Faith/Feelings

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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.”

April 29

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Have you ever noticed there are some sayings that stay with you? Some of them are good; some not so. Some are mere pablum, empty sayings which may sound good but are vacuous. A good one that I have heard off and on through the years but can’t say I have had as a go-to saying is this one:

There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more; there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less.

That came back to me as I read about Jesus and His dealings with people. I’m preparing a sermon series on Eyes Wide Open by taking a look at how Jesus saw people. He reached out to those the religious people wanted nothing to do with.  But them? They were His biggest critics and His biggest headache. I think some of it was because He didn’t come to impress them or to cower before them. He didn’t praise them for their religiosity.

What we learn from Jesus is the truth of that saying. The simple message He taught was that our best wasn’t and isn’t good enough, and our worst doesn’t disqualify us. Jesus didn’t seek to impress the religious elite; I don’t have to seek to impress Jesus. His love is sure.

“Father, thank You for your acceptance-past, present, and future. Thank you that I’m not weighed on a scale as acceptable/non-acceptable. You see me as I am and love me anyway.”

April 9

Friday, April 9th, 2021

We often hear people say something similar to this: “You need to see that God has something much better for you.”  Even though that is true, sometimes it smacks of insensitivity. It also seems almost meaningless because the person may not be ready to hear that or want to hear it.

I know what a person is saying when they do. We often get so myopic that we fail to see the bigger picture. We see the hear and now. Like a card player who keeps his cards close to this chest, that is all we see. Up close and personal.

When the truth is that God may have a bigger picture for us. If He gave us what we wanted all the time, we would miss that. I was reading Psalm 119 this morning (and yesterday and the day before) :). In Psalm 119:26 it says, “I told you my plans, and you answered. Now teach me Your decrees. “ It’s like he realizes God has so much more to teach him.

Here’s the reality: I would never have known what God had waiting for me if I had only aimed at my target. God has so much more than my eyes can see. His plans for my life are so much bigger than mine. He wants to give me so much more than my keep-things-close-to-my-chest-vision can see.

It’s good to pray for answers but leave a card or two available for God to show His hand.

“Father, You are good. Kind. Loving. And would NEVER give me bad things or do bad things. Help me to pray but then leave the door open for You to work.”

March 22

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe used the phrase, “You make a molehill into a mountain.” The opposite is what we truly want to happen (and what God often does): “He makes a mountain into a molehill.”

Back to the original statement of “a molehill into a mountain.” Small things loom large. Small holes are made into mountains by worry, fear, and rebellion.

Here is an interesting connection for you. Moses is opposed by two magicians at the start of the plagues in Egypt-the Nile turning to blood, and the frogs taking over. They were able to duplicate the plagues but not remove them. Paul gives us their names in 2 Timothy 3:8-9. Their names were Jannes and Jambres. They opposed the truth, put up counterfeits, and rejected Moses’ warnings. Eventually, they slithered off in disgrace (Ex.9:11) but very possibly convinced Pharaoh to pursue the Israelites and drowned with him and the army.

Application: In our lives-sometimes daily-we have our Jannes and Jambres. Let’s give them different names: fear, anxiety, anger, rebellion, and others opposed to God’s work. Molehills become mountains because we allow the tools of the enemy to take root in our lives. What is interesting is Jannes and Jambres could duplicate the plagues but not get rid of them. That tells us the enemy of our souls can cause havoc but has no power to take it away (not that he would want to). He brings the mountain; God does the removing.

Two statements come to mind. I have a magnet on my file cabinet at the office which I have for more year than I can remember:

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

The other is a Tolkien quote via Gandalf:

The power of Sauron is still less than fear makes it.

Don’t let your molehill become a mountain. Let God take your mountain and make it into a molehill.

“Father, may I give you my complete trust in all my circumstances, especially when the molehill threatens to become a mountain.”

February 11

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Ask people on the streets to define love and one will get a plethora of answers. And let’s not just talk about those on the street. Let’s ask those in the church. I suspect the answers will be almost identical.

But I can almost guarantee-in fact if I was a betting man I’d put a lot of money on the idea that one of the statements made would be “Love is a feeling.” Say what? So is love for my wife or my daughters or grandson the same “feeling” I have for my dog or cat (of which I have neither), ice cream, or how I feel after an invigorating bike ride?

Obviously, most (probably all) would say, “Oh no! It’s a different kind of feeling.” 🙂 So let’s admit that love is somewhat hard to clarify.

What is not in question-at least in my mind- is that love may be hard to pinpoint with a definition, but it is not hard to be seen. Love is more than just a feeling (cue in Boston’s song). If I waited for my feelings to catch up I may never show love. I like what Bob Goff wrote:

We can’t wait for all the feelings to catch up to us before we give away extravagant amounts of love. Selfless love is always costly. Fear can’t afford it, pride doesn’t understand it, but friends never forget it.” (#40-p.50)

Love is a decision we make. It is more than a feeling. It is a conscious decision which leads to action.

“Father, help me not to wait of feelings to come. Teach me to love as You loved.”

Note: Goff quote from his book Live in Love-Walk in Grace.

January 18

Monday, January 18th, 2021

L.A.B.E.L.S.

Don’t you just love ’em? Please notice the sarcasm included in that question. Truth be known most of us despise labels. And I am not talking about those identifying what we are buying.

Oh, not that all labels are bad. Calling your son “sport” or “Mr. Baseball Man” is okay. Calling your daughter “the light of your eyes” or “Honey” or “Loved one” is good. But sadly, we seldom hear labels like that.

We more often hear labels like “Ugly” or “Fatso” or “Dork” or “No Good” or “Lazy bum” or some other put down. And man, can it go on and on! As a result, we grow up or see kids (and adults) grow up with ugly labels running through their head and unless someone steps into the gap and tells us we are not stupid or a loser, we will grow up believing the lies. This makes us very vulnerable to other words that tear us down AND ARE LIES!  I used to be called “Highpockets” by my grandfather, whom I loved dearly. He used that term affectionately because I was tall, skinny and had long legs. There is a big difference between that and “stupid” or “No good.” The former was said in jest; the latter is pain.

There is one identity that never goes sour…one label. That label  is “child of God.” “My son or My daughter.” “My beloved.” God would never and will never give us an identity contrary to Him or His Word. We never have to wonder if God thinks we are incorrigible or a loser or a real problem child. Granted, we are all different (that is part of the fun), but God has designed us to be so. He has made us all unique and put His stamp of identity on us:  “Property of God.” Don’t allow names people give you to supersede what He thinks of you: Beloved. Cherished. Uniquely made. Incredibly loved.  MINE.

“Father, Psalm 139 says, ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ You make no mistakes. And you don’t give us negative labels. Help me to remember that today no matter what comes my way.”

December 4

Friday, December 4th, 2020

There are a lot of emotions which people experience during the Christmas season.  There are the devastating ones like loss, loneliness, and lifelessness. They lead to a feeling of why bother? Why not just give up? There are also those emotions which carry a sense of settledness. Joy. Peace. Knowing you are loved.

One that is all too common is one called discouragement. How do I know that? I’m fighting it tooth and nail right now. This has been an unusual year to be sure. The virus lead to decreased attendance until we had to lockdown. Then when we could open again our attendance began to creep back up slowly. And I was okay with that. Then recently the spike has hit and we are back to people staying home. I know this is best, especially for those directly impacted by the threat to their health or those they love. But that still doesn’t ease the angst of one who loves people and feeds off seeing them.  So after an up, then a down, then an up, and now a down,  I have found myself fighting off being discouraged. For the most part I’ve been doing well. My hardest time? This past Sunday when it hit me again.

This all came back to me and I saw it again when I read Paul David Tripp’s Day 30 devotion from 40 Days of Faith. While his devotion focused on how God has each of my days written down even before I was born, it caused me to stop and think about my own heart. I had to remind myself that what happens (has, is and will) does not surprise Him in the slightest. He’s not wearing the suit of the guy with question marks all over Him.

On the contrary, He authored this all with a combination of wisdom and grace. That means He knows my disappointment and discouragement and comes alongside me with an arm around my shoulder and eyes full of understanding saying, “I’m here Bill. Don’t get discouraged. You are going to be surprised when this all shakes out. But you gotta trust Me.”

So I do the only thing I can do. I cry on His shoulder and lean into His chest and resign myself to His warm and steady heart beat.

November 27

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Have you ever noticed how sometimes life just doesn’t make any sense? Seriously, when you think you get it, life throws a curveball. When you think life is smoothing itself out, you hit a bunch of potholes and you find yourself trying to navigate around them. Or you are just enjoying the pleasure of a nice, relaxing drift on a boat in still water when a pop-up storm hits that threatens to capsize you and maybe even your faith.

On Day 22 of his little book 40 Days of Faith, Paul David Tripp writes:

Don’t be discouraged today. You can leave your ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ in the hands of the one who loves you and rules all things. (p.50)

Later he writes even more:

He knows, he understands, he is in control of what appears to be chaos, he is never surprised, he is never confused, he never worries or loses a night’s sleep, he never walks off the job to take a rest, he never gets so busy with one thing that he neglects another, and he never plays favorites. (p.51)

How’s that for reassurance? We certainly live today in a day of insecurity and unrest. What more reassurance do we need than words like these about a God like that? Is life out of whack for you? Screwy? Twisted? Hassled? Unsure? You now know the One who knows all about it.

“Father, thank you for being in control. For not being surprised. For being the calm in the storm. Help me to trust You implicitly.”