trials

If God isn’t Sovereign…….

An article hit the news stands last week producing a firestorm of responses from every possible world view and belief system. I have been thinking about the article and the various replies and felt compelled to respond with an observation missing from many of the “Religious” who criticized or rallied to support the declaration made during the interview of a professing Christian singer and songwriter.

 

rgue

 

With that being said, I want to clarify that my response is directed towards Christians. I draw this line because I believe it is futile to argue morality with a person who does not believe in the God who has Saved and redeemed my life. It is foolish to argue with anyone who does not believe in His Sovereign right to proclaim what is sin and what is holiness. I think it is silly for a Christian to expect a professing atheist to adhere to a set of moral standards and way of life when they do not acknowledge or serve the God who decreed them.

 

So, here we go….

 

First off, I can’t begin to fathom the pain, struggle, depression ect. that Vicky has gone through. My observations are not an attempt to downplay or write off her story or her years of suppressed pain. I am not declaring her struggle to be unworthy of consideration and response from the church and individual believers. My response is not a pro or anti-homosexuality statement but rather a statement regarding the error in which professing Christians are viewing God, in both her situation (homosexual struggle) and all others struggles that we find ourselves in.

 

I have never struggled with same-sex attraction. I have no idea what it is like to have affections for someone the same gender as myself after having been taught those affections if given into are sinful. Yet for the thousands of Christians like Vicky Beeching out there, there are thousands more like me who have known and experienced different darkness’s, and our pain is equally unfathomable to the Vicky’s out there. We live in a fallen world, and because sin resides in the heart of every man, woman, and child. Pain, destruction, and darkness hits everyone in many different ways and throughout all seasons of life.

 

Many years ago, my world was crushed and turned upside down. Someone I loved betrayed my love and trust, and in the aftermath, my heart wasdep ground into so many pieces, I believed it impossible to ever be made whole again. I was so broken, I despised my life. I hurt so badly, I just wanted to disappear into a dark hole and never come out again. As a result of the wounds I suffered, I became incapacitated with fear and had emotional and physical panic attacks on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. My seemingly perfect life was replaced with a living hell I could not escape. Not a day passed by that I did not feel the pain and disappointment of my wounds. I had been robbed of so many things and I would never get them back. I did not choose to be hurt nor did I deserve to be hurt, but it had happened, and all I could do was look at the pieces of my broken and bleeding heart and weep.

 

In California, a dear sweet woman I know is battling for her life. Her body is riddled with a monstrous disease that not only robs her of her health, but also the ordinary every day moments and pleasures we all take for granted. She has 3 beautiful children and a loving husband. As she struggles through pain, rounds of chemo, depression, and fear, her mind is racked with anxiety over her family’s future. Every day she is given is a gift, but each day leaves her wondering how much time she has left to enjoy, love, and live life. She was not a bad person before cancer. She does not deserve this pain or this burden, but it is hers to carry.

 

I have a  friend, who had her childhood dream of love, marriage, and family crumble before her eyes. Just weeks into her fairy tale marriage, the man, who had appeared to everyone to be the epitome of godliness, love, and strength, revealed himself to be a verbally abusive, controlling monster. My friend had been a wonderful example to me. She loved the Lord and had faithfully served Him with all her heart during her single years. She had waited and saved herself for her husband. She is a “good woman” and in the world’s eyes, she does not deserve to wake up every day in a living hell married yet lonely and unloved, but this reality is her life

 

There is a godly, humble, loving couple who had their lives turned upside down and their plans drastically altered. A few years ago their 18-year-old son was involved in a car accident that left him mentally and physically handicapped for life. This young man loved and served the Lord with passion and zeal. He was looking forward to college, establishing his ministry, becoming a husband and father. He was an accomplished artist and musician but now he is fed, clothed, and his diapers changed by family and friends. His parents were looking forward to a new season of life as “empty nesters.” After faithfully raising their children, it was almost time for them to enter the season of life when they could fill their days focusing on each other. No more school bills, cooking for boys with bottomless pits for bellies. They were done with sleepless night worrying and praying for their kids as they made the transition from children to adulthood. In a moment, that dream was snatched from them and tragically replaced with one demanding even more sacrifice, heartache, and time. Instead of retirement and trips alone across the world, their situation now demands more time and energy than the first 18 years of all their children’s lives combined. Now they are bound to their home and devoted to the 24 hour daily care of their wheelchair bound son who may never walk, talk, or ever verbally recognize them again. They did not deserve to have their lives and dreams wrecked, but that dream was ripped away and a different one placed in their laps.

 

str w mt

 

Personal stories like these are endless. The stories of almost every “Hero of the faith” include periods, if not a lifetime, of great personal tragedy and conflict. As believers, our lives are filled with pain, disappointment, sorrow, and grief. It should not surprise us because Jesus himself told us “In the world you will have much tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

 

 

There is an Author and Finisher of each story above, including my story, your story, and Vicky’s story. No mistakes have been made in any of these people’s lives. God was not out to lunch when Vicky was created, nor was he taking a nap when the young man’s truck was t-boned at the intersection of his home town. The Creator was not distracted with other overwhelming issues when my friend said “I do” to her husband. The presence of death doesn’t signify the absence of God nor does it declare His indifference. My friend who battles cancer isn’t proof God does not exist or that if He does exist He  is a heartless and impersonal God. Suffering does not prove His impotence, lack of judgment, character, or ability, but rather it proclaims with fierceness how greatly He is needed in our lives. If God were not aware, not in charge, not in control, or not sovereign for even a fraction of a second, He would not be God!

 

If we confess and proclaim to serve the Sovereign and powerful Creator of the Universe, we must accept and glory in that Sovereignty during every season of life, including the times of deep sorrow, pain and loss. What we so often forget is, that the Sovereign and Glorious Lord of Creation has the right to choose who, and how, and when He will be exalted, honored, and glorified.  He may choose to bless a man with great talent and riches, allowing that man to glorify him with his excess and prosperous life. Throughout history, the Savior of our souls often chooses a different path for His children, confounding the “wise” as he not only allows, but rather calls His own to suffer. On Sunday, we worship and praise the Savior who sacrificed all on the cross, but so often struggle to understand His call to suffer when we are thrust in the middle of a chapter filled with pain and sorrow.

 

Vicky’s struggle with homosexuality, my broken heart, my friend’s broken body, broken and discarded dreams aren’t a mistake by God, garnering a green light to respond in any way that makes that pain and sorrow a little easier to bear, including sin. If our pain is too heavy to bear or our sorrow too grievous to carry, we do not get to say, it’s too much. We can’t call a press conference and declare God made a mistake in our situation, therefore what he has said to be right and true no longer applies to our life. If God’s Holiness, His Righteousness, His character, (that dividing gulf between himself and man) changes for just one moment in time, for one life, in one situation, He is no longer True, Just Righteous, Holy or God! (Any time the world, who has declared God to not exist, agrees with the declaration that God has made a mistake and changed His mind, we have great cause to pause and consider that view!)

 

Vicky’s life is indeed a grueling battle and her struggle painful, but such is the life of EVERY believer.

 

YET there is something greater than the pain and suffering of all the Vicky’s of the world and it is the Grace of the Savior of the Universe poured out abundantly upon the lives of all He has chosen to allow to suffer

SO THAT He might be glorified.

And so, some suffer for a season, and some most of their lives,

yet He Is LORD!

 

Sadly, right now Vicky can not know or experience that grace, nor can she glory or glorify Him because she has chosen not to trust, obey, and submission to His purpose. Her declaration to herself and the world, that her response to her particular trial is ok will not bring her peace! The great news is that it is not too late for that miracle in her life or ours. By miracle, I do not mean the removal of Vicky’s homosexual desires or the instrument of pain in my life, but rather the astounding, other worldly, God Glorifying testimony of how He has graced her/me/us with the power and ability to say no to the flesh and yes to life a that is fulfilled and victorious despite the ever-present struggle with same-sex attraction/the daily battle to say no to our flesh.

 

Vicky is one of millions who suffer with burdens they never asked to carry,

and burdens the Lord has decided not to remove while they walk this earth.

 

For years I sinned in my heart and mind and with my actions towards the person who had so grievously hurt me. I believed my pain could never go away until they changed and their life was radically altered. Because they did not change, and my hurts remained, I felt justified to do whatever it took to deaden and appease my hurting heart. I begged God to take me out of the situation, I begged God to remove the fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression but it remained. My life did not get better by giving into my impulses, rather if got darker and more unsettled. Was God’s refusal to miraculously heal my heart to 100% wholeness, or His failure to change the heart of the person who hurt me proof I didn’t need to change? Was God’s silence a sign I had been left on my own to deal with my pain in any way I could manage? No!!!

 

You see my problem is also Vicky’s problem. It is the problem of all who struggle to obediently submit to the call to carry a burden to heavy for their own shoulders,

 

In the midst of great pain and sorrow, our situation doesn’t change because our hearts haven’t changed, and our hearts haven’t changed because often times, we seek the wrong solution our hearts fixed on the results of sin instead of the sinner itself..

 

prsInstead of asking God to get rid of the “thing” that makes our lives hard, we need to ask Him for grace to accept the trial He has chosen to place in our lives. In death is life, in weakness He is strong. This may seem trite, but there are millions who have suffered unjustly, grievously, and with patience and boldly proclaimed during the storm and after the storm, “It is well with my soul.”

 

This submission involves a transformation of our heart- as our affections are reoriented upon the right person. My life is no longer consumed with and frustrated by the pursuit of self-love and pleasure because HE matters more!

 

This involves transformation of our eyes– as our focus is drawn away from our own lives and struggles, where instead we daily gaze with rapture upon the Savior who Redeemed and ransomed our life from hell.

 

This involves a transformation of our mind– as our spirits are renewed and reoriented to fulfilling no other purpose other than obedience to the call and will of the Father….which is to glorify Him though our lives …..no matter the cost….

No Matter HOW He decides to do this.

For we are called to be HOLY and Joyful, not happy, gratified.

And yet in yielding Joy replaces weeping, beauty springs up from the ashes.

 

 

My prayer is that Vicky, and all Christians presently suffering through their own darkness and pain, will recognize it is not our struggle and our response that is to define and shape us, but rather the Lord of the Universe who ordained both the suffering and the gift of grace to not just endure but also triumph. It is He who defines and shapes our lives, through our struggles and pain.

 

For His purpose not ours,

Through His Ways not ours

For His glory not our own.

 

If you struggle like millions of other believers, take heart, He is Sovereign and in control. He has a plan that will accomplish His will, in His way, for His glory. Liberation of your heart, soul, and mind does not come through submission to the sin, but through submission to the plan and truth of the Savior who loves you enough to let you suffer. Suffering is not a sign God is absent, but rather that He is at work in your life with an amazing purpose in mind, He is going to bring glory to himself through your life. Be less concerned with the removal of the trial and more concerned with the removal of yourself. Get true biblical counseling from Godly,  Biblicaly sound counselors! You were never meant to struggle on your own. The body is there to lift up and edify. If you don’t come, “the Body” can’t help and both you and your brothers and sisters are being robbed of the blessing of Spiritual community. No sin, struggle, hurt or pain is beyond His ability and Grace. The cross was enough!

 

Next time: How God transformed and is transforming my life with Grace.

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Learning to live with a heart that is broken but a life is not.

Living with a Heart that is Broken, but a life that is not!

Beth Moore at Living Proof Ministries is hosting her women’s summer Bible study. I signed up at Women’s Bible Cafe to join over 600 women who will participate in this study via online and community small groups. We are studying the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A heart that can break. 

There is still time to join over 600 dear, like-minded, passionate “Siestas” in Christ. You can follow along personally, join a virtual small group (what I am doing), or hook up with a group in your area. Check out any of the above links for information.

Brokenness isn’t an activity your normal human being would sign up to experience. Everything about the word screams run, but when we are straining to “see the unseen”, and to live for the “Eternal” versus the temporal, brokenness should become our hearts desire and aim.

Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts and insights gleaned from this study. My heart has all ready been blessed as I have joined in prayer with women I have never met, yet feel great love and compassion for. What a powerful image six-hundred women, on their faces before the Lord, crying out for brokenness, evokes!

To ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His, is a daring prayer. It is not a self-seeking desire to suffer for the purpose of winning the praise and accolades of man, nor is it an attempt to obtain righteousness through works. The desire to have a heart, broken by God, is a desire to see and feel as He sees and feels. It is a prayer to have myself moved out-of-the-way so I can see and be moved by the pain, suffering, need, and hopelessness of man. A heart, broken by the Spirit of the Living God, is to posses a heart that mourns over the destruction that sin is wreaking in the hearts of fallen man.

 

Today, as we studied the prayer and heart of Nehemiah found in chapter 1:1-5, A verse kept coming to mind:

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness:

I shall be satisfied,

when I awake, with thy likeness.

I believe this desire should be the heart and sum of all we strive to do and be as children of God. A broken and contrite heart He will not turn away! Would you be daring enough to embrace the cry, “Lord break my heart?” Can you utter with me. in Your brokenness, let me become Your likeness, and in Your likeness there let me dwell satisfied?

The truth and reality of the fallen world we live in is  that everyone we will be broken.  The question we must ask ourselves is what will we allow to break us, sin or a Savior?

 

Matthew 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone

shall be broken:

but on whomsoever it shall fall,

it will grind him to powder.

The world will crush and break us ruthlessly, our Heavenly Father breaks us with love, compassion and a divine, God glorifying purpose.

Only One can promise fulfillment with abandonment, and bring beauty from ashes. Only one Master can satisfy and fulfill the desires and yearning of the yielded and broken heart.

Lord God Almighty, posses and reign my heart and life. Make is soft so that it weeps when you weep, delights when you
delight, and breaks at what breaks yours. O Father, I shall be satisfied only when I awake with your likeness, when there is less of me for the world to see. Amen

My Prayer for you: Quietness

Quietness

Isaiah 32:17
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

One of the most mind-boggling fruits of a life yielded to Christ is the ability to be at peace and to have a quite spirit in the midst of great turmoil and pain.

Peace and quietness stands in glaring contrast to a world ruled by chaos. Quietness shines like a brightly lit neon sign stuck smack dab in the middle of black nothingness. It draws others to itself like moths to a lit bulb. Quietness and peace boldly proclaim a message of hope to those who are being crushed under great burdens of grief, anxiety, fear, and guilt. Quietness meekly whispers, there is something bigger than your pain, and there is someone stronger than what afflicts your soul.

Today my husband I am praying that the power and strength of the Lord would anoint you as you relax and recover from a long week of stress, turmoil, and physical exhaustion. My prayer is that as He transforms and strengthens you with might in the inner depths of your heart, soul, mind, and spirit, that a quietness and confidence would shine loudly from your life. May you humbly seek His face, openly be weak in His presence, and allow His Joy to shine from your life. May your ability to be quiet in the face of turmoil, pain, weakness, and need be a bold and powerful testimony of His power and ability to redeem sinful man. May peace reign in your heart today my husband, may His righteousness be your confidence.

 Isaiah 30:15

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. “

Photo Credits:quietness http://tonchee.deviantart.com/art/quietness-113749145

Praying for my Husband A to Z: F is for Favor

Favor

Psalm 5:12

For you bless the righteous, O Lord;

You cover him with favor

as with a shield

Psalm 84:11

Today I have prayed that my husband would be anointed with favor. Psalm 5:12 has been my heart-song for David. Some have said that Grace is God’s unmerited favor, a gift we do not deserve but are given liberally.

The Heavenly Father has chosen David and called him to Himself. He has called, and then promised that as he calls and leads he also will equips. He has also promised that He will perfect and finish the work He has begun in David’s life, & our marriage & family. So my prayer is that God’s grace would compass David as he works, thinks, interacts, and goes about his day.

 

I am also praying that David would find favor in the presence of his employees, customers, vendors, and all others the Lord brings into his life. His day is filled with much stress as he tries to keep the peace, make customers happy, all while growing and leading his company.

 

Father, it is true that your grace and favor is upon the life of my husband. You have loved and been intimately acquainted with him from His youth. I have seen your hand upon his life and I ask that your grace, love and favor would not depart. May your favor guide, protect and transform him. Father David deals with so many people and so many high pressure situations every day. Please give him the wisdom, discernment, understanding, and compassion he needs as he works with those you bring into his life. Please give him favor in their eyes, and give him the ability to defuse anger, animosity, physical limitations & weaknesses. Amen

A to Z: U is for Overcoming Unbelief

Unbelief

Hebrews 2:18
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

When Jesus walked this earth, we are told He was tempted and suffered just as we are. Our pain and suffering moves Him with compassion. Our Father understands our pain, weaknesses, and needs but what He will never tolerate nor allow is a faithless unbelieving heart. He is True and Faithful and in Him is no deceit or variableness. He has never failed to prove Himself to be who He has proclaimed Himself to be,  nor has He ever failed to fulfill the promises He has given us.

 

Unbelief  is an extremely dangerous thing to harbor in our hearts, and scripture spells out clearly what happens when we allow unbelief to take root and grow in our lives.


Dangers of Unbelief:

1. God can not work in a heart of unbelief

Matthew 13:58
And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

2. A heart of unbelief leads to a heart of stone & Rebuke from God

Mark 16:14

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

3. Unbelief steals our peace and keeps us from finding “rest”

Hebrews 3:19

So we see that they were unable to enter (into rest) because of unbelief.

Unbelief = Heart of stone = God’s Rebuke = No Rest….

Hebrews 3:5-30 (ESV)

A Rest for the People of God

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 (I)As I swore in my wrath,
They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned,whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

 

When my faith falters and the trials and burdens of life press down upon me, I find victory to overcome unbelief by remembering, recording, and recounting the goodness of God. My history with Him is the lifeline of my faith. He has never forsaken me or withheld His love or goodness. Who He was yesterday is who He will be today and tomorrow. There is no room for unbelief. 

 

What has become bigger in your life, your problems or the “Solution” to your problems?I Overcome unbelief by switching your focus from the problems to the “Truth.”  Remember yesterday’s A to Z! “The truth will set you Free.” Hear His voice, believe His words, overcome your fears, pain, anxiety….

A to Z Challenge: T is for Truth

Truth

“The quality of being in accord with fact or reality.

Fidelity to an original or standard.

That which is considered to be the supreme reality

and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

John 8:32
And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”

What do you say to the friend who suffers in an invisible prison, held captive by a smothering blanket of depression? How do you comfort the grieving woman who has miscarried her fourth child and has to bury that tiny life and with it her dream of being a mother? What can you say that will encourage the single woman who sits alone her apartment tormented by insecurity and the unfulfilled desire to “just be loved by somebody?” What words can sooth the raw aching heart of a wife who has stumbled upon the sordid details of her husband’s infidelity? How do we find hope when life seems hopeless?

The Bible tells us that Truth is the key to freedom but it is not merely the presence of truth that liberates. This is evidenced by the fact two people can go through similar circumstances with totally opposite results.

 In “The Passion of the Christ” Pilots wife makes a profound statement to her tormented husband who has begged her to explain the truth.

“What is truth Caludia? Do you hear it, recognize it when it is spoken?

Pilots wife replies, “Yes I do, don’t you?”

Pilot answers back  “No. How? Can you tell me?”

With sorrow Pilots wife whispers, “If you will not hear the truth, no one can tell you the truth.”

 

Truth has the power to liberate and conquer BUT only if that truth takes root deep within our heart and soul. Once truth is heard it must be received, seized, and hidden deep within our needy hearts. It is here, in that deepest part of man’s heart that faith gives voice to truth.

To the hurting and needy I say, it is in “The Truth” that you will find freedom, but if you will not hear truth, you will not experience freedom.

Are you willing to hear the truth? Are you willing to have the scales washed away, so that you can see life as it truly is? If you are hurting and looking for answers, your only hope is found in Him who is “Truth” and who offers that truth to all mankind.

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

Will you listen to His message and plan for your life? He posses the truth capable of setting you free.

Are you seeking to comfort or council a friend imprisoned in hopelessness? Unless they are willing to hear the truth and to allow its roots to be buried deep within their hearts and minds, the truth will not do them any good. The first thing they need is prayer, that their ears would be opened.

A To Z: Q is for Quietness

Quietness

And the work of righteousness shall be peace;

and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Isaiah 32:17 (KJV)

There is a time to fight, but there is also a time to be quiet and still. The ability to discern when to do which is critical when it comes to overcoming.

 

As a kid I was terrified of quicksand. No, I had never seen it, felt it, or come remotely close to the stuff, but the thought of something sucking me down into the darkest depths of  earth, slowly sucking life from my lungs, scared the snot out of me. I mentally went through the actions, or should I say inaction I would take so that in the event I ever did find myself doing the backstroke in a pool of it, I would be able to escape. At that young age, I understood that in order to survive, to had to “do nothing.”

 

Quicksand moments of life

Sometime life hands us fight/flight situations, times when there is no getting around confrontations, battles, disputes, or disagreements. Then there are the days when we are thrust into  “quick sand” moments of life. These are instances  when words, actions, and confrontation only make matters worse. No matter how cool, calm, and collects we are, anything we do or say sucks us deeper into the suffocating quagmire. I have found this to be true on both a physical and spiritual level.

 

I have a broken and sick grandparent. No matter what I  say, do, or don’t do, I can’t win. I can’t rationalize with her or make her see the truth. I can’t refute her illogical reasoning and distorted view of life and our family. Like my husband puts it, by doing so I “only get myself a blot.” It is maddening, but for the sake of not being engulfed into a bottomless pit of bitterness, anger, and strife, all I can do is nothing. I just walk away.

 

I love my sister, and have no idea what I would do without her. She has given me a few “quick sand moments” of a different sort. They start something like this, my phone rings and Amy is on the other side. “Jody, I have something I need to talk to you about. Your not going to like what I have to say, but please just hear me out. If you want to hang up when I am through I understand.” This might astound and even offend you, but you have to understand and personally know my amazing sister. She has never been wrong and true to her word, I did not like what she had to say. It was a “quick sand moment”,  I had to relax my heart, mind, and emotions and allow the love and truth of her words sink in, and guess what I survived, but better than that, I was a better wife, mom, woman because of it.

 

On a spiritual level,  I had some similar conversations with the Lord. As Beth Moore explains in her book “Get out of that Pit,” Sometimes were pushed into pits, sometimes we innocently fall into them. Then there are the times we just jump in headfirst.

 

There have been moments when I had to claw my way out of trials. Times when my fingers were raw, my skin bruised and bleeding, and I needed to, had to fight. BUT There have also been times when my battle wasn’t a pit I needed to claw out of but a pool of quicksand I had to relax in and yield to.

 
Sometimes the Redeemer doesn’t require we fight, He just asks us to yield, to relax, to rest. To believe He is who He says He is, and who He has all ready proven Himself to be. It is during these “quicksand moments of life” that He who is True and Faithful whispers

“…Your strength is to sit still.”

Isaiah 30:7

Quietness, it is an absence of striving, clamoring, protest, questions, doubts. Quietness is the ability to embrace an absence of words and explanations because I understand the absence of His voice by no means indicates an absence of His presence. Quietness is an opportunity to  receive things I might otherwise not see, hear, feel, or discover.

Do you know how to be quiet? Do you know how to let quietness envelop your heart, mind, body, soul and spirit? You can overcome through quietness. You just have to know when it is time to fight and when it is okay to relax, be quiet, and let another work and move on your behalf. Yes, there are moments when your strength to overcome is through sitting still.

A to Z: Overcoming Noise

Noise

A sound, esp. one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance:

I do not like noise. My ears are sensitive to misplaced, unnecessary, intruding sounds that rudely interrupt and distract from what I’m trying to concentrate upon. As much as I detest audible noise, this is not the enemy I speak of. I am referring to the silent noises of life.

Noise doesn’t have to be audible. It can come in small voiceless accusations. It is failure ripping relentlessly upon raw hearts and vulnerable emotions. It is silent reproach “You have messed up again,” “you are a horrible mother, wife, friend,” “You call yourself a Christian, you are not better than they are.”

Noise can be a look, a cold shoulder, or indifference. It is a fractured relationship that drowns spirits. Noise strains emotions like a great storm rolling across a plain, devouring everything within the reach of its icy fingers.

Noise can arrive without invitation. It steals wordlessly into living rooms, bedrooms, and even Church auditoriums. It lashes out with silent tongues of discontent, strife, anger, greed, and jealousy. Noise invades relationships, making what was once natural, effortless, and cherished morph into something awkward, unbearable, and tormenting.

Noise is the silent anguish of a grieving mother who has buried her child. It is the suffocating feeling of failure that burns deep inside the soul of the husband who has lost his job and has no idea how he will care for his family. Noise is the guilt of a teen who has given into pressure and had their innocence stolen. Noise is condemnation, heartbreak, anger, hopelessness. Noise is absence of peace.

In a world filled with so much mind numbing and heart deafening noise, how do we find the strength, grace and power to overcome?

Overcoming Noise!

Athletes provide a great example of how to overcome noise. They stand on the free throw line, the game riding upon their shoulders. Every spectator is on their feet screaming, yelling, chanting, praying, taunting, begging. The noise is mind numbing, yet that athlete can silence every voice, becoming deaf and blind to the presence of every human in the arena. It is just him and the net. There is silence in his heart and mind.

SWOOSH, VICTORY, TRIUMPH!

FOCUS!

The only way I overcome the mind deafening, crushing noise of life is through focusing on that which truly matters and the only thing that gives purpose and makes sense of life. Eternity, Forever, Hope, Healing, Heaven, my Lord and Savior. He is present through all the noise. His will is just, loving, and with purpose. Heaven and Earth will pass away, the noise will stop, and He will be there. My life is fleeting, my trials passing. All that matters is the only thing that will last. I will endure and can endure because I know the “Ending.” It is glorious, powerful, and satisfying. Eternity makes the here and now bearable, endurable, even acceptable. The only way I can overcome the noise it to

Look to the Master and Creator.

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord s your keeper;
the
Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The Lord willkeep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep
your
going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Practical Advice:

  1. Preach to yourself don’t listen to yourself

    When that accusing voice starts whispering lies & accusations, interrupt that voice with a good ol sermon of your own. Counter each lie, accusation and hurt with truth.

  2. Claim a “mantra”

    Not an in the mystic sense of the word, but a phrase or verse of truth that specifically counters the noise. When I was single and struggle with lies like : I was missing out, forgotten, cheated… Psalm 84:11-12 was the mantra I clung to. When I felt overwhelmed by a trial, it was the Psalm “You caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and water but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. ” I set my gaze ahead, and as I broke, fell, cried, and rose up to keep press on, I was a looking for that promised wealthy place.

  3. Meditate on truth

    It doesn’t work to try to just out noise the noise. You have to know, believe, and purpose to let truth and peace reign instead of the noise, lies…. I didn’t just recite Pslam 84, I meditated on it and I told myself why I wasn’t missing out, cheated, left behind.

  4. Accountability!

    If you struggle in an area find a trusted friend who will challenge you, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it. (Do not ask a person struggling with the same thing)

    How do you overcome Noise?

Living in a World of Uncertainty, Confusion, Chaos, and Pain?

Are you Single & Alone?

Are you married but lonely?

Is your life filled with uncertainty, confusion, chaos, and pain?

Let me introduce to you He who reigns king over chaos & pain!

From the start, Jesus life was besieged by supernatural opposition and satanic chaos. The Lord of Creation sent His Beloved Son into a world marred by sin but his presence did not vanquish the pain and trials the world groaned under, rather for a time, it seemed to heighten and intensify them.

The arrival of Jesus cost Mary and Joseph their reputation and honor. Within years of his prophesied birth, the anguished cries of mothers filled the air in the streets of Bethlehem as the lives of all male babies, ages five and under were slaughtered by a wicked ruler driven by maddness to preserve his kindgom. John, who faithfully proclaimed the arrival of the long awaited Messiah, was cast into prison and beheaded. Many who believed, professed, and followed Him were cast out of the temple and spurned by the spiritual leaders of the day. From the start, pain and anguish marked the path he trod. When the Son of the Heavenly became the Heavenly Son of Man the entire world was turned upsde down, yet none of these days compares to the chaos and darkness that marred the earth on the eve and day of his Crucifixion.


Can you imagine
the torment and pain Jesus endured during the last 48 hours of His life?

Can you comprehend the crushing force of mental and spiritual weariness that pressed down upon His human shoulders compelling Him to confess to His disciples “My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death”?

Can you see his mentally exhausted body, that knows the worst is yet to come, resting in garden as He prays to His Father “Let this cup pass, nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.”

Look ahead and let your gaze fall upon the rock where he obediently and patiently waits. It is sticky, colored crimson with the first of many drops of blood that He will spill willingly on behalf of mankind?

Can you hear the vulgar sound of the wip as is sails throuth the air just before burying itself deep within the flesh and muscle of his chest, back, and sides?

I marvel at the Love, the Father demonstrates for us, as he holds back the straining legions of stunned angelic warriors wide eyed and repulsed by the sight of the The Son of God, marred beyond recognition.

Can you hear the collective groan of all creation as it bears witness to the rejection of the Son of Man by the Righteous Judge?

Can you hear Jesus scream out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” while His Father turns away disgusted by the condemning sins of the world born in love on the body of the Son in whom He delights?

This was the epitome Chaos!

 He was:

Alone, Missunderstood, Sold Out, Betrayed, Abandoned, Denied, Mocked, Falsely Accused, Denied, Beat, Physically Abused, Paraded, Chided, Denied, Humiliated, Crucified.

YET:

He was IN COMPLETE CONTROL

He willingly stood among chaos, surrounded by sheer confusion and upheaval, YET every time a new figgure accused him, every time another hand struck him, every time a voice rose to proclaim “Crucify him”, He stood there willingly, obediently, gloriously.

He was never withiout power, never stripped of His Diety. He was never afraid and never surprised.

I love how our pastor put it today. Every step he took, from the garden, to the courtyards and secret chamber discussions with Pilate & Herod, were ordained by God. All events leading to His crucifixion were like a great chess match. No matter how skillfully the opposition played their pawns, or how methodically they planned their moves, they could never outplay Him. In fact every move the Sanheidrin made was a move allowed by Christ- planned, ordained, and even foretold. They made no accusition, struck no blows, proclaimed no sentence except what the Holy Righteous, Loveing God allowed.

He reigns amidst Chaos so you don’t have to!

What does Jesus life and story do for you? Is your life chaotic? Are you confused. Look at the list above, do any of the emotions or abuses Jesus went through during His dark night, ring familiar in your heart? Are you alone and suffering in silent pain? Do you feel rejected, abused, abandoned? Guess what, your life and your trials are no surprise to Him. He sees all, understands all. Though man stands haughty and proud, exulting in sin at the expense of others, Christ is Lord of all. You are His Beloved Child. You have not been abandoned. You are not being punished. Do not think it strange my child He whispers. They hated you, they will hate me. Endure for but a little. I am with you. As you pass through this fire you will not be consumed. As you struggle in the flood of waters, you will not drown. Hang to my promise, there is a wealthy place. Your trial, like mine, sometimes deals death to the flesh, brings great sorrow to the heart, yet in those deathblows is life and glory, strength and honor. Not a hair from your head will fall that he does not see. Not one single word or offence can slice into your bleeding and hurting heart without Him knowing, allowing, using your pain to transform you and glorify Himself. What man intends for evil, God takes and transforms into beauty. Because He is God, he can take the most wicked intentions of man’s heart, turning the worst man has to offer into an instrument to produce the most beautiful works of God, healing, and strength.

Will you trust your chaotic and painful life into His hands. He exalted and reigned over sin and death, now let Him be exalted and reign in your pain and suffering. You do not suffer without cause, you do not suffer without a purpose. Cry out as He did years ago in the garden, “Let this cup pass, nevertheless, not your will but mine.”

During the month of February we will have a number of guest bloggers who will be writing on specific areas of pain they have experienced. These will include singleness, abandonment, physical pain and so on. So come back each week to read the stories of these amazing women and the amazing God they serve and Love.

This week, I am excited to introduce Loxlia from Lovelycrumbs. Loxlia will be our guest blogger this week, and will be sharing how the Lord has used a specific pain in her life to draw herself to Him. Be sure and stop by her blog and read her beautiful words of wisdom and hope.

I will introduce the February giveaway with her post so stay tuned for some exciting offerings.


Let nothing be lost!

 

John 6:8 “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

 

This verse intrigues me. The setting presents Jesus surrounded by a throng of people, most are not true believers, but those seeking entertainment in the form of miracles, and perhaps some even looking for a handout of their own. This crowd came needy and left needy. An opportunity of a lifetime stood in front of them yet their physical needs and selfish desires blinded them to this moment. They wanted miracles and they received one, but their response clearly showed their shallow thinking and spiritual blindness.

 

The Son of God stood in their midst, but instead of asking for eternity, they vainly grappled to secure a king to rid them of the tyranny of Rome, a momentary and temporal predicament. It would be akin to a billionaire offering a blank check only to have the recipient spend it on a pack of gum. So very needy yet so very blind to their true needs and the power and ability of the one who stood before them.

 

So Jesus performs a miracle, a shadow of what He had come to do, he fed their bodies. With bread and fish he met their basic physical need, but He yearned to give them water so that they would never thirst again. They wanted freedom from occupiers who threateded to take their physical bodies and earthly lives, while he offered salvation from that which would take their eternal souls and spirit.

 

Jesus knew their hearts and he knew within moments of feeding the crowd sadly he would be forced to flee from their midst. He had come, not to reign on a mortal throne of man, in a mortal and fading kingdom, but to reign over all the universe in heaven above and in the earth below for all of eternity. Before they made their attempt to crown an earthly king, he made a decree in their midst, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

 

Why did he command his disciples to do this? Twelve basket were collected, one for each disciple perhaps? Or was there a deeper meaning?

 

Jesus Christ had performed a great miracle and its meaning and purpose had fallen on deaf ears, blind eyes, and dead hearts. “That nothing may be lost.” Did he want to keep the leftovers of his blessing and purpose ladden miracle from being discarded like worthless trash and trampled under their unworthy feet when they departed after realizing they were to receive nothing more from His hand?

 

We may never know what if any meaning laid hidden in these words, yet a lesson can be taken from it. How often do we come to Christ with a need but also a predetermined solution in mind, our spiritual hearts have been darkened by selfish needs and proud hearts? How often do we come to him with a request, yet blind to the true needs our trial has exposed. He stands able and ready to provide an answer propelling us into the midst of His eternal and glorious purpose yet all we seek are bread crumbs.

 

All trials, needs, blessings, and opportunities are for a purpose far greater and more glorious than ourselves. Our neediness is the doorway to God’s glory and power revealed. The means with which He reveals our true nature, condition, and need is also the means with which He accomplishes the purpose of our existence, the revelation and proclimation of His power and His glory.

 

He pursued you when you were dying, desperate and needy. In your sin, brokenness and need, His Glorious love, grace, righteousness, and power broke forth. In Him you found a Savior, an Advocate, a Brother, a new life. Would you now come to him asking for bread? Empty your hands of all expectation. Cry out to Him for spiritual eyes to be opened, that you might see past the flesh and gaze instead into the glories of eternity. You can trust the Lord of the Universe with the when, where, how, and whys. He can provide bread, but do not settle for just crumbs when He has promised to hold back nothing of lesser value than His Son!

 

Your life is no mistake, neither are your present need, trials, and desires. Do not settle for bread crumbs. Do not settle for good. God’s best has been promised. Labor for it, strain for is, press forward, let nothing distract you, or turn you aside. If you can not see it, if your resolution falters, cry out to Him for strength, faith, and power to press on. There is a purpose, there is an end, there is an answer, there is a wealthy plaCe!

 

Psalm 66:12 Thou hast caused me to ride over our heads, we went through fire and throu water but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.