the same direction He is facing instead of looking back at our own plan. It is to seek his wisdom, his guidance, instead of our own or that of our leaders.

The final instruction is probably the hardest: "turn from their wicked ways." This is where it really gets uncomfortable. We aren't responsible for the decisions or lifestyle choices others make. We each are accountable before God for our own choices and actions. It's easy to say "I don't murder, I don't cheat or steal. I'm nice to people."

But what about other things like what we watch on t.v. or at the movies? Where we go on the Internet? How we spend our time and money? What we do for ourselves instead of others? Times when we should speak up against what our leaders allow but don't? Things that we let pass as acceptable that God calls sin because we don't want to offend anyone?

Outside of the obvious "wicked ways" that we know God has clearly said "thou shall not", we each need to seek his face to know what else we are harboring in our lives that separate us from his blessing and healing. We cannot live under the assumption that God will ignore disobedience or that there aren't consequences to choices.

Doing these things aren't easy. Obedience never is. But, look what God promises if we do:

"I will hear from heaven."

"I will forgive their sins."

"I will heal their land."

If we will, He will.

"Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. ... (The Lord) is the one who keeps every promise forever." - Psalm 146:3,6

Friday, August 26, 2016

"It is only when God looms hugely larger than anything you could ever face in this fallen world that your heart is able to experience peace even when you don't understand what is happening (and you don't have the power to solve it if you did). - Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Gift of Faith

"Faith so completely takes God at his word that it is willing to do what he says and stay inside his boundaries. Faith is a response of your heart to God that completely alters the way you live your life. You don't just think by faith; you live by faith. ...But putting your entire existence in the hands of One whom you cannot see, touch, or hear is far from natural. This is why faith is only ever a gift of divine grace. You and I have all the power in the world to doubt and no independent power at all to believe. So if you are living by faith, don't proudly pat yourself on the back as if you did something great. No, raise your eyes and hands toward heaven and thank God for gifting you with the desire and ability to believe" - Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Next Big Thing

"The Next Big Thing is not another Pentecost or another apostle or another political or social cause. It is Christ's return. In demanding an immediate satisfaction of our heart's longing, we replace this event with manufactured spectacles. Ironically, the most faithful Christian life is one that embraces a pilgrimage rather than a conquest. The ordinary life - sustainable discipleship and disciple-making - is the order of the day, as we live each moment in eager expectation of The Next Big Thing on God's schedule." - From "Ordinary" by Michael Horton

Monday, January 11, 2016

Boldly Speak Truth

"The Bible tells us to, boldly and humbly, and without fear or shame, proclaim the Word of Truth. The unchanging Word of God always overrules anything any man has ever said which contradicts it – no matter how brilliant it may sound. As 1 Peter 1:24-25 says, all men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and flowers fade…but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Every book we read, every sermon we hear, and every piece of advice we both give and receive must line up clearly and perfectly with the everlasting Word of God." (from a blog I read recently but I'm not sure who the author is)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sometimes Conflict is Necessary

From The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur:

"Not every issue on which we might hold strong opinions and disagree is of primary importance. ...Anyone who is prepared to pick a fight over every minor difference of opinion is spiritually immature, sinfully belligerent - or worse. Scripture includes this clear command: "If it is possible, as much as depends onyou, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).

But sometimes - especially when a vitally important biblical truth is under assault; when the souls of people are at stake; or (above all) when the gospel message is being mangled by false teachers - sometimes, it is simply wrong to let a contrary opinion be aired without any challenge or correction.  One of the worst things a believer can do is show a kind of feigned academic respect or artificial cordiality to the purveyors of serious, soul-destroying error (Psalm 129:4-8; 1 Corinthians 16:22). The notion that an amiable conversation is always superior to open conflict is quite contrary to the example Christ Himself has given us."