Faith/Feelings

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October 14

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

I’ve contemplated what to write this morning based on events of the past day.  First, from my Bible reading this morning are three passages:

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make His deeds known among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Tell of all His wonders. Boast in His holy name; May the heart of those who seek the Lord be joyful.” (103:1-3)

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For his mercy is everlasting.”(106:1)

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence , And His children will have refuge.” (Pr. 14:26)

I needed those verses this morning. Yesterday about 10:00 I got a text from Tami, our daughter, that she needed me to take her to the ER. An episode at school had the school nurse tell the principal, “She needs to get to the ER.” Jo and I found ourselves sitting in the ER with her until 7:00, except for a short reprieve of coming home to grab a bite to eat and to get some of Tami’s stuff. Late last night, about 10:00, Tami texted me saying they said she was having signs of a heart attack and they were doing a heart cath this morning. She has been dealing with parosmia (distorted taste and smell) since March 1, a side effect of COVID. Food smells horrible. All meats smell rotten or like a dead animal and tastes the same. Being around certain smells has her wanting to head to the bathroom (and she teaches Kindergarten kids). We thought, at first, all the symptoms she had might be from that. We will find out some answers today, I hope. Meanwhile, I’m clinging to those 3 verses.

Another request: my good friend, Ryan S (techgeek), who comments on this blog and is my admin, emailed me yesterday that his wife’s sister’s house burnt down yesterday and it appears to be a total loss. I don’t know her name (but God does).

Would you please stop and pray for these two requests? And would you please pray for Ryan and Amanda and for me and Jo? I’m trusting those verses to be true.  Thanks.

October 6

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

There is one thing I am very passionate about. I preach it. I speak it. I counsel it. I’ve definitely said it more than once. I think Bob Goff’s quote by Nelson Mandela says it well:

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. (#279-p.329)

I have stated it another way countless times (just ask the folks of the church I pastor): “If you fail to forgive, you have become their slave. They own you.”

Sweet Comfort Band, an early iconic group of Contemporary Christian Music, recorded a song called Habit of Hate. I’ve recently begun listening to them again and had forgotten about that song. Here is a taste of the powerful lyrics: “Now you’re clenching your fist/And that crazed, evil passion begins/Now you’re waiting for you victim/Careful planning, getting even/And you strangle your love/When you strengthen your habit of hate.” (Album: Perfect Timing-1984)

They are right on the money. I have seen so many lives devastated-their own and those close to them-by someone’s hatred and refusal to forgive.  It is like they become another person.

I think Bob said it best in that same devotion:

When we become people who extend forgiveness, especially when it’s costly or hard, we’ll be well on our way to loving like Jesus. (Ibid)

May we all start loving like Jesus.

May I start loving like Jesus.

“Father, help me to love like Jesus. Help me to not be captive the destructive emotions that ruin me and those around me.”

If you want to hear the song, you can check it out here.

August 24

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Years and years ago. So many I can’t remember when or where, I bought a magnet that has been on my file cabinet ever since and the only time it has moved is when I moved and packed up everything. As you can guess, it isn’t the magnet, but what it says:

The faith to move mountains is the reward of those who have moved little hills.

I thought of that magnet saying when I read a devotion by Bob Goff (#233) recently. He writes about a long-jumper named Lex Gillette.  Lex competes in the Olympics as a long jumper. Oops, I meant to say the Paralympics as…get this…a blind long-jumper. You are probably wondering, as I did, how he pulls that off. He has a coach who yells, “Fly!” over and over as Lex sprints down the 100 meter track.  His voice guides Lex as he sprints. It’s like a homing beacon.

Amazing! Bob makes the point that if we are wondering if we should take a risk or try something, we should think about Lex. Not “If a blind man can do it, so can I” type of thinking, but the sense of learning from his heart, his courage, and his wisdom.

What struck me-hence the magnet reference-are several things:

  1. He has to trust his coach.
  2. How did he learn to run in a straight line, when to jump and how to land?
  3. What made him want to do that to start with? Did someone tell him he couldn’t?

I admire a man like Lex-a man who wouldn’t let his disability keep him down. He started with a small hill. Then, as he stretched his legs, i.e. faith, he began to climb bigger hills. Until…he moved mountains.

Maybe it is time for me, for you, to to allow our faith to develop into a mountain-moving faith.

“Father, help me to exercise my faith. Help me to remember Proverbs 21:31.”  (I encourage you to read the verse).

Bob’s book is entitled Live in Grace-Walk in Love.

August 23

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

This past weekend Jo and I made a quick trip to Ohio on Friday to watch our grandson, Braden, play his first game as a Freshman in high school. We came back Saturday after the game. Driving 4-41/2 hours one way gives one a lot of time to think. Lately, the church family has been hit hard with “stuff.”

  • It started with me getting hit broadside on June 3rd and still working through several ETAs for the necessary part.
  • One of our ladies was heading to Indy for a quilting show and a semi sideswiped her.
  • One of our young men was hit head on. His ankle is broke significantly and may require further surgery.
  • Another had a car pull out in front of him on the way to a wedding. He and his fiance were shook up but the car is toast.
  • One young lady was rear-ended as she was turning into the church lot this past Saturday. She has a concussion and will be very, very sore.
  • One young lady’s 90+ y/o grandmother got COVID and they still don’t know how. She is, at least, able to get up and not lay around.
  • The church secretary’s father had a massive brain bleed on Thursday and was in a coma.  Yesterday afternoon he went to be with Jesus.
  • A 13 y/o has been placed in a center to get help with his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Our youth pastor, Ryan, is slowly watching his father waste away from cancer.

There are more, but you get the picture. As I thought about all of the “stuff” hitting us, I refused to have a pity party. I thought of Daniel and I thought of something I read this past week:

God is still God even when we don’t understand His ways.

The nonbeliever cannot sync with the idea of trials and suffering and a good God.  But the follower of Jesus can. We must choose to worship God and to trust His goodness, sovereignty, and power. We remind the world around us that we are in the hands of the One who controls it all. God is still God; I am still me; and He is still in charge.

And I must also say that I am not leaving out the idea this is a Satanic attack on our church fellowship. Add to the above the masks, the fear people have, the political sides being taken on social media and yeah…I am a firm believer this could very well be a Satanic attack.

“Father, I don’t understand but I’m certainly not going to blame You. You have been, are now, and always will be in charge.”

{Quote from The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges, page 91}

August 17

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

I mentioned in yesterday’s devotion about Psalm 13, so I thought I would follow up that devotion with a deeper look into this psalm.

First, please read Psalm 13 in its entirety. Yeah…all 6 verses. 🙂

The chapter is written by King David.  Here we go:

If God truly forgot David, as he says in verse 1, then how was David able to say he trusted in God’s faithfulness? (v.5a)

In verse 1b David says that God hid His face from him, but in verse 6b he says that God has looked after him.

In verse 2a David wrestled with this thoughts and grief, yet in verse 6a he had a song in his heart.

In verse 2b David said his enemy was triumphing over him but in verse 5b he says his heart rejoices in God’s salvation.

There appears to be a discrepancy, or at best, David is bi-polar.

Here is how I see it: David’s feelings and reality were in conflict. He felt God had hidden, but he believed God was somehow good to him. He felt the pains of inner sorrow, but he believed he had every right to sing. Same with the other two.

Sometimes our feelings are too strong in how we decide. We are often anchored to our feelings. We need to believe. We need to not rely so much on our feelings and more on what we KNOW about God’s mercy, providence, love and grace.

Less feelings. More trust.

“Father, that is a constant struggle for many of us. May I live a life of faith not feelings.”

{My thanks to Randall Arthur’s book Wisdom Hunter for the insights into this passage. It is a fiction book I highly recommend. I cannot even tell you how many times I have read it and how many copies I have given away}. 

August 16

Monday, August 16th, 2021

Do you know what a perfect storm is? If you watched the movie by that name, it means conditions are perfect for something phenomenal to happen. It that case, conditions were right for converging weather systems to being the storm of all storms and the vessel was caught in it. {Spoiler: it sank}.

Life is sometimes like that. So is reading. Three different sources this morning-no, four if you count my re-read of Psalm 13 from the previous morning-combined to be a perfect storm.

The writer of Our Daily Bread (August 14) wrote about not understanding when God is work or how.

Bob Goff wrote about God’s delays (p.273) which can be merely annoying, and some devastating. They cause us to wonder if God is even there and if He is good.

Another source-a book on HOPE-carries the same message as the others. Even though we cannot see or feel Him, He is always present and will help us through the darkest nights.

Then I re-read what is one of my favorite psalms-Psalm 13. The message of that psalm rings out loud and clear. But…you will have to wait until tomorrow for a fuller explanation. 🙂

All that to say, God made His point this morning. No matter whether He looks like it or not; no matter whether I feel like it or not; no matter how dark it seems; and no matter how dense the cloud cover, God is there. In that I can place my trust.

“Father, whether it appears to be so or not, You are there. Help me to trust You in the dark and in the clouds.”

August 13

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Don’t watch the news! If you do a feeling will come over you. Not a good one either. It is called hopelessness.

IMHO one of the feelings a good number of people experienced in the last 1-2 years has been hopelessness. Lockdowns. Masks. A relentless virus. Lack of personal contact. And more. But one way all this has revealed itself is in illness and even suicide. It has amped up that feeling of hopelessness.

On top of that think of the events of this past summer-the riots, rebelliousness, the angry cries-and think of what is even going on now. The rising inflation. The inflamed rhetoric. The hypocrisy. I could go on and on and it could actually bring you under a blanket that could cover you in despair.

Hope is something we all want AND need. No one feels life is worth living if there seems to be no hope. If we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is easy to despair. None of us like to be the recipient of the old saying, “I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the light of an oncoming train.”

During the writing of Psalm 3 (I’m in the process of starting them again), David was in the midst of a coup by his son, Absalom. That had to be a real downer. His own son!  But verse 3 shows us that David knew where to go: “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” He goes on to write about how he cried out to God, then went to sleep, and really slept. Why? How? “For the Lord sustained me.” (v.5)

No follower of Christ is hopeless, nor should we ever feel life is hopeless. I like what someone has said,

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up.

“Father, help me not to worry or feel hopeless. Help me to see and know You will sustain me.”

All Scripture is from NASB2020.

June 29

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

I know I’ve written about this before but after reading something Bob Goff wrote, it struck a nerve. Bob writes:

God speaks to us through His Word, through our friends, through our desires and dreams. Are you listening to them, or are you giving the microphone to voices that make you envy what your friend has or fear that the next move will end in total failure? Have you put your head next to a megaphone that screams you back into the person you were? (p.218)

I suspect we have all struggled with that from time to time.

But here’s another thought: what kind of voice am I to others? My mind pictures the old man who has the shell-shaped device (is that a gramaphone?)  up to his ear in order to hear and another old man yelling into it.

Speak truth. Speak love. Speak beauty. Speak trust and acceptance. Speak hope. Speak life. Be the “voice of God” in their ears.

“Father, may I be the voice of love and hope to those who hear me. Help me to speak life into a person not be just another voice of disinterest and disenchantment.”

Quote from Live in Grace-Walk in Love by Bob Goff

June 17

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

I learned a valuable lesson last night.

Let me explain. Jo and I had a great day together. It was our 48th anniversary and we just took our time and did different things. I’ll not waste your time with that but by the end of the day things had changed. No, I didn’t get mad at her or she me. A glaring checkbook mistake colored my evening. Again, I ‘ll not bore you with details.

But it clouded my evening. That, and a few other “dumb” things, changed my mood. And I’m not a moody person. I went to bed extremely agitated (again highly unusual). I was at fault for the mistake. But so was a local business. I told Jo two things as we lay there waiting for sleep to come: 1) Smart pills are needed-for me for the bone-headed mistake- and also for  them for not seeing it and calling; and 2) I told her I was going to have trouble sleeping and may end up going to my chair (which also broke last night). Her words to me were calm and spot-on words, words I needed to hear. As a result of listening I. SLEPT. LIKE. A. BABY!  Except for when I needed to turn over to my other side to relieve the hip which now hurts as a result of the hit-n-run while riding back in November of ’16. That pain was also another fun part of my day.

The Bible says not to let the sun go down on your anger. I’d also say we should not allow the sun to go down on our fretting and stewing and worrying. The Bible even speaks to that: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

It is true the situation is still in front of me, even as I sit here this morning writing this. But even then I cannot even begin to do anything until the business opens in 3 1/2 hours.

“Father, I have a choice: Stew or Trust. With your help, I’m going to trust. Wait. Rely. Give my worries to You.”

May 24

Monday, May 24th, 2021

This is a continuation of my previous post. Not the topic but the whole “flood of ideas” which overtook me.  This is another thought which assailed me that morning.

I’m sure you have noticed as I have that God often gets a bad wrap. When things go bad or get tough…blame God. It is not unusual for people’s anger toward their lot in life, circumstances, or even consequences from choices, be directed toward God.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about deconstruction lately. For the uninitiated, that is the term used for someone who dismantles, i.e. deconstructs their faith. There are many triggers but one of them is the seeming absence of God during tough times. I’ve had someone recently tell me they were angry at God because of unanswered prayer.

I’ve struggled with that myself but thankfully never got so angry or bitter I turned my back on God or doubted His love or sovereignty. Struggles are a fact of life but never think that the hard things are “failures of God’s character, promises, power, or plan.” (Tripp-p.42)

I, personally, keep reminding myself that God is the stable one, not me! 🙂 God’s grace to me is real and powerful and present just not always when I want. And certainly not when I “feel” it because He is there despite my feelings.

Deconstructing because of feelings is not solid, because feelings are so fluid. Hold on to that which does not waver-the truth of God’s Word and the character of a grace-giving God.

“Father, You are a solid rock. Unmoveable, even despite the strongest storm. Help me to trust in You.”