Category Archives: Faith

Crazy Week

It’s been a crazy week.

Although I am not wearing a straight jacket like my feline friend in the graphic above, there have been moments since Monday morning when I seriously considered it. I’ve had emotions all over the map. And if you know me, you will understand that this is not necessarily a good thing. I am pretty sure my husband was very thankful that he had to be out of town on business this week so he didn’t have to deal with my over-the-top elation, my all-day crying spell, and everything in between.

He’s home and I’m okay now.

But I learned something through this week’s roller-coaster ride. It’s always good when that happens, right? The learning, not the roller-coaster.

There are wonderfully happy times that come along, bringing such incredible excitement and anticipation that you can hardly stand it. There are desperately disappointing times when you don’t understand why things have to be that way. There are times of joy when you can do nothing else but thank God for His unbelievable blessings. There are frustrating times when everything you do seems to go wrong and you just want to give up. There are beautiful calming times when everything is right with the world.

This is life.

And it happens to everyone. No one is exempt.

But you have a choice as to how you deal with your crazy week. You can let it drive you into straight jacket territory. Or you can release it all to the Father and let Him be God. He’s pretty good at it, you know.

The crazy part of my week ended on Wednesday night when I finally let go of my stubborn I-can-do-it-myself attitude and told the Lord that I was sorry for excluding Him in the turmoil. I asked Him to take the junk that I was so fiercely clinging to and dispose of it. Permanently. I never want to see it again.

Then I went to bed and slept soundly for the first time in days. Maybe weeks.

No straight jacket required.

Our awesome God is there through it all, even when we don’t let Him in. He wants to bear our burdens. He said He would, and He meant it.

I’m so glad.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

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The Spoken Word

I once had a boss who absolutely detested emails, memos, letters – any form of communication other than the spoken word. I will forever remember him for his repeated, “If you have something to say, pick up the phone or come to my office in person”. Although this frustrated me to no end, especially when I needed his confirmation in writing, I learned something valuable.

Nothing can replace the spoken word.

The accelerated growth of the electronic era has almost eliminated the need for verbal interaction. We text. We email. We post a status update on Facebook. And we never have to say a thing.

I catch myself falling into the trap of voicelessness. I even text with my own husband and kids, which is ridiculous because we all have cell phones that rarely leave our hands. Did you know that those little devices actually have an app that can make real calls? Imagine that.

We’ve allowed this closemouthed habit – and it is a habit – to invade our spiritual lives. We have access to the Word of God on every electronic toy we own. We subscribe to the podcasts of our favorite Bible teachers and preachers so we can have sermons-on-the-go. We join online study groups and prayer chains. But when it comes to speaking the Word, praying out loud, and telling the people around us about Jesus – well – we email them the link to a really good website instead.

This is not what God intended. He made us to be talkative people. The Bible is full of examples that clearly show the results of speaking the Word, right from the Genesis to Revelation.

The words we speak create the atmosphere around us. Positive or negative.

If I am not happy with what’s happening and I feel like everything is going wrong or everyone is against me, I have to think about the way I have been speaking. I can usually see where my negative words and attitude have brought about the corresponding circumstances. On the flip side, positive words of faith, encouragement, and love result in those very same things showing up in my life.

The Bible is pretty clear when it says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” – Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Jesus said in John 6:63, “The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (The Message)

The moral of the story?

1. Watch your words. Make every single one count in a positive way.

2. Put your electronics down and have a real conversation. Face to face.

3. Pray out loud. Read the Word out loud. Tell someone about Jesus. Out loud.

Gotta go. I just got a text.

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Filed under Being Creative, Bible, Blogging, Christian, Faith, God, Jesus Christ, Prayer, Writing

The Entertained Church

In light of yesterday’s post, User-Friendly Jesus, I got to thinking about how church has become an entertainment centre. State-of-the-art sound systems to blast out the live band’s carefully rehearsed music. Soft, comfortable chairs to relax in for the duration of the service. Media-driven children’s programs designed to capture little bodies and minds. Ministries to cater to every need and interest.

All we have to do is sit back and take it in.

Now, before you get defensive about it, please understand that I am not at all against any of the above. As long as we are not missing the point.

I read a story about a pastor who recently visited a country where it is illegal to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ – where Christians are routinely persecuted. Even killed. The pastor had been invited to come and teach the Bible to new believers. He was transported, hidden and disguised, to a home on the outskirts of the city where he found nearly 50 people crowded into a small basement room. No windows, and only one small bulb hanging from the ceiling. Believers of all ages eagerly awaited, sitting on the floor, on small stools, lined up along the walls, with Bibles open, ready to learn. The pastor taught for six hours. And no one moved. He later learned that many of the people in that room had been saved only a few months and were already pastoring churches in their own communities. He was invited to come back the next day, and the next, until he had to extend his originally planned week-long visit. These people were hungry for God’s Word. They had left their businesses and homes and farms unattended so that they could learn more about the God of the Bible.

God’s Word was enough.

No sound system. No band. No comfortable chairs. No heat. But the people came, day after day.

What would happen in our churches if we took away the comforts and the entertainment? What if pastors taught for hours without a coffee break? Would God’s Word still be enough for people to come?

I don’t know.

The point is this: God is the sovereign Creator of all things. He knows all things. He sustains all things. He owns all things. He is holy above all. He is righteous in all His ways, just in His wrath, and loving toward all He has made. His Word reveals His glory.

I’m not interested in being entertained.

I want to know Him more.

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User-Friendly Jesus

I had coffee with a friend last night. We touched on a good many topics, but the underlying agreement between us was that it is time to cut through the fluff and get down to some serious Bible. Read what it says. Believe what it says. Do what it says. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Actually, it is.

But herein lies the problem. The gospel of Jesus Christ, in its simplicity, goes against the grain of human nature. Because it’s uncomfortable. It’s convicting. It’s a commitment.

So . . .

Instead of reading, believing and doing, we’ve created a user-friendly Jesus. We’ve twisted Him into a version we are more comfortable with. We’ve molded Him into our image instead of allowing Him to mold us into His. We’ve come to Him and said, “I’ll listen to what you have to say, and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.” In a nutshell, we don’t take Jesus seriously.

We live in a world dominated by self-advancement, self- esteem, and self-sufficiency. It’s all about individualism and materialism. Who needs Jesus when we can do it all by ourselves?

I’m thinking about this today. Praying, and asking God to show me where I need to make some corrections in my life. I don’t want to hear His words and walk away, content to settle for anything less than obedience to Him. I want to experience the consequences of really believing and really doing what the Bible says. Because if Jesus is who He said He is, and if His promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then maybe the satisfaction and success I think I have in my life are nothing compared with total abandonment to Jesus.

I’m not interested in a user-friendly gospel that can be manipulated to suit my own personal comforts.

Because that’s not a gospel at all.

I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all,
I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered,
All I am is Yours.

 

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Jesus is Alive!

Empty-Tomb-Picture-14

 

It’s Easter weekend and for many all that means is an extra day off work and lots of chocolate bunnies to eat. Don’t get me wrong. I like the day off and the chocolate as much as the next person. But Easter is significant for me. Very significant.

Jesus Christ suffered a horrible, horrible death so that I could have eternal life. I’d say that was pretty significant. And the best part about it is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. He fooled the old puss-head devil, and He’s alive today! Christianity is the only faith that has an actual living God – One who paid a price for me when I didn’t deserve it at all. I am so thankful He did!

This song keeps going through my head. An oldie, but still one of my favorites.

Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!
Death has lost its victory
And the grave has been denied.
Jesus lives forever,
He’s alive!
He’s the Alpha and Omega,
The first and last is He.
The curse of sin is broken
And we have perfect victory.
The Lamb of God is risen,
He’s alive!
Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!

 

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The Secret of Breakthrough

It’s been an interesting week. I hardly left the house (except for Husband’s birthday dinner), didn’t talk much (except to family at said birthday dinner), and I don’t think I even cooked a real meal (thank you, Swiss Chalet, for said birthday dinner). As a matter of fact, the first two days of the week were spent in undeniable frustration as I stared at the cursor flashing on my blank computer screen, waiting for a breakthrough.

The definition of breakthrough is this: the act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction.

I realized something. Before there is a breakthrough, there has to be a block. In other words, get rid of the block. Smash it. Crush it. And plow through.

In my case, it wasn’t so easy. I’m pretty sure the block was a reinforced concrete wall several feet thick. My efforts to poke a hole through that were like trying to put out a fire with a thimbleful of water. Useless. Futile. And completely disheartening.

In the midst of my frustration, I noticed my Bible under a pile of other books and papers on my desk. This was on Wednesday, and I’m ashamed to say that I had not opened it since the previous Sunday. Flooded with a sense of remorse, I pulled it out and opened to the book of Hebrews. On purpose. I remembered reading a quote that went something like this: Our most important mental talent is the ability to imagine what has never existed. The quote came from a secular source, but the underlying truth matches up with Hebrews 11:1, which says, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The quote cites mental talent. The Bible cites faith.

The light came on. I had been going about seeking breakthrough the wrong way.

I was relying on my so-called mental talent instead of using my faith in the Creator of heaven and earth. I sat back in my chair and chewed on that for a while. I spent the next hour or two reading through the whole book of Hebrews, praying, thinking, taking stock of my situation, and praying some more. Then, in a flood – honestly, a flash flood – the concrete wall fell and the breakthrough was right there.

I wrote over 5,000 words that day and another 4,000 the next. Yesterday, I worked on backstory and visuals. I am so pleased with how it’s coming!

But here’s the secret. Before I even open my docx files, I open my Bible. I read. I pray. Often. Without ceasing. And when I am ready to write, the words flow as if the story is writing itself.

It’s not my talent. It’s my faith.

The secret of breakthrough.

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How To Do Family

We have a big family. Our four children are grown up and adding to the numbers on an almost annual basis, so our original 6 is now 15 and I’m sure there will be more. We spend a lot of time together and we actually like each other. But we’re not perfect. Far from it. We’ve simply learned how to do family.

People often ask me how that happened.

I don’t know. Well, I do know, but it’s not a magic formula and it was (still is) a lot of hard work. Here’s what we did:

1. Always, ALWAYS keep open communication, right from the start. All of our children, at one time or another, tried to close themselves off from us, but isolation was not an option in our family. We encouraged them talk about what was going on in their lives, even when they didn’t want to. We knew they didn’t tell us everything and we didn’t expect them to, but the point was to make sure they knew that they could. Sometimes it was parent/kid dates. Or a notebook that got passed between mother and daughter when the subject was sensitive. Or just a simple after school conversation. The open communication still happens today. Voluntarily.

2. Have fun together. We indulged in many Family Adventures. These were activities – usually free – that all of us enjoyed. Playgrounds (when the kids were little), picnics, museums, long drives to see if we could get lost, hikes, movie nights, inviting another family to join us. Everybody was always up for a Family Adventure.

3. Go to church together. Church attendance was non-negotiable for our kids. I can’t stress enough the importance of  worshiping as a family. It creates a unity that doesn’t come any other way. There came a time with each of our children when they didn’t want to go to church anymore – around age 13-15 – but our rule was that as long as they lived in our house, they had to abide by the rules of the house. And the rule was that everybody goes to church. No exceptions. Today, all of them are active in the churches they attend with their own families.

4. Pray for and with your family. I don’t even want to think about where our kids would be today if they’d had no prayer covering. I know that God saved them from a lot of heartache, physical danger and bad situations that could have sent them down the wrong path, and I am so thankful for His protection. He has kept us a strong family unit.

5. Love your kids unconditionally. No matter what they say or do. When they get married, love and accept their mates the same way. I’ve said many times that I love my in-law children just as if they had been born into our family. Really.

We’re not a model family. We haven’t escaped hard times. And we do argue periodically.

But when all is said and done, we are there for each other.

And that’s family.

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