Here in this waiting room yearning for You to say go
And though I’m convinced that a yes would be best
This time You’re telling me no
It’s not that I don’t have an answer
It’s just not the one that I’d like
But through this time Lord I must keep in mind
You’re always wiser than I
You have a much better purpose
And You have a far greater plan
And You have a bigger perspective
Cause You hold this world in your hands
The things that I seek are from You
Like the strong healing touch of your hand
But when You say no help me trust even though
There’s a reason I can’t understand
When that miracle comes cause Your answer is yes
I will praise you for all of my days
But when Your wisdom declares that a no is best
I will praise You just the same
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the weaponry to make the difference."
I've heard before that the one thing people fear more than death is public speaking. I've also been told that grape jelly tastes good on chicken. Whether either of these things are true, I am not sure - I will note that I'll never test the latter, though. Grape jelly on chicken? Seriously?
Anyway, back on topic (or, time to get on topic): whether it is true that people fear public speaking more than death or not, it illustrates how difficult we humans find many situations in our lives. As a Christian we can often find ourselves is the midst of fear. Fear of rejection when witnessing, fear of telling someone about Jesus, fear of making the wrong choice in a hard situation, the fear of appearing weak in faith to fellow Christians or friends...
We have a lot of things we can be afraid of. One of my biggest fears is misquoting the Bible - using the Word of God to suit my purposes, rather than God's. I also am always afraid when witnessing. There have been many times where I have felt the Spirit telling me to tell someone about God, to talk to them, and I have walked away, giving myself one of many excuses like, "Well, the person looked busy," or "That's a girl. I can't witness to a girl."
I've also been afraid when the world seems to be boxing me in. Bad stuff just keeps happening. I can't get a job. My grandfather just died. I get a huge bill from my student loan in the mail. Some of my old friends want me to hang out with them again, those friends who were a part of my life before I changed. When stuff like tis happens, it just always seems to feel like the world is crashing in on me, that someone or something is out to get me. When all this happens, my first reaction is to blame someone else. God is an easy one to blame, "God, why do you let all of this happen to me!" Or I blame my parents, "If they had raised me better, given me more chances, this wouldn't be happening!"
You know what I've found blaming someone does? It distracts me from overcoming my fear, from getting past those issues or problems in my life. It takes my focus off God, and His Word; the one book that has the answers I need.
During Wednesday night worship at my church we sang the song, "I Will Lift My Eyes" by Bebo Norman. The chorus of the song starts out with these lines:
I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb, I will lift my eyes to the Calmer of the oceans raging wild...
When we come to a situation that we fear, such as witnessing or making an important choice, they often are like huge, rocky mountains that can't be climbed. When things start happening in our lives and just keep piling up, and we have not idea what to do, and it seems like we are being boxed in from all sides; that's like being in a boat in the middle of an ocean, and it is raging wild - the boat is tossing and turning and we don't know what to do - we are afraid.
Pslam 16:8 says, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
All of the mountains in our lives are smaller than God, no matter how big they may seem. When we put the Lord before us - when we focus our eyes on Him (by staying in the Word, praying and worshiping), He we lead us through those mountains. Whether He does so by moving the mountain, taking us around it or showing us the way up the mountain, He will get us past that feat, that mountain in our life (Matt 17:20).
In Mark 4:35-40 we read how Jesus calms the storm on the sea of Galilee. In the same way, God has the power to calm any storm that is causing the sea to rage in our lives. And sometimes the storm won't calm all the way, but Jesus will keep us safe until the seas settle once again.
If you are going through times of trouble, or find a fear in your life that looms above you like a giant mountain, focus your eyes on God and follow the path He sets for you. Know that as a Christian, He is always with you.
In Christ's love,
Here is why. When entered high school I was young an innocent and very naïve and I had just transferred from a Evangelical Christian School, a private Christian school, to Riverdale High School, a stereotypical redneck school. And I was your classic prep school graduate who liked video games and reading, so it could be said that I wasn't exactly well known among this crowd. So it was only natural that I was a little desperate to make friends. Unfortunately I was not very discerning about who I became friends with. So I made friends with just about anybody that would talk to me... and pretty girls.
Whats so wrong with this you ask? This is how friends are made, you say, well just listen.
Like I said I was the innocent and naïve one, and it showed. In fact it was so bad, that I was told I shouldn't curse because it sounded wrong coming out of my mouth. So my friends, being so kind and considerate, decided to take it upon themselves to corrupt me. Hence began their campaign to dirty my thoughts, pervert my speech, and sour my mood. Soon I was listening to Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, cursing like any other high school student, and had become talented at crafting dirty jokes. Exactly the kind of person you would expect a son of God to be, right?
The problem was that I didn't head the advice of Psalms 1:1 - Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; - These people were not people of God and where not concerned with Him nor His statutes an where thus evil people. It was in there counsel I walked, I stood among them, and I sat in fellowship. I partook in there deeds, as they would partake. Now I live with the consequences. What they did to my mind can not be undone only subdued.
But there is a flip side to this story.
I now have great friends, who love God and encourage me in my walk with God. They keep me focused on God and confront me when I am in sin. These are the truest friends I have ever had in my life. They are legitimately concerned with my well being, not how far into depravity they can pull me. Instead then pull me into righteousness by being righteous themselves. These are the types on friends you should have.
So what now? What should you do with your depraved friends?
I wish I could say that the best thing to do it to dump all the bad influences in your life and marginalize friends who don't care about God, but I personally know that sometimes this isn't an option. For example, I have a friend whom if I were ever to abandon would curse God and my religion. Its a catch twenty-two, if I remove the this person from my life I would tarnish the name of the One whom I am trying to worship by leaving this friend. So I can personally attest to the fact that it is never as easy as it sounds. So I give you this advice, put your Godly friends above those who are not, but do not abandon the others, pray for them and witness to them, so that one day they might become a friend that is as close as a brother.
Have you ever doubted your faith?
I did it this morning, in fact. It happened while I was listening to one of my favorite podcast; the subject was morality. They were telling a story about primates and how they settle arguments in the end it was concluded, with enough evidence to compel me, that primates have a sense of morality. It had always been my belief, though I won't go into the details now, that the one quantifiable quality that separated us from our animal friends was the ability to understand right and wrong as is seemingly stated in Genesis. I was wrong.
Right then an there, like a swift punch in the gut, doubt exploded in my mind.
How can primates know the difference between is right or wrong? And yet there it was, proof that they do. How can this be?
The sting of doubt is one that is familiar to us all. At some point in our lives we will doubt God and religion. We will read something, hear something, or experience something, that will bring doubt racing into our vulnerable minds. If you try to prevent it you will fail, it is a fact of life that doubt will come. Like a weed it will grow rapidly and fill your thoughts and try to choke out your faith.
So how do you fight it?
Simple. You don't.
Well sort of. After hearing that story about the moral capacity of primates, I was filled with doubt, but I used that doubt to fuel my search for answers. I began to dive into science articles and news reports and found a few very exciting fact. Humans are the only animals with the capacity for moral judgment. The primates have only instinctual understandings of morality. (I will be talking about this experiment in a later blog) As soon as I learned this that cloud of doubt disappeared. Replaced by a stronger faith and greater understanding of God and the universe he created.
Doubt doesn't have to be evil, sometimes it can be the very thing that leads you into a deeper relationship with God. If you ever doubt your faith in God, or anything for that matter, just use that doubt to fetter out the truth and then be even stronger in your beliefs.
Sometimes I spend hours upon hours trying to think of a story or a situation in my life that I can use to help illustrate a point I want to make. Ask pastors/reverends/ministers about it. Ever notice how they always seem to have a story that fits? Sometimes I just can't think of a good story to fit my point, and it takes forever.
This week I didn't have that problem, because I can think of hundreds of times I have been in need of encouragement. Every one of us has those stories - times when we were broken and tired physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes we tell ourselves: "If only someone would encourage me. If only someone would give me a boost."
Sometimes things happen - sometimes a lot of things - that seem to drain us. The death of a family member, the "big breakup," losing a job or a hundred other things. These things almost always seem to just pile up an accumulate, and we just don't know what to do. We just... need something, some one.
I like to consider myself pretty close to God. I have a long way to go, no doubt about it, but the Big Guy and I have a pretty good relationship. That being said, sometimes it is just hard to turn to Him for help, for support. In fact, the more discouraged I get, sometimes the harder it seems to focus on God. It is like the discouragement has clouded my vision, making I hard to see the truth I know.
Psalms 34:18-19 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are
crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
God is and will always be the ultimate encouragement. Know this: That no matter what happens, how terrible things seem to be turning and how much you think you can just not do it on your own, God is there! He is close to the broken hearted - it is as if when you hand fallen, he kneels next to you, holding His hand out in an offer to help you out. Sometimes it is hard to see that hand through the tears and the pain, but He is there! Accept the hand!
Not only that, but God has given us other Christians. The Bible tells us that we are all members or the same body, so when on part is hurting, the whole body feels the pain. We are to help and support and encourage each other. One of the kindest things someone had ever done for me I remember as clearly as it was yesterday.
I was going through a very tough time in my life. I didn't tell anyone - I was holding in all the pain, hurt and despair. No one, as far as I had known, was any the wiser - they had no idea. In fact, I always seemed extremely happy. Anyway, one day a man at my church handed me a small, folded piece of paper when he shook my hand. I knew him, but not extremely well. He didn't say anything, but gave me a kind smile. I opened it and read the simple, powerful message. It said something along these lines:
"Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be moved. - Psalm 52:22
I have and will always be praying for you.
Love, One who also struggles"
I didn't start crying, but I had wanted to. The note seemed to open a flood gate that I had built in my heart. That night I went home and spent a long time praying, giving my burden to God. I had heard that verse before, had known it... but for some reason, being reminded of it by a fellow Christian just broke me down. The following day was my first day free from the slavery of the despair I had been experiencing. It was the first time in what seemed like months my spirit was renewed.
If you are at a point where you are doubting or experiencing a situation where you are discouraged know that you are not alone. You do not have to struggle by yourself. Not only do you have the body of Christ here to support and love you, but you have the creator, the Father - God.
Be encouraged! Be encourages because, no matter what you are going through, God is right there to help you. Be encouraged because, whether or not people of this world acknowledge and thank you for what you do, God knows. So don’t grow tired while doing good! Be encouraged because you have a body here on Earth that is going through some of the same things you are – you are not alone. That is where despair comes from, the thought that we are alone – but we aren't.
John 16:33 - These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
In Christ's Love,